12/02/2005 1:00AM

Every dog has his day . . . hopefully soon


This NFL season is the year of the broken record.

And, no, I'm not talking about LaDainian Tomlinson's touchdown streak, the Colts' quest for 16-0, or even Terrell Owens's blabbermouth.

What I mean is that the favorites keep winning and covering, the bookmakers and sharp bettors keep saying that the dogs are due to start covering, and then the favorites keep coming in.

I've been one of the victims of this incredible run of favorites, which are hitting at a 58 percent (100-72-4) clip against the spread and my bankroll record shows that all too clearly. Many people have asked why I

continue to play so many underdogs and the answer is simple: because that's what I do (no, not losing - picking underdogs).

It's just like in horse racing. I'm a longshot bettor and believe that's the best way to beat the races over the long haul. So, even if the favorites start winning at a high rate or I continually land on the wrong longshots - and losing streaks are even more common in horse racing than in sports betting - I stick to my strategy.

I don't know if things will turn around this week, or next week, or if it will take a whole year to recoup the losses from this season, but it will turn around and I don't want to be betting any other way when it does.

Titans (+16) at Colts

Monday night, the Steelers started the second half vs. the Colts with an onside kick when trailing just 16-7. It failed, and the Colts scored a touchdown to go ahead 23-7 on the way to their 26-7 victory. Many people criticized Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher, but I loved the strategy. Peyton Manning & Co. can drive 90 yards almost as easily as 40 yards, so why not take a chance at a game-changing play? If people were surprised at that move, they could be shocked Sunday when the Colts play the Titans. Almost a year ago to the day

(Dec. 5, 2004), the Titans tried three onside kicks in a row vs. the Colts the first three times they kicked off, recovered two of them, and were actually leading 24-17 in the highest-scoring first quarter in NFL history. The Titans also faked a punt in the game. They still lost, 51-24, but it showed coach Jeff Fisher will try anything to give his team a chance. I expect the same effort from the Titans in a game in which the Colts could have a letdown after consecutive wins over the Patriots, Bengals, and Steelers. After this, they face the Jaguars, Chargers, and Seahawks. The Colts should shred the Titans' defense, but the Titans' offense - whether it's Steve McNair or Billy Volek coming off the bench - should be able to score enough to keep them within the number.

PLAY: Titans for 2 units.

Bengals (+3 1/2) at Steelers

In these teams' first meeting this year, the Steelers went into Cincinnati and humbled the Bengals, 27-13. Since then, however, the Steelers haven't played as well, partly due to Ben Roethlisberger's knee injury. This looks like a good spot for the Bengals to finally knock off their old nemesis and tie them atop the AFC North. Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson continue to hook up weekly, and Rudi Johnson continues to pound the ball up the middle. This should be a hard-fought battle and getting more than a field goal is an added bonus.

PLAY: Bengals for 1 unit.

Cardinals at 49ers (+3)

This is also a divisional rematch, with the Cardinals having won the first meeting, 31-14, after the 49ers jumped out to a 14-0 lead with two defensive touchdowns. But the 49ers play much better at home, where they're 4-2 against the spread with outright upsets of the Rams and Buccaneers. My only reservation is that the 49ers are back to starting rookie Alex Smith, but that might not be a bad thing if they look more to the running game with Kevan Barlow and have Smith play within the short-passing system.

PLAY: 49ers for 1 unit.

Redskins (-3) at Rams

I'm not blind to favorites, and in fact I have them in back-to-back picks. Ryan Fitzpatrick came off the bench for the Rams last week and led a storybook comeback in their 33-27 overtime win over the Texans. The Redskins' defense, however, is much tougher than the Texans' and should bring Fitzpatrick back to earth. Plus, the Rams' defense can't slow down anybody. I will lay the field goal.

PLAY: Redskins for 1 unit.

Broncos (-1) at Chiefs

ESPN showed a stat the other night that the Broncos are 1-14 in December games at Kansas City, including 0-4 under coach Mike Shanahan. That's quite a trend to go against, but the Broncos have the team to do it. The Broncos won the first meeting, 30-10, in Denver, and I just don't see the fact this game is in K.C. changing things too much. Both teams have great running games and strong run defenses, but the Broncos - with the three-headed monster of Mike Anderson, Tatum Bell, and the rejuvenated Ron Dayne - have the better chance of breaking through. I also think this could be the game Jake Plummer - who has been more of a game-manager - can open it up and go deep if the Chiefs stack the line.

PLAY: Broncos for 1 unit.

Oakland (+11 1/2) at Chargers

We will stay in the AFC West for the Sunday night game. The Raiders have underachieved while the Chargers are trying to make a playoff run, but this game gives the Raiders a chance to take out some of their frustrations and show they're not as bad as their 4-7 record. Kerry Collins should be going deep early and often to Randy Moss (who almost always shines in the spotlight) and Jerry Porter and keep the Raiders in the game. I can't see this rivalry game being decided by more than a touchdown.

PLAY: Raiders for 1 unit.

Last week: 2-3, including a 2-unit loss on the Patriots +3 vs. the Chiefs, for a net loss of 2.4 (based on laying 1.1 units to win 1). NFL season record: 24-36-3 for a net loss of 19.6 units.