11/07/2006 12:00AM

The records that matter to bettors


The NFL season has reached its halfway point. Nine of the 17 weeks have been played, but every team has played eight games, so it's as good a time as any to see how teams are doing for bettors.

The accompanying chart lists the 32 NFL teams in order of their records against the spread. You can compare that to a team's straight-up record, listed in parentheses next to the team name.

The Colts are the only undefeated team in the league, at 8-0, yet it's the Saints on top of the against-the-spread standings at 6-2. The Colts are right behind at 5-2-1, along with the Jaguars. (The push for each team came in their Week 3 meeting.)

The Colts and Chiefs are the hottest spread teams, with three straight covers. Bettors often wonder if they should back the hot teams and fade the cold teams. Actually, with the exception of trying to ride teams on streaks, I'd be more inclined to bet against teams with top spread records and bet on teams with losing ones, because it's likely that oddsmakers will be adjusting the lines to try to balance action in those teams' games going forward. Consequently, they're more likely to revert to .500. Of course, every game is an independent trial and should be handicapped as such.

On the losing side of the ledger, the Dolphins and Panthers are both 1-6-1, though the Dolphins did come through with their upset of the Bears last week. The Steelers are 2-6 against the spread, along with the Cardinals. The Steelers, Eagles, and Rams have dropped three straight.

It's harder to check the over/under standings at a glance, but the top over team through the first half of the season is the Jets at 7-1; they went under in their last game before their bye after seven straight overs to start the season. The Bears are right behind them at 6-1-1 with the over, including five straight. The Titans are 6-2 and the Chiefs are 5-2-1, with three straight overs apiece.

The Broncos started the season with six straight unders, but are now only 6-2, along with the Patriots and Bills. The Pats have a league-high four straight unders, as do the Raiders.

League-wide betting trends

Home dogs were barking loudly Sunday. The Redskins, Lions, and 49ers all pulled outright upsets. (The Bucs opened as a home dog but were bet to favoritism - unfortunately, they were the only one of the four that I bet.) For the year, home dogs are now 28-16 (64 percent) against the spread. This week's home dogs are Dolphins +1 vs. the Chiefs, Bengals +1 vs. the Chargers, Titans +7 vs. the Ravens, Raiders +9 vs. the Broncos, and Cardinals +7 vs. the Cowboys.

* Underdogs went 10-4 overall against the spread and increased their edge over favorites to 68-57-3 on the season.

* Home teams split out 7-7 and are still 69-56-3 on the year.

* Double-digit underdogs went 3-0 against the spread - the Dolphins' outright win and the spread-covering losses by the Texans vs. the Giants and Browns vs. the Chargers. For the year, double-digit dogs are now profitable at 9-8-1. This week's big dogs are the Texans +10 1/2 vs. the Jaguars, Bills +12 vs. the Colts, and the Jets +10 1/2 vs. the Patriots. Two other games are approaching that level - Raiders +9 1/2 vs. the Broncos and Buccaneers +9 1/2 vs. the Panthers - but keep in mind that dogs in the +7 1/2 to +9 1/2 range are also 7-6 against the spread.

* The AFC continued to show its dominance over the NFC by going 4-1 against the spread this past week and improving to 20-18-1 overall. The only interconference games this week are the Browns +8 at the Falcons and the Steelers -4 vs. the Saints.

* Over/unders were split 6-6-2 last week, and overs still hold a 65-57-6 edge. It's important at this time of year to check weather reports when considering totals. A prime example came Monday, when the total on the Raiders-Seahawks got bet down from 37 to 34 because of rain in the Seattle area. It was an easy under - the Seahawks won 16-0.

College bankroll outperforms NFL

My college bankroll plays went 3-1 on Saturday. I had wins on both Virginia Tech -2 1/2 vs. Miami-Fla. and the under 37 1/ 2 in that game, which the Hokies won, 17-10. I also had Oregon St. -3 vs. Arizona St., which Oregon St. won, 44-10.

The lone loss was Tennessee +3 vs. LSU. The Vols led, 24-21, until the closing seconds, when the Tigers rallied to win, 28-24. That line drifted up to 4 and even 5 late in the week, when Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge was listed as questionable, so a lot of Tennessee backers won their bets or at least got a push. However, since my play was published at +3, I had to grade it that way.

The 3-1 mark raised my college bankroll record to 27-24-1, including 1-1 on 2-unit plays, for a net profit of 0.5 units (based on risking 1.1 units for every 1 that I've tried to win).

Those plays, along with having Miesque's Approval at 24-1 in the Breeders' Cup Mile, made for a nice Saturday, but I nearly gave back all my profits Sunday, when I lost my first three plays with the Bengals +3 vs. the Ravens, Titans +9 vs. the Jaguars, and Buccaneers +1 vs. the Saints. Fortunately, I rebounded with wins on the Broncos +3 vs. the Steelers and Browns +12 1/2 vs. the Chargers to finish 2-3 on the day and drop to 22-21-2 on the season for a net loss of 2.2 units.