12/01/2011 3:06PM

For bettors, 49ers are tops, Colts remain in cellar


LAS VEGAS – The Packers continue to roll along at 11-0. Their odds to complete a perfect season have been lowered to +180 (odds of 8-5), and their odds to repeat as Super Bowl champions are now 3-2.

But they haven’t been the best bet this season. That distinction goes to the 49ers, who are 9-1-1 against the spread this year despite losing (and not covering) on Thanksgiving night against the Ravens. Before that setback, the 49ers had covered eight straight games since pushing in a 3-point win over the Cowboys in Week 2. (All records cited here are the ViewFromVegas.com Consensus Closing Lines taken from the books in Las Vegas at kickoff.)

The Packers have been very good against the spread, at 8-3, with their only non-covers coming in Week 2 against the Panthers, Week 8 vs. the Vikings, and Week 11 vs. the Buccaneers. The Texans, Raiders, and Bengals are next at 7-3-1, and the Saints and Patriots are 7-4 while riding a three-game cover streak. The longest current ATS winning streak belongs to the Broncos/Tebows, at four straight.

On the other end of the spectrum, the winless Colts, underachieving Chargers, and slightly underperforming Rams are 2-9 against the spread. No other team is worse than 4-7. The Colts have failed to come through for backers in seven straight games, and their last ATS win was Monday, Oct. 3, at Tampa Bay. The Chargers have lost six straight, and it can be argued they’ve been the worst to bettors. They were favored in four of those games, and people have been slower to jump off their bandwagon.

In totals wagering, the Dolphins and Jaguars are both 10-1 with the under. The Dolphins have stayed under in 10 straight games after going over in their opener against the Patriots, and the Jaguars have stayed under in six straight, as have the Chiefs. The Texans, whose success could be attributed as much their improved defense as their potent offense, are 7-3-1 with the under.

The Bengals, who have also exceeded expectations with a 7-3-1 spread record, are the top over team at 8-2-1; their last three games have exceeded the closing total. The Ravens and Bills are next at 7-3-1 with the over.

Back to the betting board

I went 1-3-1 with my NFL plays last week, giving me a second straight losing week. I won with the Cardinals over the Rams, but then lost with the Browns-Bengals under, the Vikings (I hope most got +10 for a push), the Eagles, and the Giants. Every team will have four of their 16 games left after this week, so here’s hoping for a strong stretch run.

Bengals +6.5 vs. Steelers

The Steelers have had a lot of trouble covering this year. They are 8-3 straight-up but only 5-6 ATS. I lost in the first meeting between these teams just three weeks ago, but I’m firing back again. In that game, the Steelers jumped to the lead before the Bengals rallied to make it 17-17, but then the Steelers ended up covering the 4-point spread, 24-17. It was a game that could have gone either way, and I would have won if the Bengals held the Steelers to a late field goal instead of the touchdown. This key AFC North battle should go the same way – except, hopefully, without the late spread-covering touchdown. I really feel this should be a lot closer to pick-em, or a 3-point spread at most, so I’m not as worried about losing the +7 that was available earlier in the week.

PLAY: Bengals for 1 unit.

Rams +13.5 vs. 49ers

OK, I know it’s the best spread team against one of the worst, but here’s where I give the disclaimer that I’m not advising people to bet all the top spreads teams and against all the worst teams. Oddsmakers are constantly adjusting the lines to even out teams’ spread records. This is a “regression to the mean” play, and I don’t feel there’s this much of a difference between the two teams. Sure, the 49ers have been impressive and the Rams haven’t, but the 49ers don’t need to win by two touchdowns, and the Rams can be competitive at times, as they were when they upset the Saints at St. Louis in Week 8. I love double-digit underdogs; even though they have slowed down a little, they’re still 14-10-2 ATS this year. Note: The better play might be Rams +7.5 in the first half, but I’ve been going with game spreads this year, so that’s what I’ll make my official play here.

PLAY: Rams for 1 unit.

Colts +20.5 vs. Patriots

If I love double-digit dogs, you know I can’t pass on this. The 2007 Patriots (a better overall team than this year’s version) were 0-4 ATS when favored by 20 or more points, and the last seven 20-point NFL dogs have covered. It’s just too much to ask for a pro team to cover vs. another pro team, even against one as bad as this year’s Colts. But it’s not just about the big number: The Colts showed a little more life last week in their 27-19 loss to the Panthers and looked more like the team that covered earlier in the year against the Steelers and Bucs. Running back Joseph Addai is healthy, wide receiver Reggie Wayne got more into the mix last week, and the switch to Dan Orlovsky is one I felt was long overdue. The Patriots’ defense has improved of late but is vulnerable. This could be a shootout; I see this something like 30-20.

PLAY: Colts for 1 unit.

Last week: 1-3-1 for a loss of 1.3 units (based on risking 1.1 units to win 1). NFL season record: 13-19-1 for a net loss of 6.9 units.