2006 Chicago Bears - an Offensive Juggernaut?!
by Mike Hayes - 09/21/2006
The Bears are quickly emerging as the team to beat in the NFC and, in fact, a win against the Vikings in Minnesota Sunday would not only make them a favorite to win a conference title but make them one of the shortest prices to win the Super Bowl in February.
In several articles over the past few weeks Doc's has suggested that even with modest improvement on the offensive side of the ball the Bears would be a force to be reckoned and would represent real value for bettors.
With 60 points scored in two games the improvement has exceeded even the most optimistic of projections so the window for value is closing rather quickly.
In the days leading to the start of the regular season Pinnacle Sportsbook had Chicago at 28/1 odds to win the Super Bowl, behind teams like the Steelers, Bengals, Giants, Patriots, Panthers and others.
Even though the Bears 2-0 start has come at the hands of weaker competition in the form of the Packers and Lions, they are now listed by Pinnacle as a 4/1 choice to win the conference and 11/1 to win the Super Bowl.
The Bears are also 2-0 ATS, covering as 3.5-point favorites at Green Bay and as an 8-point choice hosting the Lions last week. In this week's battle of NFC North unbeatens, the Bears find themselves a 3-point road favorite.
The logic behind touting the Bears potential as an excellent ATS team this season was that because of their ineptitude on offense they are rarely made a heavy favorite. Although they went 11-5 last season the Bears were favored by more than a touchdown just once when they were a 10-point choice against the 49ers, a game they won 17-9.
The offense was so bad last year it was logical to assume it had to improve this year and as a result wins, regardless of the margin, would generally translate to covers. This has been the case through the first two weeks, but the offense has been so improved that point spreads are likely to get fat in a hurry.
In fact, this effect could be seen after just one game. After tallying 26 points against the Packers in opening weekend action, the Bears were made an 8.5-point favorite against the Lions, who were coming off a 9-6 last second loss to the NFC Champion Seahawks.
The Bears rolled to an easy 34-7 cover, paving the way for being made a road favorite against the also unbeaten Vikings. Minnesota has scored just 19 and 16 points in its two victories, which explains the 33-point total set by the books.
Nobody doubted the Bears prowess on defense, but their offense last season was virtually non-existent. Much of that can be attributed mostly to QB Kyle Orton, who was given the job of handing the football off and trying not to lose football games.
Enter Rex Grossman, a first-round pick out of Florida who is showing he might have the talent to win ball games rather than simply find ways not to lose.
In beating the Lions, 34-7, last week Grossman tossed four touchdown passes and is now the top rated passer in the NFL at 128.7. Last season the Bears didn't get their fourth touchdown pass until week five. Perhaps more telling, however, is that the four touchdown passes thrown by Orton totaled 41 yards with the longest being a 28-yard strike.
Grossman managed this in one play, a 41-yard touchdown pass to Bernard Berrian, in the second quarter last week.
The Bears 30-point average is third best in the NFL and the passing game is fifth with a 272-yard average. Grossman has completed 72 percent of his passes, including five touchdowns and just one INT.
With Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson in the backfield the Bears have had a decent running game to compliment their tenacious defense. Add a potent passing game and the result could be devastating to the rest of the NFC.
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