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We're going to try to help you beat the odds

Full disclosure: I've been known to wager a little scarole, as they say in Italian, on a sporting event or two. It started when I was eight (in 1976) when my dad would bring "the slip" home from work. In later years, I would bet surreptitiously under the name "Bronx Bomber."

We had to be secretive because societal hypocrisy allowed the populace to bet on everything else but sports. It took far too long for this collective epiphany, but here we are. Finally. Sports betting is legal (cue Handel's Hallelujah Chorus) and can be achieved through Foxwoods (Draft Kings) and Mohegan Sun (FanDuel).

And so now we introduce a new gambling section here at America's Most Underrated Media Outlet (AMUMO). Each Saturday, the sports staff at AMUMO will pick selected college and pro football games to give you all the tips you need should you choose to partake.

Keep your expectations low. It's kind of like the old days when Mike and the Mad Dog would make their football picks each Friday and sheepishly announce that by Mid-November, they were both 14-29.

Gambling will change the way you watch the games. Here is a primer, followed by the staff's best bets for the week:

The best line ever uttered about gambling came from the late, great Mike Shasha, a New London original. His son, Gil, a brilliant attorney in the city, once performed "Jeddo," a one-man reminiscence of his father at the Garde. In it, Gil recalls his dad's go-to line about gambling.

"Mary," Mike would say to his wife. "I hope I break even today. I could use the money."

How will gambling change you? Not for the better, but for the bettor. It means you'll be less interested in the collective good (whether your team wins) and more interested in whether the team you bet on wins.

Gambling will enhance your paranoia. Every referee/umpire will be out to get you. Players are on the take. Teams are on the take. Entire leagues are on the take. They're not, of course, but in the moment, you'll have a bubbling persecution complex. And teams you bet on won't be able to score a touchdown without you awaiting the inevitable flag. (Except Notre Dame, whose offensive line hasn't been called for holding since the Cuban Missile Crisis.)

Gambling will make you more nocturnal. Who among us hasn't been up at 1:52 a.m. on a Sunday waiting to see if Weber State gets the backdoor cover at Northern Colorado — just so we can break even for the day?

Gambling will make you say and think far more horrific things than normal. Example: A group of us gathered on New Year's Day, 1996, to watch a day of college football and bet on each game. We all had Northwestern getting 10 from USC in the Rose Bowl.

We were despondent when Southern Cal went up 14 late — but went to euphoric quickly when Northwestern scored what on the surface was a meaningless touchdown in the closing seconds. Except it wasn't meaningless to us. The score meant Northwestern would cover. We jumped around the living room until TV cameras zoomed on the referee.

"Holding ... on the offense. Ten-yard penalty. Repeat third down," he said. No touchdown. That's when one member of our party yelled to the ref through the TV, "I hope your family dies!" Crude and cruel, yes. But the living room was in agreement with the sentiment if ever for the briefest of moments.

We'll share more such stories in this weekly gambling column. E-mail me with some of your best stories. For now, here are the Day staff's best bets with their corresponding reasons:

• Dave Davis: Dolphins (-3) over the Jaguars. "The battle to see which is the worst team from Florida will be played in London. Both these teams are awful but who wants to see Urban Meyer dance again? And what exactly are we giving the Brits? They got Jets-Falcons last week and now this? Do we not like these people?"

• Vickie Fulkerson: Cowboys (-3) over the Patriots. "Good pal Mike DiMauro, presumably in his misery over the Dallas Cowboys beating his New York Giants last weekend, has tweeted numerous times this week referring to the Cowboys as 'the Beverly Hillbillies of the NFL.' Therefore, my best bet this week is as follows: Jed and Elly May Clampett to beat the Patriots. Y'all come back now, y'hear?"

• Ned Griffen: Buffalo (-5) over Tennessee. "The league's hottest offense (Buffalo) is only giving five playing against another bad defense after hanging 38 points on equally defenseless Kansas City? Gimme gimme gimme."

• Gavin Keefe: Packers (-6) over Bears. "Been a Packers fan since reading a book in the third grade about Bart Starr and Green Bay winning the first two Super Bowls. That's also roughly the last time the Bears won an important game."

• Chuck Banning: Iowa (-11) over Purdue. "I don't think Purdue has recovered from not being allowed to bring college football's largest drum into Notre Dame Stadium."

• Mikey D: Cardinals (+3) over the Browns. This line stinks. The public will be all over Cleveland here. An AFC contender only laying one at home? Here's a tip: When the public goes one way, you go the other. Bet Arizona with both hands. Same rationale here as Cincinnati minus two at Notre Dame two weeks ago. The entire world bet Notre Dame as a home dog. The entire world lost, except the wiseguys. As one wiseguy friend of mine likes to say, "Mikey, there's a reason I go to the Bahamas for two weeks every year."

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro


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