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Bengals rule in divisional
matchup week

Dec 2, 2003 6:39 AM

Kick it up on a notch!

And I’m not talking about any famous TV chef either. I’m talking about what the NFL is intending to cook up for you this Sunday.

Guess who’s coming to dinner? Twelve of the 15 games feature teams playing against another club within their division. Four of the 12 matchups will showcase the top two teams in the division. Three will have first place up for grabs and one will allow the second place team a possibility of climbing within one game of the lead.

Now that’s drama! But whom do you select to wager on in these classic battles? Now that’s real drama.

Skins (+2½) at Giants: I wouldn’t be surprised with a remake of Week 3. It was G-men 24-21 in OT at Washington. Neither team has improved since. GIANTS.

Bengals (+3½) at Ravens: Battle for the top spot in the AFC North. I keep waiting for Anthony Wright to stumble but he’s proved me wrong the last two weeks. Cincy has been every bit as surprising, winning its last four consecutive games for the first time since Boomer was throwing the ball in 1989! Bengals upset Ravens in Week 7, 34-26. I’m looking for a lot less scoring, but I think Kitna’s newly found confidence will keep it very close. BENGALS.

Cowboys (+5½) at Eagles: Cowboys can pull even with the Eagles in NFC East. Eagles hotter than a Philly cheese steak with eight consecutive wins. That success should cause them to be slightly overrated in this big game. The last team to beat Philly was Dallas. Cowboys D had problems against highly charged Miami on Turkey Day. They’ll be back for this one. COWBOYS.

Raiders (+5) at Steelers: I don’t believe Raiders are the "dumbest team in America." Truth be known, Rick Mirer hasn’t played too bad. But Steelers will stop the run and that will create a heavy load on his arm. STEELERS.

Chargers (+3) at Lions: It wasn’t just Thanksgiving. Lions have been playing extremely well at home and sport a three-game win streak at home sweet home. LIONS.

Bears (+7) at Packers: Don’t look now but the Bears have won five of their last six. Whether it’s been Chandler or Stewart, the defense has been giving them a fighting chance. Can’t remember the last time they lost the money? Chicago is 6-1 ATS in last seven games. That must be why the Bears power rating is inflated. Packers should be 9! PACKERS.

Seahawks (—1) at Vikings: Seahawks displaying awesome offensive arsenal every week. Sometimes their defense forgets to show up on road trips. Vikes D has taken off early for the holidays. SEAHAWKS.

Texans (+4) at Jags: The 100-yard plus games being put up by Davis make the Texans a definite force. But I’m not sure Carr’s shoulder is ready to pass anything but the salt. Jags might be 2-10 but my money clip says 7-6! JAGS.

Colts (+4) at Titans: Another divisional top spot up for grabs! Time for the Colts D to step up to the plate and see if they can hit with the big boys. Titans squashed Peyton Manning’s gang 33-7 back on Week 2. Colts have come a long way since then. But now is the time to prove you belong in the money games. COLTS.

Bucs (pk) at Saints: Saints are 6-6, but 5-2 over the last seven games. Defense has been consistent and the offense seems to be improving. McAllister reached nine straight 100-yard games last week. How did Barry Sanders make that number 14 consecutive weeks? SAINTS.

Cards (+9) at 49ers: Every three or four weeks the Cards will surprise you. They’ve only won three games (Packers, Bengals, Niners) and all were at home. That’s right; on Week 7 the Cards upset Niners 16-13 in OT. I think that will give them enough confidence to perhaps have a chance to win their first road game. Garrison Hearst is banged up and Garcia’s confidence must be 2 on a 1-10 scale. CARDS.

Jets (+2) at Bills: The Jets smoked Bills in Week 6, 30-3. While I don’t see an ambush coming again, I do see the Bills circling the wagons for a potential OT shootout. JETS.

Dolphins (+3½) at Pats: The Pats are at eight straight wins and counting! Whatever it takes to win they do it, whether it’s defense, offense or special teams. PATS.

Chiefs (pk) at Broncos: Chiefs still have just one blemish on the record, but they’ve lost the money three straight weeks! Big game for Jake Plummer to step up or be criticized for remainder of season. Shanahan starting to take some heat. Critics say his great record is only because of Elway. Make ”˜em eat their words right here Mike! BRONCOS.

Panthers (-3) at Falcons: He’s not doing the moon walk but heeeee’s baaaack! He might not be moving as smoothly as Michael Jackson but Michael Vick has returned. Panthers will win, not as easy as they did in Week 4, but they will cover. PANTHERS.

Rams (—5) at Browns: No dawgs left in the dog pound. Browns defense constantly on the field and beginning to feel some injuries. Offense cannot move the ball-period! RAMS.

Last week: 8-7

Season: 96—89-5