The first Sunday of NFL football action is a time for optimism, opportunity, and new beginnings. After both the Bears and Colts had forgettable 2011 campaigns, those traits are precisely what both teams will be looking forward to prior to their match-up on Sunday afternoon.
Indianapolis had a dismal year last season, but ended up getting the #1 overall draft choice and with it selected Stanford’s Andrew Luck. Luck is by all accounts a premier prospect and looked the part in the pre-season. However to open his career on the road facing a vicious Chicago Bears’ defense will be no easy task, and it will be intriguing to see how he fares with the pressure.
Meanwhile, the Bears foresee a glorious opportunity this season, after their last campaign was wasted away with key injuries down the stretch. In 2011, the Bears were cruising in the early portion of their season, looking primed for a lengthy playoff run. However those hopes were derailed with key injuries to Jay Cutler and Matt Forte. Now in 2012, with both players healthy and a revamped offense, many pundits are talking Super Bowl for this well-balanced team. The optimism is overwhelming in Chicago, but despite their lofty aspirations, they’ll still need to get by Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts first.
Colts vs. Bears Spread and Betting Odds:
Indianapolis Colts +9.5 (-110)
@ Chicago Bears -9.5 (-110)
Over 43.5 (-110)
Under 43.5 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Colts vs. Bears Pick:
Andrew Luck looks very much like he’s going to be the real deal, and should be thoroughly in the hunt for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. However, the kid must have some enemies with those who make the schedule at the NFL offices, because this has the potential to be a nightmare start. To begin your career at Soldier Field, against a vicious pass rush and playing behind a susceptible offensive-line, Luck’s going to need a whole lot of luck come Sunday afternoon.
The Bears are certainly viewing 2012 as redemption for a pre-mature finish to last season. They’ve brought in star receiver Brandon Marshall and reunited him with Jay Cutler from their Denver days. The two will form a formidable duo and should be able to dominate the secondary of the Colts at will on Sunday. Chicago has only had six 1,000-yard receivers in their past forty years, while Marshall has had five straight seasons of over 1,000. He will be a difference-maker for a Chicago team clamouring for one. Moreover, the Bears also went out and added a competent second option to Forte in the backfield by bringing in Michael Bush. Bush is a beastly runner and expect the Colts’ front-seven to have difficulty bringing him down in short-yardage situations.
Chicago will be a much-improved team this season, but so will the Colts. After winning only 2 games last year, that number is certain to increase, with many liking their chances of exceeding their season win total number of five. Though this isn’t an ideal start for Indianapolis, they’ve built a ton of momentum in the pre-season, looking solid in every game and showing the league that they’re clearly a team on the rise. The Colts defense is one of the NFL’s worst however and is the main weakness of their squad. Though they recently went out and acquired defensive back Vontae Davis from the Dolphins, their D remains susceptible in all areas. A great, balanced attack like Chicago’s should give the Colts fits on Sunday afternoon.
That said, the Colts will be better this season as a result of their offense. Luck has already shown a masterful ability to grasp an NFL-style offense because that’s what he played during his career at Stanford, and possesses a decent array of targets at his disposal in Reggie Wayne, Coby Fleener, and Austin Collie. If Indianapolis is to make strides this season, they’ll have to do it on the backs of their offense as their defense conceded 430 points last season, and show no signs of improving on that total.
Expect a lot of points in this contest. The Bears will be raring to go in front of their boisterous home crowd, and should manhandle a Colts defense that will have no answers for the trio of Cutler, Marshall, and Forte. Look for the Bears to get out to a healthy lead, forcing Luck to the air where he should excel. The Colts have questions at running back with the unproven Donald Brown taking the position, and will struggle to run against Chicago. For Indy to attain success in this one, Luck will have no choice but to throw the ball and expect a lot of attempts from the Stanford product. If there is a weakness with the Bears’ defense, it certainly is their defensive backs. Last season the Bears’ pass-defense allowed 254.1 yards per game through the air, which was 28th in the league. With no new additions, and glaring holes still to be rectified, look for Luck and a sneaky Colts aerial attack to do some damage with the pass. The Colts are a pesky bunch and while they won’t win this game, they’ll surprise some with their offensive efficiency. Though this total has jumped three points throughout the pre-season and now sits at 43.5, it remains a solid consideration. Expect an abundance of points Sunday afternoon in the Windy City, with both offenses firmly engaged in a shootout.
PICK: Over 43.5 (-110)