Steelers climb up food chain

Dec 11, 2001 6:05 AM

The Lions are still winless and the Rams remain atop the NFL.

The battle for No. 2 is up for grabs. Leading candidate is Pittsburgh, with Oakland and Green Bay a tad behind, followed by the 49ers, Baltimore and the Chicago Bears.

That’s my rating at this time and I am stuck with it.

Saturday, Dec. 15

Giants 20, Cards 13: Both teams cling to slim chance of making playoffs. Anything goes. Hard to believe Cards play so bad before the home folks. Giants bad everywhere. Take Giants (— 4½).

Raiders 27, Chargers 16: The Chargers running on empty. Raiders not much better. Old age an Oakland problem. Take Raiders (—5½).

Sunday, Dec. 16

Chiefs 24, Broncos 20: If the Chiefs put out same effort here as they showed versus Oakland, the Broncos don’t stand much of a chance. Chiefs’ spirited play gets our vote. Denver QB Bob Griese is erratic and banged up. Take Chiefs (+2).

Colts 31, Falcons 23: Indianapolis may have enough defense to keep Atlanta from scoring 30 points. If so, they are a winner. QB Payton Manning having an off year. Would not go strong here. Take Colts (—5½) and OVER (46).

Jets 26, Bengals 17: The Jets are fighting for their playoff lives, while Bengals playing out the schedule. Jets defense has improved and against sub par offense they shine. Take Jets (—7).

Browns 19, Jaguars 10: The Jaguars playing on heart alone. Brownies running out of gas. Cleveland needs a comfortable halftime lead to win this one. Take Browns (—2½).

Lions 24, Vikings 20: Hard luck Lions try for their first victory for the 13th time. Will 13 be the charm? Going the hard luck. Lions get off the hook. Take Lions (+3).

Bills 26, Patriots 23: The Pats are the NFL’s hottest team, but run into a buzzsaw called Buffalo. Bills heartened by their comeback win over Carolina. Impetus for a win here. Take Bills (+3½).

Redskins 16, Eagles 13: NFC East up for grabs with Skins still breathing, though barely. Eagles no ball of fire against a determined Washington defense. Eagles offense spotty. Take Redskins (+3).

Bucs 12, Bears 10: The Bucs are the most overrated and underachieving team in the NFL. However, they will shine on defense in cold and windy Chicago. Bears running out of gas. Take Bucs (+3).

49ers 24, Dolphins 17: Niners haven’t caught up to the Rams, however they are good enough for the Dolphins. Miami coming off a Monday nighter and traveling to the West Coast has to work against them. Take Niners (—3½).

Packers 20, Titans 16: Injuries have hurt Tennessee and it shows up here. Packers could be dreaming about last week’s victory over the Bears. If so it’s a Packers loss. Feeling here is QB Brett Favre won’t let his teammates forget the job at hand. Take Packers (—2½).

Cowboys 19, Seahawks 17: Cowboys defense puts them in the drivers seat for this appearance in the Great Northwest. Take Cowboys (—5½).

Steelers 20, Ravens 18: Dicey selection on a team whose kicker is only 50-50 to make chip shot field goals. Ravens don’t have too much of an offense. Take Steelers (+3½).

Saints 27, Rams 24: Going against Rams isn’t wise, but they can be had. Saints have the offense to go with St. Louis. Leary of the total since Rams have gone “under” the last three outings. Take Saints (+6).