Updated on 09/16/2011 8:45AM

Bettors get burned playing favorites


LAS VEGAS - Bookmakers were smiling ear to ear after a big winning weekend. The betting public loaded up on favorites all day Saturday and Sunday and favorites came up short time and time again, many of them losing outright.

Texas Christian, Maryland, and Washington State were among the favorites that went down Saturday in an ugly day for bettors.

Sunday and Monday, the dogs kept barking. After having only their second losing week of the NFL season a week ago, underdogs bounced back big-time, covering 11 of the 16 games.

A lot of parlays and teasers went up in flames when the Saints, Chiefs, and Giants not only failed to cover but lost outright during Sunday's afternoon action.

It didn't get any better for bettors when the Colts rallied to upset the Broncos, 23-20, Sunday night and the Eagles - without Donovan McNabb - whipped the 49ers, 38-17, on Monday night.

In all, dogs won eight of the 16 games outright, and that's a pretty time-proven sign that the bookmakers locked up a lot of money.

NFL betting trends

Underdogs are nearly back to 60 percent with their impressive weekend, standing at 102-69 with five pushes.

Home dogs were especially successful Sunday, going 5-2 both straight up and against the spread. For the season, home dogs improved to 35-23 (60 percent) with two pushes. There are plenty of home dogs this week to choose from: Lions +6 vs. the Patriots, Cowboys +1 vs. the Redskins (both games on Thursday), Bills +2 1/2 vs. the Dolphins, Bengals +3 vs. the Ravens, Jaguars +3 vs. the Steelers, Vikings +3 1/2 vs. the Falcons, and Chargers +3 vs. the Broncos. In addition, the Eagles-Rams and Buccaneers-Saints games (both of which were off the board as of Tuesday morning) could also feature short-priced home dogs.

With the Bengals covering a 10 1/2 point spread vs. the Steelers, double-digit road dogs are 7-4-1 against the spread this season. The Bears, Cardinals, Texans, and Seahawks could all fit that criteria this week, depending on how the lines move.

The Buccaneers now have the league's top point-spread record at 8-3 after the Chiefs lost to fall to 7-3-1. The Bengals covered vs. the Steelers, so they are now 3-8 against the spread and tied with the Patriots and Rams for the worst spread mark.

Sunday night's Colts-Broncos game landed on the closing total of 43 points, the first push of the season. The under holds a slight 88-84 edge.

The Saints still have the best record with the over at 9-2, though their last two games have gone under the total. The Cowboys and Panthers both went over Sunday and are now 8-3 with the under, as are the Dolphins and the Buccaneers. The Bills have gone under the last five games after having their first six games go over.

Tackling the team trends

In Friday's action, Colorado stampedes into Lincoln, Neb., having covered the last six games in the series. That sounds promising, but beware because the Buffaloes have lost their last five visits straight up to Nebraska and are laying -2 on this trip.

Hawaii is 16-7 against the spread as a home dog under coach June Jones and is getting 13 points from Alabama on Saturday night. But keep in mind that this is the Tide's bowl game and they will likely give a top effort.

In the NFL, the Giants have gone under the total in 10 of their last 15 games (and one was a push) at home. Be advised, however, that the oddsmakers are fully aware of this and have made the total 34 1/2 - the lowest of any game on the week 13 schedule - for Sunday's game vs. the Titans.

College, NFL bankrolls lose the vig

The college bankroll got off to a great start last week with Pittsburgh (+21 for 1 unit) covering in a 28-21 loss to Miami, but then Saturday didn't go well with Central Michigan (+2 1/2 for 2 units) getting blown out, 35-10, by Western Michigan and UCLA (+5 1/2 for 1 unit) getting trounced, 52-21, by USC. In the nightcap, Washington (+8 1/2 for 2 units) was trailing Washington State by 10 with four minutes to play, but the Huskies bailed me out by rallying and winning outright, 29-26, in triple overtime. When all was said and done, the college bankroll went 2-2 but had a net loss of .3 units (based on laying 1.1 units to win 1). For the season, the college bankroll is 27-25, 12-10 on 2-units plays, for a net profit of 1.5 units.

It was the same story in the NFL as the bankroll won with the Browns (+6 for 2 units) and 1-unit plays on the Ravens (+2), Bengals (+10 1/2), and the Chiefs-Seahawks over (44). Losses were on the Bills (+3 for 2 units) and 1-unit plays on the Cardinals (+8), the Lions-Bears over (38), and the Chargers-Dolphins over (36 1/2). The resulting 4-4 record netted a loss of .5 units with the vig.

Thanksgiving Day plays

My favorite Thanksgiving Day memory was in 1980 when my beloved Bears played the Lions. Quarterback Vince Evans rallied the Bears from a 17-3 fourth-quarter deficit and scrambled for the tying TD on the last play of regulation.

CBS went to the studio during the brief intermission and Jimmy "The Greek" predicted a kickoff return for a touchdown even though it had never happened in overtime before.

Sure enough, the Bears' Dave Williams took the kick at the 10-yard line, weaved through traffic to his left, dashed down the sideline and into the record books. At the time, it was the shortest overtime in NFL history. The record stood for nearly 22 years until the Jets' Chad Morton (a speedier guy) did it faster in this year's opener against the Bills.

Let's see if this year's games provide any lasting memories.

Patriots at Lions (over 44)

The Patriots are favored by 6 in a game they need to win to stay in the playoff hunt. I lean toward the defending champs, but the Lions always get up for their traditional Turkey Day game, so even though they're 3-8 they can't be dismissed so easily. This should be a shootout with the Lions' defense unable to slow down Tom Brady and the Patriots' offense, and I see this as a possible coming-out party for Lions quarterback Joey Harrington before a national TV audience.

PLAY: Patriots-Lions over 44 points for 1 unit.

Redskins (-1) at Cowboys

The Redskins showed heart in ending the Rams' five-game winning streak Sunday and have now covered four of their last five games. Despite a win over the Jaguars (a team that was never as good as its early-season record indicated), the Cowboys still haven't impressed, and Chad Hutchinson isn't the answer. After containing the Rams, the Redskins' defense should smother the Cowboys' offense and coast to an easy victory.

PLAY: Redskins for 1 unit.

Season record: 46-52-3 for a net loss of 8.8 units.