Thursday Night Football Preview & Player Props: Buccaneers at Bears

Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (photo credit: USA TODAY Sports)

Week 5 of the NFL is here, and it all starts with Thursday Night Football between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Chicago Bears. Looking at the Bucs vs. Bears betting odds, we can see that Tampa Bay is a road favorite. In this article, we’ll break down the matchup from an NFL betting perspective and provide a few free picks for the game.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3.5) at Chicago Bears

Thursday, October 8, 2020, at 8:20 p.m. ET
Soldier Field
Chicago, IL

The second quarter of the NFL season kicks off with a battle of two 3-1 NFC teams that have their eyes on the playoffs. The Bears are coming off their first loss of the season, in a game where the Indianapolis Colts simply dominated them. Nick Foles was expected to bring new life to this struggling offense, but last week was by far their worst game of the season. Chicago’s only touchdown came with 1:30 left in the fourth quarter.

On the other side, the Bucs offense is clicking on all cylinders, with Tom Brady tossing 5 touchdowns last week against the Los Angeles Chargers. However, the Bucs offense is banged up this week, which gets us to our first point.

Who Will Tom Brady Throw To?

The short week couldn’t come at a worse time for Tampa Bay. On Sunday, they lost OJ Howard for the season with a torn Achilles. Chris Godwin will miss his second straight game with a hamstring injury, and Mike Evans and Scotty Miller are questionable to play.

In addition, Brady will be without LeSean McCoy in the backfield and Leonard Fournette is doubtful with an ankle injury. Brady’s options will be few and far between tonight, and it comes in a tough matchup against a Bears team that ranks in the top 10 in total yards and passing yards allowed per game. Look for Bruce Arians to put in an effective scheme to mask the shortcomings on the field tonight.

Will the Real Nick Foles Please Stand Up?

Has there been a more confusing quarterback in the last few years than Foles? He revived his career during the improbable Super Bowl run with the Phildelphia Eagles three seasons ago, beating Brady and the New England Patriots to win the title, which earned him a big contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. However, he was knocked out with a major shoulder injury in Week 1. After returning, he lost his job outright to Gardner Minshew.

Then in Chicago, he came off the bench and saved the Bears against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 3, tossing 3 second-half touchdowns in a thrilling come-from-behind victory. But then, he laid a goose egg last week against what is, to be fair to him, a great Colts defense. Well, the Buccaneers defense has made great strides this season, and unlike their counterparts on the offensive side, they come into tonight’s game fully stocked. It will be interesting to see which Foles shows up tonight.

To make free player prop picks, check out the SharpSide sports betting app, available now for iOS and Android.

Point Spread Pick: Bears (+3.5)

This point spread pick simply comes down to the injury report. The Bears defense is not as elite as they were a few years ago, but they are still a very solid unit. Given how banged up the Bucs are on offense, Chicago should be able to contain Brady in this one.

This line opened at Bucs (-5) and has steamed down to this number, a trend that we are once again hopping on. The under of 44.5 also looks rather tempting, given the two defenses involved.

Rob Gronkowski Player Prop: Under 35.5 receiving yards

We’re taking the under on this Rob Gronkowski player prop for receiving yards, which shows how far off the former retired tight end has fallen. In the first four games of the season, Gronkowski has logged receiving yardage totals of 11, 0, 48, and 29. In that 48-yard game, he had 7 catches. He also had 7 catches combined in their other games. It’s certainly possible that his production increases with the absence of Howard now, but quite simply, we will believe it when we see it. Take the under on 35.5 receiving yards for Gronkowski and look to take the over on a different Bucs target.

Scotty Miller Player Prop: Over 49.5 receiving yards

There are always one or two players on any Brady-led offense that he has a special connection with, and it looks like Miller is that receiver for Brady this year. He has at least 5 targets in three of his four games and has easily covered this yardage total in each of those contests (73, 83, and 83 yards, respectively). Given all of the injuries on the Bucs offense coming into this one, Miller could push for double-digit targets. If he gets even close to that, 50 or more yards should be a given. This is one of our favorite player prop bets of the young season.

To make free player prop picks, check out the SharpSide sports betting app, available now for iOS and Android.

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