12/28/2006 12:00AM

Not a lucky rabbit's foot, but close


LAS VEGAS - When it comes to gambling, I don't believe in lucky seats, machines, or tables. If you happen to have a winning day, there's no guarantee it'll repeat if you go back to the same casino, table, or seat.

But just like two weeks ago when I wrote a silly little column about how I had gone 19-4 (83 percent) against the spread in Week 15 the previous four years, I'm going to tell a story that I've been reluctant to share for the last two months:

On Saturday, Oct. 7, I went to a VIP party for the grand opening of the Playboy Club at the Palms. The pass to get in was a gold key on a necklace with the Playboy bunny logo on it. I thought it was pretty cool and wore it to the Las Vegas Hilton the next day and my bankroll plays went 5-0-1. The following week I wore it again and went 4-1, then 3-1 the next week. Over the ensuing four weeks, I had a couple of losing bankroll weeks, but did well on my personal bets or in college football.

The only truly poor week I've had since I got the necklace came in Week 12, when I went 0-5 in the NFL and 2-7 in the colleges. Believe it or not, I left the house without the necklace that Sunday.

I've worn it ever since and have gone 4-1, 4-1, 4-2, and 5-0 the last five weeks.

The logical part of my brain says it has no influence, but if you see me Sunday, I assure you I'll have the necklace on. And if I leave the house without it, I'll head back to get it.

Last week, in addition to going 5-0 with my official bankroll plays, I also mentioned that I had considered the Lions, Panthers, and Cardinals (all of which covered as underdogs with the latter two winning outright) for bankroll plays. So I'll point out that the Vikings +2 vs. the Rams and the Falcons +7 1/2 vs. the Eagles were the last two to miss my cut this week.

Bills (+9 1/2) at Ravens

This line is inflated (proof is that when the Hilton put up its advance lines a week ago Tuesday, Baltimore was only favored by 3 1/2) with the Ravens needing to win to clinch the AFC's No. 2 seed and a first-round bye, plus keep alive a chance at the No. 1 seed if the Chargers lose. Besides, I'm still not sold on the Ravens deserving to lay more than a touchdown to anyone, especially a team like the Bills that had covered the spread in seven straight games before running into Vince Young and the Titans last week. The Bills played hard last week, and I think they'll play even harder in trying to end the season on a strong note.

PLAY: Bills for 1 unit.

Steelers (+6) at Bengals

Sometimes a team just has another team's number. That's the case with the Steelers losing 31-7 to the Ravens last week after losing 27-0 to them four weeks prior. In their last eight games, those are their only two losses, and now they play the Bengals, a team they match up better against. Yes, I know the Bengals beat them 28-20 way back in Week 3, but that was when the Steelers weren't playing as well as they are now, and the Bengals scored 21 points off turnovers (including an ill-timed muffed punt that turned the game around). The Bengals need to win to keep their playoff hopes alive, but the Steelers will be just as motivated to end a disappointing season on a winning note.

PLAY: Steelers for 1 unit.

Dolphins (+9) at Colts

I'm going against the Colts again until they prove they can stop someone from running the ball. I almost passed on this game when Theo Lemon (who?) was announced as the starting quarterback for the Dolphins, but I think Miami coach Nick Saban is smart enough to know he's going to rely on the running game. If Ron Dayne could run for 153 yards for the Texans against the Indy defense, Ronnie Brown could have a career day for the Dolphins.

PLAY: Dolphins for 1 unit.

Jaguars (+2 1/2) at Chiefs

I've been winning Jacksonville games the past month whether I'm on the Jags or against them, and this week I'm back on them. Both teams have an outside shot at the playoffs with a win and, despite the Chiefs' home-field advantage, I feel the Jaguars are the better overall team. The defense can contain Kansas City's weapons, while the return of Fred Taylor teamed with scatback Maurice Jones-Drew should be able to run over the Chiefs' defense.

PLAY: Jaguars for 1 unit.

Cardinals (+13 1/2) at Chargers

When the line on this game went up at Cardinals +11 at the Hilton last Sunday, I jumped on it. I had mistakenly thought that the Colts' loss gave the Chargers home-field throughout the AFC playoffs and thought the Cardinals could definitely stay within two touchdowns, even with Kurt Warner replacing an injured Matt Leinart. It turned out that I overlooked the Ravens' chance to catch the Chargers and the line climbed higher and higher. No matter, I'll bet the Cards again at +13 1/2 (or 14 if it goes that high), because this number is obviously inflated, especially considering the Chargers just need to win, not run up the score. And, also note that if the Bills beat the Ravens (which I'll be rooting for), the Chargers could even pull their starters and allow a back-door cover.

PLAY: Cardinals for 1 unit.

Last week: 5-0, including a 2-unit win on the Texans vs. the Colts, for a net profit of 6 unit. NFL season record: 48-38-2 for a net profit of 7.4 units (based on risking 1.1 units to win 1).