Favorites fall

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After having a losing Thanksgiving Day where the preferred public sides and totals went 4-2 between the three NFL games, the Las Vegas sports books were all thinking “here we go again.”

They know how the story typically ends where the mounting risk of those games carry over into Friday and Saturday’s college action and explode like a powder keg on Sunday with the remaining pro games.

But it didn’t happen in the year of the underdog.

The sports books did lose as usual on Thanksgiving, with Saints saving horrendous losses by getting hooked as a 3½-point favorite, but the losses stopped there.

Week 12 showed us that this season is still the season of the dogs where favorites went 5-10 for the week and 3-9 on Sunday. For the season, NFL favorites are now 74-93-6, which has equated to 10 winning weeks for the house with only one loss and a push.

To show how good Sunday was for the sports books, the only game the public had a weighted opinion on that won was the Texans 20-0 over the Titans as 6½-point favorites.

Sharp money came in on the Titans late, dropping the game to -5 by kickoff. By the end of the day when the remaining public teams lost, even the Texans game turned out to be a winner.

When combining the other public teams (Steelers, Eagles, Raiders, Ravens, Browns and Giants) who all didn’t cover, it’s easy to see how the sports books raked in all the chips this week.

The Steelers led the way as the most lopsided public bet team in ticket counts as a 6½-point favorite who took overtime to beat the Bills 19-16 after being comfortably up 13-0 at halftime.

The only other favorites who covered along with the Texans were the Chiefs and Falcons, both games of which were bet with split opinions by the public.

Bettors did fare well with teasers, but not enough to make a big dent on the sports books’ overall day. The top teaser plays of the day were with the Giants, Steelers and Ravens.

Baltimore was favored by 7½-points and rolling with a 17-3 lead midway through the fourth quarter, but with three minutes left the Bucs got a backdoor TD and extra point. Another bad beat for the favorite in straight bets and parlays, but a winner on teasers.

The biggest moves of the week were both wins for the Sharp money – Vikings and Panthers. The Redskins had opened as a 3-point home favorite against the Vikings and quickly dropped after Brad Childress was fired, By Saturday night, it was -1 and Sunday morning the Vikings had closed as the 2-point favorite. They won 17-13.

The Browns opened -11 at home against the Panthers, but the combination of Brian St. Pierre not starting for the Panthers and Jake Delhomme starting for the Browns had the number drop to -10. Eventually it went down to 7½ by kickoff. The Browns were able to hold on 24-23 after John Kasay missed a field goal as time ran out.

The Chargers-Colts had no real bearing on the day’s outcome. The only thing the sports books were hoping for was the game to stay under 52, which happened as the Chargers befuddled Peyton Manning once again 36-14.

Between no outstanding liability from the weekend of games and the public each liking a side equally, this game meant very little, and just slightly more than the irrelevant outcome from Monday night’s Cardinals-49ers game.

I wish I could be optimistic and say the tide is turning for the favorites, but the writing is on the wall. There looked to be a little momentum gained the last two weeks, but it came to a screeching halt in week 12.

The only real continuous momentum currently going has been the totals going over the number. Last week was only 8-7, but the trend has been a winner the last few weeks.

This week, teams like the Chiefs and Broncos figure to light up the scoreboard. If Todd Haley has a chance to run it up on Josh McDaniels, he will.

New refrigerator: He only weighs 325 pounds, but Chiefs defensive lineman Shaun Smith did go to South Carolina, the same state that produced William Perry. On Sunday he accomplished a feat that no one had since Perry in 1985 by recording a sack and a rushing TD in the same game.

Bears growl: I’m not sure what’s more impressive, big plays the usual anemic Chicago offense of the Bears made against the Eagles, or how the defense bottled up Michael Vick. The Bears did everything right in their home 31-26 win Sunday. The score wasn’t close to indicating the type of dominant effort put forth. Who would have thought Chicago would be battling for the conference lead at this late stage?

Spygate 2: Denver coach Josh McDaniels and the Broncos were each fined $50,000 by the league for taping a 49ers’ practice session in London. Although McDaniels didn’t watch the tape (he should of because it might have helped in their embarrassing loss), the story becomes larger because he was the offensive coordinator when the Patriots had their own famous incidents.

When McDaniels explained to his coaching staff the differences between the two matters, he revealed key information that wasn’t released during the Patriots scandal. It was info that Bill Belichick is sure to not be happy about which could put a strain on their relationship.

Once McDaniels is fired from Denver, he will need Belichick’s support and hope that he doesn’t get the cold shoulder like another Belichick disciple, Eric Mangini.

Speaking of Belichick’s disciple’s, he’s not exactly produced a tree of prosperity like Bill Walsh did when he won Super Bowls at San Francisco. In fact, they have all been busts.

McDaniels is 5-16 record over his last 21 games, Mangini’s 23-25 with the Jets and 9-18 with Browns, Romeo Crennel’s 24-40 with the Browns and Charlie Weis 35-27 at Norte Dame with only three bowl games (1-2) in five seasons.

Johnson-Finnegan Bout: Cortland Finnegan is the best in the league at taking players out of their game and for the second straight year, he got Andre Johnson out of his and likely a league suspension.

Finnegan is the leader of a defensive team perceived dirty, while some just call them smart; Jeff Fisher teams have always been the first to gouge and poke in piles while the retaliating team gets the penalty. Even though Finnegan didn’t throw any blows like Johnson did, he too could face some league punishment from past problems.


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