This story is part of Richie Whitt's mostly upbeat but occasionally depressing 2011 Cowboys preview. Elsewhere, find stories about Tony Romo, Jason Garrett and the footballness of football , and Rob Ryan swearing his $% off, and Tony Romo's make or break year.
The Cowboys were perfect at home last season. And the Detroit Lions had the NFL's best record.
No, not in some alternate universe. Just the gambling world.
On Sundays, there's the final score, the fantasy score and then the bottom line. Impossible to assess with countless neighborhood bookies taking illegal bets on games, but it's safe to assume that gambling on NFL games is a $10 billion annual industry worldwide.
From the casual $5 bet with your co-worker to the $1,000 six-team parlay you dream of using as a down payment on that new Porsche, point spreads are an integral part of the NFL, whether the league admits it or not. And lots of fans — regardless of the line — bet on the Cowboys each week, just to add intrigue and entertainment value to their favorite spectator sport.
But it's never wise to bet with your heart.
Or is it?
"I've got like 10 guys who will do their homework and bet $50 or $75 on a bunch of games over the weekend," says "Tom," a Dallas-based bookie who may or may not cater to a gaggle of area media personalities. "But they'll end it by saying, 'Aw, hell, give me $100 on the Cowboys just for fun.' Lately here they've been keeping me in business."
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Last year the Cowboys went 6-10 on the field and 6-10 against the spread. The last six years, they are 46-48-2 overall against the line, 24-23-1 at home and 22-25-1 on the road. And since 2000, the Cowboys on the field have gone a mediocre 88-88, slightly better than their 81-91-4 against the line. Translation: If you bet $5 on the Cowboys every week for the last 11 seasons you'd be down a whopping $50 (plus the 10-percent "juice" on each loss).
Oddsmakers also establish a total on each game, allowing bettors to wager that the combined points scored will be over or under that number. In 2010, all eight games at Cowboys Stadium went over the total. Betting trends in the NFL rarely run to 8-0, but even the wise guys couldn't keep pace with a Cowboys defense that surrendered 27 points to the Bears, 34 to the Titans, 41 to the Giants, 35 to the Jaguars, 19 to the Lions and 30 each to the Saints, Eagles and Redskins in Arlington.
This year the Cowboys are 20-1 long shots to win Super Bowl XLVI, and quarterback Tony Romo is also 20-1 to win NFL Most Valuable Player. Their projected total number of wins is 9, meaning oddsmakers think Dallas will finish 9-7 and miss the playoffs.
With an offense that will be all but negated by a defense that at times looked woefully lost in the preseason, the Cowboys won't be good enough to win 10 games straight up or against the spread. But, come to think of it, those just might be the ingredients to again make them "perfect" at home.