This story reminds me of Baltimore a few years back, win it with defense and keep your offense on the field long enough with time of possession to score enough to win with a sub-par quarterback and excellent coaching. I am looking at this team hard but yet passed against them against an overrated Tampa Bay team this weekend and I am still kicking myself. Lets take a hard look at the NFC North leading Bears and see what's up with these guys. Are they for real or not? Do they mirror the Ravens when the won it all with Trent Dilfer at quarterback? Read me with as I do some research here.
The defense stands out more than anything and it should, ranked #1 in total yards allowed and scoring defense, and #6 against the rush. With a steady stream of great DB's that are opportunistic and talented, most teams have trouble throwing the ball because the Bears can stack the line against the run and play man coverage, which in the NFL is a huge advantage. Did I mention Mike Brown and Nathan Vasher at cornerback or Brian Urlacher at linebacker yet? Three of the best at their positions in the NFL, blazing speed, hard hitters and all leaders who make big plays when they count. This defense is disruptive and hard to gameplan around with so many players that make big plays, no team is going to light them up. Sound like a Ravens a few years back yet?
Lets look at the offense now, and it is not at all pretty except one glaring statistic, and that is 6th in the NFL at running the ball. They rank dead last in throwing it at 128 yards a game, and 28th in the NFL at scoring, yet they are 8-3 and clearly in demand of the NFC North, with Green Bay on tap in Chicago this weekend and the Pack are back on their heels here, cannot run it and Brett Farve throws interceptions around like none other right now, 19 to date. Good luck to the Pack, on the second leg of back to back road games off a loss to the Eagles.
Kyle Orton is not impressive at QB, but once again comparing these guys to the Ravens when they won the Super Bowl with Trent Dilfer at QB, Dilfer was no Joe Montana either. The ONLY concern is if the defense lapses here for the Monsters of the Midway, because this offense is not geared to score points in bunches or play from behind with a QB with a rating of 63.2 and a completion rate of 54% and 12 picks to 9 touchdowns, however, they can run it, and will have Cedric Benson back for the Playoffs at running back to add depth. Once again, not a prolific offense, but once again, they do not have to be. Does this sound like the Ravens yet, when they won the Super Bowl? The answer is YES, the Bears are for real and still somewhat undervalued by oddsmakers in my opinion.
The remaining schedule is favorable as well, with Green Bay at home and the other home game against Atlanta in 2 weeks. You definitely want the Falcons on the road in the cold December air in Chicago, a huge advantage. Road games at Green Bay and surging Minnesota are very winnable, while a true test lies in Pittsburgh next Sunday. Assuming they can go 3-2 or 4-1 SU in those games. and get some homefield advantage through the first round of the Playoffs, the Bears end up at Seattle if it goes according to the plan for a possible NFC Championship. We all saw what happened to Seattle against the Giants defense on Sunday, the Bears have a real shot of landing an NFC Championship based on what I saw the it comes down to Seattle and Chicago. Are they better than the 1985 Bears you ask? No they are not, especially on offense, and the defense while good, lacks the skill of Buddy Ryan calling out the schemes. All in all, do not be surprised at this team going deep into the Playoffs, winning money on the unders and if the opportunity is there, laying some short numbers with them and raking in some cash.
Tony George is a documented member of the Professional Handicappers League. Read all of his articles at http://www.procappers.com/Tony_George.htm