Randall the Handle's NFL odds and frauds

RANDALL THE HANDLE, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:12 AM ET

Season win totals are a fun way to “play” in the NFL. Not only do you have a season’s worth of action, all you have to do each Sunday is root for your selected team to either win or lose (depending on whether you took “over” or “under”) without worrying about the dreaded pointspread.

Here are a couple of hints to help:

— Do not play OVER big numbers (8 or more). The numbers are established with the teams being intact. Of course, teams rarely stay intact for long in the NFL. If you play the “over” and key guy goes down, you’re done. For example, the Bears total last season was 9. They were 7-3 after 10 games, needing to win just two of remaining six. Then Jay Cutler and Matt Forte were lost and they finished 8-8.

— Look at the schedule! So many talking heads just blurt out predictions on a team’s expected record without even looking at their schedule. Did you know that the NFC North plays the NFC West and AFC South divisions this year? Take out the Niners and Texans and six winnable games remain. The AFC West gets the AFC North and the NFC South. No picnic there. You get our drift. Do your homework!

As stated, we look for unders before over and we’ve isolated a couple of good opportunities to get you started.

— The St. Louis Rams’ posted total is 6. That means they would need seven wins to go over their number. There’s a better chance that John Madden will be their punt returner than that happening. The Rams were 2-14 a year ago and have done little to improve. Opposing teams gashed them on the ground as St. Louis gave up an astounding 151 yards per game. Offensively, we don’t know if QB Sam Bradford can play simply because he had no receivers and more importantly, he was sacked a league-high 55 times. The offence managed to score a league-low 193 points last year,

All of this won’t bode well for their difficult schedule. It includes road games against Detroit and Chicago in the first three weeks. How about a three-game stretch at mid-season that features Green Bay, New England and San Francisco? Four of St. Louis’ final six games are on the road. And, they only have seven true home games as they’ll face New England across the pond in London. How can this team possibly get more than four wins? They can’t, they won’t and under 6 will be a cashable ticket.

— Would you go over 7½ wins in a 12-game schedule? That’s what “over 7½” players could be in for here as the Titans could easily go 0-4 in the first month of the season. Tennessee opens at home to NE (current line is NE -6½), then they fly to San Diego to face the Chargers, back home to take on the Lions and then off to Houston. Any win in that set would be an upset and suddenly Tennessee would need to win eight of its final 12. The Bears, Packers and Steelers are all on the Titans docket, in addition to road trips to Buffalo and Miami and hosting the Jets on a Monday night.

The team is not without concerns. Today’s NFL requires a strong pass rush to slow down opposing quarterbacks. Tennessee was weak in that department, managing just 28 sacks in 2011, second-worst in the NFL. They didn’t exactly find personnel to help correct the problem but they did hire Keith Millard. Not as a coach but as a consultant to teach a skill.

Perhaps not a bad idea, however Millard was in Tampa last year and they were a terrible pass-rush team. The team will also miss it’s best corner as Cortland Finnegan signed a $50-million contract with the Rams this off-season. From where we sit, this is a 6-10 team at best.

AROUND THE BOARD

— If the Broncos are +1.6 to win the AFC West and the Chargers are 2nd choice at marginally better odds of +1.75, how is that Denver is 15½-1 and 6½-1 to win the Super Bowl and AFC respectively while San Diego returns a prohibitive 28-1 and 12-1 to take the same two crowns?

— Forgive us if we’re mistaken but didn’t the N.Y. Giants win last year’s Super Bowl? Did they not have an impressive playoff run, knocking off the Falcons, Packers, Niners and Patriots? And didn’t the Eagles watch all of this from their couches? So how is it that the G-Men are 23-1 to repeat while underachieving Philly is 11-1 to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy?

— For the past nine seasons, each year has produced a team that has gone from “worst to first” in divisional play. While it may seem a stretch for most of this year’s group of eight, it inevitably will occur. Don’t be afraid. Most offer a very lucrative return with only the Chiefs at less than double-digit odds.

DON'T PASS ON 60%

Things change in this league more frequently than judges on American Idol. We took a look back at teams that covered or failed to cover the pointspread in 60% or more of their games in each of the past four seasons.

What we found may surprise you. Since 2007, 20 of the 22 teams (one team equaled previous year’s ratio) that covered 60% or more regressed in the subsequent year.

Similarly, 23 of 24 that failed to cover in 60% of their games, improved in their subsequent year.

Let that be a lesson to you as bettin’ folk commonly back the hot ATS (Against The Spread) teams from the most recent year only to be disappointed in the ensuing year. Conversely, it is wise to expect better results from the poor ATS squads despite their limited appeal. In both scenarios, you will see that the rise or fall of such success or failure is quite significant.

WATCH OUT FOR

2011 ATS Cover%

San Francisco, 12-3-1, 78.1

New Orleans,12-4, 75.0

Green Bay, 11-5, 68.8

Houston, 9-5-2, 62.5

CHECK OUT THESE TEAMS

2011 ATS Cover%

N.Y. Jets, 6-10, 37.5

San Diego, 6-10, 37.5

Indianapolis, 6-10, 37.5

Dallas, 5-10-1, 34.4

Tampa Bay, 4-12, 25.0

St. Louis, 3-12-1, 21.9


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