Old logic doesn't apply

Updated: October 29, 2004, 12:04 PM ET
By Hank Goldberg | ESPN Insider

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    In this topsy-turvy season, more than one reliable handicapping tenet has been blown up. Home underdogs have always been a major consideration – like the first factor to look for when the line is released.

    Just a year ago, only 39 percent of road favorites won straight up. NFC travelers who have been favored this year are 27-23.

    Laying more than a touchdown home or away has been a ticket to bankruptcy in years past. That's not the case in the eyes of the oddsmakers this year, as last weekend offered 10 such situations.

    Those favorites were 4-5-1 against the spread. In other words, the results are inconclusive. In Week 8, there are five TD or more numbers.

    Philadelphia hosts Baltimore, giving the Ravens 8 points. Baltimore is without Jonathan Ogden, its star left tackle. He also missed the opener and his team put up just three points against Cleveland. The Eagles are 3-0 at home by an average of 19 points.

    The Giants are getting 7 at Minnesota. Randy Moss will be back and Daunte Culpepper registers 3½ touchdowns per game. The Giants are now 3-13 following a bye. Was that what caused the turnovers last week against Detroit?

    Denver is favored by 6½ over Atlanta, victims of a 56-point outbreak by Kansas City. The Broncos didn't fare much better as 7-point favorites at Cincinnati Monday, and came away embarrassed. The Falcons gave up eight rushing touchdowns to the Chiefs.

    Seattle, zero for its last three, including a loss at Arizona in which Matt Hasselbeck tossed four picks, is giving 8 to Carolina. I will do what neither he nor the Panthers' Jake Delhomme is doing very well at – pass.

    The Chargers are playing well, but suddenly they are 6-point favorites over the Raiders. And the Jets, 1-4 the last two seasons giving 6 or more at home, are 7-point favorites over Miami, which overcame being a 7-point dog last week in beating the Rams, 31-14.

    The only dependable team with this kind of impost is Philadelphia.

    Other Early Picks:
    Indianapolis -2 at K.C.
    Miami +7 at N.Y. Jets

    Hank Goldberg is an NFL reporter on a variety of ESPN programs. He first joined ESPN2 as football analyst on SportsNight when the new network launched Oct. 1, 1993. He has also been a frequent contributor on ESPN Radio since June 1992.
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