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NFL missingour points

Nov 18, 2003 7:18 AM

The "lack of scoring disease" going around in professional sports these days has officially infected the NFL.

There were finals of 12-0, 9-6, 12-10 and 10-3 last week. Now don’t get us wrong, we like good defensive games. But when they involve over 25 percent of the contests, we have an epidemic.

Thank goodness for the Indy-NY Jets game, won by the Colts 38-31 as a 6½-point favorite. Cleveland did explode for 44, while Denver and Seattle added 37 and 35 in victories. But the losers (Arizona, San Diego and Detroit) managed just 6 and 8 and 14 respectively.

So why has the 20-point mark become as rare in the NFL as hitting 100 in the NBA? We believe the No Fun League has become way too conservative. Ironically Indy coach Tony Dungy, often accused of lacking imagination, beat the Jets on a touchdown run by holder Hunter Smith off a fake field goal.

However, watching the Dallas offense is like seeing paint dry. Touchdowns have become an endangered species in Buffalo, Baltimore and Miami. Heck, half the league’s offensive coordinators believe third down and five situations call for three yard passes and will rarely allow QBs to throw the ball more than 20 yards down the field.

Oddsmakers have done a splendid job adjusting to the anemic totals across the board. Last week, "unders" edged "over" outcomes 7-6 with two pushes. The NFL still rules in sports books but the college product remains more exciting to watch, both for fans and bettors.

As for college, favorites were a solid 31-21 last week. The books took several hard hits, most notably USC-Arizona and Kansas State-Nebraska. The Trojans hardly broke a sweat in a 45-0 romp at Tucson, as the line moved 1½ points Saturday from 29 to 30½.

The K-State affair was even worse for the house. Wiseguys loved the visiting Wildcats so much that the line moved during the week from Nebraska -1½ to K-State +2½. The Cornhuskers were buried, 36-9.

But if you believe winning bets come from following line moves, think again. Of the 33 games we considered having "major spread changes," only 17 wound up on the winning side. That means stick to your guns.

BAD BEAT: Rutgers. We’re still stinging from that one. The home Scarlet Knights, a 7½-point dog, led Boston College 25-20 with less than six minutes left. Then, down 28-25, Rutgers misses a possible spread-clinching field goal and allows BC to score in the final minute off two runs totaling 75 yards. It was the first ATS loss for Rutgers all year.

ROMP ALERT: Indiana. The Hoosiers come off a 52-7 drubbing from a Penn State team that dropped a record six straight games under Joe Paterno. Next up is Purdue off a bitter 3-point overtime loss at Ohio State. Think the Boilers will be a bit hot? Lay the abundant points.

ATS WATCH: Other payoffs catching our eyes this week are Navy (7-1 ATS) against Central Michigan, Rutgers (8-1-1) vs struggling Miami, FL and Rice (5-3-2) against SMU (No. 5 in Dirty Dozen).

SECOND GUESS: On us for bothering to watch USC-Arizona game even for a minute. It’s White Castles in the microwave this week. That’s time better spent.