I make Matt Millen right. Walter Cherepinsky will be mad. Not just mad. Really mad. Really, really mad. I'm well versed in recognising the special love that ol' Walt reserves for Millen, but on this one, Matt's right. Really right. Really, really right.
I refer to Willie McGinest's Power Rankings on NFL Network, that I watched having returned home from work on Friday afternoon. Work...it's been a beautifully truncated week here in London (well, the whole of the UK benefited, if I'm honest, but I don't live in the whole of the UK; I reside in the future home of the Los Angeles Rams) in deference to the Jubilee celebrations and some of us have had trouble getting motivated all over again. I need to revert to making Jack a dull boy.
Power Rankings, something not easy to engage in, despite its simplicity. I dabbled in it last season and encountered headaches...it's not quite as easy as A(rizona), B(uffalo), C(arolina) so I decided to stick to the handicapping of football games. The scope for debate afterwards is immeasurable and the thirst for proffering one's polemic limitless. Which brings me back to McGinest and Millen...in a short while.
I've written previously of an attractive outright price for Super Bowl XLVII that caught my eye on bet365.com, a price that will (likely) remain until kickoff on September 9th, irrespective of what transpires in New Jersey on the evening of the 5th. Said attractive price is the Chicago Bears at 30/1.
Yes, they play in arguably the toughest division in football and in the stronger conference, but despite this, there won't be many teams relishing the prospect of facing them this season. I want to say at any stage this season, but they had a successful grip on their own destiny last year until they lost both Jay Cutler and Matt Forte and with the injury Gods liable to strike at the most inopportune of moments, no team's ever safe.
However, they've taken out safer insurance policies this offseason with the acquisitions of Jason Campbell and Michael Bush to back up Cutler and Forte respectively. The signing of Bush went somewhat unheralded, but it's a shrewd piece of business, in my opinion. Perhaps the reason for Bush's introduction to Chicago via the back door was due to the seismic headlines surrounding a new Marshall in town. Brandon and seismic headlines do good bedfellows make, but he's been a paragon of virtue since riding in to the Windy City and I think the planets must need realigning because his behaviour thus far has been extraordinarily exemplary.
From the perspective of considering the Bears tremendous value this season, should you, like me, wish to invest a little of your hard earned on Chicago, we may have the Denver Broncos to thank for affording us a good run for our money. The shared experience enjoyed by Marshall and Cutler of playing together at Invesco Authority Sports Elway The Drive Field at Mile High Stadium has had the most positive of effects and who would have ever have guessed that the only man alive capable of calming Marshall down was one Jay Christopher Cutler.
It does remain to be seen how long Marshall keeps this up for, but with Cutler able to target the at-peace-with-himself receiver, Alshon Jeffery and Devin Hester and with Forte and/or Bush keeping defences more than a little honest, I see the Bears being very competitive and about the best value outright bet there is right now.
I do hear whispers of a shaky offensive line in Chicago (and Cutler just this weekend did more than speak at a whisper about those (not) protecting him) and yes, it isn't the strongest unit in the league, but consider this: it's the same bunch of guys as last year and Forte did OK, thank you very much, for the 12 games he was able to suit up for in 2011, rushing for 997 yards at an average of 4.9 YPA, the latter being a career high.
No NFL coaching staff are idiots (alright, I stand corrected on this) and those running the show in Chicago obviously have confidence in those making holes for Forte because they did absolutely nothing to alter or upgrade the line whatsoever, aside from bringing in Chilo Rachal, a guard from our very good friends from the red half of the Bay Area.
I think it's about time I took us back to Willie McGinest and Matt Millen. I actually thought Willie was going to really indulge us and count down from 32, but, alas, he wouldn't dare do that so offered up his top 10. I should have known better on NFL Network...they're the Yoda of Top 10's.
I knew the Seahawks wouldn't be near the top 10, but here's McGinest's take: 10. Lions, 9. Steelers, 8. Saints, 7. Texans, 6. Eagles (good choice and rightfully this high), 5. Ravens, 4. 49ers, 3. Packers, 2. Patriots, 1. Giants.
Step forward, Millen..."don't undersell the Chicago Bears." I wasn't expecting that and I don't know if I should be pleased at Millen's opinion or not! But, he's right. Really right. Really, really, right. Additionally, I found some vindication in Vegas. However, before that, further good news.
Being able to receive 30/1 on Chicago at bet365.com had me, as it turns out, underselling the Bears myself as williamhill.com are actually offering a staggering 33/1. Now, I don't know if it's because British bookmakers/sportsbooks are ignorant to the NFL offseason, but a truer reflection of their odds can be found at sportsbook.com (via Vegas Insider), where they can be backed at only 18/1.
How is it that a team as talented as the Bears can be backed at almost double the odds as what's on offer in Vegas? Regardless of the reason, I'm all over it and one simple truth is that they're definitely going to begin the season 1-0 becausethey host the Colts in their season opener. Their schedule also includes the Rams and Jaguars in the first five weeks so I expect them to be 3-2 at the very least as they head into their bye week; the two losses could come in Green Bay and Dallas, but that's worst case scenario.
Not that it's necessarily eye catching, but here's something that, er...caught my eye. Sportsbook.com are offering a line on the Super Bowl, with the NFC currently favoured by 2.5 points. Now, for example, should anybody favour the Patriots to bounce back and take all before them, then take the AFC + 2.5 points early because, should they rip it up early in the season (and they could easily begin 7-1), that line will decrease to + 0.5 by midseason and we may even see the AFC favoured by 0.5.
With very little, if any, odds/line movement around at the moment, finding little gems like that will keep me ticking over until September 5th.
Rob contributes here at Field Gulls, in addition to writing for his own blog, Rob's NFL Yard, to give all you degenerate gamblers a better look at the ever-changing NFL odds, with a focus on the Seahawks but attention to the NFL as a whole. During the season, his odds and game-handicapping-based analysis should be a great complement to Jacson's excellent NFL Picks column to give readers a great picture of each game going into Sunday, and hopefully enhance your enjoyment of the action.