JUSTIN HERBERT OVER/UNDER 264.5 PASSING YARDS
For those keen on player props, this one's for you: Justin Herbert under 264.5 passing yards. It's not a bet on Herbert's talent; rather, it's a calculated wager on circumstance and recent performance metrics. Let's dig in.
THE LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Justin Herbert's last three games have been significantly below his career standards. In those games, Herbert has averaged just 218 passing yards per game. This slump began in the second half of the Raiders game where Herbert sustained a fractured finger after his hand was stepped on. Though Herbert is a franchise QB with a rocket arm, even small hindrances like a finger fracture can have a ripple effect on performance, especially when it comes with the uncertainty of navigating a rotating WR core.
In his career, Herbert has not been the same without WR Mike Williams in the lineup, and we have seen the same story play out this season. Williams has been an important part of the Chargers' deep-ball game. With him gone since Week 3, Keenan Allen has remained productive but limited in stretching the field. Rookie Quentin Johnson hasn't lived up to expectations, failing to fill Williams' sizable shoes. Herbert's career average passing yards per game stands at 258 without Mike Williams, as opposed to a more robust 290.3 with him on the field.
THE CHICAGO BEARS: ARE THEY A CATALYST FOR HERBERT?
Now, one might argue that the Bears' underwhelming defense could be a get-right game for Herbert. The Bears are 29th in the NFL, allowing 257 passing yards per game to opposing teams. However, in this matchup, I think the Bears' porous defense (and shoddy offense for that matter) might play to our advantage from this perspective: If the Chargers, 8.5-point favorites, dice through the Bears early in the game - it's a lot less likely they'll be chucking late in the second half. After establishing a 17-point lead at half earlier this year vs. the Raiders, the Chargers had only 60 yards passing the second half. We could see a similar situation play out at SoFi again on Sunday night, reducing Herbert's passing attempts in the process.
What about the other scenario? If the Bears' defense is good - that's obviously good for our bet - but doesn't that increase the chance of Herbert throwing later into the game? Yes, sure. However, with an undrafted rookie QB, I don't expect the Bears to want to make this into a high-octane, high-pace affair with lots of opportunities for QBs. Alternatively, expect the Bears to play ball control in this one, limiting Herbert's opportunities.
THE BEST BET? IT'S ANOTHER PLAYER PROP:
If the Chargers are successful and up early, expect the Chargers to take their foot off the gas and limit their QB's opportunities for a mistake. And, on the other hand, if the Chargers are unsuccessful and give the ball to the Bears often early, expect Chicago to take the air out of the ball and not let Herbert beat them.
Justin Herbert UNDER 264.5 passing yards
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