Early trend in betting hits home Visitors, underdogs fare poorly in first two weeks

On the line

September 13, 1996|By Gerald Strine | Gerald Strine,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The home teams and favorites are off to fast starts in the NFL in terms of betting against the point spread. Home teams are 21-9 against the number. Favorites are 19-10-1.

The underdog at home, always a dangerous animal to be watched closely in gambling circles, is 5-4 after going 5-1 the first week. The home team easily covered both Monday night contests, Chicago as an underdog.

So what does it all mean? Nothing, at this point. The oddsmakers will adjust accordingly, if necessary, as the season continues.

By November, the home and favorite figures probably will have balanced out to about 50-50. Meanwhile, the number will increase steadily on the stronger, more popular clubs such as San Francisco and Green Bay, while dregs such as Arizona and Tampa Bay see their ratings decrease week by week until showing some signs of a turnaround.

This week's picks

Bucs at Broncos (-13 1/2 ): The Bucs' defense isn't all that bad, and with Tony Dungy as coach, it will only get better. The problem is the offense, which is awful. John Elway's legs are a little wobbly but his arm is as strong as ever, and Denver's defense, while still shaky in the secondary, has improved noticeably on the line and at linebacker.

Take the Broncos, for a mythical $250.

Ravens at Oilers (-3 1/2 ): Jeff Fisher has done a solid job since taking over as coach, and the club got unbelievably lucky that Eddie George was still available with the 14th pick in the draft. An early interception and a late fumble killed the Ravens on Sunday. Look for more turnovers here.

Take the Oilers, for a mythical $100.

Cardinals at Patriots (-10): New England deserved a better fate at Buffalo. Terry Glenn looked good in his debut. Add Vincent Brisby to Ben Coates and Drew Bledsoe soon will be running out of excuses for his lack of production. Don't give up on New England.

Take the Patriots, for a mythical $100.

Redskins (-2) at Giants: The Redskins' defense has played surprisingly well the past six quarters. The Giants' offense has a plumber for a passer.

Take the Redskins, for a mythical $100.

Chiefs (-3 1/2 ) at Seahawks: Seattle quarterback Rick Mirer got the quick hook against Denver. He deserved it. Now, he's baaaaaack . . . because John Friesz looked just as inept. Kansas City is as solid, game in and game out, as any squad in the NFL.

Take the Chiefs, for a mythical $100.

Vikings at Bears (-3 1/2 ): How can the Vikings be 2-0 with Warren Moon hurt?

Take the Bears, for a mythical $100.

Colts at Cowboys (-10): The Cowboys' rout of the Giants might have been a bit of an aberration. Besides, I'm tired of going with the favorites.

Take the Colts, for a mythical $100.

Chargers at Packers (-8): The number is a tad high. Except that the Pack looked like the World's Greatest Team in embarrassing Philadelphia.

Take the Packers, for a mythical $100.

Bills at Steelers (-3): The Bills are 2-0 without living up to preseason promise.

Take the Steelers, despite Mike Tomczak, for a mythical $100.

Last week's picks

Falcons (-3) lost to Minnesota, 23-17, minus $275; Pittsburgh (-4) defeated Ravens, 31-17, plus $250; Lions (-11 1/2 ) defeated Bucs, 21-6, plus $100; Redskins (even) defeated Bears, 10-3, plus $100; Bills (-4 1/2 ) defeated Patriots, 17-10, plus $100; Broncos (-2) defeated Seahawks, 30-20, plus $100; Cardinals (+6) lost to Dolphins, 38-10, minus $110; Eagles (+8) lost to Packers, 39-13, minus $110.

Net for week: plus $155. Net for season: minus $625.

Pub Date: 9/12/96

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