Thursday, Nov. 20, 2008 | 2 a.m.
It’s the most reliable indicator that a professional football team has developed a reputation for ineptitude: Oddsmakers start posting betting lines on whether it will stumble to the finish line of the season without a victory.
With six games remaining in the regular season, that’s where the Detroit Lions find themselves.
The Lions are 0-10, they’re sitting in last place in the NFC North, and the Lucky’s race and sports book group is accepting wagers on Detroit finishing 0-16.
Gamblers who play the “yes” side of the proposition, betting the Lions will go 0-16, can find odds of plus 180 (risk $1 to net $1.80) at Lucky’s.
The other side of the prop — “no,” the Lions won’t go 0-16 — opened at minus 220 this week, meaning bettors risk $2.20 for each $1 they’re trying to win.
In other words, oddsmakers are essentially saying there is about a 33 percent chance the Lions will finish with an 0-16 record.
No NFL team has gone oh-fer the season since the league adopted its 16-game schedule in 1978. The 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers went 0-14 in their first season in the league as an expansion team. The Lions finished the 1942 season without a victory, going 0-11. The 1943 Chicago Cardinals went 0-10, as did the 1944 Chicago/Pittsburgh Cardinals/Steelers, a temporary wartime amalgamation of the two franchises.
This year’s Detroit Lions, coincidentally, host Tampa Bay on Sunday.
Although the Lions enter the game as an 8-point underdog, it could be their best chance to record a “W” in at least a couple of weeks.
They follow the Tampa Bay game with a Thanksgiving Day clash against Tennessee, a game that could get ugly in both the point spread and the result considering the Titans lead the NFL with a 10-0 record.
The Lions then close the season with home games against Minnesota and New Orleans, and road games with Indianapolis and Green Bay.
Lucky’s oddsmakers also posted odds this week on whether the Titans will finish undefeated in the regular season.
They see Tennessee as a substantially longer shot to go 16-0 than Detroit is to finish without a victory.
Gamblers who back the Titans by playing the “yes,” they will go undefeated, can find odds of plus 425 (risk $1 to net $4.25). It’s minus 550 that the Titans will not go undefeated.
Another way to look at it is oddsmakers are essentially giving the Titans about a 17 percent chance to finish with a 16-0 record. The 2007 New England Patriots were the first modern NFL team to go 16-0 in the regular season.
The Titans are favored by 5 1/2 points in Sunday’s home game against the New York Jets.
The most imaginative prop at Lucky’s related to the best and the worst teams in the NFL asks which will happen first: the Titans losing a game, or the Lions winning one. It’s minus 170 the Titans will lose a game first, and plus 140 the Lions will win a game first. If both happen on the same day, or if neither event happens, wagers are refunded.
Other NFL props posted this week at Lucky’s:
Will the Patriots win the AFC East? No, minus 240; yes, plus 200.
Will the Steelers win the AFC North? Yes, minus 340; no, plus 280.
Will the Jets win the AFC East? No, minus 140; yes, plus 110.
Will the Packers win the NFC North? No, minus 145; yes, plus 115.
The props are on the board at all Lucky’s sports books in the state including those at the Plaza and Terrible’s in Las Vegas.