There's no sure bets in the NFL

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:04 AM ET

They might not be able to break down game film and explain the intricacies of the cover-two defence. But gamblers, the good ones anyway, have a golden rule that comes closest to injecting logic into the weekly carnage of the NFL.

Words to the wise from a bettor near you (with the added benefit of hindsight): A team is rarely as good as it looks the week before or, for that matter, as bad.

If you watched the Week 1 Monday nighter, you might have thought Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers were invincible. At the same time, you probably asked yourself how the Carolina Panthers ever made it to the Super Bowl.

Knowing how the public would react to the Packers' 24-14 road win over the reigning NFC champions, Vegas oddsmakers quickly played along for Week 2.

The Packers were established as 9 1/2-point favourites over the Chicago Bears while the Panthers were made six-point underdogs against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Not only did the sleeping dogs cover, each won outright. With the Bears especially, the mess from those going down in those popular suicide pools still is being swept up.

The Bears' 21-10 upset and the Panthers' 28-17 rebound speaks to the unpredictability of the league, but also to the cautionary highs and lows teams endure.

In their Week 1 win, the Packers played the perfect road game. Everything from a fired-up Favre, to a run-stopping defence went right while the Panthers appeared to suffer from the common malady known as Super Bowl hangover.

NO POWER

The Bears are no power, but they are a fierce division rival with a defensive-minded head coach in Lovie Smith. Yes, the game was at Lambeau, but the Pack was ripe for a letdown.

Meanwhile, if you watched how the Denver Broncos ran through the Chiefs in Week 1, the prospect of playing in what is purported to be the toughest stadium in the NFL would hardly scare the Panthers.

Even with running back Stephen Davis sidelined, Carolina marched into Arrowhead and did the same thing.

The Chiefs are learning the hard way that the best way to take the wind out of an explosive offence is to have a defence that can't stop anyone.

And the rest of the league found out what they may have already suspected -- the Packers aren't as good as they looked.

BREAKING THE RULE

Of course to every theory, there is an exception. Yes, the woeful Buffalo Bills may have actually looked worse. At 0-2 after a miserable effort against the Raiders, the Bills have a bye week to get ready for the visiting New England Patriots.

Given the roasting he's taking from fans, quarterback Drew Bledsoe may be on the tailgate menu by then.

QUESTION PERIOD

How can the Jacksonville Jaguars be 2-0 with 20 points scored? The second-place team in the AFCSouth, the Indianapolis Colts has amassed 55 ... Is 38-year-old Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon really that much more mobile than 32-year-old Bledsoe? ... How scary are the Patriots now that they have a legitimate feature running back in Corey Dillon? ... Who would have bet that the Falcons, Jets, Lions and Jaguars all would start 2-0? ... Didn't the Bills draft receiver Lee Evans to help stretch the field for Eric Moulds? "I was screaming for it," Moulds said. "We've got to do more than just stick with the run if it's not working." ... Why would the Panthers rush Stephen Davis back to action when DeShaun Foster may in fact be the better back? ... Who did the Colts tick off at NFL headquarters? After starting with tough games against the Pats and Titans, the Pack and Jags are up next ... Doesn't this read like a typo? Browns quarterback Jeff Garcia completed 8 of 27 passes for 77 yards in a loss to the Cowboys.


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