10/17/2013 2:28PM

Dave Tuley: NFL favorites, underdogs running even so far


LAS VEGAS – Six weeks of the NFL season are already in the books, so we’re more than one-third of the way through the 17-week schedule.

It’s a good time to recap how individual teams and the league as a whole have been doing so far against the betting lines here in Vegas. We could wait for the half-way mark, but the next two weeks I’m going to be leading off this column with Breeders’ Cup-related news (seminars, contests, promotions, future-book updates, etc.), so here we go.

The books have done a great job at balancing the results and not letting many people get the best of them. There have been 92 games played through Week 6. I grade the results against the ViewFromVegas.com Consensus Closing Lines that I get from all the Vegas books on the Don Best live-odds screens, and there have been two lines that have closed at pick-em (Lions-Redskins in Week 3 and Saints-Bears in Week 5). Of the other 90 games, favorites have covered 44, underdogs have beat the spread in 44, and there have been two pushes (Bengals-Bears in Week 1 and Chargers-Titans in Week 3). Now that’s splitting the action.

Overs/unders have been pretty much split, too, with overs holding a 48-43-1 edge (52.7 percent, barely above the 52.3 percent needed to break even when laying 11 to win 10). However, I still hear people saying things like “you can’t bet unders in today’s NFL with the wide-open offenses and all the rule changes favoring the offenses.” It’s clear that oddsmakers have adjusted to this sentiment with higher totals, but why do people think that overs are faring so much better? I think it’s because overs have gone 12-7 in prime-time games on Thursday/Sunday/Monday nights, so those stick in people’s collective consciousness more. Take away those games and over/unders are exactly .500.

Other league-wide betting numbers:
Home underdogs are 19-13 against the spread (59.4 percent) after going 3-3 last week, including the Jets closing as a slight home dog after being a favorite most of the week, so some might have home dogs still over 60 percent.

Double-digit underdogs are 8-5 ATS (61.5 percent) after going 2-1 last week.

Teams coming off a Thursday night game with extra rest are 8-2 ATS (the Giants and Bears are in that spot this week if you think that will continue).

Teams playing before their bye week are 2-6 ATS (you might see this listed as 3-7 elsewhere, but that would be including the Steelers and Vikings who faced each other in London, so it was bound to be 1-1)

Who’s hot/who’s not

The Cowboys and Chiefs are an NFL-best 5-1 ATS. The Chiefs’ only non-cover in their six victories was against the Cowboys in Week 2. The Cowboys’ only non-cover was their Week 4 loss at San Diego. The Chargers and Titans are next in the ATS standings at 4-1-1, and as stated above they pushed against each other. Showing once again that “the point spread is the great equalizer,” the Broncos are 3-3 ATS.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Texans have the league’s worst ATS record at 0-6. The Giants, Steelers, and Jaguars all got their first cover of the season last week to leave the Texans in the cellar. The Giants and Jaguars are 1-5 ATS, while the Steelers are 1-4 ATS thanks to having their bye already.

In totals wagering, the Broncos are 6-0 with the over as oddsmakers haven’t been able to set their totals high enough. The Vikings also are undefeated with the over at 4-0-1, with the Bears, Eagles, and Rams right behind at 5-1.

The Chiefs and Raiders are both 5-1 with the under, and it made sense that they were well under the total of 41 when they played last Sunday and the Chiefs won 24-7. The Buccaneers are 4-1 with the under, with their decent defense and struggling offense.

Back to the betting board

Last week, I went 2-1 ATS with a trio of double-digit underdogs as the Jaguars covered while getting 27.5 points against the Broncos in their 35-19 loss and the Titans covered +13.5 in their 20-13 loss to the Seahawks, while the Cardinals fell short of covering +11 in their 32-20 loss to the 49ers. For most of the game, it looked like the Cardinals were going to cover, so it was disappointing not to go 3-0. However, if not for the Titans’ field goal block and return for a TD at the end of the first half, they probably wouldn’t have covered, so I think I got the 2-1 record I deserved.

Jaguars +7.5 vs. Chargers

The Chargers have been good to me this year, but I feel this is where they’re being given too much respect, laying more than a touchdown on the road. Granted, it’s against the Jaguars, but as we’ve seen the last two weeks, their offense is much-improved with Justin Blackmon back from suspension. The Chargers are playing with confidence, but I think the Jaguars have to be feeling pretty good about hanging with the Broncos most of their game and should be able to do the same here.

PLAY: Jaguars for 1 unit.

Bears +1 vs. Redskins

I don’t often say “the wrong team is favored,” but I was very surprised when the Skins were made the chalk in this game. Their offense still isn’t in sync and the defense hasn’t stopped anybody. The Bears’ defense isn’t as great as in year’s past, but the offense should be able to score easy enough for the road victory.

PLAY: Bears for 1 unit.

NCAA record: 3-5 for net loss of 1.5 units (based on risking 1.1 to win 1). NFL record: 3-6 for a net loss of 3.6 units.