Ravens-Eagles tie puts knot in a near-record streak On the line

November 21, 1997|By Gerald Strine | Gerald Strine,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The streak had reached near-epic proportions (nine), what with Tampa Bay covering easily against New England and Kansas City upsetting Denver on Sunday, and the Ravens threatened to make it a perfect 10 when it came to a screeching halt in the closing minutes and overtime of the Ravens-Eagles 10-10 epic.

Baltimore, favored by 2 1/2 , led 10-3 and appeared headed for victory despite itself. The Ravens' defense had sacked Philadelphia's neophyte quarterback a ridiculous number of times and, even though Vinny Testaverde and the offense had thrown away numerous chances to score, everything looked good until, with the game on the line, the coaching staff went to a prevent defense in the final two minutes. The Eagles scored faster than you can spell Marchibroda. End of streak.

It wasn't the end of the world. I wasn't going to tie my all-time high of 11 consecutive games covered, not with Chicago, San Francisco and Dallas all failing later in the afternoon.

It's so painful to watch the Ravens play. They're 4-6-1 despite being young and talented at many key positions, and they'll never get to the playoffs with Ted Marchibroda in charge on the sideline and Testaverde falling apart under pressure at quarterback. They're a deadly duo no squad can overcome, no matter how promising the overall personnel.

This week's picks

(All bets in mythical dollars)

Steelers (-3) at Eagles: Bobby Hoying isn't ready for the NFL. Maybe, in time, he will be and maybe Ray Rhodes is making the right decision to start him at quarterback. But Hoying going against the Pittsburgh pass rush is not a pretty picture, from a Philadelphia perspective. The Steelers don't figure to put many points on the board, either, against the Eagles' gritty defense.

Take Pittsburgh for $100.

Dolphins at Patriots (-5 1/2 ): As far as the Dolphins' offense is concerned, Jimmy Johnson doesn't have just a strategy. He has an obsession, and it's to run, run, run the ball no matter what. But Johnson's offensive line isn't that great, his runing backs aren't really special and Dan Marino, despite the bad ankle, is still the most dangerous weapon at his disposal, even if his receivers don't catch the ball with any consistency. This is the crossroads game for New England. Win it, or the season is over.

Take New England for $100.

Vikings at Jets (-1 1/2 ): The Vikings were 5-0 against the number on the road, until last Sunday, when they were trounced in Detroit. The Jets' offense is not to be confused with the Lions', however, especially with Neil O'Donnell back at quarterback. Running back Robert Smith is healthy again, so the Vikings' attack should be ready to take off.

Take Minnesota for $100.

Saints at Falcons (-4): Handicapping this game violates a cardinal rule: Don't get involved with bad teams. But Atlanta covered in New Orleans six weeks ago, winning, 23-17, as a one-point underdog, and Mike Ditka is starting a third-string quarterback few people have ever heard of.

Take Atlanta for $100.

Cowboys at Packers (-6 1/2 ): Green Bay is 0-9-1 against the spread as a favorite, so why pick it this week? I'll tell you why: This is the game the Packers have waited for since last fall. They may have won the '97 Super Bowl but they haven't beaten Dallas for a long, long time and it might be said they're not necessarily the best until they've beaten the team that has been the best in recent years.

Take Green Bay for $250.

Giants at Redskins (-5 1/2 ): Washington, at 6-5, is getting desperate. The Giants (7-4), should they lose, get another crack at the Redskins on Dec. 13 at the Meadowlands. So much hinges on which team can mount the better running attack. Both teams are strong on the corners defensively, so they can cheat against the run. Neither passer can be trusted.

Take Washington for $100.

The numbers

Last week's record: 3-4. Net for week: minus $140.

Season record: 37-30-4. Net for season: plus $1,120.

Pub Date: 11/21/97

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