12/05/2006 12:00AM

NFL underdogs' tails a-waggin'


LAS VEGAS - The Eagles' 27-24 upset of the Panthers on Monday Night Football capped another banner weekend for underdog players.

Week 13 in the NFL started last Thursday with the Bengals beating the Ravens 13-7 as 3-point favorites, but then dogs went 9-4-1 against the spread on Sunday and Monday to improve to 101-82-7 (55 percent after tossing out the pushes) on the season, which is a far cry from last year when dogs only hit at 42 percent. The push this past Sunday was the Cowboys' 23-20 win over the Giants as 3-point favorites, though that line was 3 1/ 2 for most of the week, so underdog players also fared well on that game.

The Eagles were also the sixth home underdog of the week, and home dogs went 4-1-1 against the spread, including three outright upsets (Titans over Colts, Browns over Chiefs, and Eagles over Panthers). An argument could be made that home dogs really went 5-0 on the week. Again, that push was the Cowboys-Giants game, so a lot of underdog bettors won that game, and the lone loser in that 4-1-1 mark was Redskins +1 vs. the Falcons. That was the closing line at the Hilton, but for most of the week the Redskins were favored and it wasn't until the final half hour before kickoff that the Falcons were bet to favoritism.

For the season, home underdogs are 39-23-2 (63 percent) against the spread after being an abysmal 29-47-4 (38 percent) last year. This week's home dogs are the Buccaneers +3 1/2 vs. the Falcons, Jaguars +2 vs. the Colts, Dolphins +3 1/2 vs. the Patriots, Cardinals +3 vs. the Seahawks, and the Rams +6 1/2 vs. the Bears. The Redskins might also fit the category. As of press time Tuesday, their game vs. the Eagles was pretty close to pick-em with each being favored by 1 at some books.

Other NFL-wide betting trends

Home teams as a whole went 8-7-1 against the spread this past week and are ahead, 98-87-7, on the season.

* Overs came out ahead for the first time in five weeks. Unders still lead 94-90-8 overall.

* The Lions came through as the only double-digit underdog of the week, covering in a 28-21 loss to the Patriots. For the year, double-digit dogs are 15-11-2 (58 percent). This week's only big dog is the Raiders +11 vs. the Bengals. After going 1-2 last week, underdogs of between +7o1/2 and +9 1/2 are still profitable at 11-9; this week's teams in that range are the Browns +7 1/2 vs. the Steelers on Thursday night and the Broncos +7 1/2 vs. the Chargers on Sunday night.

* Interconference games were split 2-2 against the spread this past week - the AFC won three of the four straight up with the Patriots' non-cover vs. the Lions making up the difference - but the AFC still holds an impressive 33-23-1 (59 percent) edge. If you think the AFC will continue its dominance - and they've gone 22-7 (76 percent) against the spread vs. the NFC the past six weeks - you'll have to wait a week because there is not a single interconference game this weekend.

Who's hot, who's not

The Bears' 23-13 victory over the Vikings was pretty ugly, but the Bears covered the 9-point spread and remain atop the NFL point-spread standings at 9-3. The Saints, Jets, Bills, and Titans all covered to improve to 8-4, with the Cowboys, Jaguars, and Browns right behind them at 7-4-1. The Bills have covered a league-best five games in a row while the Bears and Titans have won four straight.

* The Panthers' loss on Monday night dropped them to a league-worst 3-8-1 against the spread. The Broncos and Lions are only slightly better at 4-8 with six teams at 4-7-1. The Vikings have lost six straight after a 5-1 start and the Broncos have lost four in a row. (Note: The Giants lost their four games previous to Sunday's push vs. the Cowboys).

* The Bears, thanks to their defense and special teams putting points on the board, now lead the league in overs at 8-3-1. The Titans were the previous leader in the category before going under in their

20-17 upset of the Colts and are now 7-3-2. The Jets and Chargers are also hitting better than 66 percent at 8-4. The Vikings have gone over in four straight games.

* The Patriots and Raiders both had their streaks of seven straight unders snapped last week, but the Patriots are still the top under team at 9-3. The Falcons, who along with the 49ers have gone under in five straight games, are 8-3-1. The Raiders are 8-4 and slip into a tie with the Broncos and Panthers.

Bankrolls ride the underdog wave

A week after having my worst weekend of the football season, my bankroll plays bounced back. I won my 2-unit best bet on UCLA +13 1/2 vs. USC as the Bruins turned the college football world upside down with their 13-9 upset. (Note: I also recommended a money-line play on UCLA at 4-1 or higher, though I didn't make it an official bankroll play). I also cashed with Louisiana Tech-New Mexico St. over 64 points and Florida -2 1/2 vs. Arkansas (while also recommending a UCLA/Florida parlay). The lone loss was the under in the Rutgers-West Virginia game, which didn't go over until overtime. The 3-1 record improved my overall bankroll record to 39-37-1, including 2-1 on 2-unit plays, for a net loss of 0.8 units.

* In the NFL, my bankroll plays went 4-1 - the winners being the Titans +7 1/2 vs. the Colts, Falcons +1o1/2 vs. the Redskins, Giants +3 1/2 vs. the Cowboys, and Seahawks +3 1/2 vs. the Broncos. The lone loss was the Dolphins -1 vs. the Jaguars. For the season, NFL bankroll plays are 35-35-2 for a net loss of 3.3 units.

NFL spread record standings