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by Ben Burns - 09/18/2008
Eight of 15 games finished below the total in Week 2. "Under" bettors now hold a modest 17-14 advantage heading into Week 3. This week's board features totals ranging from a low of 35 to a high of 51. I've provided an 'over' opinion below. Best of luck and enjoy the games this weekend.
Tampa Bay Bucs at Chicago Bears
Opinion (Over 35)
Currently down to 35 at many books, this is the lowest total on the Week 3 board. I feel that it's a little too low. These teams last met in 2006, a December game which was played here at Chicago. That game was expected to be low-scoring, as it also had an over/under line of 35. However, it sailed over that mark, finishing with a whopping 65 points. Including that shootout, the Bears have seen 15 of their last 20 home games eclipse the total. Not exactly what one would expect from a team which is known for having a good defense and a poor offense. Through two games this season, the Bears are averaging 23 points per game.
It should be noted that kick returner Devin Hester is questionable. I wouldn't normally mention a special teams player. Hester is rather exceptional though, as he's got serious game-breaking ability and is a threat to go the distance every time he handles the ball. Even when he's not directly involved, Hester often causes the opposing team to kick a shorter distance (or out of bounds) to avoid having him get his hands on it. This typically leads to the Bears starting with fairly good field position. While I don't know anything more than what I've read in the papers, it's my feeling that Hester will play. He was quoted in Thursday's Chicago Sun Times as saying: "I am pushing for it. I'm feeling a lot better so I am hoping by the end of the week I will have no pain or anything like that."
When asked whether or not he would kick to Hester, Tampa coach Jon Gruden responded: "That probably wouldn't be very smart on our part. I've kind of seen over the years, this guy is very dangerous. We'll have to be very selective and be careful of how we kick to him. He's certainly one of the very best to ever play back there at that position so we'll have to be very careful and use real good judgment when we do kick to him." As I've already mentioned, even kicking around him can often lead to good field position for the Bears.
As for the Bucs, dating back to last season, they've seen seven straight road games produce a minimum of 38 points. Those seven games averaged 42.86 combined points and six of them finished above the number. They've averaged 22 points per game this season and have scored a minimum of 20 in each game. Brian Griese, who was with Chicago last year, is expected to get another start and he should be itching to put up some good numbers against his former team. Consider the Over