With the Denver Broncos becoming the third NFL team this season to make an in-season coaching change, their fans can only hope it has the same effect that previous switches did for Dallas and Minnesota. The Cowboys and Vikings are 3-1 and 2-0, respectively, since a new guy started calling the shots.

From a betting perspective, the coaching changes have produced even more dramatic results. Since Dallas replaced Wade Phillips with Jason Garrett and Minnesota booted Brad Childress for Leslie Frazier, those teams are undefeated against the point spread.

In this week's early wagering, money has been going down on the Broncos, who ditched Josh McDaniels for interim coach Eric Studesville, in anticipation of Denver's road game in Arizona on Sunday. But frankly, just as key a factor is the Cardinals' quarterback situation, where they may start untested rookie John Skelton.

But aside from Arizona's QB issue, the betting public was going to back Denver, especially in light of what happened favorably with the Cowboys and Vikings. Before the coaching change, Denver was a three-point favorite, but that moved upward to 51/2 or 6 points, although the game was off the board in some quarters on Wednesday.

"The money is always going to move in that direction, and it should," said Mike Seba, senior oddsmaker for Las Vegas Sports Consultants, the company that provides odds to many casinos.

"The head coach has been fired, so everyone is fair game," Seba said. "The players are showing up for meetings on time. Everyone is on the practice field. . . . They're all under the microscope whether they figure they'll be playing for the new guy or some other team."

A historical look at what a coaching change means to a team's wagering fortunes reveals some curious statistical twists. Over the last 10 seasons, including the current one, despite the recent examples of Dallas and Minnesota, the 13 teams that made an in-season coaching change collectively remained losers in their first game after the switch at 5-8 against the line.

However, in the second game after the change, the new coaches are 11-1 against the spread (in 2001, the Vikings had just one game remaining after Dennis Green resigned). In the third week of a new coach, the point-spread record moves to 6-5. Overall since 2001, teams with new in-season sideline bosses have been 44-36-1 so far. But most of the winning record is attributable to the "something new" effect.

"It's novelty," Florida-based sports psychologist John F. Murray said, explaining why there may be a short-term positive response to a new coach. "Novelty in terms of a different approach increases arousal. Everybody is going to be a little bit more nervous because what they're listening to is a little more salient. . . . So, sometimes new alone is better than what was in the past."

Super Bowl futures. Over the last few weeks, New England has been establishing itself as the Super Bowl favorite, and Monday night' s 45-3 thrashing of the New York Jets further cemented the Patriots' spot atop the futures betting boards. At Las Vegas Sports Consultants, New England is 9-2 to win the NFL championship, followed by Pittsburgh at 5-1 and Atlanta at 6-1. The rest of the top of the field is: Jets (8-1); Green Bay (9-1); and the Eagles, New York Giants, and Baltimore (all 10-1).

Sixers roll ATS. During their recent run of four wins in the last five games, the 76ers continue to batter the point spread. The Sixers have beaten the line in eight of their last nine games, including the last two when they were favorites. During a nine-game stretch from Nov. 16 through Dec. 3, the Sixers' opponent's point totals for over-under wagers finished under eight times, perhaps indicating that coach Doug Collins has the 76ers playing better defense. However, the last two games came in at the over, and bettors tend to see the Sixers as an over team, oddsmakers say, probably because of their recent balanced scoring.