The weekend of the underdogs
This past week, every football fan in America had a conversation that went a little something like this:
Football Fan A: “Hey, did you catch the Giants’ 44-7 blowout of the Raiders? I seriously think JaMarcus Russell was dead on the field.”
Football Fan B: “No, I didn’t, but I’ve noticed that there are an inordinate amount of bad teams this year. Seriously. Off the top of my head, I can name nine: Rams, Redskins, Chiefs, Raiders, Browns, Titans, Panthers, Bills and Bucs — and I didn’t even mention the Lions.”
Football Fan A: “Yeah, I’ve noticed that, too. It seems like every other game is a 28-point embarrassment, where you’re wondering if Todd Haley or Raheem Morris will get fired on the sideline just to keep things interesting.”
Football Fan B: “Oakland plays Philly this week. That should be fun…”
Indeed, through five weeks of the NFL season, the better teams weren’t just winning; they were winning by alarming margins. In fact, the St. Louis Rams’ average margin of defeat in those five weeks was an astounding 22.4 points.
Las Vegas responded by understandably inflating the betting lines. The Ravens-Browns game in Week 3 had a two-touchdown spread in some places. The line for the 49ers-Rams game in Week 4 was in double digits, too. Week 5 saw four huge lines: Steelers (-10