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Eureka!  Success!!!  For the first time in a while, week 14 turned out to be a return to the favorites doing what favorites are supposed to do, namely win and hopefully cover.  Of course, so many underdogs have covered this season it leaves people like me scrambling to “guess” which games will inexplicably go the other way.  That contributed to a few stinkers (Thanks, Dallas.)  Still, last week’s 4-2 in Best Bets is a significant improvement over recent trends even though the big underdog theory went down in flames.

Week 15 promises to increase my Maalox consumption.  Good matchups abound and point spreads are tight.  Some teams are fighting to stay alive and some have given up.  Figuring out which is which will make all the difference.  I can’t remember a week when I have had more difficulty choosing which games to key, so with some hesitation, I’m going to play mostly favorites this week and see what happens.

Best bets:

Buffalo (+ 7) at Tennessee  o/u  40
Steve McNair is questionable for the 3rd straight week.  So we should consider the possibility that he won’t play, right?  Are you kidding me?  If McNair hasn’t been kidnapped, he will be in the lineup.  The thing that concerns me is the number and which Bills team will show up on the road.  I’m going to give BUFFALO the benefit of the doubt after last week’s strong showing and take the seven points.  On the total, I will be playing UNDER.

Minnesota (-1½) at Chicago  o/u  40½
Minnesota needs this game to clinch the division and Chicago has supposedly thrown in the towel and will start Rex Grossman at QB.  This game really smells of a trap, with the Vikings outside the confines of their nice warm dome, but I still believe they will win the game. Since it is less than a two point spread I will lay the points with MINNESOTA and give a slight lean to the OVER.

Atlanta at Indianapolis (-7½)  o/u  48
Mike Vick had a brilliant return to action last week.  Atlanta is a bad team without Vick in the lineup.  With him in, they are a bad team with an exciting quarterback.  I think Vick will give Sportscenter a few highlights, but Indy will control him enough to let their high powered passing game get the majority of the points.  Take the COLTS and a mild nod to the OVER.

Seattle at St. Louis (-6½)  o/u  51½
I want to take the Seahawks and the points in this one.  I really do.  My problem is they are a BAD road team and got lit up in a dome last week at Minnesota.  The misery continues.  Play the RAMS and UNDER the big number.

Detroit at Kansas City (-14)  o/u  44½
Yikes!!!  Here is our big doggie play for the week.  Last week I fretted over having to take Arizona on this trend and my concerns were proven warranted, with the Cards getting blasted on the road by the Niners.  That made the biggest underdog trend 13-2 on the season.  If you are one that likes to play trends, then my suggestion is to take the points, but there is NO FREAKIN’ WAY the Lions keep this close.  KC stubbed their toe last week in Denver and will be in a foul mood at home.  I’m going to buck the trend and say CHIEFS in a blowout with a small lean to the OVER.

Dallas (pick) at Washington  o/u  36½
At first glance, the numbers suggest that Dallas’s fairy tale season is going into a freefall.  The Cowboys have lost 3 straight road games and haven’t been able to run the ball, which puts all the pressure on Quincy Carter. Bad combination.  But when you temper that with Dallas recently having the Redskins’ number, winning 11 of 12 meetings, it makes you wonder.  Call it a hunch, but in a pick ‘em I’m going to take the COWBOYS to win and go very lightly on the UNDER.

The rest of the story:

Pittsburgh at N.Y. Jets (-3)  o/u  36½
The Jets let me down last week.  Both teams playoff hopes are gone.  The forecast calls for possible snow.  If I play this game at all, it will be on the UNDER.  For the sake of a pick, I’ll take the home team JETS.

Houston (off) at Tampa Bay
Off the board at press time.  Any spread from seven on down take the BUCS against the beat up Texans.

San Francisco at Cincinnati (-2½)  o/u  42
Niners are 0–6 on the road.  Cinci needs a win to stay in the playoff hunt.  Take the BENGALS and the OVER.

Jacksonville at New England (-7)  o/u  36½
A Florida team traveled to New England and got shut out last week.  Look for a similar outcome here.  I like the PATRIOTS in a laugher and will give a very slight nod to the OVER.

Cleveland (+10½) at Denver  o/u  43
Tim Couch gets the start for the Browns, who are down to their 3rd string running back and have numerous other injuries.  Denver comes off an emotional win against KC and may be a tad off their game, but needing a win to stay in the playoff hunt makes them dangerous.  I say Denver gets the win, but the BROWNS stay just inside the number and I also like the UNDER in this game.

Baltimore at Oakland (+6½)  o/u  40½
I’ve looked very hard for a few underdogs to cover the number this week, and this is a good chance.  Why oh WHY does it have to be the Raiders???  On the season, no team has taken more of my money than this one.  Baltimore just doesn’t have enough offense to cover the spread, though, and they are on the road after a big home win.  I will reluctantly take the RAIDERS to cover and if they blow it again, I am off them for the season.  (Didn’t I say that last week?)  The total?  Ummmmm…..  UNDER.

Carolina (-5½) at Arizona  o/u  38½
After seeing the Cardinals ambush the Packers, Niners and Bengals at home earlier in the season, I want to think upset here.  Arizona is a different team at home, but word is they are throwing in the towel and starting backup QB Josh McKown.  I don’t see how that could inspire the vets on the team.  I’m taking the PANTHERS and leaning UNDER.

Green Bay at San Diego (+4½)  o/u  46
As long as Doug Flutie is at the controls, the Chargers have a chance to at least cover.  Problem is the coaching staff is waffling (again) on who will start at QB.  I’m going to guess that Flutie gets one more chance to go out in a blaze of glory and covers this number.  Take SAN DIEGO and OVER.

N.Y. Giants at New Orleans (-7½)  o/u  39
How to figure the pathetic Giants...  This week Kerry Collins is out, which may actually improve their chances.  Although it is a lot of points for the Saints to cover, I’m going to lay them and choose NEW ORLEANS at home and play the UNDER.

Philadelphia (+2½) at Miami  o/u  37
Miami should feel better getting back home, but I like the Eagle anytime they get points.  It may be a squeaker, but that means we get a cover.  Go with PHILLY.  Last week I went against my theory of always playing over in the Monday Night spotlight and, of course, got burned. I’m back on the OVER this week. 

For The Record:
Dana Harris' Best Bets ATS:
Week 14:    (4 - 2 - 0)
YTD:           (15 - 20 - 4)

Questions/comments/tomato throwing may be directed to
Week 15
December 12, 2003
by Dana Harris