The Bears have become unlikely action heroes in Las Vegas

Bet on it: Fields has quickly increased Bears’ popularity with bettors

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Justin Fields of the Chicago Bears scores a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons.

Justin Fields #1 of the Chicago Bears scores a touchdown during the second quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on November 20, 2022 in Atlanta

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

LAS VEGAS — Positive remarks have been floating around Vegas sportsbooks about the exciting NFL team whose betting attention has escalated in recent weeks, with an average of 29.6 points.

Had this team been producing that the entire season, it would be a notch behind the league-leading, 30-points-a-game Chiefs.

The Eagles? Bills? Bengals?

Nope.

Despite having lost four consecutive games and seven of their last eight, the Bears have been luring the cash.

Duane Colucci, director of race and sports at the Rampart Casino in Summerlin, where a hive of Chicago ex-pats and fans reside, noted the uptick in Bears business, the protagonist being second-year quarterback Justin Fields.

“It’s picking up momentum, and a lot of that has to do with Fields,” Colucci said. “He’s flashy. He’s doing things [Michael] Vick and Lamar Jackson have done, duplicating their numbers.

“This kid has the talent. He’s a focus on the future. You’re hearing some positive thoughts now out of Bears fans and backers, which hasn’t been the case for years.”

The wave of points has triggered bundles of betting dough, as Bears games are 7-4 to over. The optimal total angle, however, has been on their first halves, which is 8-3 to over.

APPETIZERS

Digging deeper reveals other nuggets, like playing over on the Bears’ projected team-points total and Fields’ estimated rushing yards. The Bears lost 27-24 to the Falcons on Sunday. But New York-based handicapper Tom Barton capitalized, for a fifth consecutive week, by betting over on the Bears’ team total of 22 points.

And in each of the last three weeks, Barton was on over regarding Fields’s rushing yards; on Sunday, that mark was 70.5, and Fields ran for 85 yards.

Over the previous two weeks, that figure was in the 60s; he dashed for 147 and 178 yards in those games, respectively.

“They’re handing out free money,” Barton said. “I also hit on [Fields] scoring a TD [against the Falcons] at even money, but the previous two weeks that was +120 or higher. I’ve been making a small fortune.”

Fields has run for at least one touchdown in each of his last five games.

On the Bears’ team totals (in the low 20s) over the last five weeks, Barton has risked nearly $7,000, clearing more than $6,000 in profit by going 5-0.

When the Bears hosted the Dolphins, he drove 130 miles from his home near the tip of Long Island to Atlantic City to lay $3,000 on the Bears. The Dolphins won 35-32.

“Loved that bet,” Barton said. “They don’t come around very often.”

He was perplexed last week when both BetMGM and Caesars issued statements about their most popular prop action, in tickets and money, being over on Fields’s rushing yards.

On his nationally syndicated SportsGarten sports-gambling radio show, Barton predicted they’d boost that into the 80s in Atlanta, but it was 70.5.

“Why would they post [those statements], other than to dare people to take the under? Then they barely move the line?”

Barton stresses treading lightly, though, for Sunday’s game against the Jets, whose defense is formidable. Plus, Fields got banged up in Atlanta, and the books might actually post something in the 80s.

COUGS GROWING CLAWS

Northwestern State registered the mammoth early college hoops shock victory, as a +1100 moneyline underdog, in a 64-63 victory at 25-point favorite TCU on Nov. 14. Risking $100 won $1,100.

Instead of taking the spread points, betting the underdog to win outright — on the moneyline — is a gutsy tactic but returns a handsome, if not hefty, profit.

Colorado (+900 ML) upended Tennessee 78-66. Murray State (+650) dunked Texas A&M 88-79. Prairie View A&M (+525) slapped Washington State 70-59.

Of all the upheavals, however, our favorite occurred Nov. 16 when Chicago State, at +425, defeated Valparaiso 87-74 at the Cougars’ Jones Convocation Center. Guards Eljah Weaver and Wesley Cardet are the rudders.

The program went 28-170 in the seven seasons before coach Gerald Gillion arrived a year ago. It won seven games last season, but it made noise in my world by covering the spread in 18 of 32 games.

That .563 cover percentage produced a return of 2.6 units. That might seem flimsy, but Chicago State being a profitable wagering option wasn’t fathomable not so long ago.

This is a bold season for Gillion — one of only two independents, with Hartford. Tough road games (Marquette, Minnesota, Stanford, Gonzaga) will deliver vital paydays for the program’s survival.

However, those big boys have been warned; Gillion is teaching these Cougars how to win.

SPIRALING

The Blackhawks won four of their first six games, perhaps inspiring some fans to hope this wouldn’t be a futile campaign. Then came 10 defeats over their next 12 games.

Circa Sports oddsman and NHL ace Jeff Davis has seen some promise in keeper Arvid Soderblom. However, Davis views that early win streak as an anomaly for a team struggling in key 5-on-5 categories.

Davis gave us a dismal Hawks preseason forecast, with the $10.5 million contracts of 34-year-old players Patrick Kane (team-best 14 points) and Jonathan Toews (12 points) being particularly prickly.

“I wouldn’t know when it would be,” Davis said Monday, “but the sooner they trade one or both of them, the more their potential return would likely be than if they waited right up until the deadline.”

The NHL trading deadline is Friday, March 3.

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