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Despite the NFL’s efforts to create parity, a slew of teams find themselves in the “Suck for Luck” sweepstakes less than halfway through the season.
The disparity in quarterback play is so big -- from Drew Brees to Curtis Painter, from Aaron Rodgers to Matt Moore, from Tom Brady to Charlie Whitehurst – that we’re seeing a ton of double-digit spreads.
Six games on the Week 8 slate could close at 10 or higher.
So how are double-digit favorites faring? Not nearly as well as the top-ranked college teams.
They’re 5-8 against the spread after the Jaguars upset the Ravens 12-7 Monday. If you include spreads of 9 or higher, big favorites are 9-11 ATS. But the winless teams have been reliable fade material. The Rams are 0-6 ATS, the Dolphins 0-5-1 ATS and the Colts 2-5 ATS.
“You’re seeing no improvement from the bottom teams,” Caesars Palace race and sports analyst Todd Fuhrman said. “With teams like the Dolphins, Rams and Colts, it’s going to be awfully tough to get public money on them, so you’re going to see a lot of double-digit spreads involving them.”
Although big favorites haven’t come through yet, Fuhrman can see that changing.
“The Colts weren’t even close this weekend, and neither were the Rams,” he said. “There’s such a wide disparity between the top and bottom of the league. Early on some of those lines were inflated but now they’re not.”
This week the Dolphins are getting 10 at the Giants. The Colts are getting 9.5 at the Titans, who just got waxed 41-7 at home.
And the Rams will get two touchdowns (give or take a couple points depending on Sam Bradford’s status) at home vs. the Saints.
“It looks like the gap between the good teams and the weak ones is pretty wide, with most of the better teams returning close to intact from last year, which gave them a better chance to be in rhythm,” Las Vegas handicapper David Malinsky said.
However, Malinsky noted, double-digit favorites are slightly less likely to cover against division opponents. This year, they’re 0-2 ATS. San Diego beat Kansas City 20-17 as a 14-point favorite, and Green Bay beat Minnesota 33-27 on Sunday as a 10-point favorite.
Oddsmaker Pete Korner, founder of the Las Vegas-based Sports Club, sent out a special message to his sportsbook clients this week.
“With nearly half the games near or over double digits, we are urging everyone to keep your numbers as high as you can during the week and take as much dog money as you can,” Korner wrote. “Be aggressive with parlay cards and use higher than what you have on the board.
“The masses aren’t looking at the numbers; they’re just playing the better teams. The wiseguys are getting beat but that’s not putting a lot of cash in your pockets when the parlays and cards are cashing for the crowds. Be more aggressive with your bookmaking this weekend and try to stymie the big favorite push that we all will see in the NFL.”
BYE WEEK BLUES
Teams coming off a bye are supposed to be refreshed and energized. They haven’t looked that way this year.
They’re 3-9 SU and 4-7-1 ATS.
This week, the Giants, Bills, Eagles, Patriots, Bengals and 49ers return from their byes. Colleague Jeff Rake noted the Eagles are 12-0 SU off a bye under coach Andy Reid, 8-2 ATS in their last 10.
The Bills are 5-5 SU and 7-2-1 ATS off a bye.
The Bengals are 3-7 ATS, though they’ve covered two of the last three seasons.
ROOKIE QUARTERBACKS KEEP THRIVING
Last week’s Spread Sheet column pointed out you’d be winning if you’d bet on teams starting rookie QBs. They’d gone 10-6 ATS through six weeks.
In Week 7 they continued to thrive, posting a perfect 3-0 ATS mark. Christian Ponder-led Minnesota covered as 10-point dogs vs. Green Bay. Cam Newton-led Carolina covered as a home favorite over Washington.
And Blaine Gabbert-led Jacksonville pulled the biggest surprise, winning outright over Baltimore. Gabbert was far from spectacular, hitting 9 of 20 throws for 93 yards. But he did not turn the ball over against a fierce Ravens’ defense.
Just another reminder that college QBs are arriving much more prepared for the NFL.