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Raise your hands, Chicago fans, if you thought the Bears would be sitting pretty at 5-1 after six games.

Now I know that football fans are either supremely confident or staggeringly pessimistic, with little room for the cautious optimism in their ranks. But even Bears’ fans would probably say that they are more than a little fortuitous to be sitting in first place in the NFC North through six games.

If you take one look at the standings, you will see the Bears just ahead of the Green Bay Packers, with a points differential of just plus-12. How is that possible, you say, to have such a slim points differential with five wins and one loss?

Normally, that would be down to a blowout loss skewing the numbers: but that is not the case with the Bears. Chicago’s lone loss, 19-11 to the Indianapolis Colts, was far from a heavy one. In fact, the Bears were never really out of the game until the final few minutes, and even then they made a late run back into the contest.

So with a negative-eight from that game, that means the other five wins were by a total of 20 points. This excellent story Wednesday on fivethirtyeight.com shows that the Bears schedule (combined winning percentage of the five victories is .379) has of course helped, as has some luck. But Chicago also has a pretty good defense, and that is something that will always play in this league.

But can the Bears hold off the Packers to win the division?

William Hill Illinois and PointsBet Illinois do not think so. William Hill has the Packers as clear favorites to win the NFC North, at odds of -175 to the Bears +160, while PointsBet has the same odds for both teams.

Compare that to the NFC South odds for William Hill: both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-2) and the New Orleans Saints (3-2) have similar records to the Bears and Packers, but the odds to win the division are very close. The Bucs are very slight (-105) favorites over the Saints (+105).

So what do the odds mean?

Basically, most Illinois oddsmakers think the poor schedule the Bears have played so far, and the tough teams they have left on the schedule, could eventually catch up to them. Conversely, the Packers have a much easier schedule over the final two-plus months of the season, and should start to pull away, especially if they can beat the Bears twice, including at home on the final day of the 2020 campaign.

Those two games with the Bears are two of the three left against teams with winning records coming into Week 7 (Indianapolis Colts). Of course, that could change before Green Bay plays the teams (San Francisco comes to mind), but it is clear that the Packers should be the favorite to win the North.

Prediction:

Look for the Packers to finish off the 2020 season strongly, with games against the Texans (1-5), Vikings (1-5), Eagles (1-4-1), and Jaguars (1-5) among others. Chicago should make the playoffs, but with four of their next five against the Rams (4-2), Saints (3-2), Titans (5-0), and Packers (4-1), the Bears may come back down to Earth just a little.

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