12:12 AM CST, January 11, 2013
Be it positive or negative — and I expect more of the latter — there will be a handful of over-the-top reactions to Phil Emery's choice as the Bears new head coach once the GM finally pulls the trigger.
I'm going to do my best to avoid the rush to judgment. Barring an upset, the next sideline boss will be a guy with whom most of us are completely unfamiliar.
Have you had (or even heard) a strong opinion on Texans offensive coordinator Rick Dennison before this week? All I know is I've been underwhelmed by their offense. There's too much talent on the roster for Matt Schaub to spin his wheels as regularly as he does.
It's dumb to lay that solely at the feet of the offensive coordinator. Maybe Schaub just isn't and never will be a top-tier NFL quarterback.
Conversely, is Bucs offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan a genius because he was quick to recognize Doug Martin is a stud running back?
Are the Broncos such a favorite to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl because Mike McCoy finally tapped into the potential of Peyton Manning?
If Emery chooses Marc Trestman, is it fair to scoff at the selection because Trestman has learned to speak a little French while running the show for Montreal's CFL franchise?
I'm reading and listening to "insiders" regarding Emery's baker's dozen interviewees. It's impossible, however, to truly get a handle on who would be better than whom because none of them has been the big boss at the NFL level.
None but Mike Singletary. I'm going to trust that interview will be nothing more than a favor to somebody at Halas Hall. That and a waste of however much time Emery spends with the former Bears linebacker, an abject failure in San Francisco.
If it's fair to postpone the evaluation of a draft class for at least two seasons, it also is fair to be open-minded to a veteran assistant coach getting his first crack at serving as headmaster.
A head coaching search, coupled with the roster overhaul Emery has in front of him, give me ample reasons to be patient with Emery. It would be silly to gnash teeth and wring hands over the virtual unknown who's going to stand at the lectern answering questions about his new job sometime in the next couple of weeks.
Somebody will, but it won't be me. I wanted Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith jettisoned long ago.
I have nothing but time and patience for the Bears to keep evolving.
•The Broncos have Manning. The Ravens have Joe Flacco. Advantage Denver. The Broncos also are better defensively.
All four favorites covered last weekend and there's no reason to think it stops in Saturday's first tilt. I'm laying the 10.
•The Packers' win over the Vikings last week, combined with the 49ers' penchant for not showing up, has many thinking the Packers will upset the 49ers on Saturday night.
I concur. It's tough to go against Green Bay as long as Aaron Rodgers is standing, but it's way too close to put the kid's tuition money on the line.
•The Falcons are a slight favorite Sunday against Seattle. If the Seahawks win on the road for the second straight week, I'd hate to be Matt Ryan in the offseason.
Ryan dodged a bullet not having to face the Seahawks' best pass rusher, Chris Clemons, who blew out his knee in the win over the Redskins. Should be a fun matchup with the Falcons' fine wideouts opposing the oddly large Seahawks corners.
All four wild-card games went under. This should buck the trend. I'm moving on the over, which is 46.
•Lastly, divisional playoff games conclude with the Patriots hosting the Texans, who were dreadful in big games when they weren't opposing the Jason Campbells and Andy Daltons of the world.
Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are pretty good, especially at home. I'm taking New England minus-10.
Special contributor Dan McNeil hosts "The McNeil and Spiegel Show" weekdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on WSCR-AM 670.
Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC