Here is a look at hypothetical propositional wagers between the Bears and Raiders.
First team to score
Raiders. Most of what happens in this game will be a direct result of the Jay Cutler injury. The first side effect will be early Raiders points because the Bears will probably struggle to move the football with Caleb Hanie at the helm, at least early on.
First Bears player to score
Robbie Gould. You can probably expect to see a lot of Robbie Gould this week as the Bears work out the kinks in their offense. As much as Lovie Smith and Mike Martz would like you to believe otherwise, inserting Hanie into the offense will not be a seamless transition, especially in a tough road game like this.
First Bears player to catch a pass
Matt Forte. When a quarterback is either new to an offense or a young player, the best way to calm him down and ease him into a game plan is to complete a few short, quick passes as a confidence builder. I can see Hanie either checking down to Forte or throwing him a swing pass to start the game. If not Forte, a wide receiver screen or five-yard pattern could be called.
Bears player to catch most passes
Earl Bennett. Over the course of the game, Hanie should develop some confidence but will probably stick to the safer passes, and with a player whose hands are as reliable as Bennett’s roaming the field, I think Hanie could target him quite a bit.
More passing yards – Caleb Hanie or Carson Palmer
Carson Palmer. This one is kind of a no-brainer. Palmer is a much better quarterback and even if the Bears fall behind late in the game, I don’t see Hanie completing enough downfield passes to rack up the passing yards.
More touchdown passes or interceptions by Caleb Hanie
Interceptions. I’d be shocked if Hanie does not throw at least one interception. And if he throws one pick, that’s probably one more than how many touchdowns he’ll have.
Caleb Hanie sacks
4. The Bears offensive line may have finally worked out the kinks in its protection, but Cutler was doing a better job of feeling the pressure and stepping up in the pocket to avoid sacks. Will Hanie have as effective footwork? Probably not so much.
More rushing yards – Bears or Raiders
Bears. Although it’d be wise to mix in a few short passes to keep the defense honest, I think we’ll be looking at a game plan almost entirely devoted to the run. The Raiders have the No. 3 rushing offense in the league, but I think the Bears defense will be inspired knowing how much is riding on them.
Total combined rushing and receiving yards by Matt Forte
120. Forte’s rushing totals have dropped off considerably in the past few weeks and that’s a cause for concern without a passing game to keep defenses honest. But he should get at least 20 carries in this one and will still be a valuable outlet for Hanie in the passing game.
Team to win the turnover battle
Raiders. This should be a close battle because I expect the Bears defense to record a few takeaways, but I worry about Hanie’s ball security as well as that of the running backs due to a high workload.
Total points scored
36. The Bears are currently the sixth-highest scoring team in the league, but you can expect that ranking to drop dramatically with Hanie at quarterback. I think we’re going to see defensive battles from here on out until (or if) Cutler returns. There should be a lot of field goals in this one.