10/21/2002 11:00PM

$5 ticket almost hits for $100,000


LAS VEGAS - On Monday night, I had the Colts and the over. I lost both bets as the Steelers beat the Colts, 28-10.

But I probably don't feel as bad as one unidentified Las Vegas bettor who played a 15-teamer at the Joker's Wild Casino, was 13-0 through Sunday's games and needed the Steelers (-4 1/2) and the over (45 1/2) to complete his $5 ticket. The potential payoff: a cool $100,000!

It was looking good as the Steelers took a 28-10 lead with 5:48 remaining in the third quarter, but that was to be the last of the scoring. The Steelers were stopped on a fourth and goal at the Colts' 1-yard line with 11:37 to play and they also missed a field goal attempt with 1:36 remaining that would have kept hope alive for a garbage-time touchdown to put the game over. The Colts also squandered several scoring opportunities throughout the game that could have helped that bettor make the score of a lifetime.

That bettor didn't complete his perfect weekend, but one handicapper in town did. Andy Iskoe, who has a web site called thelogicalapproach.com, does a weekly column in Gaming Today in which he picks either a side or total in every NFL game. This past weekend, he went 14-0, nailing nine sides and five totals. The true odds of that happening are 1 in 16,384. For the season, Iskoe's published picks are 70-30 (70 percent) with two pushes.

Iskoe's feat is even more impressive than the 17-0 week he had one week last year in winning $10,000 in the All-American Football contest at the Stardust. Those were all straight-up wins.

But the two go hand-in-hand. As anecdotal proof of what I wrote in last Thursday's column, that the team that wins straight up usually covers the spread in the NFL, the Cardinals' 9-6 overtime win over the Cowboys as a 3 1/2-point favorite was the only game in week 7 that wasn't covered by the winning team. Only 16 of the league's 102 games have seen the favorite win but not cover, so in better than five out of every six cases, if you pick the straight-up winner you also have the spread winner.

NFL betting trends

Favorites had a winning week for the first time this NFL season, going 9-4-1 against the spread (the Broncos' 37-34 overtime win over the Chiefs was the only push). For the season, underdogs still have a 57-41 (58 percent) advantage with four pushes.

Road dogs continue to do especially well. The Lions and Ravens (bet from a 2-point favorite to a 1-point dog vs. the Jaguars) both won their games outright while the Chiefs pushed. The 2-0-1 mark raised the season record for road dogs to 20-13 (61 percent) with two pushes. This week's home dogs are the Chiefs +3 vs. the Raiders, the Ravens +2 1/2 vs. the Steelers, the Panthers +7 vs. the Buccaneers, the Bengals +5 1/2 vs. the Titans, and possibly the Redskins +1 vs. the Colts (the line was pick-em at some books Tuesday morning, so it could go either way).

The under went 9-5 this past week, so the over now just has a slight 52-49 edge. That adds up to only 101 games (though 102 have been played) because there was no total posted on the Eagles-Texans game in week 4.

Tackling the team trends

North Carolina has won and covered in seven of its last eight trips to Wake Forest. This Saturday, the Tar Heels are a 6-point underdog and should be considered a live dog.

The visitor is 9-1 both straight up and against the spread over the last 10 years of the Alabama-Tennessee series. In addition, Alabama, the visitor Saturday, is 2-0 as a road dog this year and 13-4 against the spread the past 10 years in that role. Tennessee is favored by 2 1/2 this Saturday.

Conversely, the home team is 5-0 with two pushes in the last seven games of the Washington-Arizona State series. The Sun Devils are hosting the Huskies for the third straight year (a rare scheduling quirk in the Pac-10) and are a 3-point favorite.

In the NFL, the Falcons have covered in 17 of their last 18 trips to New Orleans. They're getting 4 points from the Saints on Sunday and have to be worth a look.

The Bills and Lions are a combined 11-2 with the over this season. The oddsmakers are aware of this trend and have made the total 50 for Sunday's game. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers and Panthers are a combined 11-2 with the under. This has also been factored into the line as the total is 33. Both games should be avoided.

Under coach Jim Fassel, the Giants are 9-2 against the spread vs. the Eagles, including 5-0 in games at Philly. The Giants are 7-point dogs on Monday night.

Bankroll updates

As alluded to earlier, my NFL picks finished the weekend on a down note with the Colts and the over losing 1 unit each on Monday night. Sunday, I went 1-1-1 on my 2-unit best bets, winning with the Rams, losing with the Buccaneers, and pushing with the Broncos. The rest of the bankroll plays were for 1 unit, winning with the Ravens-Jaguars under and the Eagles-Bucs under, but losing on the Bears, the 49ers-Saints under, and the Vikings-Jets over. For the season, the NFL bankroll is 29-36-1 for a net loss of 10.1 units (based on laying 1.1 units to win 1).

The college bankroll, which entered the week with a 1.1-unit profit, dipped back in the red after a 1-2 week. I won a 2-unit play with Purdue +4 vs. Michigan, but lost a 2-unit play on Mississippi +11 and a 1-unit wager on Rice -13. Those plays resulted in a net loss of 1.3 units. For the season, college bankroll plays are 15-15, including 8-7 on best bets, with a net loss of 0.2 units.