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Thursday Night Football Preview: Panthers vs. Bears — A battle of struggling teams

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NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Chicago Bears Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

This week’s edition of Thursday Night Football brings us an intriguing matchup between the Carolina Panthers and the Chicago Bears. Both teams have had disappointing seasons so far, with the Panthers sitting at a record of 1-7 and the Bears at 2-7. The possible return of Bears’ QB Justin Fields from injury adds an interesting dynamic to the game, while Panthers’ wide receiver D.J. Moore seeks revenge against his former team. (Update: Fields is inactive with his thumb injury.)

Let’s take a look into tonight’s game and what each team brings to the table.

  • The over/under (point total) is set at 39 points.
  • The Bears are coming off a 24-17 loss to the Saints.
  • The Panthers lost to the Colts Sunday 27-13.
  • Chicago is -185 on the moneyline, while Carolina is +154.

Bears’ Hopes Rest on Justin Fields’ Return:

The Bears have been eagerly waiting for the return of their rookie quarterback, Justin Fields, who has been sidelined with a thumb injury for the past three weeks. With Fields possibly back, the Bears hope for a boost in offensive production, which has suffered since his absence. DJ Moore, one of the most talented wide receivers in the NFL, will be aiming to capitalize on Fields’ return and showcase his skills against his former team. However, doubts remain about Fields’ ability to perform at his best, especially considering his injury layoff.

Panthers’ Offensive Struggles and Bryce Young’s Redemption:

For the Panthers, their struggles have been primarily due to turnovers. Despite having the talented number one overall pick, QB Bryce Young, leading their offense, the Panthers fell apart in their last game against the Colts, with Young throwing three interceptions. However, Young is expected to have a cleaner game this time around, protecting the ball and giving his defense a better chance to compete. Panthers’ RB Chuba Hubbard has been a pleasant surprise in fantasy football, but his production has not translated well on the field recently with a below yards-per-carry average.

Defensive Battle:

Although it’s normally a strength, the Bears’ defense fell short against the Saints on Sunday. Despite excelling in keeping points off the board, the Bears struggled to generate enough impactful plays to secure a victory. The recent addition of pass rusher Montez Sweat should further strengthen their defensive efforts, giving them a chance to bounce back against the Panthers. On the other side, the Panthers’ passing defense has been reliable this season, but injuries along the defensive line and their offense’s inability to sustain drives has left them exposed and fatigued.

My Bottom Line:

For me, considering the Bears’ struggles on offense and the uncertainties surrounding Fields’ return, the odds seem stacked against them, even with them being favored. Even if Fields plays, it is doubtful he will be able to connect effectively with DJ Moore, limiting the Bears’ chances of generating enough points to win. Conversely, Bryce Young needs to learn and rebound from his poor performance last week, leading the Panthers to a more balanced and efficient offensive display. With an improved showing from Young, I am taking the Panthers to win this game comfortably, with a predicted score of 24-10.

Some prop bets I like:

  • Bryce Young Over 10.5 Rushing Yards (-110): Bryce Young is not Justin Fields when it comes to rushing the ball, but he is more than capable. Last week against the Colts he had 5 rushes for 41 yards. All it takes is one broken play where his receivers can’t get open and Montez Sweat is applying pressure for this to hit in the first quarter.
  • Panthers Over 7.5 Team Total Points (-800): I really expect a cleaner game where Young protects the ball and is able to put the ball in the endzone a couple of times. The Panthers have scored at least 10 points in every game this season and I don’t think the Bears defense will be the one to keep them from repeating those efforts.

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