09/25/2003 11:00PM

Forget Sunday/Monday cards


LAS VEGAS - I'm always amazed at the number of people who grab the special Sunday/Monday parlay cards that most Nevada sports books offer.

The past two Thursdays I've written about the pros and cons of different parlay cards, but these Sunday/Monday cards are the worst. They typically pay 6 for 1 on three-teamers and 11 for 1 on four-teamers, which are comparable to other parlay cards, but ties lose.

Unlike typical parlay cards which include all of the weekend's college and NFL games, these list the lines on the two primetime NFL games along with proposition wagers. The point spreads, and totals if they are offered, with some including quarter scores, are usually around key numbers, so if any of those push the bettors on both sides lose. And consider these over/under props: three field goals, two interceptions, two fumbles, five sacks. Those are also very common results and kill any card using either side. There are sucker bets, plain and simple.

I wish more books would be fairer and follow the lead of the Club Cal Neva books out of Reno, with satellite books at the Tuscany in Las Vegas and Thirstbusters in Henderson. Not only do they put half-points on several props (such as over/under 1 1/2 field goals, over/under 1 1/2 points on a first-half line, etc.), but ties "reduce" instead of lose. So, if you have four bets on your card and one pushes, you're still alive with a three-teamer.

If you're compelled to bet Sunday and Monday nights, you're better off in the long run - and probably the short run, too - to just play the games off the board.

But enough about Sunday night. Back to earlier in the day, let's take a look at five underdogs, four of whom are on the road and four of whom are getting 3 points, with one getting twice as many at 6. And ties don't lose here either.

Patriots (+3) at Redskins

When this game opened at pick-em last Sunday night at the Stardust, I circled the Patriots as a potential play. I'm glad I didn't bet it right away. No one was more surprised than me to see it get bet up to Redskins -1 1/2. Following that lead, most other Las Vegas sports books opened the game at Redskins -2 and it has been bet up to a solid -3 around town. New England coach Bill Belichick is great at game-planning for immobile quarterbacks and Patrick Ramsey fits the bill. The Patriots have bounced back from their embarrassing season-opening loss to the Bills with back-to-back victories over the Eagles and Jets.

I will gladly take the bonus 3 points.

PLAY: Patriots for 1 unit.

Chiefs at Ravens (+3)

Last week, I had the Texans +7 1/2 vs. the Chiefs and they lost 42-14. However, I saw many things in that game that lead me to believe the Chiefs aren't invincible. For one, they only led 14-7 at halftime and weren't exactly dominating the Texans. Second, the Chiefs scored two of their second-half touchdowns with a punt return and an interception return, which were more a product of Houston breakdowns. Third, the Texans, certainly not an offensive juggernaut, moved the ball well on the Chiefs, but just weren't consistent enough to lead to scores. The Ravens should do a better job with record-setting running back Jamal Lewis pounding ahead for yards. When the Chiefs have the ball, they will be facing the toughest defense they've seen so far this year. The Ravens also get back the services of cornerback Chris McAllister, who missed last week's game vs. the Chargers when the defense didn't miss a beat. If the Chiefs keep rolling, so be it, but it won't be as easy as some people are projecting.

PLAY: Ravens for 1 unit.

Falcons (+6) at Panthers

The Falcons have owned this series, going 5-0-1 in the last six meetings, the last four of which were with Michael Vick, and 8-1-1 in the last 10. So, they have the Panthers' numbers even without Vick, who will miss this game, too. Doug Johnson has been inconsistent in relief of Vick, but he shouldn't have to put up too many points in what figures to be a low-scoring divisional clash. The Panthers are off their bye week following their 12-9 overtime upset of the Buccaneers two weeks ago. I'm sure they wish they could have kept that momentum going. This should come down to a field goal, and I will take the live dog looking to get back to the .500 mark.

PLAY: Falcons for 1 unit.

Eagles (+3) at Bills

Unlike the Panthers, the Eagles are definitely a team that needed the bye week. They are 0-2, but remember that they lost to teams that won the last two Super Bowls (Buccaneers and Patriots), so there's no real shame there no matter what the Philadelphia boo-birds say. The Eagles are viewing this as a fresh start since they are only 1 1/2 games out of first place and haven't faced any of their divisional rivals yet. They could start their turnaround against a Bills team that came back down to earth in a 17-7 whipping handed out by the Dolphins last Sunday night. The Eagles can play that same type of game. The Bills should see a steady dose of running backs Duce Staley and Correll Buckhalter to go along with quarterback Donovan McNabb.

PLAY: Eagles for 1 unit.

Cowboys (+3) at Jets

Bill Parcells and the Cowboys return to the scene of the crime (The Meadowlands) less than two weeks after stealing a 35-32 win over the Giants in overtime. That means Parcells has had two weeks to prepare his troops for the Jets, a team with which he is still very familiar, and a team that isn't playing very well. The Cowboys shouldn't have too much trouble containing former Parcells prot?g? Vinny Testaverde, and then spreading the Jets' defense with receivers Joey Galloway, Terry Glenn, and Antonio Bryant and letting Quincy Carter's scrambling ability buy more time against the pass rush. It used to be said that Parcells "owned" New York, and it's still true.

PLAY: Cowboys for 1 unit.

Last week: 3-2 for a net profit of 0.8 units (based on laying 1.1 units to win 1).

Season record: 8-5-2 for net profit of 2.5 units.