1985 Bears Coverage: Bears bet they’ll beat the odds

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Every day of the 2015 Chicago Bears season, Chicago Sun-Times Sports will revisit its coverage 30 years ago during the 1985 Bears’ run to a Super Bowl title.

Bears bet they’ll beat the odds

Dan Pompei

Originally published Jan. 22, 1986

Beating the New England Patriots and beating the odds will be on the Bears’ minds Sunday during Super Bowl XX.

Just ask Dan Hampton.

“We try to beat the odds,” the Bears’ defensive end said.

But the Bears’ goal isn’t to pay bettors’ mortgages, he said: It’s to prove they are as good as they’re supposed to be.

Against New England, that’s 10 points.

The Bears have turned heavy lines into heavy incentives. Lines usually develop into incentives only to underdogs. But the Bears, who have been favored in nearly every game this year, use reverse psychology.

“We want to show we are 10 points, eight points or five points better than the other team,” Hampton said. “We don’t want to squeak by.”

Tight end Emery Moorehead said being a big favorite gives the Bears something to prove.

Such point spreads can create pressure, but Hampton said the Bears have become accustomed to it.

“More than any other team in history we have been able to thrive under that type of pressure,” he said.

The spread was on center Jay Hilgenberg’s mind this week when he called his uncle, Wally Hilgenberg, former linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings. His uncle told Hilgenberg not to pay attention to how heavily the Bears were favored.

Wally is somewhat of an expert on heavy Super Bowl favorites. In Super Bowl IV, Hilgenberg’s Vikings were 17 1/2-point favorites to beat the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chiefs won 23-7.

“I’ll always remember that,” Jay said.

But betting lines do have credibility to some players.

“Odds are a pretty accurate reflection of what a team is capable of,” Hampton said. “People who are betting millions of dollars on a team have a very good grip on how good that team is.”

But if Hampton had to make a line on the Super Bowl, he’d choose the Bears as one-point favorites.

“We earned that right by having the best record in football,” he said. “But I think New England is a lot better team than people give them credit for.”

Most football players don’t give oddsmakers much credit. “That’s one man’s opinion,” Moorehead said.

Strong safety Dave Duerson said there is no such thing as a favorite on Super Bowl Sunday.

Defensive tackle Steve McMichael concurred.

“I think being favored by 10 points is a lot of crap,” McMichael said. “This is the Super Bowl. Everybody is pumped up and playing over their heads.”

Because the Super Bowl spread is unusually high, bookies expect total bets on the game to be down as much as 30 percent from the record $1 billion bet on last year’s Super Bowl.

Bookies would have preferred a Bears-Miami game. That game would have attracted more bets because the line probably would have been lower and because the Dolphins have a higher profile than the Patriots.

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