Vikings battle to keep their title hopes alive

December 19, 2000 7:38 AM
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Without a doubt, this is the year of the hanging chad! Just when we thought all the hanging chads and dimpled ballots were behind us, here come nine more hangers.

Nine NFL teams hanging by a thread, looking for one of five playoff berths still open. And there’s not much light shining through these dangling chads. The Dolphins, Colts, Jets, Steelers, Bucs, Lions, Packer and Rams all can be eliminated if they lose. The Saints’ playoff ballot appears to show the most light. Only a tie game between the Rams and Bucs can prevent them from being elected to the Super Bowl’s Supreme Court.

Denny the Dog’s backers counted three out of four best bet votes over the weekend. The Giants, Steelers and Pats punched their winning tickets all the way into their wallets. Let’s end the regular season with some more clear winning votes. No hanging chads or dimpled betting slips.

 

Dolphins -4 vs. PATS

PACKERS -2 vs. Bucs

SEAHAWKS -3 vs. Bills

49ers +7 vs. BRONCOS

GIANTS -4 vs. Jaguars: G-Men didn’t play exceptionally against Cowboys and still managed a comeback from 13-zip in the second half. Now that they have the confidence of knowing they’re in the playoffs, watch out! New York can secure home field advantage with a victory here.

49ers +7 vs. BRONCOS: A chance for the AFC West title is at stake if the Raiders are upset. Highly unlikely. And so are the Broncos’ chances of covering this spread. Niners are not the team you want to play right now. Jeff Garcia and Terrell Owens are a lethal connection that opposing defenses are having big problems with the last five weeks.

SEAHAWKS -3 vs. Bills: Bills banged up bad. Lost tough battle in the cold, wind and snow against New England. Will be a little different weather this weekend but the same result. The Seahawks have been out of contention all season. But Mike Holmgren has them playing hard the last two weeks.

PACKERS -2 vs. Bucs: Brett Favre never loses when the mercury never climbs above 34 degrees? Bucs never win when the game is played below 43 degrees? This is an easy selection based on those numbers. The hottest temperatures are coming out of Brett Favre’s arm and Ahman Green’s legs. Can’t bet against them right now.

SKINS -7 vs. Cards: Difficult to pick Skins to cover a point spread when they haven’t won a game since before Thanksgiving. But Cards have shown no punch on the road. Any Skins who want to keep their fat contracts will move their fat butts to look as good as possible in the grand finale at home.

SAINTS +3 vs. Rams: Neither team has clinched a spot in the money games. But both clubs should make it. Saints upset Rams four weeks ago. Since that time they’ve given every indication they belong with the NFL’s elite in the post-season. Aaron Brooks seems to be immune to the pressure of being thrown into the QB spotlight.

Dolphins -4 vs. PATS: Hard to pass on a home dog since they’ve started barking

loudly the last three weeks. But Miami has everything to gain in this game. The Fish need to come through the Florida waters, swim up the coastline to Foxboro, and find a way to stay fresh in the bitter cold. They did it exactly that to Buffalo three weeks ago. I think they’ll find a way to do it again.

Chiefs -4 vs. FALCONS: The Falcons have been an easy mark this season. The Chicken dances have been flying low and opponents have blown them out of the coop nearly every week. It’s almost a given that you have to pick against Atlanta. Gunther’s troops have managed a couple of gutsy wins the last two weeks.

LIONS -9 vs. Bears: Bears missed Shane Matthews last week and they’ve missed Marcus Robinson for several weeks. After watching Lions shut down Jets last week I can’t see them blowing this opportunity at 10 wins and maybe the playoffs.

Jets +7 vs. RAVENS: Ravens have already secured a berth in the playoffs. They have incentive to break the fewest points allowed record if they can hold the Jets to less than 41 points. That record’s in the bag! But I wouldn’t underestimate the Jets’ chances of covering this point spread with the enormous consequences of a win. Even without Bryan Cox, the Jets will find a way to compete.

Bengals +10 vs. EAGLES: Philly is well rested after bye week. Eagles will want to stay healthy for the Super Bowl run. Bengals’ new coach, trying to drum up support for his cause, will go with all-out assault like they did on Jags.

Steelers -4 vs. CHARGERS: Difficult to bet on a team that has found every conceivable way to lose a backer’s money all season long. Are there any Lightning Bolt survivors left? Pitts-burgh’s still mathematically in the hunt!

Vikings + 3 vs. COLTS: Tough game to call. I’m taking the hook, which could be the difference. At first glance, you might think the Colts need the game more. But Vikes have zero momentum without a win here.

Panthers +10 vs. RAIDERS: Carolina has won three out of their last four games. No reason to believe they won’t give full effort here. Raiders are in the playoffs. Titans have home field advantage. Gruden’s underlying theme should be stay healthy!

Cowboys +13 vs. TITANS: Dallas has played tough the last two weeks. Destroyed Skins and should have upset the Giants. Tennessee’s running hard with Eddie George. But they need to give him some rest and keep him from getting hurt if they want another Super Bowl shot!