Bettors backing 3-win Bears over 1-loss Eagles… am I getting that right?

There are several better upset options this week but there’s money riding on Justin Fields and Co.

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Fields of dreams.
Fields of dreams.
Image: Getty Images

The Chicago Bears are coming off a bye week. That is pretty much the only advantage they have over the Philadelphia Eagles this weekend. Still, despite the obvious disparity in talent between the two squads, bettors seem inclined to reach for the stars, just as they did with the Texans over the Cowboys last weekend.

According to OddsChecker US, 65 percent of bets on the Eagles-Bears moneyline have gone in favor of Chicago. The Eagles come into Week 15 as nine-point favorites over the Chicago Bears, the second-largest spread of any team this week behind only the Houston Texans (+14) against the Kansas City Chiefs. So, if I truly believe that bettors are just looking for an enormous payday, why wouldn’t they be backing the Houston Texans this week? Simple, they just watched the Texans lose them money by failing to beat the Dallas Cowboys. Now, they get the Chiefs, arguably a tougher opponent, and people believe they can’t possibly win.

With the Bears, it’s different though. Chicago’s offense is hot, and while Justin Fields’ impeccable play hasn’t amounted to much on the win column, it’s got to be only a matter of time before they break through and come out victorious. So, why not have it be after a bye and against a team several fans consider to be overrated?

Advertisement

I’m not saying that the Eagles are overrated. I think they’re legitimate Super Bowl contenders, who, yes, have had an easy schedule, but they’ve dominated in those “easy” games, just as great teams do. That said, my belief isn’t shared among NFL fans everywhere. There are several people with money on the line who saw 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 that theory is proven, right? Well, I doubt it.

Justin Fields’ greatest attribute is his mobility. Despite his incredibly talented arm, the Bears’ lack of strong receivers has inhibited Fields’ ability to change games through the air. That’s not saying he hasn’t — he’s looked incredible when forced to drop back and pass — but it’s easier for Fields to change the momentum of games on the ground. The Eagles have allowed only one rushing touchdown to quarterbacks all year, tied for the third-fewest in the NFL. That said, the Eagles do allow a moderately high 6.8 yards per rush from quarterbacks, but that number seems to have virtually no effect on a team’s record. That 6.8 figure ranks Philadelphia dead last in the NFL...they have the best record in the league. The Detroit Lions have the next-worst mark (also 6.8 yards per attempt), they’re one of the hottest teams in the NFL, competing for a playoff spot, and despite allowing 147 yards and two touchdowns to Fields in their first meeting, the Lions still emerged victorious.

Advertisement

There is something going the Bears’ way though. The Eagles’ defense currently ranks second in total yards allowed per game, and while Fields and company did beat the top-ranked defense — San Francisco — earlier in the season, that was Week 1, before the Niners found their footing, and in arguably the worst weather conditions either team has played in all year. It’s hard to judge that game on any basis other than as an outlier. That said, Chicago has only faced two other top-10 defenses all season — Week 7 at the New England Patriots, where the Bears put up their highest point total of the season, and Week 12 against the Jets, where Justin Fields didn’t play, which can also be viewed as an outlier. Unlike the Patriots, we can’t expect the Eagles to only put up 14 points though. In fact, Philly has just one game this year scoring fewer than 20.

The Eagles do also play the Cowboys next week, which is undoubtedly their toughest remaining game. Perhaps Philadelphia will overlook the Bears, focusing too much on Dallas, and lose sight of what’s directly in front of them, but the Eagles aren’t dumb. I doubt they’d be so short-sighted. They’re up two games on the Cowboys, and I’m sure they’d gladly take a loss against Dallas so long as they beat Chicago. In that case, at least the Eagles would still hold a game over Dallas for the division lead.

Advertisement

There are several other games with trap lines in Week 15 that seem much better for betting the underdog too. Why are the Cowboys only four-point favorites against the Jaguars? That seems a little low. How about the Bengals being only three-point favorites over Tampa Bay despite being just two weeks removed from taking down the Chiefs? Why are the Browns just three-point favorites at home against a Lamar Jackson-less Ravens team? Vegas tends to know far more than the average NFL consumer, and realizing strange spreads like these is the first step toward beating them. I’m not saying they’re all going to hit, just to keep an eye on all of them this weekend.

Sure, there’s some reason to have faith in the Bears against the Eagles, but nine points is a lot and there’s a reason Vegas has set the line at greater than one possession. Yes, sometimes they’re wrong but according to Pro-Football-Reference’s Win Probability Calculator, nine-point underdogs have just a 26.6 percent chance of winning at the start of a game — roughly a 1-in-4 chance. The odds of a Bears’ win are just plus 3.28-to-1, meaning Vegas still holds the upper hand. I like Justin Fields too. Don’t let his greatness cloud your judgment though.