Not all primetime games can be winners, but football is football, and as hard as it may be to watch, it still offers betting opportunities. That sentence was me trying to put a positive spin on a game that features the winless Chicago Bears on the road playing the 2-2 Washington Commanders. We’ll preview the game before going over which betting markets I’ll be targeting.
Reports are already circulating that this could be Matt Eberflus’s last game as the Bears head coach if they don’t find their way into the win column. This shouldn’t take many people by surprise, and frankly, it seems like most Bears fans have been calling for that since week one, but Chicago is coming off their best offensive performance of the season.
In their 31-28 loss, Justin Fields finished the day with 335 passing yards and four touchdowns, while overall, the offense had an EPA of (13.11), which was the first time they finished with a positive EPA all year. Even with Fields' career day and Khalil Herbert rushing for 103 yards, the Bears still found a way to lose, allowing 24 second-half points, with seven of those points coming off a Fields fumble that was returned for a touchdown.
With that second-half performance, the Bears' defense is still looking for their first game where they put up a positive EPA, as they finished Sunday’s loss with a (-13.54) EPA. Their matchup this week will be a Commanders’ offense that had an impressive day against the Eagles' defense despite losing 34-31 in overtime. Quarterback Sam Howell bounced back nicely after a rough game against the Bills, as he threw 290 yards and a touchdown.
While Sam Howell has shown signs of being a legitimate starting quarterback, the Commanders have not made his transition to full-time starter easy. The North Carolina product is being protected by an offensive line that is ranked 31st in sack percentage, and to make things worse, Howell has consistently needed to play from behind since his defense is 29th in the league in points allowed per game with 30. In their loss last weekend to Philadelphia, the Commanders' defense finished with a (18.21) EPA.
For my first play in this game, I’ll be targeting Sam Howell to go over his completions prop of 21.5 at (-125). The gunslinger has exceeded this total in two of his four games this season and is playing in a system that relies on his arm a lot. Washington is 4th in the league in pass play percentage, which has Howell averaging 35 pass attempts per game.
Howell is in the middle of the pack when it comes to completion percentage, but he’ll go up against a Bears defense tonight that will offer him his easiest test since he played the Broncos in week two. The Chicago defense has allowed a 70.08% completion percentage this season, which is 26th in the league.
Through four weeks, the Bears' defense has not put up an EPA on pass plays better than (-14.90). When Howell played a similarly bad defense in the Broncos, who just let Justin Fields have a career day, he finished the game 27-39, so he’s on track for a similar output tonight.
Sticking with the Commanders, I’ll be taking Terry McLaurin over 4.5 receptions at (-130) for my second play. McLaurin is tied for the highest target share on the team at 19%, and he is coming off his third straight game with five receptions or more. Against the Eagles, the Commanders’ wideout pulled in eight catches on a season-high ten targets, and now he’ll line up against a struggling Bears secondary.
As I mentioned before, this is a Bears defense that is in the bottom third of the league in completion percentage allowed. Chicago is also very zone-heavy on defense, and McLaurin has the most receptions and highest receiving grade against zone coverage, according to PFF.
Sam Howell Over 21.5 Completions (-125)
Terry McLaurin Over 4.5 Receptions (-130)