Vegas sees ’dog days ahead for Bears

Oddsmakers expect the team to be improved, but not enough to move the betting needle much.

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Quarterback Justin Fields and the Bears will be favored in six games this fall, according to the DraftKings early lines released shortly after the NFL schedule reveal.

Quarterback Justin Fields and the Bears will be favored in six games this fall, according to the DraftKings early lines released shortly after the NFL schedule reveal.

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

LAS VEGAS — Johnny and Linda Avello led a group of their children and grandkids on an adventure through Italy that included Rome, Florence and the Amalfi Coast.

Herculaneum was Johnny’s highlight. He knew Pompeii, and this newfound area is smaller, southwest of Mount Vesuvius, time frozen in ash from 79 A.D.

Some Chicago fans might believe their Bears have been hibernating that long.

Their big sleep, though, only stretches to 2007. Since then, they’ve won only one playoff game and sport a league-worst 112-142-8 record, according to TeamRankings.com, against the spread.

Avello, DraftKings’ Vegas-based director of race and sportsbook operations, returned home to oversee his staff’s lining of every NFL game for the upcoming season.

The NFL released its full schedule May 11. The DK point spreads followed.

Chicago was tapped as a preseason favorite in six of 17 games.

However, for the first time since 1991, Green Bay will not feature a quarterback named Favre or Rodgers, who were a combined 47-18 in the regular season against the Bears.

Fourth-year greenhorn Jordan Love will pilot the Packers.

“You like competition, but you want to win,” Avello, 70, said of Chicago’s long plight against the Pack. “Love is very unproven, so [the Bears] should be able to win at least one of those games, if not both.

“I think it’s encouraging to Bears fans. Yeah, they’ll be happy.”

A WEAKER NFC NORTH

The Westgate SuperBook released those early odds the last two seasons with methods likely similar to how DraftKings operates.

Two seasons ago, the SuperBook had Chicago favored in four games; it won six. Last season, the Bears were preseason favorites only two times; they earned three victories.

This season, however, the Bears are also underdogs of two or fewer points in six games, so a second double-digit-victory campaign in 11 seasons is possible.

“A couple of times, they’re short favorites at home,” Avello said. “And a couple of times, they’re short dogs on the road. So those games, obviously, can go either way. Even a seven-point underdog can go either way, the games are so close.”

In fact, only one Chicago game has a line of more than seven points. The Bears are 9.5-point underdogs (+330 on the moneyline to win outright) at defending champion Kansas City on Sept. 24.

DK has Detroit favored 12 times, Minnesota nine and six for Green Bay.

“The [NFC North] is weaker,” Avello said. “The Packers are no longer … well, we don’t know. The Packers, a team that the Bears just could never beat, don’t appear to be a force. That’s more favorable to Chicago.

“The Lions look to be a better team. They won nine games last year, including eight of their last 10.”

He called the Vikings “fortunate,” like many did as 2022-23 unfolded, for going 13-4 despite being outscored 427-424.

“Minnesota is still probably one of the better teams in the division, but the Bears certainly have a chance. They’ll improve on last year, that’s for sure. The question is: How much will they improve?”

BIG MENUS

DraftKings has established a victory total of 7.5 for the Bears; Over -135, Under +115. Think Chicago will win at least eight games? Risk $135 to win $100.

Green Bay is 7.5, too; Over -105, Under -115. Detroit is 9.5; Over -105, Under -115. Minnesota is 8.5; Over -130, Under +110.

(Odds and prices subject to change.)

In Vegas, Station Casinos established the Lions as the +110 favorite to win the NFC North, then Minnesota (+275), the Bears (+325) and Green Bay (+400).

The SuperBook has the Lions’ division odds at +135, the Bears and Vikings both at +325, +420 for Green Bay.

To make the playoffs, the South Point made Detroit’s Yes odds -160, No +140; Minnesota Yes +120, No -140; the Bears Yes +160, No -180; and Green Bay Yes +175, No -200.

Circa Sports has the Packers at 17-to-1 odds to make the Super Bowl. Detroit is +675, while both Chicago and Minnesota are 21-1.

Back at DraftKings, Arizona isn’t favored in any of its 17 games, and Kansas City is favored in every tilt. The Cardinals’ season-win total is 4.5; Over -130, Under +110. The Chiefs’ is 11.5; -140 Over, +120 Under.

Long Island handicapper Tom Barton likes both Baltimore and Jacksonville Over 9.5 wins; the Ravens at -150, the Jaguars at -135.

He also favors Jacksonville getting 3.5 points against Buffalo in London on Oct. 8, since the Jaguars — who play Atlanta there the previous Sunday — will have been in England for a couple of weeks.

Barton said, “That [second] London game will be lost on so many people.”

For him, though, that’s an anomaly. Barton advised waiting, to see how teams develop and guard against injuries or other surprises, when betting singular games.

Ditto for New Jersey native and veteran Vegas handicapper Bill Krackomberger, who called the Bears and Chiefs very public teams, whose game spreads and season-victory odds are inflated by zealous supporters.

“They have for decades. The proper mathematical play is doing some line shopping and betting Under [season-wins totals]. The books know which way the public bets, so they will be adding juice to plays like Bears’ Overs.”

BEARS’ SCHEDULE

Date Opponent Line

9/10 Packers -2.5

9/17 at Bucs -1.5

9/24 at Chiefs +9.5

10/1 Broncos +1.5

10/5 at Commanders +1.5

10/15 Vikings +1

10/22 Raiders -1

10/29 at Chargers +5.5

11/5 at Saints +2.5

11/9 Panthers -2

11/19 at Lions +5

11/27 at Vikings +3.5

12/3 Bye

12/10 Lions +1.5

12/17 at Browns +3.5

12/24 Cardinals -4.5

12/31 Falcons -2

1/7 at Packers +2

Source: DraftKings

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