Football fans and, arguably more so, pundits can be somewhat prone to overreactions at the beginning of the season. It is, of course, natural to be overzealous in a reaction when the pieces in the puzzle haven’t quite fallen into place, and they are more likely to be apparent in the early part of the season. Sportsbooks, too, are culpable of jumping on, or off, a bandwagon early, and can get themselves in a bit of a muddle because of it.
Indeed, the Bears are a prime example of sportsbooks reacting to emotion and not dealing with cold hard facts. Take the Khalil Mack trade, which saw the Bears’ Super Bowl LIII odds slashed from about 100/1 down to 40/1 with some major sportsbooks. That’s an incredible climbdown for just one linebacker joining a team, regardless of how good he is. We know that Mack is going to improve Chicago, but the sportsbooks can be guilty of both causing and feeding into fan sentiment at times.
Bears taken seriously by sportsbooks
Of course, that’s not to say Chicago aren’t a team on the up; they most certainly are. The victory over the Seahawks on Sunday showcased two teams moving in completely different directions. The latest NFL betting from sportsbooks in Canada, sees the Bears’ odds ranging from around 33/1 (William Hill) to 45/1 (Bwin). The team that made the Super Bowl in 2014 and 2015 are more than double those odds in places. A positive takeaway for the Bears.
But the movements in the betting markets across all NFL teams after two games is interesting, because there are a lot of teams out there, just like Chicago, who could have a very different record right now. With a little bit of good fortune, the Bears would be sitting at 2-0, some serendipity moving the other way, however, and they’d be 0-2. Performance, even if it just highlights some green shoots of potential, tends to be what matters at this point of the season.
Patriots off the top in betting markets
The big movers after Week 2 were the Patriots. Bill Belichick’s men have had the favorites tag removed for the first time since the final moments of Super Bowl LII. Betway have now priced them at 7/1, putting the Rams in at 6/1 as the new market leaders. Admittedly, the Rams have been excellent, especially on defense.
To be frank, however, fans shouldn’t be too concerned about who gets the nod as the favorites from the sportsbooks. Consider this: In the last 17 seasons the preseason favorites have only gone on to win the Super Bowl on two occasions, the Colts in ’06 and the Patriots two years ago. Indeed, Chicago fans should take note that the Eagles preseason odds last year, 40/1 (approx.), were remarkably similar to where the Bears are now.
Jaguars moving up
The other big movers after Week 2 were the Jaguars (now 9/1), who recorded that superb victory over the Patriots, and the Cowboys, who are still dropping down the betting odds (around 40/1 – 50/1) despite beating the Giants at the weekend. Indeed, if you want proof that a 2-0 record can be ignored by sportsbooks, just look at the NFC East topping Dolphins, who are given odds of 70/1.
What does all this tell us? Everything and nothing at once. Few pundits were talking about Eagles as potential champions at this stage last season, when they were sitting with a 1-1 record and not looking particularly convincing. The point is not to get too overconcerned this early in the season. For Chicago, let’s take the positives and see where it goes.