01/21/2003 1:00AM

Are trends fool's gold?


Walk through any casino and you're bound to hear some logical fallacies.

At a roulette table, if red has come up a number of times in a row, you're likely to hear someone say, "Black is due." In the baccarat pit, you will see players tracking how often "banker" or "player" wins. At the craps table, you will see people getting behind a "hot" shooter. At the slot machines, players all the time talk about "hot" machines.

Mathematically, none of this is valid. In games of chance, past events have no effect on future results. (Blackjack is a notable exception because card counters can gain an edge.) But in the games above, each spin, roll, or deal of the cards is an independent event.

Football trends betting is the same. Just because Team A has covered the last five times it has played Team B doesn't make Team A a lock or Team B due. If there is a trend that seems overwhelmingly in favor or one side of the other, the oddsmakers have already factored that into the line to ensure the upcoming game is as close to 50-50 as possible.

All that being said, some people like trends, so the following Super Bowl betting trends are presented as a public service. Keep in mind that no matter which side you're betting, there's an equally convincing trend on the other side.

The Raiders, who are 4-point favorites with the over/under at 44, are 12-5-1 against the spread and 11-7 with the under. The Buccaneers are 12-6 against the spread and also 11-7 with the under.

The AFC is 5-0-2 against the spread in the last seven Super Bowls. The two pushes were the Packers' 35-21 win over the Patriots as 14-point favorites in Super Bowl XXXI and the Rams' 23-16 win over the Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV. The current trends follows a run that saw the NFC cover six in a row and 10 of 11 years. These things tend to even out over the course of time, and the NFC now holds a slight 17-16-3 advantage.

The Super Bowl favorite is 19-14-3 against the spread, but only 2-3-2 the past seven years. That also follows a trend of six favorites in a row and nine of 11.

Nevada sports books didn't start taking over/under bets on the Super Bowl until 1982 when they posted a total on the 49ers-Bengals game at 47. That game ended up in a push as the 49ers won, 26-21. Since then, the over holds a 13-7 edge, though the under is 2-1 the last three years (both of the under games involved the Rams).

Of the 36 Super Bowls, 20 have been decided by a whopping 14 points or more. Only four of those routs have been by the underdog: Chiefs 23-7 over the Vikings in Super Bowl IV, Raiders 27-10 over the Eagles in Super Bowl XV, Raiders 38-9 over the Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII, and the Redskins 42-10 over the Broncos in Super Bowl XXII.

Here's one for Raiders fans: The last two times a team has been favored by less than a touchdown, they have easily covered. The Cowboys were 52-17 over the Bills (losing the third of four straight title games) in Super Bowl XXVII as a 6 1/2-point favorite and the Ravens whipped the Giants 34-7 two years ago in Super Bowl XXXIV as the 3-point choice. In addition, short-priced favorites of between 3 1/2 and 6 1/2 points are 6-3-1 against the spread. The push was the infamous "Black Sunday" game in Super Bowl XIII when the Steelers were between a 3 1/2- and 4 1/2-point favorite in Las Vegas and the bookmakers got middled when the Steelers won 35-31.

Another "Black Sunday" is possible this year. The Raiders opened as 3 1/2-point favorites at some books and totals between 42 1/2 and 43 1/2. The numbers have been bet up to 4 and 44. If they continue to rise, and books get money back on the Bucs +4 1/2 and under 44 1/2, it could set up a possible disaster if the Raiders were to win by the exact score of 24-20. In that case, they would get middled on both the side and total, refunding all bets at 4 and 44 and losing a vast majority of bets on either side of those numbers.

That's something that no trend can predict.