Dear Las Vegas Oddsmakers,
I looked in the newspaper today to read the lines for NFL football and either a large misprint occurred or you misspoke when relaying your numbers to the kind people who release such information. I saw that the Lions are 2.5-point favorites this week, and did a double-take, followed by eye-rubbing and pinching to assure I was indeed awake.
You know that these lines are for NFL football, correct? This isn't some mistake and you think the Penn State Nittany Lions still have a regular season game left?
I'm going to assume you know the Detroit Lions are 2-10. Perhaps you don't watch them, because few people probably do, even those who actually like the Lions. But the numbers "2" and "10" -- in that order -- are not good. Especially when playing a team that has three more wins and whose defense not only has given up 63 fewer points on the season, but also knows how to actually hit the opposition once in a while.
Maybe the new rallying cry in Detroit is, "At least we're not the Vikings"?
True, Minnesota is bad. And by bad, I mean like "Ishtar" bad. But the Lions make "Ishtar" look like "Lawrence of Arabia," for crying out loud. And, coincidentally, crying out loud is a pastime of the majority of Detroit football faithful on at least 16 days of the year.
For you oddsmakers who aren't completely familiar with the term (it's understandable that Lions fans may not get the concept, but you?), here's a brief lesson:
fa·vor·ite [fey-ver-it] noun
1. A person or thing regarded with special favor or preference.
2. Sports. a competitor considered likely to win.
3. A person or thing popular with the public.
OK, we can quickly dispose of definition No. 1. After seeing the Leos get jobbed at just about every corner by referees (yes, it was just Cleveland Pinckney, but when he gets held by the darling Pats right in front of you more voraciously than Bob Dole clutches a pen, it is still holding) we can fairly easily throw this out the window as to your meaning.
No. 3? Please. When was the last time Detroit had a Monday Night Football appearance? Ignoring the fact that they haven't done much to justify some MNF face time, it's pretty apparent that Detroit is not overwhelmingly in the hearts of the general public. Maybe a few sympathy votes, but nothing on a Florida Gator scale.
That leaves No. 2. No, not THAT No. 2! Although that is much closer to what the Lions have been playing like for much of the decade.
Yes, evidently a 2-10 team is actually mathematically favored by you to win this Sunday.
For those of you brave enough to watch the entire Lions game, you may have missed the Chicago Bears-Minnesota Vikings "game."
I put "game" in parenthesis because it was more like me playing my girlfriend in Madden football than anything resembling a real gridiron contest. The Bears defense made the Vikes look like tykes, toying with them like a cat plays with a wounded mouse. Chicago's D had Minnesota's O on a string.
On another channel, the Green Bay Packers were so manhandled by the New York Jets that the network cut away from the game with about six minutes remaining.
These previous two statements are relevant because Detroit has lost to ALL FOUR of these teams. All four!
In fact, only Green Bay and San Fran have given up more points this season. And the Lions lost to both of them as well.
Yes, yes, yes, the Vikings are only 2-5 on the road and Detroit is only 2-4 at home. So what? Have you not seen the Lions play? One of Detroit's backup quarterbacks had two pass receptions last week. Two!
Seemingly, Detroit is good for only two things: 1) playing the role of New Jersey Generals and, 2) covering the spread as underdogs. But this week, the Lions will leave that spread covering shenanigans to those Minnesota folks.
Oh, well. We all make mistakes. Thanks for your time. I'll presume this mistake will not happen again for a long time.
But I'll take advantage of your mistake and put my money on Minny.
Irwin M. Fletcher
P.S. - Have a nice day.
Cook: Favorites? The Lions?
Dear Las Vegas Oddsmakers,