Visitors on road to ruin Home teams best bets at 82-66-2 vs. spread

On the line

November 15, 1996|By Gerald Strine | Gerald Strine,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

You probably should have taken the home team against the point spread when making NFL picks this season. The host club is 82-66-2, based on the midweek line employed in this column. Favorites, after a fast start, have backed up to 74-72-2, and the underdog at home has moved out to 24-18.

I always feel much more comfortable when my selections are playing at home. There's no substitute for the extra enthusiasm provided by the home fans and, in many critical situations, the officials seem to get caught up in the crowd's roar and give the marginal calls to the home team.

I also prefer picking an underdog whenever feasible because of the backdoor possibilities after a favorite has built a comfortable lead. Dallas, Buffalo and Kansas City were dandy dogs last week, but too often in recent years I've found myself sticking with slightly inflated favorites and paying the price.

This week's picks

All bets in mythical dollars.

Redskins at Eagles (-6): For weeks I've been scoffing at Ty Detmer, who I thought was lacking in size and ability. Detmer may not be the ideal NFL quarterback physically, but he has a lot of heart and more than enough intelligence to get the job done. Philadelphia also figures to run on Washington and, with Ed Simmons out, might be able to pressure Gus Frerotte. Take Philadelphia for $250.

Broncos at Patriots (-2 1/2 ): Both secondaries are suspect here, but Denver has the stronger running game and a better front seven on defense. Look for John Elway and Drew Bledsoe to have productive afternoons, and if it comes down to the final drive, you-know-who wins. Take Denver for $250.

Packers at Cowboys (-4): Dallas appears to be a bargain as a four-point favorite. The thinking must be that the Cowboys have had three straight tough outings and could have a little letdown against a squad that has been gunning for them since last season's playoff loss. Green Bay had lost receivers Robert Brooks and Antonio Freeman, then saw tight end Mark Chmura go down with an injury at Kansas City. Take Dallas for $250.

Dolphins at Oilers (-3 1/2 ): The Oilers are 6-4 but could easily be 9-1. Love that experienced secondary, which is a good thing to have against Dan Marino. Miami will make a solid playoff run, but this is a tough spot, now that Chris Chandler is back at quarterback for the Oilers. Take Houston for $100.

Vikings at Raiders (-6 1/2 ): The Raiders led Denver late and should have beaten Tampa Bay, so they could be coming off a five-game winning streak instead of two losses in a row. Minnesota has not been playing well, and when running back Robert Smith went down, the Vikings lost their balance on offense. Take Oakland for $100.

Saints at Falcons (-4): Atlanta lost, 59-16, to that powerhouse St. Louis outfit. If that doesn't shame the Falcons into a prideful effort against New Orleans, nothing will. The Saints are 0-4 on the road, and there's little reason to expect improvement under the new coaching staff. Take Atlanta for $100.

Jets at Colts (-6): The Jets led New England 21-0 on Sunday, then blew it and lost, 31-27. But they covered as a 6 1/2 -point underdog. Hey, they've covered their last four games, improving to 5-5 in the point-spread standings. Now they're facing an offensive line that couldn't block Bill Clinton. Remember, always, it's not who wins or loses that counts, it's who covers! Take New York for $100.

Last week

Record: 6-2. Net for week: plus $830. Net for season: minus $80.

Staff selections

Week 12

Ravens at 49ers (-12)

John Eisenberg ... Ravens

Gary Lambrecht ... Ravens

Ken Murray ....... 49ers

Mike Preston ..... Ravens

Vito Stellino .... 49ers

@Panthers (-3) at Rams

John Eisenberg ... Rams

Gary Lambrecht ... Panthers

Ken Murray ....... Rams

Mike Preston ..... Panthers

Vito Stellino .... Panthers

@Bears at Chiefs (-8 1/2 )

John Eisenberg ... Chiefs

Gary Lambrecht ... Chiefs

Ken Murray ....... Chiefs

Mike Preston ..... Bears

Vito Stellino .... Chiefs

@Bengals at Bills (-7)

John Eisenberg ... Bengals

Gary Lambrecht ... Bengals

Ken Murray ....... Bills

Mike Preston ..... Bills

Vito Stellino .... Bills

Broncos at Patriots (-2 1/2 )

John Eisenberg ... Patriots

Gary Lambrecht ... Broncos

Ken Murray ....... Patriots

Mike Preston ..... Broncos

Vito Stellino .... Broncos

Jaguars at Steelers (-11)

John Eisenberg ... Jaguars

Gary Lambrecht ... Jaguars

Ken Murray ....... Jaguars

Mike Preston ..... Jaguars

Vito Stellino .... Steelers

Saints at Falcons (-4)

John Eisenberg ... Saints

Gary Lambrecht ... Falcons

Ken Murray ....... Saints

Mike Preston ..... Falcons

Vito Stellino .... Falcons

Jets at Colts (-6)

John Eisenberg ... Jets

Gary Lambrecht ... Jets

Ken Murray ....... Jets

Mike Preston ..... Jets

Vito Stellino .... Colts

Seahawks at Lions (-4 1/2 )

John Eisenberg ... Seahawks

Gary Lambrecht ... Lions

Ken Murray ....... Lions

Mike Preston ..... Lions

Vito Stellino .... Lions

Redskins at Eagles (-6)

John Eisenberg ... Eagles

Gary Lambrecht ... Redskins

Ken Murray ....... Eagles

Mike Preston ..... Redskins

Vito Stellino .... Eagles

Dolphins at Oilers (-3 1/2 )

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