01/12/2012 4:12PM

Early odds favor LSU to take next season's BCS title

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(Bank)roll Tide.

Alabama backers were rolling in the dough as the Crimson Tide blew out LSU, 21-0, this past Monday night in the BCS title game in New Orleans.

When the BCS games were officially announced a month ago, LSU opened as a small favorite and was bet as high as -2.5 at some books, but since then most of the money came in on Alabama and it closed as a 2-point favorite after also going as high as -2.5 at some books on game day.

Alabama opened the season as the 5-1 second choice at the Las Vegas Hilton to win the title game behind top-ranked Oklahoma at 4-1. They were down to even money before the supposed Game of the Century on Nov. 5 when they lost, 9-6, at home to LSU. But oddsmakers knew a title game rematch was a real possibility and the Hilton only raised Alabama’s odds to 5-2 after that game.

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The silver lining for LSU is that the trees on its campus should be safe (note: if you don’t get that joke, Google Alabama fan Harvey Updyke). The other good news for LSU fans is that the Tigers are the favorite to win next year’s BCS title game, according to the first opening future-book odds from LVH – Las Vegas Hotel & Casino (formerly known as the Hilton until its branding lease expired on Jan. 3).

LSU opened as the 7-2 top choice with Alabama next at 6-1, so we might be in for more of the same next season. Next on the list are USC (with QB Matt Barkley returning for his senior season and the Trojans again eligible for postseason play), Oregon and Oklahoma all at 8-1; Georgia at 12-1; and Florida State and Arkansas at 15-1. That makes four SEC teams in the top eight.

Back to the betting board

I went 2-2 last week with the Texans -3 easily beating the Bengals, 31-10 (hey, I can pick a favorite!) and the Broncos pulling an outright upset, 29-23 in OT, over the Steelers (in which they were never behind by more than the 8.5-point spread), but losing with the Lions-Saints under 59.5 in the Saints’ 45-28 win (though it looked good for a while) and the Falcons +3 in a 24-2 loss to the Giants (looked good when they were up 2-0). Here’s hoping we have four clear-cut winners this weekend, which would mean the dogs would be barking big-time.

Saints-49ers over/under 47.5

After cashing with playoff home underdogs with the Broncos last week and the Seahawks last January against these same Saints, it’s tempting to take the 49ers plus the points here, especially with the Saints only 4-4 ATS on the road (while being 9-0 at home) and even worse at 2-3 ATS outdoors while the 49ers are 7-1 SU at home, and 7-0-1 ATS. However, it’s still hard to jump in front of the train they call the City of New Orleans, so I’m going to count on the Saints’ road struggles to bring a lower-scoring game. While they average more than 40 points a game at home, they only manage 26 ppg outdoors (and all those games were against weaker defenses than the 49ers have). This game should more resemble their 22-17 win at Tennessee or their 26-20 loss at Tampa than any of their shootouts.

PLAY: Under 47.5 for 1 unit.

Broncos +13.5 vs. Patriots

I won with the Broncos last week, so while it’s perfectly natural to be biased and want to back them again, we want to be objective. Granted, the Patriots blew out the Broncos, 41-23, just four weeks ago in Denver when the spread was New England -7.5. However, the Broncos were leading 16-7 before the Patriots rolled over them in the second half, so they at least showed they can play with them. And then you have last week’s win over the Steelers, which showed the Broncos learned a lesson about being able to get up on an elite team and not let it slip away. Now, can the Patriots blow them out again by more than two touchdowns? Sure, they’re capable of doing that to anyone; however, their porous defense also means anyone can match them score for score, and if Tim Tebow can do that against the Steelers’ top-ranked defense he can certainly do it again.

PLAY: Broncos for 1 unit.

Texans +7.5 vs. Ravens

The Houston franchise has finally turned all those years of “potential” into a team with a legitimate shot to go deep in these playoffs, and they’re doing with their third-string quarterback T.J. Yates. And with the Texans relying a lot on their defense and running game, they’re turned into a mirror image of the Ravens. Baltimore won the regular-season meeting, 29-16, back on Oct. 16, but the Texans were leading 14-13 in the third quarter. So, honestly, I see this game as pretty much a pick-em – and I really think it comes down to a field goal – so taking the points is a no-brainer.

PLAY: Texans for 1 unit.

Giants +8 vs. Packers

This is the last of three rematches on the weekend as the Packers beat the Giants, 38-35, back on Dec. 4 in New York, er, New Jersey. Just like the other rematches, I’m taking the Game 1 loser in the rematch with the points as I felt all those games could have gone the other way. And this is the clearest example as the Giants nearly pulled the upset and covered the spread. And as great as Aaron Rodgers has been, Eli Manning is 5-0 ATS as a playoff underdog.

PLAY: Giants for 1 unit.

NFL playoffs record: 2-2 for net loss of 0.2 units (based on risking 1.1 units to win 1).