Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will once again be under center Thursday when the New England Patriots play host to the Chicago Bears in a Week 2 preseason contest as 3.5-point betting favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
Garoppolo looked solid in his preseason debut a week ago, throwing for 168 yards in New England’s 34-22 win over the New Orleans Saints, snapping a two-game home losing streak in the preseason ahead of Thursday’s Bears vs. Patriots betting matchup at Gillette Stadium.
While Garoppolo proved effective, it was the Patriots’ ground game that carried the day, led by Tyler Gaffney’s 64 rushing yards and third-quarter touchdown run that clinched the victory.
However, the Patriots struggled at times to contain the New Orleans offense, with veteran passer Luke McCown and youngster Garrett Grayson leading a 291-yard aerial assault, and the Saints dominating with 34 minutes of possession.
The Bears are not expected to present a comparable offensive threat.
Chicago is coming off an ugly 22-0 home loss to the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos in its preseason opener, in which they struggled to muster 130 total yards of offense and failing to penetrate Broncos territory in the second half.
That loss extended Chicago’s struggles from last season, which it wrapped up with losses in four of its final five outings to finish dead last in the NFC North with a 6-10 record.
Not surprisingly, Chicago remains well back of the favorites on the Super Bowl LI odds, joining the Washington Redskins, New York Jets, and Atlanta Falcons at a generous +5000.
But that embarrassing defeat may have lit a fire under the Bears, who showed their nasty side this week in joint practices with New England, during which a number of altercations and player ejections took place. That included a widely publicized scrap between Chicago receiver Alshon Jeffery and New England cornerback Malcolm Butler.
Patriots starters are expected to see more action this week after a number of regulars enjoyed the night off against the Saints, including receiver Julian Edelman, who continues to recover following offseason foot surgery. However, tight end Rob Gronkowski remains a question mark for the game after being forced out of practice with an injury on Monday.
Thursday’s matchup marks the first preseason meeting between these two clubs since 2003, when the Patriots tallied a 28-23 win as 5.5-point home chalk.
New England has also dominated in recent regular-season clashes with the Bears, routing Chicago in its past two meetings and claiming straight-up wins in seven of eight matchups dating back to 1988 according to the OddsShark NFL Database.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images