This season has unfolded as one of haves and have nots with some very good teams at the top of the standings and some really bad teams at the bottom. Through the first eight weeks in which teams have played either seven or eight games there are nine teams with two or fewer losses and another nine with two or fewer wins.
There were five double digit favorites last weekend — a third of the 15-game schedule — that brought to 18 the total for the season. In going 17-1 SU those double-digit favorites are just 9-9 ATS. The lone double-digit favorite to fall thus far was Kansas City’s Week Five home loss to Indianapolis. 19-13, a game in which QB Patrick Mahomes played for the Chiefs.
Since divisional realignment in 2002 the record for double digit favorites in a season has ranged from a low of 19 in 2002 to a high of 58 in 2009 (22.67 percent of all regular season games or an average of between three and four per week).
This season has seen seven of 2018’s 12 playoff teams already have losing streaks of two games or longer. Four of them — Chicago, Dallas, the Chargers and Rams — have lost three in a row. The Eagles would have joined that group with a loss last week in Buffalo. But the win ended Philly’s second two-game losing streak of the season. Baltimore and Kansas City have also lost back-to-back games.
Much of this explains why underdogs have not only been a profitable 65-50-3 ATS but why 41 of the 118 underdogs have won SU. Take note Money Line bettors.
Jets -3 at Dolphins: Following Miami’s third straight competitive effort the line dropped from 5.5 to 3 Tuesday morning. Part of the move may also be related to morning rumors of the Jets looking to trade RB Le’Veon Bell after trading DL Leonard Williams Monday.
The Jets have been a major disappointment that goes beyond the struggles of QB Sam Darnold. Ex-Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has provided leadership for the Dolphins. This is one of the few winnable games on their schedule.
Despite the short line the preference is for the experience of “Fitzmagic” over the lack of same for ghost-seeing Darnold. DOLPHINS
Colts +1 at Steelers: Both teams are off come-from-behind home wins. The Colts have the better rushing game, the Steelers the better defense. Every Colts game has been decided by seven points or less with their five wins by a combined 20 points. Three of Pittsburgh’s four losses have been by two, four and three points. The other loss came opening week at New England.
QB Mason Rudolph is developing as the ultimate successor to injured Ben Roethlisberger. This is a bad scheduling spot for the Colts off back-to-back home games with another back-to-back on deck. The Steelers are in the middle of a three-game homestand. STEELERS
Lions +2 at Raiders: Oakland’s extended road trip has ended and the Raiders play their first home game since September 15. Expected to start 1-6, Oakland pulled upsets over the Colts and Bears and were competitive in losses at Green Bay and Houston.
Detroit’s been competitive in their three losses but their unbalanced offense remains a problem, rushing for under 95 yards in five of seven games.
This should be an entertaining game as both defenses have been vulnerable to big pass plays. Each has a divisional game up next. Playing better than expected and finally back home the crowd should provide an added boost. Expected to show steady progress during the season, the Raiders are doing just that. RAIDERS
Buccaneers +6.5 at Seahawks: Tampa was rightfully upset at the officiating last week that arguably cost them a win. Seattle nearly blew a 24-0 lead in its 27-20 win at Atlanta. Four of their wins have been by four points or less. Two of them have been at home where they’ve suffered both losses.
Tampa’s opening home loss to the 49ers doesn’t look as bad as it did at the time although QB Jameis Winston continues to have turnover problems. They’ve also played excellent run defense, holding six of seven foes to under 100 yards. The Bucs are showing progress in coach Bruce Arians’ first season and Seattle has not shown much blowout capability. BUCCANEERS
Browns -2.5 at Broncos: Initially opening around Pick’em, the Browns became favored upon learning that Denver QB Joe Flacco will miss several weeks with a neck injury and backup Brandon Allen would start.
Denver’s success rests with its defense. Only one of eight foes has averaged more than 6.0 yards per play. Cleveland’s offense has had turnover issues and was minus three, three and four in turnover margin in its last three games.
Although both of Cleveland’s wins have been on the road it’s hard to back them as favorites against a top-five defense and whose conservative offense can both run and protect the football. BRONCOS
Patriots -3.5 at Ravens: Last week the advance line at the Westgate SuperBook had New England favored by 6.5. Adjusted to 4.5 the line was bet down further to 3.5.
The Pats continue to play excellent defense. In Lamar Jackson the Pats will again face a young QB against whose likes New England has enjoyed great success. At last week’s line of 6.5 the Ravens would have made for an attractive take. But laying even just over a FG is hard to pass up with an unbeaten team that’s consistently shown an ability to play its best against teams considered to present a genuine challenge. PATRIOTS
Last week: 2-4