12/26/2006 1:00AM

Party time for NFL dogs after going 14-2

Email

Every dog has its day, and for a lot of NFL dogs and underdog players, that day came Sunday.

Week 16 started innocuously enough, with the Packers failing to cover a 4-point spread in a 9-7 win over the Vikings on Thursday night and the Chiefs covering a 7-point spread in a 20-9 victory on Saturday night. Two games, one favorite, one dog, nothing out of the ordinary.

But the rest of the weekend was dominated by underdogs. They went 11-1 against the closing numbers, with the lone exception being the Redskins, who lost to the Rams 37-31 as a 1 1/2-point underdog. The Rams had to rally from a 14-point deficit and go to overtime in order to get that cover, otherwise it would have been a clean sweep for underdogs Sunday.

On Monday, the Eagles and Jets both pulled off outright upsets - the ninth and 10th of the weekend - to make underdogs 14-2 against the spread in Week 16. This was the most extreme dog-dominated week of the season, but dogs have been faring well all season. They are now 132-98-7 on the year, or 57 percent after tossing out the pushes. This comes just a year after favorites hit at a 58-percent clip.

* Home underdogs continued to ride the wave by going 3-1 against the spread last weekend, and they are now 47-30-2 (61 percent) on the season. This week's home dogs are the Redskins +2 vs. the Giants on Saturday night, Vikings +2 vs. the Rams, and Saints +3 vs. the Panthers. Before jumping on that Saints bet, be aware that the Saints have locked up the No. 2 seed in the NFC and will be resting players for the playoffs. In fact, before the Cowboys lost on Monday, clinching the first-round bye for New Orleans, the Saints opened as a 7 1/2-point favorite in this game at the Las Vegas Hilton on Sunday afternoon.

* There were no double-digit underdogs last week, so that category sits at 17-13-2 overall. This week's double-digit underdogs are the Lions +12 1/2 vs. the Cowboys, Raiders +12 vs. the Jets, 49ers +11 vs. the Broncos, and the Cardinals +14 vs. the Chargers.

* Thanks to the Texans' upset of the Colts, underdogs in the +7 1/2 to +9 1/2 range are 15-11 against the spread. This week's mid-range dogs are the Bills +9 vs. the Ravens, Dolphins +9 vs. the Colts, and Falcons +7 1/2 vs. the Eagles.

* The AFC, which has dominated the NFC all season, went 0-2 this past week, with the Browns losing to the Buccaneers and the Chargers failing to cover in their win over the Seahawks. The AFC is still 36-26-1 (58 percent) overall. This week's AFC plays would be the Broncos -11 vs. the 49ers and the Chargers -14 vs. the Cardinals. The lines for both games are inflated because the games have playoff implications for the Broncos and Chargers, but not for the 49ers and Cardinals.

* Over/unders went 8-8 last week; on the year, the over holds a slight edge at 116-114-10.

Who's hot, who's not

The Titans continued their incredible roll Sunday with a 30-29 win over the Bills, who were a 5-point favorite. It was the Titans sixth straight outright upset and seventh straight point-spread cover. It also vaulted them into sole possession of the NFL point-spread standings at 11-4 (see accompanying chart).

The Bears closed as 6-point favorites over the Lions, so they didn't cover in their 26-21 victory, though many bettors did get the Bears earlier in the week at -4 and -4 1/2. But for record-keeping purposes, it was a point-spread loss and drops them to 10-5 along with the Saints, Jets, and Bills.

* The Bears and Titans also have been the top "over" teams this season. The Bears have the best over record at 11-3-1 and have gone over in four straight games (the Cardinals have the longest over streak at five). But the Titans have been even hotter lately, going 9-3-3 on the season after starting 3-2. They are 6-1-3 with the over in their last 10 games. Other top over teams are the Seahawks at 10-5 and the Steelers and Cardinals at 9-5-1.

* The Raiders have gone under in three straight games and now lead the league with a record of 11-4 with the under. The Falcons are next at 10-4-1. The Patriots have gone over in two straight and dropped to 10-5 along with the Dolphins, who have a league-high five straight unders.

* The Panthers beat the Falcons 10-3 as 6 1/2-point underdogs and improved to 4-10-1 against the spread. They remain in the basement, however, since the bottom four teams in last week's standings (Panthers, Lions, Seahawks, Texans) all covered. The Broncos did lose to drop into a tie with the Lions at 5-10, and the Dolphins and Seahawks are just ahead of them at 5-9-1.

Bankroll has best weekend yet

My NFL bankroll plays went 5-0 this past weekend, including a 2-unit best bet on the Texans +9 vs. the Colts. My other plays were the Titans +5 vs. the Bills, Patriots +3 vs. the Jaguars, Seahawks +5 vs. the Chargers, and the Eagles +7 vs. the Cowboys on Monday. I sure hope some people who follow my picks have been playing the money lines; four of the five won straight up.

After starting 2-8 after two weeks and 6-13-1 after four, my NFL bankroll plays are 17-3 the past four weeks and are now 48-38-2 for a net profit of 7.4 units (based on risking 1.1 units to win 1).