By Joe Ostrowski-
(CBS) More than five months ago, the Bears signed defensive end Jared Allen, their third addition in free agency in search of a pass rush. During most of those 160-plus days since, fans have been trying to figure out if Chicago is destined for a 10-, 11- or 12-win season.READ MORE: 8-Year-Old Boy Shot, Killed While Playing On Front Porch In Markham
Then, Seattle happened. The “all-important” third preseason game two weeks ago provided a reality check. The Bears defense gave up 31 points and 250 yards in half a game.
An 8-8 record is as average as it gets. Vegas envisions a repeat. That would mean no playoffs in seven of the last eight years. Sin City bookmakers set the Bears win total at 8. Orange and blue optimism pushed that number to 8.5 a couple weeks ago.
To get more insight, we turned to three sportsbook experts to try to explain how the Bears are viewed. We talked to Jay Kornegay, the bookmaker at The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook; Jimmy Vaccaro, the bookmaker at The South Point Casino in Las Vegas; and Chris Andrews, a former casino owner and bookmaker for more than 30 years and co-founder of againstthenumber.com.
Here’s what they had to say in a Q-and-A.
What is the process you use to come up with the over/under for NFL wins?
Kornegay: The numbers are our opinion. Four to five of our oddsmakers discuss every team in a roundtable format.
Vaccaro: It’s a very simple process. We take a look at all the additions, subtractions, injuries last year, etc.
Did the Bears make enough upgrades to take a big jump?
Kornegay: Upgrade is such a vague term. We think the world of the Bears offense. The defense is better. Not sure how much better. They’ll be in a lot of shootouts.
Vaccaro: Fans usually come from their heart. They always think their team is going to get better and better.READ MORE: Death Investigation Underway After Man Found Unresponsive On CTA Red Line Platform In Old Town
Andrews: The second year of a coach should see some improvement. Either that or you have the wrong coach.
How is Jay Cutler viewed out there?
Kornegay: Cutler has a lot of weapons now. You guys fixed the offensive line last year. Cutler has everything he needs to succeed.
Vaccaro: When Sam Bradford tore his ACL again, the Rams win total was moved only a half a game. If Cutler suffered a season-ending injury, we’d probably remove one game from the Bears win total. If Cutler misses a game, there would be a three-point adjustment on the point spread. When Aaron Rodgers was injured, there was a seven-point move. The public pushed it to 10.
The schedule looks tough facing San Francisco, New England and New Orleans outside of the division. Is it difficult?
Kornegay: It’s about average. A little on the harder side. The AFC East is underrated. The weakness of the NFC North helps the Bears.
Vaccaro: The schedule is not as daunting as it seems to be.
Andrews: The Bears are a very dangerous team that others are worried about. I have them 10th in my ratings (sixth in the NFC).
Do Chicago fans really move numbers that much?
Kornegay: When you’re talking about moving numbers below 10, that takes quite a bit of money. A half game is very valuable. To win the Super Bowl, the most money is on the Seahawks. But the most tickets we’ve sold to win it are on the Bears, Packers and Vikings. Midwesterners bet on their teams. I’ve always told people that once the Cubs win the World Series, I’ll probably be out of a job.
Vaccaro: Chicago teams are always one of the top five wagered-on teams. The Bears have received a lot of action. About 75-80 percent of the action was coming in on the over before we moved it from 8 to 8.5 wins. A half game is a big move. We’ve only moved three or four teams. The Bears opened as 4.5 point favorites over the Bills. It’s now up to 7. We opened the Bears at 35/1 to win the Super Bowl. It’s now down to 22/1.MORE NEWS: Transgender Attorneys Says Judges And Clerks Have Harassed Her; Fights For Change
Joe Ostrowski is a host and executive producer on 670 The Score. Follow him on twitter @JoeO670.