10/14/2005 12:00AM

Take Giants to upset Cowboys


LAS VEGAS - Quantity or quality.

It's a common dilemma among bettors, whether it's horse racing or sports. Do you bet every time you think you have the best of it and trust your opinions will give you the edge over the long run, or do just bet your very best picks.

I admit I struggle with this. In my horse playing, I've definitely gone to the "quality" side, concentrating on major stakes days when the pools are full of recreational money and there seem to be more logical overlays. But in sports betting, I go back and forth. In this column, I lean toward thinking that putting more money on fewer plays is the way to go and usually limit it to my five plays in the Las Vegas Hilton SuperContest.

That hasn't worked out too well, so this week, I bet eight games earlier in the week, so I'm including them all here, starting with 2-unit plays on the ones that made the Hilton cut first.

Giants (+3 1/2) at Cowboys

The Cowboys continue to impress, knocking off the Eagles 33-10 last week to improve to 3-2. But they have been involved in a lot of physical, hotly contested games already this season, and I just have to think the Giants are in a good spot coming into this game fresh off their bye week and having two weeks to prepare. Eli Manning really got the offense clicking before the bye, and the defense has played better than expected. Dallas's Drew Bledsoe has been getting lots of time to throw, but Michael Strahan and the rest of the Giants' pass rush should put an end to that. I like the G-men in an outright upset.

PLAY: Giants for 2 units.

Jaguars at Steelers (-3)

It was really impressive, the Steelers going into San Diego on Monday night and escaping with the victory. A lot has been made of the injury to Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and as of Thursday night, there were conflicting reports of whether Tommy Maddox or Charlie Batch would start. In my opinion, it just doesn't matter. The Steelers are a run-first team anyway, and they need a quarterback just to complete the occasional third-down pass. Maddox and Batch are both adequate fill-ins. Back at home, the Steelers should roll.

PLAY: Steelers for 2 units.

Browns (+5 1/2) at Ravens

As divisional rivals, the Browns are certainly familiar with the Ravens (who were formerly the Cleveland Browns), but if they

didn't know better, they might assume they were preparing again this week for the Bears, a team with a great defense and weak offense. Cleveland quarterback Trent Dilfer is growing in confidence with every start, and certainly will be out to prove to the Ravens that they made a mistake by releasing him after the 2000-01 Super Bowl victory.

PLAY: Browns for 2 units.

Panthers (+1) at Lions

The Lions blew out the Ravens last week, but that was misleading. They benefited from some

questionable calls, and then the Ravens unraveled with 21 penalties, including some ugly unsportsmanlike actions and ejections. The Panthers' defense is on a par with the Ravens', and much more disciplined. In addition, the Lions' receiving corps has lost Charles Rogers to a drug suspension and Roy and Mike Williams are both injured. Though most of their running backs are banged up, the Panthers also have an offense that will certainly be able to attack the Lions better than the Ravens did.

PLAY: Panthers for 1 unit.

Vikings (+3) at Bears

The Bears lost a game they needed last Sunday, falling 20-10 to the Browns. The defense kept them in the game until it just was not able to hold on any longer, and the same thing will likely happen here. The Vikings, coming off their bye week and needing a win to get back in contention in the NFC North, shouldn't have to score too many points to pull off a minor upset here. By now, everyone has heard how some Vikings were accused of inappropriate behavior on a party boat this week, but that's not a legitimate handicapping factor: pro athletes' private lives rival those of rock stars and it would be silly to think any of that affects what happens between the lines. And any distractions from legal action? Well, we've all seen pro athletes who were in trouble with the law be able to put all that aside on game days.

PLAY: Vikings for 1 unit.

Redskins at Chiefs (-6)

Just like the Cowboys, the Redskins have been involved in a bunch of tough games and traveling a lot (last Sunday in Denver, this week in K.C.), and the Chiefs are coming off their bye. The Redskins' defense has been superb, but the Chiefs' offense should come out firing on all cylinders, just like it did in the 27-7 season-opener vs. the Jets. As tempting as it is to take the points, the Redskins just don't have the weapons to keep pace.

PLAY: Chiefs for 1 unit.

Chargers at Raiders (+2)

The Raiders got off the schneid before their bye week and look to continue the momentum against a Chargers team that has not lived up to expectations, either (their win against the Patriots, notwithstanding). This should be a typical AFC West shootout with the Raiders making more big plays through the air with Kerry Collins and Randy Moss working more and more together.

PLAY: Raiders for 1 unit.

Patriots (+3) at Broncos

This game, between two teams that are talent-rich, could determine playoff spots or seedings down the road. Admittedly, my reasoning for liking this game is the flimsiest of the eight. The Broncos are usually a favored team of mine, and they're off to a nice start, but I just don't think they have "it." I can't really describe "it." The Patriots have "it" in abundance. Hopefully, after the game I can put my finger on "it."

PLAY: Patriots for 1 unit.

Last week: 2-4-1 for a net loss of 2.4 units (based on laying

1.1 units to win 1). NFL season record: 10-17-2 for a net loss of 11 units.