Take the points, and the $$

Jan 2, 2001 11:52 AM

A funny thing happened to the St. Louis Rams. They got sidetracked in New Orleans, where their defense absolutely quit on them. All four home teams won, even though three of the visitors were favored. The Bucs’ record is intact: not winning a game when the temperature is under 40 degrees.

All home teams are favored in the second week of the playoffs. Should you like them, you’ll have to lay plenty of wood. Lotsa luck.

Saturday, Jan. 6

Minnesota 33, New Orleans 30 — Free-scoring game. Points will come in bunches, like bananas. The Vikings put the ball in the end zone. Minny’s defense allows the opposition the same promise.

Don’t know if New Orleans’ QB can be as effective on the road as he is at home. Saints +8 is a top-heavy number for a team whose defense is as bad as the Rams’ defense. Saints +8 is a winner.

Oakland 36, Miami 34 — Raiders are coming off a bye week. They’ve had a nice rest. Teams coming off a bye week don’t play very well early in the fray. You can’t give Miami a two-TD lead and expect to catch them. The Raiders are good — but not that good. Dolphins +8½ or 9 is a solid play for Winner No. 2.

Baltimore 23, Tennessee 17 — Winner No. 3 is the easiest of the lot. Titans’ offense is nothing to write home about. It’s Eddie George running to the left; Eddie George running to the right; and QB Steve McNair throwing incompletes or interceptions. Ravens are riding a hot streak. Tennessee has been stumbling —and they’re turnover-prone. Ravens +4½ is a cinch.

NY Giants 24, Philadelphia 23 — Winner No. 4 could be difficult pick. The Giants have beaten the Eagles in eight consecutive games. No. 9 is on the horizon — but can they cover the 6½-point spread in this game? The Eagles could be a back door cover where the Giants give up points when the game is out of reach.

One thing working against Philadelphia is lack of a running game. The question is, can QB Donovan McNabb run enough to go along with his passing ability? McNabb hasn’t been successful in two appearances this year. It’s an iffy situation, but 6½ gets our attention — and our money. Eagles plus the points.