Judging by several recent letters, there are readers who would appreciate more selections being made each Thursday in this space.
"After reading one column, I gathered the best thing I could do was to go to the movies and not bother betting on any of the games," wrote one gentleman from Winchester, Va.
Well, there are a few times during each NFL season when, after the numbers come in, I feel like taking a long hike to inspect the fall foliage. The numbers occasionally look too tough.
Overall, making fewer selections is preferable to trying to tap into too many games. Three or four picks a week should be the maximum, unless the games jump right out at you, and that doesn't happen very often. It is better to increase the amount of interest on a few contests rather than spread the action.
Postscript to last week's column:
It was noted that the underdog, playing at home, covered the point spread in six of seven games the weekend of Oct. 13-14. Last week the record was 6-0. But the underdog's perfect record in Monday night games ended when Chicago beat Green Bay, 23-7. GAME OF THE WEEK
San Francisco at the Los Angeles Rams, rated even. The 49ers are 3-4, the Rams 7-0. Yet, if you ask if there is a potential Super Bowl champion involved in this matchup I would say, yes -- San Francisco, with emphasis on the word potential.
Los Angeles' veteran defense deserves all the credit it has received. The Rams' offensive line also has been outstanding. And Eric Dickerson continues to be the most dangerous runner in football. But the Rams never will be favored to make it through the playoffs and win Super Bowl XX because they don't have a competent quarterback. Somewhere along the line this is going to hurt them. As a passer, Dieter Brock is one of the season's biggest disappointments.
San Francisco still has a chance to repeat as champion, although the turnaround has to begin immediately. Still, the line accurately reflects the situation: San Francisco is rated even with the Rams Sunday in a game at Los Angeles. I have a hunch the 49ers will start getting things together this week. But it's only a hunch, not a selection. THE PICKS
I'll take the New York Giants giving 3 1/2 at New Orleans and Washington getting 2 1/2 at Cleveland.
The linemakers are underestimating the Giants, who could be 6-1 just as easily as 4-3 and, right now, are as good as any team in the league with the possible exception of Chicago.
The Saints, by comparison, will be lucky to top .500 through the 16 games of the regular season. New York should enjoy a decided edge on the line of scrimmage, offensively and defensively. When that happens, there's not much else to consider. Give the 3 1/2. The number is reasonable.
I was glad to see the Giants keep Jess Atkinson as their field goal kicker. He is more accurate than Ali Haji-Sheikh. Atkinson's problem, however, has been on kickoffs. He needs more distance.
Cleveland dropped another close one Sunday as the Los Angeles Raiders scored in the final seconds for a 21-20 victory. The Browns have a habit of losing late, partly because their lack of sustained offense keeps their defense on the field too long.
That defense is excellent, boasting superior linebacking and a quick, feisty secondary. But the down linemen do not generate much of a pass rush, and it's possible the Redskins will be able to crank up their running game again if Joe Jacoby returns to his left tackle spot, as expected.
The Redskins played better than many fans realize in losing to the Giants, what with Jacoby and wide receiver Art Monk sidelined. Young Gary Clark is making progress as a receiver, giving Joe Theismann another target he has desperately needed. Washington still has a good chance to make the playoffs.
Cleveland's offense is efficient only when Earnest Byner and Kevin Mack have running room. The Redskins can shut them down. This leaves everything up to the quarterback, either rookie Bernie Kosar, who is learning on the job, or to veteran Gary Danielson, coming off an injury. Take the 2 1/2. MONDAY NIGHT
San Diego at the Los Angeles Raiders, the home team favored by six. The Raiders are getting by strictly on their defense, which generates outstanding pressure virtually every week. So it's a tough time for Dan Fouts to return as the Chargers' quarterback. I'd have to give the points, but this is a spot only for those who absolutely, positively must have action every Monday night. THE LINE
The early Las Vegas numbers had Dallas 12 1/2 over Atlanta, Philadelphia 9 over Buffalo, Denver 1 at Kansas City, Green Bay 2 at Indianapolis, St. Louis 7 over Houston, Miami 6 1/2 at Detroit, Chicago 8 over Minnesota, New England 2 1/2 at Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh 1 1/2 at Cincinnati and the New York Jets 3 over Seattle.