A dozen finer not being Carolina

Jan 4, 2005 7:01 AM

Count your blessings!

That’s my message to the Rams and Vikings. Both teams finished 8-8, yet were not left off the playoff invitation list. St. Louis had to win its last two games to make .500. The Vikes lost seven of their last 10 to reach mediocrity.

Special condolences to the Ravens, Jags and Bills, each with winning records and left home to watch the Rams and Vikings. Martz and Tice have made 2005 New Year’s resolutions to make the playoffs next season with a winning record. Who could blame them? They are the sixth and seventh teams to reach the "promised land" with a .500 record. The last five lost in the first round. So you might say both clubs are walking on thin ice!

The Rams and Vikes are lucky on another count. NFC teams are fortunate to play amongst themselves prior to the Super Bowl. The AFC teams finished 44-20 in the head-to-head regular season series with the NFC.

Denny The Dog would also like to count his blessings prior to kicking off the money games. The Dog finished above 56 percent winners after picking a side in every NFL game this season.

Rams +4 at Seahawks: I’m really not keen on either team advancing too far. But I think the Rams have the headier and steadier QB in Bulger. He has more big strike capability and seems to be heating up at the right time after throwing for 450 yards and 3 TDs versus Jets. Engram and Jackson were standouts for Seattle last week. But in the big money games their hands tend to turn to stone! I’m not sure St. Louis should be the underdog in what I would call a pick’em affair. RAMS.

Jets +6 at Chargers: After losing three of the last four games, the Jets know they’re lucky to be on the West Coast this week and not back home freezing their butts off. Chargers won eight straight at one point during the season. And having won 11 of their last 13 and covering more point spreads than any other NFL club, I’m looking for the Lightning Bolts to be slightly overrated. JETS.

Sunday, Jan. 9

Broncos +10 at Colts: This Sunday, the Broncos will face the feared Peyton Manning. That name alone makes it awfully tough to pop the money-clip for Denver. But the Colts aren’t invincible, even though they average more points per game (33.9) than any other team. Denver on a two-game roll and the running backs are starting to find the holes. BRONCOS.

Vikings +6 at Packers: Vikes lost four of their last five. Didn’t I read where Mike Tice received a contract extension a week before the holidays. Talk about Christmas coming early! I think the Packers know they can beat Minnesota. And I believe the Vikes know that somehow Brett Favre will find a way to beat them. PACKERS.

Last week: 7-9

Season: 140-108aren’t invincible, even though they average more points per game (33.9) than any other team. Chargers beat them badly through three quarters two weeks ago before Peyton’s big comeback. Colts finally won by threes.

Two weeks prior they only managed 23 points versus Houston and 20 against Baltimore. I like the way Plummer is moving out of the pocket and throwing on the run. He’s elusive and deadly accurate. Denver on a two-game roll and the running backs are starting to find the holes. Droughans and Bell make a tough 1-2 punch in the Broncos backfield. And when the rushing attack works like it has been lately, Smith and Lelie are even more effective. Take the Broncos plus the points and take advantage of all the Manning hype. Joe Q. Public really likes passing records and what they enjoy even more is betting on all the hoopla. BRONCOS.

Vikings + 6 at Packers: Vikes lost four of their last five. Didn’t I read where Mike Tice received a contract extension a week before the holidays. Talk about Christmas coming early! How do you suffer two collapses like the Vikes had the last two years and survive as head coach? This is another game where the teams are meeting for the third time. Again, one team swept both contests.

The Packers won by same final score, 34-31, on Weeks 10 and 16. I think the Packers know they can beat Minnesota. And I believe the Vikes know that somehow Brett Favre will find a way to beat them. Mike Sherman impressed the heck out of everyone by playing all of his starters most of the way in Bears game. Green Bay can run the ball if necessary, while the Vikes just can’t run a lick! Packers won nine of their last 11 and are steamrolling into the playoffs. Vikes spinning out of control. PACKERS.

Last week: 7-9

Season: 140-108