Posted 11/03/2007 at 11:30 AM
Between the Lines... We normally warn of the pitfalls of taking road favorites in the NFL but last week was remarkable weekend for road teams with a 9-2 ATS mark and eight teams winning outright on the road. All five road favorites won and covered last week but even with the banner week for road chalk, NFL road favorites have covered just 42 percent of the time in the last season and a half. It can be cyclical situation however as in 2005 road favorites covered almost 65 percent of the time. 2005 was a dominating year for favorites in the NFL, while 2006 was a big year for underdogs. This season started off with a big edge for underdogs but after the last two weeks the numbers are very close to even. Totals players were sweating on Sunday as four games fell within 2-points of the closing total line. This week’s big game between the Patriots and Colts features an opening total 57, the highest total in the last three seasons. What is surprising is that since 2003 there have been 10 games with closing total lines of 55 or higher, with six of those games involving the Colts and the other four involving either the Chiefs or the Vikings. More surprising is that the ‘over’ has cashed in eight of those ten games. While much is being made of the hot start for the Patriots and the perfect 8-0 ATS record, the ‘over’ has also been a money-maker in New England games with seven of the eight games falling ‘over’.
In college football last week all five undefeated teams survived with Boston College and Arizona State needing second-half comebacks to do so. A few weeks ago Kansas appeared to be the most questionable of the remaining undefeated teams after the ultra weak non-conference schedule but with a remarkable run defense the Jayhawks are winning over backers. KU has won three of the last four games on the road but value is catching up to the only remaining undefeated ATS team. The remaining schedule for Kansas is by far the most favorable of the remaining undefeated teams (sans Hawaii) as the Jayhawks go on the road just once. Kansas will have to play a Big 12 Championship game however (most likely against Oklahoma), something Ohio State and Arizona State would avoid if they were to win out. The Buckeyes face the top three other Big Ten contenders in the final three weeks but two of the three games are in Columbus. Only ten BCS conference teams likely remain in the hunt for the national championship with no more than one loss. Many of those teams will face each other in virtual elimination games, starting with Arizona State and Oregon facing off this week. With the most support of any one loss team the table is setting up nicely for LSU but West Virginia is another team that is in strong position. Oregon made a big statement last week but the Ducks have several challenging games left on the schedule. Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma will sort themselves out in the Big 12 with the KU and Missouri closing the season against each other and the winner most likely facing Oklahoma for the Big 12 title. Boston College will need to play five games and none of them are easy-win situations against a solid but undistinguished pack in the ACC. Good Luck.