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LAS VEGAS – Attention all you NFL underdog players. There are six teams getting nine or more points this week.
It’s a combination of bad teams meeting good and bookmakers shading favorites up with four weeks to go in the regular season.
Favorites could be adjusted one-to-three points this time of year depending on the situation and opponent, said Las Vegas Sports Consultants oddsmaker Mike Seba.
“We’ve seen it so often in the past where bettors go against teams who are out of it,” Seba said. “The books want to whittle that down and limit liability.”
Except this season bettors may think twice about automatically fading dead teams while they lay inflated prices.
Underdogs of 10 or more points are a fantastic 17-4 (81 %) this season. They were 17-2 until Detroit and Seattle got buried last Thursday.
The three biggest spreads on the Week 14 card are Cincinnati-Indianapolis, Cleveland-Tennessee and St. Louis-Arizona. The Colts, Titans and Cardinals are all 13 ½-to-14-point favorites, respectively.
The Bengals are battered physically and mentally. The Colts have won five straight games. However, the Colts have covered only two of their last seven games.
“The Colts are the epitome of a good team that doesn’t want to expend themselves anymore than they have to,” Seba said.
Seba said Tennessee was looking at being favored by around 10 or 11 points until the Browns lost starting quarterback Derek Anderson. His replacement is Ken Dorsey, your typical dink-and-dunk well-traveled third-string journeyman. Now the line is three points higher.
The Titans are off an impressive 47-10 blowout of the Lions on Thanksgiving. Keep this in mind, though, if you’re automatically thinking of laying the heavy wood with Tennessee. Teams that just played the winless Lions are 1-10 against the spread in their following game.
Seba is shocked the Rams are such heavy ‘dogs to the Cardinals, a team they have defeated four of the past six times in Arizona.
The Cardinals have surrendered an NFL-high 26 touchdown passes, are last in rushing and already are on the verge of clinching their division title. Seba’s number on the game was Cardinals minus 10.
“How much incentive is there for Arizona to win by 20,” he asked. “Plus (Steven) Jackson is back for St. Louis. The Rams aren’t as bad as they’ve looked with Jackson and (Marc) Bulger back.”
No one is saying the Atlanta Falcons are flukes anymore. The Falcons knocked off Carolina at home two weeks ago, 45-28, and this past Sunday upset San Diego on the road, 22-16.
But the Falcons draw a tough spot this week playing at New Orleans. The Saints are 5-1 straight-up and against the spread in their home games this season.
“You have to respect that,” Seba said when asked if he could have made the Saints 2 ½-point opening favorites instead of a field goal.
The Saints desperately need a victory to maintain wild-card hopes being 6-6. The Falcons are at 8-4. NFC South Division teams are 22-2 at home this season, 17-7 against the spread.
The Saints were moving in the direction of being 3 ½-point favorites Monday afternoon after opening minus 3, minus $1.20 instead of the normal minus $1.10 juice.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if it goes to 3 ½ just because of the importance of this game for New Orleans,” Seba said. “It’s like a playoff game for the Saints. Win and they’re still in it, lose and they’re out.”
Another big spread is Denver laying nine at home to Kansas City. The Chiefs’ win against the Broncos in Week 4 and their victory against Oakland on Sunday have been Kansas City’s only wins in their last 21 games.
“You don’t want to get too high on Denver with the weather this time of year and with the Broncos defense,” Seba said.
The defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants aren’t lacking for respect anymore. They were a whooping nine-point favorite at some places for their home game versus Philadelphia.
All the Giants have done is win and cover in their last seven games, with the last six coming against teams with winning records.