11/23/2001 12:00AM

Turkey Day was for the dogs


Underdog bettors had a big Thursday.

* In the NFL, the Lions and Cowboys both scored two late touchdowns to lose by two points as 7-point underdogs.

* In college football, Northwestern scored two late touchdowns to fall

34-28 to Illinois as a 19-point dog and Mississippi State beat Mississippi outright, 36-28, as a 3-point dog.

* In the NBA, dogs covered in all three games, including outright upsets by the Bucks and Nets. Michael Jordan's Wizards also lost 110-103 as a nine-point underdog.

* In the NHL, dog bettors showed a profit by going 1-1-1 as the Kings beat the Oilers 4-2 as a +200 underdog and the Flames skated to a 4-4 tie with the Senators as a +150 dog. Bettors who took +1/2 goal would also have won that wager.

* In college basketball, favorites covered four of the seven games on the betting boards, but the three dogs that covered were all at Valley High School in the Las Vegas Invitational, including Penn, which led No. 2 Illinois most of the game until losing 78-71 as an 18-point underdog.

This all goes to show you that, in the long run, the dogs are the way to look. When it gets late in the game, the team that is behind (and it's the dog much more often than not) is still trying its hardest to score while the favorite is just trying not to lose.

Believe me, I know. I was on the Packers and Broncos on Thanksgiving Day.

The Packers led 29-13 at the two-minute warning only to give up a touchdown, a two-point conversion, an onside kick, and another touchdown to win 29-27.

The Broncos actually led 26-3 early in the fourth quarter before allowing three Cowboy touchdowns an holding on for a 26-24 win.

Raiders (-2 1/2) at Giants

The Giants have only beaten one team with a winning record (the Saints on Sept. 30) and have only beaten the Redskins, Cowboys (in a late rally), and the Cardinals since then. The Raiders stubbed their toe two weeks ago in a loss to the Seahawks, but otherwise they've been playing well, especially on offense. Tyrone Wheatley's return will only make the Raiders more versatile. Hopefully, this line is too small to get beat with a backdoor cover. Play: Raiders for 22 units.

49ers (+3) at Colts

The only reason the Colts are favored here is because they're at home. This game could come down to the first defensive stop, and I have to side with the 49ers on that. The 49ers would be wearing the label of Kardiac Kids if it wasn't for the Bears' similar heartstopping wins (including one against the 49ers). San Fran has won three straight since that loss, and its offense is as potent as any team in the NFL. That used to be said about the Colts, but they're now trying to keep the wheels from coming completely off since the season-ending injury to Edgerrin James. Play: 49ers for 11 units.

Redskins (+9) at Eagles

I think this line is a result of the early-season perception that the Redskins stunk and the Eagles were title contenders. The Eagles have beaten up on the Cardinals, Vikings, and Cowboys the last three weeks and might not be prepared for the up-and-coming Redskins. The Skins have turned around their season and can steal this game. Even if they don't win, they should stay within a touchdown. Play: Redskins for 11 units

Cardinals at Chargers (-7)

The Chargers have fallen on tough times after a hot start, which is mostly the result of playing better teams, including the Broncos and Raiders the last two weeks. They take a step down in class and should roll over the Cardinals, who have only beaten the Lions, Chiefs, and Eagles (in a fluke). Play: Chargers for 11 units

Bears (+3) at Vikings

This is another game, like the 49ers-Colts, where I feel the wrong team is favored. The Bears are the much more consistent team, plus they handled the Vikings back in Week 2 with a 17-10 win in Chicago. The Vikings looked better on Monday night, but I have to look to the dog in this divisional rivalry. The Vikings haven't been tackling well, and the Bears make teams pay for those kind of mistakes. Play: Bears for 11 units.

Starting bankroll: 1,000 units

Bankroll entering this week: 923 units.

Thursday's results: 0-2, including double-play loss on Packers, for net loss of 33 units.

Current bankroll: 890 units