The Pats have dumbfounded foes

ROB LONGLEY

, Last Updated: 9:08 AM ET

You think opposing defences have had it tough getting a handle on Tom Brady, Randy Moss and the rest of the 5-0 New England Patriots?

They are not alone.

Oddsmakers both in Las Vegas and with offshore betting operations bring their own form of blitz each week, jacking the point spread to bloated levels.

And they can't compete either as the Pats are delighting those who love betting favourites by going a perfect 5-0 in that table as well.

Robert Walker, who sets the line for several Vegas sports books, originally intended to open New England as three-point picks in Dallas today for the season's first true marquee contest.

But when Tony Romo and the Cowboys stunk out the joint by merely squeaking out a win in Buffalo on Monday night against the Bills, he adjusted that to 41/2.

Was it enough to put New England investors on their heels? Hardly.

"We set it at 41/2 and it quickly moved up to six, which surprised me," said Walker, who doubts the line will hit seven but has given up trying to predict how high Pats backers will go.

"I still think this line is inflated."

Laying close to a touchdown on the road against another undefeated team goes against just about every piece of gambling common sense.

But until bettors get dinged, it will continue to be that way.

The Patriots have won by an average of 23 points but they also are cooking the bookies by an average of 13 per game against the spread during their dominating early season run of excellence.

WORTH THE HYPE?

It may or not be a Super Bowl preview -- getting out of the AFC isn't a given for the Patriots by any means.

There is, however, plenty of reason the New England-Dallas game is off the charts with interest.

For starters, it features the NFL's two top scoring teams (Pats, 36.4 points per game) and 'Boys (35.2) and it is just the fifth time in league history that two teams with a record of 5-0 or better have met.

The torrid starts have both teams on pace to set the all-time single-season points record of 556 set by Minnesota in 1998.

And Brady, with 16 touchdown passes, is ahead of the five-game mark Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts had when he set the single-season record of 49 in 2004.

LOVIE THAT START

Bears coach Lovie Smith is far from reaching for the panic button despite his team's 1-3 start just as he wasn't predicting a Super Bowl when they were 5-0 a year ago.

"It's funny how some teams are doomed if they don't get a good start and some teams start thinking that they should start filling out the ticket requests for the Super Bowl after a quarter of the season," Smith said.

"You have to let the season play out a little bit."

Smith has a point.

Since 2000, 39 teams that entered Week 6 with a winning record did not make the playoffs, while 11 hit the stretch with losing records.

Most notable among the latter were the 2001 Patriots, who started 2-3 on their way to a title in Super Bowl XXXVI.

KEITH ON CAL

Kenton Keith remembers the first couple of times he saw former CFL coaching legend Cal Murphy nosing around Saskatchewan Roughriders games.

"I just thought he was a guy who bought a Colts jacket," said Keith, who had a breakthrough two touchdown, 121-yard game against Tampa last week.

"Guys would tell me: 'Oh, that's the Colts scout,' but I never believed them.'"

He did in the off-season when Murphy recommended to Colts president Bill Polian that the all-purpose running back was worth signing.

Like Murphy, Polian has football roots in Canada.


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