Because of motivations (or lack thereof), player availability and other factors, Week 18 in the NFL might be the hardest to figure out for bettors.
The Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers matchup in Lambeau Field on Sunday might be a little different because both teams come in with plenty of motivation, expecting to play their regular starters the entire game.
For the Packers, it’s simple. All they need to do is beat the Bears and they’re in the playoffs as either the NFC’s No. 7 seed (Rams win) or No. 6 seed (Rams loss).
So what could be the motivation for the Bears, who were officially eliminated from postseason contention last week? Simple: playing spoiler to their hated rivals to the North, in front of Packers fans.
It just might be a chance for Chicago to show that, unlike Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love doesn’t own the Bears, too.
And more than that, a chance to show the NFL they’ll be a team to be reckoned with in 2024, with the addition of the No. 1 overall pick secured and a likely top-10 selection as well. The Bears are on a roll, having won three straight games (would have been four if not for a late collapse against Detroit) and six of their last 10, and playing a defensive brand of football like the old Monsters of the Midway.
So while the Packers have won nine straight in this rivalry and 24 of the last 27 matchups, this one feels like a coin toss, much like Green Bay’s Week 18 home loss to Detroit that knocked the Packers out of the playoffs.
This game should be close, and perhaps low-scoring if the predictions for winds in the mid-teens prove to be correct. The temperatures should be pleasant (around 36 degrees at kickoff) for Green Bay in January.
Bears vs. Packers odds (via FanDuel)
Spread: Bears 3, Packers -3
Total: 45 points
Moneyline: Bears 142, Packers -168
All things considered, the spread looks about right at Packers -3, so we’re going a different route with our betting recommendations for this game. Here are three player prop bets that make a lot of sense.
Bears vs. Packers player props (via BetMGM)
Jordan Love over 6.5 rushing yards (-120)
The Packers don’t run many QB-designed run plays for Love, who does most of his damage through the air. But he does pick his spots to run.
On the season, he has rushed for 248 yards on 47 carries (15.5 yards per game) with four touchdowns. He has cleared this line 11 times in 16 games this season, including 12 yards on three carries against Chicago in Week 1.
Khalil Herbert under 60.5 rushing yards (-115)
Herbert is averaging 53.0 rushing yards per game this season, substantially lower than his prop for Sunday. He’s also dealing with an injury and a personal issue.
This line seems inflated from his performance last week against the Falcons, who gave up 124 yards on 18 carries to the running back. But that was in a positive game script for the Bears, who got up early and never looked back.
The fact is, in 11 games this season, Herbert has seen more than 10 carries just four times and he’s reached his yards line for Sunday just four times as well.
Jayden Reed under 48.5 rushing yards (-110)
The Packers’ gadget receiver is averaging 45.4 receiving yards on the season and the Bears yield 233.4 passing yards per game, ranking 21st in the NFL. So, what’s not to like about this line?
The Packers are expected to get some key starters back from injury, including receiver Christian Watson. No doubt, Reed is a weapon, but Watson’s return, along with Dontayvion Wicks and Luke Musgrave projected to play, there are only so many targets to go around.