fields of dreams. Image: Getty Images
The Chicago Bears have had a bye week. That’s about the only advantage they have over the Philadelphia Eagles this weekend. However, despite the apparent disparity in talent between the two teams, bettors seem inclined to reach for the stars like they did with the Texans at the Cowboys last weekend.
According to OddsChecker US, 65 percent of bets on the Eagles-Bears money line were in Chicago’s favour. The Eagles go as a nine-point favorite ahead of the Chicago Bears in Week 15, the second-biggest spread of any team this week, behind only the Houston Texans (+14) versus the Kansas City Chiefs. So, if I truly believe bettors are just looking for a massive payday, why not support the Houston Texans this week? Simple, they just watched the Texans lose their money by not beating the Dallas Cowboys. Now they’re getting the Chiefs, arguably a tougher opponent, and people think there’s no way they can win.
It’s different with bears. Chicago’s offense is hot, and while Justin Fields’ impeccable play at the Victory Column hasn’t mattered much, it’s only a matter of time before they break through and emerge victorious. So why not after a bye and against a team that several fans think is overrated?
I’m not saying the Eagles are overrated. I think they’re legitimate Super Bowl contenders who had a simple schedule but dominated in those “easy” games just like great teams do. However, my belief is not shared by NFL fans everywhere. There are several people with money at stake who have seen Philly lose to the Commanders and barely beat the Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals who believe the Eagles are more fraudulent than Brett Favre’s next big public investment, and this could be the week, this theory is proven, right? Well I doubt it.
Justin Fields’ greatest feature is his mobility. Despite his incredibly talented arm, the Bears’ lack of strong receivers has prevented Fields from changing games through the air. That’s not to say he didn’t – he looked incredible when forced to drop back and pass – but it’s easier for Fields to change the dynamic of games on the floor. The Eagles have conceded just one quarterback rushing touchdown all year, tied for the third fewest in the NFL. However, the Eagles allow a moderately high 6.8 yards per quarterback rush, but that number doesn’t seem to have much impact on a team’s record. That number, 6.8, puts Philadelphia bottom in the NFL…they have the best record in the league. The Detroit Lions have the second worst mark (also 6.8 yards per attempt), are one of the hottest teams in the NFL and are fighting for a playoff spot, despite conceding 147 yards and two touchdowns to Fields in their first meeting , The lions emerged victorious nonetheless.
However, something is going in the direction of the bears. The Eagles’ defense currently ranks second in total yards allowed per game, and while Fields and co. beat the top-ranked defense — San Francisco — earlier in the season, this was Week 1 before the Niners got a foothold, and arguably in the worst weather conditions that either team has played in all year. It’s hard to judge this game other than as an outlier. However, Chicago has only had two other top-10 defenses all season — Week 7 with the New England Patriots, where the Bears had their highest scoring of the season, and Week 12 against the Jets, where Justin Fields didn’t play, which can also be considered an outlier. However, unlike the Patriots, we can’t expect the Eagles to rack up just 14 points. In fact, Philly has only one game under 20 goals this year.
The Eagles also play the Cowboys next week in what is undoubtedly their toughest remaining game. Maybe Philadelphia will overlook the Bears, focus too much on Dallas and lose sight of what’s right in front of them, but the Eagles aren’t stupid. I doubt they would be that shortsighted. They’re two games ahead of the Cowboys and I’m sure they’d love to lose to Dallas as long as they beat Chicago. In that case, the Eagles would at least hold one more game against Dallas for the division lead.
There are several other games with trap lines in week 15 that are also much better suited to betting on the underdog. Why are the Cowboys only 4-point favorites against the Jaguars? That seems a little low. How about the Bengals being just a three-point favorite over Tampa Bay even though they’re only two weeks away from defeating the Chiefs? Why are the Browns just a three-point favorite at home against a Ravens team without Lamar Jackson? Vegas usually knows far more than the average NFL consumer, and spotting weird spreads like these is the first step to beating them. I’m not saying they’ll hit everyone just to keep an eye on them all this weekend.
Sure, there’s a reason to trust the Bears against the Eagles, but nine points is a lot and there’s a reason Vegas put the line on more than one possession. Yes, sometimes they’re wrong, but according to Pro-Football-Reference’s Win Probability Calculator, nine-point underdogs only have a 26.6 percent chance of winning early in a game — roughly a 1-in-4 chance . The odds of a Bears win are plus 3.28 to 1, meaning Vegas still has the upper hand. I also like Justin Fields. However, don’t let its size cloud your judgment.