Season-Long Betting Favorites Blow It


Both the "can't miss" betting favorites went down this weekend.

First, Kansas -- which closed as a one-point favorite against Missouri -- lost by eight points. Up until Saturday night's loss, Kansas had covered 10 straight games (their Sept. 8 game against SE Louisiana did not have a spread). According to R.J. Bell of, the odds of a team doing that were 1,024-to-1.

Then came the big bad Patriots, who had covered every game this season except in their game in Week 9 against the Colts. By the time the game against the Eagles started, the Patriots were 24-point favorites, which Bell says is the biggest favorite in an NFL game in at least 27 years. (By the way, Al Michaels acknowledge the betting story line leading into the break after the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter: "On a night when there hadn't been a spread like this in decades," Michaels said.)

The Patriots of course won by three, which will make it interesting to see what number oddsmakers now throw out there for the team's games against the Jets and the Dolphins.

As Bodog sportsbook manager Richard Gardner said last week: "The lines for the Pats keep getting higher and higher, it's not so much that the bookmakers don't think the Pats can cover lines over 20 as they've proven all season that they can, the bookmakers are trying to set the line so high that it will scare off a lot of bettors. Unfortunately, the bettors keep betting on the Patriots regardless of the line."

A Loss That Really Hurts

If the Red Sox didn't win the World Series, it would hurt local sporting goods stores in Boston. But there's quite a story developing in England, where the failure of England's national soccer team to qualify for the European Championships last week not only will cripple sales of sporting goods in the entire country, but will also hurt revenue for Umbro, which is on track to be acquired by Nike by early March.

In fact, due to the disappointment, Umbro will reportedly slash production of its 2008 replica jerseys by 66 percent, representing an amount on the shelves that will be the fewest since 2001.

The reason for this unique situation -- and why this country's market isn't so exposed -- is two-fold. First of all, our country doesn't have a merchandise equivalent of a national soccer team. Secondly, the jerseys of the teams here don't change every year in this country. If they did, then you'd likely see fewer sales in years when the team wasn't playing well.

What's At Steak?

The New York Post reported Friday that Mariano Rivera and his agent celebrated his new $45 million contract at Morton's Steakhouse in White Plains. Good for Mariano, but he shouldn't be doing that. Rivera owns a piece of Mo's New York Grill, a steakhouse in New Rochelle that bears his name.

If Rivera wants a good piece of steak, you'd think he could get it any way he wanted it. By showing up at Morton's, he's compromising his belief in his own restaurant. If Mariano loves the way Morton's prepares steak, he should have someone bring a Morton's steak to Mo's and he should celebrate there. The guy eating dinner with him should have been smart enough to understand the importance of doing that.

Questions? Comments?