By Bill Foley
My dad figured he might as well throw that $20 bill into the garbage can at the casino in Reno, Nevada.
Instead, his cousin talked him into laying it on the Chicago Bears to win the Super Bowl. Their odds were better than 100 to 1, meaning a $20 bet would take in more than a couple of grand if the Bears defy the long odds and win it all in February 2019.
That’s for all you people out there who flunked math.
While they are still a long shot, the Bears odds of winning the Super Bowl have improved greatly since my dad placed that bet this summer.
They went to 40 to 1 after Jon Gruden stupidly traded Khalil Mack to the Bears on Sept. 1. You’ll only get 16 to 1 odds if you bet on the Bears following their 7-3 start.
While the bet has definitely piqued my dad’s interest in this football season, he still knows that he might as well have thrown that $20 in the garbage.
That bet is also one of many reasons why you shouldn’t worry about the sportsbooks taking it on the chin Monday night when the Rams beat the Chiefs 54-51 in an Arena League game in Los Angeles.
The over/under for that game closed at 64 points, and that was the highest since at least 1986, and probably ever. The Rams and Chiefs blew that out of the water.
According to ESPN, about 69 percent of the money was on the over, and sportsbooks lost big time. With that kind of loss, you better believe there were some holes dug in the desert, if you know what I mean.
(The hopeless romantic in me believes the mafia still runs Las Vegas.)
If the odds were 50 or 75 to 1, there is no way my dad would have bet on the Bears. He didn’t think they had a shot of winning five games, let alone the Super Bowl.
Those evil geniuses at the sportsbook, though, know how to entice even a non-gambler into giving them his money. They make those odds just good enough to make a person dream.
Teams like the Cardinals, Dolphins, Bills, Browns, Bears and Raiders were getting anywhere from 100-1 to 200-1 odds of winning the Super Bowl.
Imagine how many people dropped $10 or $20 like my dad because they just couldn’t pass up those odds. Imagine the many more nutty fans who put even more money on their teams to win because they think their horrible teams were going to win the Super Bowl.
You’ve seen how those people dress in the Black Hole in Oakland, right? They definitely believed this was their year in August, and you better believe a large percentage of them put their money where their delusions are.
The sportsbooks don’t have to make up for their last week’s loss. They already made it up and then some from all the guys who lined up to throw their money in the garbage with those crazy Super Bowl odds in the spring and summer.
Speaking of garbage, last week I went 7-6 straight up. The good news, though, is I went 8-5 against the spread. The even better news is I didn’t put any money behind those picks.
On the season I am now 96-65 straight up and 73-86-2 against the spread.
Following are my week 12 picks. The lines are from ESPN, an organization that knows a thing or two about throwing money in the garbage.
Chicago (minus 3) at Detroit
Chase Daniel will start at quarterback for the Bears in place of injured Mitch Trubisky. Daniel, by the way, is the smartest football player on the planet.
Daniel, 32, signed a two-year, $10 million deal with $7 million guaranteed with the Bears in the offseason. The Thanksgiving start will be Daniel’s third in the league, and he is guaranteed to make at least $24.3 million in his career that began in New Orleans in 2010.
How can you bet against a guy like that?
Bears by 7
Washington (plus 7) at Dallas
The Cowboys seemed to have righted the ship with back-to-back road wins at Philadelphia and Atlanta.
Colt McCoy is starting in place of Alex Smith, who suffered a gruesome and eerily coincidental leg injury with Joe Theisman looking on last week. McCoy is not a big drop off from Smith.
Cowboys by just 3
Atlanta (plus 13) at New Orleans
The Saints beat their last two opponents — Cincinnati and Philadelphia — by a combined score of 99-21. Both those teams are better than Atlanta.
Saints by 34
Jacksonville (minus 3) at Buffalo
Matt Barkley has been in Buffalo for a couple of weeks. That was long enough to light up the Jets last week.
Bills by 3
Cleveland (plus 3) at Cincinnati
You can throw the records out the window when these two rivals meet.
The records, the TV ratings, the self-respect. Everything.
Bengals by 4
New England (minus 9.5) at New York
Bill Belichick admitted to watching some of Monday’s Arena League game in Los Angeles. What did he take away from the game?
“The Jets,” Belichick said. “That’s my takeaway.”
That sounds so menacing.
Patriots by 28
New York Giants (plus 6) at Philadelphia
There is trouble in the City of Brotherly Love. Eagles safety Malcom Jenkins said his team’s lack of fight was “embarrassing” after last week’s pantsing in New Orleans.
Here’s a thought: Maybe the Eagles just aren’t that good. Luckily, neither are the Giants.
Eagles by 3
San Francisco (plus 3.5) at Tampa Bay
Lock up your daughters, Jameis Winston is back starting for the Tampa.
Bucs by 5
Seattle (plus 3.5) at Carolina
The Panthers have fallen on hard times. Seattle, coming off a big win over the Packer, is coming in with some extra rest.
Seahawks by 6
Oakland (plus 10.5) at Baltimore
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr apparently doesn’t understand the concept of tanking.
“I want to mess up the draft,” Carr said. “I don’t want the first pick. I want to win all these games. I want everybody to be mad at me for that. That’s what I want to accomplish.”
If he really has been trying to enrage Raiders fans, well, mission accomplished.
Ravens by 14
Arizona (plus 12.5) at Los Angeles Chargers
Nothing says bounce-back win like “the Cardinals are coming to town.”
Chargers by 16
Pittsburgh (minus 3) at Denver
After beating Philip Rivers on the road, can the Broncos get Big Ben at home?
Steelers by 8
Miami (plus 7.5) at Indianapolis
The Dolphins are starting Ryan Tannehill over Brock Osweiler.
Big mistake. Big. Huge.
Colts by 10
Green Bay (plus 3.5) at Minnesota
Aaron Rodgers spearheaded a fundraising campaign for California fire recovery. He also donated $1 million.
Karma is on Green Bay’s side this time.
Packers by 7
Tennessee (plus 6.5) at Houston
From 0-3 to 8-3.
Texans by 9
Taking the week off to look for defensive coaches: Chiefs, Rams