We’re betting for kicks!

Oct 25, 2005 2:01 AM

We’re nearly halfway home in the NFL as we head into the eighth weekend. Two divisions topped by teams sporting no better than .500 records.

There’s been plenty of talk about the "rugged" NFC North, where the Bears and Lions at 3-3 have a slim one game lead over the 2-4 Vikings. But not many people realize the AFC East is catching up in mediocrity. The Pats, idle at 3-3 over the weekend, moved into sole possession of first place. Bills loss moved them to 3-4 and second fiddle to the reigning world champs.

Indianapolis, still undefeated at 7-0, look to be distancing from all the parity. Speaking of mediocrity, there were no standouts among the dogs, faves, homies or visitors. There’s no hot trend out there sending money into your kicker by backing any one of them exclusively. The only big kicks were the nine field goals of 50 yards or more in Week 7. I’m looking at Week 8 as a 50-yard attempt to win the game in overtime.

My only hope is the Eagles aren’t rushing the kick!

Last week: 7-5-1

Season: 53-45-3

On to Week 8.

Skins +3 at Giants: Final drive comeback by Eli Manning to nip Broncos by 1 should propel the G-men here. Skins no easy mark on the road. They’ve come up short in the win column two of three road trips, but have played them close. Came from out of nowhere to nip Dallas on Monday night, then made a last quarter charge in Denver and came up a point short. Chiefs defense needed to score a TD to beat them by 7. Skins have had many breaks in those road games. The good bounces end here. Giants 5-0 at home after this one. GIANTS.

Packers +7 at Bengals: Can’t back the Pack with Ahman Green going down at Minnesota. Ferguson also down and out during the game. Cincy’s only Achilles heel is run defense and Packers won’t have any run to worry about. Favre has only managed one win and the schedule doesn’t get any easier this weekend or next. Packers could be buried before any snow touches Lambeau this season. Bengals choked in their biggest game of the season. Now they can relax and play the type of ball they were playing before Pittsburgh came to town. BENGALS.

Bears +3½ at Lions: I have news for you. Jeff Garcia was not as good as the sports commentators made him out to be versus Cleveland. And, Thomas Jones gives Chicago a better running attack than Detroit could ever dream of at this point in the season. Counting on Bears defense to continue to bring home the bacon and money. BEARS.

Vikings +8½ at Panthers: I wasn’t expecting this big number. I think oddsmakers believe Vikes will board the infamous party boat for trip to Carolina. Captain Tice is still on the high seas and the party boat is definitely taking on water. Howevert Vikes should be able to bail enough water out to keep this within 7. VIKINGS.

Raiders -4 at Titans: The door is wide open for the Raiders. McNair banged up. Volek left Cards’ contest with a concussion. Chris Brown exited as well. If Raiders can focus as they did against Bills, this one should be an easy cover. RAIDERS.

Cards +7½ at Cowboys: McCown received mini- boost of confidence with decent performance versus Titans. Bledsoe’s ego suffered a huge bruise with costly mistake in final seconds against Seahawks. Cards keep it close for the cover. CARDS.

Browns PK at Texans: If the Texans don’t get their first win this week, they might run the 0-fer table! TEXANS.

Dolphins +2 at Saints: The tricks have come early this Halloween for Saints, who have been treated to a couple of wicked witch calls two weeks in a row. The ticky-tack defensive line hold that allowed Atlanta to re-boot a field goal two weeks ago. The next week, refs allowed a defender to strip a ball from a receiver and run it back for a TD. The replay showed the receiver without question caught the ball and was down by contact. Can’t wait to hear Ricky’s comments after his, may I say dopey, performance versus KC (6 carries for minus 1 yard). SAINTS.

Jags -4 at Rams: Jags playing better each game and an extra week to rest isn’t going to hurt their chances. Last 2 road games were both OT touchdown wins over Jets and Steelers. Bulger still a question mark and Martin is no bargain! JAGS.

Chiefs +4½ at Chargers:Chiefs a different team since their bye and Roaf’s return to the offensive line. CHIEFS.

Bucs -13 at 49ers: When the Niners sent Rattay packing to Tampa Bay, they must have known that any chance of a respectable season had vanished. BUCS.

Eagles +3 at Broncos: Have to respect Denver’s undefeated mark at home. Broncs also sporting the more balanced offensive attack. BRONCOS.

Bills +7 at Patriots: Give Bill Belichick two weeks to prepare a game plan and it’s usually tough to bet against the Pats. But Patriots have too many holes in the defensive dam and Belichick doesn’t have enough quality players to plug them. BILLS.

Ravens +8½ at Steelers: Steelers playing better on the road than they are at home. Ravens season hangs in the balance. Look for Ray Lewis and the Baltimore D to keep the game close. RAVENS.