Here is a look at hypothetical propositional wagers between the Bears and Colts.
First team to score
Bears. There are surely concerns over the Bears defense this year with Brian Urlacher’s knee and Julius Peppers’ feet as well as problems in the secondary. But the Bears offense is going to score quick in this game and the defense only needs to hold the Colts off the board early.
First Bears player to score
Michael Bush. I suspect the Bears will lead some kind of long drive in the first quarter — hopefully on their initial drive — that brings them down into the red zone. At which point, Bush will bulldoze into the end zone for his first real touchdown as a Bear.
Number of catches by Brandon Marshall
6. It’s all for real now. We’ve seen flashes of greatness between Cutler and Marshall in the preseason but now is when it all counts. Marshall is too tough for any one cornerback to cover and he’ll show his value to the team in the first game.
More touchdowns or field goals for the Bears
Touchdowns. With new faces come new results for the offense this season. Against a Colts defense that struggled mightily last year, the Bears should be able to conclude more drives in the end zone than through the uprights.
More touchdown passes or interceptions by Jay Cutler
Touchdowns. With the good, we have to accept the bad. We’ve known since the Bears acquired Cutler three year ago that he’s a gunslinger with moxie. He learned to be more of a game manager the past two seasons after realizing his supporting cast was weak. But now that he’s got some weapons again for the first time since his Denver days, expect him to take more chances. Against the Colts, however, he should find the end zone more than opposite jerseys.
Jay Cutler sacks
2. The offensive line has holes, this much we know. We also know that it played okay in the preseason and kept Cutler mostly upright. Offensive coordinator Mike Tice, unlike his predecessor Mike Martz, actually cares about Cutler’s health and will see to it that the play calling allows Cutler to remain mostly dirt free.
More passing yards – Jay Cutler or Andrew Luck
Jay Cutler. Luck is the best quarterback prospect to come out of college since Peyton Manning and I expect him to have a good career. I also expect the Bears to give him a rude welcome into the NFL while the Bears offense passes all over the Colts’ defense.
More rushing yards – Bears or Colts
Bears. The Colts have routinely had one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. The Bears, despite their newfound love of the passing game, should still be able to rack up good yardage on the ground and Matt Forte may even be able to break a few long runs. Conversely, if Urlacher does not play or if he is not what he normally is, the Bears run defense could struggle as we saw in the preseason in the absence of its middle linebacker.
Total rushing yards for Bears
105. When it comes to stat projections early in the season, particularly in Game 1, it’s all about best guess. And my best guess is that while the Bears won’t ignore the run game, they’ll still have good success through the air and won’t have a huge rushing yardage total at game’s end.
Bears run-to-pass ratio (sacks included as runs)
25 run-to-35 pass. Once again, I’m going with best guess for the first game of the season. It’s a little less than 60% passing, which is a good ratio for a successful offense in a winning effort. We won’t really know what kind of identity Tice wants for his unit until after a few games.
Team to win the turnover battle
Bears. A rookie quarterback on the road in the first game of his career. A defense predicated on taking away the football. These are just two reasons why I feel the Bears will win the turnover battle.
Total points scored
40. There are no gimmes in the NFL but this is about as clear-cut a matchup as the Bears will have all season and they need to put the Colts away early. Expect the offense to put on a fine display that will leave fans encouraged about the rest of the season.
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