What happened last Sunday might be described as taking a bath. I prefer to think of it as a cold shower. The effect was a cooling off from the 8-1 record to 8-4 and a dip in the profit pool from $1,975 to $1,150 as Washington, Philadelphia and Minnesota failed to cover the spread.
There will be no excuses, for the following reasons:
* I don't know what's wrong in Philadelpia, where the Eagles are 1-4. Certainly it would not be fair to put all the blame on Ron Jaworski, one of my favorite whipping boys over the years.
* The Redskins couldn't cope with the Dallas blitz in suffering their first loss of the season. I wonder why Joe Theismann didn't go to a short passing game, against that pass rush, instead of trying to go deep so often.
* The only selection that ever looked like a winner was Minnesota, late in the fourth quarter, getting six points. With less than four minutes to play, the Vikings trailed, 19-14, and had a first down on their 25. The Dolphins needed a turnover, quickly, if they were to beat the number. Tommy Kramer obliged with an interception that led to the final 22-14 score.
It would have been a lucky stroke, however, had Minnesota lost by only five points. Miami outplayed them by a wide margin in the second half after leading, 9-7, at intermission.
The betting line on this week's NFL games finds the New York Giants favored by two at home against Philadelphia and San Francisco a two-point choice at home to San Diego on Saturday. Sunday, Washington at St. Louis is rated even, as is Pittsburgh at Buffalo, with Minnesota 12 over Baltimore, Seattle 3 1/2 over Chicago, Cinncinnati eight over Cleveland, the Los Angeles Rams three over Denver, Green Bay 4 1/2 over Detroit, Miami five at New England, Atlanta four over New Orleans, the Los Angeles Raiders three at Kansas City, the New York Jets 4 1/2 over Tampa Bay and (Monday night) Dallas eight at Houston.
Only four weeks remain in the strike-shortened regular season. Several good squads already find themselves in do-or-die situations, the defending Super Bowl champions being an example.
So, with their backs up against the bay, I'll string along with San Francisco giving two for an imaginary $250 against San Diego. I'm not convinced the Chargers' defense has improved too much.
Cinncinnati attracts $250 giving eight in Riverfront to Cleveland. The Bengals took a week off in squeaking past Baltimore. The Browns' defense has been outmanned by Dallas and San Diego for the last two weeks, and the Bengals' attack is in the same class.
The two pick 'em games are attractive. Washington, supposedly, is going to have an emotional letdown after big games at home against Philadelphia and Dallas. I doubt it. The Redskins' offense is too good to be bottled up three straight weeks. The risk is $250.
Buffalo, at home, almost always plays well in key situations. The game against Pittsburgh certainly fits that description. Minnesota and Green Bay both threw effectively at the Bills' secondary but it is a good unit that has, in the past, been able to rise to special occasions. The Bills get $250.
Seattle's defense is much improved and the entire team seems to be enjoying the fact that Jack Patera is gone. The 3 1/2-point spread against the Bears appears to be a little low, although rookie quarterback Jim McMahon has given Chicago a big lift. The Seahawks always played respectably in their home dome. Now that they're better, they could become downright difficult for any team to handle there. They're worth $250.
Rarely do I pick more than five games in one week, but my friend Bowser called Monday night and guaranteed that the dog at home is getting nasty again.
The underdog, getting points on its home field, is 7-9 this season after going 1-3 last weekend. Still, the dog at home has provided a wonderfully easy way to make money on pro games in recent years, so I'll take $250 on Kansas City against the Raiders. In their only home game this season the Chiefs beat San Diego, 19-14.
That's the only dog at home I like. Bowser and his pals are on their own with New England and Houston.Last WeekSeason Totals -$825+$1,150
Last week's results: Philadelphia, giving six, lost to St. Louis, 23-20, minus $275; Minnesota, giving six, lost to Miami, 22-14, minus $275; Washington, getting 2 1/2, lost to Dallas, 24-10, minus $275.
Won-lost record: 8-4.