There's a good reason why the gambling business has been such a lucrative one over the years. It's not just about likelihoods and probability, it's about the hopes and dreams of the people placing the wagers. Be it cards, dice or games, the people placing the bets usually can't separate their emotions from their decisions and that leads to money for the house.
It's safe to say that played a role in Bodog.com's decision to post the Jets as a 25-1 shot to win the 2011 Super Bowl. With expectations fanned by a run to the AFC Championship Game and Rex Ryan's inspirational qualities, there's big hopes for next season. Those hopes place the Jets' chances at a lot better than 25-1 so why not put some skin in the game now so that you can pay off later.
You could rationalize the Jets odds in other ways. The Colts, Chargers and Patriots are three of the first four teams on the board, and the Steelers and Ravens are also placed above the Jets. If they are ranked sixth most likely to win the AFC, they can hardly rank much higher than 25-1 to win the whole damn thing. But if the Ravens or Steelers were blessed with a long-suffering fan base and a coach that's made them feel like winners, they would be the ones with the lower odds so that hopes and dreams could lead to money for the house.
If you doubt that such emotional manipulation plays a role, just look at the team directly above the Jets on the list. That would be the Giants at 20-1, a placement that's sure to anger Jets fans who can't comprehend how an aging team that broke down last season could possibly be considered a safer bet than a young club brimming with a taste of big-time success.
Or, to look at the flip side, you've got Giants fans who felt like the team underachieved last season (as opposed to just not being very good) and seeing 20-1 as a pretty good bet on a team with a Super Bowl winning coach and quarterback. Maybe they'd see 30-1 or 35-1 as a better bet, but you can't slide the bar too far before you start to affirm someone's worst fears about their favorite club.
It's pretty silly to make any kind of prediction about next season at this point, but neither money nor casinos nor diehard fans sleep. No one ever said you needed to wait for a body to get cold to start racing for the next prize.