by Mark Mayer | The only time NFL favorites have had a winning edge in betting was the very first preseason game. In that result Washington, a 4½-point favorite, defeated Indianapolis 30-16 at Canton, Ohio. Since then, it has been a Hall of Fame performance for underdogs.
Underdogs covered the spread in three of four games last night to bring the current total to 23-10-5, nearly a 70 percent winning percentage at the betting window. And, its not like you havent been warned. Favorites over the years have had problems covering spreads, mainly because the superior teams rest their top players.
The New England Patriots are a prime example. Tom Brady has been held out of the three exhibition games (Baltimore, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia), yet the Patriots were favored twice and just a 2-point underdog in the third. The Patriots went 0-3, losing twice as a favorite. Entering tonights slate of nine exhibition games, favorites are on a 4-14-1ATS slide.
Favorites under the gun tonight are Detroit, the New York Jets, Carolina, New Orleans, Miami, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Oakland. The Jaguars, Saints and Steelers are road favorites. One favorite that did bring home the bacon last night was Atlanta, which defeated Tennessee 17-3 at the Georgia Dome as rookie QB Matt Ryan threw for over 100 yards and a touchdown.
Also shining at QB was Green Bays Aaron Rodgers, who threw for one score and ran for another in a 27-24 win at Denver. Rodgers completed 18 of 22 passes in his best performance of the preseason. Tonight former Green Bay QB Brett Favre starts for the Jets in their annual preseason matchup with the rival Giants at the Meadowlands. The Super Bowl champion Giants, the visiting team, are a 3-point underdog after opening with the G-men a 1-point favorite.
Here are tonights NFL matchups and lines:
Cleveland +2½ at Detroit (41)
NY Giants +3 at NY Jets (38)
Washington +3 at Carolina (37)
New Orleans -3 at Cincinnati (41)
Jacksonville -3 at Tampa Bay (35)
Kansas City +3 at Miami (34)
Pittsburgh -2½ at Minnesota (36½)
Baltimore PK at St. Louis (34½)
Arizona +3 at Oakland (39)