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BEHIND THE LINES

Colts start season as the favorites

September 06, 2007|Lonnie White | Times Staff Writer

The NFL season kicks off tonight with the defending Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts six-point favorites over the New Orleans Saints.

Oddsmakers love to put money on quarterback Peyton Manning, who led the Colts to a 10-3 record against the spread last season when both teams scored more than 20 points. With Drew Brees quarterbacking the Saints, oddsmakers expect a high-scoring game tonight with the over/under at 52 1/2 .

Brees, a 10-1 bet to win the NFL MVP award this season according to Point-Spreads.com, is one of the league's most productive players and can lead an offense to points in a variety of ways. But the key will be whether the Saints can keep pace with Manning, who excels in shootouts.

With Manning under center, the Colts have one of the best offenses in the AFC and their ability to score points has made a big difference against NFC teams. That's one reason the AFC went 37-27-1 against the spread against NFC teams last season.

Although the game is inside the RCA Dome, where the Colts were 8-0 last season, Brees has a strong record leading underdog teams: he's 25-15 against the spread.

College Football

The Pacific 10 Conference can make another statement tonight if Oregon State plays up to being a 3 1/2 -point road favorite against Cincinnati. Behind running back Yvenson Bernard, the Beavers defeated Utah, 24-7, at home last week and could have leading receiver Sammie Stroughter back in the lineup after he sat out the season opener.

But Cincinnati is a mystery team as a home underdog. Featuring a new spread offense that led the Bearcats to a 59-3 victory over Southeast Missouri State last week, Cincinnati may be primed to pull off an upset.

Pro Hockey

Since the NHL draft, the odds of the Kings winning the Stanley Cup have gone from 60-1 to 50-1, according to Las Vegas oddsmakers. The Ducks remain solid favorites to repeat as league champion at 6-1.

lonnie.white@latimes.com

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