When in doubt, just play AFC

Dec 21, 2004 7:37 AM

Dan Marino can do HBO’s Inside The NFL still owns the single-season touchdown record and Philadelphia coach Andy Reid is not wearing tights. So much for the overhyped storylines to Week 15.

The real news, although we’ve seen it all year, is the AFC’s domination over the NFC. AFC teams went 4-0 and stands 39-19 (67.2 percent) for the season.

The standout game was Jacksonville’s gutty win against Green Bay at frigid Lambeau Field. So much for the conception that southern teams can’t play in the cold!

If that wasn’t enough proof, how about the Chargers leaving delightful San Diego for snowy Cleveland and blanking the Browns, 21-0. "Marty Ball" is 11-1-2 against the spread, best in the NFL.

Too bad we didn’t take the Chargers instead of, say, Minnesota. The Vikings once again found a way to blow a cover, managing to escape Detroit with a one point victory. The toothless Lions have now given games away two straight weeks, this time botching an extra point with eight seconds left that would have forced overtime.

Hard to imagine Eli having a better game than Peyton, but the younger Manning gave the Giants something to build on with a gallant performance against Pittsburgh. Eli stole a bit of the thunder away from fellow rook Roethlisberger, but Big Ben is 12-0 as a starting QB.

We’re hoping Carolina can win its last two games and save the NFC from the embarrassment of seeing a 7-9 team make the playoffs. Imagine that Arizona, of all teams, is mathematically alive to win the NFC West with a losing record! Thanks to the Vikings, a potential 3-2 week turned into 2-3. We’ll try and do better.

Raiders (+7½) at Chiefs (58): Too little, too late for Kansas City. The Chiefs are clicking and should score at will against the defenseless Raiders. Oakland can put up big numbers too when Kerry Collins is on. Raiders just came from a 40-35 shootout. This could be higher. OVER.

Chargers (+7) at Colts: We’ll give Peyton the record and gladly take those generous points. CHARGERS.

Falcons (+2½) at Saints:: BEST BET. Atlanta is 9-1 ATS in last 10 trips to the Superdome. Saints tease their fans again into thinking they still have a shot at the playoffs. Not any more after this week. FALCONS.

Ravens (+6) at Steelers: Having to face Peyton and Big Ben on the road in consecutive weeks is not a formula for success. Look for the Bus to get physical with Baltimore. Lucky 13 for Big Ben. STEELERS.

Panthers (+3) at Bucs: Tampa Bay off an unforgivable loss to Saints. Carolina played brilliantly in a tough OT setback at Atlanta. Brian Griese is no Michael Vick. Peppers rubs more salt in Chuckie’s wound. PANTHERS.

Bills (-11) at 49ers: Buffalo is on a mission with five straight covers and 187 points during that span. The Niners have two OT wins over Arizona and that’s it. BILLS.

Browns (NL) at Dolphins: So we smell bad fish from late September. Must be Ricky! First score wins this stinker. Cleveland thinking South Beach, not A.J. Feeley. UNDER.

Last week: 2-3

Season: 38-24

(61.3 percent)