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The Boston Globe

Sports

The bettor’s edge

Gambling: No safe bets in the NFL

Last season I risked $9,350 on 76 NFL games. After winning $400 on the Giants in the Super Bowl, I finished the season up $5.

Five bucks. Chuckle if you want; I get it. Five dollars doesn’t get you far these days, unless you want to take a few rides on the T to Logan Airport. And because I spent almost all of last season attempting to shovel myself out of a deficit that reached minus $1,370 entering Week 10, I was more relieved than satisfied when the Giants covered against the Patriots and I didn’t finish in the red.

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I saved my reputation during the playoffs, finishing on a 7-3 run that brought in $1,020, but I was never able to ride a winning streak during the regular season. This fact was especially frustrating because in 2010 I finished up $1,522 and figured I could carry that momentum into 2011.

No such luck, but finishing up $5 is better than finishing down $500 or $1,000, correct?

Wednesday’s opening game would provide an ideal lesson if a course was taught on the difficulties of gambling. The Giants, coming off a tremendous late-season run to the Super Bowl title, host Dallas. If this game were on Sunday along with every other game, I’d stay away. Neither team could be trusted during the 2011 regular season, particularly the Cowboys. But it’s the only game on the board – an intriguing matchup of NFC East rivals with championship aspirations.

As always, a case can be made for both sides, but look at it this way: the defending champions are raising their banner at home on opening night. The Giants will be ready, and they’re playing a team that always seems to find a way to mess things up. Lay the 4 points, order a pizza, and enjoy the first night of the 2012 season.

Official picks start Friday. Same rules as previous years: I’ll select 3-5 games per week against the spread, and the money I risk will generally range between $50 and $400 per play. We’ll track my record and see where I land. If it’s a good year, I’ll be in Las Vegas for the Super Bowl. If I’m on track to finish up $5 again, or worse, I’ll have to find a way to convince myself there aren’t many differences between Cleveland Circle and the Vegas Strip in February.

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