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Dog to Ravens: ‘Never more’

Sep 7, 2004 4:19 AM

Parity reigns supreme as we countdown to kicking off the NFL regular season.

No team is out of it on opening day. Doesn’t matter whether you’re a Saints, Niners, Chargers, Browns or Bears fan. You’re in first place baby. And no matter what the outcome is after Sunday’s performance, the worst you’re going to be is one game out.

Isn’t the beginning of the season beautiful?

No team can be written off, with possibly one exception. I’m officially writing off the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens will be a very good team, make no mistake about it. But what are their chances of winning the Super Bowl after the Deion Sanders jinx?

Prime Time wants one more Super Bowl ring for a lonely third finger (he won it all in ’94 with the Niners and ’95 with the Cowboys). But he’s 37 and coming off a three-year vacation. The only third finger Deion will see a ring on is the middle one from opposing receivers and running backs as they run over and around him.

Only time will tell. So get ready for Prime Time!

Thursday, Sept. 9

Colts (+3½) at Patriots: The Super Bowl champion Patriots kick off the regular season. Colts still smarting from a 10-point loss to New England in AFC championship game. I think Manning will find a way to light up the scoreboard like he did when he put up 34 points against New England last year. I’m not on board with Corey Dillon, automatically improving the Pats. COLTS.

Sunday, Sept. 12

Titans (-1) at Dolphins: Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong! That’s the new motto in Miami. Forget about the hurricane. Ricky’s smokin’ up a storm somewhere in the Bahamas. David Boston is out for the season. Jay Fiedler may have some concerns with who to throw to or hand the ball off, don’t you think? Tyrone Calico (knee) is out of the Titans lineup for three weeks, but Fisher will find a way. Wannstedt is lost. TITANS.

Raiders (+3½) at Steelers: Oakland played "Arnold" defense last season, kind of like a bunch of girlie men. Raiders summoned Warren Sapp, but he was more of a non-factor towards the end at Tampa Bay. I think Duce Staley will give the Raiders all they can handle. STEELERS.

Bucs (+2) at Redskins: I’m not sure Brad Johnson or Charlie Garner are long for the NFL. Brunell hasn’t got that much time left in the hour-glass either, but he’s more mobile than Johnson and has looked sharp in the meaningless preseason. Lay the little number on the second coming of Joe Gibbs to Washington. SKINS.

Ravens (-2½) at Browns: I think Lee Suggs may be a shocker this season. He has all the tools at running back. Home dawg might have some bite here. Brownies take a shot at Prime Time. BROWNS.

Jaguars (+ 3) at BILLS: Byron Leftwich showed signs of promise and leadership last season. Bledsoe looked like he was heavily medicated many times behind center last season. Six of the Jags’ 11 losses last season were by seven points or less. They’re getting better and will hang closer. Fred Taylor matches any Henry or McGahee. Jags were 0-8 on the road last season and dropped their home opener to the Bills last year, 38-17. Revenge will be sweet. JAGS.

Bengals (+4) at Jets: This one was tough for me. But they all are aren’t they? Pennington is back! Jon Kitna isn’t. Carson Palmer has never been in this hot seat before. It’s enough to scare the turnovers right out of you. Lay the points with Chad. JETS.

Lions (+3) at Bears: I think Mooch has a head start on Lovie in revamping their respective teams. Lions have the more seasoned QB, even though he’s still learning. And he has better receivers by a long shot. LIONS.

Cards (+10½) at Rams: I know Cards are without Rookie of the Year receiver Anquan Boldin and top rusher Marcel Shipp. But does any team deserve to be a double-digit dawg on opening day? I’m not buying it. Come on Denny Green, find a way to compete with The Greatest Show on Turf! Take the points and don’t miss church! CARDS.

Seahawks (-2) at Saints: Seems like a cheap price considering most experts have Seattle in the running for a Super Bowl spot. Let’s side with the experts and lay the points and money on Matt Hasselbeck! SEAHAWKS.

Chargers (+4) at Texans:Houston more stable at QB with emerging star David Carr. Domanick Davis is no Tomlinson but he’s solid. Chargers may be tempted to rush Rivers in under center, which would work to our advantage. TEXANS.

Giants (+9) at Eagles: Number looks too big at first glance, but my hunch is Giants will struggle all season. I don’t think Kurt Warner will be able to move this offense. And don’t wait long because Eli’s not comin’ to cover any spreads this season. Hate to lay this high number but I don’t like the alternative. EAGLES.

Cowboys (+4) at Vikings: Minny came out of the gate smokin’ last season and then faded. Vinny has to prove he can still handle the younger, quicker defensive players. VIKES.

Falcons (-4) at 49ers: Michael Vick is back and never has a team’s fortune been more tied to one player. He makes all the difference. Niners parted ways with too many starters. Looks like a rebuilding season. FALCONS.

Chiefs (+3) at Broncos: Looks like a solid number. Should be a classic battle. I’m taking the points and Priest Holmes. CHIEFS.

Monday, Sept. 13

Packers (+3) at Panthers: I’m taking Brett Favre and a super offensive line plus the points. Packers were the only team to rank in the top 5 in red zone offense and defense last season. I think all the breaks lined up for Jake Delhomme. The moons may not be in alignment this season. PACKERS.