When streaks collide: Dec. in K.C. vs. 11-1 on Ravens

The Baltimore Sun

If you believe the purveyors of past performance statistics, the Ravens are doomed.

The Kansas City Chiefs have won 19 straight games at Arrowhead Stadium in the month of December, and - the last time I looked - the Ravens were scheduled to play the Chiefs at noisy Arrowhead this afternoon.

Nineteen is a pretty compelling number that speaks to the quality of the home team over the past nine years and to the effect of the crowd in one of the most claustrophobic open-air environments in the NFL. It also is a deceptive number, since the 1997 team that started the streak bore very little resemblance to the one that will try to extend it today.

Obviously, the oddsmakers and the betting public think it's pretty significant, since the Chiefs enter the game as a 2 1/2 -point favorite. Typically, home-field advantage is worth about a field goal in the betting line, but it clearly is worth more at Arrowhead because the Ravens would almost certainly be favored at a neutral site.

That's why this game presents a huge threat to my amazing 11-1 record and string of six straight correct picks against the spread in games involving the Ravens. The easy thing to do is go with the flow and predict that Trent Green and Larry Johnson will grind out a victory in a game that probably is more important to the Chiefs' playoff hopes than the Ravens', but nobody said that picking 12 out of 13 against the spread was going to be easy.

In making my decision last week, I sought the inspiration of a famous quote from one of my favorite presidential speeches - John F. Kennedy's "Go to the moon" speech at Rice University in 1962:

"We do these things not because they are easy but because they are hard."

I'm going with the Ravens, who parlayed the bye week into a five-game winning streak and will take the field off a nine-day break. The defense will turn a tipped pass into a big touchdown and emergency kick returner Cory Ross will do something special as the Ravens continue to position themselves well for a long playoff run.

Ravens at Chiefs (-2 1/2 ): The Ravens also will grind out an early touchdown to put their defense in a gambling mood. Enough said. Ravens.

Eagles (-1) at Redskins: Jeff Garcia probably will feel more at home at FedEx Field than he did in the first half of Monday night's victory over the Panthers at The Linc, but that won't keep him from making a couple of key mistakes. Redskins.

Vikings at Lions (-1 1/2 ): As usual, the Lions are just awful, but they've scored more points than the Vikings this year and they've got to be feeling better about themselves after that moral victory at New England last week. Lions.

Titans at Texans (-1): Hmmmm. The Titans just beat the Colts. They pushed the Ravens to the limit. They came back from a 21-point deficit to beat the Giants. And the Texans are favored? What is it I'm not seeing here? Titans.

Patriots (-3) at Dolphins: For some reason, the Patriots play way, way better on the road (5-0) than at home (4-3), so why should it be any different against a so-so Dolphins team in Miami? Patriots.

Raiders at Bengals (-10 1/2 ): The Bengals can climb within one game of the division lead with a win and a Ravens loss. I hate giving double-digit spreads, but they should leave nothing to chance here. Bengals.

Falcons (-3) at Buccaneers: Michael Vick needs 40 yards to set the single-season rushing record for quarterbacks. The Falcons just need to grind out a victory to hold their place among the four teams tied at the top of the NFC wild-card ladder. Maybe they figured something out in Washington last week. Falcons.

Giants at Carolina (off the board): Doesn't look like sore-thumbed Jake Delhomme is going to play, which would make this a great opportunity for the Giants to collect themselves after a four-game losing streak. Giants.

Colts (-1) at Jaguars: This game means more to the wild-card hopeful Jaguars than the Colts and opponents have averaged just eight points per game at Jacksonville this year, but the Colts need to reaffirm that they are a Super Bowl-caliber team. No better place than in the den of their top division rival. Colts.

Packers at 49ers (-4 1/2 ): The Packers looked so down against the Jets last week that it's hard to imagine them getting up and showing any fight on the road. That's why this is my counterintuitive play of the day. Packers.

Seahawks (-3) at Cardinals: On the road for the second straight week, the Seahawks could get ambushed by Matt Leinart and the nothing-to-play-for Cardinals. Cardinals.

Bills at Jets (-3 1/2 ): Eric Mangini's unlikely playoff contenders have won five of their past seven games and can take a giant step toward the postseason with a win today, but I think they'll lose some altitude after last week's resounding victory at Green Bay. Bills.

Broncos at Chargers (-7 1/2 ): Philip Rivers and LaDainian Tomlinson may look impossible to stop, but that's too many points against a good defensive team like the Broncos. Broncos.

Saints at Cowboys (-7): Terrell Owens may have missed Bill Parcells' "Road to Miami" speech, but he'll be ready to make a couple of big plays tonight and the Cowboys will make it look too easy. Cowboys.

Bears (-6) at Rams: Somehow, the Rams are still in the NFC playoff hunt, so I'm banking on them having enough motivation to stay close against a Bears team that may be its own toughest opponent. Rams.

Mediocrity, thy name is Schmuck. My overall record this season is 97-94-6.


The Peter Schmuck Show airs on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon on Saturdays.

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