Redemption is soooooo sweet

"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles CEO,

Southampton, PA (Sports Network) -- Instead of eating crow this week it would be easy to just start crowing over the wins by the Vikings over New Orleans and Oakland taking Miami apart. Easier than taking candy from a baby and redemption for the prior week. But, this is not a time to rest on laurels. While there are other things about which to pen some acidic and acerbic comments or, alternately, a few complimentary and laudatory ones, to inspire thought and controversy about referees, players, sports, agents, other writers, there are two more games coming up this weekend.

They deserve our attention?but not our money.

The boys from Minnesota were made an early one-point favorite over the Meadowland warriors and are now sitting comfortably on 2 ? as the public rushes to support an apparently more lethal air attack than that of our finest fighter squadron. On the other side of the country, the west coast, Oakland snuck in as an early 5 ? point chalk but that quickly changed to six and has stabilized all week.

Giants Fans Giants' fans are one win away from their 3rd Super Bowl in 15 years.
Rolling with the Vikings seems like the plausible thing to do but it is too easy. The Giants will not be pushovers; Minnesota has a sieve like defense and New York can control the ball easily enough. Tanks against a pernicious air assault that can be murderous. Construction workers lining up against the glamour of high wire acts. Thinking of Kerry Collins as the Super Bowl quarterback just does not make sense but this is not a game where I want to do anything but root for the G-Men. I wouldn't touch it with your money.

If you really like the Giants, go with the under at 41 ?. Leaning towards the Vikings? Slip in a few quid on the over. Seeking advice? Become a fan for the first game.

Turning our attention to Oakland, it is time to parlay last week's winnings without giving it all back should we throw the wrong dart. That means the Raiders. Is six too much or are we to be taken in by all the media hype about the Ravens' defense? From this vantage point they will be running into a defense just about as good as their own with a supporting cast of offensive players that can put points up on the board against almost everyone, including Baltimore. Teasers are usually not the way to go for the obvious reason(s) but they kept us in good stead last week. Why not once more?

The catch is, of course, that we need two choices and both must win with the edge we are given, the six points one way or the other. Aha, therein lies the rub. OK, let's take Oakland even and Baltimore plus 12 for a sweet middle or, if you are more comfortable, over 31 ?. Should you be feeling excessively confident and self-assured, secure in your convictions, do both with the Raiders as the "lead dog" - i.e., Raiders and Baltimore together with Raiders and the over. If the Raiders lose, it is over. Any one of a number of combinations can end he day with loss of appetite but think of all the wonderful suffering you will experience Sunday afternoon and is that not, after all, what it is about? If you are into defense and really believe that this defense of the Ravens is the second coming of the Steel Curtain (which it is not) then take Baltimore plus the points and the under. Not my favorite choice on the menu before us but I can live with that?just barely.

That also presents a heck of an over/under middle if you take the Raiders plus the over and Raiders plus the under.

Jon Gruden After back-to-back 8-8 seasons, Gruden's club is a serious contender for a Super Bowl appearance.
Can the home team on the west coast just cover the six points straight up? I honestly believe that they can. What is the level of my grit and backbone for this choice? About as salubrious and resolute as a ball of putty.

From the dome to the muddy surface of the Meadowlands for Minnesota and not the best turf on which those fleet as cheetahs like to run, cut, leap, turn, dart, dash and leave burn marks between the stripes. New York knows how to contain a scrambling quarterback better than anyone. Can they do it two weeks in a row, collar a great running back and corral what might be the best pass catching tandem in the NFL?all at the same time? Big time order but not impossible.

Oakland is simply the better team but that has been said about Baltimore before, most recently in Tennessee. The Raiders, however, are easily the cream of the crop and should start getting fitted for rings that are theirs after the big dance in Tampa Bay. When the Ravens played the Jets, New York beat themselves. When they left the Titans in tatters, Steve McNair and company looked like a lot less than their p.r. package depicted them or the recent cover of SI has made them out to be. Did Baltimore contribute to that? Somewhat. Entirely? Not when the "Air person" is hardly running and spends a good deal of his passing time tossing the ball into the ground as if his receivers were part of the field.

Lest the ramblings that fill this corner weekly (often bi-monthly when yours truly is traveling abroad) be taken as any sort of newly created handicapping column it is only a matter of addressing the biggest thing in sports right now, the NFL playoffs and the final two games leading up to the Super Bowl in a few weeks. You know, that day when you want to have a party but are really hoping that you are invited to someone else's home, saving you the prospect of cleaning up after a group of disgruntled fans, bettors, friends, family and gate- crashers leave the premises.

Have a great weekend, enjoy the first game, sweat out the second and then, no matter how we make out, we have two weeks to choose the winner of the Super Bowl. Time to start thinking about going to Disney with the MVP of the game? You gotta be kidding!

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