11/02/2001 12:00AM

Saints can afford to spot Jets a TD


This is a pivotal weekend for the bankroll. There are very few secrets left in the NFL. Every team has shown its best (or worst) sides and it's up to handicappers to sort it all out.

A bunch of games jumped out this week when the lines came out. It might be because I have been looking ahead to this week's card because of my appearance this past Friday night in the Stardust Invitational. Hopefully, that extra attention to how these teams match up will pay off. I like three road dogs and one road favorite, but my best bet is a home favorite.

Jets at Saints (-6 1/2)

I lucked out last week when the Panthers covered against the Jets as my best bet. The Panthers were able to move the ball effectively and got in trouble when they abandoned the running game. The Saints won't make the same mistake Sunday night as Ricky Williams should have a monster game against the Jets' porous defense. His power running will be complemented by the ever-improving Aaron Brooks, who is rolling out more and having success. Curtis Martin has been the Jets' main weapon and the Saints' defense should be able to contain him and then get to Vinny Testaverde. The Saints are coming off a huge comeback win over the Rams, but coach Jim Haslett has stressed to his team that it was just one game and they have to get back to work. Play: Saints for 22 units (to win 20).

Jaguars (+3) at Titans

The Jaguars beat the Titans, 13-7, back in Week 2 in Jacksonville. This week's game was off the board at some Las Vegas sports books earlier this week, and I was really licking my chops when some books posted the Titans -4 1/2 or -5. Unfortunately, the line was reduced to 3 on Wednesday when Tennessee RB Eddie George was listed as doubtful. But while we lose some line value, it's more than made up in the Jaguars' chances to win this game outright. The Jaguars should have beaten the Ravens last Sunday, losing 18-17. Mark Brunell is playing well and incorporating RB Stacey Mack into the passing attack. Mack ran for 80 yards after starting RB Fred Taylor got hurt the last time these two teams met. And Brunell seems to find WR Jimmy Smith whenever he needs him. The Titans are in disarray and have already been blown out in two "must-win" situations vs. the Ravens and Steelers. Make it three. Play: Jaguars for 11 units (to win 10).

Patriots (+3) at Atlanta

Most people wrote off the Patriots' season when QB Drew Bledsoe got hurt, but Tom Brady has been a pleasant surprise. He nearly rallied the Pats against the Broncos last week, but threw four fourth-quarter interceptions. That should be a learning experience for him and makes him doubly dangerous against the Falcons. This is like a step down in class for the Pats, after faceing the Dolphins, Chargers, Colts, and Broncos. Play: Patriots for 11 units.

Colts (-4 1/2) at Buffalo

Speaking of the Colts, they have played well except in their two losses to the Patriots. They travel to Buffalo to take on a team they beat, 42-26, in Week 2. Peyton Manning threw for 421 yards and four TDs in that game. Marvin Harrison caught seven of those passes for 146 yards and three TDs. With Edgerrin James hurting, they will probably be playing sandlot ball again. If Rob Johnson starts at QB for the Bills, I wouldn't expect him to finish. He has taken a beating this season. The Bills, who put a lot of energy into last week's loss to the Chargers in the Flutie vs. Johnson Bowl, just don't have the firepower to keep up. Play: Colts for 11 units.

Seahawks (-2 1/2) at Redskins

The Seahawks are 3-3 and should have beaten the Dolphins (or at least covered) last Sunday. The Redskins have won two straight, but still rank as one of the worst teams in the league. I would feel better with Trent Dilfer at QB for the Seahawks, but Matt Hasselbeck performed well last week against a tough Dolphins' defense and should have no problem against the 'Skins. My only fear is Seattle RB Shaun Alexander's bout with fumblitis, but Washington QB Tony Banks has the same disease. Play: Seahawks for 11 units.

Broncos (+5 1/2) at Raiders

This could be one of the best games of the year, as these two title contenders clash on Monday night. Denver coach Mike Shanahan always looks forward to taking on his former boss, Al Davis. The Broncos haven't played as well of late after opening the season strong, but they get Terrell Davis back for this game and that should give them a boost. The Raiders played well in their victory over the Eagles last week, but the Broncos are a step up in class. Play: Broncos for 11 units.

Current bankroll: 1,000 units

Bankroll entering last week: 959 units

Last week: 4-1 on sides (including double-play wins on Colts and Panthers) and 0-2 on totals for a net win of 27 units

Current bankroll: 986 units