Indianapolis Colts (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Chicago Bears (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
NFL Week 1
Date/Time: Sunday, September 9, 1PM EST
Where:Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois
by Vesper Abadon, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Ind +9/Chi -9
Remember Super Bowl XLI when Devin Hester ran back the opening kickoff
92 yards for a touchdown giving the Chicago Bears the earliest
lead in Super Bowl history? Not to be deterred, the Indianapolis
Colts, led by Peyton Manning, stormed back to win that game 29-17.
It was one for the agesWeek 1s rematch will not be the same.
The Colts, who finished 2-2 in the preseason, open the 2012 season with a visit to Soldier Field, the first regular season game of the post-Manning era. For many years up until the 2010 season, the Colts were a formidable force in the AFC right up their with the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelersbut then Manning got hurt. A 2-14 record proceeded to slap the franchise in the face with a hard truththey were nothing without Manning.
An even harder question followedcould the aging Manning return and put the Colts back in contention? With the first pick in hand and Andrew Luck lingering, Colts owner Jim Isray made the tough decision to put an end to an era and move on without Manning. Likewise, Joseph Addai, Gary Brackett, Dallas Clark, Pierre Garcon and Jeff Saturday all departed from the Colts roster; while head coach Jim Caldwell was supplanted by the Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator, Chuck Pagano.
To sum it up, these arent the same old Colts from Super Bowl XLI. While the franchise has denied it, theyre rebuilding. On the flip side, there are still quite a few familiar faces on the Bears roster, at least defensively. Brian Urlacher, Charles Tillman, and Lance Briggs, all Pro Bowl selections last year, are all still on the team, and were bolstered by the addition of Julius Peppers in later years, who was also a Pro Bowl selection in 2011.
The 34-year-old Urlacher is coming off a knee injury, and even though he is slated to start Week 1, questions linger regarding how hell be able to perform. The Bears ranked fifth last year at stopping the rush, which will no doubt hurt Donald Browns chances of finding success, but they ranked a lowly 28th in stopping the passa fact that certainly bodes well for Luck.
Offensively, the Bears finished 2011 as the ninth best rushing team and 26th through the air. With Matt Forte coming to terms on a deal and the addition of Michal Bush, both of whom new offensive coordinator Mike Tice hopes to make 1,000+ yard rushers, you can expect the Bears run game to improvenot a good thing for the Colts 29th ranked rushing defense. Additionally, the Bears have taken some big steps in improving their aerial assault, namely the additions of Brandon Marshall and rookie Alshon Jeffrey. The former will reunite with Jay Cutler and hopes are high that they can put up the sort of numbers they did in Denver; likewise, many speculate 63, 216-pound Jeffrey will create matchup nightmare with opposing defenses, especially in the red zone.
Essentially what it boils down to is thisthe Colts are just getting started on putting the post-Manning puzzle together, while the Bears have most of their pieces in place.
Vesper Abadons Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I think the Bears revamped offense will prove too much for the Colts to handle. Cutler and company will put points on the board early and force the Colts to try and play catch up through the air. Thatll put a lot of pressure on Luck, and well get to see if he can live up to all the hype and anticipation. Im skeptical Luck will find enough of his namesake in his regular season debut to notch his first NFL win, but I do think hell do well enough to put some points on the board. For that reason Im confortable betting the over, and while Im not overly enthusiastic to bet the Bears at -9, thats the bet that I would go with.