12/14/2004 12:00AM

Chiefs cut into strong week for books

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LAS VEGAS - It had to happen. And it finally did.

The Patriots, Colts, and Eagles all failed to cover the spread this past Sunday. All three teams won on the scoreboard - Patriots 35-28 over the Bengals, Colts 23-14 over the Texans, and Eagles 17-14 over the Redskins - but bettors who have been riding those hot teams and even successfully parlaying them week after week were tearing up tickets for a change.

Other popular teams failed to cover, including the Packers, Vikings (losing outright to the Seahawks), and Broncos. In addition, the Cardinals fell 31-28 to the 49ers in overtime after being bet from -4 to -7 and the Buccaneers lost 31-24 at San Diego after being bet from +5 1/2 to +4 1/2.

Sports books here and elsewhere were celebrating a winning weekend for the first time in a month. But they weren't exactly laughing all the way to the bank. In fact, a funny thing happened on the way to the Brinks truck.

From the sports books' perspective, the Monday night game between the Chiefs and Titans was looking like a non-event. The game was off the board most of last week because of injuries to both quarterbacks, both teams have underachieved this year, and the game had no playoff implications.

The Titans opened as a 1-point favorite and as of Monday morning it was either Titans -1 or pick-em at every book in town. Then the money started coming in on the Chiefs. By mid-afternoon, every book had the Chiefs favored by at least -1 and the line steamed to -2 and -2 1/2 at most books with the Stardust even going to -3 about half an hour before the 6 p.m. kickoff before closing at 2 1/2.

When the Chiefs rallied to win 49-38, all that steam money became winning money.

"We lost on it, but it wasn't as bad as it might appear," said Jeff Sherman, race and sports book supervisor at the Las Vegas Hilton. "With the injury situation with both quarterbacks, we moved the game pretty aggressively, especially past pick-em, so it wasn't like a game where it's bet from -3 to -6. It didn't cut too bad into profits from Sunday."

NFL betting trends

Even though it appears that underdogs must have ruled the weekend, actually the battle between favorites and dogs was split 8-8. For the year, favorites hold just a slight 102-98-7 edge.

Double-digit dogs went 3-2 on Sunday despite losing all five games straight up. Double-digit dogs are now 9-7-1 for the year. This week's big dogs are the Giants +10 vs. the Steelers on Saturday, the Cowboys +12 1/2 at the Eagles, and the Browns +10 vs. the Chargers, though the Dolphins could be another qualifier as they were +9 1/2 vs. the Patriots as of early Tuesday.

Home teams went 9-7 against the spread, but road teams still maintain their dominance with an overall mark of 105-96-7. Home underdogs bounced back a little, as they went 2-1 against the spread (and would have been 2-0 if the Titans hadn't turned into a home dog because of Monday's betting). Road favorites, however, still are up 35-29-2. This week's home dogs are the Giants +10 vs. the Steelers, 49ers +3 1/2 vs. the Redskins, Lions +3 vs. the Vikings, Browns +10 vs. the Chargers, Bengals +1 1/2 vs. the Bills, and the Dolphins +9 1/2 vs. the Patriots.

In totals wagering, the under went 10-6 this past week after being 6-10 the week before. For the season, unders have a slight 105-100-3 edge.

The AFC keeps rolling over the NFC, going 3-1 both straight up and against the spread. The AFC has not had a losing interconference record since the second week of the season. This week's AFC plays would be the Steelers -10 vs. the Giants (a contrarian view based on some previously stated trends), Jets -6 vs. the Seahawks, Jaguars +4 vs. the Packers, and the Texans +1 vs. the Bears.

Who's hot, who's not

The Chargers keep rolling along, getting a defensive TD late vs. the Buccaneers to cover a 4 1/2-point spread in their thrilling 31-24 victory. For the year, the Chargers have the NFL's top spread record at 10-1-2, a game ahead of the Patriots at 9-2-2. By virtue of the Colts and Eagles failing to cover, the Ravens are next at 9-4, followed by the Colts and Eagles at 8-4-1 and the red-hot Panthers at 8-5. The Panthers have covered five games in a row.

The Rams, Raiders, Browns, and Titans all lost this past weekend and are 4-9 against the spread. The Dolphins, Saints, Seahawks, and Chiefs all covered to improve to 5-8 and move into a tie with Giants, who have the league's longest losing-spread streak at six.

In totals wagering, the Falcons, Jaguars, and Redskins all went under the total in their games and are 10-3 with the under on the season.

The Colts went under in their 23-14 win over the Texans and dropped to 9-4 with the over. They still maintain the top over record as the Rams, Raiders, Packers, Cowboys, and Seahawks all went under this past week and are 8-5 with the over on the year.

NFL bankroll rebounds slightly

My NFL bankroll plays went 3-2 for a net profit of 0.8 units (based on laying 1.1 units to win 1). That's not much, but I'll take it after last week's 0-4-1 disaster.

It's no small coincidence that my good week came at the same time as the sports books' reversal of fortune, as I was on many of the same sides they needed against the big favorites. I won with the Bengals +11 vs. the Patriots, Texans +11 vs. the Colts, and Redskins +9 1/2 vs. the Eagles. My losses were on the Raiders +7 1/2 vs. the Falcons and the Bears +7 1/2 vs. the Jaguars.

For the season, NFL bankroll plays are 31-36-3 for a net loss of 8.4 units.