LAS VEGAS — Compared to Bears general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy, Matt Youmans views the captain and first mate of the S.S. Minnow as expert navigators.
“I had more faith in Gilligan and the Skipper than I do in Nagy and Pace,” Youmans says. “The Bears’ duo has a long way to go and is running out of time to get there.”
A senior writer/broadcaster for the Vegas Stats & Information Network (VSiN), Youmans reinforced his sour forecast on the Bears by betting that they would win fewer than 7½ games and, at -250, miss the playoffs.
The Bears have finished under their projected season-victory total in four of the last five years, according to second-generation Vegas oddsmaker -Kenny White.
Youmans gauges an offensive line speckled with issues, which is bad news for quarterback Andy Dalton, the immobile veteran serving as the bridge to greenhorn understudy Justin Fields.
‘‘Don’t be fooled by a few big plays in the preseason because the rookie is not ready,’’ says Youmans, a Purdue graduate who worked at The Times of Northwest Indiana, in Munster, before landing in Vegas in 2000.
“The defense appears to be slipping, [so] it’s time for the great Khalil Mack to step it up. The schedule has so few soft spots that it’s tough to see this team overachieving and getting to eight or nine wins.”
He maxes the victory threshold at six, seven with luck, for the franchise with one winning campaign in eight seasons.
“The good news is the Lions look like a clown show again,” Youmans says, “so the Bears aren’t the worst team in the division.”
Smart money has reinforced those sentiments, while recreational bettors have displayed their bias. We also spotlight a nifty angle from an industry oracle. And leaguewide, finally, two teams have dominated V-egas sportsbook action:
LOSING SEASON LIKELY
Last season, the Bears barely eked by the Falcons (both 8-8) for the newly added third NFC wild card. This season, the NFL added one more regular-season game to the slate.
Westgate SuperBook executive vice president Jay Kornegay has had to remind some patrons that there are now 17 games as they’ve perused season-victory totals.
“It doesn’t always compute,” he says. “Sixteen has been so ingrained for decades. A friend said, ‘The Broncos and nine [wins]? That’s way too many.’ I reminded him of the 17 games, and it’s, ‘Oh, yeah. That makes sense.’ ’’
The Bears are 42-54 in six seasons under Pace, plus two playoff defeats. In his three seasons, Nagy is 28-22. Against the spread, he’s 24-26, which plummets to 12-21 over the last two years.
In Bears first halves, White details, Under has cashed 32 of 49 times (a return of 13-plus units) under Nagy.
Kornegay has watched pros drive the host Rams from 7- to 7½-point favorites — not insignificant — for the Bears’ opener Sept. 12.
He says swarms of amateur punters have moved “Yes” on the Bears making the playoffs from +250 (risk $100 to win $250) down to +220, shifting “No” from -300 to -260.
(Spreads, odds and prices are subject to change.)
At Circa, the Bears are 100-to-1 to win Super Bowl LVI, -14,000 (bet $14,000 to win $100) to not win it all, 48-1 to win the NFC and +675 to win the NFC North.
At the South Point, sportsbook director Chris Andrews says a wave of action against the Bears has moved “No” from -220 to -250.
Kelly Stewart, of Barstool Sports, has reviewed the SuperBook’s lines on every game and notes the Bears are favored in only four, which helped coax her to bet Under 7½ victories, at -125.
A particular NFL action that Vegas sports-wagering icon Michael “Roxy” Roxborough endorses is the teaser. He highlights a rare inherent advantage for the bettor, but it can’t be done willy-nilly.
“You cannot just tease any NFL game,” he tells me. The benefit arrives in taking two home teams, the teaser minimum in which both must hit, that cover the critical margins of seven and three points.
Two first-week SuperBook examples are the Buccaneers -6½ points at home against the Cowboys on Thursday and those Rams against the Bears.
A 7-point tease in both cases might help bettors allergic to sweating. Reducing the Bucs to a half-point underdog means all they must do is win. Same with the Rams, who would be cut to half-point favorites against the Bears.
In Week 2, the advantage of taking the Packers at only -½ at home against the Lions, rather than -7½ is enticing. As are the Chiefs (against the Chargers) and Bills (vs. Washington), both at -½ rather than -7½, in Week 3.
The luxury of eliminating those key numbers comes at a price. On Sunday, at my local mom-n-pop shop, the two-team, 7-point teaser cost -150, 6½ points was -140, 6 points -125.
At that locale, like elsewhere, the teaser cost has inched up in recent years. Roxy advises shopping for the best price and points. Pros shun parlays, but Roxy understands the commoner’s quest for added cushion in trying to make money.
Back at the SuperBook, Kornegay is sweating a potential Chiefs-Bucs Super Bowl.
“By far,” he says, that duo has drawn the most futures money and tickets. “If those two get into the Super Bowl, we’re going to have to raise our sandwich prices.”