CHICAGO -- You might think that interim starting quarterback Jimmy Clausen is the Bears' biggest obstacle to a road upset at Seattle this weekend. Clausen is 1-10 as an NFL starter, and since 2009, the dawn of the Jay Cutler era, the Bears are 5-9 when someone other than Cutler starts a game, and 1-6 when that starter isn’t Josh McCown.
But Bears coach John Fox disagrees. He feigns, er, I mean very sincerely has, a lot of confidence in Clausen, who seems to be, in the tradition of Cutler backups in Chicago, a really nice guy.
“Obviously there is stock put in experience,” Fox told reporters Thursday. “But Jimmy has been in big spots before. I think he’ll handle it just fine.”
Fox must be talking about the 2008 Hawaii Bowl. Clausen had the game of his life in Notre Dame's 49-21 victory over Hawaii. Since then, it's been tough sledding.
(Flips through the stats package.)
Oh yeah, that's not going to work.
So the Bears are in a lot of trouble at CenturyLink Field, where the Seahawks are 22-2 over the past three regular seasons. (Conversely, the Bears are 12-16 over the past three-plus seasons at home.)
You know this because you have two eyes and/or working ears and have subjected those eyes and/or ears to the past two games.
The Bears have given up a league-high 79 points in home losses to Green Bay and Arizona and have a league-worst minu-33 point differential. John Fox is not a magician, it seems.
The Bears haven’t won a regular-season game since beating the worst team in the NFL circa 2014, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, on Nov. 23. Though there’s always next week when the Oakland Raiders come to town.
Forget the on-field stuff: If you really want to be sure the Bears are going down Sunday, you can just look at that gruesome 14½-point spread favoring the Seahawks and figure out that the Bears are headed for 0-3.
This isn’t college football, and the Bears don’t have any #MACtion.
Big spreads aren’t that common in the NFL and two-touchdown underdogs rarely win, so don’t go putting the mortgage payment on the Bears +900.
The last time a NFL team that was at least a two-touchdown 'dog won outright was Dec. 28, 2010, when the Vikings upset the Eagles 24-14, according to David Hess from TeamRankings.com, which keeps a historical archive of point spreads. Point spreads aren’t universal, of course, but this provides a pretty clear picture.
According to TeamRankings.com, since 1985, there have been only 21 insistences where an underdog of 14 or more points has won outright. That's out of 235 games. In the past 20 years, 11 teams that were underdogs of 14 points or more have won outright. That includes New England's upset victory over St. Louis in the 2002 Super Bowl. Since 2003, underdogs of 14 to 14½ points are 4-43.
But you might want to bet the Bears, crazy as it sounds. According to TeamRankings.com, since 2003 there are have been nine games with a 14½-point line and 38 with a 14-point line. Favorites are just 18-28-1 against the spread in those situations.
“The (heavy) line is put in play to give the gamblers a bit of a pause when looking at matchups, especially the more perceived lopsided ones,” Jay Rood, vice president of race and sports books at MGM International, wrote in an email. “In general, though, the line does not push too many off the play if they really believe that one team is more dominant. This line is a bit different. The Bears have problems but so do the Seahawks. I think the player that plays the Seahawks and lays the big number will convince himself (or herself) that their home-field advantage is the difference.”
Yeah, it gets pretty loud in Seattle. Visiting Bears fans won’t be able to hear themselves swear or cry.
As for the Bears fans lucky enough to not be at the game, you have to imagine even the diehards aren't picking Chicago in their confidence or survivor pool.
Rood said a sports book usually sees less action on a big line such as this one, “unless the team has been a big favorite and covered lately.” His book has the Seahawks giving 15 points.
The Seahawks dropped their first two games on the road, so this line is clearly more of a testament to the Bears’ complete ineptitude over the first two games, along with the absence of Cutler and a pass rush.
This is pretty low, even for the Bears. The good news is Fox’s head coaching tenure can only go up from here. Well, maybe not quite here, but after Week 3, at least.