We’re looking for covers
in all the wrong places

Dec 23, 2003 8:51 AM

Peyton Manning fails to throw a touchdown pass. The Detroit Lions cover as a 9-point dog without scoring an offensive touchdown. John Carney can’t kick an extra point.

Just what’s going on in the NFL anyway?

Our long year in trying to figure out ways to win in pro football continued as we sat in front of the TV wondering how a defensive back can step out of bounds and be credited with a fumble recovery. It cost the Chiefs a possible touchdown and definitely the ball.

Underdogs were 9-6 ATS not including the final Monday night regular season game at Oakland against Green Bay. We followed the two-decade old trend of home dogs covering greater than 70 percent of the time in the next to last week of a season. It wound up 2-2 this time.

Can’t even count on that!

The final week of the regular season is always interesting, very similar to the last week in preseason. A number of teams qualifying for the postseason will pull their starters early, quite a few teams out of contention will have their minds on Monday’s tee times at the links.

And then there was that engaging photo of Warren Sapp and Mike Vick after the Atlanta upset of Tampa Bay that eliminated the defending Super Bowl champs from playoff contention. Perhaps Vick was recruiting Sapp for next season. After all, Sapp is quality receiver in goal line situations.

As for Week 17, there could well be an explosion of points with so many teams not caring. Dallas at New Orleans won’t be one of them. How can the Saints possibly come back from that blow to the stomach in the loss at Jacksonville? The Stanford Band play was a thing of beauty, though. After all, thanks to the missed PAT, the Saints covered in most books as a 1½-point dog.

The most interested viewer this week will be the Aladdin race and sports book director Casey Maloni, who owns a five-game cushion in the GamingToday Bookies Battle. There are no such things as locks in this business, but Maloni is a good bet to walk away with the title.

It has been a big year for the consensus, hitting 59.4 percent. Our thanks to all those hard working folks who participated. I was swayed by more than a few of those choices, unfortunately, not enough.

The one thing we may get right was our choice of Steve McNair as the league’s MVP. McNair once again played hurt and found a way to lift the Titans to victory over Houston. Tennessee didn’t cover, but we may well be seeing this team a lot in the postseason.

If you like Super Bowl long shots, try Denver and Minnesota. Their stock shot up big time after a few weeks of struggling.

Finally, a bettor’s respect goes out to Brett Favre for playing the day after learning of his father’s death. We took the Raiders and 5, but wouldn’t mind a Green Bay victory.