12/02/2010 4:59PM

Take the points in AFC West rematches


The college football regular season is coming to a close this weekend with most of the focus being on the teams still trying to play in the BCS National Championship Game on Monday, Jan. 10, at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

Oregon and Auburn are each one win away from playing for the title, with TCU moving up into the also-eligible spot after Boise State’s thrilling 34-31 overtime loss last Friday night at Nevada. Currently, the Las Vegas Hilton lists Oregon as the 5-7 favorite to win the BCS title game, with Auburn at 2-1 and TCU at 5-1. Stanford, who would need both Oregon and Auburn to lose on Saturday, is offered at 25-1.

Oregon is a 16 1/2-point favorite versus rival Oregon State, with a money line (to win straight up) of –700 or odds of 1-7. The SEC Championship Game between Auburn and South Carolina was off the board at some books earlier this week, mostly due to SC quarterback Stephen Garcia being listed as “questionable” with an injured left (non-throwing) shoulder, but also with some books waiting to hear that Auburn QB Cam Newton would be ruled eligible by the NCAA. Both are now expected to play, and Auburn is a consensus 5 1/2-point favorite with a money line of –230. I’m taking Oregon State plus the points but will probably pass on the Auburn game.

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The Wynn Las Vegas has already posted possible title game odds with Oregon –4 1/2 vs. Auburn, Oregon –5 1/2 vs. TCU, and Auburn –1 1/2 vs. TCU. If a matchup doesn’t take place, all wagers are refunded.

The BCS bowls will be announced Sunday night, with the odds going up here in Vegas on those games that evening and the rest of the bowls being posted Monday.

Any mention of opening numbers here in Vegas at this time would be remiss if not mentioning the passing of Andy Ducay, 58, from a heart attack Nov. 24. A Chicago native who spent the last 26 years in Vegas, Ducay was a fixture every time a book put up the opening football lines, whether it was the Stardust, Rampart, Stratosphere, and most recently the Wynn (college) and Hilton (NFL). He was always running around looking to get the best number and, for him, sports betting was as much about the intellectual challenge of finding the best bet – or taking leads on games and setting up opportunities to hit middles – as it was about the money won or lost.

I first met Ducay in 2002 and wrote about him in a story on opening-line moves that started “Andy Ducay doesn’t have an office job, but you could say he’s in middle management” ( Daily Racing Form , Nov. 11, 2002).

Ducay had worked as a ticket writer on several occasions and considered working toward being an oddsmaker himself, but he preferred working on the bettors’ side of the counter, plus a desk job wouldn’t allow him the freedom to travel and indulge in his hobby of photography.

Ducay wasn’t without his quirks. On one hand, he wanted to fly under the radar in Vegas. Using the alias “Dr. Odds” because he didn’t want to use his real name, he posted his early college lines at my ViewFromVegas.com website to help other gamblers, but then he was the first one to blow his own cover by going on local radio shows. He wasn’t a rich man and won’t be inducted in any gambling hall of fame, but Damon Runyon would have had a field day with him.

And even though Ducay would love that I’m writing about him and what people are saying about him this week in Vegas sports books (and there will be a memorial gathering of his friends at the Wynn sports book at 6 p.m. Wednesday), I also can hear what he’d be saying in his gruff voice if he was reading this about someone else: “Enough about this guy. People want to read about the games.”

Broncos +8 1/2 vs. Chiefs

Three weeks ago, these teams played in Denver, with the Chiefs favored by 1 point. The Broncos ran over them to the tune of 35-0 before coasting to a 49-29 victory. So, even with adjustments for home-field advantage (which has been non-existent this year, at least against the spread as home teams are 77-93-4 ATS), I can’t help but see value in this line between these two teams. Granted, the Chiefs have blown out the Cardinals and Seahawks the past two weeks – though I’m not sure how much of an accomplishment either of those should be considered – and the Broncos have lost to the Chargers and Rams and given up 71 points in the process. Still, I don’t see the Chiefs having that much of an edge over a team that just blew them out. And I’m not a big fan of the “revenge” angle as I’d rather have the team that has proven they can beat the other team than the one that wishes they can even the score, plus I’m getting more than a TD.

PLAY: Broncos for 1 unit.

Raiders +13 vs. Chargers

Here’s a similar situation, and not just because it’s also an AFC West matchup. The Raiders beat the Chargers 35-27 on Oct. 11 as 7-point underdogs and now are getting nearly two touchdowns. Yes, the Chargers are arguably the hottest team in the league, but they’re still only 6-5 and the Raiders are fighting to stay live in the AFC West, where they would own all tiebreakers if they can beat the Chargers and Chiefs down the stretch, so they’re not going to roll over here. I would prefer if Bruce Gradkowski (separated shoulder) was starting for the Raiders, but hopefully Jason Campbell learned something from watching him run the offense.

PLAY: Raiders for 1 unit.

Last week: 2-1 for a profit of 0.9 units (based on risking 1.1 units to win 1). NFL season record: 20-16 for a net profit of 2.4 units.