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Underdog role suits Favre fine

A fan favorite for most of his career, Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre is suddenly the NFL’s hottest underdog.

The Packers pulled their third consecutive upset Sunday, beating the San Diego Chargers 31-24 behind Favre’s three touchdown passes. Green Bay closed as a 6-point home underdog.

A 3-0 start for the Packers qualifies as a big surprise, and so does the Chargers dropping to 1-2. The betting public was too eager to support San Diego, which opened the week as a 4-point favorite.

The Chargers, considered one of the top three teams in the AFC, had the league’s best record last season at 14-2.

“It’s an inauspicious beginning,” Wynn Las Vegas sports book director John Avello said. “I don’t know what their problem is, but don’t count the Chargers out yet.

“I don’t speculate and say anybody is dead, and definitely not a team of that quality. When you look at that team, not much has changed except for the coach.”

San Diego fired coach Marty Schottenheimer in February and replaced him with Norv Turner, a decision that must now be questioned.

Favre’s ability has been doubted in recent years, but the 37-year-old appears rejuvenated and is getting a lot of help from an improved defense. Favre ripped the Chargers for 369 yards passing and tied the NFL record for career TD passes with 420.

Avello said bettors were pounding Green Bay’s regular-season win total to go under 71/2.

“The public didn’t believe the Packers would go too far,” he said.

Green Bay was a home underdog to Philadelphia in the season opener and a road underdog to the New York Giants in Week 2.

Underdogs went 8-5-2 in Week 3, with Dallas, Green Bay, Jacksonville and the New York Giants posting outright victories.

Kansas City and the New York Jets won by three as 3-point home favorites.

The Indianapolis Colts were 6-point road favorites over the Houston Texans before the line moved to 61/2 on Sunday. Late-arriving Colts bettors paid the price as Indianapolis won, 30-24.

Seattle, which closed as a 31/2-point home favorite at most books, edged Cincinnati, 24-21. The Bengals took a 21-17 lead with 2:42 remaining and failed on a 2-point conversion try. That play impacted bettors at the Las Vegas Hilton, where the Seahawks closed as 3-point favorites.

Avello said the public backed Pittsburgh and New England as big home favorites.

The Steelers, who routed San Francisco 37-16, opened as 8-point favorites and the line closed at 10. The Patriots, laying 161/2 points, blew out Buffalo, 38-7.

The Colts, Cowboys, Packers, Patriots and Steelers are the league’s only undefeated teams.

Dallas was a 3-point underdog in a 34-10 victory at Chicago. The game was tied 3-3 at halftime but ended up going over the total of 411/2.

Detroit was one underdog the public backed and regretted it. The Lions were whipped 56-21 by Philadelphia as Donovan McNabb passed for four touchdowns. The Eagles opened as 7-point home favorites, and the line dropped to 41/2.

Avello said it was not a big day for the books in terms of action or win percentage.

“The action for us has been kind of light,” Avello said. “A lot of games fell on the number, so that doesn’t help, either.”

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