In this series, I will pick an underdog every week that I think will not only cover the spread, but also have a good chance at winning outright.
Shortly after I started this series, I was asked if I was going to pick big underdogs that provided good betting value, even though they were much less likely to win outright. Well, this week's pick is exactly that, but I also think there's a good chance of a straight up upset.
Underdog of the Week:
DEN @ DAL
DAL +280 ML
There's been a lot of talk about how unstoppable Denver has looked, with Manning on pace to break all kinds of records. But now that a quarter of the season has gone by, let's take a closer look. Denver's opponents so far this season have been pretty bad, while Dallas' close road loss to the Chiefs seems much better in hindsight. Denver hasn't really been tested yet, and in the NFL, there's a very big difference between a good team routing a bad team (where big lines often aren't big enough) versus a good team given a big spread against a team that can put up a fight. Over the past 5 years, favorites in week 5 laying 6.5-8.5 points were only 7-8 straight up while favorites laying 9 or more points were 7-2.
Dallas has also won both its home games while Denver has only won on the road once. Given the small sample size, no one's willing to put too much into home-road splits, but it could easily matter. Over the past 5 years, teams favored by 6.5-8.5 points on the road were only 2-4 straight up. The Cowboys have been the poster child of inconsistency the last few years, but that's what makes them dangerous as a big underdog.
Interesting Stat of the Week:
Over the past 5 seasons, there's been at least one underdog of 6.5 or more points that's won outright in week 5.
ML 3-1 +330