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The Bettor's edge

Favoring the favorites

The Lions have had success moving the ball under the direction of backup quarterback Shaun Hill. The Lions have had success moving the ball under the direction of backup quarterback Shaun Hill. (Allen Fredrickson/Reuters)
By Ed Ryan
Globe Staff / October 8, 2010

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Last week we noted that underdogs were coming in this season at a more frequent clip than favorites. After last week, the trend has accelerated: Favorites went just 4-10 and for the season stand at 25-35-2.

So what am I doing this week? Taking three favorites. This week’s picks (home team in caps):

CINCINNATI (-6 1/2) over Tampa Bay: The Bengals were a popular pick laying points in Cleveland last weekend but the AFC North is no joke when it comes to physical, low-scoring football, so you shouldn’t have been surprised by an outright win by the Browns. The Bengals return home needing to keep pace with the iron of their division — Pittsburgh and Baltimore — to find the Buccaneers, who were an interesting story for a few minutes when they were 2-0. Those victories were at home against the Browns and at Carolina, but I’m not impressed. The Bengals are superior on both sides of the ball. Risking $165 to win $150.

DETROIT (-3) over St. Louis: I’ve won with the Rams two weeks in a row so I feel like I’m generating bad karma by picking against them, but let’s remember the goal: making money. There’s a lot to like about the way the Rams have competed, but you can now say the same about the Lions. Detroit had a near-miss against Chicago, nearly came back to beat Philadelphia, and had to settle for field goals in last week’s comeback attempt against Green Bay. The Lions are able to move the ball with backup quarterback Shaun Hill, they are at home, and they know this is a game they can win. Some of those field goals from the Green Bay loss will turn into touchdowns against St. Louis. Risking $110 to win $100.

SAN FRANCISCO (-3) over Philadelphia: Have the 49ers caved in? It didn’t appear so in Atlanta when they jumped out to a 14-0 lead. But then San Francisco sputtered and lost, 16-14. Incredibly, even at 0-4, the 49ers’ postseason hopes aren’t finished. Their next three games are against the Eagles, Raiders, and Panthers. They also face St. Louis and Arizona twice each, and Tampa Bay. Anything is possible in the NFC West, and this possible comeback by San Francisco starts Sunday night at home against the banged-up Eagles. Risking $110 to win $100.

Last week: 3-1, plus $240. Season: 9-5-1, plus $322.

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