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Chicago not a good bet to win NFC North

Before everybody goes ape, I am not saying somebody else is going to win, just that as far as Vegas and other bookies are concerned they are such a lock, they aren't really making it worth while to bet on them.

Last year, you could find odds of close to 10-1 on the Chicago Bears winning the NFC North Division. This year, the Bears' division odds are -185, at Olympic sportsbook.

The low odds aren't simply because of the Bears' six-game turnaround from 5-11 two years ago to 11-5 last season. There's more to it than that. Chicago is the only NFL team not to lose a front-line player.

The Bears also proved last year that a team could have success despite ranking second from the bottom in passing, making up for it with a top defense and a weak division. So why not play a pat hand?

Chicago actually has decent quarterback depth this season with Brian Griese battling Rex Grossman for the starting spot.

The Bears' strength on offense was a running game that ranked eighth in the league, and with their defense surrendering an NFL-low 12.6 points a game, they didn't have to throw a lot. Don't be surprised if Chicago's offense picks up more with the offensive line intact, second-year back Cedric Benson pushing Thomas Jones, wide receiver Mark Bradley back from a knee injury and rookie speedster Devin Hester returning kicks.

The offense sure couldn't get worse after failing to break the 10-point barrier six times last season.