The latest issue of Pro Football Weekly just showed up in my mailbox (you know, that metal box on a stick at the end of the driveway, where according to legend, in the days before the internet written correspondence from people far away would magically materialize 3-5 days after being placed in a similar remote metal box by the sending party.)
So, on page 19 of this charming throwback papyrus, the odds for NFC and AFC championship winners are listed, as given by the MGM Mirage in Las Vegas. Smart money has the Pats taking the AFC at 8:5 odds, and the NFC list is headed by a three-way tie at 7:2, shared by the Giants, the Vikes, and, you guessed it, the Bears.
Bears, Giants, and VIkes at 7:2; Cowboys 4:1; Eagles 5:1; Panthers 6:1; Cards, Falcs, Packers, and Saints at 8:1; Redskins at 10:1; Seahawks at 12:1; 49ers at 15:1; Buccs at 18:1; Lions and Rams bringing up the rear at 30:1.
Patriots 8:5; Colts and Steelers both at 7:2; Chargers, Ravens, and Titans at 5:1; Jets 8:1; Dolphins 10:1; Bills, Broncs, and Texans at 12:1; Chiefs 15:1; Jags 18:1; Browns 20:1, with Bengals and Raiders at 25:1.
Now, odds aren't set by sports experts, but they do follow actual bets placed by people who are putting their money where their mouth is, so it might mean more than smacktalk found at a local bar or, say, a blog.
I admit I am perplexed by a few of these rankings, but it is heartening to see the Bears gettin some respect (at least from the compulsive gambling crowd.)
The Pro Football Weekly column notes that the Bears' odds were at 15:1 prior to the acquisition of Cutler. They even credit Vikings rise from 11:1 to the Favre chatter. Go figure!