It hasn’t happened often in 2018, but the Chicago Bears are apparently the underdogs this weekend.
The Minnesota Vikings opened the week as 6.5-point home favorites (currently 5-point favorites) over the Chicago Bears at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas. That’s just the fourth time this season the Bears have *not* been Vegas favorites, which sure says a lot about this season.
But, also, like, what the hell, man? The first-place Bears being underdogs to the second-place Vikings just doesn’t feel quite right … right?
After all, it’s not like they have nothing to play for. Head Coach Matt Nagy indicated he was playing his healthy starters with their eyes on the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs. That, coupled with the fact that Chicago has already beaten Minnesota previously – and won the NFC North – would make you think the Bears should be favorites in this one, regardless of where it’s being played.
But it’s not as cut-and-dried as that. Oddsmakers evidently believe the Bears will play their starters only for as long as the game is close and there is still a shot to capture a first-round bye. But because the Los Angeles Rams are a 10-point favorite at home against the San Francisco 49ers, the expectations are that it won’t be long before the Bears start sitting their most important players.
But still … it feels weird from a wagering perspective and I’m at a point where I’d probably avoid this game altogether unless a moneyline wager (most sportsbooks have the Bears at +190, meaning a $100 wager will pay out $290 in winnings) made it worth my while. Let’s talk through the wagering aspect of this game since it’s one of the most important games on the Week 17 ledger.
Home-field advantage is worth three points in the eyes of the oddsmakers, so even if you were to take that away, the line-makers still view the Bears as two or three-point underdogs against the Vikings. Perhaps this line was made with Week 11 in mind. Remember, the Bears – who were three-point favorites in that contest – defeated the Vikings 25-20. We should also keep in mind that odds and lines are made with the intent to get people to throw in money to make wagers. If fans see an oddity in the line, they’ll race to the window and make a bet they believe is in their favor. From there, oddsmakers adjust lines to fit the marketplace. Hence, the movement from the Vikings being 6.5-point favorites to being favored by 5 points. Every point matters and can be worth millions of dollars to a sports book.
I suppose if you were desperate to make a Bears-related play this weekend, the most logical one would to bet the UNDER 40.5. It’s almost a dangerously low number, but the UNDER has come in for the Bears in three straight games and four of their last five. The under has also come in for the Vikings in four of their last five. A game between two of the league’s better defenses and the possibility of the Bears going to their reserves early could make for a low-scoring affair.