Kap's Corner

Jay Cutler Archives

Sunday's NFL Picks Against the Spread - January 2, 2011

Happy New Year to everyone!

Here we go:

**As always these picks are for information purposes only**

Top Plays

Pittsburgh -6 over Cleveland
Indianapolis - over Tennessee
Atlanta -14 over Carolina
Green Bay -10 over Bears

Best Bet

Kansas City -4 1/2 over Oakland

Sunday's NFL Picks Against the Spread - December 26, 2010

I hope that you had a great Christmas and are enjoying the holiday season! With this time of year comes some great sports on TV like the Heat at the Lakers which was a star studded match-up on Christmas Day. Also, Saturday night's NFL match-up between Dallas and Arizona may not have had playoff implications but it was a tremendously entertaining game that went down to the wire.

Today's slate of games have some very important battles that can decide playoff fates and home field advantage. The game at Soldier Field in Chicago between the Bears and the Jets is important to both teams so we should see a very intense battle.

I  see several games that I find intriguing so let's get right to it with our picks for today.

**As always these selections are for entertainment purposes only**

Top Plays
Houston -3 over Denver
Tennessee/Kansas City OVER 42
San Diego/Cincinnati UNDER 44
Tampa Bay -6 over Seattle
Indianapolis -3 over Oakland

Best Bet

2 Team Teaser on New England (-8 1/2) and San Diego (-8)

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Sunday's NFL Picks Against the Spread - December 5th

Okay, after some time off which included a little vacation I am back with my NFL picks against the spread. There are a handful of games that I find intriguing including the Monday night battle that has the NY Jets on the road at New England. The Bears are at Detroit and the line on that game keeps rising. It opened at 3 and now it is at 5 1/2 and headed north. I just don't see how the Bears don't pound the Lions today with Detroit starting career backup Drew Stanton under center.

(**As always these picks are for entertainment purposes only**)

Top Plays

Pittsburgh +3.5 over Baltimore
Miami -4 over Cleveland
Kansas City -8.5 over Denver
Tennessee -3.5 over Jacksonville

Best Bet

Bears -5 over Detroit

Sunday's NFL Picks Against the Spread - Oct. 10th

After a rough Saturday in college football it is time to rebound with today's NFL card. I have a handful of games that I like including my Best Bet of the Year so far.

So Away We Go!

**As always these picks are for entertainment purposes only**

Solid Plays

Detroit -3
Buffalo -1
Kansas City +7 1/2
San Francisco on the money line


San Diego -6 1/2

Sunday NFL vs the Spread

Saturday was a great day in college football with Ohio State dominating Miami and Alabama drilling Penn State as well as a classic game in South Bend that saw Michigan blow a 21-17 lead late in the 4th quarter before roaring back in the final minute to stun the Irish 28-24. I had a strong day going 4-1 winning on Michigan as an outright underdog winner and winning with Alabama and Stanford who both cruised to comfortable wins. Our only loss came on Vanderbilt who struggled offensively in a loss to LSU. That was more than made up for though by a winner with our Best Play which saw Wake Forest beat Duke as a 5 1/2 point underdog.

Here are today's picks in the NFL: (As always these picks are for entertainment purposes only):

San Francisco - 3 at Seattle
Cincinnati +5 at New England
Houston + 2 1/2 vs Indianapolis
Bears vs Lions OVER 45

The Sunday night game will be up this afternoon and the Monday night game will be up tomorrow. The rest of the late games will be added if I find something I like during the early games.

Have Fun!

Kurt Warner Wanted To Be A Bear

I interviewed Kurt Warner on Chicago Tribune Live on Comcast SportsNet on Tuesday and as usual he was nothing but class to deal with. He was available for interviews through the Got Milk promotion that he is in Miami working on.

Here is the transcript of the interview. Read his quotes where he says the Bears told him that he would be the #3 QB going to training camp if he signed with the Bears. Unbelievable to think that a Hall of Fame QB wanted to be here and just wanted a chance to compete for the QB job and the Bears wouldn't allow him to.



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The Best of the Decade in Chicago Sports

As the first decade in the 21st century comes to a close, let's take a moment to reminisce about the best and worst moments and athletes of the past ten years in Chicago Sports.

Best Team: 2005 Chicago White Sox

Only one Chicago team could call itself champions in the first decade of the 2000s, and that team plays at 35th and the Dan Ryan.  The White Sox magical run to a world championship in 2005 erased an 88-year drought of glory on the south side.  Everything went right for Ozzie Guillen's club that year, as his starting staff of Mark Buehrle, Jose Contreras, Jon Garland and Freddy Garcia each won 14 or more games in the regular season, leading the club to a 99 win campaign.  Playing "Ozzie Ball", the Palehose used speed and timely hitting to scratch across runs with Scott Podsednik changing the team's offensive strategy.  The White Sox stormed through the playoffs, going 11-1 in October, which included a sweep of the then-defending champion Red Sox, and the Astros in the World Series.  Their bullpen was rock solid all year, as Bobby Jenks burst onto the scene as a bona fide closer, and earned the save on October 26, 2005 to earn the Sox a ring.

Worst Team: 2000-2001 Chicago Bulls

After a historic run of six world championships in the previous decade with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, things went very bad and very fast for the Bulls after the nucleus of the team left the Windy City.  The team did have Elton Brand, who averaged 20 points per game, Ron Mercer, who could still contribute, and Ron Artest--who by his own admission--was drinking on the job.  The team went 15-67, bad enough for a miserable .183 winning percentage, and ranked dead last in the NBA in points per game (87.6).  Need any further proof this team was a disaster?  This team only had three players average double-digit scoring, and Ron Artest barely qualified in double-digits with just over 11 points per game.  Also, how about these names that contributed minutes to Tim Floyd's club that year:  Dragan Tarlac, Khalid El-Amin, Dalibor Bagaric, A.J. Guyton, Jake Voskuhl.  Need I say more?

Best Athlete: Brian Urlacher, Chicago Bears

Say what you want about Urlacher's attitude, or problematic character at times.  It's no question this city could have embraced him far more than they did over this past decade.  But when it comes to the best athlete in Chicago sports over the last ten years, Urlacher takes the cake.  After being drafted in the first round out of New Mexico in 2000, Urlacher immediately emerged as a standout linebacker for the Bears and quickly vaulted to the top of the NFL.  He had more than 800 tackles in the decade, 37.5 sacks, and 17 interceptions.  He was one of the most feared defensive players in the league for the majority of the decade, and led his team to multiple playoff appearances including a Super Bowl berth in 2006.  Note: Honorable Mention goes to White Sox ace Mark Buehrle, for a consistent and successful decade.

Worst Athlete: Corey Patterson, Chicago Cubs

Corey Patterson had a three good months as a Chicago Cub.  That's it.  Otherwise, his career as a Cub could really only be described as a debacle.  The 3rd overall pick in the 1998 draft figured to solve the Cubs center field problem for the long haul.  All we read and heard about him coming up was that he had great speed, great power, and could be a five-tool superstar type player to anchor the Cubs outfield.  Instead, he was a free-swinging, undisciplined, stubborn liability for the Cubs for parts of five seasons.  Other than the 83 games in 2003 in which he hit .298 with 13 homers and 55 RBIs, he was detracting from the team's success.  (And funnily enough, when Patterson got hurt the Cubs acquired Kenny Lofton, who was a catalyst and a big reason why the Cubs nearly reached the world series that season.)  In 2004, he was a microcosm of the team's shortcomings, and his 2005 season was one of the worst statistical seasons put forth by an everyday player in history.  He's still toiling around baseball, last seen with the Brewers this past season.  The Cubs traded him to Baltimore before the 2006 year, and the Cubs have still not found a long term solution for center field.

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Lovie Smith Has to Go

I have never been a fan of Lovie Smith's style, but there are different ways to get the job done. And as long as Smith leads the Bears to victory, that's all that matters. Yet after a Super Bowl appearance in 2006, he has failed to get his team back to the playoffs. After yesterday's loss to the Green Bay Packers, it is obvious that a change at head coach is necessary.

Not only has the team regressed over the past three seasons, but it's painfully obvious that the Bears are being out coached. Smith is the same man who asked all of us to "trust me to do what is best for our football team", when he fired Ron Rivera as defensive coordinator following the 2006 season, the year the Bears appeared in the Super Bowl.

Then, Smith hand picked linebackers coach Bob Babich for the defensive coordinator role, which failed miserably.  Consequently, Smith took over defensive play calling responsibilities before the 2009 season. The result?  You have a Bears defense that ranks 12th out of 16 teams in the NFC with only Seattle, St. Louis, Detroit, and Tampa behind.

Let's go to Sunday's loss to the arch-rival Green Bay Packers. The Bears are trying to drive for the tying touchdown, and Jay Cutler throws a pass to Greg Olsen.  He initially grabs it, but does not control the ball all the way to the ground and it's ruled incomplete. Smith takes his first charged timeout of the 2nd half. After the timeout, and just as the Bears are set to run the next play, he decides to challenge the Olsen incompletion.  He threw the red flag, risking a failed challenge, and potentially costing them two timeouts in the same play before another second runs off the clock.

Well, that is exactly what happened.  Referee Mike Carey deemed the play stood as called, the drive stalled, and the Bears never scored again, losing to Green Bay 21-14. Who knows if they would have scored if they had an extra timeout?  Common sense tells me no, but you can't dispute the fact that they would have run their final drive differently if they would have had another timeout to work with.

Furthermore, Lovie Smith told the media after the game the reason they called the first timeout on that play was because they had "some things going on" that necessitated using it. Just what those "things" were?  He didn't say.  But offensive coordinator Ron Turner said there was nothing going on that would have warranted using another timeout.

Whatever the case, this team is in disarray and a major house cleaning has to take place to give the team a chance for improvement in the near future.  And if Smith is fired, General Manager Jerry Angelo also has to go, because he has done a poor job of assembling the roster. This team is out manned in terms of talent nearly every week.

I keep hearing that because both men are owed significant dollars no changes will take place. The Bears are a franchise valued at over a billion dollars. To keep them both says very simply to a tremendously loyal fan base that winning just isn't that important. Please, members of the McCaskey family, tell us that isn't true.

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Handicapping This Week in the NFL

Alrighty then....It's time to see how we can do picking against the spread on today's slate of games in the National Football League. Can our Bears finally dominate an opponent in the 1-10 St. Louis Rams? How about the run the once 0-6 Tennessee Titans are on? Can they keep it going on the road at 11-0 Indy? And will the Vikings keep rolling with a huge game on Sunday night against the Arizona Cardinals in Phoenix?

**As always these selections are for entertainment purposes only**


Green Bay - 3 vs Baltimore

Best of the Rest

New England -4 over Miami
Seattle +1 over San Francisco
Pittsburgh -15 over Oakland
NY Giants +1 over Dallas
St. Louis/Bears over 40


What a Weekend in the Sports World

What a great weekend of intrigue if you are a sports fan, especially a sports fan in the Chicago area. With the Notre Dame job now officially open, the speculation is starting to intensify as to who will replace Charlie Weis.

Then you have our Chicago Bears, who were so completely dominated in every facet of yesterday's 36-10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings that it is now painfully obvious that the entire front office of the team has to be cleaned out and overhauled. The same goes for the coaching staff, which has seen a Super Bowl team in 2006 slide into oblivion at astonishing speed.

Finally, the weekend's most bizarre story comes courtesy of Tiger Woods, who was involved in a one car accident as he was leaving his home in Florida. First reports indicated that his wife, Elin, had rescued him from the wreck by taking a golf club and smashing out the windows in Tiger's 2009 Cadillac Escalade. Then, we started to hear that perhaps his facial lacerations were not from the accident, but from the wrath of his wife after she reportedly found out about another woman in his life.

Here is the latest on the Woods story courtesy of the fine folks at TMZ.com. which just seems to keep getting stranger every day.  Tiger reportedly told a friend that he needs a "Kobe Special", which refers to the enormous ring that Kobe Bryant bought his wife Vanessa after his episode in Colorado a few years ago.

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The Bears Deny Coaching Search

This afternoon Hub Arkush, the guru from Pro Football Weekly, teased Chicago football fans by suggesting his sources say the Bears have quietly begun exploring a possible change at both the head coach and general manager positions.

Arkush, citing unnamed sources, said on WSCR Radio the Bears have begun the process of looking at coaching candidates. "Inquiries have been made, feelers have been put out," Arkush said. He specifically mentioned three names the Bears are interested in as potential candidates, listing Super Bowl winning coaches Bill Cowher, Mike Shanahan, and Jon Gruden.
cowher and shanahan.jpg

If the Bears make a coaching change both Bill Cowher and Mike Shanahan will be at or near the top of the Bears list of candidates.

Tonight, a Bears source told Chicago Tribune columnist David Haugh that there is absolutely no truth to the report. Now, does that mean that the Bears won't change coaches after the season ends? Absolutely not. It simply means that no official search is underway and with 6 games still to be played in the 2009 season, it would do the Bears no good to undercut Lovie Smith and his staff as they try salvage a very disappointing year.

Should the Bears fire Smith and his staff at the end of the season? Absolutely. This will be the third consecutive season that the Bears will miss the playoffs, and the future looks anything but bright with question marks all over the roster. The team hasn't quit on Smith but it is becoming painfully obvious that the team is woefully inadequate to compete for a championship.
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Lovie Smith Must Go

While I am on vacation with my wife, I decided to bring my laptop out to watch the Bears game while catching some sun. Through the awesome invention known as a Slingbox I was able to have my NFL Sunday Ticket right on the beach with me and I sat down hoping to watch the Bears harass Kurt Warner into another turnover filled day like he had a week ago against Carolina.

However, from the Cardinals first possession, it was obvious that the defense had no chance at slowing down Warner and Co. and that was without All-Pro wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who was sidelined with an injury. The Cardinals ground game came into the contest averaging an embarrassing 65 yards per game, and ripped the Bears apart for 182 yards. In fact, the Cardinals set their season high in yards on the ground in the first half.

It was a thorough butt-kicking and one that proved the Bears are a lousy football team. In fact, if Jeff Reed and Olindo Mare make a couple of field goals, the Bears could be sitting here today as a 2-6 team, with their only wins over Detroit and Cleveland. The Bears are nowhere close to being a contending team, and they need to spend the rest of the 2009 season evaluating which players should stay and go as they attempt to build toward the future.

That starts with the head coach, who is so out of touch with reality that it's laughable. I have never been a fan of Lovie Smith, because of his inability to display any sense of honesty in his dealing with the fans and media. When his team plays poorly he refuses to ever call out a player or unit for poor performance. I am not asking him to be Mike Ditka, because he doesn't have that type of personality. But his failure to hold people accountable and his willingness to give out jobs to players before training camp and before they have earned is one of the reasons the Bears are where they are now.

So how do you fix it? You start by firing the head coach and hiring a no-nonsense guy who has a proven reputation as a winner. He must possess an ability to connect with the fan base and the media, and a willingness to roll up his sleeves and contribute years of expertise in personnel matters. Furthermore, he must be able to evaluate personnel well enough to take some of the responsibilities away from current GM Jerry Angelo.  I'm not asking for the new coach to necessarily be the "architect" of this team, but Angelo has done a very poor job during his 8+ seasons in Lake Forest.

Angelo is under contract through 2013, so the thought that the Bears would pay both he and Smith is probably fantasy. So here's what I would do: fire Smith the day the season ends so I could have all available coach options available to me right away. I would also call Jerry Angelo into a meeting where he will be offered the chance to stay as GM, but he will also be asked to relinquish some of his power to the new Head Coach/Football Operations boss. Should he balk then he can quit. However, with a ton of money owed to him for four more seasons, I would be surprised if he walked away.
Bill Cowher Celebrates.jpg

Bill Cowher would be a great choice as the Bears next coach.

Then, I would offer Bill Cowher whatever it took to land him, and I would make it clear that Chicago Bears football is back and is changing its image, effective immediately. Cowher is a proven winner, he would energize the fan base, and he is a tremendous motivator. With the right moves next spring, the Bears could put some of the necessary pieces in place around standout quarterback Jay Cutler. And they could start to rebuild a team that is obviously not responding to Lovie Smith.

More to come as we get the Pittsburgh point of view on Cowher next. Have a great day! Kap 

A Look at the Bears 30-6 Win Over the Browns

Let's start with the Bears, who pounded an awful Cleveland Browns team 30-6 this afternoon at Soldier Field, improving their record to 4-3. First of all, there are no "bad" wins in the NFL. Every win is important. And while today's game didn't go a long way to answering the questions that continue to linger about the offense, it did show that the Bears can find ways to win even when Jay Cutler isn't at his best.

The offensive line continues to look suspect. If the Bears aren't careful, they won't have Cutler as their QB too much longer, because the beating he's taking will eventually lead to serious injury. Today, Cutler was sacked 4 times and hit 7 times with many of those hits being very physical plays. Say what you want about him, but Cutler is showing tremendous toughness as he takes a beating each and every week and keeps on playing hard.

I also loved the exchange between Cutler and Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan that was captured on the broadcast. Both men were screaming at each other, and it is that passion that we have not seen in a long time from a Bears QB. After the game the two men hugged as they walked off of the field and shook hands, and Cutler talked about his respect for Ryan in the post game press conference.

Now, with the Browns out of the way, the Bears will have to step up their performance a notch as the Arizona Cardinals will come to town next Sunday afternoon. While the Cardinals looked awful today against the Panthers, the fact is they have a handful of road wins on their resume and they should be a formidable foe for the Bears.

Did You Know Dept.?

The victory before a Soldier Field crowd of 59,493, ended a two-game losing streak, no insignificant achievement since only one team (1979) in franchise history had lost three straight and reached the postseason.

Post game Grades:

Jay Cutler took another beating but he had only one turnover and that came on a tipped ball and he did throw for 225 yards on a 17-30 performance. His QB rating was mediocre at 66.7 but let's not forget he has a brutal offensive line and a suspect set of skill position players around him.
Grade: B

Running Game

Matt Forte ran for 90 yards on 26 carries and while he only averaged 3.5 yards per carry he did take care of the ball and help the Bears keep the clock moving en route to a time of possession victory of 37:25 to 22:35. He also found the end zone twice.
Grade: B+

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
While nobody caught a TD pass and no one had a 100 yard day they did do some good things to keep drives alive and they contributed by blocking in the running game.
Grade: C+

Defensive Line
Just 1 sack is unacceptable and if that trend continues the Bears have no chance at making the playoffs and doing damage once they get there. In addition to the one sack, there was only 1 tackle for loss. There were only three QB hits, and while that may work against a team like Cleveland, it will not work against any of the good QB's left on the Bears schedule. The D-Line was okay against the run as the Browns ran for 117 total yards.
Grade: C

Solid performance from Nick Roach, Hunter Hillenmeyer and Lance Briggs, who were solid in coverage and against the run. This group is doing all they can with both Brian Urlacher and Pisa Tinoisamoa out for the season.
Grade: B+

Picked off 2 passes and forced 2 fumbles. In addition, Tillman took his pick back for a touchdown. They covered well and they gave good support against the run.
Grade: A

Special Teams
Robbie Gould was 3-3 on field goal attempts and Brad Maynard stuck three punts inside the 20 yard line. He did shank one kick but otherwise he had a solid performance. Add in no special teams turnovers and the unit did a pretty fair job.
Grade: B

Lovie Smith had his guys ready to play and they were able to put the memory of last week's 45-10 blowout at Cincinnati in their rear view mirrors fairly quickly. However, Rod Marinelli's D-Line has to pick it up as does Harry Hiestand's offensive line. Ron Turner takes a ton of heat for his play calling, but it is hard to take a ton of chances down the field when your offensive line can't give the quarterback much time to throw.
Grade B-

Chicago Sports Needs Some Personalities

While I consider Rick Morrissey a colleague and a friend, we usually disagree on most of the topics we discuss in the sports world. However, his column this morning in the Chicago Tribune was outstanding. For a world class city with the best sports fans in the world, we sure don't have much in the way of colorful personalities who are compelling enough for even the casual fan to pay attention. How big would Chad Ochocinco be on the national stage if he played in Chicago or New York? He would be a mega star.

Outside of Ozzie Guillen, name me one guy who you think really keeps it interesting, and is engaging not only with the media, but in the way he acts on the playing field. Let's examine the coaches and managers first, then we'll look at the players who call Chicago home.

Managers and Coaches

Ozzie Guillen

He may not be everybody's cup of tea, but I find him so entertaining to watch and to cover that he would probably the guy I'd hire if I owned a baseball team. Ozzie is honest to a fault, and he says what most fans are thinking even if his players don't like his frankness. His personality keeps the White Sox in the headlines even when his team may not be great. Plus, he has a World Series ring on his hand. So those who don't like him can't really argue much, because he accomplished something that no one else has done in this city in a very long time.
Lou Piniella

When Lou was hired by the Cubs, many fans and members of the media (myself included) expected a Mike Ditka-like presence in the Cubs dugout based on what we had seen of Sweet Lou during his time as the manager of the Seattle Mariners. However, with rare exception, we have seen a much more mellow Piniella, especially in 2009 when his lack of public anger frustrated many fans. When he shows his emotion, he is a colorful "Chicago type" personality. And that is what he needs to show in 2010.
Lovie Smith

While he may know his football, he is one of the most boring personalities we have seen on the Chicago sports scene in a long time. Smith is steady and unspectacular, but his lack of charisma drives fans who remember the days of Mike Ditka crazy, when every news conference and media moment was must-see TV. Smith is true to himself, but I believe that sometimes management forgets that professional sports are entertainment and you need to keep people watching even when you aren't going to the playoffs.

Joel Quenneville

Coach Q is very intense, and will flash a glimpse of his fiery personality from time to time behind the bench. But he does not usually show that side of himself away from game action. His news conferences are calm and informative, but he doesn't do much to garner attention.
Vinny Del Negro

Another of the modern day coaches who does not ever say anything to stir the pot. Del Negro is polished and concise in his comments, but like most of his Chicago counterparts he is not must-watch TV when he addresses the media.
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Round One - Weekend Football Picks

There are some very intriguing games this weekend in both college football and on the NFL schedule. I am really looking forward to watching the rivalry game in South Bend as Notre Dame tries to avoid a letdown after a tough comeback and eventual loss to USC with Boston College rolling into Notre Dame Stadium.

Iowa is undefeated and after a 2nd half comeback on the road at Wisconsin they are starting to make believers out of those that have doubted their staying power. However, another tough game is up next with a night time battle at Michigan State much tougher than most would expect. I will have more games for you as the weekend unfolds. Have fun and enjoy! Kap

**As always these picks are for entertainment purposes only**


Duke -4 over Maryland
Illinois +11 at Purdue
Michigan State +2 vs Iowa
Northwestern -4 1/2 vs Indiana

South Florida +6 1/2 at Pittsburgh
Miami, OH +11 1/2 vs Northern Illinois
Georgia Tech -5 at Virginia
BYU +5 1/2

Best Bet is listed in bold. More to come.

Bears Thoughts After Giving Away the Atlanta Game

The Bears did not lose to the Atlanta Falcons tonight. Instead, they gave away the game by self-destructing, especially in the red zone. Jay Cutler threw 2 bad interceptions, and Matt Forte had perhaps the worst game of his short professional career.

Add in a terrible night for the special teams and a rough night for the offensive line, and it spelled defeat in an extremely winnable football game in the Georgia Dome. How does the special teams have 12 men on the field late in the game when the Falcons had just been forced to punt? That cannot happen, but fortunately for the Bears they were bailed out one play later when Matt Ryan threw his 2nd interception of the game.

Still, the Bears could not drive down and tie the game in the final moments, due to their inability to score when they were in the red zone. Cutler threw for 300 yards, but he and the offense generated only 7 points on three trips inside the 15 yard line. That is completely unacceptable, as is Orlando Pace's false start penalty on 4th and 1 with 34 seconds left in the game.
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Orton and Benson Are Stars? What Happened Here?

I have the NFL Sunday Ticket on Direct TV so that I can watch multiple games at once on my setup in the basement. A couple of my boys are big football fans so they decided to spend yesterday with me watching several games because we didn't have to focus on the Bears since it was their bye week.

As the day unfolded we stayed locked on the Bengals/Ravens game which was competitive right down to the final seconds. As the Bengals finished off the Ravens this nugget flashed up on the screen: Cedric Benson is the first player to run for over 100 yards against the Ravens in 39 games, tallying 120 yards and a touchdown on the ground. I paused, looked at my son Brett and then he said some startling words to me: "Dad is that the same Cedric Benson who the Bears had?" When I told him yes he remarked, "why was he so bad here and looked so good for the Bengals?"
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Random Thoughts From the Chicago Sports Scene

Once in a awhile I like to look at some of the happenings in the sports world rather than just concentrating a blog post on just one sport. So here are some thoughts and questions that I have been observing and wondering about for a while.

Did you know that the over/under total of wins for the Bears in Las Vegas when the season began was 8 1/2? You have to think that the large numbers of Chicagoans who travel to Vegas must have put some serious money down on the over. The Bears look pretty solid and with Jay Cutler at the controls it would take a real collapse to not win at least 9 games.

The total bet in Vegas that has the casinos very happy is the number that they posted on the Broncos of 6 1/2 after seeing huge money come in on the under with the total posted at 7 1/2. The casinos adjusted their number out of concern that they could lose a ton on the under. Several "wiseguys" continued to pound the under and the casinos could make a fortune with the Broncos already 4-0.
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Handicapping Week 2 in the NFL

After an okay day in college football where I went 3-2 and hit the Michigan State/Notre Dame game (but I can't count it since I decided to advise you to stay away) it is time to look at the slate of games in Week 2 of the NFL.

**As always, the following picks are for entertainment purposes only**

Oakland +3 at Kansas City

The Raiders lost a tough game against San Diego on Monday night and now they have to come back on  a short week. However, they have much more firepower than the Chiefs and this is only week 2 when players are still relatively fresh and not banged up. Look for Oakland to stretch the field and to handle the Chiefs relatively easily.

Pittsburgh -3 at Chicago

I would love to pick the Bears here but since I picked them on TV to start the season 0-3 back in August I will stick with what I felt deep down before the season started. This is not a great football team because they have no depth at wide receiver, the defense (before Brian Urlacher went down) was questionable and now it is really suspect. The defensive backfield is mediocre and against Ben Roethlisberger that can be a real problem. The Bears should come out ready to play in their home opener after a tough loss at Green Bay. Lay the points as the Steelers win and cover.

New Orleans -1 at Philadelphia

The Saints can score in a big way and with Donovan McNabb probably out with a rib injury it will be very tough for the Eagles to keep pace if the game turn into a shootout. The key will be if the Philadelphia defense can slow down Drew Brees and limit his effectiveness in the Saints passing game. I don't believe they can so I am pick New Orleans to grab a big road victory.

Buffalo -4 vs Tampa Bay

I know that the Bills literally handed the game last Monday night to the Patriots after Leodis McKelvin fumbled a kickoff that he should have never tried to return late in the fourth quarter. I know that they are on a short week of preparation after playing on Monday night. However, this is a pretty good football team and head coach Dick Jauron usually has his team ready to play. I look for Buffalo to rebound with a win at home.

Long Shot 6 Team Parlay Play

New Orleans
Green Bay
Dallas on the money line

Cutler Struggles, Bears Do Some Good Things

I know everyone in Chicago is disappointed in Jay Cutler's inaugural performance as the Bears quarterback, but there were some good things to be taken from Sunday night's 21-15 loss to the arch-rival Packers.

First of all, the defensive line put excellent pressure on Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, who, according to all of the pregame prognosticators, was supposed to torch the Bears secondary for a huge night. That never happened because guys like Adewale Ogunleye were able to get into the backfield and keep Rodgers from finding his comfort zone.

In addition, the defense kept Packers running back Ryan Grant in check, holding him to just 61 yards on 16 carries.  The entire Green Bay running game totaled just 76 yards on 22 carries, an average of just 3.5 yards per carry. That is more than acceptable.  That stat, combined with the four sacks and the countless hurries that the Bears racked up against Rodgers, should have been enough for a victory.


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A Look at the Bears Offense

On Tuesday I explored the Bears defense and now today I want to take a look at what the Chicago Bears will have on the offensive side of the football. Obviously things should be a whole lot better with Jay Cutler replacing Kyle Orton at quarterback.

The Bears hopes for a Super Bowl season ride in large part on the shoulders of Pro Bowl QB Jay Cutler.

However, even with a Pro Bowl QB there are still a lot of questions that have to be answered with a resounding yes for the Bears offense to play at the level of a team with championship aspirations. Is there a #1 receiver on the offense that you feel comfortable calling on with the game on the line? Sure, Devin Hester has tremendous speed but is he a legitimate every down wideout? The receiving corp of Hester, Aromashadu , Knox, Iglesias, Davis, and Bennett all have some skill level but they have just two guys (Hester and Davis) who have ever caught even one pass in an NFL game.

The tight end position is loaded with Greg Olsen and Desmond Clark both capable of making the big catch and blocking very effectively. Together, this duo should help take a lot of pressure off of Cutler and the unproven wide receiver corps. I fully expect Olsen to lead the team in receptions because of the chemistry that he has developed with Cutler.

The running back spot is capably manned by Matt Forte who should have an even better sophomore season than he had as a rookie when he solidified a questionable Bears running game that had struggled with Cedric Benson for the previous couple of seasons. Garrett Wolfe and Adrian Peterson provide depth but an injury to Forte could be devastating to the Bears chances because neither of the backups appear ready to be an every down back.

Add it all up and you have a team that should be vastly improved on the offensive side of the ball but the big question is will they be improved enough to cover for a very questionable defense. If they are then the Bears could be the best team in a rather mediocre NFC. If they are not then it could be a rough season in the NFC North where the Vikings and Packers appear to be very tough to beat with veteran teams and big time quarterbacks.

A look at the Bears' Defense

While I have been very focused on baseball this summer it is time to start talking football with the Bears opening their season this Sunday evening at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. How will the 2009 season go for the Monsters of the Midway? Does the addition of Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler mean the Bears are going to actually have an offense that looks like one that a professional team should have?

While there is great enthusiasm surrounding Cutler's arrival, there are also several questions that must be answered in a positive fashion if this team is to contend for a division title and to have a shot at a Super Bowl ring.

First and foremost, the defense must be light years better than it was in 2008 when it applied virtually no pressure on opposing QB's and was ranked near the bottom of the NFL.

A look at the defensive side of the ball shows that Lovie Smith made some changes to his staff that should upgrade the "D".  But whether they will take the Bears from mediocrity to the promised land is up for debate.

Rod Marinelli comes in to coach the defensive line and to have a huge amount of input into the weekly game plan. Now I know what you are thinking.  Why would I want a coach who just went 0-16 as the head coach of the Detroit Lions getting anywhere near my game plan?

However, Marinelli is highly regarded around the league for his defensive acumen and just because he worked for Matt Millen (who did an awful job building the Lions) doesn't mean he doesn't know his football. Bears players spent training camp raving about his influence on reshaping the defense.

He is very demanding and intense which should raise the entire defensive line's level of play.  If that happens it should mean much better pressure on opposing QB's.  So let's consider this move a big upgrade.
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Jay Cutler - Savior or Not?


Hopefully Jay Cutler will always be this happy in a Bears uniform.

There has been a lot of discussion over Tony Dungy's comments about Bears QB Jay Cutler. In case you missed them here is what the former Colts coach said:

After making a dozen calls to sources around the league I have come to a few conclusions.

First, the guy has all of the physical tools necessary to play for the Bears at a very high level. That is pretty obvious based on his numbers in Denver. As Dungy said on ESPN Radio yesterday, "he can make all of the throws but that is not all there is to playing quarterback in the NFL." Several NFL scouts that I regularly speak with all told me that they believe that Cutler could struggle in a high pressure media market like Chicago. One executive told me that Cutler could get off to a slow start because of a very questionable receiving corps, unrealistically high expectations from a fan base that has been starving for a star QB, and his immaturity which caused him problems in Denver.

Should he struggle over the first few weeks it could get very ugly and that could make it a pressure packed environment for him to turn it around in. Additionally, several respected sources have told me that Cutler is not very accomodating to the media or the fans and in Chicago you can bet that act will not fly very well.

One interesting story that is making the rounds involves a Hall of Fame announcer who had a meeting with Cutler before calling a Broncos game and he found Cutler so rude, disrespectful, and immature that he said he was one of the worst athletes he had ever dealt with in his long career. You have to wonder what Tony Dungy really knows because a class act like Dungy doesn't usually speak out without know all of the facts.

Here's hoping that Cutler takes full advantage of a clean start in Chicago and changes his reputation and produces big time on the field. Because if he doesn't it could be a very long season at Soldier Field.


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