For many NFL teams, they can afford to sit their starters for a preseason game or even all three of them. They have some questions to answer but nothing worth risking injury over.
The Bears and Seahawks are not expected to make the playoffs according to the odds, but no NFL team thinks that way in August. As the Seahawks and Bears meet in Thursday's only preseason game, they are working on ways to get ready for Week 1. The Seahawks are a 3.5-point favorite at BetMGM.
The Seahawks have the bigger question to answer and got thrown an unexpected curve this week. Geno Smith has been their No. 1 quarterback all offseason, but Seattle decided after Drew Lock played pretty well in the preseason opener that he'd start against the Bears. It was going to be a big moment in the quarterback competition. But Lock tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the game. How that affects the competition remains to be seen, but it will affect the Seahawks' quarterback rotation on Thursday night. It will be interesting to see if Seahawks coach Pete Carroll pulls back on Smith's playing time, not wanting to get him injured.
The Bears know who their quarterback is, but they have other issues like the offensive line that need to be worked out. They won 19-14 in the preseason opener, but that was a second-half comeback against the Kansas City Chiefs' backups. The Bears were down 14-0 at halftime. They want a better showing, though coach Matt Eberflus said the starters won't play too much in a short week. He said some starters will get 6-10 plays and others will get about 20, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
“It’s [on an] individual basis,” Eberflus said “And it’s a little bit shorter this time, because it’s a short week, so we’re not going to put stress on their bodies."
Neither team can be totally happy with the preseason opener. The Seahawks' defense was sloppy in a 32-25 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Bears would like some better momentum with a new coaching staff as they head toward the regular season, though not at the expense of overextending starters. It could make for a relatively entertaining preseason game. It's not like there's much else going on in the sporting world on Thursday night.
Here's a first look at the sports betting slate for Thursday:
MLB has 11 games
MLB has six afternoon games, but the highlight of the schedule happens at night. The New York Mets face the Atlanta Braves in the final game of a four-game series. The Mets will start Jacob deGrom, who looks unhittable since his return from the injured list, against Max Fried of the Braves. Fried is 10-4 with a 2.60 ERA and was an all-star for the first time this season, so he's capable too.
Among the afternoon games, the Houston Astros are at the Chicago White Sox. The Astros are running away with the AL West, but the White Sox are right in the middle of the AL Central and they can't afford to lose ground, even against a very good Astros team. Houston is a -135 favorite.
WNBA playoffs, PGA golf
The WNBA playoffs continue with a pair of Game 1s. The Dallas Wings play at the Connecticut Sun, and the Washington Mystics are at the Seattle Storm. The Sun are favored by 9.5 points and the Storm are 4.5-point favorites.
In the golf world, the BMW Championship tees off in Delaware. It's a strong field, with Rory McIlroy (+1100) and Jon Rahm (+1200) as the top two favorites.
What's the best bet?
The Seahawks having to change their quarterback plan at the last minute isn't ideal, but it's fair to guess that Pete Carroll wants a much better game from his team after they struggled on defense in the opener. The Bears want to pull back their starters a bit. I'll go with the Seahawks to cover.