Good morning Bolts From the Blue!
The Chargers take on the Chicago Bears in a prime time showdown that, without exaggeration, is an absolute must win game that will decide the fate of Brandon Staley, Tom Telesco, as well as many of the Chargers’ players that the on-the-hot-seat duo brought to Los Angeles over the last three seasons. The Bolts enter the Sunday night matchup at SoFi stadium as a huge 8.5-point favorite for what Vegas is clearly deeming to be a one-sided affair. Chicago’s starting quarterback Justin Fields has already been ruled out with a thumb injury so Tyson Bagent, fresh off leading his side to victory over the Las Vegas Raiders, will take the helm in his absence. If Brandon Staley isn’t able to lead his team to victory on home turf against a weakened Bears team that has been closer to number one overall draft pick conversations than playoff implication articles, then serious questions will be raised and change will surely be coming.
The Sunday matchup that I’m most excited to watch tomorrow is the Cincinnati Bengals trip to take on the San Fransisco 49ers in Santa Clara. The 49ers are 5.5-point favorites per DraftKings Sportsbook, which if you looked at the talent on the Bengals’ roster would seem excessive, however, Cincinnati has been well below their best with three losses on the season so far. The eye test matches their subpar record. The offense is clearly struggling for balance with a weak rushing game that ranks absolute dead last in total yards and a passing game that has suffered from lack of health. The 49ers were imperious to start the season winning five straight before a messy loss to an impressive Cleveland Browns’ defensive display and then came a huge surprise when they fell to the Minnesota Vikings in Week Seven. Brock Purdy suffered a nasty looking blow to the head on a QB sneak attempt in that loss but has somewhat surprisingly cleared the concussion protocol to be ready for this matchup. I believe that the Bengals’ very underrated defense will be a tougher test for the 49ers than Vegas is expecting. The evidence for this is shown in that the Bengals’ three wins have all come against the other NFC West teams, their defense has looked solid conceding less than 20 points in all three games. I am therefore backing them to overhaul a 5.5 point underdog tag, and claim the clean sweep of their 2023 road division opponents. I’d take the generous 5.5-point spread at -108 odds for value, but if you’re feeling brave then the +200 odds is almost too tasty to pass up.
The other games I am gearing up to watch before the Chargers’ game kicks off are the Los Angeles Rams at the Dallas Cowboys, and the AFC West rivalry matchup where the Kansas City Chiefs travel to Mile High Stadium to take on the Denver Broncos in what could potentially be a snow game. The Chiefs’ game is simple; Mahomes just always wins in the West just like the Raiders always sit at home in January. That said I am always going to tune into a snow game especially when it might force the Chiefs to rely on their shaky run game and keep this a bit closer than normal... right up until Andy Reid decides he is bored of getting four yards a carry and puts Sean Payton out of his misery throwing the ball through that snowy Colorado air for an easy win. In comparison to this, I think the game at AT&T Stadium has a bit more complexity to it; the Rams’ defense hasn’t been anything close to the levels of recent seasons but at the same time, the Cowboys’ defense has been exposed by pass heavy teams over the last few weeks before their bye. Their cornerbacks have not able to make up for Diggs’ absence so Stafford’s passing game, featuring the league’s newest receiving duo in Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua, can pick them apart before Micah Parsons can make his inevitable pressure count. Therefore, my best bet of the day is for the Rams to cover the seven-point spread offered at -112 odds and if you’re looking for a player prop then backing Stafford to hit Over 253.5 passing yards at -115 odds seems like a mark he is likely to hit after doing so the last four games in a row.
For all of our weekly staff picks, check them out below!