11/28/2006 12:00AM

Getting the best number


The Bears lost 17-13 to the Patriots last Sunday, but they covered the closing spread of 4 1/2 and moved atop the NFL point-spread standings.

This was one of those games that, if you bet it, you should have won or at the very worst pushed. The Patriots opened -3 at just about every book, and they sat there for much of the week before being raised to -3 1/2. Anyone who laid those numbers with the Pats got the win, and anyone hoping to bet the Bears should have known to wait until closer to gametime. The line continued to climb and was at least 4 1/2 everywhere on Sunday afternoon, with some 5's around and even 5 1/2. Anyone who took those points with the Bears also won his bet.

A similar situation occurred in the Seahawks-Packers game on Monday night. The Seahawks were readily available at -9 1/2 during the week and got bet up to 10 1/2 and even 11 during the day Monday. Seattle won 34-24 to make winners of most bettors on either side.

So, back to the leaderboard, the Bears improved to 8-3 against the spread and moved ahead of the Chargers, who fell to 7-4 following their non-covering 21-14 victory over the Raiders as 13 1/2-point favorites.

Oddly, heading into last week there were eight teams that were 6-4 against the spread: Ravens, Cowboys, Saints, 49ers, Jets, Bills, Rams, and Titans. They combined to go 7-1 against the spread. The lone loser was St. Louis, which played the 49ers, so someone had to lose.

The 49ers, Bills, and Dolphins are all riding four-game winning streaks against the spread, with the Bears, Cowboys, Titans, and Cowboys covering three straight.

* On the losing side of the ledger, the Lions' Thanksgiving Day loss to the Dolphins coupled with the Cardinals miracle late cover vs. the Vikings gave the Lions sole possession of last place, at 3-8 against the spread. The Seahawks, Panthers, and Steelers are all 3-7-1 against the spread, with the Broncos, Texans, and Cardinals at 4-7.

The Vikings have dropped five straight against the spread, and the Giants and Falcons have lost four in a row.

Who's hot, who's not in totals

The Patriots went under for their seventh straight game and are now 9-2 with the under. The Raiders also have gone under seven straight games and, along with the Panthers, are 8-3 with the under. The Falcons, whose only offense lately has been Michael Vick's middle finger, are 7-3-1 with the under.

* It wasn't a good week for the top over teams. The Titans' come-from-behind 24-21 victory vs. the Giants got them a push on over 45, and Tennessee sits at 7-2-2 on the season. The next four teams in the standings went under, so the Bears are 7-3-1 and the Steelers, Jets, and Chargers are 7-4, along with the Seahawks. Unders have been coming in a lot lately, so it's not surprising that the only teams with as many as three straight overs is the Vikings. Eight teams have under streaks of at least three games.

NFL betting trends

Home teams went 8-7-1 against the spread over the holiday weekend to improve to 90-80-6 (53 percent) overall. Underdogs also went 8-7-1 to improve to 92-77-6 (54 percent).

* Home underdogs went 3-2 and are still performing exceptionally well at 35-22-1 (61 percent) on the year. There are six home dogs this week: Titans +7 1/2 vs. the Colts, Browns +5 vs. the Chiefs, Bills +6 vs. the Chargers, Packers +1 1/2 vs. the Jets, Giants +4 vs. the Cowboys, and Eagles +3 1/2 vs. the Panthers.

* An even hotter betting trend has been the AFC vs. the NFC. The AFC won all four interconference games this past weekend and was 3-1 against the spread to improve to 31-21-1 (60 percent) on the season and 20-5 (80 percent) the past five weeks.

* I predicted at the beginning of November that, with the weather getting worse, there would start to be more unders. After going 6-6-2 the week after that prediction, unders have gone 29-17-2 the past three weeks, including 10-5-1 this past weekend to overtake overs at 87-81-8 on the season.

* Double-digit underdogs dipped a little bit last week, going 1-2-1 against the spread, but they are still 14-11-2 (56 percent) overall. This week's sole big underdog are the Lions +13 1/2 vs. the Patriots. However, all underdogs of -7 1/2 or higher are 24-18-2 (57 percent). This week's potential plays include the Vikings +9 1/2 vs. the Bears, Buccaneers +7 1/2 vs. the Steelers, and Titans +7 1/2 vs. the Colts.

Bankrolls take big plunge

Last Saturday, when I went with nine plays, I stated that it would make or break the college bankroll. Consider it broken. Despite starting the weekend great with under 57 1/2 in the Texas A&M-Texas game on Friday (A&M won 12-7), my college bankroll plays went 3-7 overall for a net loss of 4.7 units (based on risking 1.1 units to win 1). That included 2-4 on totals and 1-3 on side. For the season, the college bankroll is 36-36-1 for a net loss of 3.7 units.

* My bankroll plays Sunday went 0-5. I had three clear losers - Texans vs. Jets, Steelers vs. Ravens, Eagles vs. Colts - and got back-doored with the Vikings -6 vs. the Cardinals, a game in which Arizona rallied to lose by just 5 points, 31-26. For the season, the NFL bankroll plays dropped to 31-34-2 for a net loss of 6.2 units.

I have no opinion on Thursday's Ravens-Bengals game, which may be a good thing.