Pittsburgh and Carolina are the only NFL teams to be perfect against the point spread at home this season. The Steelers are 7-0, the Panthers 6-0. This week, look for one of those streaks to end while the other is extended.
All bets in mythical dollars:
49ers (-2) at Steelers: Pittsburgh has been an underdog only twice previously this season and the first two were on the road -- at Kansas City and at Miami. An erratic Mike Tomzcak and the Steelers' passing game will need to be revived to win this game since running back Jerome Bettis doesn't figure to compile big yardage against defensive tackles Bryant Young and Dana Stubblefield. The 49ers' Steve Young and Jerry Rice will challenge a weakened Steelers secondary. Take San Francisco for $250.
Ravens at Panthers (-8): Carolina has the league's best record against the spread, 11-3. And the Panthers don't figure to have an emotional letdown after their victory at San Francisco since they must win to stay ahead of the 49ers in the NFC West. Baltimore's porous defense should be accommodating. Even with the high number, Carolina's pass rush will likely be the difference, creating turnovers against Vinny Testaverde. Take Carolina for $250.
Patriots at Cowboys (-5): New England has turned the corner, going 10-2 over their past 12 games. Although their offense is excellent, their defense, especially against the rush, seems suspect against quality opponents. The Cowboys will need to score more than in recent games if they are to survive Drew Bledsoe's passing assault without defensive tackle Leon Lett. Dallas may get past New England, but it should be a close call. Take New England for $250.
Colts at Chiefs (-6 1/2 ): Jim Harbaugh returns at quarterback and Marshall Faulk has returned to last year's form from his injury. Despite the myriad injuries for the Colts, they appear to be making the same sort of late-season run that nearly carried them to the Super Bowl last season, a streak that included a playoff victory in Kansas City. Rich Gannon has quickly shown he's not the Chiefs' answer to passing problems. Take Indianapolis for $250.
Packers (-7 1/2 ) at Lions: Brett Favre has two of three injured receivers back in the lineup and the Packers should be effective against a defense that couldn't stop Kansas City or Minnesota. The Lions should move the ball a little. Take Green Bay for $100.
Saints at Giants (-6 1/2 ): New Orleans has covered once in five tries on the road. The interim coaching staff is a joke and the Saints don't figure to do much on offense, even if Jim Everett is able to return from his concussion to start at quarterback. Take New York for $100.
Bucs at Vikings (-6): Minnesota (8-6) still has a good shot at making the playoffs despite playing the season finale at Green Bay. Tampa Bay has grown under new coach Tony Dungy, especially on defense. The Bucs won earlier this season at home in this matchup. Can quarterback Trent Dilfer beat a team twice in one season? Take Minnesota for $100.
Seahawks at Jaguars (-4 1/2 ): With all the attention on Carolina, the other expansion team is also poised to make the playoffs. Jacksonville (7-7) gets Atlanta next week, also at home. That makes this game the biggest in franchise history. Take Jacksonville for $100.
Record: 4-5. Net for week: $0. Net for season: plus $135.
Pub Date: 12/13/96