As usual, QBs hold the key Passer's status, ability among top considerations; On the line


Quarterbacks are frequently the key consideration when it comes to picking winners against the NFL point spread.

They are the players, more often than not, who commit the turnovers that make the difference in the nation's favorite numbers game. This week is no exception.

All bets in mythical dollars:

Bills (-5) at Colts: Jim Kelly said Tuesday he'd be ready to lead Buffalo on Sunday. Anyone who saw Todd Collins' pitiful performance at Indianapolis knows how much the Bills need the veteran if they're to gain a good position for the playoffs. The return of Thurman Thomas, Steve Tasker and/or Bryce Paup also would help the cause. Take Buffalo for $100.

Giants at Dolphins (-7): Dan Marino had perhaps the sorriest game of his career at Oakland. There's no way he can look as bad against the Giants. For New York, Dave Brown is likely to give way to Danny Kanell if he's as inept as he was in Philadelphia. The Dolphins still have a long-shot chance at postseason play. Take Miami for $100.

Panthers at 49ers (-9): Steve Young appeared to be rounding into top form in San Francisco's romp over Atlanta. The 49ers faded in the stretch last season but appear to be coming on at the perfect time this year. Carolina's defense is big-league. Its offense isn't. Take San Francisco for $100.

Chargers at Steelers (-9 1/2 ): Stan Humphries suffered a concussion during San Diego's 45-7 home loss to New England. There have been times this season when the Chargers' game plan seemed designed to find out how much punishment Humphries could take. Now he's on the sidelines, again, and Sean Salisbury is the designated victim for the Steelers. Take Pittsburgh for $100.

Vikings at Lions (-2 1/2 ): Warren Moon says he's ready to return to action. Minnesota isn't thrilled at the prospect, because Brad Johnson is a backup no more. Don't be shocked, however, if Moon comes off the bench to lead a fourth-quarter rally. The Lions lost a lot of their offense when Herman Moore's injuries limited his ability to cut sharply or go deep. Take Minnesota for $100.

Broncos at Packers (-8 1/2 ): John Elway has a hamstring problem. So why should he brave the Wisconsin cold? He will, probably, as a matter of pride. I'll take Denver in the belief that Terrell Davis will be able to run a bit on the Packers while Denver's defense shuts down the Green Bay running game. If Elway can't start, the bet is off. The risk, of course, is that he'll start but retire early after aggravating the hamstring. Take Denver for $100.

Chiefs at Raiders (-2): Rich Gannon replaced Steve Bono as Kansas City's starting quarterback at Detroit and the Chiefs won, scoring 28 points. But K.C. won't be able to run the ball at Oakland the way it did against the Lions. The Raiders have a right to believe they're still in the playoff picture. The sixth AFC team figures to make it with a 9-7 log. Take Oakland for $250.

Jets at Patriots (-13): Glenn Foley makes his first start of the year for the Jets. No wonder the spread went out to 13. The way the Patriots have been playing lately, they don't need this sort of help. Just because a guy's coming back to the area where he played his college ball (Foley went to Boston College) doesn't mean he'll be treated sympathetically. Take New England for $100.

Redskins (-3) at Buccaneers: Trent Dilfer and Tampa Bay were shut out in Carolina. Washington's defense isn't nearly as aggressive as the Panthers', however, and there's a possibility Errict Rhett will have a good day running the ball. The key matchup is Washington's offensive line against Tampa Bay's solid front seven. Take Washington for $100.

Last week

Record: 5-4. Net for week: plus $360. Net for season: plus $135.

Staff selections

Week 15

Ravens at Bengals (-3)

John Eisenberg, Bengals

Gary Lambrecht, Bengals

Ken Murray, Bengals

Mike Preston, Ravens

Vito Stellino, Bengals

Falcons at Saints (-2 1/2 )

John Eisenberg, Saints

Gary Lambrecht, Saints

Ken Murray, Saints

Mike Preston, Saints

Vito Stellino, Saints

Broncos at Packers (-8 1/2 )

John Eisenberg, Broncos

Gary Lambrecht, Broncos

Ken Murray, Packers

Mike Preston, Packers

Vito Stellino, Broncos

Jaguars at Oilers (-6)

John Eisenberg, Oilers

Gary Lambrecht, Jaguars

Ken Murray, Jaguars

Mike Preston, Oilers

Vito Stellino, Oilers

Giants at Dolphins (-7)

John Eisenberg, Dolphins

Gary Lambrecht, Dolphins

Ken Murray, Dolphins

Mike Preston, Dolphins

Vito Stellino, Dolphins

Rams at Bears (-6 1/2 )

John Eisenberg, Rams

Gary Lambrecht, Rams

Ken Murray, Bears

Mike Preston, Bears

Vito Stellino, Bears

Chargers at Steelers (-10)

John Eisenberg, Steelers

Gary Lambrecht, Steelers

Ken Murray, Steelers

Mike Preston, Steelers

Vito Stellino, Steelers

Redskins (-3) at Buccaneers

John Eisenberg, Redskins

Gary Lambrecht, Redskins

Ken Murray, Redskins

Mike Preston, Redskins

Vito Stellino, Redskins

Jets at Patriots (-13)

John Eisenberg, Patriots

Gary Lambrecht, Jets

Ken Murray, Patriots

Mike Preston, Patriots

Vito Stellino, Patriots

Bills (-4 1/2 ) at Seahawks

John Eisenberg, Seahawks

Gary Lambrecht, Bills

Ken Murray, Bills

Mike Preston, Bills

Vito Stellino, Bills

Panthers at 49ers (-9)

John Eisenberg, Panthers

Gary Lambrecht, Panthers

Ken Murray, 49ers

Mike Preston, Panthers

Vito Stellino, 49ers

Cowboys (-10) at Cardinals

John Eisenberg, Cowboys

Gary Lambrecht, Cardinals

Ken Murray, Cardinals

Mike Preston, Cardinals

Vito Stellino, Cardinals

Vikings at Lions (-2 1/2 )

John Eisenberg, Vikings

Gary Lambrecht, Lions

Ken Murray, Vikings

Mike Preston, Vikings

Vito Stellino, Vikings

Chiefs at Raiders (-2)

John Eisenberg, Raiders

Gary Lambrecht, Raiders

Ken Murray, Raiders

Mike Preston, Chiefs

Vito Stellino, Chiefs

Last week

John Eisenberg, 5-10

Gary Lambrecht, 5-10

Ken Murray, 8-7

Mike Preston, 7-8

Vito Stellino, 5-10

Season record

John Eisenberg, 99-93

Gary Lambrecht, 91-101

Ken Murray, 89-103

Mike Preston, 94-98

Vito Stellino, 85-107

Note: Selections made against the spread; ties don't count in standings.

Pub Date: 12/06/96

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