By the time Mork became involved with the Denver cheerleaders last Sunday I had seen too much of the tube for one day. Craig Morton had played like Mindy a few hours earlier, costing me a mythical $1,650 for having taken the Broncos giving seven points against Oakland. The Raiders won, 14-10, wiping out what had begun as a happy holiday weekend with Houston's 30-24 victory (getting 3 1/2 points at Dallas).
It is too easy to blame Morton for my own miscalculations. Craig played like he always does when he is subjected to pressure. The premise was that Denver's improved offensive line would more than hold its own against Oakland's defensive line, and that Morton would enjoy excellent protection. When that protection broke down, I went broke for the week.
But Seattle won Monday night, 30-7, giving the Jets six points, and the spark was rekindled. There is nothing like a winning streak of one to bring back the bravado.
Miami and Tampa Bay are central to the investment portfolio this week, each attracting a mythical $1,000.
The Dolphins, favored by three points, host New England tonight in a game likely to decide the championship of the AFC East. Both are 8-5. The Patriots have an erratic quarterback in Steve Grogan. The Dolphins have a defense that is wonderful, yet ordinary on the road.
Miami has allowed six opponents (including Seattle and Houston) a total of 49 points on its home turf. This is one of the quickest defenses in the NFL, not quite as effective as Denver against the run, but better in pressuring the passer.
This last observation is important, because Grogan will determine the outcome. If he has an outstanding night, the Pats will win. If he doesn't, Miami's defense will give Don Strock and Bob Griese time for the Dolphin offense to get in gear. I prefer Griese in the backup role to which he's been relegated. The veteran now is more dangerous coming off the bench.
The spread on the Chicago-Tampa Bay game is surprising. I made it seven. Vegas opened it at four and the line quickly moved to 3 1/2. The Buccaneers (9-4) can clinch the NFC Central with a victory, this touching off the celebration planned for last week when Minnesota pulled off an upset.
Tampa Bay's defense should keep Walter Payton from going wide, which is the key to Chicago's attack. This means Mike Phipps will have to put the ball up, and that's not the way the Bears prefer to play the game. Give the 3 1/2.
The only other picks are Houston against Cleveland, in a contest rated even, and San Diego giving Atlanta 13 1/2. Both are worth a mythical $250. eI don't see how the Browns are going to keep Earl Campbell from running off with the goal posts, and June Jones figures to have a long, long afternoon in Southern California.
The Las Vegas line lists Washington 9 over Green Bay, the New York Jets 5 over Baltimore, Pittsburgh 13 over Cincinnati, Denver 3 at Buffalo, Philadelphia 8 over Detroit, St. Louis 7 over San Francisco, Seattle 2 1/2 at Kansas City, Los Angeles 7 over Minnesota, Dallas 10 over the New York Giants and (Monday night) New Orleans 2 1/2 over Oakland.