OK, better get to the juggernaut. But first, a word from Jim Mora...
Bears (-2.5) vs. Saints
Let me put this out there first. I LOVE the Saints. In a season where my beloved Berserkers completely tanked, I had to root for someone, and that team was the Saints. And it had almost nothing to do with Katrina. They were, quite frankly, the most entertaining team in the league. They were 8-2 ATS as a dog (and if you ever needed an example of how ridiculous the NFL has become, a team that went 10-6 and got a #2 seed was an underdog 10 times). They were a phenomenal 7-1 ATS on the road. They were part of my most gratifying gambling victory of the year, a 42-17 beatdown of the 'Boys.
I hate the Bears. I didn't until I moved to Iowa City (I was actually a Bears fan from the ages of 5-9, the last of the Walter Payton years). And I really didn't until I moved within range of 670 AM, The Score, which devotes 20 hours of every broadcast day to Sexy Rexy. Their fan base has gone from zero to obnoxious in approximately 9.3 seconds. Quite frankly, they're nearing Conrnhusker/Gopher levels in the hierarchy of hatred. Oh, and my turncoat dad walks around every Sunday in a Marc Colombo jersey (after spending the last 40 years as a Viking fan) (and, yes, he knows Colombo no longer plays in Chicago). That's why it pains me to say this:
The Bears will cover.
And you know why? Because (say it with me) "the Bears are what we thought they were." Say what you will about Grossman (and there hasn't been a more overblown story this season, T.O. non-suicide included), but they're money in the bank in this type of game. They're 4-1 ATS against teams over .500 (that the Bears have only played 5 teams over .500 is the amazing part of that stat). New Orleans is only 2-2. The Bears are 8-4 ATS on grass. Oh, and the game will be played at Soldier Field in what is predicted to be snow. As much as I love my Saints, I'm not willing to send them north of Mason-Dixon in January in a snowstorm without at least 6 points. Trust me, I hope I'm wrong on this one. Coach Green, your thoughts?
It's time to crown their ass. Bears 28 - Saints 13.
Mannings (-3) vs. Bradys
Are there any other players in this game? I'm not going to psychoanalyze the players here (that's best left to mental health experts like Sean Salisbury). I'm just going to say what I said last week. New England is 4-0 ATS as an underdog this season, and 8-1 ATS on the road. This has been the year of the underdog in the NFL, as it is. And I'll take the Golden Boy, his coach Frodo, and 3 points against anyone anywhere. The kicking game worries me, for sure. But the probability of another Manning collapse worries me more (have you watched the previous two games?) So, despite the fact that Indy has more Hawkeyes, and the fact that the return of Bob Sanders (I grin just typing his name) has completely changed the run defense, I'm taking...*shudder*...the Pats. New England 28 - Indy 24.
POSTSCRIPT: I have updated the blogroll on the right with some of my favorites. Enjoy.
SECOND POSTSCRIPT: The fantastic MGoBlog has posted their review of Iowa's football season, complete with a comparison to their preseason preview. Just about dead-on, except for where they say Adam Shada was our best corner.