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The Bettor’s Edge

NFL bettors should heed record of NFC underdogs

This season, I’ve forced myself to take notes after every week of NFL gambling. I track basic spread trends and leave myself reminders, hopeful that this extra effort and discipline will uncover an occasional edge.

While reviewing these notes, I typically find they’re about as exciting as stories covering the NHL lockout. More than once, I’ve wondered why I bother, but this week I discovered something worth sharing.

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It’s no secret that underdogs have been the story through Week 6, compiling a 56-32-2 record against the spread (including an 11-2 mark last week). But a little more research revealed the following:

Underdogs from the AFC are 24-28-1 against the spread.

Underdogs from the NFC are 32-5-1 against the spread.

NFC underdogs against AFC favorites are 7-0 against the spread.

Draw your own conclusions, but here’s mine: The NFC is the better conference. Act accordingly.

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

TAMPA BAY (+2½) over New Orleans: Home underdogs were 4-0 in Week 6 and are 21-12 overall, so let’s ride that wave — and the fact that Tampa Bay is an NFC underdog — in this divisional battle. It’s not the Saints’ year. Risking $110 to win $100.

CINCINNATI (+2½) over Pittsburgh: The Steelers are favored because they’re the Steelers (the Bengals losing two straight to Miami and Cleveland didn’t help, either). On the field, though, Pittsburgh’s weak running game has left it too reliant on the pass — not an attractive formula for winning on the road in the rugged AFC North. Risking $110 to win $100.

ST. LOUIS (+5½) over Green Bay: The Packers pounded the class of the AFC, so they must have things figured out, correct? Heavy money will flow toward Green Bay — on the road for its second straight game — but don’t bite. The Rams are 5-1 against the spread, and the Packers, saddled with an average defense and key injuries on offense, are merely trying to survive. Risking $110 to win $100.

NEW ENGLAND (-10½) over New York Jets: The Patriots aren’t as confusing as the local chatter would have you believe. New England matches up well against certain teams, not so well against others. This is one of those matchups on which you can comfortably lay double-digit points. Risking $110 to win $100.

Last week: 3-1, plus $290. Season: 12-12, minus $23.

Ed Ryan can be reached at ed_ryan@globe.com.
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