Stan Hey: 6-5 against

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Damon Runyon reckoned that "all life is 6-5 against" but we hope to get better odds and the occasional winner. Betting opportunities on sport have never been so widespread, so it takes restraint to avoid becoming a "sigh" ("sigh and shrug" = mug).

This column arrives from its previous home in reasonable order, thanks to seven winning bets from eight NFL play-off games. Profits came to £98, not exactly retirement money but tax-free.

The DNA of a bet contains research, form, and gut instinct. Backing the New York Giants to beat the Dallas Cowboys was based on internet searches revealing that the Dallas quarterback Tony Romo had been on holiday with the actress Jessica Simpson, an unusual game preparation; on form that showed the Dallas coach was 0-3 in play-offs, while the Giants had eight wins "on the road"; and on the instinct that Dallas had lost momentum.

Tomorrow New England, unbeaten in 17 games, face San Diego, who have injuries in key positions. The Patriots are too short to back (1-7 with Ladbrokes) and, even with 14.5 points on the handicap, the Chargers don't look like a winning bet. Given the Pats' ruthless habit of scoring on their opening drive, have £10 on the tight-end Ben Watson for the first touchdown (12-1 totesport).

In the NFC game the Giants travel to freezing Green Bay as underdogs, but are gutsy enough to beat the veteran quarterback Brett Favre and his young, possibly nervous team (£10 at 11-4, Ladbrokes). A tenner also goes on Ghana (7-2 generally) for the African Nations Cup, as hosts have a good record.

Finally, any loose change goes on Kevin Keegan to leave Newcastle by the end of 2008 (9-2 William Hill).