Monday Night Football Preview

Bears at Redskins

Each week, TheLines will provide a daily betting breakdown and analysis for the upcoming Monday Night Football game. We’ll look at the odds and see why they’re moving a certain way, along with breaking down the matchup and providing the week’s best bets.

The Chicago Bears and Washington Redskins will square off at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland in the Week 3 edition of Monday Night Football. The Bears managed to narrowly escape an 0-2 start with a miracle comeback in Empower Field at Mile High in Denver in Week 2. Mitchell Trubisky was able to put the Bears in field-goal range with the help of a questionable call on the Broncos’ Bradley Chubb and kicker Eddy Pineiro ultimately delivered with a 53-yard field goal as time expired to notch the two-point win.

Meanwhile, the Redskins come in winless following defeats at the hands of the division-rival Eagles and Cowboys to open the season. Washington has played well at times in both losses, but ultimately, they’ve dropped each contest by a double-digit margin.

MNF odds and analysis

The Bears checked in as four-point favorites as of Friday morning across featured sportsbooks. That’s been the case since the game was first put on the board last week. Granted, it would appear on the surface neither team really did anything in Week 2 to move the needle. But the Redskins are arguably more competitive than their offensive talent would have implied coming into the season. Meanwhile, the Bears offense does appear rudderless for the most part through two games. That’s particularly perplexing considering it’s Mitchell Trubisky’s second year in coach Matt Nagy’s offensive system. On the other sideline, Case Keenum has exceeded expectations through the first two games (601 passing yards, 5:0 TD:INT) after an up-and-down 2018 in Denver.

The 41.5-point total is certainly on the low side. However, it seems to accurately reflect the so-so nature of both offenses and the elite status of the Bears defense in particular. Then, Washington’s unit can be solid in its own right despite some of its early numbers. They’ve cratered a bit in the second half of each of their first two games. It’s worth noting the offensive talent the Eagles and Cowboys threw at the Redskins is one Chicago doesn’t come close to matching currently. While this number might move a half-point here or there, this game does shape up as a matchup of two often pedestrian offenses.

MNF Week 3 game matchup

The Bears offense has defied logic a bit over the first two games of the regular season by somehow looking like they’ve regressed in their second year within a scheme. Mitchell Trubisky has come off more like a wide-eyed rookie in what is now his third season than as the increasingly confident player many expected in 2019. Granted, the defensive matchups over the first two weeks have been tough. And as already mentioned, Trubisky did enough in Week 2 to help the Bears secure their first win. In the Redskins, he and his offensive teammates draw what is arguably their easiest matchup of the season thus far.

Chicago should have a chance to run a balanced attack against Washington. That alone could help Trubisky’s efficiency a good deal. As cited later in this article, the Redskins have allowed healthy production through both the ground and air over their first two games. Rookie running back David Montgomery had much more of a chance to show what he could against the Broncos than in the opener versus the Packers. He received only seven touches in the latter contest but garnered 19 versus Denver. If he can consistently gain positive yardage Monday, the game should become much more manageable for Trubisky versus a secondary that once again has injury question marks at right cornerback with both Quinton Dunbar (knee) and Fabian Moreau (ankle) sporting injury designations as of Thursday.

The Redskins’offense seemingly has a much taller order in the form of the Bears’ attacking defensive charges. But Keenum has played with plenty of confidence through the first two games, appearing unfazed by the fact he has a first-round draft pick in Dwayne Haskins looming over his shoulder. The veteran likely gives Jay Gruden’s team the best chance of success early on. Washington’s receiver group has overachieved thus far thanks in large part to Keenum’s career-high 69.1 percent completion rate. The challenge will be formidable for him Monday, however. The Bears may just be a field goal away from 0-2, but they’ve allowed a modest 224 yards per game and two total passing touchdowns to Aaron Rodgers and Joe Flacco in the first two weeks.

It doesn’t figure to be any easier on the ground for Adrian Peterson. The now-34-year-old defied the odds in 2018 with a 1,000-yard season, but he was stonewalled consistently against the Cowboys in Week 2 after serving as a healthy scratch in the opener. Derrius Guice’s latest knee problems opened up the starting job for Peterson again. However, an aging back is far from an ideal weapon to try to establish some semblance of balance with versus the Monsters of the Midway. The bad news for Gruden is he doesn’t have much in the way of capable alternatives for early-down/lead-back work. Chris Thompson and Wendell Smallwood are fine complementary pieces. Yet neither is really suited for a 20-carry-plus workload.

KEY MATCHUP: Bears pass defense vs. Redskins passing game. The Bears don’t figure to have much trouble stopping Peterson and company consistently. That puts a target on Keenum, who was able to keep both the Eagles’ and Cowboys’ defenses on their respective heels at various points during the first two games with some accurate passing and well-placed downfield shots (six completions of more than 20 yards, including two over 40). His ability to stretch the field on a few occasions will be key to loosening up a ferocious unit. However, if a Chicago pass rush that’s already compiled seven sacks through the first two weeks can consistently disrupt him, Washington’s offense will be reduced to a series of fits and starts that will dampen the odds of a Redskins victory even further.

Week 3 MNF betting breakdown

The Bears and Redskins have met on 50 occasions overall during each franchise’s storied history. Washington holds a 26-23-1 advantage, including a 7-0 mark dating back to 2004. Three of those wins have come at FedEx Field. However, that trio of victories has come by a combined 14 points.

Through two weeks, the Bears’ 263.5 yards per game of total offense ranks them an unsightly 30th. They check in ranked 28th in passing yards per game (160.0) and 19th in rushing yards per contest (99.5). The Redskins are ranked 25th in total offense (326.5 yards per game). They slot in 10th in passing offense (289.0 yards per game) and 30th in rushing offense (37.5 yards per game).

On defense, the Bears are ranked 4th with 292.5 total yards allowed per game. The 224.0 passing yards per contest they’re surrendering ranks them 11th in that category, while the 68.5 rushing yards per game they’ve yielded puts them at No. 6. Then, the Redskins check in with the 30th-ranked defense in terms of total yards allowed per game (455.0). The 287.0 passing yards per game they’ve allowed equates to a No. 25 rank, while the 168.0 rush yards per contest they’ve yielded through two weeks leaves them ranked 31st.

Chicago was an NFL-best 12-4 (75.0 percent) against the spread last season but are 0-2 this season. Last season’s record included a 5-3 mark (62.5 percent) versus the number in their away games and a 3-3 tally ATS as away favorites specifically. The Bears were 10-3 (76.9 percent) versus the number in conference games as well. Then, the Over was 8-8 (50.0 percent) in the Bears’ games last season, including 4-4 in their away games.

Washington was 9-7 (56.2 percent) against the spread last season and is 1-1 this season. Last season’s record included a 4-4 mark (50.0 percent) in their home games but a 4-2 tally as a home underdog specifically. The Redskins were 6-6 (50.0 percent) versus the number last season in conference games. Then, the Over was 7-9 (43.8 percent) in the Redskins’ games last season, including 4-4 (50.0 percent) in their home games.

The Redskins have dropped each of their last seven Monday night games, while the road team has covered at FedEx Field in each of Washington’s last six home games. The Under has also prevailed in each of the Bears’ last seven games.

Take all that for what it’s worth. We recommend ignoring most of these trends when doing your research.

Bears vs. Redskins picks and predictions

Watch this space later in the week as Matt Brown breaks down this matchup from top to bottom, offering his thoughts on the moneyline, spread and total at PlayPicks.com.

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How to watch Monday Night Football

ESPN holds the rights to Monday Night Football and will cover 17 games from Week 1 through Week 16.

Week 1 sees the Houston Texans take on the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes-Benz Superdome at 7:10 p.m. Eastern Monday, Sept. 9. The Denver Broncos will then face the AFC West-rival Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum at 10:20 p.m. Eastern to close the first week of NFL action. Games can be viewed weekly from Sept. 16 through Dec. 23 at 8:15 p.m. Eastern. There is no MNF in Week 17 due to potential playoff implications the following week.

Games can be streamed on the go on ESPN’s website or WatchESPN app with a cable or satellite subscription. Streaming services such as Sling TV also carry ESPN in many of their subscription packages.

Monday Night Football television ratings rebounded in 2018, averaging 11.6 million viewers per game. The number was up eight percent from 2017 and two percent from 2016. It was the most-watched series on Monday nights.

The Los Angeles Rams’ 54-51 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 11 (Nov. 19) averaged 16.7 million viewers for the highest-rated MNF game in two years.

MNF betting tips

How to bet MNF like a sharp

Monday Night Football can be the most highly-anticipated game of any given week in the NFL throughout the season. The extra day of preparation, media coverage and overall hype brings more attention to every aspect of the game.

As seen with the Rams vs. Chiefs thriller in Week 11 last year, all of this can bring out the best between the two teams. By contrast, the New England Patriots beat the Buffalo Bills 25-6 just three weeks prior. The New Orleans Saints then beat the Carolina Panthers 12-9 in Week 15.

MNF can turn out to be a dud just as easily as the best game of the week. Ten MNF games last season failed to total 50 points, with the Chiefs and Rams each hitting the number on their own. Thirteen games failed to hit 50 points in 2017 and 11 fell below the number in 2016. Pay attention to the numbers surrounding the specific matchup itself, not just the standalone primetime TV spot.

The extra day of rest can allow players to return from injury, but they may also be forcing themselves back to the field before they’re truly healthy due to the added attention on the game. Look at injury reports and have an idea of what kind of a role a star player will be able to handle.

The Monday Night spot can also create discrepancies in how much rest the two teams have had. Taking the most rested team (the one with the longest amount of time since its last game) can often be a good place to find some value at the sportsbooks, especially on the spread.

Never bet a game solely because it’s the final matchup of the week and is the best thing to watch on a Monday Night. Be ready to sit it out completely and wait for next week if there’s no value popping out at books.

Frequently Asked Questions

When does Monday Night Football start?

As always, Monday Night Football debuts with a Week 1 doubleheader Monday, Sept. 9. The Texans take on the Saints at 7:10 p.m. Eastern before the Broncos and Raiders hook up in an AFC West rivalry meeting at 10:20 p.m. Eastern.

Every other MNF game from Week 2 through Week 16 will begin at 8:15 p.m. Eastern.

How to stream Monday Night Football?

The ESPN website and WatchESPN app are the easiest options for those with cable or satellite subscriptions. Many streaming services such as Sling TV, PlayStation Vue and Hulu include ESPN in most of their plans.

What is the highest-scoring Monday Night Football game ever?

The Rams’ 54-51 victory over the Chiefs in Week 11 of the 2018 season was the highest-scoring MNF game of all time. The 105 combined points topped the 95 points scored by the Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins in 1983.

Who are the MNF announcers?

Joe Tessitore took over play-by-play duties from Sean McDonough in 2018 and will return for a second year. Booger McFarland will move from the ‘BoogerMobile’ to the booth as the color commentator, while Jason Witten returned to the Dallas Cowboys to play tight end after one year in the booth.

John Parry takes over as the rules analyst, and Lisa Salters returns as the sideline reporter.

Suzy Kolber appears as a studio host with former players Steve Young, Randy Moss and Louis Riddick.

Who was the original Monday Night Football broadcast crew?

The original MNF broadcast crew on ABC in 1970 was made up of Keith Jackson, Howard Cosell and Don Meredith. Many cycled through the crew before Al Michaels took over as play-by-play commentator from 1986 through 2005. His color analysts included Frank Gifford, Dan Dierdorf, Boomer Esiason, Dan Fouts, Dennis Miller and John Madden. Mike Tirico assumed play-by-play duties with Tony Kornheiser, Joe Theismann, Suzy Kolber and Michele Tafoya filling out the crew when ESPN took over the rights in 2006. Jon Gruden replaced Kornheiser in 2009 until he returned to the sidelines as head coach of the Oakland Raiders last season.

Who sings the Monday Night Football theme song?

Country music star Hank Williams Jr. sings the MNF theme titled “All My Rowdy Friends are Here on Monday Night.”