11/17/2006 12:00AM

Bengals, Titans, Jets live dogs


LAS VEGAS - You would think I would be happy. Last week, I went 5-2 with my NFL bankroll plays, but my best prediction was when I took the Broncos -9 1/2 vs. the Raiders and wrote: "I rarely lay more than a touchdown on the road in the NFL, and this will be the game I most regret if I lose."

Well, the Broncos were never clear of the number and even fell behind 7-0 in the first quarter to the lowly Raiders, and still trailed 13-7 at the half. The Broncos rallied to win, 17-13, but I lost the bet, and I certainly regretted it.

Pouring salt on the wound, it ruined a nearly perfect day. In the early games, I had won with bankroll plays on the Texans +10 vs. the Jaguars, Dolphins pick-em vs. the Chiefs, Titans +7 vs. the Ravens, and Packers +5 1/2 vs. the Vikings. And those were just my published picks. In addition, I had also bet the Browns +8 vs. the Falcons and on the money line, as well as the Texans on the money line. My only losing bet on the early games was a money-line play on the Titans, and that nearly cashed but they lost, 27-26, on a late Baltimore TD.

But, again, that's a type of loss I can accept. I took a shot with a live underdog, felt like I had a legitimate shot, and it came up short.

I don't like this week's card nearly as much as I liked last week's, so I will just go with my regular five plays that I'm also using in the Las Vegas Hilton SuperContest. (The Broncos and the Buccaneers were the last two games I added to my contest card last week, so I went 5-2 with my bankroll plays but only 3-2 in the SuperContest in a week where I could have made up a lot of ground.)

Bengals (+3 1/2) at Saints

The Saints have overachieved, so I have been looking to bet against them. They nearly beat the Steelers last week before succumbing. The Bengals have lost three straight, but they're still the more talented team. They looked great in the first half vs. the Chargers before blowing a 21-point lead. Unless they're thoroughly devastated from that loss, they match up well vs. the Saints and should get back on the winning track.

PLAY: Bengals for 1 unit.

Titans (+13) at Eagles

I will fire right back with the Titans, who have covered four of their last five games and been competitive every week except for the 37-7 loss to the Jaguars two weeks ago. Vince Young has the offense believing he can get the job done, and the defense has been playing inspired since holding the Colts to 14 points in a spread-covering loss six weeks ago. The Eagles bounced back from three straight losses to rout the Redskins, 27-3, last week, but prior to that they had shown a tendency to let inferior teams stick around. If they do that again, they run the risk of being upset. They could also get caught looking ahead to the game vs. the Colts, which has been moved to next Sunday night.

PLAY: Titans for 1 unit.

Bills at Texans (-2)

Like the Titans, the Texans aren't to be confused with the NFL's elite, but they're playing better than they were at the start of the season and seem to be buying into first-year coach Gary Kubiak's system. The Bills are coming off a near-upset of the Colts and I see more of a letdown for them. The Bills' offensive line is in a shambles, and they haven't been able to protect quarterback J.P. Losman, allowing a sack every 7.5 times he drops back, so this could be the coming-out party for top draft pick Mario Williams. Regardless, the Texans' improving offense should put up enough points to win and cover.

PLAY: Texans for 1 unit.

Bears at Jets (+7)

This line has been wavering between 6 1/ 2 and 7 all week, so no matter which side you like make sure to get the best number. A lot of people will point to the fact the Bears just blew out a better team in this same stadium last Sunday, but that 38-20 win over the Giants was a little misleading. The Giants, despite all their injuries, pretty much dominated the first half and should have led 13-3 at halftime if not for a third-and-22 conversion on a draw play that helped the Bears get within 13-10. And then, with the Giants trailing 24-20, Tom Coughlin sent kicker Jay Feely out for a 52-yard field-goal attempt to try and get them within a point. Feely's kick came up short and Devin Hester returned it for a record-tying 108-yard touchdown return and a 31-20 lead. The Bears have shown some chinks in their armor and the Jets are capable of making a game of it.

PLAY: Jets for 1 unit.

Colts (-1) at Cowboys

I'm usually the first to say the Colts are overrated and to recommend a bet against them, and I hear a lot of handicappers giving out the Cowboys on this game, but the price is actually right on the undefeated Colts. Yes, the run defense is ranked 32nd in the league, but they get back Bob Sanders at safety, Dwight Freeney finally got a sack last week, and have been getting more of a pass rush, which is bad news for Dallas quarterback Tony Romo, who could be forced into making a big mistake. And, call this a hunch, but if the game comes down to a field goal, I can definitely see Cowboys kicker Mike Vanderjagt choking vs. his former team.

PLAY: Colts for 1 unit.

Last week: 5-2 for a net profit of 2.8 units (based on risking 1.1 units to win 1). NFL season record: 27-23-2, including 0-1 on my one 2-unit best bet, for a net profit of 0.6 units.