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Dawgs make our wiseguys go straight

Jan 7, 2003 6:22 AM

Who let the dogs out!

It was like a pack of wild dogs stalking their kill on Wild Card weekend. You don’t find any home dawgs come playoff time, but there were enough road warriors for the taking.

One dog, Mike Vick, won straight up. Two others should have done the same. The Browns blew a 17-point lead and the G-men, not to be outdone, surrendered a 24-point advantage to the Niners.

When all verbal and physical assaults were finished, three out of four dogs covered the spread. And fans were treated to two of the biggest comebacks in the history of the league. Here are Denny The Dog’s treats for the second round of the money games.

Steelers (+4) over TITANS: Pittsburgh realizes it’s lucky to be alive after staging fourth quarter heroics over the Browns. Now, Tommy Maddox gets a chance to revisit the ugly scene of his spinal cord concussion at Tennessee. The Titans were up 28-7 after three quarters on that day during Week 11. McNair and company hung on as Kordell Stewart directed the Steelers to 16 fourth quarter points. But the Titans ended up winning, 31-23.

The Steelers showed great heart last week, and no heart in the NFL is bigger than the one in Maddox’s chest. I’m looking for the Steelers to fix a few holes in their secondary and shutting down Eddie George like they did William Green. And, they should put the heat on McNair. PITTSBURGH.

Falcons (+7½) over EAGLES: I love Donovan McNabb. But there’s something about him coming back for the Eagles’ first playoff game that I find unsettling. After a two-month rehab from a broken ankle, it makes me a little edgy. Philly has been sensational with reliever A.J. Feeley at the helm.

Plus I don’t like the fact that Philly will break that streak after winning six of their last seven. Vick and the Falcons timing couldn’t be better. The young QB did everything he had to do to lead the Falcons to an upset over Green Bay at mystique-laden Lambeau Field. The Falcons have two cold weather games under their belt in the last two weeks. Vick has the ability to keep Atlanta close, in yet another cold game. I’ll make the same comment I made prior to the Packers contest. I’m not saying the Falcons will win, but it wouldn’t shock me. It also would not shock me if dawg backers won this game by a half point. The hook looks huge here!

BUCS (—5) over 49ers: The Niners shouldn’t be here and I think they know it. Mooch has some concerns with his secondary which Brad Johnson should be able to exploit. Yet, Jeff Garcia’s mobility scares me. But Tampa Bay handled Michael Vick four weeks ago as they rolled to a 34-10 win over the Falcons. So Garcia’s scrambling should be something Sapp and company can handle. The Bucs are anxious to get the first-round monkey off their backs. That marsupial should jump off here, with Jon Gruden’s offensive genius and Brad Johnson’s rested back.

Jets (+5½) over RAIDERS: The NFL’s MVP will get a rematch against the Jets MVP this Sunday, whether he wants it or not! And believe me, there’s not a team in the playoffs that wants to challenge the Jets or Chad Pennington at this time. New York has won seven of its last nine games. One of those two losses was against Oakland just five weeks ago. But I think the Jets have gained momentum since then. And Oakland has a few doubts about the depth of its secondary. Coupled with the Jets’ overpowering defense, the team brings a lot of confidence into Oakland. I don’t think the Raiders are ready. I know I’m not ready to lay more than 4, and I wouldn’t touch 5½ with a 10-foot pole!

Last week: 4-0

Playoffs: 4-0.

Steelers +4

Falcons —7.5

Bucs +5

Jets +5.5