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Cross-country road trips a recipe for disaster

So you want to be a world traveler? It’s not advised for football teams. The trip from the West Coast to the East Coast — and vice versa — usually is a bad one for college and NFL teams.

It has been a remarkable trend this season in the NFL, with teams traveling cross-country through three time zones repeatedly getting taken to the woodshed.

Seventeen games have featured teams making the long-distance jaunt into a hostile environment. The road teams went 3-14 straight up and 4-13 against the spread.

Those one-sided results are no secret to bettors and oddsmakers.

“We’re certainly aware of the task at hand for the teams making the long trip,” Las Vegas Sports Consultants odds director Tony Sinisi said. “Once in a while, you’ll see abhorrent results that don’t make a lot of sense, but this is a case where there is defined logic behind the outcome.”

It’s a case that can call for slight odds adjustments.

LVSC oddsmaker Mike Seba said he always looks at the big picture, but he can’t deny the steady dose of blowouts incurred by the teams racking up frequent-flier miles.

“It’s been a slight winner in the past. The situation has been accentuated this year,” he said.

Only Oakland lost a game but covered the spread in that scenario, falling 24-23 as a 9-point underdog at Buffalo on Sept. 21. That particular situation had the Bills coming off a tough win at Jacksonville, and the Raiders were playing with former coach Lane Kiffin’s job on the line.

The Raiders get another kick at the can today as 7-point underdogs at Baltimore.

“I added a point to the line,” Seba said. “It comes down to how the Raiders travel, but on the flip side, not going overboard with a Ravens team that is ordinary on offense.”

The Arizona Cardinals are in a similar situation as 4-point underdogs against the Carolina Panthers, who are 4-0 at home.

Neither team has an obvious disadvantage in today’s game in London, where the San Diego Chargers are 3-point favorites over the New Orleans Saints.

Travel won’t be a big factor in the top game of Week 8.

Knowing full well a ton of football still is to be played, the New York Giants-Pittsburgh Steelers game is a potential matchup in early February.

The Giants and Steelers are virtually even atop the LVSC Pro Football Oddsmakers Poll (vegassportsconnect.com).

The Steelers, favored by 21/2 to 3 points at Heinz Field, might be without running back Willie Parker, who’s doubtful with a sprained left knee.

The line makes sense. Oddsmakers consider the teams equal in stature, and 3 points are added for home-field advantage.

“It’s a nonconference road game for a team that received little respect early in the season,” Seba said. “They’re the defending champs and are the hunted every week. This is a tough spot for the Giants.”

LVSC oddsmaker Sean Van Patten said he sees the Steelers, 5-1 straight up and 3-3 against the spread, heading in the right direction.

“They (hope to) get Parker back, with Mewelde Moore as a solid backup if Parker’s not right,” he said. “What strikes me is their offensive line, which had taken a lot of heat early in the season, is starting to round into form.

“The Steelers are running the ball well, but most importantly, Ben Roethlisberger is getting more time to throw.”

Brian Blessing, project manager for Las Vegas Sports Consultants, can be reached at bblessing@lvsc.om. Listen to the LVSC oddsmakers on “Sportsbook Radio,” weekdays at 4 p.m. on Fox Sports Radio (920 AM). Visit vegassportsconnect.com for more odds information.

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