11/15/2005 12:00AM

Remarkable run continues for favorites


LAS VEGAS - Favorites went 8-6 against the spread in the NFL this past Sunday and Monday.

That's hitting at a 57 percent clip, which isn't overly impressive for a one-week sample of games. But for the first 10 weeks of the season, favorites have been hitting at the same ratio (not counting ties), at 80-60-4, which is pretty significant.

The avalanche of favorites has been especially noticeable the past five weeks. Last weekend's 8-6 mark actually dropped the recent run to 65 percent, at 44-24-2. In fact, there has not been a sub-.500 week for favorites since the third week of the season.

Favorites also continued their winning ways on the road, going 2-1 both straight up and against the spread to improve to 22-17-1 (56 percent). I've been on the wrong end of trying to buck this trend, but here are the six home underdogs this week: Bears +3 vs. Panthers, Titans +4 vs. Jaguars, Bengals +5 1/2 vs. Colts, 49ers +13 vs. Seahawks, Texans +6 1/2 vs. Chiefs, and the Ravens between +3 1/2 and +7 vs. the Steelers depending on whether Ben Roethlisberger starts.

In other league-wide betting trends:

* Home and road teams split 7-7 overall last weekend, with home teams still coming out ahead on the season at 75-64-4 (54 percent) and home favorites at 58-42-3 (58 percent).

* Double-digit underdogs finally came through, as the 49ers covered a 13-point spread in a 17-9 loss to the Bears and the Texans covered a 17 1/2-point spread in a 31-17 loss to the Colts. That improves double-digit dogs to 8-6 (57 percent) on the season. Teams getting 7 points or more are now 20-17 against the spread. This week's big dogs are the Saints +10 vs. the Patriots, Cardinals +9 1/2 vs. the Rams, Lions +8 1/2 vs. the Cowboys, 49ers +13 vs. the Seahawks, Bills +10 vs. the Chargers, Jets +13 vs. the Broncos, and perhaps the Ravens vs. the Steelers and the Eagles vs. Giants if Donovan McNabb is unable to play. McNabb hurt his groin in Monday's game against the Cowboys.

* The over/unders split for the second straight week, and the under has a slight edge, at 71-68-5 on the season. With weather starting to have more of an impact, expect totals to start dropping.

* Teams off their bye week won three of four games for the second straight week and are now 15-10-1 (60 percent) on the season. This is the last week to test that trend, with the Titans +4 vs. the Jaguars, Bengals +5 1/2 vs. the Colts, Saints +10 vs. the Patriots, and Chargers -10 vs. the Bills.

Broncos remain the hot team

Several top teams failed to cover the biggest spreads, but not the Broncos, who beat the Raiders, 31-17, to improve to a league-best 6-2-1 against the spread. The Colts non-cover dropped them to 6-3 and into a second-place tie with the Steelers and Lions. The Bears and Giants also lost money for bettors and each dropped to 5-3-1, along with the Jaguars and the idle Bengals and Chargers. No other team is above 60 percent against the spread.

The Broncos covered for the fourth straight game, the longest streak in the league this year and challenged only by the Panthers and Texans, who each covered three straight games this year.

* The Eagles' collapse on Monday night was their fifth straight non-cover and dropped them to a league-worst 2-7 along with the Cardinals, who have dropped three in a row. The Titans have failed to cover four in a row and are 3-6 along with the Ravens, Jets, and Rams.

* In totals wagering, four of the top five over teams went under their respective totals. The lone exception was the Cardinals, who went over in their 29-21 loss to the Lions and improved to 7-2 with the over. The Patriots dropped to 6-2-1, the Panthers dropped to 5-2-2, and the Rams and Seahawks dropped to 6-3 after the Seahawks defeated the Rams, 31-16, but with an inflated total of 51 points. The Broncos went over for the fifth straight week to join that group at 6-3. The Cardinals and Rams face this Sunday with a total of 48 1/2.

* After six straight games going under, the Browns went over in their 34-21 loss to the Steelers, tying the Bengals at 7-2 with the under. That closes the gap on the Bears and Ravens, both of whom are at 6-2-1. The Bills, Chiefs, Vikings, and Buccaneers are all 6-3 with the under.

* The Colts started the season with five straight unders, but now that the offense has picked up, they've cashed four straight overs. Their total this week is 47 vs. the Bengals.

Longhorns keep rolling along

Texas rolled to another win and cover, 66-14 over Kansas, to improve to 9-1 against the spread. Notre Dame failed to cover as a 23 1/2-point favorite over Navy in a 42-21 victory to drop to 7-2, tying the Irish with Virginia Tech for the second-best spread record in the nation. Auburn is right behind at 7-3.

* Duke, 0-9 against the spread, was idle last week and is a 24-point underdog at North Carolina this Saturday. Utah is next at 1-8-1 with Purdue at 2-7-1 after covering for the second straight week.

* Texas also dominates over/under wagering. The Longhorns' game went easily over the total of 54 to improve their record to 9-1 with the over. Other solid over teams are UCLA (8-2), Missouri (7-3), Rice (7-2), and Texas A&M (6-2-1). With Texas A&M also scoring a lot of points and not playing much defense, expect that total vs. Texas to be bet through the roof.

* North Carolina St. went under in its 30-10 loss to Boston College to tie Mississippi St. with the best under record at 7-1. Alabama and Eastern Michigan are both 8-2. SMU is 7-2, Mississippi is 6-2, and Florida is 7-3.

By the numbers