Fact is, the public is often right. According to SportsInsights.com, the public is 17-14 in games that generated the most lopsided action of that given day. Last year, it was 26-25 in such games. Overall, though, betting against the public has paid dividends this season, mostly because underdogs entered Thursday covering the spread about 58 percent of the time. Road underdogs have experienced the most success, covering about 62 percent of the time.
As of Thursday, the public darlings were Baltimore (-3.5 at Pittsburgh), the Saints (-4.5 in Oakland), the Bucs (-1 in Carolina) and the Bengals (-3.5 in Kansas City). Betting against any of these teams requires betting on Byron Leftwich, Carson Palmer, Cam Newton or Matt Cassel, which is why it can be difficult to pull the trigger. Of the four, though, I'm leaning toward Cassel, who just might be the most stomach-churning quarterback of the four. But this is more of a bet against the Bengals than it is a bet on the Chiefs, who have lost six straight games and are 1-8 straight up this season. Cincinnati might be coming off a big win over the Giants, but they are not a team that should be 3.5 road favorites against anybody in the league. The Bengals are overvalued, to the point where I'd probably take the Chiefs even if this game was a pick 'em.
Kansas City has not performed particularly well in any facet, but they have been particularly brutal against the run, allowing an average of 4.4 yards per carry. The Chiefs defense allowed 123 yards on 15 carries to C.J. Spiller, 102 yards on 17 carries to Ray Rice, 114 yards on 29 carries to Darren McFadden, 62 yards on seven carries to Darren Sproles, and a total of 128 yards on 27 carries to Ryan Mathews in two games against the Chargers. The Bengals also happen to be allowing 4.4 YPC. The difference, though, is that the Chiefs can run the ball on offense. Heading into Week 11, their 4.6 YPC ranks seventh in the league. The Bengals, on the other hand, possess one of the NFL's most anemic rush offenses with a 3.7 YPC that ranks 28th. How bad have they been? Starter BenJarvus Green-Ellis has averaged better than 3.9 yards per carry in just one game this season.
Granted, no running attack can overcome three turnovers, which the Chiefs offense has produced in all but two games this season. But if Cassel can avoid the kinds of mistakes that have plagued him throughout the year, Kansas City should have an opportunity to control the game on the ground.
Betting Big Red
Eagles fans are probably a bit more optimistic about the Nick Foles era than oddsmakers, who made the Redskins a 3.5 point favorite this week. The Washington defense is among the worst in the game, which is why you cannot rule out an Eagles win. But you can certainly avoid betting on it. And you should.
Inside the lines
The public's favorite road dog appears to be the Colts, who are getting 9.5 points in New England, but there are smarter plays, specifically in Dallas, where the Browns are getting eight points coming off a bye week. Also, it is worth noting that Philip Rivers has won his last three games in Denver, and the Chargers are getting 7.5 points against a Broncos team who they self-destructed against earlier this season. Besides the Chiefs, the one home dog that jumps out at me is the Raiders, who remind me a bit of the Kansas City team that recorded its one victory of the season by pounding the ball on the ground against that porous Saints defense.