While the Green Bay Packers anguish over the chances that star quarterback Aaron Rodgers is under center for the club in 2021, it appears that only one team in the NFC North will have the same starting signal-caller as last season. The Lions are replacing Matthew Stafford with former Rams quarterback Jared Goff, while Minnesota will be returning Kirk Cousins for his fourth season in purple and gold.
This leaves us with the Chicago Bears, who will face the dilemma of starting newly signed veteran Andy Dalton or their 2021 first-round draft pick Justin Fields. The oddsmakers at DraftKings Sportsbook have posted that veteran Andy Dalton will be the starting quarterback in Week 1 at prohibitive odds of -500.
Andy Dalton (-500)
Dalton has played 11 seasons in the NFL, 10 with Cincinnati, and one with the Dallas Cowboys in 2020. Since being selected by the Bengals in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft, Dalton has thrown for 218 touchdowns in 144 career games. He led Cincinnati to four straight playoff appearances from 2011-2014 but failed to earn a victory in any of the games - only throwing one career playoff touchdown in the club's 27-10 Wild Card loss to the San Diego Chargers. As my colleague Michael Fabiano has previously reported, "Chicago is expected to start Andy Dalton to open this season, but it'll be just a matter of time before Nagy moves to rookie Justin Fields under center."
Justin Fields (+225)
Justin Fields, who the Bears traded up nine spots to draft, will have a great opportunity to be the biggest face of the Bears franchise at the quarterback position since Jim McMahon. You can bet that Matt Nagy will have a short hook with Dalton if the Bears struggle early on.
The former Ohio State standout won at an amazing clip guiding the Buckeyes to a 20-2 record over two seasons after transferring from Georgia. Fields displayed tremendous arm strength throwing for 5,373 yards and 63 touchdowns over that span. In addition, Fields performed at an elite level on the ground amassing 1,133 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns in his three collegiate seasons.
My colleague Sean Childs believes Fields' "challenges, despite being the 11th over pick in the NFL Draft, will stem from his pre-snap reads." He goes on to say: "Despite some impressive stats, Fields does come with knocks from some NFL scouts. He needs to improve his pre-snap reads when facing the blitz, plus show more quickness in his release under duress.
Nick Foles (+2500)
Foles, a player who will live in Philadelphia Eagles lore, was simply overmatched in Chicago last season guiding them to a mark of 2-5 over seven starts. In fact, since leaving Philadelphia in 2018, the veteran has compiled a 2-9 record in his stints with Jacksonville and Chicago. His massive +2500 odds should not entice any bettors to invest in a player who likely will not be on the Bears roster in Week 1.
It has become abundantly clear over recent weeks that Andy Dalton will be the Bears Week 1 starter, and Fields will sit - learning from the sidelines. The Bears' decision to take things slow with Fields is a bit perplexing, but it has made this market an easy one for bettors.
As we always stress, laying prohibitive odds is not wise bankroll management. Although Fields could take over sooner than most anticipate, the veteran will not be the one holding the clipboard on the sidelines in Week 1.
Despite Chicago's first-round investment, the sharp money continues to steam a line that once stood at -200 back in May to a steep demand of -500. Despite all the indications that Dalton will be the Week 1 signal-caller, all SI Gambling bettors need to pass on this market due to the pre-season injury risk coupled with the exorbitant odds.
SI Gambling Bears Week 1 Starter: Andy Dalton -500