Today's NFL games
Published: Sunday, January 12, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 12, 2003 at 1:08 a.m.
WHO: San Francisco 49ers (1-0) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0).
WHEN: 1 p.m., FOX.THE LINE: Buccaneers by 6.LAST WEEK: San Francisco defeated the New York Giants 39-38. Tampa Bay was off.THE GAME: San Francisco scored 25 points in the game's final 17 minutes last week. The 49ers will be lucky if they score that much in today's entire game. Tampa Bay's defense - No. 1 overall in the regular season - has already proven they can stop mobile quarterbacks like Jeff Garcia. In one game vs. Philadelphia, Tampa Bay held Donovan McNabb to four yards on six carries. In two games vs. Atlanta, Tampa Bay held Mike Vick to 16 yards on six carries. Garcia could be in for a long day. His favorite target - 49ers WR Terrell Owens (177 yards, 2 TDs) - will be defended by Buccaneers CBs Ronde Barber and Brian Kelly, who combined for 10 interceptions during the regular season. Buccaneers QB Brad Johnson (3,049, 22 regular season) returns. Look for him to use the short game - quick passes to RB Michael Pittman and WR Keyshawn Johnson - which will keep the 49ers defense on the field for long periods of time. Tampa Bay went 6-2 at home in the regular season. No comeback for San Francisco this week.THE PREDICTION: Buccaneers 29, 49ers 12.WHO: New York Jets (1-0) at Oakland Raiders (0-0).WHEN: 4:30 p.m., CBS.THE LINE: Raiders by 5 1/2.LAST WEEK: The Jets defeated the Colts 41-0. Oakland was off.THE GAME: New York travels to Oakland for the fourth time in 20 games. In the previous three, they went 1-2, 2-1 against the spread. The Jets have won three straight by a combined score of 113-34. Oakland - which has played just two games in the last 21 days - and its banged-up secondary is in for a test. Look for New York QB Chad Pennington (222 yards, 3 TDs) to pick on Oakland CB Tory James, while avoiding James' partner Charles Woodson. Oakland's offense should give the Jets problems, especially when RB Charley Garner catches passes out of the backfield. Garner had 1,903 total yards and 11 TDs in the regular season. But the Jets have faced Edgerrin James and Ahman Green in the last two games. Those backs aren't as good as Garner this season, but they're not too bad. Either way, the Jets held them to a combined total of 95 total yards. Garner will do better than that, but it won't be enough. An upset in Oakland.THE PREDICTION: Jets 18, Raiders 15.
'Dogs hang aroundHome teams have had success straight up - as is the norm in the playoffs. But they haven't against the spread, which is a rarity. Through six games, home teams were 5-1 straight up, but just 3-3 against the spread. Perhaps that will start to even out as we progress in the playoffs. We went 1-1 straight up, 2-0 against the spread Saturday. Good luck today. Overall playoff records: Straight up: 4-2; Against the spread: 3-3.
You can reach Tim Sullivan by calling 374-5050 or by email at SullivT@gvillesun.com.