Updated on 09/18/2011 2:14AM

Dolphins (+10), Browns (+8 1/2) live NFL road dogs


LAS VEGAS – First of all, let me say that when I see or hear someone make a horse racing or sports prediction and it loses, but then they say something like "But I had the exacta" or "All my other bets won," I'm certainly skeptical.

So, when I try to claim that I actually made a little profit last Sunday in the NFL despite my oh-so-public 1-4 record, I can see the eyes rolling in everyone's sockets.

But honestly, I won all my totals plays - Cardinals-Falcons over, Chiefs-49ers over, and Patriots-Bengals under - and cashed with the Texans +3 1/2 vs. the Dolphins and the Browns -1 vs. the Raiders, two plays I nearly included in my official bankroll plays but tossed out at the last minute. In fact, it was looking like a very good day until the Jaguars lost in overtime vs. the Redskins and the Seahawks got blown out Sunday night to drop me barely above even.

(When I go 4-1 or 5-0 with published picks and claim I didn't do that well overall, no one seems to dispute that. Funny how that works.)

So, the only way to dispel any accusations of red-boarding is to lay out all the bets I've already made and all the bets I'm looking to play once the lines move enough in my favor. This will certainly be a closer representation of what my portfolio will look like on Sunday as opposed to just five plays. If nothing else, it should be an interesting experiment.

Early bets: On Sunday night, I bet a few games - the Patriots -9 vs. the Dolphins, Jaguars -6 1/2 vs. the Jets, and Chargers -2o1/2 vs. the Steelers - as I was sure those lines would rise. I'll probably buy back the Jets at +7 or higher and the Steelers at +3 1/2 to both minimize my risk and also to try and catch a side or middle.

As you can see from my picks below, I'm planning to come over the top (to use a poker term) and bet more on the Dolphins +10 as I think that's the side that presents more value. I'll be cheering for the Dolphins, but if the Pats win by exactly 10 and I push that bet and win my earlier Pats -9 wager, I'll be just as happy.

Totals: I haven't bet any totals yet, but I'm waiting on a few. The Lions-Vikings total opened at 37 and keeps climbing. I'm hoping to go under 41 but will settle for 40 or 40 1/2. I'll also look to play the Bears-Bills over 34 or fewer points and the Chiefs-Cardinals over 39 or fewer.

Other bets I'm planning to make: Buccaneers +6 1/2 (hoping for +7) and the Bills +10 1/2, both of which I nearly included below, so based on last week's results, those might be the best bets of all. I'll also use 6-point teasers (which pay off at 10-11 just like straight bets except you have to hit two of them) to try catching some key numbers and maybe hit a middle with my other plays, using Redskins +10 1/2 vs. the Giants, Vikings -1 vs. the Lions, Panthers -2 vs. the Browns, Jaguars -1 vs. the Jets, and the Cowboys +8o1/2 vs. the Eagles in different combinations. And, finally, my obligatory five-team parlay with the following five plays, at anywhere between 20-1 and 24-1 depending on where I can get the best lines either off the board or on a parlay card.

Dolphins (+10) at Patriots

This is an ugly pick as the Dolphins have been the biggest underachieving team in the NFL so far. But Miami teams have gotten up for this rivalry. The defense still has plenty of talent and should keep the Dolphins in the game. In addition, public handicapper Marc Lawrence points out that Miami coach Nick Saban is not only 4-0 against the spread as an underdog of 6 points of more, but also the Dolphins won all four games outright.

PLAY: Dolphins for 1 unit.

Browns (+8 1/2) at Panthers

Before the season, I wrote that I thought the Browns might struggle to be over .500, but I was confident they would have a winning spread record. I used them as bankroll plays the first two weeks and they lost both. I didn't use them as official plays the last two weeks - though I bet them - and they won both. Luckily, I don't believe in jinxes and I'm playing them here. The Panthers haven't lived up to expectations and the Browns should take this to the wire as long as Charlie Frye doesn't try another one of his desperation-wounded-duck-across-the-field passes that nearly cost the game against the Raiders.

PLAY: Browns for 1 unit.

Chiefs at Cardinals (+3 1/2)

A week ago, you could have gotten the Chiefs +3 1/2 in this game at the Las Vegas Hilton and had a really juicy middle opportunity here if the game is decided by a field goal or less either way (I missed it, too). The Chiefs blew out the 49ers 41-0 and the Cardinals looked terrible in a 32-10 loss the Falcons. However, I think that's too much of an overadjustment. Matt Leinart takes over at quarterback for the Cardinals and should have the advantage of a supportive crowd at home, where the Cards should be 2-0 if not for Kurt Warner's fumble two weeks ago against the Rams. The Chiefs' offense put it together last week, so I'll add the over as an official bankroll play, too.

PLAY: Cardinals for 1 unit and Over 39 points for 1 unit.

Cowboys at Eagles (-2)

The Terrell Owens soap opera should take a back seat after kickoff. If not for the second-half collapse vs. the Giants, the Eagles would be battling the Bears for NFC supremacy. They're the better team and laying less than a field goal at home.

PLAY: Eagles for 1 unit.

Ravens at Broncos (-4)

The same goes here. The Broncos rebounded from their opening-week loss to the Rams and have had two weeks to prepare for this game. The Ravens are a little phony with a shutout of the Buccaneers (which doesn't look so impressive four weeks later), an easy win over the Raiders, and narrow wins over the Browns and Chargers.

PLAY: Broncos for 1 unit.

Last week: 1-4 for a net loss of 3.4 units (based on risking 1.1 units to win 1). NFL season record: 6-13-1 for a net loss of 8.3 units.