It’s another Thursday, which means the wait is over and Week 10 of the NFL season kicks off tonight as the Carolina Panthers travel to Soldier Field to take on the Chicago Bears in what would normally be dubbed as the race for the number one overall pick for the 2024 draft. However, as Chicago own the Panther’s first round pick due to a trade to get their rookie quarterback Bryce Young back in April, this is just a plain old bottom of the league game with almost no long term implications. Good going schedule makers, thanks putting this in a prime time slot and for not burying this deep down in the main sunday slate where none of us have to see it.
The Carolina Panthers are one of the worst teams in football, I think even their own fans would admit that. However if there is anything to cling onto it is that the defense, which was just woeful to watch through the first third of the season, actually showed proper promise over the last two weeks. Their first and only win of the season came over the Houston Texans in Week 8 in a 15-13 defensive battle. The Texans are surprisingly in the AFC playoff hunt thanks to the impressive play of rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud, the man who the Panthers passed up on to take Bryce Young. The Panthers’ defense seemed to be inspired to avenge the narrative that David Tepper’s team took the wrong guy and limited the probable Offensive Rookie of The Year winner, Stroud, to his season lowest passing output of 140 yards. They then carried that form into the Week 9 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, despite the team conceding 27 points they only allowed Gardner Minshew to throw for 127 yards, his lowest output of his season.
The flipside however is that Bryce Young and the offense have shown no signs of improvement at all, they are still a bottom five team in yards per game and the spotty play of their young has cost them games. I’m of the opinion that if you’re likely going to be a bad team that have the option to keep your rookie QB on the bench, then you should. Andy Dalton could have kept this offense ticking over and the Frank Reich wouldn’t have thrown Young into a shark pit wearing meat pants. No one was going to fix this team inside of a single season but Reich is already under pressure because of this decision and others like it.
The Bears didn’t just aquire a draft pick hual as part of the huge package the Bears got from their opponents tonight, they also managed to steal away wide receiver D.J. Moore from Charlotte to Hallas Hall. The electric offensive weapon out of Maryland has been a revelation for a team that has had absolutely no production at that position in recent years. Only two players have surpassed 1000 yards receiving in a bears uniform over the last decade. Moore is already at 735 yards however, his prodution has taken a dive recently; before Week 5 he had 531 of those yards and since then he has averaged 51 yards a game.
That is because Justin Fields, the man GM Ryan Poles drafted to be their franchise quarterback, has been missing since midway through Week 5 when he dislocated his thumb. He is still to be sidelined for this matchup and the man starting in his place is undrafted rookie Tyson Bagent out of Shepard. Bagent won out a camp battle to be the backup and has shown poise beyond his years in his first four starts especially when delivering his team a rare win over the Las Vegas Raiders. His talents seem limited from the tape he has put out so far, he is not going to be the long term answer but has he got enough juice to see Matt Eberflus’ Bears get a much needed win over a well matched Panthers team?
The biggest news regarding the Bears has been the trade they made with the Washington Commanders for defensive edge Montez Sweat. They only paid a second round pick in exchange for some much needed pass rushing talent but they had to pay him handsomely to secure his services. This was certainly a move for the future but can he be an impact player this season?
DraftKings Sportsbook have got the Bears as slight favorites over the Panthers in this edition of Thursday night football. The 3.5-points spread is too rich for my blood, as I said the Panthers’ pass defense has improved greatly the Bears will struggle to get anything going on that side of the ball. The reason the Bears are the favorites though is because their run game is actually decent and the Panthers’ run defense is actually terrible but having watched them face the Chargers in Week 8 I didn’t see anything impressive, the numbers seem to be a causation of the fact they have to run the ball a lot because they can’t pass at all. On the other side of the ball the Bears have struggled to get any pressure on quarterbacks so Bryce Young might be able to find the time for his pedestrian receivers to get open. If the Bears’ secondary are forced to cover Adam Thielen for more than five seconds as Bryce dances around in the pocket then that’s going to be a problem.
Overall I like taking the +3.5 point spread on offer for the Panthers at -115 and I like, as I seem to regularly do, the under 38 total points at -112. The Panthers might be one of the worst teams in the league but they are facing maybe the only team worse than them. I’m not willing to put money on them winning outright but a field goal buffer in a low scoring affair is once again good value.
Injuries to consider
Laviska Shenault Jr. and Stephen Sullivan have been ruled out, Xavier Woods and Vonn Bell are both questionable. Whilst Marquis Haynes Sr., Brady Christensen, Jaycee Horn, Shaq Thompson, Ian Thomas, Yetur Gross-Matos, Jeremy Chinn and Justin Houston all remain on IR.
Tremaine Edmunds, Nate Davis and Terell Smith are all out, Justin Fields is Doubtful and Equanimeous St. Brown, Josh Blackwell, Khalil Herbert and Joe Reed are all on IR.
What do you think, BFTB? Any of you placing bets tonight?