08/28/2001 11:00PM

Bet Chiefs vs. coasting Rams


The NFL preseason action wraps up early this weekend, with nine games on Friday and only one game on Saturday, giving teams a few extra days to make final cuts and get ready for the season openers a week from Sunday. Here's a look at the Friday games in which I think there's an edge.

Chiefs (+3) at Rams: This is a nice matchup for ESPN, as Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil leads his new team against his former team - but it loses a lot of its marquee value because Rams QB Kurt Warner is not going to play. That also ruins the matchup of Warner vs. Trent Green, who used to start for the Rams before getting injured in 1999 and being replaced by Warner. But from a betting perspective, that's all fine with me. Vermeil, who has stated that the Chiefs are going to open up the offense, and Green will want to succeed again in the RCA Dome. In addition, the Rams are playing their fifth preseason game. They won their first two and lost their last two, so they're coasting the rest of the way. I'll wager 11 units (to win 10) on the Chiefs.

Buccaneers at Falcons (under 34): The Falcons have done the vast majority of their scoring in the first half this preseason, as 47 of their 63 total points scored came before halftimes, and a lot of Falcons' scoring isn't likely to take place against the Bucs' first-team defense. I'll wager 11 units on the game to stay under.

Packers at Raiders (under 37 1/2): The Raiders are another team playing their fifth preseason game, and they are coming off a Monday night loss to Dallas in Mexico City. They're just going to try to get out of this game in good health. The Packers are coming off games against the Broncos and Dolphins, and also will be playing this one close to the vest. In addition, these teams are a combined 7-0 with the under this preseason, with 37 points being the most scored in any of those games. I'll wager 11 units on the under.

Chargers (pick 'em) at Cardinals: Admittedly, I lucked out with the Chargers beating the Rams last week. The game should have been a push but the Rams' winning field goal in regulation was disallowed because of a penalty. But the fact remains that Drew Brees has looked great in relief of Doug Flutie, and the Chargers should finish the preseason 4-0, for whatever that's worth. Consider this class drop: the Chargers have beaten the 49ers, Dolphins, and Rams, and now they get to face the Cardinals, who have earned their 2-1 record against the Raiders, Seahawks, and Bears. I'll wager 11 units on the Chargers.