The Bailey Zappe-led Patriots are one of the hottest teams in football entering Monday night, but it seems that it will be Mac Jones—not New England’s rookie sensation—under center against the Bears at Gillette Stadium.
Jones, the second-year starter, missed the last three games with a high ankle sprain and is expected to start for the Patriots in their first prime-time showing of the season when the Bears come to town. The Patriots (3-3) went 2-0 across Zappe’s two starts and are back at .500 after a 1-3 start. The Bears (2-4) have dropped three in a row following a 2-1 start, including a loss to the Commanders last Thursday.
New England is a 7.5-point favorite and has won its last five games against the Bears (the most recent meeting was in 2018). The Patriots are 3-2-1 against the spread (ATS) on the year while the Bears have gone 2-3-1.
Bears vs. Patriots Odds
- Moneyline: Bears (+310) | Patriots (-390)
- Spread: Bears +7.5 (-105) | Patriots -7.5 (-115)
- Total: 40.5 Over (-106) | Under (-114)
Chicago averages out to a middle-of-the-pack defense with a top-five passing defense and a bottom-five rushing defense. The Bears are one of nine teams that allow fewer than 200 passing yards per game and they only rank behind the Packers and 49ers in that regard. But they are very vulnerable against the run, which is New England’s strength.
Already twice this season teams have run for more than 200 yards against Chicago and the Patriots' rushing attack will be at full strength again this week with Damien Harris returning. New England has the No. 10 rushing attack by yards per game (131.3) and Rhamondre Stevenson has been one of the best rushers in football this season.
The Bears’ offensive performance is essentially the inverse of its defense: They cannot move the ball through the air and gash opponents on the ground. Chicago is second in the league in rushing yards per game (170.7) and dead last by a wide margin in passing yards (122.8). Fields’ passing numbers have seen a small bump over the last three weeks, but still fall well short of the league standard. Danell Mooney, his leading receiver, has just 241 yards this season and Fields has only connected with him on about half of his targets.
New England’s passing attack has performed relatively well given its circumstances. Zappe and Jones both have 300-yard games under their belt and different receivers have stepped up, from Jakobi Meyers to DeVante Parker to Nelson Agholor and rookie speedster Tyquan Thornton got involved last week and scored twice.
The Patriots have done a good job of keeping opposing teams out of the end zone, highlighted by a shocking shutout of the Lions a few weeks ago, who had the league’s top offense at the time. Their top-10 scoring defense (18.8 PPG) combined with the Bears’ 31st-ranked offense (15.5 PPG) is the recipe for a low-scoring game, which is why this point total is just a half-point above 40.
This contest with Chicago is the perfect time for Jones to rejoin the team. The Bears haven’t gotten to opposing quarterbacks particularly well and the Patriots can lean heavily on their running back duo as he eases back into things. Bill Bellichick can and will dial up a defensive game plan that will force Fields, who has five interceptions on the year, into mistakes.
New England has already caused trouble for better teams and quarterbacks this season, so I like the Patriots to handle the Bears at home in Jones’ first game back and make it three wins in a row. I don’t see any world where Chicago breaks the 20-point threshold—something they’ve only done twice this season—but the Bears defense isn’t going to roll over, either. It’s tempting to take the over with what New England’s offense has done over the last two weeks, but Chicago has a much better defense than the Lions or Browns, who the Patriots beat up on.