Winners of three in a row straight-up, the Carolina Panthers are on track to assume a rare role as favorites heading into Sunday’s home game against the Chicago Bears.
Carolina (3-2) has been the underdog in each of its first five games, but its current momentum led to an opening line as 3-point favorites. The Bears (4-1) also have become used to being underdogs. They have been favored in only one of their first five games.
Chicago has taken most of the bettors’ money throughout the week, and as of Thursday night, that has pushed the line all the way down to a pick ‘em at betonline.ag, though Panthers bettors still have to take -117. Bears bettors can get the money line at -103. Bovada still lists the Panthers as a 1.5-point favorite.
The total opened at 44 points and has ticked up to 44.5 points at both web sites as of Thursday night.
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. ET Sunday at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.
The Bears were a popular pick as short home underdogs against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night. They got a field goal from Cairo Santos with 1:13 left to win 20-19, which also allowed them to cover the closing 1.5-point spread.
The Panthers closed as 2.5-point road underdogs against Atlanta and thanks to a strong second quarter, never made their backers sweat. Carolina led by 13 points at halftime and won the game 26-13.
Trends are good to look at, but it’s not necessarily a good idea to make a decision based solely on them. There are plenty of conflicting trends for this game, but if you’re looking for a few to bump you to the Panthers’ side, here you go.
The Bears are 0-5 against the spread (ATS) in their last five following an ATS win. They are also 1-6 ATS versus teams with a winning record and 5-12 ATS in their last 17 games overall. Chicago is also 2-6 ATS in its last eight road games.
The Panthers, on the other hand, are 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven home games versus teams with winning road records and 5-2 ATS in their last seven games following a straight-up win.
Several trends for Bears totals indicate a high likelihood of Sunday’s game going under the total, while two trends for Panthers totals indicate a bet on the over is a good idea.
The Bears are nearly 100% healthy. As of Thursday night, the biggest loss they could have is backup safety Deon Bush (hamstring). They got a boost on Thursday when fellow backup safety Sherrick McManis (hamstring) returned to practice. McManis is a star on special teams.
Carolina got some encouraging news on Thursday when defensive end Brian Burns (concussion) practiced on a limited basis. He did not practice at all on Wednesday. Burns has been one of the team’s top defensive players.
The Panthers hope to have Burns because it is looking less likely that fellow starting defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos will suit up Sunday. Gross-Matos (ankle) missed his second consecutive day of practice.
Running back Christian McCaffrey remains out for the Panthers, but that hasn’t mattered so far. Carolina has won all three games without him on the field thanks to the effective running and pass-catching of Mike Davis.
Future Bears bettors missed the best number, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still cash a ticket.
Carolina has been a nice story. The defense was expected to be bad when the season began, and it was during the first two games. It has been better the last three weeks though, even against capable offenses such as Arizona and Atlanta. That certainly bodes well for Sunday’s game against a Bears offense that ranks 27th in the league in scoring at 21 points per game.
One of the biggest mistakes bettors can make, however, is to become prisoners of the moment. The NFL always seems to have a way of reeling bettors back in.
Do you trust the Panthers, who were viewed as one of the NFL’s worst teams during the preseason, to rip off a strong winning streak?
Chicago has the fourth-best scoring defense and has extra rest following the comeback win over Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They have won both of their road games, too.
When in doubt, follow the sharp bettors. In that case, this means betting on Chicago, even if you wait for all the way to kickoff and have to get it as a small favorite. The best bet, though, is to fire as soon as possible to try to get a small plus-price on the money line.