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The bettor's edge

It's an opposite reaction

By Ed Ryan
Globe Staff / October 14, 2011

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George Costanza once achieved great success by choosing to do the opposite of what he would normally do.

The “Seinfeld’’ character was not known to gamble, but after watching play after play and game after game not go my way last weekend, I’m thinking he was on to something.

This week’s picks (home team in caps):

Dallas (+7) over NEW ENGLAND: Despite my overall balance, I haven’t lost when wagering on Patriots games the last three weeks, and I like the Cowboys in this spot. Dallas’s sixth-ranked offense should be bolstered by the return of receiver Miles Austin, and things get further complicated for New England when you consider its excuse for a defense allows 433 yards per game, worst in the NFL. The Patriots have emphasized running the ball in recent weeks, with success, but that won’t be as easy against a quick, swarming Dallas unit that has improved noticeably under coordinator Rob Ryan. Taking the Patriots in Foxborough is always a solid bet, but if Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo doesn’t hand the game away (as so many opposing quarterbacks inexplicably do against New England), this matchup should give the home team trouble. Risking $110 to win $100.

Philadelphia (-1) over WASHINGTON: The Eagles have been a disappointment for a variety of reasons, but they displayed pride in the second half of their loss to the Bills, roaring back before falling short. The Redskins have a pesky defense but are still committed, somewhat, to the Rex Grossman experiment. That, more than the narrative about the Eagles needing a win, leads me to side with Philadelphia. Risking $110 to win $100.

Minnesota (+3) over CHICAGO: After remaining competitive against Detroit despite nine false starts and a stunning failure to protect Jay Cutler, the Bears would seem to be bounce-back candidates against the 1-4 Vikings. But I’m thinking Monday’s loss to the Lions was the start of something worse for the Bears. Like Minnesota, the Bears do not have a realistic chance to win the NFC North, and without that motivation or hope, I can see things falling apart quickly for coach Lovie Smith. With an 0-4 record to begin the season, the Vikings appeared hopeless, but those four losses were by a total of 19 points. A blowout win over Arizona may not have been groundbreaking, but it was necessary and proved Minnesota wasn’t likely to collapse like Cutler’s protection. Risking $110 to win $100.

Last week: 0-3-1, minus $385. Season: 7-10-2, minus $610.

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