How the Bears Beat the Bucs: Split Em & Hit Em

| October 21st, 2021

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are favored over the Chicago Bears by anywhere from 12 to 13.5 points, depending on the sportsbook of your choice. But this is not an unwinnable game for the Bears. There’s a path. Will they take it?

[Note. This space will operate like Robert Quinn’s positive Covid test on Monday will keep him out of this game.]


Split Em, or What Must the Bears Do on Offense:

  • Abandon the run.
    • This is a team that salivates at the thought of an opponent running the ball on first and second down. It allows their pass rush can tee off on third and their terrible secondary to take a deep breath. The teams that have had offensive production against them have taken the opposite approach.
      • When the Cowboys scored 29, Zeke and Pollard totaled 14 carries. Dak Prescott threw for over 400 yards and 3 touchdowns.
      • Sony Michel was given 20 carries by the Rams against the Bucs and totaled 67 yards. (The Rams had a pretty significant lead in this game.) Matthew Stafford threw for 343 yards and 4 touchdowns.
      • This is a game where Marquise Goodwin and Damiere Byrd should log snaps and see targets. And it would be a nice opportunity to throw the football to Jimmy Graham a few times.
    • Jalen Hurts was terrible throwing the ball against Tampa but his legs became a serious weapon as the game progressed. This is another reason to run this game plan through Fields. When it’s not there, let him run. His legs might be their only productive option on the ground.
    • It would also be nice to see Fields with the ability to throw the football away on an EARLY down. On third downs, he’s trying to force the issue to keep the chains moving. But on first down he should be far more willing to fling a ball into the sixth row if there’s nothing available downfield.


Hit Em, or What Must the Bears Do on Defense:

  • Pressure up the gut.
    • There’s no reason to belabor the point. Tom Brady has been playing in the NFL since the 80s and people have been writing the same stuff since the 80s. The only way to make him uncomfortable is to get him off his spot; pressure him up the middle. This will be far more difficult without Quinn.
  • Tackle the quick toss.
    • Brady’s been as accurate as any quarterback in the league this season and he has brilliant short-yardage options in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Leonard Fournette, Gio Bernard, etc. If the Bears continue to tackle as they have, especially at the safety position, it’s hard to imagine the Bucs not going 70 yards for a score on what looks like an innocuous 5-6 yard slant.
  • Take one away with JJ.
    • Sean Desai has a difficult decision to make with Jaylon Johnson. Where does he deploy him? If he chooses to take one receiver away, that receiver should be Evans. Godwin and Brown do more of their work underneath the defense. Evans is the homerun hitter. Preventing the homerun might be the key to keeping this game competitive.

Tagged: , , , , , ,


Super Bowl Gambling Guide, Volume II: Three Real Props

| February 2nd, 2021

Prop Bet #1

Leonard Fournette to Score a TD: +120

“Playoff Lenny”

The Chiefs allowed 122.1 yards per game on the ground this season but they haven’t really been tested there this postseason. (Cleveland only ran the ball 20 times against them but averaged 5.3 yard a clip.) If the Bucs are going to make this the game I think it will be, Fournette will have to play a major role. That means 20+ attempts, 100+ yards and points.


Prop Bet #2

Tom Brady OVER 0.5 Rushing Yards: +130

Two points on this prop.

  • It is a situational bet. It requires the Bucs finding themselves in 3rd or 4th and 1 because Brady ain’t scrambling for yards. But Tompa is the greatest sneak quarterback of all-time and in this game every yard feels like twenty. Every first down feels decisive, and that’s especially true when the opponent seems to score at will like Kansas City. Arians will keep this game in the most reliable hands he’s got.
  • Brady has actually hit this number in two of his last four games. So at + money, this is a bet well worth making.


Prop Bet #3

Travis Kelce OVER 8.5 Catches: +130

Often, it’s very easy to applaud Vegas for how they set these over/unders. But this one is a no-brainer. Here are Kelce’s catch totals over his last ten games: 13, 8, 7, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 10, 8.

This is the Super Bowl. It figures to be a shootout. Kelce is the best receiving option in the sport and Todd Bowles will manufacture pressure every way imaginable, leaving Mahomes to look for his most reliable outlet. My projected line for Kelce: 11 catches, 107 yards, 1 TD.

Tagged: , , ,