NFL Edition: Who's Going to the Super Bowl?

The favorites, at least as Las Vegas oddsmakers see them. Plus, the odds on this week's games.
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We were 5-1 last week, bringing our season record to 21-19. Because of travel plans, we are submitting our picks on Monday and having them posted on Wednesday afternoon. There will be no handicapping lesson this week, other than with respect to the Detroit-Chicago game below. However, we are listing the current odds in Las Vegas for teams to win the Super Bowl.

This Week's Picks

Detroit (minus 5 1/2) over Chicago

Rule No. 1: Always bet on

Detroit

on Thanksgiving Day. Rule No. 2: See Rule No. 1.

Miami (plus 2) over Dallas

Usually, both Rule No. 1 and Rule No. 2 mandate a play on the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day. But this week is different because

Dallas

is playing a team coached by its former coach, Jimmy Johnson. And Johnson does not like Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. More importantly, the Dolphins can stop the run, which is what the Cowboys do best. The attrition of the Cowboy receivers is a major problem, because the remaining receivers do not require anything other than single coverage. This will allow

Miami

to blitz Troy Aikman (assuming he is ready to play), a favored Jimmy Johnson tactic when he is facing an immobile quarterback. Dan Marino may be back this week, but even if he isn't, we don't think there is much drop-off in talent with Damon Huard at quarterback. As of Monday there was no line on the game, but if Aikman plays, the Cowboys will be a slight favorite, and if he doesn't they will be a slight underdog. Our pick assumes that he will play.

New York Giants (minus 4) over Arizona

It is difficult to play at the Meadowlands in late November, particularly for a team from

Arizona

. Vince Tobin, the head coach of the Cardinals, is one of the worst in the NFL. The Cardinals' offense is always stagnant, and we don't think things will improve this week against a stout Giant defense.

New York's

head coach Jim Fassel was the former offensive coordinator for the Cardinals and still knows much of the personnel. New York's Michael Strahan is a dominant player, and we thing the eighth-ranked New York defense will be able to control the 29th-ranked Cardinal offense. The play will become stronger if ex-Giant Dave Brown is the starter for the Cardinals.

Seattle Seahawks (minus 4) over Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay is 2-3 on artificial turf. With Joey Galloway in the lineup, the Seahawks are able to "stretch the field," and we think that will give this good

Tampa Bay

defense trouble.

Seattle

gave us a buy signal last week by beating the Chiefs in

Kansas City

for only the second time in its last 18 tries. Mike Holmgren has moved to the top of my list of best coaches in the

NFL

. For this game, he has the advantage of having prepared for the Tampa Bay defense twice a season for the last five years when he was the head coach at

Green Bay

. The Bucs were very lucky to win last week and the TV talking heads like Ron Jaworski are extolling Trent Dilfer's virtues. Sorry, Ron, but Dilfer has shown over the years that he cannot put together a full season of even adequate football. He will be rattled in the Kingdome and will throw some interceptions. The Seattle defense is getting healthier, and Holmgren knows the importance of home-field advantage in the playoffs and will not let his team let down at home.

Minnesota (minus 13) over San Diego

This is one of the worst possible matchups for the Charger team, which has multiple injuries in its secondary. While the linebackers and front four for

San Diego

are solid and they can perform well against teams that predominantly run, the Chargers will simply not be able to stop the Viking wide receivers in this game, and we will not be surprised if the Vikings score 40 or more points. Although we are not a big Jeff George fan, we think he will be put in a position to be successful this week.

Minnesota

is coming off a bye week, and the coaching staff should be prepared for an opponent it rarely plays. The Chargers have not thrown in the towel yet, but they have a very weak offense and both Jim Harbaugh and Tommy Kramer do not appear to be the answer to their quarterback problems. While we hate laying double digits in the NFL, we will do so in this game.

Barry Lieberman is the general counsel for a Las Vegas gaming company and an associate of James Padinha. He's been an amateur gambler for more than 20 years, and welcomes your feedback at

barrylieberman1@prodigy.net.