Da Bears DEVINe

Jul 24, 2007 6:41 AM

EDITORS NOTE: This is the third part of an eight-week NFL teaser of pertinent news and notes. GamingToday’s in-depth NFL preview edition featuring writers Andy Iskoe, Jim Feist, Richard Saber, Denny The Dog and a cast of thousands will be published on Sept. 4, two days prior to the start of the regular season.

This week: NFC North

Chicago Bears

The Bears aren’t sneaking up on anyone this season.

In particular that means Devin Hester, who should never be kicked to by any NFL team with an ounce of sense.

Hester and that great defense (+10 turnover ratio) caused 13 of the 17 Chicago games to go OVER the posted total.

The Bears were 6-0 straight up as a road favorite and the OVER was 8-0 against NFC teams. That’s surprising, considering Chicago’s hot and cold offense led by Rex Grossman at QB and a team built on defense by intimidation in the form of LB Brian Urlacher. Yet nearly 75 percent of Chicago’s games exceed the total.

In preseason last year, the Bears went 2-0 both SU and ATS against AFC opponents San Diego and Cleveland and 0-2 facing the NFC West. The OVER / UNDER was an even 2-2.

This preseason San Francisco and Cleveland again appear on the schedule. Following the Aug. 20 matchup at Indy, there are only five days to prepare for home games with the 49ers and Browns.

The betting view here is that Chicago won’t be that concerned

about either one of those contests and will probably focus on the Super Bowl rematch with the Colts in a revenge mode.

Bears vitals:

Last year: 15-3 SU, 11-7 ATS.

O/U: 13-4 under

Turnover ratio: +10

2006 exhibition (2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS):

CHI (+1½) 14-28 at SF (34)

CHI (-4) 24-3 v San Diego (34)

CHI (-4) 16-23 v Arizona (34)

CHI (+3½) 20-7 at Cleve (33.5)

2007 exhibition slate: Aug 11, at Houston; 20, at Indy; 25, SAN FRANCISCO; 30, CLEVELAND.

Detroit Lions

For any improvement of last year’s dismal 3-13 record, the Lions must take care of business within their own division.

Detroit was 0-6 SU against the Bears, Packers and Vikings. They covered the spread only once.

Most think the problem is GM Matt Millen, who saw QB Joey Harrington and a wealth of wide receiver draft picks as the way out of the doldrums. Well, Joey was a bust, the Lions drafted another WR (Calvin Johnson), but we did hear Millen stayed at a Holiday Inn that night.

In any case, the Lions did have their moments. They were 4-1 ATS as a home dog and had a +4 turnover/ratio in that role. Overall, the TO was -8 and Detroit was thinking Pistons by Week 3.

Last preseason, the Lions were The Hilton SuperBook had the Lions over / under WIN total for the upcoming season at 6.

By the way, in the 2005 preseason, the Lions were also 1-3 SU and ATS and the UNDER was 3-1. Scary.

Lions vitals :

Last year: 3-13 SU, 6-10 ATS

O / U: 9-7 over

Turnover ratio: -8

2006 exhibition (1-3 SU, 1-3 ATS): DET (-2) 20-13 v Denver (37.5)

DET (+3) 16-20 at Cleve (33.5)

DET (+3) 3-21 at Oakland (36)

DET (-3) 13-20 at Buffalo (35)

2007 exhibition slate: Aug 19, CINCINNATI; 18, at Cleveland: 25, at Indy; 30, BUFFALO.

Green Bay Packers

The Packers are still about Brett Favre and he’s back for another season of hearing about when he’s going to retire.

In the meantime, Green Bay has become prone to losing at historic Lambeau Field. Last year, the Pack were a lowly 3-5 SU and 2-6 ATS at home, including a sorry 0-4 in both categories as a home dog.

The Packers were mediocre in every form. Green Bay was 8-8 SU, 7-8 ATS with a push, had an over/under of 8-8 and a turnover ratio of 0.

Preseason should have been a tipoff to what was ahead. GB was 1-3 both SU and ATS. The OVER was 3-1 with the Pack allowing 83 points in the final two games.

This year’s preseason slate includes a final game matchup with Tennessee for third straight year. The teams split those meetings with the Titans winning last year.

We would think GB’s focus would be on Seattle at Lambeau considering that the home game with Jacksonville comes just five days later.

Packers vitals:

Last year: 8-8 SU, 7-8-1 ATS

O/U: 8-8

Turnover ratio: 0

2006 exhibition (1-3 SU/ATS):

GB (-3) 3-17 at San Diego (35)

GB (-3) 38-10 v Atlanta (36)

GB (+5) 17-48 at Cincy (40)

GB (-1) 21-35 at Tenn (36)

2007 exhibition slate: Aug 11, at Pittsburgh; 18, SEATTLE; 23, JACKSONVILLE; 30, at Tenn.

Minnesota Vikings

Quickly, name the Vikings starting quarterback. If you said Tavaris Jackson, you win the NFC North.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if by midseason, assuming something happens to the raw QB talent, the Vikes go back to the future and sign Daunte Culpepper? Stranger things have happened.

The Vikings seem the most likely team to challenge the Bears in the North. So much rides on Jackson and top pick, Oklahoma RB Adrian Peterson.

The Vikes, perhaps more than any other NFC team, were hurt by the nonconference slate, going 0-4 both SU and ATS against the AFC.

On the plus side, Minnesota continued its reputation as one of the best teams in the NFL at forcing mistakes. The Vikes had a turnover ratio of +4 overall, +5 in the division, +6 as a road dog.

This preseason, Minnesota closes with Dallas again. The two teams played to a 10-10 tie last year in Dallas. The UNDER was 3-1 in the four Minnesota exhibition games.

Vikings vitals:

Last year: 6-10, 7-9 ATS

O/U: 8-7 over

Turnover ratio: +4

2006 exhibition (2-1-1, 3-1 ATS)

MIN (-2½) 13-16 v Oak (35)

MIN (+2½) 17-10 at Pitt (34.5)

MIN (-2½) 30-7 v Balt (35.5)

MIN (+6) 10-10 at Dal (34.5)

2007 exhibition slate: Aug. 10, ST. LOUIS; 17, at NY Jets; 25, at Seattle; 30, DALLAS.

Next week: The NFC Westseason can use the Saints as a blueprint. New Orleans was 1-3 both SU and ATS along with carrying a +2 TO ratio.

Maybe that’s why Sean Payton was hailed as the next coaching genius in the NFC.

There is a short five-day span between the Cincy and KC games, so it will be interesting to see how Payton decides to prepare for the two. The finale at home with Miami should be a most conservative contest.

Saints vitals:

Last year: 11-7 SU, 10-8 ATS

O/U: 10-8 over

Turnover ratio: -9

2006 exhibition (1-3 SU/ATS): Saints (-3) 15-34 v Sea (37.5)

Saints (+4½) 37-27 at NE (38.5)

Saints (-1½) 6-21 at Balt (37.5)

Saints (+6) 6-13 at Oak (40.5)

2007 exhibition slate: Aug 10, BUFFALO; 18, at Cincinnati; 23, at Kansas City; 30, MIAMI.

Tampa Bay Bucs

If you believe in the rebound factor, this is your team. Last year, the Bucs were a dreadful -12 in TO ratio, including -7 as an dog. That would explain a 3-10 record, though the 6-7 ATS mark shows the Bucs were better than the results indicated.

Note also that in all four games with the AFC, the UNDER was 4-0. That could reflect in Jon Gruden’s knowledge of the American Conference, having coached the Oakland Raiders to the Super Bowl before leaving for Tampa Bay.

Gruden is confident the pickup of Jeff Garcia, who resurrected his career at QB with the Eagles, will trigger the sputtering offense and generate more production from Cadillac Williams at RB. The Caddy turned into an Edsel in fantasy leagues a year ago.

The Bucs were 2-2 in preseason last year, with three of the games decided by a field goal. TB won the other by 24 against Houston, which returns to the 2007 version with Miami and Jacksonville. New England replaces Tennessee in the opener.

Bucs vitals:

Last year: 4-12, 6-9-1 ATS

O / U: 9-7 under

Turnover ratio: -12

2006 exhibition (2-2, 2-1-1 ATS):

Bucs (+3) 20-17 at Tenn (36)

Bucs (-3) 17-20 v J’ville (35)

Bucs (+3) 14-17 at Mia (34.5)

Bucs (-4) 38-14 v Hou (36.5)

2007 exhibition slate: Aug. 10, NEW ENGLAND; 18, at J’ville; 25, at Miami; 30, HOUSTON.

Next week: The NFC Central