Hey Vermeil, there’s no crying in pro football!

Jan 3, 2006 5:11 AM

Nobody’s fooling me. Dick Vermeil knew he was going to retire a month ago!

The only reason he waited until last Saturday was he wanted to make sure he stopped crying in time to make the announcement. Now that it’s official, look for Dick to continue crying until realizing he reacted too quickly to the Chiefs facing certain elimination and making yet another regretful snap decision.

In another two years we can only hope that Dick will come back and take one more shot at taking another team to the Super Bowl. Seriously, Dick Vermeil was a class NFL act. But he could cry me a river!

Speaking of crying, the good old dawgs took yet another paddling from their owner. Dog-backers were found shedding even more tears. The faves spanked the doggies 10-6 over the weekend just to make sure everyone knew who the masters were for 17 weeks.

Denny the Dog felt blessed to emerge from the regular season with more wins than losses. The faves played the part of the dog-track rabbit, leading the doggies all the way and finishing an amazing 58.7 win percentage. Here’s hoping for a mechanical rabbit/favorite failure in the playoffs so the dogs can regain some respect.

Gentlemen , start your engines and rev up your bankrolls. The money games are about to begin! Good luck to all of you and best wishes for a happy new year.

SATURDAY

Redskins +2½ at Bucs: Flash back to Week 10. The Bucs jumped to a 21-13 halftime lead. Portis and Brunell led the Skins back in the third quarter to force a 28-28 tie. Skins scored a TD on a 17 yard pass to Betts with a little over 8 minutes left in the game. Bucs put a 5 play, 54 yard drive together and grabbed a TD on a 4 yard pass to Hilliard. The Bucs were down a point when, instead of kicking the extra point and heading to OT, Gruden went for two. Alstott fought his way across the goal line for a thrilling 36-35 win. Whooooa! What a game.

I don’t think they can duplicate the dramatics, but I’m sure both teams will give it their best shot. I can’t pass on the Skins here as an underdog. A slightly hobbled Brunell brings more experience to the playoff table than Chris Simms. Portis has been more consistent than Cadillac Williams. I’m giving a slight edge to the Redskins , who are riding a five-game winning streak. Tampa Bay is playing well, but a little more up and down. SKINS.

Jaguars +8 at Pats: The Pats are as healthy as they’ve been all season. They are 6-1 in their last seven games. You can begin to understand why the public has again fallen in love with the back-to-back Super Bowl champs. But I can’t snap the rubber band back on my bankroll to pull out the do-re-me for a TD-plus favorite. The Pats did make the Bucs look sick in a 28-zip blowout at home. But they didn’t crush the Saints or Jets at Foxboro. The Pats generally play well enough to win in these big money games but, don’t always cover the point spread. Remember the last two Super Bowls?

Jacksonville may be the most overrated 12-4 team in the NFL. You could also say the opponents the Jags knocked off down the stretch (Niners, Texans and Titans) were not the toughest kids on the block. But you can’t deny they did win eight of their last nine games. The lone loss was to Indianapolis. I’m looking for the Jags to hang around until the final minute. JAGS.

SUNDAY

Panthers +2½ at Giants: An evenly matched game with each at 11-5. I think the Giants have played the tougher schedule down the stretch and in a more competitive divisional race. Big wins over the Cowboys and Chiefs at home should be enough of a confidence builder to win round one and cover the relatively small number.

Carolina dropped two tough character-building games to Tampa Bay and Dallas in the last month. I think the G-men are more battle ready. Playing at the Meadowlands (NY 8-1 at home) won’t hurt either. Jake Delhomme may have a tougher time finding Steve Smith in those typical, tricky winds inside Giants Stadium. If so, big edge goes to Tiki Barber over DeShaun Foster. GIANTS.

Steelers -3 at Bengals: Home dogs haven’t given me a warm, fuzzy feeling in a long time. If you bet against the home puppies in every contest since Week 9, you’re winning at nearly a 70 percent clip! The Bengals are in the unique position of a home puppy in their first playoff game since 1990.

After slugging it out at Pittsburgh in their second meeting (they lost the first by 14 at home) and winning by 7, the Bengals have looked a little tired at home. They beat the Brownies by 3, then followed that unimpressive win up by giving up 37 to the anemic Bills. These performances have turned my stomach queasy on thoughts of backing home dog. Steelers steam into the playoffs on four-game roll. STEELERS.

Last week: 11-5

Season:133-118