Bouncing footballs can help some bettors bounce back, too

On the line

September 26, 1997|By Gerald Strine | Gerald Strine,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Last weekend's results against the point spread were a testimonial to the fact that being lucky frequently beats being smart.

Carolina was being blown out by Kansas City and the New York Jets were in the process of losing to Oakland when, midway through Sunday afternoon, the ball started taking some wonderfully crazy bounces my way.

The Raiders, one-point underdogs, led 22-16 early in the fourth quarter and were about to increase that margin to 25-16 when Corwin Brown blocked Cole Ford's field-goal attempt, Ray Mickens scooped up the loose ball and rambled 72 yards for a touchdown that gave the Jets a 23-22 victory. No gain, but no pain.

Some three hours later in Denver, the Broncos, favored by 11 1/2 , led Cincinnati 31-20 with a minute left. The Bengals had the ball near midfield when Neil Smith sacked Jeff Blake, forcing a fumble that former Bengal Alfred Williams returned 51 yards for a touchdown. Final score: 38-20. Oh, happy day!

Things could have gotten even better a few minutes later, when Seattle rallied to lead San Diego 26-22 with 1: 22 remaining. I had the Seahawks giving 5 1/2 . Seattle coach Dennis Erickson decided to go for a two-point conversion. Warren Moon's rollout pass had no chance, so I lost.

To win would have been stealing mythical money.

Which is exactly what I did Monday night in Jacksonville. The Jaguars, favored by 3 1/2 , led Pittsburgh 23-21 with six seconds to play when the Steelers set up for a potential game-winning field goal from 40 yards.

The Jaguars' Clyde Simmons blocked Norm Johnson's kick, Chris Hudson picked up the ball in front of the Pittsburgh bench and scooted down the sideline for a touchdown as time ran out. Final score: 30-21.

I should apologize for winning this way.

I won't.

This week's picks

(All bets in mythical dollars)

Oilers at Steelers (-6 1/2 ): The Steelers are 1-2 and can't afford many more mistakes if they hope to repeat as AFC Central champions. Bill Cowher's club can stop the run, and the Oilers offer the perfect matchup. Eddie George is a fine runner, but Steve McNair is more dangerous scrambling than passing. Tennessee looked awful in losing to the Ravens.

Take Pittsburgh for $250.

Jaguars at Redskins (-1 1/2 ): The Redskins had a week off to prepare for the Jaguars, an up-and-coming team with only one or two slight weaknesses: you can run on their defense and their special teams are suspect. Washington running back Terry Allen, recovered from a broken finger, and return man Brian Mitchell could have big games. The Jaguars' Mark Brunell, coming off a serious knee injury, doesn't figure to do much scrambling.

Take Washington for $250.

Packers (-7 1/2 ) at Lions: The Packers are 0-4 against the spread. Detroit's defense is shaky at best and the offense has shown up once in four outings. Still, the Lions have the runner (Barry Sanders) and the receivers (Herman Moore, et al) needed to give the Packers' defense trouble. The spread is an invitation to go with Detroit.

Take Detroit for $100

Ravens at Chargers (-1 1/2 ): The Ravens are 3-1 yet get little respect nationally. Bam Morris is going to pick up the ground game immediately. Jermaine Lewis adds zip to an excellent receiving corps. The Chargers have no running game, which enables most opponents to tee off on quarterback Stan Humphries. John Carney, their field-goal kicker, will miss this game because of a leg injury. He's the most productive part of the offense.

Take the Ravens for $100.

Eagles at Vikings (-2 1/2 ): That was quite a comeback the Vikings made last week in Green Bay, even if it did fall a trifle short. Minnesota has been a very respectable team in recent seasons as long as Robert Smith has stayed healthy. He's a good running back and his presence makes the passing game that much better.

Take the Vikings for $100.

49ers (-3 1/2 ) at Panthers: The 49ers were upset twice by the Panthers last season, which should provide enough incentive to guarantee a maximum effort. Carolina picked on San Francisco's cornerbacks in '96. Now the 49ers' corners are better and the Panthers' wide receivers aren't as talented.

Take San Francisco for $100.

The numbers

Last week's record: 4-2-1. Net for week: plus $330.

Season record: 11-12-1. Net for season: plus $65.

Pub Date: 9/26/97

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