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Bettors Like Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Not Chicago Bears in NFL Battle of 3-1.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Chicago Bears enter Thursday night’s game at Soldier Field with identical 3-1 records. Their betting outlooks, however, could hardly be more different.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady is fourth in the NFL with 11 touchdown passes going into Thursday night’s game at the Chicago Bears. (Image: Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)

Just like when the season opened, the Buccaneers, with the addition of legendary quarterback Tom Brady, are among the betting favorites to win the Super Bowl. At William Hill, the Bucs are +1,200 to win the championship, the fifth-shortest odds in the NFL.

The Bears entered the season at +4,000 to win this year’s Super Bowl. Despite winning three of their first four games to start this season, they’ve actually trended backward to +5,000.

Tampa Bay was a consensus 3.5-point favorite at sportsbooks as of Thursday morning. The over/under is 44.5 points.

Belief in the Bucs

The Bucs, who haven’t reached the playoffs since 2007, became an instant contender when they signed Brady. Last week, he threw five touchdown passes to help the Bucs overcome a 17-point deficit and beat the Los Angeles Chargers.

Their success goes beyond Brady, though. He’s formed an instant connection with receiver Mike Evans, who has only 17 receptions, but with five touchdowns. Linebacker Lavonte David was named the NFC’s Defensive Player of the Month for September to fuel a unit that is giving up a minuscule 2.71 yards per rushing attempt.

Their defense is pretty good and Brady’s been doing it with Evans hurt one week, (receiver Chris) Godwin hurt the next week, (tight end) O.J. Howard out now, so it’s not like he’s had all his weapons at his disposal all at once,” said Nick Bogdanovich, the director of trading at William Hill, to Casino.org.

“I’d say Tampa’s in pretty good shape right now, to be honest with you. They look like a pretty well-rounded unit: good coaching, good leadership, enough offense, enough defense.”

The Buccaneers are eighth in the NFL in points scored, as well as points allowed.

No Belief in the Bears

Chicago started 3-0, though all three victories came by matching four-point margins against teams with a combined record of 1-11. Last week, the Bears lost 19-11 to Indianapolis. With Nick Foles getting his first start in place of the benched Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback, Chicago’s lone touchdown came with less than 2 minutes remaining.

He’s probably the lesser of two evils,” Bogdanovich said of Foles. “Trubisky just doesn’t have the consistency. He obviously has the talent, but they had to bench him for Foles.”

“Their offense is so vanilla,” Bogdanovich added. “In an offensive league, they struggled to get to 10 against the Colts. (Running back David) Montgomery’s just a plodder, (running back Tarik) Cohen’s out. Their receivers are halfway decent but, I don’t know, they just look like a .500 squad.”

A key battle will be Brady against Chicago’s defense, which ranks third in opponent passer rating.

By the way, this will be the first Thursday night game of the season aired on Fox.

Week 5 Schedule

Here are this week’s games, with betting lines from William Hill. All times are Eastern.

Thursday

  • Tampa Bay at Chicago (+3.5), 8:20 PM (FOX/NFLN/Amazon)

Sunday

  • Buffalo at Tennessee (no line), 1 p.m. (CBS)
  • Los Angeles Rams at Washington (+7), 1 p.m. (FOX)
  • Arizona at New York Jets (+7), 1 p.m. (FOX)
  • Philadelphia at Pittsburgh (-7), 1 p.m. (FOX)
  • Carolina at Atlanta (-1), 1 p.m. (FOX)
  • Cincinnati at Baltimore (-13), 1 p.m. (CBS)
  • Jacksonville at Houston (-6), 1 p.m. (CBS)
  • Las Vegas at Kansas City (-13), 1 p.m. (CBS)
  • Miami at San Francisco (-8.5), 4:05 p.m. (FOX)
  • Indianapolis at Cleveland (+2), 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
  • New York Giants at Dallas (-9.5), 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
  • Denver at New England (no line), 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
  • Minnesota at Seattle (-7), 8:20 p.m. (NBC)

Monday

  • Los Angeles Chargers at New Orleans (-7.5), 8:15 p.m. (ESPN)

The Buffalo Bills at Tennessee Titans and Denver Broncos at New England Patriots games are off the board because of positive COVID-19 tests with the Titans and Patriots. The Patriots have had two consecutive days of negative tests, but the Titans had two more positives, to bring their total to 23 players and staff members.

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