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Teams try to avoid 0-3 start

Sep 21, 2004 8:09 AM

Have you heard about the 0-for club? No NFL team wants to be a member of this organization. Teams claiming at least one win after two weeks of NFL action need not apply. Yet we’re left with half a dozen members who are 0-for-2 in two starts: the Cards, Dolphins, Bills, 49ers, Texans, Bucs and Chiefs are all charter members, whether they like it or not.

The only big surprise among the group is the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs were supposed to be a Super Bowl contender. Coach Dick Vermeil’s charges have about two more weeks to turn it around or their new label will be pretenders and Coach Vermeil will be crying again.

Members of the 0-for club need not worry about making the post season. Since 1978, 25 teams have made it to the playoffs after starting 0-2 (that’s an average of one team per year). So maybe one of these teams might be able to break through. But I’d hold off before buying any future bets.

However, we do have some interesting match-ups this weekend. And The Dog has been barking (I’m 21-9-1 against the point spread the last two weeks). So take note and get ready for a Call of the Wild.

Steelers -3½ at Dolphins: Somehow Miami managed to win the money, coming back from 13-3 deficit to lose by only 3 points last Sunday night at Cincy. So, the fish are 0-2 but their backers are 1-1. Pittsburgh, on the other hand is 1-1, but its supporters have not cashed a ticket this season. Tommy Maddox is out after injuring his right elbow. I have to be crazy to side with rookie Ben Roethlisberger but I like his chances better than A.J. Feeley’s because he has a better supporting cast. STEELERS.

Jaguars +6½ at the Titans: The Jaguars have roadblocked 17 straight rushing attacks — that’s no rusher allowed over 100 yards in more than one full season of NFL action. The 2-0 Jags will have their work cut out for them here, especially with Titans coming off a rare home loss. But Jack Del Rio’s team was always close last year, and this year they’re winning the close ones. JAGS.

Browns +3½ at the Giants: I have to admit I didn’t see Kurt Warner’s giant effort against the Redskins last week, and I’m still not sold on the G-men. The Brownies will stay close with a decent running attack (Lee Suggs may be back in action), great special teams and a much-improved defense. Look for an over-adjustment in the betting line to compensate for the loss of Winslow. BROWNS.

Ravens -1 at the Bengals: Carson Palmer is not really playing like a true, bungling rookie. He managed to put up 24 points in week one and looked relaxed in leading the Bengals down the field for the game-winning field goal against Miami. BENGALS.

Texans +9½ at the Chiefs: Now we have the big battle of the O-fors! Memo to Dick and his pal Gunthar: The Kansas City "D" has some serious work to do! It’s getting embarrassing. David Carr has the talent and weapons to exploit the Chiefs’ porous defense. TEXANS.

Saints +6 at the Rams: The Rams haven’t shown me anything in two games. They struggled with the Cards and then were pummeled by the Falcons. Look for the Saints’ Aaron Brooks to step up like he did last week against the Niners. SAINTS.

Bears +8 at the Vikings: Da Bears ain’t dat bad after all. Lovie Smith has his team hitting hard and Thomas Jones came out of nowhere for 152 yards on 23 carries against the Packers. Grossman was only 10 of 18 but threw for 132 yards and a TD. The Vikes may have a small letdown after a very emotional Monday nighter with Philly. BEARS.

Eagles -5 at the Lions: The Lions are playing with the enthusiasm of a young, improving team. But they may not make it out of this one unbeaten. If Roy Williams keeps snagging passes like a young Jerry Rice, Detroit might emerge undefeated against the point spread. LIONS.

Cards +9½ at the Falcons: The 288 all-purpose yards for Michael Vick was superb, especially a dazzling 109 yards on foot. But Vick won’t be around too much longer if he keeps running and dancing across the middle of the line. Denny Green’s Cards aren’t quitting and should hang on for a cover! CARDS.

Chargers +10 at the Broncos: Denver won’t find the San Diego D half as challenging as the Jaguars defense. But 10 points is too many to lay in this rivalry. You will find a way to cover this number, right Marty? CHARGERS.

Packers +6 at the Colts: Here are two Jekyll-and-Hyde teams. The Packers smoked the Panthers on the first Monday night game and then go up in flames against the Bears a week later. The Colts self-destructed against the Pats and then storm-from-behind at Tennessee like true Super Bowl contenders. Take away one James fumble and the Colts are 2-0 against the toughest opening schedule in the league. COLTS.

49ers +11 at the Seahawks: The Niners are hanging out high on a hill at 0-2, but little cable cars are climbing half-way to the stars while winning all the money. Leave your heart and wallet in San Francisco! 49ERS.

Bucs +3 at the Raiders: Looks like Al Davis might extract some type of Super Bowl revenge on his old buddy Jon Gruden. The Raiders are showcasing some explosive young receivers, along with an aggressive defense. The Bucs are in trouble with Brad Johnson’s physical and mental state in serious disrepair. Chris Simms might not be ready for this kind of serious action. RAIDERS.

Cowboys PK at the Redskins: I hate to bet against trends, but Coach Gibbs may lose his second game in 12 years here. The Skins’ win over Tampa Bay isn’t not looking that impressive anymore. Followed up by a Giant loss in N.Y., Patrick Ramsey did not look prepared. Vinny was unimpressive against the Brownies but the Cowboy D got the job done. If this is truly the second coming of Joe Gibbs in Washington, this might be the spot for one of those miracles. COWBOYS.

Last week: 9-5-1
Season: 21-9-1