Steelers have put on best spread

TREVOR BUNKE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:16 AM ET

At the halfway point of the 2004 season, it's time to take a look at which teams are doing the best -- and worst -- against the spread.

Keep in mind the following records ATS were from odds as of game time, so some of the spreads will vary from what appeared in NFL Picks on Fridays.

It should be of little surprise that the Steelers have matched their 7-1 record by going 7-1 ATS -- the best at the midway point.

A close second to the Steelers are the Chargers (6-3), who are 7-1-1 ATS. The Patriots (7-1) are 5-1-2 ATS.

The Ravens (5-3) sport an impressive 6-2 record ATS.

In the basement, it's a three-team race: Miami (1-8) and Oakland (3-6) are both a brutal 2-7 ATS, while New Orleans (3-5) is 2-6 ATS.

In the "it doesn't make sense" department, Philadelphia (7-1) and Arizona (3-5) are both 5-3 ATS.

And, finally, in the "teams with good records but stink ATS" category, Denver (6-3) is 3-4-2 ATS and the Jets (6-2) are 3-3-2 ATS.

Baltimore (-1.5) at NY Jets: The Jets aren't favoured because starting QB Chad Pennington (shoulder) is out. Well, I seem to remember that Pennington's backup, Quincy Carter, led Dallas into the playoffs last season with a 10-6 record. Carter is one of the NFL's most accomplished (as in productive) backups, and benefits from playing at home where the Jets are 4-0 this season. Having a feeble offence catches up to the Ravens. JETS

Pittsburgh (-3.5) at Cleveland: The Steelers will eventually have a letdown, but it's not likely to come against their most-hated divisional rival. STEELERS

Houston (-9) at Indianapolis: The Colts should win, but granting them a nine-point spot is just silly with the inept defence they have. TEXANS

Chicago (+5.5) at Tennessee: This line seems a tad too high in a battle of teams who both sport 3-5 records. The Bears have won two straight, including last week's impressive victory on the road vs. the Giants. BEARS

Tampa Bay (+3.5) at Atlanta: I hedged last week when it came to the Bucs ... and, of course, was wrong as they beat the Chiefs as three-point underdogs. And that was thanks to Brian Griese, who is faring much better in his second attempt as a QB in Florida. Which Falcons will show up? The ones who beat Denver 41-28 or the ones who lost 56-10 to Kansas City? How about we meet in the middle and say Griese keeps it close. BUCCANEERS

Detroit (+3.5) at Jacksonville: QB David Garrard (Who?) starts for the Jags in place of the injured Byron Leftwich. No matter, the Lions are horrible, just horrible, on offence. JAGUARS

Seattle (Pick) at St. Louis: The Seahawks have taken their frustrations out on the Panthers and 49ers the last two weeks. Teams who have a combined record of 2-14. The Rams have four wins -- one of which was an improbable 33-27 win in overtime in Seattle after trailing 27-10 with less than six minutes to go in the fourth quarter. No revenge this week for Seattle. RAMS

Kansas City (-3.5) at New Orleans: The Saints hit rock bottom last week in 43-17 loss to the Chargers. There's still some hope left for the Chiefs, I think. CHIEFS

Cincinnati (+3.5) at Washington: The Bengals are 0-4 on the road, where they have been really bad against the run. Redskins RB Clinton Portis should have a field day. REDSKINS

Minnesota (+4) at Green Bay: The annual Vikings tumble has begun. A 5-1 start sees them now sitting at 5-3 and still down WR Randy Moss this week. A win will move the Packers into a first-place tie with Minnesota. PACKERS

NY Giants (-2) at Arizona: I've lost confidence in the Giants following last week's embarrassing home loss to Chicago. The Cardinals, as mentioned earlier, are 5-3 ATS despite a 3-5 record. If Arizona wins Sunday and the Rams beat Seattle, the Cardinals will only be a game back for top spot in the NFC West. CARDINALS

Carolina (Pick) at San Francisco: Pick 'em? Only 'cause I have to. 49ERS

Buffalo (+7.5) at New England: I like the Patriots' Bill (Belichick) over Buffalo's Bills, but a healthy dose of RB Willis McGahee should keep this one close. BILLS

Philadelphia (-6.5) at Dallas: After the Patriots were pumped in Pittsburgh two weeks ago, they came back last week and crushed the Rams. The Eagles were demolished last week in Pittsburgh ... expect them to follow New England's lead. EAGLES

Bye Week: Denver, Miami, Oakland, San Diego.

Last Week: 9-5.

Season: 63-64-3.

Best Bet: Pittsburgh.

Best Bets: 4-5 after 3-point favourite Kansas City lost 34-31 to Tampa Bay.

Suicide Pick: Indianapolis.

Suicide Picks: 7-2 after the Giants lost 28-21 to Chicago.


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