When it comes to handicapping the NFL, no other single factor influences the lines as much as injuries. Like no other year before it — no OTAs, virtual training caps, and a canceled preseason — widespread roster changes centerpiece the 2020 season. Before making your bets at the sportsbook, always check the latest player updates for injury news. Knowing who’s on the field and who’s on the bench makes the difference between winning and losing.
|Game: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1) vs Chicago Bears (3-1)
Location: Soldier Field
Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
The Chicago Bears play host to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Thursday night primetime NFC matchup between 3-1 teams. Two years ago, coach Matt Nagy led the Bears to a 48-10 beating of a quite different Buccaneers team (then coached by Dirk Koetter). Now it’s Bruce Arians and Tom Brady showing up in pewter. We’ll break down the injuries, line moves, and try to explain why bettors can’t seem to get enough of the Bears this week.
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In their comeback victory over the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers left a number of offensive players on the field. Five of them were hurt, in fact, and it now appears several will not be returning.
Lost are WR Justin Watson (chest) and RB LeSean McCoy (ankle) both of whom played against the Chargers and are ruled out for Week 5. And TE O.J. Howard is gone for the season after an Achilles’ injury. Add to these woes more offensive standouts, RB Leonard Fournette and WR Chris Godwin, the Bucs were hoping to return to their lineup after missing the last game. Godwin is listed out, and while Fournette is listed as doubtful it would be shocking to see him play.
What’s left for the Bucs will get decided at game time. While WR Scotty Miller only participated in a limited fashion on the second day of practice, it’s expected he will play. On the other hand, WR Mike Evans missed both practices and has been declared a game-time decision. Without him, expect unknowns like Tyler Johnson and Jaydon Mickens to be getting on the same page as Tom Brady.
Some good news on the defensive side of the ball for the Bucs, in that their two banged-up defenders after last week, LB Jason Pierre-Paul and DE Will Gholston, have both been removed from the injury report.
Worse than any physical injury, the Bears pride took a bit of a beating last week when they chalked up a whopping total of twenty-eight (spelled out in words to demonstrate how awful it is) yards of rushing. Talk about missing RB Tarik Cohen lost to IR before last week.
One name to watch when the inactives are announced for the Bears is WR Darnell Mooney (shoulder) who was limited in both practices before being listed questionable. Nothing suggests otherwise he won’t play, but the designation raises an eyebrow.
Otherwise, the Bears return to the field pretty much the same team from last week, the only notable exception being in the defense. A pair of pulled hammies have two safeties on the list. One, Deon Bush, is listed as out, while the other, Sherrick McManis, is doubtful (but he didn’t play Week 4). Lacking both won’t help the Bears, obviously, but they are mainly depth and special-teams players.
When the Buccaneers released their Monday projected practice report projecting their lineup was a mess, they weren’t kidding. We leaned towards the Bucs moneyline earlier in the week when it was -240, expecting it to come down in price. Thanks to a cluster of injuries, it’s come down significantly more than expected.
Not listening to the warning signs, we missed getting as much as +6½ with the Bears, and it’s now crashed to +3½. While we still think the Bucs emerge as the winner, we can only lean towards taking the 3½ (and it’s a little pricey at this point). If Mike Evans can’t play, we’d expect the hook to be gone from the three by kickoff.
The total bounced around a little in between 44 and 45. We’d lean to the under, but at this point in the NFL it’s a tough pill to swallow anything under a 47½ (at least). If you do have the constitution, play it now as we’d expect it to notch below the current key number of 44½ once game time approaches and the Bucs’ wide-receiver situation becomes clearer and more widely known.