Some Season-Long Football Trends Show No Signs of Reversing Field

Miami Dolphins tight end Gator Hoskins (89) carries the ball as San Diego Chargers defensive end Cordarro Law (99) defends at Sun Life Stadium. | Photo by Brad Barr/USA TODAY Sports

Miami Dolphins tight end Gator Hoskins (89) carries the ball as San Diego Chargers defensive end Cordarro Law (99) defends at Sun Life Stadium. | Photo by Brad Barr/USA TODAY Sports


Saints -4.5 vs. 49ers (Best Bet)
Dolphins +3 at Lions
Falcons -1 at Bucs
Packers-Bears OVER 53.5
Baylor +5.5 at Oklahoma
Auburn -21.5 vs. Texas A&M
Utah +9 vs. Oregon

Funny thing about trends: They only last for a finite time. Just check out that flannel shirt that’s been hanging in your closet since 1993. Or that cassette deck in your four-door Saturn. Or the poll results from the just-concluded election (cut to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his liberal buds sobbing uncontrollably).

Of course, in sports-betting circles, trends are an important component to the handicapping process, but you have to be careful not to become paralyzed by them—again, the whole finite thing. Still, there’s no denying that as this football season begins to slide down the backside of the mountain, several eye-popping tendencies have taken root—and in many cases, there’s zero indication that we’re headed for a regression to the mean anytime soon.

If you’ve been smart (and lucky) enough to get out in front of and ride these trends for the past two months, please drop me a line and tell me what it feels like to be walking around with Kardashian money. If you’ve been reluctant to buy in, well, better late than never (probably … hopefully …).

Dolphin Tales: The Dolphins are coming off a 37-0 whitewash of the Chargers. Forget about the fact that San Diego has now lost eight straight games in Miami dating to January 1982 (hence the reason the Dolphins were my Best Bet last week); the bigger takeaway is that all five of the Dolphins’ victories this season have been double-digit blowouts. In fact, only once—a 27-24 home loss to Green Bay—has Miami played a game decided by fewer than 10 points.

Scoring Frenzy (Part 1): Given that NFL defensive backs can’t breathe on receivers anymore without the officials throwing a yellow hanky, it should come as no surprise that there have been a flurry of shootouts this season. That many of those shootouts have involved the Patriots, Broncos, Colts, Saints and Packers—whose quarterbacks are, respectively, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers—is also unsurprising. What is startling, particularly to bookmakers:  Those five very public franchises have gone “over” the total in 78.6 percent of their games (33 “overs”; nine “unders”).

Scoring Frenzy (Part 2): If you think that last stat has bookies hitting the bottle with Oscar Goodman-on-New-Year’s-Eve-like frequency, get a load of this: Through the NFL’s first 28 prime-time games—Monday, Thursday and Sunday nights—22 have gone “over” the total. Not only that, but favorites are 18-10 against the spread in those contests. Translation: Joe Square Public, who loves favorite-and-over parlays in prime-time games, has been crushing it.

Total Rewards: More notable over/under trends, this time from the college gridiron: The 13 teams in Conference USA are a combined 66-41-4 “over” the total. Conversely, the 14-member ACC is 72-42-5 “under” the total. As for individual teams, Michigan State and Ohio State—two of the squads in the normally defensive-minded Big Ten—head into their November 8 showdown having each gone “over” the total in seven of their eight games. Final score of their meeting in last year’s Big Ten championship game: 34-24, which crept over the total of 53½.

Meanwhile, if you’ve played all eight of San Diego State’s games “under” the number, you’re riding an eight-game winning streak. Out of 124 Division I-A teams, the Aztecs are the only one not to have topped the total. Then again, they’re hardly alone, as the normally high-flying Mountain West Conference has seen nearly 60 percent of its games (61 of 103) stay “under.” Speaking of the MWC …

No Mountain of Cash: Only three of the league’s dozen teams having winning records against the spread—Colorado State (6-3 ATS), Nevada (6-3) Boise State (5-3). The other nine teams: 32-39 ATS. Unfortunately, with the conference involved in head-to-head play the rest of the way, it’s tough to profit off this trend—at least until bowl season begins.

Last Week: 6-1 (4-0 NFL; 2-1 college; 1-0 Best Bet).

Season Record: 31-32 (16-17 NFL; 15-15 college; 4-5 Best Bets).

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