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Bucs not getting respect in 2004

Jan 21, 2003 8:05 AM

   There is good news for the Eagles. Not only are they done with Veterans Stadium, but you're looking at the 2004 Super Bowl champion.

   At least that's what the first Las Vegas Sports Consultants odds sheet projects. The Eagles are a 9-2 favorite to carry the Lombardi Trophy out of Houston's Reliant Stadium next season. Second choice: Oakland at 5-1.

   Tampa Bay? Try fourth at 8-1 with Pittsburgh. St. Louis is third at 6-1, despite missing the playoffs this year. Whether Mark Bulger or Kurt Warner is at QB, might be a more relevant concern at this time.

   Imagine getting 8-1 on the Bucs right now for next year! Those odds look mighty good prior to the Gruden Bowl this Sunday against Raider Nation, which will be in all its glory in San Diego. This is as close to a home game as any Super Bowl in quite some time, which explains why the Raiders immediately jumped from 3½ to 4-point favorites early in the week.

   As far as the Bookies Battle, don't ask. Our normally stellar group of experts from the finest race and sports books around have hit a snag. The consensus is 0-6 over the last two weeks. That puts the pressure heavily on the Bucs, which our panel selected to cover the 4-point margin by nearly a 3-to-1 margin.

   "I was surprised at how well the Bucs played against Philadelphia," said Wayne Braddock, race and sports manager at Eldorado in Henderson. "I thought the Eagles would win 4-2 in triple overtime."

   Braddock had the right score, but the wrong sport. The NHL Flyers beat the New York Rangers 4-2 a few hours earlier.

   As far as early wagering on Super 37, the money not surprisingly went on the Raiders.

   "There are a lot of Raiders fans in close proximity," said Braddock, who went against the consensus by picking Oakland. "I think the window of opportunity is now for the Raiders."

   As for this scribe, the Oakland-Tampa Bay parlay worked to perfection. Unfortunately, choosing the Under in both games my downfall. This week, Bucs -160 on the money line, a la carte.