NFL diehards in the Indiana tri-state region have one fewer game to follow Sunday afternoon, thanks to two of the area’s three “local” teams playing each other. The Cincinnati Bengals — along with bettors looking to partake in Indiana’s legal mobile sports gambling options — will cross the Ohio River to face the Indianapolis Colts, and the Chicago Bears will fly down to Charlotte to take on the Carolina Panthers.
Indiana remains a regional hub for sports gambling in the Midwest, with its robust market of nine online sportsbooks competing for players’ dollars creating fertile territory for bettors to take advantage of various platforms’ promotions and shop for the most favorable lines.
Sports betting is not legal in Ohio at the moment, and although many tribal and commercial casinos in Michigan have launched retail sportsbooks, the Wolverine State is still in the process of approving regulatory conditions and license applications for mobile betting, which the state expects to unveil before 2021. Even bettors from Chicago, who have access to regulated online gambling in Illinois, still find it worth the drive down to Northwest Indiana, which offers access to many more betting platforms than are currently operating in Illinois.
Here’s a look at the odds and betting angles for the Colts, Bengals, and Bears headed into Week 6 of the NFL season.
Cincinnati Bengals (1-3-1) at Indianapolis Colts (3-2)
The Colts are heavy favorites to rebound from an ugly loss last Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, thanks to a visit from the AFC North doormat Bengals. Major online sportsbooks available in Indiana make the Colts -7.5 or -8 favorites on Sunday — a line that could grow to double digits by Sunday if early bettors see value in picking Indianapolis to cover the spread against a team that lost 27-3 to the Baltimore Ravens last week.
FanDuel and PointsBet are offering the Colts at -8 with a discounted vig of -105 (down from the standard -110), while bettors who’d rather not take that extra half point can find the Colts at -7.5 with a 10% vig at several other sportsbooks. The books are unanimous in setting the total points over/under line at 46.5, while BetMGM‘s +310 on the Bengals upset and DraftKings‘ -360 on the Colts are the two most favorable moneyline bets currently on the board.
Despite last week’s loss to the Browns, the Colts’ defense remains statistically among the top two or three in the NFL, and besides the promising play of rookie quarterback Joe Burrow, Cincinnati’s offense has little to offer. Burrow, who’s already taken 22 sacks in his first five NFL starts, is on pace to be one of the most battered quarterbacks the league has ever seen, and although pass rushing isn’t Indianapolis’ strength, the Colts’ defense could be capable of holding Burrow and the Bengals to a low points total.
Between the desire to bounce back from Week 5’s disappointment versus the Browns and the need to bank a win before heading into a grueling back half of their schedule, the Colts shouldn’t struggle to find motivation heading into a game they should take on Sunday.
Chicago Bears (4-1) at Carolina Panthers (3-2)
In a matchup between two of the surprise success stories of the first month and a half of the NFL season, the Bears find themselves as slight underdogs on the road against the Panthers. Indiana sportsbooks peg Chicago as +1 or +1.5 underdogs on Sunday, depending where you look. With a point spread that close, it’s little surprise that moneyline odds reflect an even matchup with bets on the Bears to win ranging from -103 to +100 and Panthers bets from -114 to -120. The total points over/under ranges from 43.5 at FanDuel to 45 at most other sites, including BetRivers.
The Bears may be undervalued in this game. Prior to the season, when oddsmakers set the Panthers’ total wins over/under at just 5.5, it was possible to find futures bets on Bears-Panthers that made Chicago 2.5-point favorites. Both the Bears and Panthers have been accused of being worse than their records reflect this season, but Chicago appears to be the slightly more “legit” squad in this matchup of overachieving teams.