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Buccaneers vs. Bears odds, prediction, betting trends for NFL’s ‘Thursday Night Football’ game

When the Bears host the Buccaneers on “Thursday Night Football” (8:20 p.m. ET, Fox, NFL Network, Amazon Prime Video), it’s an important early battle of two NFC contenders.

Chicago (3-1) and Tampa Bay (3-1) have the same record. The Bears lost their first game in Week 4 to the Colts at home, while the Bucs have won three in a row after losing to the Saints in New Orleans.

Tom Brady will make his second road start with the Buccaneers, while Nick Foles will make his second home start for the Bears after relieving a benched Mitchell Trubisky in Week 3 at the Falcons. This is a good test for both teams to see where they stand in the playoff race.

Here’s everything to know about betting on Buccaneers vs. Bears in Week 5, including updated odds, trends and our prediction for “Thursday Night Football.”

WEEK 5 NFL PICKS: Straight up | Against the spread

Buccaneers vs. Bears odds for ‘Thursday Night Football’

The Bucs’ favoritism has dropped by two points because of injuries and the short-week turnaround on the road, as the line opened at 5.5. They should be about 4-point favorites here, so getting on the action late suggests taking them to cover.

Buccaneers vs. Bears all-time series

The Bears have nearly doubled up the Bucs with a 39-20 advantage all-time. They have won three of past five matchups and six of the past nine. But none of those matchups featured Brady at quarterback against Chicago. Two years ago, the Bears won 48-10 in Soldier Field. Before that, the Bucs had victories of 29-7 and 36-10 the previous two years.

Three trends to know

— 57 percent of spread bettors have leaned toward the Buccaneers with the line shrinking significantly because of injuries.

— 55 percent of over/under bettors like the game to go over the lower point total, despite the various strengths of both defenses and the obvious offensive limitations.

— The Bucs have gone 2-1-1 against the spread this season and their games have gone over three times. The Bears are 2-2 against the spread and half their games have gone over.

Three things to watch

Brady to Rob Gronkowski

Brady will lean on wide receivers Mike Evans and Scotty Miller to play well through their injuries, with Chris Godwin and Justin Watson missing the game. At tight end, Gronkowski has been quiet in the passing game, focusing on dominating as a run blocker, but that may change this week with O.J. Howard lost for the season. The Bears have struggled with covering big, athletic, physical tight ends more so than wideouts.

Keeping up with Ronald Jones 

Jones has looked very good when getting the high volume in the Bucs’ rushing attack, which he will again without Leonard Fournette and LeSean McCoy. He’ll be supported by dynamic rookie Ke’Shawn Vaughn. The Bears’ defense is soft in the middle and harder on which to pass. Chicago can expect a heavy dose of him between the tackles.

Foles to Allen Robinson

This connection has revved up the past two weeks. Robinson is being treated like the top go-to guy by Foles with massive targets, mainly because it’s hard to trust the Bears’ inconsistent younger wideouts. A big game by Robinson will give Chicago a chance at the upset.

Stats that matter

64.3 and 2.7. That’s how many rushing yards per game and rushing yards per carry, on average, the Buccaneers are giving up. The Bears slammed into the tough interior defensive front of the Falcons and Colts with no success for Montgomery. The Bucs should dominate with their running game and also stop the run to help them win.

Buccaneers vs. Bears prediction

This has the feel of a midweek grinding game given the strength of the Bucs’ run defense vs. the Bears and the Bears’ pass defense containing the shorthanded Bucs around Brady. Look for Tampa Bay to go on long scoring drives powered by Jones and Brady’s short-to-intermediate passing, leaving the Bears to end up in futile catchup mode with Foles near the end of the game again.

Buccaneers 24, Bears 20

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