What's the over-under for Sunday's Bears-Giants game at Soldier Field? Not the total-points line at Vegas casinos, silly. The total turnovers by Rex Grossman and Eli Manning.
What's the over-under for Sunday's Bears-Giants game at Soldier Field? Not the total-points line at Vegas casinos, silly. The total turnovers by Rex Grossman and Eli Manning. Rex and Eli are upstanding young men from fine football families. Far too often, however, the one-time quarterback saviors treat the football as if it were radioactive. I don't want it! You take it! Grossman is getting accolades for his role in the Bears' come-from-behind victory over Denver last week. Of course, the Bears might not have had to come from behind had Rex not lost two fumbles and thrown an interception. Manning, meanwhile, is coming off a four-interception performance in his team's home loss to Minnesota. Is the Giants' annual second-half-of-the-season collapse already under way? Eli leads the NFL with 15 interceptions, more than twice as many as Rex's seven. But let's be fair: Grossman was benched for five-plus games while Brian Griese assumed the Bears' important giving-away-the-football responsibilities. I'm confident that had Grossman started every game, he'd be challenging Manning for pick-off supremacy. And with Rex, there's always the bonus fumble feature! The Giants lead the league with 38 sacks and the Bears are third with 32, so expect both QBs to be in panic mode throughout. Especially Grossman, whose offensive line is holier than Jerusalem. And neither lumbering Eli nor rambling Rex will be confused with John Elway in the mobility department. Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner should be fired for having Grossman attempt a quarterback draw on third-and-7 last week. While at least a dozen NFL QBs would have waltzed into the end zone untouched, Grossman was clobbered and - surprise, surprise - fumbled away the football. Manning, who orchestrated a trade resulting in him being drafted first overall by the Giants in 2004, regularly gets booed by his home crowd. Grossman can empathize. Despite helping his team get to the Super Bowl last season, the Bears' top choice of '03 has been getting the business at Soldier Field for two years. "He's definitely in a tough market," Grossman said Wednesday when asked about Manning. "From what I hear, New York is pretty critical. People are passionate about the Giants, as they are (in Chicago) about the Bears. "And the quarterback is usually the first place people look. I understand that criticism, I've been through it and I'm going through it now. From a quarterback's perspective, you just try to block it out and play the best you can." We'll see how good their best is Sunday. For now, let's put the Rex & Eli Show turnover over-under at six. Mystery Man The worst part of Cedric Benson's season-ending leg injury is that the Bears might say they haven't completely evaluated their backfield situation. Here's a recommendation: Get a new tailback. For a guy drafted fourth-overall in 2005, Benson has shown a surprising lack of quickness, elusiveness and instinctive running. If he doesn't get a big hole and a head of steam, he struggles to gain even 2 yards. He's a lousy receiver and a poor blocker, too. Oh, and he's about as popular in the locker room as a paternity suit. Yes, kids, today's word is "bust." New starter Adrian Peterson has been mostly a special-teams player for six years; unless Bears coaches are really stupid - always a possibility - he's not the answer. All we know about 5-foot-7 rookie Garrett Wolfe is that he could be posted up by most WNBA guards. For a team that fancies itself as smash-mouth and run-oriented, the Bears have a funny way of showing it: with ineffective linemen leading the way for inadequate backs. The Bears need a major running-game overhaul or 2008 will be no better (and perhaps worse) than 2007. Prediction At 5-6, the Bears probably can lose one of their final five games and still make the playoffs. This would be a bad one to lose, however, because their conference record already stinks and the Giants (7-4) are ahead of them in the wild-card standings. With a victory, though, the Bears would enter the season's final quarter in decent position. The way the Giants get after QBs, I worry about Grossman's health. Manning's numbers are significantly better in road games, probably because he need not worry about messing up in front of abusive, demanding New York fans. Plus, the Giants run the ball so much better than the Bears do. Giants 27, Bears 23. Thanks for Nothing I don't know about you, but I sure would like to watch tonight's Packers-Cowboys game. Thanks, NFL, for putting the NFC Game of the Year on your own network, limiting the audience to about 23 people. And thanks, major cable companies, for doing everything possible to deprive regular working stiffs of an opportunity to see an entertaining matchup of 10-1 teams. I'm rooting for a 2-0 game and 0.02 rating. (But I'm picking Cowboys 24, Packers 17.) NFL Pick Six 1. Patriots (11-0). Tom Brady: 127.9 rating. Eli Manning: 75.0. Rex Grossman: 63.3. This just in: Brady's better. 2. Colts (9-2). Defense so good, it's overshadowing Eli's brother. 3. Cowboys (10-1). Romo to T.O. That's lots of O. 4. Packers (10-1). Brett Favre leads race for MVPNNB (MVP Not Named Brady). 5. Jaguars (8-3). Victory Sunday at Indy would prove legitimacy. 6. Browns (7-4). Browns are contenders, just as everyone predicted. NFL Deep Six 32. Dolphins (0-11). Best darn 0-11 team in NFL history! 31. Jets (2-9). How bad are Jets? They're underdogs this week at Miami. 30. Rams (2-9). Awful enough even when Marc Bulger's healthy. 29. Falcons (3-8). Turkeys weren't only dead birds on Thanksgiving. 28. Panthers (4-7). Even Steve Smith needs a QB. 27. Raiders (3-8). Good news: Bill Callahan's available to coach again. Mike Nadel (email@example.com) is the Chicago sports columnist for GateHouse News Service. Read his blog, The Baldest Truth, at www.thebaldesttruth.com.