11/11/2003 12:00AM

Chiefs have best record, with or without the points


LAS VEGAS - It's past the midway point of the NFL season, but with all the bye weeks behind us and every team having played exactly nine games, this is a good time to make comparisons on how the teams are faring against the Las Vegas line.

Atop the league, of course, are the Chiefs at 9-0 straight up and 8-1 against the spread. The Patriots and Titans are right behind against the spread at 7-1-1 and 7-2, respectively. The best spread teams in the NFC are the Cowboys and Rams at 6-2-1, as the Vikings have slipped to 6-3 after a hot start. The Bengals are also at 6-3 in the AFC.

The point spread is known as "the great equalizer," so it should be no surprise that 13 of the NFL's 32 teams are between 5-4 and 4-5. The Dolphins have dropped two straight games to fall to 5-4, along with the Ravens, Saints, Panthers, Eagles, and Lions. The Broncos have dropped four straight to join the 4-5 group, along with the Texans, Steelers, Packers, Buccaneers, and Bears. The 49ers are at exactly .500 at 4-4-1.

The worst team by far has been the Raiders at 0-8-1, with the push coming last Sunday vs. the Jets. Atlanta's upset of the Giants moved the Falcons to 2-7, but they're still worse than the Cardinals, Browns, Jaguars, Chargers, and Seahawks at 3-6, and the Bills and Giants at 3-5-1.

Another team at two games under .500 is the Jets, with the very odd spread record of 2-4-3. They're the only team in the league with three pushes - in fact, they have played in half of the six pushes this season. The Redskins, at 3-4-2, have played in two of the six, including their season-opening push against said Jets.

In totals wagering, the Bills' 10-6 loss to the Cowboys last Sunday improved them to 8-1 with the under. The Dolphins and 49ers are both 7-2 with the under. The Bengals, Broncos, Raiders, and Lions are 6-3 with the under, and the Seahawks are at 5-3-1. As with the point-spread records, most teams (17 of them) are bunched around 5-4 and 4-5.

Flipping to the teams with more overs than unders, the Texans are 7-2 with the over. The Packers went under Monday night vs. the Eagles to fall to 6-3. Other 6-3 over teams include the Colts, Ravens, and Vikings, while the Rams and Steelers are 5-3-1.

More NFL betting stats

All of the above are based on the closing line at the Stardust. The same goes with the following section of more generic betting trends, though it should be mentioned that I tossed out the home/away stats on the Vikings-Chargers game that was moved to Tempe, Ariz., and the Giants-Jets game at The Meadowlands, which is the home field for both teams (even though the Jets were designated as the home team).

With the Falcons beating the Giants, the Jaguars beating the Colts, the Panthers beating the Buccaneers, and the Chargers beating the Vikings, a lot of people were talking about all the upsets on Sunday in the NFL. Those were all high-profile upsets - and you can add in the Eagles' upset in Green Bay on Monday night - but favorites and dogs actually split the weekend at 6-6-2. For the season, favorites still hold a 72-64-6 advantage.

The more telling trend reversal last week was in home dogs going 4-0-1 against the spread, and they could have been 5-0 if the Raiders hadn't collapsed vs. the Jets. In fact, home dogs are 10-2-1 the past three weeks to severely cut into the advantage once held by road favorites, who were 21-7 (75 percent) through the seventh week of the season but are now only 23-17 (58 percent) with one push.

Home teams in general are doing well, going 10-2-2 this past week and 26-12-3 the past three weeks to reduce the edge for road teams this season to 71-66 (52 percent). Before this recent run, road teams were cashing at a 60 percent clip.

The AFC went 2-1-1 vs. the NFC last week and holds a slight 16-14 edge with four pushes.

This past week, overs went 9-5 to narrow the gap with unders, which stand 73-69-2 for the season.

Tackling the trends

Anyone who follows college football betting knows that Boise St. has a tendency to blow people out when playing at home on its blue turf. Bettors are used to seeing the Broncos laying 20 or more points and still covering easily, as they are 17-6 against the spread at home during the past five years. However, this Saturday against UTEP, Boise St. is being asked to lay 41 points (second-highest on the board to Oklahoma's 53-point spread vs. Baylor), and I have to pass on giving that many points no matter how big the mismatch.

Undefeated TCU has moved up to No. 6 in the BCS rankings, but the Horned Frogs could have a hard time getting past Cincinnati this Saturday and covering the 7-point spread. The Bearcats are 7-1 as a road dog over the past three seasons, with the only setback coming two weeks ago in an overtime loss at South Florida. Getting a full touchdown vs. TCU, that trend should continue.

In the NFL, the Falcons have covered 18 of their last 19 trips to New Orleans. They're getting 8 1/2 points this Sunday, but I have to throw this trend out the window with the Saints on the improve. The fact the Falcons upset the Giants last Sunday will keep the Saints from taking them for granted.

Football bankroll updates

All of this analysis of trends and betting stats didn't pay off last Sunday as my NFL bankroll plays went 1-4. I was correct in predicting that the trends of favorites, and especially road favorites, were due to reverse - I just didn't want it to happen when the Colts and Vikings were favored on the road. My other losses were on road underdogs, the Cardinals and Browns. My sole NFL winner was the Bengals, who rallied vs. the Texans and added a late field goal to cover the spread, or I could have recorded an 0-fer. Despite the setback, the NFL bankroll plays are still 28-21 (57 percent) with four pushes for a net profit of 4.9 units (based on laying 1.1 units to win 1).

The news was better in the college games as my bankroll plays went 3-1 last Saturday, winning with all three underdogs - Wisconsin in a spread-covering loss at Minnesota, Tennessee in an outright upset over Miami, and Oregon in a nice comeback to beat California - while losing with favored Wake Forest vs. North Carolina. For the season, college bankroll plays are back in black at 27-24 (53 percent) for a net profit of 0.6 units.