The NFL’s "Thursday Night Game" products have consistently been the target for criticism, whether it’s the ill-conceived garish “color rush” uniforms, the various changing broadcast outlets, but probably most often, regarding the quality of the matchups and the play across Chicago sports betting. Getting ready to play on such short practice schedules has been a headache for coaches and players all along.
The hooting will be especially loud this week, as the NFL has lined up possibly the worst pairing for what is billed as a “national” televised game with the 1-7 Carolina Panthers traveling to Soldier Field to play the 2-7 Chicago Bears.
To be fair, the league doesn’t have a crystal ball when it makes a schedule. However, no one predicted that either of these teams would be serious Super Bowl contenders and it was all too clear at whatever point the schedule was made that this would be, at best, a pedestrian matchup. That said, a win over the Panthers will give at least a glimmer of hope to the Bears playoff chances in a wide open NFC.
The pairing of Carolina-Chicago lacks a traditional rivalry angle, a historical story line or some divisional impact, such as the Detroit Lions-Green Bay Packers game on September 28, or the Denver Broncos-Kansas City Chiefs game on Oct. 12.
As it stands, Panthers-Bears can best be described as dreary. The "D.J. Moore Revenge Game" doesn't quite cut it.
Looking For A Silver Lining
Carolina is averaging 17.5 points a game, while Chicago’s offense is slightly better at 20.9 points a game. The Bears are listed as a 3-point favorite at Caesars Illinois, with the O/U at an anticipated listless 40.5 points.
Prospective bettors looking to past performance will be pressed to find reasons to back either team. The Bears are 3-5-1 against the spread. The Panthers are a toxic 1-6-1 ATS.
There might be something of narrative in the quarterbacks. Chicago may be getting back its starting QB Justin Fields, who has been sidelined with a thumb injury but whose performances were alternately great-and-not-so-great prior to the injury. Carolina is committed to its No. 1 overall draft pick, quarterback Bryce Young, who has looked very much like a rookie with eight TD passes and seven interceptions. Young, of course, came to Carolina via a trade with the Bears, the same one that sent Moore to the Windy City.
Breaking from the stereotype, the first Thursday Night Game this season was both exciting and a bit startling, as the Lions proved their preseason hype was well-founded in beating the Super Bowl champion Chiefs, 21-20.
Aside from that, however, the matchups have provided mostly mediocre TV watching. Meanwhile, viewers on this coming Thursday would be pleasantly surprised if Carolina-Chicago actually reaches mediocrity.
In more hard-hitting news, the Bears' Matt Eberflus heads our list of NFL coaches most likely to be fired, updated weekly at IllinoisBet.com.