Week 6 provides plenty of examples of why you shouldn’t gamble on the NFL

Jason ElamFar be it for me to tell someone how to live their life. But as I sat on my couch watching Week 6 unfold in the NFL, one question kept popping up in my head: Why would anyone gamble on pro football?

For the record, this isn’t about bashing gamblers because, to be brutally honest, I am one. In fact, anyone that shells out a little coin in office pools or even fantasy football is a gambler to some degree. So as it stands, I’m referring to myself when I write this.

This article is about shining even more light on how unpredictable the NFL is, and how quickly a football game can turn on its head. It has to be easier to predict winning lotto numbers than it is to predict which teams will cover the spread on a consistent basis.

Below are just three examples from Week 6 of how snake-bitten you can be as a gambler of the NFL. And remember, I’m using just three examples from one week of the season. Think about how many times a gambler could get screwed over the course of an entire NFL season and it’s enough to lose your lunch.

Example #1: Bears –3 at Falcons

So you’re ready to make your first wager of the day and you set your sights on the Bears-Falcons matchup. Rookie quarterback against vaunted Bears defense? Chicago is 5-0 in their last five meetings with Atlanta? Kyle Orton vs. a suspect Falcons secondary that was just lit up by Aaron Rodgers and the Packers? Put me down for $50 on the Bears and I don’t mind laying the three points, you say. And you know what? I like the fact that the Falcons have scored 72 points at home this year and that the Bears’ offense is clicking. Put me down for another $50 on the over 43 while we’re at it.

The game starts off rough for both the Bears and the over, but you start to relax when Chicago cuts Atlanta’s slim lead to 12-10 thanks to a Matt Forte 3-yard touchdown run. When the Falcons push their lead to 19-10 early in the fourth, you again feel that your Bears bet is in danger.

But quickly things start to look up when the Bears drive inside Atlanta’s 10-yard line with nine and a half minutes to play. A touchdown here and not only are Da Bears back in business, but the over is, too.

Bears-FalconsAfter an incomplete pass, Forte puts Chicago down to the 1-yard line before the Falcons stiffen up on third and goal from the one and stop the Bears cold. You yell, “Take the points Bears! There’s plenty of time!” But your screams fall on deaf ears as Lovie Smith sends his offense back onto the field. Atlanta then stuffs Forte on fourth and one to turn the ball over.

“Hope that doesn’t bite me in the ass later,” you say.

The Bears eventually get a field goal to cut the Falcons’ lead to 19-13 and after a Jerious Norwood 84-yard kickoff return, you realize your bet on the Bears is bunk, but there’s still plenty of promise for the over. If the Falcons kick a field goal, there’s still enough time for two more scores and you don’t care where they come from.

Jason Elam, who hasn’t missed a field goal all season, blows a 33-yard chip shot.

Awesome.

Your hopes are dashed and you’re feeling the sting of a double loss. The Bears march down the field on an incredible 11-play, 77-yard drive led by Orton to punch it in for six, but you don’t care. The Falcons then one-up Chicago with a 48-yard game-winning field goal by that good-for-nothing Jason Elam. “Go to hell, Jason Elam,” you say to yourself on the couch.

Final score: Falcons 22, Bears 20. You check your sheet to see if maybe you made a mistake on the over/under. Nope – you still have 43 written down. A goal line stand and a missed field goal? The over should have covered by a long shot.

Down $100 on the day. No big deal you say, because…

Example #2: Lions at Vikings –13 and Rams at Redskins –14

…you still had the Vikings and Redskins going at the same time! A cover by both of those teams nets me my $100 back easily. Not only were they playing inferior opponents, but they were also playing inferior opponents that hadn’t covered the spread all year. Sure the point spreads were a bit high, but the Rams were in complete turmoil after firing Scott Linehan and the Lions are…well…the Lions. They’ve been an utter mess all season and Dan Orlovsky was making his first career start.

St. Louis RamsWhen you check the final scores you had to do a double take: Vikings 12, Lions 10 – Rams 19, Redskins 17.

What the Jim Haslett is going on here? The Redskins have been one of the best teams in the NFC the past four weeks and they were playing the Rams…at home. And while the Vikings don’t have the best offense in the world, Detroit’s defense had been absolutely brutal all season.

“Just awful,” you say. I’m now down $200, but…

Example #3: Cowboys at Cardinals

…you had one more saving grace. It wasn’t going to be a winning day, but a $50 win salvages a little dough with the Cowboys-Cardinals late game. You knew better than to take a Dallas team that almost blew a 17-point lead against the Bengals last week and to bet against Arizona, who has played well at home this year.

So you look at the over/under and see…53 points? I know both of these teams have good offenses and suspect defenses, but 53 points? Easy money – take the under 53.

Game starts and immediately you want to take a bath with an electric toaster because Arizona returns the opening kick for a touchdown. But you hold that thought after the refs take back a Cardinals’ touchdown because of the tuck rule, which at this moment, is the greatest rule in the history of sports. And with the score 7-7 at halftime, you feel incredibly good about your 39 point cushion.

It’s now deep in the second half and you start to feel a little concerned with the number of big plays that are occurring. But with the score 14-14 heading into the forth, you’re still in great shape. The teams would have to score three touchdowns and two field goals in the fourth quarter for the total to go over.

Cardinals-CowboysAnd just your luck, that’s exactly what happens. Well, sort of. What actually happens is that Marion Barber goes 70-yards on a freaking swing pass to cut the Cardinals’ lead to 24-21 with only 2:00 minutes remaining and then Nick Folk kicks an improbable 52-yard field goal in an improbable situation. I say improbable because somehow Dallas marches into field goal range in under a minute and are awarded five extra yards because Arizona is penalized for having an injured player (who can’t get off the field under his own power) line up offsides.

No problem. The game is heading into overtime 24-24, and the only way you lose is if one team scores a touchdown, which rarely happens in a NFL overtime. One team will get into field goal range, kick a game-winner and you can salvage a rough betting day with a nice win…

That is until the Cardinals block a punt on the opening series and return it for a touchdown…first time that’s happened in an NFL game…ever. Only four minutes of game clock ticked away and both teams combined for 20 points. You lose the under bet by one point and you look around at what other kitchen appliances you can fit into a bathtub.

Just like that you’re down a total of $250 on the day. Then you remember that your bookie takes a little extra because of the juice, so your $250 in losings is actually $275.

“Go to hell Jason Elam,” you shout one more time.

And that, my friends, is why you shouldn’t gamble on the NFL. Hey, maybe you went the other way with these plays and won on all of these games. But I guarantee you thousands of people lost because of these exact scenarios. And it’s absolutely crazy to think about how a game can be decided on just a couple of plays. One missed or made field goal or one goal line stand can be the difference in you winning or losing a bet. But that’s gambling, isn’t it?

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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