It's amazing what some guys will do for money.

Three weeks into the NFL players' strike there was a consensus among the players and coaches that it would take "at least 10 days" to get back to camp and prepare for the first game after an agreement was reached. This made sense.

But five weeks later -- eight weeks in all -- it seems only three or four days are required to get ready for action.

Attempting to beat the point spread is tough enough assuming all the squads are in good physical shape.

Now there's another imponderable: who's ready to play and who isn't?

Reports out of Las Vegas are that the Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys stayed particularly close during the two-month shutdown.

But who knows?

The fact that both sides would so hastily agree to this arrangement shows the apparent disregard both players and owners have when it comes to a concern for presenting a quality product.

Why not wait another week before resuming play?

As it is, the regular season -- as pro football fans have come to know it -- has been shot.

Forget about the divisions, all the emphasis will now be on conference won-lost standings.

So much for the future. The present offers 14 "exhibitions" this weekend. Bob Martin, the man who sets the main line in Vegas, came out with his line yesterday, as follows: the New York Jets favored at home by nine over Baltimore, Philadelphia one at home to Cincinnati, Detroit three at Chicago, Kansas City 2 1/2 at New Orleans, Atlanta 3 1/2 over the L.A. Rams, Buffalo one over Miami, Green Bay 2 1/2 over Minnesota at Milwaukee, Cleveland 6 1/2 over New England, Pittsburgh six at Houston, San Francisco 3 1/2 at St. Louis, Denver seven over Seattle, Dallas seven over Tampa Bay, the New York Giants one over Washington and (Monday night) San Diego at the L.A. Raiders is rated even.

Veteran teams supposedly will be able to regroup faster than younger squads. Passing-oriented teams should be able to get their offenses together faster than those who still cling to a fair amount of running. Another factor, particularly this week, might concern the Rams having to travel one day to Atlanta.

Nobody wants to go cross-country this week, with so little time to prepare.

The big winners, naturally, will be the nation's bookmakers.

College contests reportedly failed to pick up much of the money that would have been bet on the professionals. Business was off at least 60 percent, according to informed sources.

This week's games will be shoddy, but important.

There is precious little time left for a team to play anything less than its best. That's incentive.

I certainly didn't want to see the season end prematurely, not when I was ahead of the point-spread game.

But only a fool would risk much of his or her bankroll this week. The best advice is to be extra cautious. I'm taking San Francisco for an imaginary $250 at St. Louis, giving the 3 1/2. That's all, until the players are ready to play.