I only caught about 30 seconds of the Chicago Bears’ win over the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday night.
As I settled into bed, I flicked the game on with Pittsburgh down 34-23 in the fourth quarter, just in time to see Bears DE Julius Pepper scoop up a fumble and run it back for a 42-yard score.
“OK, I’ve seen enough”. CLICK!
Chicago is among the handful of 3-0 teams but isn’t getting the love that Denver, Seattle, and New Orleans are receiving. Hell, they’re even getting overshadowed by perfect starts from Kansas City, New England and Miami.
That disrespect continues in Week 4, with oddsmakers setting the Bears as high as 3-point road underdogs in Detroit Sunday. Only one other undefeated team is an underdog in Week 4: The 3-0 Dolphins visiting the 3-0 Saints as 6.5-point pups (Patriots are a pick'em at Atlanta after opening -1).
The Lions have started 2-1, taking some of the pressure off head coach Jim Schwartz, but haven’t been overly impressive in those contests. Detroit’s pass defense has been sub-par, allowing 262 yards through the air per game, against the likes of Christian Ponder, veteran Carson Palmer and one-legged Robert Griffin III.
Chicago has won three straight over the Lions and boasts a 9-1 SU record in its last 10 versus its NFC North rivals. Detroit has been a favorite in only one of those games. Until this week.
South Carolina Gamecocks at Central Florida Knights (+7)
Central Florida is making the most of its new stage in the AAC and will take to the national stage this Saturday.
Central Florida hosts SEC power South Carolina in front of a sold-out crowd at Bright House Networks Stadium, a game which will be broadcast on ABC – the first time UCF will play on national network television in the school’s history.
The Knights have jumped out to a 3-0 start and are coming off a bye after stunning Penn State in Happy Valley two weeks ago. Central Florida is doing it on both sides of the ball, averaging 36.7 points will giving up just 12.7 per game.
Books are giving UCF a TD cushion versus the Gamecocks, who aren’t going to look past the Knights. Central Florida nearly spoiled Steve Spurrier’s debut with South Carolina eight years ago, losing 24-15 to the Gamecocks but covered as 21-point road underdogs.
Early money has sided with the Knights, taking the home side down from +7.5 to +7. Is it faith in UCF or a sharp move to discount South Carolina?
Oklahoma State Cowboys at West Virginia Mountaineers (+18.5)
The last time these Big 12 programs clashed, the total topped out at 80 points last November. Oklahoma State won that shootout, 55-34.
This year, the number is much slimmer, with books setting the total at 57 points. The Cowboys offense is still the same, putting up 45.3 points per game so far, but WVU doesn’t have the same explosiveness, which was painfully evident in a 37-0 pantsing by Maryland last weekend.
Oklahoma State shows no mercy on the road, going 16-5 SU away from Stillwater since 2010. If the Mountaineers and former OSU offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen put on another showing like last weekend, Okie State could top the total – and the 18.5-point spread – all by itself.