11/26/2009 1:00AM

Bettors cash often with 49ers


The Saints and Colts are both 10-0 and making a lot of NFL headlines as they top the standings in their respective division and conference while shooting for perfect seasons and vying for home-field advantage, but they don't top the against-the-spread standings, which we keep an eye on here in Las Vegas.

The Saints are "just" 7-3 against the spread. Oddsmakers have caught up to them after the Saints covered their first five this season, and the Saints are only 2-3 since. The Colts are 6-4 and barely escaped dropping their fourth straight ATS as they covered the closing 1 1/2-point spread last week in a 17-15 win over the Ravens.

Meanwhile, the surprising team at the top of the ATS standings (that is, surprising only if you haven't been backing them) is the 49ers at 6-2-2 against the closing number. A quick caveat here as closing numbers can vary from sports book to sports book. The last few years, since the Stardust closed, I had been using the Las Vegas Hilton as the book of record. However, there have been more and more times that the Hilton will be off on a game at closing and not reflect the consensus around town (for instance, last week the Colts closed at -1 1/2 at most books but the Hilton had it pick-em, and the while every other books closed the Packers -6 vs. the 49ers the Hilton moved to 5 1/2 before close). So, I'm going with my own consensus line to more accurately reflect the overall way Vegas views the closing numbers.

The 49ers have been the most profitable for bettors both percentage-wise (75 percent after discarding pushes) and on a net-profit basis of +3.8 units if you had laid 1.1 units to win 1 on all their games so far. Tied for second are the Saints at 7-3 (+3.7 units) and the Falcons, despite being only 5-5 straight-up.

The Broncos, though they have cooled off against the spread, are still the best "under" team as they were 8-2 heading into their Thanksgiving night game against the Giants. The Saints and Falcons have been the best "over" teams at 7-3 with the Falcons going over in their last five.

The hottest teams lately have been the Titans with four straight covers and the Chargers, Chiefs, and Rams with three straight. The Giants had failed to cover five straight heading into their game with the Broncos, losers of four ATS in a row.

I went 2-1 with my top plays last week as the 49ers covered the +6 1/2 posted play and the Titans beat the Texans outright on Monday night. The lone loss was the Ravens falling just short vs. the Colts. That makes the bankroll plays 8-1 over the last three weeks. I will try to keep that going with three more (hopefully) live dogs this Sunday:

Texans +3.5 (-120) vs. Colts

Despite losing against the Colts last week, I'm going to continue fading them as they continue to squeak by with their victories. Just three weeks ago, these two teams played in Indianapolis and I won with the Texans +7 1/2 as they lost 20-17 and nearly forced overtime. Now, the Texans get them at home and are still getting more than a field goal. I think the Colts' undefeated season ends here.

PLAY: Texans for 1 unit.

Panthers +3 vs. Jets

I'm not sure the right team is favored here. The Jets are reeling with three straight losses after a fast start and the Panthers had covered three straight before losing to Miami a week ago Thursday, and there's no shame here as the Jets have lost to the Dolphins twice. Give me the hotter team plus the points. I don't give the Jets any edge for home-field advantage and it might be a disadvantage if the boo-birds come out.

PLAY: Panthers for 1 unit.

Jaguars +3 (even) vs. 49ers

Okay, I know I just wrote a bunch about the 49ers being the best bet so far this season, but there are definitely times you have to go against the trends (especially when the oddsmakers catch up with a team). The 49ers are much better as underdogs (3-0-2) than they are as favorites (3-2). Meanwhile, the Jaguars are playing much better of late despite a non-covering win over the Bills last week. Their underrated defense can shut down the 49ers and score enough for the upset.

PLAY: Jaguars for 1 unit.

Last week: 2-1 for a net profit of 0.9 units (based on risking 1.1 units to win 1). Season record: 20-15, including 2-1 on 2-unit plays, for a net profit of 4.5 units.