When the New England Patriots line up for action against the Chicago Bears on Monday night, they will again have a familiar face at the quarterback position. Mac Jones, the Alabama graduate who made it to the Pro Bowl in his rookie season, has been declared medically able to take the field again as he’s recovered from a high ankle sprain.
But what BetOnline customers have to ask themselves, are they better off with him or with the raw rookie they’ve been winning the past couple of weeks?
And that is one of the stories behind this Monday night encounter, which kicks off at 8:15 p.m. Eastern time at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.
Bailey Zappe was pressed into action after backup quarterback Brian Hoyer, who was subbing for the injured Jones, was knocked out of a game against the Green Bay Packers. Instead of folding the tent, the Patriots, behind Zappe, took the Packers into overtime before losing a 27-24 decision.
In the next two games, they scored 67 points against the Lions and Browns, and got themselves back even at 3-3. Zappe has not only held the fort down but he’s also excelled in a big way, as he is first in the entire NFL in quarterback rating. And with 72.9% completions, he worked the high-percentage game plan extremely well.
Granted, head coach Bill Belichick put Zappe in the best position possible to succeed, as a lot of that game plan involved high-percentage throws like screen passes, which New England did almost 20% of the time with the rookie from Western Kentucky at the helm.
There will be a different look with Jones, who likes to throw it down the field and is not bad at it.
Chicago’s quarterback situation is a different story. And we’ll explore that in a moment.
In the NFL betting odds on this Monday night game, as they are posted at BetOnline, the Patriots are laying quite a few points.
New England Patriots – 8.5
Chicago Bears + 8.5
Over 40 points -115
Under 40 points – 115
The Bears made Justin Fields a first-round draft pick last year, so they must follow their investment. They knew he’d be going through some rough spots because, quite frankly, the system he was playing in at Ohio State didn’t lend itself much too dealing with pro-style defensive schemes.
Fields has not really been a quick study; he’s thrown a higher percentage of bed throws than any quarterback in the league. And with slightly less than 55% accuracy, he is almost catastrophic by today’s standards.
He also doesn’t make decisions all that quickly, and opposing defensive coordinators have picked up on that. Fields have been sacked 23 times on the season, and that would translate to more than 60 over the course of the entire campaign. He also has 32 scrambles, which puts him at the top of the list.
It’s a good thing that some of those scrambles result in yardage, as Fields have become a principal component of the ground game, which Chicago employs on almost 59% of their offensive snaps. Fields are averaging 5.2 yards per carry, and of late, he has been complemented well in the backfield by Khalil Herbert, a second-year man out of Virginia Tech who has the highest yards-per-carry average among all NFL running backs at 6.4. However, Herbert is a bit of a liability in the pass-blocking game, and we will see how Belichick deals with that.
Look – the Bears have done something right in the run game, as they’ve averaged 170.7 yards per game, second-best in the NFL. Yes, they can become one-dimensional, and that’s where New England will have to take advantage. This will definitely change the odds dynamics at some of the best NFL betting sites.
There are 32 teams in the NFL, and these two are 28th and 29th in terms of scoring touchdowns when they get into the red zone. So we could see one of those games with a lot of field goals. That’s why we are going with an UNDER in Monday night NFL action.
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