10/16/2006 11:00PM

Bears steal victory; so do the books


By the time you read this, the Bears’ 24-23 come-from-behind victory over the Cardinals will have been analyzed ad nauseum. But what you might not have heard discussed in the mainstream media is that it was just about the perfect result for bookmakers.

As the ultimate get-out game for bettors, “Monday Night Football” is always one of the most heavily bet games of the weekend. Add in all the hype with the Bears leading the league in scoring offense and scoring defense, and the talk of an undefeated season, and the public was falling over itself to bet the Bears no matter the price. The game opened Bears –9?1/2 at most books and got steamed to 13 and even 14 at some locales Monday. Bookmakers were obviously in need of a Cardinals’ cover to avoid giving back a lot of their profits from the weekend, especially since there were a lot of live parlays and teasers tied to the Bears.

As the Bears fell further and further behind, it looked good for the books, but it got even better when the Bears rallied, because the books love it when a favorite wins a game but doesn’t cover. Some books don’t put up a money line when an NFL spread is more than 10 points, but those that did were looking to have to pay out 5-1 to 6-1 on an outright Cardinals’ victory.

With most teasers tied to the Bears, about the only thing the books lost on was the over, which was bet from 38 to 40 1/2, but the books will take that tradeoff any day of the week.

The game capped a roller-coaster ride for books and bettors in Week 6 of the NFL. In the early games Sunday, underdogs covered seven of the eight early games, killing a lot of parlay action. Bettors got some back in the games that began at 1:15 p.m. Pacific, as favorites won and covered all three games and all three went over the total. But the party was over for bettors after that. The Broncos failed to cover the 15-point spread in a 13-3 win Sunday night, and then the Bears failed to cover in the Monday night game.

NFL betting trends

An underdog of 7 or more points finally pulled an outright upset when the Titans defeated the Redskins, 25-22, as a 12 1/2-point underdog. After the Bears-Cardinals game, that’s 1 for 30, which doesn’t make my +450 payout on the Titans seems like such a bargain. Anyway, double-digit underdogs went 3-2 against the spread in Week 6 and are up to 6-7-1 against the spread after a rough start. As of this writing, there are no double-digit dogs this week, though Texans +9 1/ 2 vs. the Jaguars and Redskins +9 1/2 vs. the Colts are right on the cusp.

* For the week, underdogs went 9-4 against the spread and now lead 44-41-2 on the season.

Home dogs were a big part of that. They went 5-1 against the spread and are now 19-13 (59 percent), which is more impressive when you consider they started 5-7 and are 14-6 (70 percent) since.

* Maybe home-field advantage isn’t as dead as previously surmised. Home teams went 8-4-1 against the spread in Week 6 and, after going 12-2 last week, now hold a 47-38-2 advantage.

* And maybe there isn’t such a wide gap with the AFC vs. NFC. The NFC went 4-2 against the spread and increased its lead to 13-8. There are five interconference games this week.

* In totals wagering, overs went 8-4-1 for the week and hold a slim 43-41-3 for the year.

Who’s hot, who’s not

The Saints and Rams improved to an NFL-leading 5-1 against the spread, with the Vikings and Chargers right behind at 4-1. The Saints and Rams are both on a bye this week, the Chargers are –5 1/2 vs. the Chiefs, and the Vikings are +7 vs. the Seahawks.

On the opposite side of the ledger, the Dolphins are 0-5-1 against the spread, but are, for some reason, favored by 4 over the Packers this week. The Panthers are 1-5, and there are three teams at 1-4: the Raiders, Texans, and Packers (oh, that’s why).

* In the colleges, Central Michigan won and covered again to improve to 6-0 against the spread. The Chippewas are –7 vs. Bowling Green on Thursday night. Wisconsin is 5-0-1 and is –6 vs. Purdue on Saturday. Other top spread teams include Ohio St. and Syracuse at 6-1 and California, East Carolina, Nevada, Pittsburgh, and Tennessee all at 5-1.

* Bottom-feeders are Fresno St. at 0-6 and San Diego St. at 0-5.

* The NFL’s top over team is the Jets at 6-0. They just squeaked over the closing total of 36 1/2 in their 20-17 win over the Dolphins. Their total this week vs. the Lions is 41. The 49ers are 5-1 with the over, and the Bears are 4-1-1. The Broncos have gone under in all five of their games, and none has been close – the closest they’ve gotten is 14 points under a total (the 17-7 win over the Patriots, which had a total of 38).

* In the colleges, Louisiana-Lafayette doesn’t always have totals on its games at some books, but those that do have the Ragin Cajuns at 4-0 with the over. Louisiana-Lafayette was scheduled to play Wednesday night vs. Florida Atlantic with a total of 47. Other over teams are Rice at 6-1 and Toledo, Houston, Pittsburgh, and Tulane at 5-1. UCLA is 6-0 with the under, Miami-Fla. is 5-0, Ohio St. is 6-1, and Wake Forest is 5-1.

NFL bankroll continues rally

My NFL bankroll continued its rebound by going 4-1 this week. After starting the season 2-8, the NFL bankroll is now 15-14-2 for a net loss of 0.4 units (based on risking 1.1 units to win 1). I was also pleased with my non-bankroll plays. I tabbed the Titans money-line play, went 3-0 with my teasers, and 2-2 on totals. All in all, a good weekend, and hopefully I can continue the momentum.

* The college bankroll has moved in the opposite direction, going 2-5 last weekend and sitting at 21-19 on the season for a net profit of 0.1 unit. Totals plays are still 15-10, but sides are 6-9.