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The Bettor's Edge

Confidence hasn't been lost

By Ed Ryan
Globe Staff / November 4, 2011

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I’ve had one friend tell me he was “sharpening his résumé’’ in hopes of serving as my midseason replacement. Another asked, “What’s it like to be in crisis mode?’’ And my mother said she’s worried I’m going to lose my job.

Yes, last week was my worst week ever in print, but I’m looking at my deficit as an opportunity for a revival. I’m a second-half guy. Entering Week 11 last year, I was down nearly $400 and roared back to finish at plus $1,522 after the Super Bowl.

I do realize last year means nothing in 2011. Casinos are elaborate and bookmaking remains profitable because people like me continue to get in the batter’s box. But I have plenty of time to turn a profit, and the four selections below serve as my launching pad.

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

TENNESSEE (-3) over Cincinnati: The Bengals have roared to a 6-1 mark against the spread behind a sturdy defense and the steady play of rookie quarterback Andy Dalton (a native of Katy, Texas, the hometown of Roger Clemens). But Cincinnati remains a mystery because some of the teams it has beaten - the Browns, Seahawks, Colts, and Jaguars - barely have a clue on offense. Tennessee’s offense isn’t championship-caliber but the Titans can throw the ball and are playing their third straight game at home. The Bengals are looking to win for the third time on the road in four games. Don’t bet on it. Risking $110 to win $100.

HOUSTON (-11) over Cleveland: The Browns are 3-4 because they have been fortunate enough to have the Colts, Seahawks, and Dolphins on their schedule. Yet in its four losses, Cleveland has allowed an average of 25 points per game. Houston should be able to reach that amount Sunday, while the Browns will be lucky to reach 10. Risking $110 to win $100.

PITTSBURGH (-3) over Baltimore: The Ravens smoked the Steelers by four touchdowns in the season opener, but Pittsburgh is at home and has figured things out. Baltimore spends too much time in third and long because Joe Flacco has difficulty completing simple passes into the flat. Risking $110 to win $100.

INDIANAPOLIS (+7) over Atlanta: The Falcons are weird enough to allow the winless Colts to hang around. Indianapolis just wrapped up an embarrassing three-game road stretch, but its three home losses are by a combined 15 points. Risking $110 to win $100.

Last week: 0-4, minus $550. Season: 10-17-2, minus $1,140.

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