5 min read

2023 NFL Week 8 Betting Preview: Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Chargers

Oct 22, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) throws a pass during the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Bears (2-5) at Chargers (2-4)

Spread: Chargers -8.5

Total: 46.5

Weather: Hybrid stadium, no concerns.

The Line Report

There has been no line movement for the spread or game total as of Wednesday night.

Chargers Offense vs. Bears Defense

The Los Angeles Chargers averaged 28.67 points per game in the three contests that Mike Williams was active. In the following three games, Los Angeles has scored 19.33 points per game. 

Austin Ekeler returned to action two weeks ago against Dallas. He has 14 carries in those games for 27 and 45 rushing yards, respectively. Ekeler has five receptions on eight targets for 36 receiving yards over that span. 

Ekeler has been a touchdown-scoring machine, and he’s among the toughest covers at running back — better days are ahead. The Chicago Bears have been good against the run, but they’ve allowed the second-most receiving yards to running backs.

When the Bears’ secondary is at full strength, it has been solid against enemy wide receivers. Chicago safeties Eddie Jackson and Jaquan Brisker are on the injury report. In other words, the Bears’ secondary could be without two of its three best players. 

After a roaring hot start, Keenan Allen is still seeing strong usage, but his production has come back down to Earth. Josh Palmer missed Wednesday’s practice because of a knee injury. If he can’t go, rookie Quentin Johnston likely sees role expansion. To this point, Johnston has been a relative non-factor, catching only seven passes for 64 yards.

The Bears have allowed the ninth-most receiving yards to tight ends. Chargers TE Gerald Everett is on the injury report, which could lead to role expansion for Donald Parham. Allen and Ekeler will likely drive the Chargers’ offense if Palmer and Everett miss this contest. In that scenario, Parham might be Herbert’s third-most trusted pass catcher.

Bears Offense vs. Chargers Defense

Justin Fields is listed as doubtful because of a thumb injury on his throwing hand. Tyson Bagent played well in his first NFL start last week, but he only had 162 passing yards. If the Bears need Bagent to be more than a game manager, they could be in trouble.

With Khalil Herbert and Roschon Johnson out, D’Onta Foreman and Darrynton Evans carried the load. Foreman has 31 carries over that span, with a five-target spike last week. For some perspective, Foreman had 203 carries but just nine targets last year for the Panthers. 

After two years of being shredded on the ground, Brandon Staley’s run defense has been much better this season. It is, however, giving up the most receiving yards to running backs this year. If Johnson returns this week, he could see the biggest passing game workload among Bears’ running backs.

The Chargers have allowed the most receiving yards per game to opposing wide receivers. Last week, DJ Moore had eight receptions for 54 yards on nine targets. After a slow start in Chicago, Moore has at least eight targets in his last four games. 

Darnell Mooney is the only other Bears wide receiver with a target share over seven percent. That said, he’s had two games with no receiving yards, and his single-game high this year is 53 yards.

The Chargers are allowing the fourth-most receiving yards to tight ends. Cole Kmet is the other consistent factor in the Bears’ passing attack. Most of his production came during a spike week against Denver, but Kmet’s 16.5 percent target share is second on the team.

What You’re Betting On

If you’re betting on the Chargers, you’re building that bet around three core concepts. The first is that Los Angeles is a desperate team whose season will be on life support with a loss this week. 

The second is that Herbert’s offense plays its best game in a month. The third is that you are betting directly against Bagent in his second NFL start. Ultimately, this looks like a bounce-back spot for the Chargers. The question is, can this team win a game with distance?

A bet on the Bears is primarily a bet on Chicago keeping this game close. Expecting Bagent to go punch-for-punch with Herbert is a lofty, bordering-on-unreasonable expectation. That means a bet on the Bears is a bet on their running game having another solid showing. 

Staley’s run defense was a vulnerability in 2021 and 2022, but it hasn’t been this year. As odd as it is, a bet on Chicago is against Herbert’s offense. The Chargers have struggled in recent weeks, and they could be down two of their most reliable pass-catchers. On the other hand, the Bears' defense has been on a good run the last three weeks.

Score Prediction: Chargers 27, Bears 16

Ryan’s Recent Betting Record

ATS 2021: 49-31

ATS 2022: 48-32

ATS 2023: 18-17

Props 2022: 60-40

Props 2023: 15-11

Ryan is the associate director of fantasy and betting at The 33rd Team. Ryan has been covering NFL betting markets for five years. Follow Ryan @RyanReynoldsNFL on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook