NFL: On Top of the Covers

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Line
Dog
Giants
2 1/2
EAGLES
FALCONS
2
Panthers
Bills
3 1/2
RAVENS
Jaguars
12 1/2
BENGALS
COLTS
3
Cowboys
CHIEFS
6
Chargers
SAINTS
9 1/2
Browns
REDSKINS
8 1/2
Bears
Patriots
3
CARDINALS
RAIDERS
pick
Dolphins
Vikings
2 1/2
Broncos
Bucs
2 1/2
LIONS
Rams
3
TITANS
PACKERS
5 1/2
Seahawks

The K.C. Line:
Now that those sissy boys of summer have left the stage, the time has come for the real men to take over. And nowhere are the men more real, and more ready to tell you about it, than Kansas City, where Gunther Cunningham proudly coaches smash-mouth football and his quarterback bravely tells himself that the home fans aren't booing, they're just saying "Elvis." But it's Mr. Grbac that's going to keep the Chiefs down as they win but do not cover against a Chargers defense that will make Elvis into a girlie man before the day is over.

The top-rated passer in the American Football Conference? That would be Seattle's own Mr. John Kitna, which if nothing else is proof that statistics do in fact lie like a rug, and while we might not want Bret Favre next to us in a foxhole (all those tears are hard on morale), he can quarterback our team anytime. Still, the Pack is looking more and more like the Green Bay teams of old (and we don't mean that in a good way), so count on Favre for anther slim win, and take the Seahawks and five and a half points.

The top-rated passer in the NFL, period, is the Rams' Kurt Warner, who gets his first big test Sunday on the road against Tennessee. Although you'd think the Rams have to come to earth soon, remembering that we joined the Kurt Warner fan club a few columns back tells us that this is neither the time nor the place. Take the Rams, gladly give the three points, and remember to tip your bartender.

The Rest:
Giants 2 1/2 EAGLES
FALCONS 2 Panthers
Bills 3 1/2 RAVENS
Jaguars 12 1/2 BENGALS
COLTS 3 Cowboys
SAINTS 9 1/2 Browns
REDSKINS 8 1/2 Bears
Patriots 3 CARDINALS
RAIDERS pick Dolphins
Vikings 2 1/2 BRONCOS
Bucs 2 1/2 LIONS


The Eight Ball:
My first prediction is that this week, for only the second time all season, the Jets will not lose. Thatís right, the football gods have blessed them with a bye week. As for the actually functioning gridiron gruelers, a sure bet is the Redskins over the Bears — even giving eight and a half points. The Bears have the misfortune of getting in the Skins' way when Washington feels they have something to prove. Brad Johnson has always been able to channel adversity into clutch performances, so look for punchless Chi-town to get mauled.

One of the most intriguing games this week should be the Bills at Baltimore. These are two wild cards, and it could come back to quarterbacking again. Doug Flutie, the little spitfire that he is, doesnít dig losing twice. When the going gets rough, Flutie takes the game into his own hands, and Baltimore isnít all that effective against the pass.

Last week the Ravens had Baltimore wishing it was never awarded an expansion team. This week they put the ball in the hands of first-time starter Tony Banks. Prediction: After Banks moves the Ravens nowhere, Brian Billick will be quothing "Nevermore! Nevermore!"

Did I see right — the Falcons are favored over... somebody? For anyone in Atlanta, thereís nothing to see here, please disburse; Carolina will have its rare chance to smile this Sunday. Their defense should get an ego boost against a Falcons team that mustered just 49 yards on the ground against the Steelers last week. In that game, the Falcons gave up just 14 first downs and still found a way to lose, as bad teams do. The Panthers are more talented than their record reveals. Look for the cat to eat the bird.