01/07/2010 12:00AM

Once again, Fezzik is king of handicappers


It's NFL wild-card weekend, but it's going to be hard to be more wild than a lot of what we have seen already this year: Bill Belichick's decision to go on fourth down; the Colts' and Saints' flirtation with perfection; and then those two teams ending the season on losing streaks. Here are some betting notes from the just-concluded regular season:

* The season started with favorites hitting at a 58 percent rate, but then the underdogs started barking (to the delight of bookmakers who were getting killed early in the season with the public cashing on the favorites, especially on parlay cards) and actually finished ahead with a mark of 129-121-6.

* Home-field advantage is a much-sought-after thing, but it's no guarantee of playoff success, with many recent teams having made runs to the Super Bowl on the road. The deterioration of home-field advantage was seen again during the regular season as road teams were 136-114-6 against the spread.

* The Packers ended up atop the NFL ATS standings at 11-4-1, covering their last six games. They beat out the Falcons (11-5), 49ers (9-4-3), Colts (10-6), and the surprising Browns (10-6), who covered a league-best seven straight to end the regular season. The worst team to bet on were the Jaguars at 5-11, who were barely beaten out by the woeful Lions (4-10-2) and the defending Super Bowl champion Steelers (5-10-1) for the spot in the cellar.

* Fezzik, the one-named sports bettor, won the prestigious Hilton SuperContest for the second year in a row, topping a field of 328 entrants this year after beating 350 last year. SuperContestants pick five games a week against the spread and he went 53-29-3 (65 percent) to win the $196,800 first-place prize. After each of their first four plays were decided on the final Sunday, Fezzik was a half-game ahead of Big E and they were on opposite sides of the Titans-Seahawks game. The contest line was Titans -4 and they (and Fezzik) trailed 13-10 in the fourth quarter, but a late TD gave them (and Fezzik) the win at 17-13.

Jets +2 1/2 vs. Bengals

Yes, I had the Bengals last Sunday night but only because I thought the line was out of whack at +10. In fact, I wish the Bengals had played better for another reason: It would have meant a spread of more than a field goal here, but that's okay as I expect the Jets to win this rematch. They key is New York's No. 1 scoring defense, plus I'm hoping the Jets win so they get to play the Colts next week. Everyone will be saying the only reason the Jets beat the Colts was because Indy rested its starters, but I think those two factors (rushing offense against the Colts' porous run defense and a defense to contain the Colts' offense) will lead to another upset next week. You read it here first.

PLAY: Jets for 1 unit.

Eagles +4 vs. Cowboys

In another rematch, the Cowboys get to host the Eagles after routing them 24-0 last week to win the NFC East title. Even though the Cowboys are the hotter team, I think the Eagles are still the better overall team and will bounce back here (and I get a bonus point from the 3-point spread last week because of the rout). Andy Reid and the Philly coaching staff will certainly make adjustments and we will see a new Eagles team this week. I give them the coaching edge as well.

PLAY: Eagles for 1 unit.

Ravens-Patriots Over 43

I wish these teams were facing other opponents this week because I think they are both bet-on team in this year's playoffs and the winner has a shot to go to the Super Bowl. So, I will look to the over because both teams have shown the ability to put up points while both defenses aren't as strong as in recent years.

PLAY: Over 43 points for 1 unit.

Cardinals -1 vs. Packers

The third rematch of the week has seen the most movement on the betting boards here in Vegas. This line opened Cardinals -2 at the Station Casinos last Sunday and moved to -2 1/2 everywhere by Monday morning. However, on Tuesday, it dropped to pick-em at a few books and looks like it has settled at Cardinals -1. The Packers are getting a lot of support (especially off the 33-7 beat-down they put on the Cards last week), but I'm looking to ride the Cardinals just like I did in last year's playoffs. That game last week meant nothing to them (they knew they would be hosting the Pack again and weren't about to show too much) and the experience from last year's Super Bowl run will help them here.

PLAY: Cardinals for 1 unit.

Last week: 2-1 for a net profit of 0.8 units (based on risking 1.1 units to win 1). Season record: 29-24, including 2-2 on 2-unit plays, for a net profit of 2.4 units.