Giants, Jets hardly front-runners against the spread On the line

November 07, 1997|By Gerald Strine | Gerald Strine,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The New York Giants and New York Jets stand atop the NFC East and AFC East, respectively, with 6-3 records. They are the biggest surprises halfway through the NFL season, but neither has been a bargain in terms of the point spread. The Giants are 4-4-1 against the number, the Jets 5-4.

One might have thought that the teams would have covered the spread more than that, given that they've performed much better than expected. But both have benefited from a series of disappointing efforts by the supposedly "stronger" squads in their division.

Neither team has a particularly tough schedule the rest of the way, but the odds are that both will wind up out of postseason play. They probably would have to win their divisions to make the playoffs and that still isn't likely. Look for most of the wild cards to come from the Central and West.

This week's picks

(All bets in mythical dollars)

Giants at Oilers (-3): Coach Jim Fassel has named Danny Kanell his starting quarterback for the rest of the season, or, more likely, until New York loses two in a row. Kanell has to be an improvement over Dave Brown, but that doesn't mean he's on his way to the Hall of Fame. Let's see how he does against an opponent like the Oilers who are pretty good at stopping the run.

Take Tennessee for $100.

Jets at Dolphins (-3): Bill Parcells has switched from Neil O'Donnell to Glenn Foley as quarterback. I wonder why? It seems to me that Foley is an excellent type to come off the bench and give the Jets a spark when the offense is struggling. Dan Marino said at midweek that his ankle problems wouldn't keep him from starting for Miami. If Marino's not ready, all bets are off. If he is

Take Miami for $100.

Patriots (-3) at Bills: Lo, how the once-mighty have fallen, at least temporarily, in New England. I won't be shocked if the Patriots collapse completely under Pete Carroll -- they've lost four of their past five -- but it's hard to look too bad when Alex Van Pelt's the opposing quarterback. The Bills still play excellent defense, and that might be enough to carry the day. That's asking a lot, however, in this situation.

Take New England for $100.

Lions at Redskins (-4): Linebacker Ken Harvey returns to the Washington lineup and so might wide receiver Michael Westbrook. Running back Terry Allen came back from an injury last week, so the Redskins might finally be ready to roll if the defensive front performs decently. The Lions usually are at their worst when they invade the Washington area. Bobby Ross might change that, but Scott Mitchell's passing is always suspect away from home.

Take Washington for $100.

Seahawks (-3) at Chargers: Craig Whelihan starts at quarterback for the Chargers, with Stan Humphries and Jim Everett hurting. Whelihan may turn out to be the next Dan Fouts, or just another Sean Salisbury.

Take Seattle for $100.

Ravens at Steelers (-6 1/2 ): Jerome Bettis is playing with an enthusiasm rarely exhibited by an NFL power back. The return of Charles Johnson will give Kordell Stewart someone to throw to besides Yancey Thigpen. I love watching the Ravens' receivers. The big, strong guys stay pretty much to the sidelines, forcing little Jermaine Lewis to go across the middle. If Vinny Testaverde had completed that third-down pass to Earnest Byner on Sunday, the game against the Jets would have been over. That's my boy!

Take Pittsburgh for $100.

49ers (-4) at Eagles: Tell me about Bryant Young. Is he playing, or isn't he? The superb tackle is the guts of the San Francisco defense. Ray Rhodes has gone back to Ty Detmer, after benching Detmer for Rodney Peete. Common sense says the 49ers win this one handily, except that Green Bay, Dallas and Washington all have lost in Philadelphia this season.

Take San Francisco for $100.

The numbers

Last week's record: 3-3-2. Net for week: minus $30.

Season record: 27-26-4. Net for season: plus $560.

Pub Date: 11/07/97

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