With NFL, it pays to
have short memory

Oct 17, 2006 7:13 AM

I tell my dad it pays to have a short memory in dealing with the NFL.

There’s so many variables from week to week. The Saints figured to be last in the NFC South. Instead they’re first at 5-1 and beating teams like Atlanta and Philadelphia.

Washington is close to elimination in the NFC East, with a 2-4 record heading into Indianapolis, followed with a bye week, followed by a date with Dallas. Get your helmet on Jason Campbell, the QB job will soon be yours.

While the unbeaten are the talk of the league, San Diego is strutting its stuff now that Philip Rivers has gained Marty Schottenheimer’s confidence, which means the forward pass is back. Also, Indianapolis is a quiet 5-0 with Peyton Manning putting up less than staggering numbers and the running game doing just enough.

Our vote for the league’s most unheralded player in St. Louis QB Marc Bulger, who is putting together an All-Pro season. Bulger and the Rams deserved a better fate in a great game against Seattle. St. Louis has been a cover machine so far.

As for the spreads, the dogs were 7-1 at one stretch Sunday before the favorites rallied late in the day to cut the deficit to 8-4. One week it’s favorites, the next underdogs. That’s the way the books like it.

That ratio puts us below the dreaded Mendoza Line (.500), but barely. Here’s hoping for that breakout week. Either that or the Pepto.

Jaguars -9½ at Texans: Houston was in the game for a half against Dallas and then the roof caved in. Jacksonville has had two weeks to prepare after savoring a 41-0 thrashing of the Jets. If Del Rio takes the noose off Leftwich, the Texas get buried again. But something tells me he won’t and Jacksonville will just be satisfied to win. That means no cover. TEXANS.

Steelers -1½ at Falcons: If this game were played two weeks ago, Atlanta would probably have been favored. The Giants’ Tiki Barber ran for nearly 200 against the porous Falcons frontline defense. Willie Parker is capable of similar numbers. Big Ben is off his best game and the Steelers defense is quick enough to contain Michael Vick, who is throwing to the worst receiving corps in the NFL. STEELERS.

Patriots -5½ at Bills: It’s hard to figure the Patriots. Some weeks they look like the Super Bowl champs, others they look like the Bills. Buffalo played pretty well against the Lions, though coming away losers. If Losman and McGahee repeat their Detroit performances, this game should stay close. BILLS.

Broncos +4½ at Browns: Has Marty Ball become Mikey Ball? Where’s the aggressive Denver offense we know? Two straight 13-3 victories that showed us great defense and Jake ”˜The Mistake" used by Shanahan as a straight man for that great defense. If Denver remains conservative, Charlie Frye and the young Browns will make a game of this in the Dawg Pound. BROWNS.

Cards -3 at Raiders: We’re going to trust the Monday night syndrome, which suggests teams of MNF tend not to cover the following week. Yes, the Raiders stink. Yes, they are the NFL’s only winless team. Yes, they have no clue offensively. However, getting points at home against Arizona is as low as it gets. Oakland can play D and we’re banking this is Armageddon. RAIDERS.