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For the fourth straight week the Denver Broncos won and covered the spread as they demolished the Carolina Panthers 36-14 as four-point road favorites on Sunday. Already one of the more popular public teams for the last few decades, now quarterback Peyton Manning on his comeback crusade, the bandwagon is almost at full capacity with just about everyone jumping aboard for the apparent free cash the sports books are giving over the last month.

The books have been rapidly adjusting the Broncos (6-3) rating every week, and it hasn’t been enough, especially during their current run against some of the not so best teams in the league. Manning had to play a murderous schedule during first five weeks of getting acclimated where they went 2-3 with losses against some of the best teams in the league, such as the Patriots (21-31), Texans (25-31) and Falcons (21-27).

Outside of the Falcons game when he threw three interceptions in the first quarter -- his only three of the first five games, Manning got pretty high marks for being a player that had missed a season and most betting experts thought would have a minimal impact before the season started. The season win total for the Broncos opened at 9 ½ wins and was quickly bet UNDER down to 8 ½.

Since the loss to the Patriots, the Broncos have averaged 34 points and game and won them all. After Sunday’s 301-yard passing performance, Manning is now the top rated quarterback in the league, just like his days with the Colts, and it could be argued that he’s having one of his best statistical seasons ever.

While they had a tough go of it right out of the gate with their schedule playing six playoff teams from last season in their first eight games, the only playoff team from last season remaining on their schedule is a road date with the Ravens on Dec. 16.

It looks like the Texans have the inside track to having home field edge in the AFC, but Denver, with their light schedule, could be a top contender for the bye during wild card week. The LVH SuperBook in Las Vegas has dropped the Broncos odds to win the Super Bowl down to 6/1 (Bet $100 to win $600) and this week they also dropped the NFC Super Bowl spread from -2 ½ down to -1 ½.

The Broncos are 7 ½-point home favorites this week against the Chargers, their largest spread of the season. The spread is indicative of the Broncos rapidly increased rating, as well as the Chargers rating declining. In Week 9, it was the Broncos who were the ring leader of Las Vegas sports books worst Sunday ever as they were the root to almost every successful parlay in town. On Sunday, they again were the most popular team played, except they didn’t have any of the early popular teams charging up the hill against the books with them.

The Patriots, Giants and Lions were part of the core four with the Broncos. The Patriots beat the Bills but didn’t cover the 13 ½-point spread while the Bengals and Vikings won outright as underdogs, two of four ‘dogs on the day that won straight up.

The bettors came back in the afternoon with the Cowboys and Seahawks, but the 49ers could manage only a 24-24 tie and didn’t even come close to covering their 13-point spread. Had bettors gone two out of three in the late games with two of the four early games getting there, they might have sent the books to a losing weekend. But the liability wasn’t there because of no traction was gained early on.

By the time the Texans played the Bears in the Sunday night game, it really didn’t matter who won the game, the books needed the game to stay UNDER the total which had dropped to 38 because of rain, and it did in Houston’s 13-6 win over Chicago.

A few sports book directors said it was an above average day, which basically means it will take another two weeks like Sunday to recoup what was lost last week.

College Football Notes

The sportsbooks had a good Saturday with key teams like Louisville, Alabama, UCLA, Arizona and BYU failing to cover the spreads. The shocker of the day was Alabama losing as a 13-point favorite at home to Texas A&M, which sets up Kansas State and Oregon to be the National Championship game. The LVH has dropped Oregon down to 6/5 (Bet $100 to win $120) and Kansas State down to 7/5 (Bet $100 to win $140) to win the BCS title game. Alabama is now 6/1.

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