10/03/2013 3:54PM

Dave Tuley: Broncos, Crimson Tide, Heat all big title favorites


LAS VEGAS – Autumn (or the equivalent of it that we get here) has finally arrived here in the desert.

It’s great to finally have the air conditioner not running 24/7, but what’s also great is we have a convergence of all the major sports seasons. The NHL dropped the puck on its season Tuesday, and that’s the same day that over/under season win totals were posted at the LVH SuperBook for the NBA season, which starts at the end of the month. And this is all while the MLB playoffs have started, and of course we’re in the midst of the college and pro football seasons.

So this seems like as good a time as any to take a look at the future-book odds in all the sports.

Let’s start with the most popular betting sport of football and then work through how these futures will be decided through next spring.

NFL : The Broncos have separated themselves from the pack as the 2-1 Super Bowl favorite at the LVH. The Seahawks are next at 4-1, with the Saints gaining ground at 7-1, the Patriots at 8-1, the 49ers at 10-1 (despite a 2-2 record), the Packers at 14-1, and no other team below 25-1, which is where we find the undefeated Chiefs along with the Texans, Bears, Bengals, and Colts.

NCAA (football) : Alabama is the solid 7-4 favorite, with Oregon (7-2) and Ohio State (4-1) battling for the inside track of who would face the Tide in the BCS title game if they were to all run the table. Stanford is 10-1, while Clemson and Florida State round out the other top contenders at 12-1.

NCAA (basketball) : After a down year in which they went to the NIT, Kentucky is back as the 9-2 favorite to cut down the nets next April. In fact, we’re back to a lot of familiar names as Duke is the second choice at 7-1, followed by Kansas at 8-1, Louisville and Michigan State both at 10-1, and Florida and Arizona at 12-1.

MLB: Back to the present, the MLB playoffs started this week, and if you’re reading this over the weekend, this paragraph is likely outdated. But as of Thursday afternoon, before the divisional playoff series began, the Dodgers and Red Sox were 7-2 World Series co-favorites at the LVH, with the Tigers and Cardinals both at 5-1, the Rays and A’s at 8-1, the Braves at 9-1, and the Pirates at 12-1. The Dodgers were the 3-2 fave to win the National League, with the Cardinals at 2-1, the Braves at 7-2, and the Pirates 5-1, while in the American League, the Red Sox were 8-5, with the Tigers 2-1, and Rays and A’s at 4-1.

NHL: The defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks were the 9-2 favorite to repeat when the season started, followed by the Penguins at 5-1, Bruins at 8-1, Rangers and Kings at 10-1, and the Red Wings and Blues at 14-1.

NBA: The two-time defending champion Heat are 2-1 to get the three-peat (team president Pat Riley owns the trademark on all commercial uses of that phrase) and it wasn’t surprising that they had the highest over/under season win total of 60 at the LVH. The Thunder, playing without Russell Westbrook for the first four to six weeks, are the second choice at 9-2, with the Bulls at 6-1, the Spurs and Clippers at 8-1, the Rockets at 10-1 with the addition of Dwight Howard, and the Nets at 12-1.

WNBA : And for those interested in women’s basketball (and I never discourage anyone from trying to find a betting edge in a sport that isn’t followed by as many people as the major sports), the Minnesota Lynx are a -750 favorite over the Atlanta Dream in the WNBA finals, which start Sunday.

Yep, there’s a little something for everyone at this time of year – and, of course, we also have the Breeders’ Cup less than a month away.

Back to the betting board

Last week, I dropped both my college and NFL plays as the early season struggles have continued. However, I feel confident that we’re starting to see the public start overadjusting for teams based on their records so far, and we’re going to start seeing more underdogs cover. In the NFL the last two weeks, there hasn’t been a game where the spread came into play as either the favorite won by more than the spread or the dog won outright. Of course, that was partly due to a lot of spreads being at a field goal or less. We’re seeing more big spreads this week and hopefully that becomes the norm.

Illinois +10 vs. Nebraska

On paper, these teams looks pretty similar and that makes me love getting all these points. They’re both 3-1 against non-conference foes, but the Nebraska defense has not been living up to its “Blackshirts” tradition, allowing 27 points and 463.8 yards per game. Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase looks like he’s coming into his own as he leads the Big Ten in passing efficiency, albeit not against the strongest competition but not much worse than others have been racking up yards against. The Illinois defense isn’t the strongest, either, but it looks like they could catch a break as Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez is doubtful with an injured toe, though that hasn’t had a major effect on the line.

PLAY: Illinois for 1 unit.

Jaguars +11.5 vs. Rams

Yes, the Jaguars are pretty bad as they’re 0-4 straight up and against the spread and widely considered the worst team in the NFL this season (and some say in many seasons). However, as much as I hesitate to back them, I can’t get over the fact that I don’t think the Rams should be a double-digit favorite over anyone. I mean, they’re 0-4 ATS, too, with their only win being a non-covering 27-24 victory over the Cardinals in Week 1. That’s not much of a r é sum é either, and they didn’t look very good at home a week ago Thursday night against the 49ers. The Jags’ offense should get a little boost from the return of Justin Blackmon, and unless the Rams suddenly find some offensive continuity, this should be close.

PLAY: Jaguars for 1 unit.

NCAA record: 3-4 for net loss of 1.4 units (based on risking 1.1 to win 1). NFL record: 1-4 for a net loss of 3.4 units.