Numbers suggest Bears can steal a sloppy NFC

 
 
Published9/1/2009 12:03 AM

Three practice games down, one to go, and NFL teams are supposed to be ready for the real season.

So do you know where your defense is?

 

If the Bears can find one, they've got an open path in front of them for another trip to Miami.

Of course, without a pass rush, they're no different from half a dozen other NFC clubs.

Proof of how goofy this conference could be is that even the wisest guys can't handicap the NFC North - let alone the NFC - and they can't separate the Bears, Vikings and Packers when it comes to the NFL wins totals for 2009.

They've got the Bears and Vikes at an over-under of 9, a half-game better than Green Bay.

As for the rest of a sickly NFC, New York leads with only 10 and is followed by Philly, Arizona and Dallas (91/2), Atlanta and Carolina (9), New Orleans (81/2), Washington (71/2), Seattle and San Francisco (7), Tampa (61/2), St. Louis (5), and Detroit (4).

The AFC, on the other hand, boasts several powerful numbers ahead of any NFC club with New England (111/2), Pittsburgh (11), San Diego (101/2), Indy (101/2) and Baltimore (101/2).

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They're followed by Tennessee (91/2), Houston (81/2), Jacksonville (8), Miami (8), Buffalo (71/2), N.Y. (7), Cleveland (6), Cincinnati (6), K.C. (6) and Oakland (51/2).

Though the Bears are 15th best choice at 18-1 to win it all, they're no worse than fifth at 8-1 to win the NFC, with no big favorite in a conference topped by N.Y. (5-1), Philly (5-1), Dallas (6-1) and Minnesota (6-1).

It's further proof that the NFC can be had and that the Bears could be as good as any of them if they can get to the QB and keep the heat off some bad DBs and mediocre linebackers.

The NFC wide open again?

It's not a question. It's an understatement.

Wanna get away?

With their loss Sunday at New York, the White Sox have dropped seven of their last 11 getaway games and are 12-19 for the season.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

There has to be a reason for it, though clearly Ozzie Guillen and friends haven't figured it out.

Seam stress

Supposed ace Carlos Zambrano disappeared in August when the Cubs went to pieces, and he managed just 3 starts with 2 losses and a 10.58 ERA, while allowing 21 hits and 6 walks in 102/3 innings.

In his last 2 starts against the Nats and the Mets, two of MLB's worst, Zambrano gave up 18 hits and 3 walks in only 72/3 innings with a 13.75 ERA.

First and third

No one is looking to trade Derrek Lee, but when you're trying to trim payroll, go younger and get better, you sometimes have to move players with value, as the worthless are quite obviously stuck here.

With that in mind, and if you did move Lee, why not Aramis Ramirez at first and Jake Fox at third?

Ramirez would find less danger there for what is going to be chronic shoulder difficulty, and he's got the hands and the bat for first base.

Trade secrets

E-mailer Sanjay H., my favorite GM not working in baseball today, charged in like the cavalry with ideas when I suggested the Cubs find takers for Carlos Zambrano, Milton Bradley and Kosuke Fukudome.

He says Zambrano could go to Boston, where the Red Sox paid $12 million to John Smoltz and Brad Penny and got nothing from them, so they might be open to adding Zambrano and his $54 million. Zambrano has joked in the past about waiving his no-trade to play at Fenway.

Bradley could go to Detroit, where Jim Leyland could keep Bradley's volatility in check, but the Cubs might have to take back one year and $10 million worth of Dontrelle Willis or Nate Robertson.

Fukudome might waive his no-trade to go to Seattle, where the Mariners are freeing up a lot of salary this winter, so they have the money, the need and a Japanese owner.

Ivan Boldirev-ing

E-mailer Joey Skates points out that a certain Blackhawks defenseman, the Alfonso Soriano of the NHL, didn't make The Hockey News' list of the top 50 players, while Duncan Keith did make the leap this summer.

The funniest part is that Brian Campbell wasn't on the list last summer, either, and that's when the Hawks decided he was worth $7.1 million a year for the next, like, 22 years.

The good cause

Over the upcoming Labor Day weekend, from Friday through Monday, golfers can add an extra dollar to their greens fees and have it donated to the Folds of Honor Foundation, which provides scholarships for loved ones of military personnel disabled or killed while serving America.

The Patriot Golf Day campaign is supported by the PGA and USGA. For more info and to find a participating course, go to patriotgolfday.com.

Illini hoops

E-mailer Mark Schmidt, from Plymouth, Mass.: "Given the way the Eric Gordon fiasco ended up for Indiana, and how Derrick Rose's SAT eligibility has come back to bite Memphis, might Bruce Weber and Illinois have ultimately come out ahead for losing those two recruits? I know Weber's style is not much for flash and sizzle, yet I think he can hold his head high."

And finally -

Foxsports.com's Mark Kriegel, on the Lockerbie bomber: "How about that SOB getting off the plane in Libya with a Nike cap? Guess it was only a matter of time before someone went after the terrorist demographic."

brozner@dailyherald.com

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