Defending NFL champs a solid bet

Sep 8, 2009 5:05 PM
NFL Notebook by Micah Roberts |

Super Bowl winners on a 'cover' streak

The pro football games kickoff this Thursday with the Titans visiting Pittsburgh in the annual season opener in which the World Champions jump start the season.

In years past, the Super Bowl champs used to start the season off on Monday night where it was a great bet against for whoever they lined up against.

For some reason, waiting for all the action on Sunday to run its course and get to Monday’s game was too much to ask for the champs.

In recent years, the champs have been playing on Thursday nights to start the season and the cover has been there in just about every instance. Last season the Giants strangled the Redskins, the year prior it was the Colts dismantling the Saints and the year before that it was the Steelers taking care of business and covering against the Dolphins.

In 2005, the Patriots beat the Raiders by 10 and in the previous year, the Patriots took care of the Colts by 3. In all instances, the champs won the game and only in 2004 did they not cover.

In all, the Super Bowl champs have won nine straight games in their openers going 7-2 ATS. The last team to not win in their first game as defending champion was the Denver Broncos, who lost to the Dolphins the year after John Elway retired.

The Steelers are currently a 5½ point favorite against the Titans.

The largest line move from all the early lines had the Denver Broncos a slight favorite at Cincinnati for week one. The sharp bettors picked on that line early and moved it to where the line has now settled, with the Bengals being a 3½ point favorite. The betting and moves on that game took place well before all the Jay Cutler drama.

Chances are that the public will be all over the Bengals just because of Denver’s poor preseason and persona amid all the bad publicity surrounding their team. This could be a spot for going against an over-inflated line and taking the points.

Todd Haley’s Kansas City Chiefs get their regime started at Baltimore against one the league’s most physical defenses. What’s worse for Haley is that his prized QB acquisition, Matt Cassel, is doubtful to return until week 3. On that news alone, the Ravens went from an 8½ point favorite to crossing a major barrier of 10 points and settling at 11 at most books. Still, that’s a lot of points to give up for a team that isn’t known for their offensive scoring prowess.

The Cardinals’ first team offense had a tough time scoring throughout preseason and their first string defense couldn’t stop anyone, but that hasn’t changed the line at all for week one as they’re favored by 6½ points at home against the 49ers, a team they seem to open up against every year. This could be the upset of the week and a great money line play.

The Packers have shown one of the most crisp offenses during pre-season, but that has only made them move from a 3 point favorite to 3½ against the rival Bears. The new defensive alignment by defensive coach Dom Capers should produce immediate dividends for the Packers who got involved in too many shootouts last year. With this being a Sunday night game, if you like the Packers, get them early because the home favorite always rises in the late game. Don’t be surprised to see it go to at least the dead number of 5½ points.

The best offensive showing by a preseason first string offense was the Seattle Seahawks led by a healthy Matt Hasselbeck, who had four TD passes in limited action in his two games played. Seattle opened a 6 point favorite early but has crossed a major point spread barrier of 7 and has settled at 8 points against the St. Louis Rams. The public is really down on the Rams and by kick-off on Sunday, it’s likely to see the spread hit as high as 9½ points, so bet early if you like the Seahawks.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Micah Roberts