Chicago may be the city of broad shoulders, but lately it’s also been the city of broad smiles. Folks all around Chi-Town are brimming with hope and optimism this week thanks to the success of their local teams. It begins with the Cubs, who are back in the NLCS against the Dodgers. It spills over to the Blackhawks, who are 4-1-1 and first in the NHL’s Central Division. It continues with the Bears, who are riding high after a rousing 27-24 overtime victory on the road in Baltimore. Even the Bulls are undefeated!
Last week we shared the odds for the Second City’s sports teams and we’re back again with odds and props on Bears rookie Mitchell Trubisky, Blackhawks stars Patrick Kane and Corey Crawford, the rebuilding White Sox, the barely-alive Cubs, and more. (Actually, that’s pretty much all of it.)
Odds the Bears beat the Panthers in Week 7: 3/2
The Bears won on the road against the Ravens in Week 6 and will be back in Chicago this weekend to take on the Panthers. Rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has infused the team with new energy and optimism, but that’s only in comparison to the doldrums brought on by Mike Glennon. Don’t get your hopes too high for a win against Carolina. The Panthers are three-point road favorites and will have had 10 days off by the time the two teams meet. Trubisky played the role of game-manager in last week’s win over Baltimore, throwing the ball just 16 times for 116 yards. Running back Tarik Cohen tossed as many touchdown passes as Trubisky, hitting Zach Miller on a gadget play in the second quarter.
If the 2-4 Bears hope to claw one step closer to .500, they will need another heroic performance from Jordan Howard, who piled up 167 rushing yards on an inhuman 36 carries last Sunday. The bad news for Howard — aside from the fact that his legs are still probably burning — is that Carolina is giving up just 83.3 rushing yards per game. The good news (not that any of us revel in injuries) is that the Panthers may be without Luke Kuechly, the heart and soul of their defense.
Odds Mitchell Trubisky …
- throws for over 200 yards in Week 7: 7/1
- throws a touchdown pass in Week 7: 5/4
- catches a touchdown pass in Week 7: 299/1
Bears fans are justified in feeling excited about Trubisky, but again, don’t expect too much too soon from the rookie signal caller. He has nothing to work with in terms of wide receivers (Kendall Wright lost his “thing” status in 2014) and Aaron Rodgers was the only starting QB who threw fewer passes last week. Expect the Bears to break-in Trubisky slowly in the coming weeks while continuing to rely heavily on Jordan Howard and their running game, while sprinkling in more trick-plays. Maybe they’ll even capitalize on his athleticism again, like they did against Minnesota. Get that man the ball in space!
Odds the White Sox make the 2018 playoffs: 18/1
Odds the White Sox win Chicago’s next World Series: 9/1
Remember when the Cubs used to be Chicago’s cursed team? The White Sox appear to have inherited that mantle, failing to reach the postseason since 2008. This past season represented a new five-year low as the South Siders won just 67 games and finished 35 games behind the AL Central-leading Indians. Help is on the way in the form of minor league prospects Eloy Jimenez, Jake Burger, and a boatload of other promising prospects, but the White Sox still have a ways to go before seeing the full returns on their rebuild.
Though the Cubs are facing a big 0-2 whole in the 2017 NLCS against the Dodgers, they are well positioned to return to the postseason for the fourth consecutive year in 2018. They’ll need to address the free agency of pitchers Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis this winter, but their young core should continue contending for titles for the foreseeable future.
Blocked Shots, I Mean Blackhawks
Odds Corey Crawford wins the 2017-18 Vezina Trophy: 9/2
Corey Crawford has never finished in the top three in Vezina voting, but that could change in 2017-18. The 32-year-old Montreal native is off to the fastest start of his career and currently leads the NHL in save percentage (.960) and goals against average (1.39). Both numbers represent career bests and have him in prime position to take home some hardware at the end of the season. Now comes the hard part: remaining consistent (let’s remember that we’re only 1/13th of the way through the season) and staying lucky (Crawford missed a month last year after undergoing an appendectomy, and missed several weeks in 2014 after tripping on some stairs at a concert). If the Blackhawks can keep him on the ice and out of the clubs, this could just be his year.
Odds Patrick Kane wins the 2017-18 NHL scoring race: 6/1
Patrick Kane defied the odds in 2016 when he became the first American-born player to lead the NHL in scoring. He’s off to another fast start this season with eight points in six games, and should benefit greatly from the return of center Nick Schmaltz, with whom he developed some excellent early season chemistry. The pair combined for four goals and four assists in their first two games and should pick up right where they left off when Schmaltz returns to action on Wednesday against the Blues. Before you counter with, “Schmaltz is a second-year player who only had 28 points last season,” remember that Kane tends to bring out the best in those around him (see 2016-17 Artemi Panarin) and Schmaltz, who had 46 points in just 37 games in his last season at North Dakota, has a great offensive upside. Skating between Kane and fellow first-round pick Ryan Hartman is a great recipe for sustained success.
Odds Patrick Kane wins the 2017-18 Hart Trophy: 16/1
The season has just begun, but Kane is well within striking distance of the Hart Memorial Trophy. The three-time Stanley Cup champ is tied for ninth in points and tenth in assists and has the Blackhawks atop the Central Division. He’ll need to leapfrog Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, and Auston Matthews to win the award, however, and his chances are hurt by the strong play of his teammates. Jonathan Toews looks like he’s back to his usual self after a down season, and Crawford — as mentioned — is playing out of his head. It’s hard to win the Hart when it’s debatable whether you’re the MVP of your own team.
RUMBLING OF THE BULLS
Odds to be on the Bulls roster at the end of the 2017-18 season
- Nikola Mirotic: 1/5
- Bobby Portis: 3/1
Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis took their “battle” for the Bulls’ starting power forward spot to a new level yesterday. The pair exchanged shoves and then Portis went full on fisticuffs, breaking (parts of) Mirotic’s face with a surprise punch that put the Serbian in the hospital and has sidelined him for the foreseeable future.
This kind of thing has happened before, see the 2016 New York Jets, whose preseason included EK Enemkpali breaking would-be starting QB Geno Smith’s jaw. The Jets responded by getting rid of Enemkpali.
Mirotic isn’t exactly tantamount to a starting quarterback, but here’s a depressing exercise for Bulls fans: go look at the leading scorers from last season; going top-down, stop when you get to a player who’s still on the team. I’ll save you some time. It’s Nikola Mirotic, at a prolific 10.6 PPG. So by punching the big-man in the face, Portis may have inadvertently punched his ticket out of tow … ohh … Bobby Portis, you clever, clever man.