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September 2001

September 26, 2001

Fearles Rick's Pro & College Football Picks 9/27-10/1/01
Rick Gagliano
posted by Rick Gagliano

NCAA Football - Thursday, Sept. 27

Miami (2-0) -26 PITTSBURGH (1-1) - Ranked #1 or #2 in all of the polls, Miami's offensive juggernaut seems to be rolling right along towards a National Championship and opened their Big East campaign last week by dusting Rutgers 61-0. Pittsburgh will put up more of a fight, the keys beings how well QB David Priestly and WR Antonio Bryant perform. Pitt's defense is solid, but against the Hurricanes, all bets are off. Last season, the 'Canes won at home against Pitt 35-7. They will need a similar effort here on national TV and should get it from QB Ken Dorsey and his troops of recievers. However, that massive line is a lot to overcome, and I think the Panthers will keep this one close enough to cover. It will look like a blowout at 35-14, but not enough to cover.

Saturday, Sept. 29

TEXAS A&M (3-0) -3 Notre Dame (0-2) - Back to reality for both of these teams. Notre Dame opened with Nebraska, a team they could not match up with, and lost at home in an ugly game against Michigan State, who has now beaten the Irish 5 straight times. Texas A & M hasn't played anyone of note with wins over McNeese State, Wyoming and Oklahoma State, and now play a real team carrying a tough schedule in Notre Dame. The Irish seem to be jelling on defense, and if their offense can get the ball into the right people's hands (Julius Jones and Tony Fisher), complete a few passes (who will be throwing doesn't seem to matter becaue the A & M defense is weak) and play well on special teams (NDs strong suit), they can get a win here.

GEORGIA TECH (3-0) -11 Clemson (2-1) - After the embarrassment handed to them by Virginia, the Clemson offense needs to get clicking, but doing that against Georgia Tech will be a tough task as the Yellow Jackets have given up only 7 points in each of their first three games. On the offensive side of the ball, the edge everywhere goes to Georgia Tech. Even Woody Dantzler at his best will not be able to put up enough points to win this one. Georgia Tech will roll in this BEST BET!

N.C. STATE (2-0) -1 1/2 North Carolina (1-3) - A great in-state rivalry and a real test for both teams with bowl and conference inplications. The Tar Heels absolutely shocked Florida State and will need to play just as well against the talented NC State offense. One cannot discount North Carolina's three road losses to Oklahoma, Texas and Maryland - they were soundly whipped in each game. The key is whether NC's monster linebacker Julius Peppers or NC State's QB Phillip Rivers can dominate. NC State has an explosive offense and just enough defense to hold off the Tar Heels.

TENNESSEE (2-0) -10 Lsu (2-0) - Offense. The Tigers have it and the Vols don't and that will determine this one. Even though Tennessee poses problems on defense for every opponent, LSU has speed at RB and wide receiver and can put up plenty of points. They have to protect the ball a little better as they have displayed fumble-itis in both of their wins. The Vols have yet to prove they can move the ball efficiently, just what the LSU defense needs to pull off the UPSET SPECIAL.

FLORIDA (3-0) -16 Mississippi St. (1-1) - Mississsippi State lost a tough game against a very solid South Carolina squad last Thursday, and their offense looked flat and out-of-sync. Heading into Gator-land does not bode well for the Bulldogs. Florida brings a monster offensive attack and a super-solid defense into the fray and look every bit as good as their pre-season #1 prediction. While MSU has a solid program and a good football team, they are no match for the Gators, who are in an elite class this season. Take the Gaters to roll in this FOUR STAR PICK.

Mississippi (1-1) -8 1/2 KENTUCKY (1-2) - The Rebels' Eli Manning will put up enough points to smother the Kentucky defense. This one looks like a very lopsided affair as the Wildcats don't have enough offense or defense to stay in this one. Mississippi by 17 or more.

OKLAHOMA (3-0) -4 1/2 Kansas St. (2-0) - Game of the week is a real test for both teams who have National Championship aspirations. While Oklahoma remains in the top five in most of the polls, Kansas State poses some real problems for the Sooners with a swarming defense and explosive offense. RB Josh Scobey is a shifty and speedy back and KSU's QB Eli Roberson can deliver the ball to a variety of receivers. They also have one of the best defenses in the nation and may be able to keep Oklahoma's offense off-balance all day. Last season, the Wildcats lost 41-31 to OU at home and 27-24 in the Big 12 Championship game in Norman. Look for them to turn the tables and upset the balance of power in the polls and BCS rankings.

SOUTH CAROLINA (3-0) -6 1/2 Alabama (1-1) - Alabama got a huge break on a turnover late in their win last week against Arkansas and were fortunate to win. Their offense didn't impress, though the defense played a solid game. South Carolina is the real deal however, and will put up plenty of points in this one. The Gamecocks won't look back here in a suprisingly easy win. THREE STAR PICK.

UCLA (3-0) -3 1/2 at OREGON STATE (1-1) - The Bruins have enough talent to win this game handily, as evidenced in their win over Ohio State. Oregon State is currently ranked 19th, but the Bruins have the edge. The Beavers were shocked 44-24 by Fresno State, which exposed their weaknesses on defense. UCLA QB Cory Paus will exploit their secondary after opening them up with runs by DeShawn Foster and the defense, which is nasty, will smother the Beavers. FOUR STAR PICK.

USC (1-2) -1 1/2 Stanford (2-0) - Both of USC's losses came to Top 20 teams, Kansas State and Oregon and both were close, losing 10-6 to KSU and 24-22 to Oregon. Stanford has a big play offense, but it may not be of much use against the Trojans defense. USC has a very tough schedule this season and may be one of the more underrated programs in the nation. They are certainly better than their record indicates, and will handle the Cardinal with ease.

NFL - Sunday, September 30, 2001

Tampa Bay (1-0) -2 1/2 (38) MINNESOTA (0-2) - Minnesota becomes a home dog after losing their first two games and must come face-to-face with their main nemesis over the past three season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While the Bucs may find themselves a bit rusty after a three-week hiatus, the Vikings have the unmistakable look of a team in disarray. Losing on the road to Chicago last week had to be the ultimate humiliation for this squad. The Vikes have not shown yet that they are up to the test, and until they do, will be bet against. The Bucs will manhandle handle these guys with a stifling defense and just enough offense to get the job done. Look for a score somewhere in the 20-7 range unless Minnesota QB Culpepper unleashes a couple of INTs. Then it will be more like 34-14. Any way you slice it the Bucs come away with a W.

Kansas City (0-2) -3 (36 1/2) WASHINGTON (0-2) - Well, losing on Monday night is not a most auspicious look, and the Redskins have the distinct honor of being one of the worst teams in the league right now. With Jeff George gone, it still will not matter, as Tony Banks is stumble and fumble-prone and recent pick-up Kent Graham hasn't had enough time to learn the offense. The fact that the Redskin OL cannot pass block anyone is a problem as well. KC, despite numerous injuries to wideouts, will still be able to move the ball against a porous defense and their own defense will handle the 'Skins. Chiefs will prove they are top braves over lowly Redskins.

ST.LOUIS (2-0) -5 1/2 (44) Miami (2-0) - What a nice matchup! The high-octane offense vs. the low yardage defense. The big problem here is that the Rams are playing at home after winning their first two on the road and Miami may have a bit of a letdown after the thrilling last-minute victory over the Raiders last week. This game will come down to whether or not the Rams can handle the Miami blitz which can come from anywhere at any time, but especially on first down. Look for the Rams to counter with Marshall Faulk on draws and traps. The other problem is whether the Rams can stop the Miami offense which seems able to get the job done against almost anyone. Bottom line, the Rams have too many weapons and will use them all, gaining a home win and a 3-0 record.

Green Bay (2-0) -3 1/2 CAROLINA (1-1) - Brett Favre is in mid-season form and Ahman Green is running better than any Packer running back since Paul Hornung. Green Bay's defense is playing particularly well also, and despite Carolina's opening-day win against the Vikings (which, in retrospect, doesn't look like too big a deal) they are still starting a rookie QB and really don't look like a playoff team. The Packers can take it to them on both sides of the ball and win going away in this week's BEST BET.

Indianapolis (2-0) -11 1/2 (44) NEW ENGLAND (0-2) - The Patriots are a team going nowhere this season, but they will be better-prepared than the Bills were against Indy last week. Their losses to Cincinnati and the Jets were fairly close contests, and while I cannot see them winning this game outright, I certainly can see them keeping it close. Indy's defense is not world-class and Drew Bledsoe will be able to find a few receivers. He'll get time, as the Colts do not have an impressive pass rush. In the end, the Colts will put up more points, but remember, home underdogs of 6 or more points cover the line nearly 70% of the time. I'll go with New England and the odds in a limited cover bet. This also is probably the best over play of the week. Look for a final score of 34-28 or thereabout.

NY GIANTS (1-1) -3 (37) New Orleans (1-0) - A very tough game to pick as both teams have solid defense, adequate offense and are thinking playoffs. There are a few distinct advantages the Giants have, however, and they should make them a winner. First, this is the Giants homecoming after the 9/11 horrors and the crowd will be into the game, as will the players. On the NO side of the ball, there has to be a nagging sense that they should not win this game due to the NY situation. Second, New Orleans has been off for three full weeks and may be a bit rusty. Personally, I think this game should be taken off the board because of the emotions involved, but, having said that, the Giants look like they are in the middle of a three-game winning streak, which started in their lopsided (it really was not as close as the score indicated) win last week in KC. The Saints could not have found a tougher place to play after such a long layoff. Giants in a THREE STAR PICK.

Pittsburgh (0-1) -3 (36) BUFFALO (0-2) - After being totally outclassed by Indianapolis last week, the Buffalo Bills at least get to play at home and against a powderpuff of a team. Pittsburgh's defense is not as good as some may believe, and their offense still suffers from a number of maladies including mistakes, ineptitude and Slashness (all the bad things Kordell Stewart brings to the quarterback position). Believe it or not, the Bills hold an edge at a number of positions, including quarterback, running back (Travis Henry may be offensive rookie of the year, while Jerome Bettis is very predictable and may not get the ball often enough) and wide receiver (if Eric Moulds is healthy - shoulder problem has him listed as questionable). The Steelers also have to deal with the rust factor, having played their last game on Sept. 9. The Bills getting points at home is a nice bonus and I expect them to bounce back and make the home fans happy.

Atlanta (1-1) -3 (42) ARIZONA (0-1) - No doubt about it, the Falcons will vie for a playoff spot this season. A win over hapless Arizona is yet another step forward for the Falcons. The Cardinals looked pathetic against the Broncos, although the Broncos can put up points against any defense, and their offense still hasn't put it all together. Jamal Anderson is running over people again, a problem for the Cardinals and the timing of Michael Vick into the offense will be another plus for the Falcons. Atlanta's defense will have to step up again, as they have in allowing the 49s only one touchdown and stopping Carolina last week when they had to. Chalk up a win for Atlanta and an easy cover of the light line.

DENVER (2-0) -4 1/2 (41) Baltimore (1-1) - The season has started off on a somewhat sour note for the Super Bowl champs and now they come into mile high the underdog. The Broncos would like to avenge their 2000 playoff loss (21-3) to the Ravens and they are playing like a Super Bowl team right now. Once again, the altitude will play into the scheme of things, as Denver holds a distinct advantage at home. The problem for the Ravens is to stop a red-hot Brian Griese and all the weapons he has at his disposal. If the Broncos put up some early scores, Baltimore will struggle, as their offense is not overpowering and their running game virtually nonexistent. Based on stats since 1990, teams that start the season 2-0 have a 70% probability of making the playoffs, so the Broncos look like a certain playoff team. Denver's firepower will overcome the Ravens defense and the Baltimore offense will commit turnovers. Denver continues to roll in this FOUR STAR PICK.


SAN DIEGO (2-0) -6 1/2 (38 1/2 ) Cincinnati (2-0) - I consider this line to be just a bit out of whack, so keep your eyes on it as it may move closer to -4 or -3 by game time. While San Diego's Doug Flutie has been getting all the press in two wins, Cincy's Jon Kitna has put up even better numbers in their dual victories. Other intriguing comparisons are at running back - Bengals' Cory Dillon vs. SD's LaDainian Tomlinson - and wideout - Benglas' Peter Warrick and Darnay Scott vs. SD's Tim Dwight and Curtis Conway. The defenses are also fairly equal and both teams have some players with minor injuries. This looks like the game of the week and the 6 1/2 is just too many points to pass up. Take Cincy in a squeaker and this week's UPSET SPECIAL.

JACKSONVILLE (2-0) -9 (35 1/2 ) Cleveland (1-1) - Without a doubt, the Jaguars are playing solid football, but the Browns are an improving team who can play with anyone in the league. The Jags have yet to play a team with a decent passing offense as in week 1 they took on Pittsburgh and last week played Tennessee without Steve McNair. With Tim Couch at the helm for the Browns, the Jags have to cover closely and Couch has to take a little bit better care of the ball (3 INTs in two games). This may become more of a defensive struggle than anything else, so take the points and the Browns in a game they may win if they get enough pressure on Marc Brunell to force a couple of turnovers.

OAKLAND (1-1) -10 1/2 (39) Seattle (1-1) - Oakland played a great game against a solid opponent last week in Miami and played almost well enough to win, while the Seahawks were mauled by the Eagles. Seattle offers very little in the way of offense, so their defense will have to keep them in this one. The Raiders should win this one easily.

PHILADELPHIA (1-1) -13 1/2 (35) Dallas (0-2) - Those big lines are tempting, no? Dallas has shown true grit in their two losses, and this looks like a pretty tough assignment. While Quincy Carter will probably get the call at QB for Dallas, Philadelphia RB Duce Staley will most likely sit this one out. That may seem to be a positive swing for the Cowboys, they still have to find a way to score against one of the best defenses in the league and stop Donovan McNabb when the Eagles have the ball. Eagles have too many ways to win this one and should put up 30 to Dallas' 10.

Monday, October 1, 2001

NY JETS (1-1) -3 (44 1/2) San Francisco (1-1) - This should be an interesting game for the Monday night crowd. The Niners like to pass and the Jets want to run the football. It's a real divergence in offensive styles, but the Jets patient, ball-control style is the key to this game. While the Jets' Curtis Martin will handle the load for the Jets, Garrison Hearst have to tote the pigskin for the Niners, and though he won't get as many carries as Martin, his carries are pivotal. If the Niners end up in 2nd and long or 3rd and long situations, the Jets secondary can step up big time as they did against New England last week. Add in the tribute to the heroes and victims of the 9/11 disaster and this one may become a stroll down Broadway for the Jets. The 49ers are not very tough against the run and that spells trouble. THREE STAR PICK.

Source:Downtown Magazine


September 18, 2001

Fearless Rick's Pro & College Picks 9/20/01 - 9/24/01
Fearless Rick
posted by Rick Gagliano

NCAA - Thursday, September 20

MISSISSIPPI STATE (1-0) -3 South Carolina (2-0) - a prime-time match-up for the Thursday night crowd pits the Bulldogs against a pretty good Gamecock squad that already has a conference win, whipping Georgia 14-9 two weeks ago. Mississippi State may have a little rust, not having played since September 1st, when they came from a 0-10 deficit against Memphis to win going away 30-10. The Gamecocks come in with a top-notch defense and a so-so offense, which will not get it done against MSU. QB Wayne Madkin and a relentless running game leads this talented offense to a nice win at home. Lay the points and run with the big dogs - the Bulldogs!

Saturday, September 22

PENN STATE (0-1) -2 1/2 Wisconsin (1-2) - Penn State has had plenty of time to recover from the season-opening loss to Florida State (9/1) and prepare for this game, while Wisconsin may still be reeling from consecutive losses to Oregon (somewhat expected) and Fresno State. In the loss to Fresno State, the Badgers were shut down and held scoreless in the second half, which does not bode well heading into Happy Valley. The Nittany Lions will show much more defensive skill than they did against the powerhouse passing game of Fla. St. and should come away with a well-deserved win.

CLEMSON (2-0) -11 1/2 Virginia (1-1) - Clemson QB Woody Dantzler should be able to shred the Cavalier defense all day long and put a big hurt on this Virginia squad, which easily could be 0-2 heading into this game after winning a late squeaker over Richmond, 17-16. There are just too many holes in the defense to warrant even calling this one a close game. The offense may put up some points, but not nearly enough to keep up with the Tigers. Big win for Clemson as they stay undefeated and move up in the polls. FOUR STAR PICK!

ALABAMA (1-1) -9 1/2 Arkansas (1-1) - Underrating Arkansas can be just as dangerous as overrating the Crimson Tide, who do not look like the dominant teams many loyal 'Bama fans remember. Alabama has trouble scoring, having put up only 29 points in their first two games, the last of which, a 12-9 win at Vanderbilt on Sept. 9 was the result of four field goals. Arkansas has mustered only 17 points themselves, but the lonely 3 they put up in their 13-3 loss to Tennessee was on a field that more resembled a rice paddy in a monsoon. Arkansas may have the better of the two offenses here, and though they may be a little short on defense, Alabama does not have the kinds of weapons with which to exploit any weaknesses. Note that Arkansas won this match-up 28-21 last year. 'Bama hasn't proven anything to anybody thus far this season (unranked) and they look pretty ordinary - the kind of team Arkansas can surprise in a very nice UPSET SPECIAL.

NOTRE DAME (0-1) -9 Michigan St. - Ah, the luck of the Irish! How can Notre Dame be ranked in the Top 25 without even a win? Sure they looked OK in the 2nd half against Nebraska, but weren't they completely blown out in the 1st half? The Fighting Irish look a lot like a very average Big Ten team, which is actually a pretty good thing, but Michigan State takes its football seriously, and this game is a huge rivalry. Besides, MSU boast probably the best power runner in the country, TJ Duckett, so if you thought Notre Dame had problems in the middle with Nebraska, look out. Michigan State should, if their young line takes control, be able to dominate time of possession and exploit ND's secondary with plenty of 2nd and short opportunities. On defense, MSU also has the edge. ND may have a slight advantage on special teams, but they look like a team without direction and a controversy at quarterback. Michigan State has serious Big 10 championship aspirations, and this game is a big test. A win here and they could head into their November 3 showdown at Michigan a solid 6-0. The -9 line is a certain sucker bet and I rate this not only as an UPSET SPECIAL, but also as a BEST BET!

UCLA (2-0) -6 1/2 Ohio St. (1-0) - The Buckeyes haven't played anyone yet - beat Akron 28-14 and looked so-so - so this is a real test of their mettle. QB Steve Bellisari, a senior, won't be going in the NFL draft, so they must depend more on the running game. UCLA could easily be the class of the PAC 10 and will have to prove it against a solid Ohio State defense, which is quick and talented, especially at linebacker and in the secondary. Playing on the coast will be a big plus for the Bruins, as they have won both of their games thus far on the road, beating Alabama and Kansas. With RB DeShaun Foster and QB Cory Paus leading the high-powered offense, Ohio State will have to put up at least 24 points to stay in this one. Take the Bruins as they roll into the collegiate Top 10.

Florida St. (2-0) -17 NORTH CAROLINA (0-3) - North Carolina looks completely overmatched against one the premiere teams in the nation. Florida State could easily have this line covered by halftime. Consider the Tar Heel's losses this season - 41-27 at Oklahoma, 23-7 at Maryland and 44-14 at Texas - and this does not look like a very happy homecoming. Blowout, no surprise here and a FOUR STAR PICK.

SYRACUSE (1-2) -2 Auburn (2-0) - Syracuse finally catches a break in what thus far has been a rough season, opening with a loss to Georgia Tech, then an embarrassing loss at Tennessee, before finally breaking into the win column against a pretty good UCF team. The offense may finally get rolling downhill in the Carrier Dome against a so-so Auburn squad. The line is a little light due to the disparity of records. Consider this one a straight up play, which almost always favors the home team. Syracuse should come away with a win by a touchdown or more.

OREGON (2-0) -6 1/2 Southern Cal (1-1) - USC looked very good in their narrow (10-6) loss to Kansas State and has the ability to play with anyone in the Pac 10, including the Ducks, who aren't looking very impressive on defense, though the offense continues to blaze away. Southern Cal will certainly put them to the test and may even put up a few more points than people expect. They may not win this one, but it should be very close. Take USC and the points.

ILLINOIS (2-0) -3 1/2 Louisville (2-0) - A certain shootout between Louisville QB Dave Ragone and Illini QB Kurt Kittner. Ragone seems to have the edge as NFL scouts are drooling over him much as they did recently over the likes of Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Tim Couch. This line is moving pretty fast, as it went from -6 on Monday to -3 1/2 on Tuesday, so I'll keep an eye out and update late Friday. I don't really appreciate games like these as they are often won by the last team with the football. Neither team has much defense and they both will get worn down. Could turn out to be one of the highest-scoring affairs of the season, so a tip for the over bettors. As far as a winner goes, I'll take Louisville and the points, as they look unstoppable on offense.

NFL - Sunday, September 23

INDIANAPOLIS (1-0) -10 (44 1/2 ) Buffalo (0-1) - Woe be the Bills. Without much of an offensive punch, albeit Eric Moulds who will be doubled most of the day, they really have their work cut out for them against the triple threat offense of Indy and Manning, James and Harrison. Buffalo is also going to be without All Pro linebacker Sam Cowart (out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon), which is a serious blow to their defense. While not sold on the Colts' defense, they should be able to outscore the Bills easily en route to one of their easier wins of the season.

MIAMI (1-0) -1 1/2 (40 1/2 ) Oakland (1-0) - Was it the rain in Tennessee last week or are the Dolphins the real deal? I'd have to opt for the latter. They looked like they had all of The Titans plays memorize and were dominant on defense while the offense took care of the ball and scored efficiently. The Raiders are not the greatest of road teams and if it's hot (should be) it could work against Oakland, who was fortunate to get the win in KC in week one. Miami looks good enough to win and cover this one.

JACKSONVILLE (1-0) -2 (36 1/2 ) Tennessee (0-1) - Usually a good matchup of AFC Central foes, the Titans look to even their record after taking it on the chin in the opener against the Dolphins. Jacksonville will be hard-pressed to get their offense in gear against the solid Tennessee secondary, though QB Brunell looked as good as ever in week one. The Titans really need Eddie George to get untracked, which he could not in the rain last week and the conditions did not favor Steve McNair either, who generally has trouble with wet footballs. This week will be different, as the Titans dominate in a FOUR STAR PICK.

Baltimore (1-0) -7 (33 1/2 ) CINCINNATI (1-0) - The Ravens still have the most devastating defense in the league, so the Bengals better be up to the task at home. Cincy certainly played well enough t earn some respect in their opener against New England, but turning the trick against the Ravens is another case altogether. With Jon Kitna running the offense, the ball seems to be getting into the right player's hands at the right times, meaning Darnay Scott and Corey Dillon are able to do their respective things. Cincy has a very potent offense and may be one of the surprise teams of 2001, so this is not going to be a jaunt for Baltimore, despite besting Cincy twice last season, 37-0 and 27-7. Cincy is a much improved team from what was a near-disaster in 2000. The Ravens still need more offense and I like the fact that Cincy is home in a divisional contest. This one could be close, so I'll take the points.

ATLANTA (0-1) -3 1/2 (41) Carolina (1-0) - Carolina shockEd the Vikings and the football world on September 9, beating Minnesota at home with rookie QB Chris Weinke leading the way and the defense looking well-prepared for the Vikes' high-potency offense, though maybe the Vikings are still searching for a running game. Meanwhile, the Falcons got whipped in OT by the 49ers, and those always sting. The advantage here has to go to the Falcons, who can't be blamed for losing on the road, and who come home to a face a very questionable team in Carolina. I like the Falcons to run it up pretty well.

Detroit (0-1) -1 1/2 (33) CLEVELAND (0-1) - One of my preseason favorites was the Detroit Lions, who looked shoddy against the Packers in Week 1 and have plenty of questions to answer, not the least of which is who is going to start at cornerback this week. Forget about Ty Detmer being elevated to starter after the Charlie Batch implosion, the Lions are very dinged up in the secondary with SS Ron Rice and CB Robert Bailey expected to play, while CB Bryant Westbrook remains sidelined. Detroit is also not a very good road team, so I am taking the Browns to spring the mild upset.

Minnesota (0-1) -3 (43 1/2 ) CHICAGO (0-1) - Well, the Vikings aren't that bad are they? Is this -3 line against the lowly Bears for real? In game 1 of 2000, the Vikings won 30-27 at home over the Bears, the start of a seven-game win streak which also included a 28-16 thrashing of Chicago in the Windy City. I don't discount what the loss of Cory Stringer meant to the Vikes, and they may have been somewhat unfocused in their opener, but the events of the past week may have caught the rest of the league up to what the Vikings were suffering. The Vikings have enormous talent and they will put it on display for all to see, routing the Bears in this week's BEST BET.

KANSAS CITY (0-1) -1 1/2 (39) N.Y. Giants (0-1) - Possibly the most intriguing matchup of the week, as the Giants play their second straight road game, albeit with a week in between. The World Trade Center bombing probably affected the Giants more profoundly than any team in the league, as they were able to see the smoke as a constant reminder during practices. I think the Giants will handle it like men, and maybe the trip to KC might perk up their spirits somewhat. The game itself may be somewhat of a relief, but the problems in the secondary displayed against Denver are real and the Chiefs will exploit them. However, the Chiefs are not the Denver Broncos and nobody can throw the ball as well as Brian Griese did on Monday night. For those reasons, I am taking the Giants to gut this one out and win in a close contest.

San Diego (1-0) -3 1/2 (33 1/2 ) DALLAS (0-1) - Another game with many possibilities, puts the Cowboys as home dogs for the second week in a row. In week one, they covered the line against Tampa Bay, and their defense played very well. San Diego gets the favorite role via a lopsided home win over the Redskins, possibly one of the worst teams in the league. If you like running quarterbacks, this is the game for you, as Doug Flutie and Quincy Carter will be dancing through the backfield throughout. The Cowboys are better than most people think, the Chargers are probably better than they were last year (not hard to do), but Dallas has the home edge, better offensive weapons and will win this UPSET SPECIAL.

N.Y. Jets (0-1) -1 1/2 (38 1/2 ) NEW ENGLAND (0-1) - Simply put, The New England Patriots are not a very good football team, while the Jets are much better than they looked two weeks ago against the Colts. I absolutely love the Jets in another BEST BET.

St. Louis (1-0) -6 1/2 (51) SAN FRANCISCO (1-0) - The Rams look every bit as good as they have for the past two years, while the 49ers have plenty of offense to match up. The real edge in this game has to go to St. Louis who has found a team they can beat with their defense. Make note of this as I will not say that about the Rams very often this season, but the 49ers just are too young and inexperienced on defense to compete here.

Philadelphia (0-1) -2 1/2 (37) SEATTLE (1-0) - One word you will not see very often in this column is the oft-used term, lock. But if I have ever seen a bona fide, no doubt about it, bet the farm, don't look back sure thing, this is it! Philly should dominate on both sides of the ball and come out of this far ahead. I like Philadelphia so much here that it scares me into making it only a FOUR STAR PICK.

Denver (1-0) -8 (45) ARIZONA (0-0) - The only team that has yet to play a game this season is Arizona, and, lucky them, they get to take on the Broncos, who looked like they were heading right for the Super Bowl before the entire league got taken off track. The Broncos look absolutely dominant on offense with Terrell Davis in mid-season form and Brian Greise looking like his Hall of Fame dad, maybe even better. The only downside for the Broncos is the loss of Ed McCaffrey, but he is replaced by fleet-footed Eddie Kennison. The Broncos should have little problem winning this one on the road. In fact, they may be even more keyed up, wanting to win it for their fallen friend, McCaffrey.

Monday, September 24

GREEN BAY (1-0) -8 1/2 (41) Washington (0-1) - How ABC decided to air this game on Monday night is beyond me. It should be an absolute sleeper after the third quarter. Green Bay is not one of the best teams in the league, but they are better than average and maybe in the top five on offense. Defensively, they are solid, but not spectacular. The Redskins are horrible in almost all regards. Looks like an easy one for the Packers.

Source:Downtown Magazine


September 13, 2001

Fearless Rick's Pro and College Football Picks 9/13/01-9/17/01
Rick Gagliano
posted by Rick Gagliano

Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks and their families in this time of sorrow.

All Division 1 College Football and NFL games for this weekend have been canceled. You can read Commissioner Paul Tagliabue's statement here. We will resume nomal operations and picks on Tuesday, September 18.

God Bless America.

Source:Downtown Magazine


September 12, 2001

College & Pro Football Picks for 9/13/01 - 9/17/01
Fearless Rick
posted by Rick Gagliano

Due to the tragedies in New York and Washington yesterday, some college games have been cancelled, and more teams are unsure whether they will be able to play and/or get to game sites. The NFL has not released any news on whether or not games will be played as scheduled, but an announcement is expected by Thursday, September 13.

The picks will be posted as soon as we here at Downtown Magazine can determine which games will be played. Messages will be posted as news warrants.

Our hearts and prayers go out to the people who were killed or injured in Tuesday's terrorist attacks as well as their friends and families. God bless America!

Source:Downtown Magazine


September 05, 2001

College and NFL Picks 9/6 - 9/10 2001
Rick Gagliano
posted by Rick Gagliano

Note: Games highlighted in RED are the top picks, BLUE are good choices, and GREEN are games you might want to avoid flat-betting. Our rating on some games is THREE STARS, FOUR STARS AND BEST BETS, plus UPSET SPECIAL.


College Football picks for Sept. 6-8 - HOME TEAM in CAPS


Thursday, Sept. 6


N.C. STATE -6 1/2 Indiana - Coming off a miserable 3-8 season, Indiana enters a hornet's nest when they visit NC State Thursday night. This one is nationally televised on ESPN, so there's plenty of interest in what may turn out to be a showcase game for NC State QB Philip Rivers and linebacker Levar Fisher. Philips will be a legitimate Heisman candidate in 2002, so this year he'll be developing his skills as the Wolfpack rolls over opposition in the ACC. Fisher was an All-Amercian last year and should only be better this season. Indiana has major holes on defense and won't be able to stay with NC State.


Saturday, Sept. 8


NEBRASKA (2-0) -14 Notre Dame (0-0) - The Fighting Irish invade Lincoln to take on the #4 Cornhuskers in a premier national TV clash. Both teams had success and disappointment in 2000, with Notre Dame going 9-3, despite losing to Nebraska 27-24 at home and losing 41-9 to Oregon State in the Fiesta Bowl. Nebraska had an equally fine season in 2000, though not up to their usual standards, as they went 10-2, losing to eventual National Champion Oklahoma and pesky Big 12 rival Kansas State, 29-28. They embarrassed Northwestern on New Year's Eve 66-17. The Huskers are already 2-0, as they worked out the kinks against TCU and Troy St., whom they held to 2 yards offense in the second half last week. Led by QB Eric Crouch, RBs Dahrran Deidrick and Thunder Collins and a tenacious top-5 defense, the Huskers are all set to put a whipping on the boys from South Bend. QB Matt Lovecchio and RB Julius Jones lead the Irish offense, and despite having other outstanding running backs, what they really need against Nebraska are receivers, having lost two of the best, Jabari Halloway and Joey Getherall. On defense, Nebraska is better hands down. The real key to this game is the fat line being laid in Vegas. When's the last time you saw the Irish a 14-point underdog? Another big point is that two of Notre Dame's touchdowns last year against Nebraska were on kickoff returns. That game could easily have been 35-14, and Nebraska knows it, having made special teams play an emphasis in training camp. This one goes all Nebraska's way for the whole 60 minutes. Take the Huskers, lay the fat points and look for a rout.


Kansas St. (0-0) -3 1/2 USC (1-0) - Good to see somebody willing to step up and take on the Wildcats but why did it have to be USC? Does somebody want to run new head coach Pete Carroll out of his job so soon? This is as tough as it gets for a new coach because the Wildcats bring to the field an enormity of talent, despite losing some players to graduation, an 11-3 record in 2000 (which included TWO losses to National Champion Oklahoma, the last one a 27-24 tussle for the Big 12 Championship). Sophomore Ell Roberson gets the start at QB for KSU and teams in the backfield with Josh Scobey and 242-lb. fullback Rock Cartwright. The Southern Cal defense won't know what hit them after Scobey and Robeson wear them down for the punishing runs of Cartwright. The only worry is K-State's defense, returning only 3 starters from last season. It shouldn't be a problem, however, as all of their starters saw game time in the many blowout KSU wins and the linebacking corps is solid. May be close, but a loss by K-State would be a real shocker. Kansas State should win this by at least a touchdown.


AUBURN (1-0) -5 1/2 Mississippi (1-0) - Here are two teams pointed in the right direction coming together in what should be an excellent game on both sides of the ball. There's a new kid taking snaps for Ole Miss, by the name of Eli Manning, and he has all the tools inherited from papa Archie and learned alongside older brother Peyton. Manning will be the key to an offense which will look to exploit a young and inexperienced Auburn defense. Neither team has much in the way of defense, for that matter and neither are expected to vie for the SEC Title, though Mississippi just might. Manning tuned up nicely in the Rebels' 49-14 trouncing of Murray State, going 20-23 for 271 yards and five TDs. He also set a school record, completing 18 consecutive passes. Auburn throttled Ball St. 30-0 in their season opener. Look for plenty of offense here and if it turns into a shootout, Mississippi will win it. Take the points and enjoy.


WASHINGTON (0-0) -3 Michigan (1-0) - Both of these teams are rebuilding to some degree, but Washington holds a distinct advantage returning nine running backs (they won't all play, but they are all ready), and a fairly solid defense. Add in the home filed advantage, the fact that QB Cody Pickett (replacing Marques Tuiasosopo) won't have to throw much and this one may be a little more lopsided than the bookmakers would have one believe. Both teams return only one starter on the offensive line, but the Huskies bring in the beef - all of their starters are over 300 pounds. Washington was 11-1 in 2000, won the Rose Bowl, came within a whisker of a National Championship, and are looking at a shot at another Pac-10 Title. The Wolverines struggled a bit against Miami, OH last week but still won easily. A win over Michigan would be a great way for Washington to start the season, and they should cover the light line handily.

Tennessee (1-0) -14 ARKANSAS (1-0) - The Razorbacks' win last week over UNLV (14-10) avenged a loss to that same team in the Las Vegas Bowl (31-14) last December. Arkansas looks a lot better on both offense and defense than they did last year, returning 15 of 22 starters. Meanwhile, the Volunteers looked horrible offensively last week against an arguably good Syracuse defense, but they have no explosive players in the backfield or at the wideout positions. The game was close for three quarters and the Vols capitalized on Syracuse miscues to win a game that was much closer than the score (33-9) indicates. The offense revolves around QB Casey Clausen, and is designed to be very simple, which should play into Arkansas' hands. The very generous line offered by the oddsmakers is a definite take in this UPSET SPECIAL. The Vols aren't that good and the Razorback coaching staff will have their team, ummm... razor sharp.

STANFORD (0-0) -5 1/2 Boston College (1-0) - BC was very impressive in it's 34-10 win over West Virginia last week as they scored 34 unanswered points after falling behind 10-0 (both scores off turnovers). RB William Green rushed for 203 yards on 27 carries and scored 2 TDs and while QB Brian St. Pierre did not have a solid game, he hung in and did what was needed to win. The defense looked spectacular, completley shutting down WVA for most of the game, yeilding no big plays. The trip out to the left coast will be a good indication of where this team is headed, and a win against the Cardinal is expected. BC has to be feeling pretty good about itself and Stanford does not have the defense (weak at linebacker) or the offense (not much of a running game, and BC is very good against the pass) to hang in here. Look for some turnovers to benefit BC, and if Green has another big day, a not-so-surprising win for the Eagles. This one is a BEST BET!


NFL PICKS


Sunday, September 9


HOME TEAM in CAPS


NY JETS Pick (44 1/2 ) Indianapolis - The Jets will have Vinny Testaverde and Curtis Martin at full strength for a change, despite missing top draft pick Santana Moss (expected back by mid-season). While this is good news for Jets fans, the Colts are hampered with injuries to their offensive line and QB Peyton Manning may not be full strength after suffering a sprained right knee in the 3rd preseason game. He missed the last preseason game, but will suit up for this one and be ready. The Colts' potent offense will be pressured by an improved Jets defense throughout. Last year the Jets and Colts split, with the Jets winning at home, 23-15. Take the JETS at home to kick off the season a winner.


Oakland -3 (44) KANSAS CITY - Neither of these teams looked particularly impressive during the preseason, but the Raiders have a big edge over the Chiefs offensively. The Chiefs will be without regular starting center Casey Wiegmann, and that will hamper an offense that has little punch to begin with. The key is for the Raiders' defensive front to pressure QB Trent Green and keep the ball out of the hands of the Chiefs' trio of talented receivers (Marvin Minnis, Derrick Alexander and Tony Horne) and their All-Pro tight end Tony Gonzalez, because they have little to no running game. The Raiders, with Charlie Garner and Tyrone Wheatley getting all of the calls in the running game, should be able to grind out a win here. Last season the Raiders took both games against the Chiefs, 20-17 at Arrowhead and 49-31 at home.


MINNESOTA -9 1/2 (46) Carolina - Classic mismatch here. The Vikings have all the ingredients for a Super Bowl run, while Carolina has virtually NOTHING. With the talent on the Minnesota side of the ball, this could be an easy opener, unless complacency sets in. Vikings in a 4 STAR PICK.


GREEN BAY -5 1/2 (41 1/2 ) Detroit - An interesting matchup in the Black and Blue NFC Central, which will pit Brett Favre's never-say-die attitude against Detroit's new-look West Coast offense. Neither of these teams have much in the way of defense, but neither will be able to put up much of an offense either. The Packers have no deep threats, while the Lions will rely on running back James Stewart and receiver Herman Moore to supply most of the offense. Charlie Batch will try to run the complicated offense, but will get the hook quickly if ineffective, with Ty Detmer, recently acquired from Cleveland, ready to step in. The teams split last season's games, both winning at home. In what should be a close contest, take Detroit and the points in a game that could come down to a last second field goal.


CINCINNATI -Pick- (35 1/2 ) New England - The bad news for New England is that the Bengals will start John Kitna at QB, replacing Scott Mitchell, who looked terrible during preseason. Kitna has weapons on offense, including RB Corey Dillon and receivers Peter Warrick and Darnay Scott, who will pressure the Patriots' dinged up defense all day long. If Dillon gets the running game going, Kitna may be able to pick apart the secondary and it could turn into a rout. Cincy actually looked pretty good during the preseason, and should be one of the more improved teams of 2001. They are not world-beaters, but New England's offensive line still has to prove they can protect Drew Bledsoe and also produce some kind of rushing offense. I give the Bengals a big edge here in a THREE STAR PICK.


BUFFALO -1 (37 1/2 ) New Orleans - I would hesitate to call this an upset if the Saints win, as the line may be even or actually favoring New Orleans at game time. The Bills are rebuilding this year and QB Rob Johnson has been beaten up in preseason and will get some licks from the stout Saints defense. This game has all the makings of a complete blowout, with Aaron Brooks to Albert Connell (possibly the fastest receiver in the league) looming a long threat against a suspect Bills' secondary. These are two teams heading in opposite directions and the Saints hold a big edge in this week's BEST BET.


Seattle -4 1/2 (39) CLEVELAND - At home, the Browns can match up against anyone, with the raucous crowd providing a numbing din to opposing offenses. Not to be forgotten is the Browns' top-flight QB Tim Couch, who returns from missing the last nine games of 2000 with injuries. Couch has all the tools to be an MVP in someday and he'll start proving it against Mike Holmgren's Seattle Seahawks - who has a very banged-up and thin secondary. Cleveland's defense is also tough and fast and will be put to the test trying to stop QB Matt Hasselbeck and RB Ricky Watters. Still, home dogs are the best kinds of bets and this is no exception. Take the Browns in this week's UPSET SPECIAL!


Tampa Bay -9 (34) DALLAS - Another upset just waiting to happen right in Big D, where the D will stand for defense, mostly on the side of the Bucs. To win, Tampa Bay has to hold Dallas under 10 points, because their offense certainly won't put many more points on the board. While Tampa Bay has one of the best defenses in the league, they will have to deal with not only Emmitt Smith, but a variety of option plays involving QB Quincy Carter, who has looked sensational in his rookie preseason. Tampa Bay will use its usual grind-it-out offensive scheme which will help Dallas' defense. Could be a big surprise here as the Cowboys have some fire in their bellies for a change. I'm not going hog-wild over this pick, but if you like getting points at home, Dallas fits the bill.


JACKSONVILLE -3 (37 1/2 ) Pittsburgh - Three points not much for Jacksonville to cover here, as they have a huge edge on offense with Mark Brunell throwing to Jimmy Smith, despite injuries to Tony Boselli and Keenan McCardell. Pittsburgh has looked good preseason and is fired up to win this divisional match-up. What remains to be seen is how much offense the Steelers can provide with the running of Jerome Bettis and the passing of Kordell Stewart, who is still searching for a go-to receiver. The banged-up Jaguars may come up a little short here, so go with the Steelers in a mild upset.


BALTIMORE -10 1/2 (32) Chicago - The Ravens couldn't find an easier opponent to start the defense of the Super Bowl crown, so somehow they got the Bears at home. This could be a struggle for maybe the first half, but the Ravens will dominate on defense and win going away.


St. Louis -3 (46 1/2 ) PHILADELPHIA - The Eagles a three-point underdog at home? Well, they are playing the Rams, who have arguably the most potent offense in the league. The trouble with the Rams is that they provide little in the way of defense and Philly's Donovan McNabb will run and throw at will against their porous linebacking corps and secondary. The Eagles will not surprise anybody this year, except those who do not believe in balancing offense and defense. In what may turn into a shootout, take the Eagles to win at home.


SAN FRANCISCO -3 1/2 (46) Atlanta - San Francisco is starting rookies and 2nd year men at a variety of positions, while the Falcons have more than enough healthy veterans to make up for last season's flop. Last year, these teams split their two games, both winning at home. But last year Atlanta was riddled with injuries, most notably to QB Chris Chandler and RB Jamal Anderson, both of whom are back healthy to start the 2001 campaign. The 49er offense will be led once again by surprising young QB Jeff Garcia and WRs Terrell Owens and JJ Stokes. The running game will fall to Garrison Hearst who must come up big. The Falcons were 3-1 preseason and may continue their winning ways against the youth movement in SF. This one is not for the light-hearted, as it should be a high-scoring affair with a few lead changes. Take the points, take the over and pray a little.


SAN DIEGO -2 1/2 (36) Washington - Doug Flutie will get the call at QB against the Redskins, a team in disarray. With journeyman Jeff George at the helm, look for the Chargers to blitz and hurry his throws, and maybe pick off a few. On offense, the Chargers have a QB with a winning attitude, scrambling ability, and a trio of receivers, Curtis Conway, Tim Dwight (a real speedster) and TE Freddie Jones. The Redskins look overmatched in this FOUR STAR PICK.


TENNESSEE -6 1/2 (34) Miami - Eddie George looks healthy, and if he is, it is going to be a long day for Zack Thomas and the Miami defensive unit. Steve McNair, while he may not be the MVP this season, or even selected to the Pro Bowl, is one of the most confident and consistent players in the game. His leadership, guts and savvy will be keys to the Titans opening 2001 on a wining note. Miami will try to stay close with one of the better defenses in the league, but they come up far short on offense. The Titans are a Super Bowl caliber team, while Miami may not make the playoffs this year. Tennessee in another BEST BET.


Monday, September 10


DENVER -6 1/2 (44) N.Y. Giants - One of these teams made it to the Super Bowl last year, while the other never made it through the playoffs. The Giants were the Super Bowl also-rans, and they are not going to forget the licking the Ravens put on them. Despite not having any superstars on the roster, the Giants are a very talented, balanced team which can dominate defensively. The Broncos still have question marks at running back, where Terrell Davis has seen scant duty, and in the secondary, which has been overhauled. While the offense, behind QB Brian Greise, is high-potency, the defense is undersized and will have its hands full with the Giants at full-strength. One advantage the Broncos may have is the altitude, which saps energy from opposing players. The difficulty for the Broncos is going to be stopping RB Ron Dayne and Tiki Barber, and QB Kerry Collins' throws to Amani Toomer. The Giants added premier placekicker Morten Andersen to their roster, so both teams may be able to score from outside 50 yards. Monday nighters are usually close contests and this one will be no different. Underdogs covered five of the first six Monday night games last season. The Giants should have enough to keep this one close and possibly win it outright.


Source:
Downtowwn Magazine


September 04, 2001

NFL Picks Week #1 - 9/9 - 9/10
Rick Gagliano
posted by Rick Gagliano

NFL PICKS


Sunday, September 9


HOME TEAM in CAPS

Note: Games highlighted in RED are the top picks, BLUE are good choices, and GREEN are games you might want to avoid flat-betting. Our rating on some games is THREE STARS, FOUR STARS AND BEST BETS, plus UPSET SPECIAL.



NY JETS Pick (44 1/2 ) Indianapolis - The Jets will have Vinny Testaverde and Curtis Martin at full strength for a change, despite missing top draft pick Santana Moss (expected back by mid-season). While this is good news for Jets fans, the Colts are hampered with injuries to their offensive line and QB Peyton Manning may not be full strength after suffering a sprained right knee in the 3rd preseason game. He missed the last preseason game, but will suit up for this one and be ready. The Colts' potent offense will be pressured by an improved Jets defense throughout. Last year the Jets and Colts split, with the Jets winning at home, 23-15. Take the JETS at home to kick off the season a winner.


Oakland -3 (44) KANSAS CITY - Neither of these teams looked particularly impressive during the preseason, but the Raiders have a big edge over the Chiefs offensively. The Chiefs will be without regular starting center Casey Wiegmann, and that will hamper an offense that has little punch to begin with. The key is for the Raiders' defensive front to pressure QB Trent Green and keep the ball out of the hands of the Chiefs' trio of talented receivers (Marvin Minnis, Derrick Alexander and Tony Horne) and their All-Pro tight end Tony Gonzalez, because they have little to no running game. The Raiders, with Charlie Garner and Tyrone Wheatley getting all of the calls in the running game, should be able to grind out a win here. Last season the Raiders took both games against the Chiefs, 20-17 at Arrowhead and 49-31 at home.


MINNESOTA -9 1/2 (46) Carolina - Classic mismatch here. The Vikings have all the ingredients for a Super Bowl run, while Carolina has virtually NOTHING. With the talent on the Minnesota side of the ball, this could be an easy opener, unless complacency sets in. Vikings in a 4 STAR PICK.


GREEN BAY -5 1/2 (41 1/2 ) Detroit - An interesting matchup in the Black and Blue NFC Central, which will pit Brett Favre's never-say-die attitude against Detroit's new-look West Coast offense. Neither of these teams have much in the way of defense, but neither will be able to put up much of an offense either. The Packers have no deep threats, while the Lions will rely on running back James Stewart and receiver Herman Moore to supply most of the offense. Charlie Batch will try to run the complicated offense, but will get the hook quickly if ineffective, with Ty Detmer, recently acquired from Cleveland, ready to step in. The teams split last season's games, both winning at home. In what should be a close contest, take Detroit and the points in a game that could come down to a last second field goal.


CINCINNATI -Pick- (35 1/2 ) New England - The bad news for New England is that the Bengals will start John Kitna at QB, replacing Scott Mitchell, who looked terrible during preseason. Kitna has weapons on offense, including RB Corey Dillon and receivers Peter Warrick and Darnay Scott, who will pressure the Patriots' dinged up defense all day long. If Dillon gets the running game going, Kitna may be able to pick apart the secondary and it could turn into a rout. Cincy actually looked pretty good during the preseason, and should be one of the more improved teams of 2001. They are not world-beaters, but New England's offensive line still has to prove they can protect Drew Bledsoe and also produce some kind of rushing offense. I give the Bengals a big edge here in a THREE STAR PICK.


BUFFALO -1 (37 1/2 ) New Orleans - I would hesitate to call this an upset if the Saints win, as the line may be even or actually favoring New Orleans at game time. The Bills are rebuilding this year and QB Rob Johnson has been beaten up in preseason and will get some licks from the stout Saints defense. This game has all the makings of a complete blowout, with Aaron Brooks to Albert Connell (possibly the fastest receiver in the league) looming a long threat against a suspect Bills' secondary. These are two teams heading in opposite directions and the Saints hold a big edge in this week's BEST BET.


Seattle -4 1/2 (39) CLEVELAND - At home, the Browns can match up against anyone, with the raucous crowd providing a numbing din to opposing offenses. Not to be forgotten is the Browns' top-flight QB Tim Couch, who returns from missing the last nine games of 2000 with injuries. Couch has all the tools to be an MVP in someday and he'll start proving it against Mike Holmgren's Seattle Seahawks - who has a very banged-up and thin secondary. Cleveland's defense is also tough and fast and will be put to the test trying to stop QB Matt Hasselbeck and RB Ricky Watters. Still, home dogs are the best kinds of bets and this is no exception. Take the Browns in this week's UPSET SPECIAL!


Tampa Bay -9 (34) DALLAS - Another upset just waiting to happen right in Big D, where the D will stand for defense, mostly on the side of the Bucs. To win, Tampa Bay has to hold Dallas under 10 points, because their offense certainly won't put many more points on the board. While Tampa Bay has one of the best defenses in the league, they will have to deal with not only Emmitt Smith, but a variety of option plays involving QB Quincy Carter, who has looked sensational in his rookie preseason. Tampa Bay will use its usual grind-it-out offensive scheme which will help Dallas' defense. Could be a big surprise here as the Cowboys have some fire in their bellies for a change. I'm not going hog-wild over this pick, but if you like getting points at home, Dallas fits the bill.


JACKSONVILLE -3 (37 1/2 ) Pittsburgh - Three points not much for Jacksonville to cover here, as they have a huge edge on offense with Mark Brunell throwing to Jimmy Smith, despite injuries to Tony Boselli and Keenan McCardell. Pittsburgh has looked good preseason and is fired up to win this divisional match-up. What remains to be seen is how much offense the Steelers can provide with the running of Jerome Bettis and the passing of Kordell Stewart, who is still searching for a go-to receiver. The banged-up Jaguars may come up a little short here, so go with the Steelers in a mild upset.


BALTIMORE -10 1/2 (32) Chicago - The Ravens couldn't find an easier opponent to start the defense of the Super Bowl crown, so somehow they got the Bears at home. This could be a struggle for maybe the first half, but the Ravens will dominate on defense and win going away.


St. Louis -3 (46 1/2 ) PHILADELPHIA - The Eagles a three-point underdog at home? Well, they are playing the Rams, who have arguably the most potent offense in the league. The trouble with the Rams is that they provide little in the way of defense and Philly's Donovan McNabb will run and throw at will against their porous linebacking corps and secondary. The Eagles will not surprise anybody this year, except those who do not believe in balancing offense and defense. In what may turn into a shootout, take the Eagles to win at home.


SAN FRANCISCO -3 1/2 (46) Atlanta - San Francisco is starting rookies and 2nd year men at a variety of positions, while the Falcons have more than enough healthy veterans to make up for last season's flop. Last year, these teams split their two games, both winning at home. But last year Atlanta was riddled with injuries, most notably to QB Chris Chandler and RB Jamal Anderson, both of whom are back healthy to start the 2001 campaign. The 49er offense will be led once again by surprising young QB Jeff Garcia and WRs Terrell Owens and JJ Stokes. The running game will fall to Garrison Hearst who must come up big. The Falcons were 3-1 preseason and may continue their winning ways against the youth movement in SF. This one is not for the light-hearted, as it should be a high-scoring affair with a few lead changes. Take the points, take the over and pray a little.


SAN DIEGO -2 1/2 (36) Washington - Doug Flutie will get the call at QB against the Redskins, a team in disarray. With journeyman Jeff George at the helm, look for the Chargers to blitz and hurry his throws, and maybe pick off a few. On offense, the Chargers have a QB with a winning attitude, scrambling ability, and a trio of receivers, Curtis Conway, Tim Dwight (a real speedster) and TE Freddie Jones. The Redskins look overmatched in this FOUR STAR PICK.


TENNESSEE -6 1/2 (34) Miami - Eddie George looks healthy, and if he is, it is going to be a long day for Zack Thomas and the Miami defensive unit. Steve McNair, while he may not be the MVP this season, or even selected to the Pro Bowl, is one of the most confident and consistent players in the game. His leadership, guts and savvy will be keys to the Titans opening 2001 on a wining note. Miami will try to stay close with one of the better defenses in the league, but they come up far short on offense. The Titans are a Super Bowl caliber team, while Miami may not make the playoffs this year. Tennessee in another BEST BET.


Monday, September 10


DENVER -6 1/2 (44) N.Y. Giants - One of these teams made it to the Super Bowl last year, while the other never made it through the playoffs. The Giants were the Super Bowl also-rans, and they are not going to forget the licking the Ravens put on them. Despite not having any superstars on the roster, the Giants are a very talented, balanced team which can dominate defensively. The Broncos still have question marks at running back, where Terrell Davis has seen scant duty, and in the secondary, which has been overhauled. While the offense, behind QB Brian Greise, is high-potency, the defense is undersized and will have its hands full with the Giants at full-strength. One advantage the Broncos may have is the altitude, which saps energy from opposing players. The difficulty for the Broncos is going to be stopping RB Ron Dayne and Tiki Barber, and QB Kerry Collins' throws to Amani Toomer. The Giants added premier placekicker Morten Andersen to their roster, so both teams may be able to score from outside 50 yards. Monday nighters are usually close contests and this one will be no different. Underdogs covered five of the first six Monday night games last season. The Giants should have enough to keep this one close and possibly win it outright.


College Picks coming on Wednesday, Sept. 5.

Source:Downtown Magazine


College Picks September 1, 2, 3...
Fearless Rick
posted by Rick Gagliano

College Picks for Sept. 1, 2 and 3 Home Teams in CAPS


Saturday, September 1


Miami -12 1/2 PENN STATE - After a 5-7 season last year, there were not many smiles in Happy Valley and this is a tough way to start a season, against a consensus Top 5 preseason pick, the Miami Hurricanes. The 'Canes could conceivably win the National Championship, so a stumble here is unlikely. For the Penn State loyal and coach Joe Paterno's squad this will be a gut check well before halftime. Last season's PSU losses included a 45-6 drubbing by Ohio State, and a 33-11 late-season loss to Michigan. While the Nittany Lions are supposedly improved, Miami has more than enough talent to handle them, even on PSU's home turf. Look for Miami to run, run and run more against a defense that will tire. Miami will win this by two touchdowns going away.


TENNESSEE -12 Syracuse - The Vols are a class act to be sure, but Syracuse looked pretty solid against Georgia Tech last week and surely don't want to start the season 0-2. This is a very tough way to start a season, but with a game already under their belts, the Orangemen will be well-prepared to handle anything Tennessee can throw at them, which is probably what they'll be doing, throwing. Sophomore QB Casey Clausen has decent talent in the wideouts, especially burner Leonard Scott, but the Vols lost running back Travis Henry to the NFL. Syracuse can run on defense and cover well, so this game may be won in the pits where the Syracuse offensive line may be dominant. If the Orangemen can hold up to the crowd, play solid run defense and force 3rd and long situations, it could become a long day in Rocky Top. The 'Cuse may not win this game, but look for a close one. Take Syracuse and the points in this week's UPSET SPECIAL!

BOSTON COLLEGE -4 West Virginia - Take Boston College and lay the points. Should be a good one, but BC looks solid on D.

CALIFORNIA -2 Illinois - The Illini should start the season on a winning note. Cal may not be able to put up enough points to hang in here.

ALABAMA -3 Ucla - The Bruins upset 'Bama's entire season last year, so the revenge factor will be in play for the Crimson Tide. Alabama's defense will be put to the test, but their offense will put up plenty of points to cover.

OREGON -9 Wisconsin - Another revenge game, this time the Ducks looking to avenge a 2000 loss to the Badgers. One of the highlight games of the weekend, this sould be a real barn-burner, with Rose Bowl implications in play. The Ducks have one of the top offenses in the country, and despite Wisconsin's stout defense, should prove to be too much, but WILL NOT COVER. Take the cagey Badgers to keep it close and maybe pull off the upset.

Monday, Sept. 3


MISSISSIPPI ST. -16 1/2 Memphis - Mississippi St. has been one of the most under appreciated programs in college football over the past three seasons, but this year could prove to be their shot at the limelight. They are arguably the best team in the SEC West, which they conquered last season, capping their championship season with an upset win over Texas A & M on New Year's Eve. With all-American candidate Wayne Madkin back for his 4th year at QB, and dual running backs Dontae Walker and Dicenzo Miller with him in the backfield, the Bulldogs can line up in a pro set, winged-T, or any of of slew of option sets. The defense will be as ferocious as ever, despite losing most of the starters from last year's 8-4 squad. As for Memphis, well, they just cannot compete on this level. Last season, MSU beat Memphis in the opener at Memphis, 16-3. This year, on MSU's home turf, it's going to be worse, plenty worse. Final score could look something like MSU 38 Memphis 6 (and those 6 points will be field goals) as Madkin, with a lead, may start tying out some of his receivers. Could get ugly.

Source:Downtown Magazine


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