When Tom Brady and Nick Foles quarterbacked opposing sides in Super Bowl 52, and at that time both men probably had a better supporting cast. But as they are now in different surroundings, they present an interesting handicapping challenge.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Chicago Bears will meet up on Thursday night, beginning at 8:20 PM ET at Soldier Field. This is a Fox Network broadcast, and it is also available for Amazon Prime Video subscribers. BetAnySports patrons can get better odds with reduced juice and real-time wagering with Sports Betting Prime.
Some of the conversation has to center around injuries for this game. Brady needs weapons, and some of those weapons are either out or not 100%. He is missing tight end OJ Howard , who looked like he might start to really roll with Brady, who has an Achilles injury. Chris Godwin won’t play. Mike Evans is iffy with a sprained ankle. Scotty Miller, who has a groin injury, will probably play. Justin Watson probably won’t play (chest injury).
Some of these absences may not make any material difference in this game. For example, running back Leonard Fournette, who had to sit out last week’s win over the Chargers with an ankle injury, is a game-time decision. But they did okay out of the backfield in Los Angeles. Rodney Jones topped the 100-yard mark, and Ke’ Shawn Vaughn caught one of Brady’s five touchdown passes.
The Bears have moved to replace Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback with Foles, who was a hero against Atlanta, throwing three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, and then threw for 249 yards last week against Indianapolis.
In the Thursday night NFL odds posted at BetAnySports on this game, the Bucs are the road favorites:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers -3.5 (-105)
Chicago Bears +3.5 (-115)
Over 44.5 points -110
Under 44.5 points -110
What happens with the Howard injury is that if he is able, Rob Gronkowski becomes more a part of the game plan, as the Bucs go to their double tight end package. That is something that might work in Tampa Bay’s favor.
Evans’ absence could really mean something; he caught seven passes for 122 yards last week, as the Buccaneers rolled up 24 first downs in the second half and completed the second biggest comeback in team history (from being down 24-7).
Foles’ problem is that he doesn’t have a plethora of weapons around him. Tarik Cohen is a versatile weapon, but he isn’t available. But you know, it may be possible for the Bears to move the ball anyway – through the air. The Bucs are very difficult to run on; they allow just 2.7 yards a carry and hold opponents to no yards or negative yardage 24% of the time. But the secondary is still a work in progress.
Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians plays into this scenario. You can bet he is familiar with what the Bears want to do on defense, because he worked under defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano at Indianapolis, and even filled in as interim coach of the Colts when Pagano had to get cancer treatments.
Arians also has an interesting trend following him, in that 30 of the last 41 games he has coached have gone over the total. When you look at this game, the shortage of some offensive players might dictate something low-scoring. But the Bucs attack with Arians and Brady, and Foles may not have any choice but to put the ball in the air a lot, as we don’t see Chicago developing a ground game. So it’s an OVER for us at a reasonable number.
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