10/30/2008 12:00AM

Secret method's 14-0 mark reels in $48,000 jackpot

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Last week, Lucky's Race & Sports Books gave away the biggest weekly contest prize in Nevada sports book history when a single contestant picked all 14 NFL games straight up in its free contest and won $48,000.

The record jackpot got that big because Lucky's has a weekly progressive prize of $6,000, but it can only be won with a perfect ticket. No one was able to run the card in any of the first seven weeks of the season, so those carryovers combined for the $48,000 bonanza.

The winning ticket was turned in at the Terrible's Hotel & Casino on Flamingo Road by a 59-year-old retired truck driver who only wanted to be identified as Steve J. There's only one entry allowed per person, and he was the only contestant to go 13-0 on Sunday, which means he used the Seahawks over the 49ers and escaped a bobble attempt by Jacksonville's Matt Jones in the end zone late in the Browns' 23-17 upset of the Jaguars. On Monday night, he had the Titans against the Colts and saw them fall behind 14-6 before tying it with 3:21 left in the third quarter on a touchdown and two-point conversion.

"After the 2-point conversion, I wasn't concerned," he said. "I knew they would win."

Steve said he spends 60 hours a week handicapping football and playing in several contests around town. He was as protective of his handicapping methods as he was of his full identity.

"I have my own system, but it's nobody's business," he said. "I don't tell anyone."

The progressive resets this week with another $6,000 prize and Lucky's will keep adding $6,000 a week until it ends. If no one hits again before Week 17, there will be a mandatory $54,000 payout split by the people picking the most winners in that final week.

* Most readers of this column know that I love football contests. I do the comprehensive list of all Vegas-based contests here in this column every year and follow all the news in the major contests on my website and play in nearly all of them myself (currently tied for sixth in the Leroy's Pro Challenge and 44th in the Hilton SuperContest). There's a mid-season addition to that list as Leroy's has a new Three 'n Out contest, which has a deadline of 9 p.m. Saturday and starts with Sunday's games. The entry fee is $25, maximum of five per person, and it's a survivor-type contest where you pick one game against the spread each week. Instead of being eliminated after one loss, it takes three losses to knock you out. The contest will run through the Super Bowl with any survivors splitting the jackpot of all the entry fees.

* I went 1-0-1 with my two 2-unit plays last week, though I caught a tough break with a push on the Cardinals +4 though it was widely available later at +4 1/2 or higher. As part of my contest entries (both against the spread and straight up), these are my top three games this week:

Lions +12 1/2 at Bears

Double-digit underdogs are 12-1 against the spread in the NFL this season after the Chiefs covered a 13o1/2-point spread last week in a 28-24 loss to the Jets. I wasn't willing to back that one in this space, but I will take the Lions here. Granted, the Bears blew out the Lions, 34-7, four weeks ago in Detroit, but since then the Lions have played much better in covering vs. the Vikings (a game they should have won) and Texans, plus playing the Redskins close last week in an 8-point loss as a 7-point dog. The Bears are better than expected this year, but still inconsistent enough that they shouldn't be double-digit favorites over anyone.

PLAY: Lions for 1 unit.

Cowboys +8 at Giants

This is plainly an overadjusted line play. A month ago, the advance line on this game was Dallas -3. Last Sunday, it "opened" Giants -6 and has steamed as high as 9 at some books. The Cowboys' stock has plummeted just like the rest of the market, but even with Tony Romo out, they circled the wagons and beat a pretty good Tampa Bay team last week. I can't help but think they will get up for this divisional rivalry as well and I can't pass up the points.

PLAY: Cowboys for 1 unit.

Steelers +2 at Redskins

Longtime readers of this column may recall that in 2004 I wrote how the Redskins' last home game before a presidential election had always foreshadowed the winner since the franchise started as the Boston Redskins in 1936 and then moved to D.C. before the 1940 election. The incumbent (or the incumbent's party) had won the 10 times the Redskins won those games and lost control of the White House the seven times the Skins lost. Blame me for jinxing the trend as the Packers beat the Redskins in 2004 yet the incumbent, George W. Bush, was reelected. All partisan politics aside (and pretending not to notice that Barrack Obama is ahead in the polls), I think the Steelers will win this game on Election Eve, Monday night. I'm not sold on the Redskins. I'm not a big fan of the Steelers, either, having taken the Giants against them last week, but I don't think the Skins are as good as the Giants and they have shown that with their loss to the Rams three weeks ago and back-to-back narrow wins over the Browns and Lions. The Steelers, despite a rash of injuries and off-the-field distractions, continue to play well. I don't think they handle the step up in class.

PLAY: Steelers for 1 unit.

Last week: 1-0-1 on two 2-units plays for a net profit of 2 units. Season DRF record: 7-7-2, including 1-2 on 2-unit plays, for a net loss of 1.9 units.