Favored Underdogs

You might be looking at the title of my blog and start scratching your head. I don’t blame you. Some crazy stuff goes on in the NFL, but underdogs being favored doesn’t make sense from any level. But this season, teams who are favored just aren’t coming through.

Take a look at the lines from the first eight weeks of the season. The underdog teams are winning 54.3% of the time, good for a 63-53 record. This isn’t out of the ordinary really, and Vegas is still making plenty of money. But it raises the point of what the lines are really meant to do. Contrary to popular belief, lines aren’t really made to show who should win, as much as they are made to get an even amount of plays on each side so casinos can make as much money as possible.

Take, for example, Super Bowl and World Series odds for popular teams. Dallas started the year as 10-1 favorites to win the Super Bowl. They weren’t actually that highly thought of, but people will still bet on them. The Cubs are often as high as 8-1 as World Series favorites because no matter how high the odds get, Chicago fans who head over for a fun weekend in Vegas will still place 10 bucks on their Cubbies. So Vegas makes money, and we all lose.

This isn’t all to sound cynical, but rather to point out that lines may not always be what they seem. If you’re quick to jump on the bandwagon of an unpopular team, stand your ground. The Bills will never get the respect of most betters because they just think of J.P. Losman and and the old Bills. So stay strong in your convictions and bet away!

Here are my Week 9 odds with home teams in CAPS.

Falcons (-7.5) over COLTS
What makes this game really sad is that this would be a great game one year ago. But this one won’t be close; these are the type of games that make me want to name Peyton Manning the MVP.

BILLS (-1.5) over Jets
New York plus points sounds really enticing. In fact, I nearly took them this week. But the Bills are 5-0 at home, and the Jets are 0-4 on the road. You may be like me and not like either team this year, but you can’t deny the success of Former Harvard Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and the rest of the offense.

TEXANS (-10.5) over Browns
The Browns are another enticing underdog team with such a huge line this year. They’ve got two great cover corners in Joe Haden and Sheldon Brown, and Texans’ star receiver Andre Johnson is missing a fifth straight game with a hamstring injury. But Cleveland can’t stop the run. And boy can Houston pound the ball. Arian Foster and Ben Tate are leading the charge, putting up 141.9 yards per game, good for 4th in the league. Match that up with the third best defense in the league, and I’m comfortable giving up so many points.

COWBOYS (-12.5) over Seahawks
Can you really trust Tony Romo this much? In short: when they face the Seahawks, yes.

CHEIFS (-6.5) over Dolphins
Chris Berman today said that all the Dolphins want is a win. No, I think all they want is Andrew Luck. They’ve kept games close the past two weeks, only to blow double-digit leads. But the Chiefs are better than the Broncos, and Arrowhead Stadium can be tough on opponents. This season will be painful, Dolphins fans, but you’ll be happy with Andrew Luck under center next year.

Buccaneers (+7.5) over SAINTS
Just think for a second about how great the quarterbacks in the NFC South are.
…Done? Alright well here are my rankings:
1. Drew Brees
2. Cam Newton
3. Josh Freeman
4. Matt Ryan
5. Jimmy Clausen!
Alright, well maybe that fifth one doesn’t belong, but the interesting rank is Freeman at 3 over Ryan. Some of this has to do with Ryan showing promise, but never totally coming through, but Freeman has really blossomed into a star. He’s been hidden by Cam Newton’s success, but they share the same frame, and Freeman’s been really clutch. This season’s he’s been more turnover prone than last year’s breakout, but he’s playing great now and on his way up.

Niners (-3.5) over REDSKINS
I’m no fan of Alex Smith, but what have the Redskins done to merit being a 3.5 point underdog? The Niners have a killer defensive line, plenty of options offensively, and no John Beck. Here that crunch? That’s the Lance in my Pants Lock o’ the Week.

Bengals (+2.5) over TITANS
Who would’ve guessed that after a lockout, veteran free agent pickup Matt Hasselbeck would be firing on all cylinders while the most explosive running back in the game would look more like Bob Johnson than Chris Johnson? Not me. But I like the Bengals this week with Cedric Benson coming off a short suspension, and Andy Dalton being just good enough to not blow a win.

Broncos (+7.5) over RAIDERS
News is coming out of Cincinnati that the next best offer for Carson Palmer after Oakland’s of two first-round picks was a third. A third! I don’t care if you bring in Rudi, Chad, and the rest of the crew with T.J. Houshmandzadeh, this team won’t be good.

They called it, "San Diago," which, of course does not mean Saint Diego. In fact, scholars maintain that the true translation has been lost.

CHARGERS (+5.5) over Packers
I have a hunch, and this is just a hunch, but I think the Packers will hit a speed bump this week. Teams coming off byes this year have been playing poorly because of the crazy padded practice and player contact rules. Not only that, but the Packers have not been able to stop the pass or run the ball. Phillip Rivers can light it up through the air, and I’m not sure the Pack is read for what’s coming for them in sunny San Diago.

Rams (+4.5) over CARDINALS
I’m still confused as to how a winless Rams team beat the Saints last week. The Saints put up 62 points the week before and St. Louis had put up 56 points the whole season. It just doesn’t make any sense. I’m picking the Rams not in good faith, but rather mistrust in the Cardinals. I’ll be willing to give points with the Cardinals when Kevin Kolb proves to be average.

PATRIOTS (-8.5) over Giants
Well Eli Manning says he’s in Tom Brady’s league, so this game should be really close, right? Right. Hakeem Nicks and Ahmad Bradshaw are out, and Brady is in. That about sums things up for me.

Ravens (+3.5) over STEELERS
I love the Ravens this year. The put a beating on the Steelers in Week 1, but we all know that won’t happen again. However, we’ve seen Ray Rice figure out the Steel Curtain, having two of the three hundred yard rushing games against the Steelers in the last 65 games. Even if Baltimore doesn’t win, I think it’s only by a field goal.

EAGLES (-6.5) over Bears
The Eagles showed last week just why I like them to make it to the Super Bowl–they’re fast, quick, and explosive. LeSean McCoy may be the second best back in the league, and we haven’t even seen DeSean Jackson in full form yet. This game won’t be close for one reason: the Bears are old and slow on defense. Play all yer Iggles in fantasy!

Last Week: 4-9

Season: 55-61

Lance in my Pants Lock o’ the Week: 5-3

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