12/28/2004 1:00AM

A few betting numbers to keep in mind


LAS VEGAS - It's amazing what you can uncover going over the NFL betting results each week. Some pieces of information can be useful when making future wagers; others are statistical anomalies that are trivial at best. But they're still interesting, at least in my warped mind.

One thing that jumped out this week is that although home teams won 10 of the 16 games, they were 4-12 against the spread. This difference of six games was a result of favorites that won the game on the scoreboard but failed to cover the spread - Chiefs over Raiders, Lions over Bears, Bengals over Giants, Colts over Chargers, Seahawks over Cardinals, and Dolphins over Browns.

There were only two previous weeks this year in which three home teams won but failed to cover: Week 2 and Week 14.

Home-field advantage hasn't meant too much this season; home teams are a combined 108-124-8 against the spread. Home dogs - a typically strong subset - have gone only 32-39-2 against the spread this season after going 1-2 last week.

Another interesting factoid is that the Patriots-Jets game closed pick-em at the Stardust, only the second game this year to close as pick-em - the Cowboys-Bengals game in Week 9 being the other.

That did save another loss for home dogs, though, since the Patriots won, 23-7, after opening as a 3-point favorite. Not including that game, underdogs went 10-5 and hold a slight edge on the season at 117-113-8.

In other trends, the only double-digit underdog of the week was the 49ers +11 vs. the Bills. The 49ers lost, 41-7, but double-digit dogs are still 12-8-1 on the season. This week's choices are the 49ers +14 at the Patriots, the Dolphins +10 at the Ravens, and the Browns +10 1/2 at the Texans.

There were no interconference games last week, so the AFC still holds an impressive 37-18-2 advantage on the season over the NFC. This week's choices are the Patriots -14 vs. the 49ers, the Bengals vs. the Eagles (no line available at press time), Titans +3 vs. the Lions, and the Jets -3 vs. the Rams.

The over went 9-7 last week to hold a slim 120-117-3 edge for the year.

Who's hot, who's not

The Chargers had their eight-game winning streak snapped Sunday in their 34-31 overtime loss to the Colts, but they still covered the 7-point spread and are an incredible 12-1-2 on the season. With a win Sunday over the Chiefs - a game in which San Diego is getting 3 points since it is expected to rest a lot of starters - the Chargers would outperform last year's Patriots, who went 13-2-1 against the spread. Speaking of the Pats, they haven't exactly been slouches this year either, bouncing back from their loss to the Dolphins by grounding the Jets and improving to 10-3-2 against the spread. After the Eagles' second-stringers lost to the Rams on Monday night, the Panthers are now the top spread team in the NFC, at 9-5-1.

Of the three teams that entered the weekend at 4-10 against the spread, the Titans were the only one that failed to cover last week, and they are now a league-worst 4-11. The Rams, Browns, and Seahawks are all 5-10 against the spread.

In totals wagering, the Falcons, Jaguars, and Redskins were all 10-4 with the under entering the weekend, and all went under last week to improve to 11-4.

The Packers, Raiders, Colts, and Seahawks all went over to improve to 10-5 with the over.

College bowl update

On Monday, I won a bankroll play on Fresno St. +5 1/2 vs. Virginia after the Bulldogs scored a 37-34 overtime victory in the MPC Computers Bowl, and I lost with Toledo -3 1/2 vs. Connecticut after UConn's 39-10 upset in the Motor City Bowl.

That leaves my bowl record at 2-2 and my overall college record at 30-23-1 (57 percent) for a net profit of 4.7 units, pending plays on Iowa St. +3 vs. Miami-Ohio in Tuesday's Independence Bowl, Colorado -3 vs. UTEP in Wednesday's Houston Bowl, and Oklahoma St. -3 1/2 vs. Ohio St. in Wednesday's Alamo Bowl.

Thursday: Emerald Bowl
New Mexico (-2 1/2) vs. Navy

Both of these teams rely on the running game and have solid defenses, as can be seen in the betting total of 42 points, which is the second lowest of this year's 28 bowl games. Whereas Navy relies on the option to pick up its yardage, New Mexico running back DonTrell Moore is the go-to guy for the Lobos and should prove to be the difference in a grind-it-out type of game.

PLAY: New Mexico for 1 unit.

Thursday: Holiday Bowl
Texas Tech (+11 1/2) vs. California

While the Emerald Bowl might be one of the lowest-scoring bowl games, this one should be one of the highest scoring. It's easy to say that Texas Tech is all about offense, with its spread passing attack led by quarterback Sonny Cumbie (65.6 percent completion rate, 4,222 yards, 29 touchdowns), but the defense has stepped up this year, as well. The Red Raiders are a respectable 42nd in the nation in yards allowed per game (345) despite giving other teams more opportunities with their quick-strike offense and a tendency to get involved in shootouts. California's defense is great - against a traditional offense. But the fact it allows only 83 rushing yards and 2.6 yard per carry is irrelevant in this matchup with the pass-happy Red Raiders. California comes into this game after being bypassed by Texas in the BCS rankings and losing out on a chance to end its Rose Bowl drought. It's hard to imagine them caring too much for this game. Besides, if they're trying too hard to prove a point, that can be a problem, too. Conversely, Texas Tech will just be playing its own game, flinging the ball all over the field and having fun. I'll gladly take the double-digit points.

PLAY: Texas Tech for 1 unit.