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The Bettor's Edge

That's an awful lot to cover

By Ed Ryan
Globe Staff / December 2, 2011
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We have gamblers roaming among us who bet on the Patriots every week, no matter the circumstances. This week that reflex shouldn’t be so involuntary.

When New England was installed as a 20 1/2-point favorite against Indianapolis, heads turned and The Bettor’s Edge began wondering about large spreads and their success rate. What we found is that you don’t see favorites of 20 points or more very often, and you hardly ever see them cover.

No team has been favored by 20 points or more since 2007, when the Patriots gave that many points four times. New England didn’t cover in any of those games. And since 1978, according to Pregame.com, there have been nine games with spreads of 20 points or more, and the favorites went 2-7 against the spread.

The Colts are 0-11 and may be even worse than their record indicates. They lose by an average of 16 points per game and they’re starting a quarterback against the Patriots who has thrown 16 passes this season.

By kickoff, this spread will have headed in only one direction: up. Do you want to lay more than three touchdowns?

This week’s picks (home team in caps):

HOUSTON (+3) over Atlanta: The Falcons are coming off a three-game homestand during which they went 0-1-2 against the number. Not inspiring, and now they go on the road to face Houston and its new starting quarterback, T.J. Yates. A rookie from North Carolina, Yates won’t have to do it alone; he’ll be supported by a stellar running game and a top-ranked defense. Atlanta has been sleepwalking, and the Texans are worth the investment as a quality home underdog. Risking $110 to win $100.

Detroit (+9) over NEW ORLEANS: The Lions have two things going for them: They’re used to playing in a dome, and they should capitalize on a vulnerable Saints pass defense. Risking $165 to win $150.

Cincinnati (+6 1/2) over PITTSBURGH: The Steelers’ last four games have been decided by an average of 5 1/2 points, and the Bengals’ last four by an average of 6. Take the generous head start and expect both teams to score in the high teens/low 20s. Risking $110 to win $100.

MIAMI (-3) over Oakland: The Raiders have been on an impressive run, winning three straight, but the Dolphins have been playing consistently well for twice as long. Risking $110 to win $100.

Last week: 2-1, plus $90. Season: 18-23-3, minus $950.

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