Thursday Night Football is here, meaning that Week 10 of the 2023 NFL Season has arrived! The Carolina Panthers are in Illinois as they prepare to take on the Chicago Bears in what can only be described as a Super Bowl preview. DraftKings Sportsbook has the Bears as the home favorites in this one, which makes sense given that they are the only one of these two teams that has demonstrated any real ability to put points on the board. Or at least, they were.
This has taken a dip with the absence of their Tyson Bagent under center. In the four games that he has played in, the team has averaged just over 18 points per game, which is a significant drop following the respectable 23 ppg with Justin Fields. Technically, Fields is listed as “doubtful” with a lingering thumb injury, but Matt Eberflus stated that he is out for the game. This is rough news for receiver DJ Moore, who was having a phenomenal season before cooling off after losing his passer. In his absence, Bagent has continued to target the talented pass catcher, but with lesser results Still, this could be a “revenge” game for Moore — even if he claims otherwise.
To be fair, the Panthers have been marginally better at protecting the ball. The Bears currently have the worst turnover differential in the league and lead the NFL in giveaways. This would be a bigger factor if either of these teams could consistently generate turnovers on defense, but this has not been the case this season. Also, creating and/or minimizing turnovers doesn’t directly equate to winning games if the offense can’t put points on the board and the defense can’t stop anybody, which is a fitting description of the 2023 Carolina Panthers, and to a slightly lesser extent (maybe) the Chicago Bears.
One factor that I see as possibly being the deciding factor in this game lies on the pass rush. Pro Football Focus credits the Panthers as being in this regard, and in this case I am inclined to agree. As a young and inexperienced passer, I think Tyson Bagent will be under enough pressure to force some mistakes, and Bryce Young’s performance will be just good enough to assuage some concerns around his development thus far as a pro. Translation: Panthers win a low-scoring game.
The pick: Under 38 points, Panthers win straight up and covers the spread