A bettor's tale: Always do your homework

As Biff Tannen said in Back to the Future, "Just bet on the winner and you'll never lose." Sharon Latham/Manchester City FC via Getty Images

What's the worst bet you've ever made? Come on. You remember it. We all do. Well, what if you could go back in time and get the other side?

Well, this actually happened and it has nothing to do with Biff Tannen's sports almanac.

Here's a story about my friend "Dan." It was Aug. 15, 1994. Preseason Monday Night Football. A thousand dollars on the over. Final score: 6-0.

What prompted a guy, who normally bet $100 or less, to lay a grand on a preseason game? He did what many have done. He chased. That's why Monday Night Football was affectionately labeled "the bailout game." Dan did what most bettors have done -- tried to win back all his losses on the final game before payment is due. And Dan was ultimately in a similar spot as most bettors -- staring at the wrong side.

Dan knew he lost the bet the moment the broadcast started. But that's not all he learned right before kickoff. He also learned the game was being played in Mexico City. He learned that it had rained all day and that field conditions were so shaky that the Dallas Cowboys decided to sit stud running back Emmitt Smith, who was supposed to make his preseason debut.

Forget the record crowd of 112,376 fans eager to watch the defending Super Bowl champions, Dan was the most disappointed viewer that night. He had pressed and knew collection would come Tuesday with more questions than answers. With a pit in his stomach, Dan started to brainstorm a game plan.

Ultimately, Dan chose an idiotic and gutsy option -- one that would require an Oscar-worthy performance. Dan channeled his inner George Costanza and convinced himself to believe the lie he was about to tell.

The phone call to Dan's bookie Zeke was placed. After a minute or two, Dan is stunned at the discrepancy. Dan explained that he upped his wager because of the rain and went all-in on the under (and his lie). Dan explains that Zeke must have written down the wrong bet.

Zeke is immediately skeptical, as someone in his unique position should be. Not only does he trust his records, but he has seen all sorts of nonsense in this line of work. Zeke, a naturally chill person, considers his options. He is convinced Dan is lying but also wants to keep the business. Frankly, Dan is a "good" client. Thus, he concedes the game of "he said, he said" and plays the long game since he knows Dan will ultimately lose it. Dan, somehow, got credited with the win.

Clearly, a pre-internet and regulated world can be a gift as much as it is a curse. The internet would have likely informed Dan of the game's location and horrible weather. Then again, the internet also documents wagers, preventing this entire charade. This simply couldn't happen in 2018.

So here's the lesson, folks... First, do your research. Don't make blind wagers without knowing key factors that impact the spread, especially with weather playing a major role this weekend. Wind is the most critical element for a total, given it disrupts passing and kicking more than rain or snow. Case in point: last week's opener between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns. The total opened 46 and closed 41. The sharp bets started arriving midweek, once weather reports projected rigorous elements. The game ended in a 21-21 tie with two missed field goals in overtime.

Oh, and Dan is a knucklehead.

Here's what I like this weekend (2-3 last week. Thanks, Lions):

Alabama vs. Mississippi over 70.5: This is the highest total for any game throughout Nick Saban's entire coaching career -- and for good reason. He has the most explosive offense he's ever coached. Tua Tagovailoa has been a giant upgrade at quarterback and the offense has yet to let up on opponents. Ole Miss also just allowed 41 points to FCS opponent Southern Illinois. I would be surprised if the Tide score less than 55 points on their own. Plus, their defense is not as polished or mature as we've seen in recent years. All signs point to the over.

Syracuse +3 (vs. Florida State): Perhaps no team has disappointed more than the Seminoles. They may have a recruiting edge in this matchup, but Syracuse has been the better football team. FSU quarterback Deondre Francois just does not look like he has fully recovered from a torn patellar tendon and subsequent knee surgery and last week, the Seminoles struggled defending Samford, an FCS school. Eric Dungey should have a field day at home. Go Orange.

New England PK (at Jacksonville): Tom Brady has been favored in 51 straight games so I will try to seize this point-spread opportunity. I understand the case for the Jaguars, but I will take my chances with the far superior quarterback and coach. Bill Belichick is a master motivator, and I trust his ability to push the right buttons to quiet a squad that's been chirping all offseason about being a few plays away from beating the Patriots to reach the Super Bowl.