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Double-Digits Are All The Rage
Double-digits have taken center stage over the past few days in the sporting world.
There is the 23-month sentence that was handed out to Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick for his part in a dog fighting ring, more than most were expecting (but probably not enough to fit the crime). Then there was the $11.6 million settlement reached between Madison Square Garden, New York Knicks coach Isiah Thomas and former team executive Anucha Browne Sanders in a sexual harassment case.
And then in actual, real life sports, the kind played on the field/rink/court/diamond, we saw a season high number of big pointspreads in the NFL in Week 14.
- It started early Sunday when the Dallas Cowboys (-10.5) traveled to the Motor City with the intention of teaching Lions quarterback Jon Kitna about the true meaning of pain. Tony Romo and his crew found themselves in a 13-point second quarter deficit, not part of the plan, but you still had the sense that the game was far from over. The Cowboys eventually recovered, winning straight-up in the final minute, but only the 10-plus point teaser players and hardcore Dallas fans that didn’t bet on the contest were excited about the 28-27 final score.
- Green Bay, Jacksonville and New England backers were also asked to lay double-digits in Week 14 and then depending on when or where you played it, so too were Colts fans in the Sunday night affair. Unlike the Cowboys, all of these teams won straight-up and each managed to cover the spread…with relative ease.
The thing that separates the Dallas and Indy games from the other three big favorites is location, location, location. Home teams are always given extra credit from oddsmakers and while it usually doesn’t happen, books are generally just looking for even action on the games. Bettors have a tendency to lean toward the home side, partly due to the fact that home teams do win almost 70-percent of the time straight-up, so tacking on those extra home field points is needed to attract action on the visiting side.
Perusing the opening lines for Week 15 and we see double-digit favorites liberally sprinkled throughout the card, with up to five games featuring a line of 10 points or more.
As the countdown to kickoff approaches, we would like to draw your attention to the big road favorites. Double-digit road favs are usually pretty rare in the NFL unless you’re the New England Patriots, who have been favored by more than two touchdowns in each of their past three away games, so we’ve trimmed the cutoff down to seven points in looking at this week’s hefty road favorites.
NFL teams playing out on the road share a fairly common sentiment when game planning for the trip: Get in, get a win and get out! Obviously, coaches aren’t concerned with covering spreads so for the bettor, there has to be some careful considerations before throwing cash down on a big road fav.
So far in 2007 there have been 13 road teams favored by more than seven points, not counting the New York Giants in Week 8 since their game against the Miami Dolphins was played at a neutral site. The results early in the year were starting to look much like the 2006 season, where home teams getting a TD or more were 9-3 against the spread, but things have reversed in the past few weeks and the current record for big home dogs is only 7-6 ATS.
Given their solid long term record, handicapping the big home dogs for a potential play is still worth consideration. There are four "live" games this week, too, but let’s take a look down the list and see if anything stands out that could separate the real value plays from the also-rans.
- On the first Saturday game of the season, Cincinnati (-8.5) is in San Fran to take on the 49ers. There is profile in effect for this game that has not only been very strong over the long haul but it is also on five-game win streak over the past four years. This profile says to play the home team in an inter-conference Saturday game – it has gone 32-11-1 ATS since 1989.
- Green Bay (-10) is laying big chalk in St. Louis but before making any plays on the Rams ask yourself one question: Brock Berlin (career starts: 1) or Brett Favre (consecutive starts: 250). Yeah, that’s what we thought.
- Seattle (-7) is hot lately and it would seem that Carolina would be no match for them. The Seahawks have had a very heavy travel schedule in the past month, though, and this early body-clock game is their third roadie in four weeks. Also, when a team scores 10 or less on the road and gives up 30-plus points and then starts the very next week at home getting a TD or more it has been a very strong play over the years. Looking for proof? The most recent example was last week in Detroit. (Lions lost 42-10 in Week 13 at Minnesota).
- Last but not least, the Colts (-10.5) are in Oakland to face the Raiders. There is a chance we could see JaMarcus Russell at some point in this game and against Peyton Manning it would certainly draw a lot of attention, but from a betting standpoint it is very difficult to justify a play against Indianapolis. The Colts are 4-1 ATS this year when favored by double-digits and that includes two road wins in the past three weeks. This is a long trip for the team, however, and with two crucial divisional games on-deck this could be the right time to strike.
For those who like to bet totals, touchdown-plus road favorite games have produced 9 overs and 4 unders, including a tidy little run of 5 overs to 1 under in the past six starts. The overall mark for 2006 was only 6 overs and 6 unders, so things could even out down the stretch.
Four days of football this week and that means only one thing – playoffs are just around the corner. Good luck and enjoy the games.
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