11/03/2006 1:00AM

NFL plays: Five dogs, no favorites


LAS VEGAS - In Saturday's college picks, I bemoaned the fact that I wasn't able to find many live underdogs. There appears to be no such problem this Sunday in the NFL, or at least I hope so.

As for plays I'm not designating as bankroll plays, I have the Cowboys -3 vs. the Redskins. I'm also waiting for the Packers to hopefully get back up to +3 1/2 at the Bills, and I like the Vikings -5 vs. the 49ers. I went 2-0 on totals last week, but none jump out at me on this week's schedule, though with the weather turning it could be time to start looking at some more unders.

My 6-point teaser (in which you can move the spread six points in your favor but have to hit 2 for 2 to get the 10-11 odds that a straight bet pays) portfolio will include some plays with Chiefs +8 1/2 vs. the Rams, Buccaneers +7 1/ 2 (which you should be able to find by shopping around) vs. the Saints, Colts +9 vs. the Patriots, and Seahawks -1 vs. the Raiders on Monday night. In addition, I'll make my weekly five-team parlay on my five bankroll selections.

Bengals (+3) at Ravens

The Bengals have underachieved this season after a promising start, and I was happy to go against them last week in their loss to the Falcons, but I think they'll get back on the winning track here. The Bengals have won and covered the last three games in the series, and four of six since Marvin Lewis became head coach after being the defensive coordinator in Baltimore. Despite the loss last week, the Bengals' offense has shown more life and seems to feed off the trash-talking of Chad "Ocho Cinco" Johnson. Meanwhile, the Ravens easily beat the Saints last week, 35-22, but that was aided by a Reggie Bush fumble and him throwing an interception in the end zone, plus two Drew Brees interceptions returned for TD's. The Bengals aren't as likely to gift-wrap this key AFC North battle since they have a chance to move into a first-place tie with the Ravens.

PLAY: Bengals for 1 unit

Titans (+9) at Jaguars

After starting the season 0-5, the Titans have won two straight. Granted, the wins were over the Redskins and Texans, but the Titans are playing with a lot of confidence and are a live dog here. The Jaguars' defense stepped up in the 13-6 upset of the Eagles last week, and Jacksonville ground out the victory behind quarterback David Garrard. But, remember, this is also the same team that lost two weeks ago to the Texans. The Jaguars have a tendency to get really up for top foes but then play down to the level of competition against the lesser lights of the league. I'll gladly take the 9-point head start and look to play the money line at 7-2 or higher.

PLAY: Titans for 1 unit

Saints at Buccaneers (+1)

Both teams are coming off disappointing performances, the Saints in their loss to the Ravens and the Bucs in a 17-3 loss to the Giants. The Saints have become overrated this year, so I think the Bucs have the better chance to bounce back. Before that loss in New York, the Bucs had beaten the Bengals and Eagles in Tampa and this week they return home. The defense is playing at a high level and can create turnovers, just like the Ravens did last week vs. the Saints. If that happens, it'll just be up to the offense to capitalize on the opportunities.

PLAY: Buccaneers for 1 unit

Browns (+12 1/2) at Chargers

Of my losses last week, the one I would like to have taken back was the Jets vs. the Browns. I've said all along that the Browns would be a profitable point-spread team this year (they're 4-3 heading into this week), and when I didn't like them I should have just passed. But I'll take them here, getting double digits. The Chargers' offense is playing at a high level, but Cleveland coach Romeo Crennel should have some new wrinkles for San Diego QB Philip Rivers. The Chargers are without Shawn Merriman at linebacker, and the Browns' offense is starting to jell with their young quarterback, Charlie Frye. And while I don't expect a shootout like last week's Chargers-Rams game, Cleveland should do enough to stay within the number.

PLAY: Browns for 1 unit

Broncos (+3) at Steelers

Last Sunday afternoon, an offshore book opened this line as Broncos -1. That made sense to me as the Steelers continue to struggle and are coming off their most embarrassing loss, 20-13, to the Raiders, of all teams. The Broncos, meanwhile, went toe-to-toe in their 34-31 loss to the Colts and certainly can't be discredited for that effort. So, I was surprised - pleasantly so, as I'll take any points I can get - to see the market bet this game all the way to Steelers -3. Yes, they're at home, but that hasn't been much of an advantage (remember, their playoff run last season was all on the road), and they're a mere 6-6-1 against the spread at home dating back to the 2004-05 playoffs. The Broncos' defense should get back to its old self, ranked No. 1 in the league before the shootout with the Colts, and the offense seems to be coming around and could be better-served with Tatum Bell and Mike Bell splitting carries and staying fresh, setting up play-action passes for Jake Plummer.

PLAY: Broncos for 1 unit

* Last week: 2-3 for a net loss of 1.3 units (based on risking 1.1 units to win 1). NFL season record: 20-18-2, including 0-1 on 2-unit plays, for a net loss of 0.9 units.