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Joe Nelson - Blogs

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BETWEEN THE LINES 9/29

By Joe Nelson
Posted 09/29/2008 at 05:06 PM

Double-digit favorites moved to 0-6 in the NFL this season as Dallas was the latest victim, losing outright to Washington last week. Favorites on the whole have had great success this season in the NFL, winning over 58 percent of the time and road favorites have had unusual success with an 11-6 record so far.

Last week’s card featured three ugly home underdogs with the Chiefs, Rams, and Raiders all sitting as underdogs of over a touchdown at home. After the Chiefs stunned Denver both Buffalo and San Diego looked in trouble in the afternoon games but bad teams find ways to lose and the road favorites not only rallied to win the games but both ended up with narrow covers as well.

The early season has also delivered strong results for ‘over’ players, particularly last week with the ‘over’ going 9-3. In an age where dominant defense is expected from several teams, no team was held to less than nine points and only three teams failed to reach 17 points.

While NFL chalk is rolling, college favorites took a major dive last week. Several prominent top 25 programs lost to unranked teams and there was a big shuffle on top of the rankings this week. Underdogs won in nearly 64 percent of last week’s college match-ups including all three weekday games and the strong run of success for double-digit favorites was halted with a 10-15 mark last weekend. Six double-digit favorites lost outright last week and a few more were seriously threatened as well. A

glance at the conference standings will give you some surprising sights so far. Some of the more prestigious academic programs are proving it on the football field as well as Duke is 3-1, Northwestern is 5-0, Vanderbilt is 4-0, Rice is 3-1, Notre Dame is 3-1, and Stanford is 3-2. Most of those teams have been consistent losers in recent years although through the conference season that may still be the case.

If the Baltimore Ravens win on Monday night we will have an odd quartet of undefeated teams still standing. Buffalo and Tennessee are both 4-0 and the Giants, coming off a bye week, remain the lone undefeated team in the NFC. Tennessee and Baltimore will play next week but the Giants and Bills could continue rolling with the schedules lining up pretty well in the coming weeks. Recall that the Giants are playing a second place schedule despite being the Super Bowl champion, a rare luxury enjoyed after winning as a Wild Card team.

The Giants and Bills were representatives in Super Bowl XXV, the memorable 20-19 win for the Giants that is best known for Scott Norwood’s missed field goal. That game was played in Tampa, the site of this year’s big game. Bruce Springsteen is scheduled to perform at halftime however which is quite a departure from the New Kids on the Block and Michael Jackson who performed in the 1991 game. We are getting a bit ahead of ourselves however as there is a long ways to go and it would not be impossible for both teams to miss the playoffs completely despite the hot starts.

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