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Our ATS champis New England

Nov 25, 2003 8:36 AM

It is amazing when you examine the standings in sports and see just how things would look if the barometer were based on how teams perform against the spread.

In this case, we’ll take the NFL.

Through 11 games, the best team is the NFL is the New England Patriots with an 8-2-1 mark. The Patriots had covered six straight games until Houston ended the streak last Sunday. New England did win to maintain their edge in the AFC East, but the field goal margin was not quite good enough for their backers in Vegas.

The worst team is Oakland, which you probably knew since we heard about the 0-13-1 ATS mark since the start of preseason. What you may not know is that the Raiders are 2-0-1 ATS in their last three games, including a narrow 3-point loss at once-beaten Kansas City.

It’s amazing that the Raiders have gone from Super Bowl finalists to 11-point underdogs in one season. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time Oakland was a double-digit underdog to anyone. Maybe it was Super Bowl II against Lombardi’s Packers.

For the most part, ATS form is holding up well with straight-up performances. The top eight teams at least two games above .500 ATS are either at or near the top of their respective divisions. The bottom eight are having disappointing seasons in any win column, except for one notable exception.

The Seattle Seahawks are in the hunt for an NFC playoff berth, despite a 4-7 ATS mark. Fact is oddsmakers have been riding the Seahawks pretty hard all year. Seattle has been an underdog just once this year (Week 5 at Green Bay). Twice the Seahawks were double-digit favorites (-11 vs Chicago, -10.5 vs Detroit).

Last week, Seattle was a 3-point favorite on the road at Baltimore. The Seahawks looked to be in fine shape, but no less than three times blew 17-point leads and eventually lost 44-41 in arguably the most exciting game in the No Fun League this season.

Of course, the ATS losers do represent this year’s lowlifes. The Jets at 2-7-2 are a huge disappointment, but a lot of the problems had to do with losing Chad Pennington at the start of the season. Still, with Pennington back, the Jets fell short of covering as a 4-point favorite last week against the Jaguars.

The rest of the downcast make sense: San Diego 3-8, Atlanta 3-7-1, Buffalo 3-6-2, Cleveland 4-7 and Arizona 4-7.

The in-crowd aside from New England includes Cincinnati 8-3, Dallas 7-3-1, Indianapolis 7-3-1, Philadelphia 7-4, Tennessee 7-4, Baltimore 6-4-1 and St. Louis 6-4-1. Every other team is either at one game above or below the .500 mark.

See, parity exists even in betting circles.

As for what’s ahead, here are some quick tips. Tampa Bay was 0-3 ATS in its last three contests heading to last Monday night’s contest with the Giants. Philadelphia has covered its last six games heading into this week’s matchup at Carolina. The Eagles are a 1½-point underdog.

Sounds like a good money line bet to us.