Any of you who have listened to the Bears Cast for five minutes were probably able to pick on the idea that myself and co-host Pat Sheehan enjoy taking our hard earned money and risking it on grown men who compete against each other on a field, court, or ice each night. It is called gambling, and for some, it can be a problem. But for those of us who have watched the Chicago Bears consistently this year, there has been some “free money” out there this season.
Betting the over on Bears opponents rushing yards has certainly been a popular one in adding to my bottom line. Given that the Bears have the worst rushing defense in the league, the low totals set each week have been easy wins. Hell, the past two weeks, I haven’t been able to make a play on it because it hasn’t been available.
So when I saw the initial number earlier this week for the over/under in the Bears game against the Philadelphia Eagles at 56.5, I couldn’t pass it up. Then, a second check on gameday revealed that the number had gone down to 54, so I loaded up. What the means for those unfamiliar to the degenerate world in which we live in is that both teams points need to add up to more than 54, and then the over hits.
Now, for those of you who don’t gamble and don’t understand that obsession with it by those of us who do, let me try to bring you in our world. For me at least, regular season games don’t have much impact for me. I have a couple fantasy teams, but once my lineup is set, I hardly pay attention. When you have more than one team, you find that you have half of the impact players in the league. The result has been America’s obsession with offense, which is more often than not a product of bad defense and poor tackling fundamentals. Few people find the Carolina Panthers fun to watch this season, while they will rave about the performance of an Eagles team that is second in the league in offense and may miss the playoffs.
In the top ten offenses in the league, you have the loser of the Green Bay Packers/Chicago Bears game missing the playoffs, and the possibility of the San Diego Chargers and New Orleans Saints missing them as well. Not to mention that the Washington Redskins, who may be bad enough to earn the number one pick in the draft (a pick they have already traded), will miss the playoffs as well.
When you look on the defensive side of the ball, there is also something that stands out. Of the top six total defenses in the league, all six of them have at least ten wins going into the final week of the season. People can convince me all they want that the league has become strictly an offensive league, and I will continue to remind them that fantasy football has clouded their judgment. There has to be a competitive balance on both sides of the ball. The Houston Texans have a top ten defense, but their offense has been downright embarrassing. Same goes for the Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns.
So Sunday night, I sat on my couch in the living room sweating out one of the larger plays I’ve made all season on a game. Betting the over is a set up to torture yourself. When you bet the under, you have nearly all game to root against points in a game when teams try to patiently move the ball downfield. Usually, it comes down to the final couple of minutes, enough to keep a rooting interest the entire game. The problem with betting the over, is that you immediately are looking for both teams to be involved in a shootout. The Eagles were willing participants in what was projected to be a shootout. The Bears on the other hand, were an unprepared disaster. By the end of the first quarter, the Eagles had the route on with a 21-0 lead, a solid start for someone hoping for points. Each team would only manage a field goal in the second quarter, and at 24-3, the score stood at exactly half of the 54 points.
But when betting against defense, there hasn’t been a better defense to bet against that the Chicago Bears, who have been consistently awful each week of the season. That would hold true again for the 16th week in a row, as the Eagles had no problem running the ball through the heart of the Bears defense. An additional 17 points were scored in the third, so heading into the final quarter, the total was at 44.
Less than four minutes into the fourth, the Eagles would run for another touchdown, making it almost a lock that the game would go over the point total. A Jay Cutler pick-six would seal up the win, giving the Eagles 47 points themselves. This is a unique position for a gambler and anyone who follows the Vegas numbers. The Eagles were just one touchdown away from covering the gameday total points number themselves.
With nothing left for either side to play for, the Eagles would break off another big play, you guessed it a run, for a 65 yard touchdown. On the night, the Eagles ran for 289 yards, the largest amount the Bears defense has allowed all season in a year in which they have had seven games in which they have allowed more than 150 yards on the ground.
For one night, I was rooting for bad defense from two teams who could make the playoffs with victories next week. Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis’s defense did everything he could to destroy that hope. Luckly for me, Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker’s defense came through in a big way. Too bad they let everyone else in the city down.