10/13/2011 2:20PM

Rash of favorites covering spread bad news for bookmakers


For most of us, nothing tastes worse than getting your mouth washed out with soap when you were a kid.

For bookmakers here (and everywhere), they might have found the equivalent last weekend as they got their mouths full of chalk.

Favorites were cashing all weekend long. They went 32-20 against the spread in college football from Thursday through Saturday, including all nine AP Top 10 teams that were in action covering their numbers, and 8-5 ATS in the NFL on Sunday and Monday, which doesn’t seem so bad, but what made it worse was that after dogs actually went 5-3 in the early Sunday games, every game later in the afternoon and into the night games went against the books. The 49ers, Patriots, and Chargers all won and covered in the 4 p.m. Eastern games, and then the Packers rallied to cover the 6-point spread (bet up by the public from -4) with a 25-14 win over the Falcons on Sunday night and the Lions beat the Bears, 24-13, as 6.5-point faves on Monday night.

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While dealing with the nasty aftertaste of all that chalk, bookmakers were also wondering who locked the back door that is so often their friend. The Patriots and Chargers both kicked late field goals to get over the spread and then were able to prevent the Jets and Broncos from scoring. The Packers and Lions both pushed their leads all the way to 11 and were prime candidates to give up a back-door score and still win, but they prevented it as well (who says the prevent defense never works?).

The only solace for bookmakers after a weekend like that is they know gamblers will be looking to bet back their winnings and they can adjust their lines and come out ahead in the long run, assuming that most of those bettors continue to bet the favorites, thinking this game is too easy.

Back to the betting board

I went 1-1 with my two bankroll plays last week as the Bengals beat the Jaguars but the Bucs got blown out by the 49ers. If I’m expecting the above trends to reverse, then I certainly hope the same thing happens with my record here.

Rams +15 vs. Packers

With everyone jumping on the top teams’ bandwagons, you have to expect to take some ugly dogs when fading the line moves and this is the poster child for that philosophy. Yes, the Rams have looked bad, but no team is as bad as it looks on its worst day or as good as it looks on their best. The Rams are better than their 0-4 record, and have had two weeks to prepare for this game off their bye. Besides, except for their rout of the Broncos, the Packers mostly play close games and pull away at the end and they failed to cover their only game as a double-digit favorite over the Panthers. Throw in the fact double-digit dogs are 6-2 ATS (one trend that I hope doesn’t reverse) and I have to take the points.

PLAY: Rams for 1 unit.

Colts +7 vs. Bengals

As I wrote last week when I won with the Bengals, they are one of the surprises of the young season (maybe even more so than the Lions, 49ers, and Bills), but I have to go against them here as this line is inflated. The winless Colts have actually played pretty well the last three weeks while covering vs. the Steelers and the Buccaneers and then dominating early against the Chiefs before letting that game slip away. I don’t see them getting blown out here either.

PLAY: Colts for 1 unit.

Texans +8 vs. Ravens

The advance line on this game last week at the Las Vegas Hilton was Ravens -5.5 but after the Texans lost to the Raiders (and I could argue there were extenuating circumstances there, plus the Raiders are far from pushovers this year), the line was adjusted to 6.5 and has since been bet to more than a touchdown. Granted, Houston is without Andre Johnson and Mario Williams, but I feel this is still an overadjustment with the public pushing it even higher. I’ve had no problem going against the Texans in their new role of favorite in the AFC South and in individual games, but this underdog role is where I really like to back them.

PLAY: for 1 unit.

49ers at Lions Under 46.5

The other trend that I didn’t mention earlier is how NFL games continue to fly over the totals. Last week, overs went 9-4 and are now 47-28-2 (62.7 percent after tossing out the pushes) on the season. Week 3 is the only week that overs were below .500. Bookmakers are obviously reacting to this trend by jacking up the totals across the board and we actually have three totals in the rarified air of 50+ points this week (Panthers-Falcons, Bills-Giants, Cowboys-Patriots) with the Saints-Bucs at 49.5 as of this writing but climbing. While I would look to bet under any of those, I will make my top total play of the week the under in the 49ers-Lions game. As strange as it sounds, like game could end up having a big impact on playoff seeding (or even a wild-card spot if both teams slip). I think it will be played closer to the pace of the Lions’ win over the Bears on Monday night or the 49ers’ 13-8 win over the Bengals two weeks back as opposed to some of their higher-scoring games.

PLAY: 49ers-Lions under 46.5 points for 1 unit.

Last week: 1-1 for a loss of 0.1 units (based on risking 1.1 units to win 1). NFL season record: 2-8 for a net loss of 6.8 units.