Mike DiMauro: We're here to provide you practical advice during bowl season

Dec. 24—Nothing jingles your bells better on Christmas morning than a gambling column, right?

I know. I'm a heathen. But this runs every Saturday. Can't help it.

And as always, we try to make this practical. So, in the spirit of the season, while we spend money we don't have on Christmas presents, here is a way to save a little money:

Don't bet on bowl games unless they're the biggies.

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It's hard enough to pick winners during the season when all teams and coaches are (theoretically) engaged. Bowl games are at best unpredictable. Lines are hard to set and harder to read for a number of reasons.

First, there's this new thing about players opting out of bowl games because of potential draft status. Example: What if I get hurt playing in the Bounty Quicker Picker Upper Bowl and hurt my chances in the draft? You never know when a key player who helped Team A achieve bowl status just won't play. The effect on the game could be immeasurable.

Example: The gutty, gritty BC Eagles won't have most of their starting offensive line in Monday's showdown with East Carolina in the Military Bowl. Three of them are seniors and may get drafted. The result: My 11-year-old may hear five to six of George Carlin's Seven Words You Can't Say On Television reverberating around the household.

Then there's engagement level. If you are, for example, a Southeastern Conference school used to playing in front of 90,000 every Saturday, how excited are you to play in the Lay's Betcha Can't Eat Just One Bowl in Alamogordo, New Mexico against Wichita State?


Finally: The excess of bowl games leads to matchups with teams hardly anyone has watched play. Last week, the games on our board featured Utah State, Alabama-Birmingham and Appalachian State. Now I consider myself a college football sicko. But I couldn't name one player on any team.

Not surprisingly, I got most of the bowl games wrong last week. So do yourself a favor and go bet on something more predictable. Like the weather.

Here are the week's best bets from the Day staff:

— Chuck Banning: N.Y. Jets (-1 at home vs. Jacksonville). "In the spirit of Christmas, we go with the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets ... plus a Jets win might help the team they share MetLife Stadium with move up in the draft order (that team deserves coal in their stockings)."


— Vickie Fulkerson: Indianapolis (+1.5 at Arizona): "Last week was already Christmas for the Colts with a definitive win over AFC rival New England. This will be Christmas, the sequel."

— Dave Davis: Indianapolis (+1.5 at Arizona). "Been watching the Colts on HBO's Hard Knocks and it's a hard group not to root for. And the Cardinals have been exposed as just another good team, not a great one."

— Gavin Keefe: Green Bay (-7.5 vs. Cleveland): "Going with my favorite team."

— Ned Griffen: N.Y. Jets (-1 at home vs. Jacksonville: The NFL scheduled Jags vs. Jest during Christmas weekend. Why?


— Mikey D: Buffalo (+2 at New England). Can anyone explain this line? It makes no sense to me. The narrative is that Bill Belichick owns the Bills and the Pats already won in Buffalo two weeks ago. Buffalo coach Sean McDermott bristled at the idea of giving Belichick too much credit, meaning the PMC (Patriots Media Cartel) will be all over it and turn this into a de facto playoff game.

If I'm making this line, I'd favor the Pats by well more than 2. The line tells you to bet Buffalo (just as it told you to bet Indianapolis against the Pats last week). So while it appears to make little sense to think the Bills can win in Foxboro, the line is telling you to take the Bills.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro