The fans who bet on the Pittsburgh Steelers last week were done a disservice by the zebras, although the NFL's apology for the bad call never mentioned that it kept the Steelers from covering the spread.
The spread is bigger for Thursday night's game at Heinz Field, but the opponent is easier: the Cincinnati Bengals, who managed to play Philadelphia to the first tie the NFL has had in six seasons.
``It feels weird,'' receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh said after Shayne Graham missed a field-goal attempt at the end of overtime and the game ended 13-13.
The Steelers' win over San Diego was even more historic than Cincinnati's tie; the score was 11-10, the first such score in NFL history. It should have been 17-10 or 18-10 because the NFL has conceded the officials were wrong in disallowing Troy Polamalu's touchdown on the last play of the game, when he ran the ball into the end zone after a frantic series of laterals by the Chargers.
1/2 against the Bengals as it tries to keep or extend its one-game lead over Baltimore in the AFC North.
In contemplating a pick, just look at the talent disparity: Ryan Fitzpatrick remains Cincinnati's QB in place of Carson Palmer. Also consider fatigue - the Bengals played five quarters against the Eagles and now go on the road with just three days to recover.
The Steelers won 38-10 in Cincinnati last month. But they won't take this game lightly. It's one of the few ``easy'' games left on a very tough schedule, making it one they can't afford to lose.
New York Jets (plus 6) at Tennessee
This demonstrates how much respect the unbeaten Titans are getting now. They're a solid favorite in what looks like their toughest game until the final two weeks of the regular season.
TITANS, 20-16

New York Giants (minus 3) at Arizona
This spread demonstrates how little respect the Cardinals are getting even though they can clinch the NFC West this week. Kurt Warner rarely has played well against the Giants. Nor did he play well when he was with them.
GIANTS, 26-17

Indianapolis (plus 3) at San Diego
Peyton Manning threw six interceptions against the Chargers last season and the Colts lost only 23-21.
COLTS, 33-31.

New England (plus 2) at Miami
A year sure changes things. The Patriots were favored by 17 in this fixture last season.

Carolina (plus 1) at Atlanta
Despite their 8-2 record, the Panthers are not playing great football.
FALCONS, 23-20

Green Bay (plus 3) at New Orleans (Monday night)
The Saints are last in the NFC South. They'd be tied for first in the North.
SAINTS, 27-26

Philadelphia (plus 1 1/2) at Baltimore
At least Donovan McNabb now knows there can be ties.
RAVENS, 13-10

San Francisco (plus 11) at Dallas
First of what should be two wins (Seattle next) before the Cowboys' schedule gets heavy again.
COWBOYS, 34-16

Tampa Bay (minus 8 1/2) at Detroit
Rod Marinelli used to coach in Tampa, so maybe he knows some of the Bucs' secrets.
BUCS, 11-2

Washington (minus 3 1/2) at Seattle
One of two ``soft'' games left on Redskins' schedule.

Minnesota (plus 2 1/2) at Jacksonville
Jack Del Rio says his guys will play hard despite their all but nonexistent playoff chances.
JAGUARS, 22-20

Oakland (plus 9 1/2) at Denver
No one likes to beat the Raiders more than Mike Shanahan, the Lane Kiffin of 20 years ago.

Chicago (minus 8 1/2) at St. Louis
Jim Haslett's coach of the year run has been over for a while.
BEARS, 31-3

Houston (plus 3) at Cleveland
Making a late run to save Crennel's job ...
BROWNS, 27-23

Buffalo (minus 3) at Kansas City
Tyler Thigpen will experience the growing pains that Trent Edwards is going through.
CHIEFS, 17-15
LAST WEEK: 6-10 (spread); 11-4-1 (straight up)
SEASON: 77-80-3 (spread); 96-63-1 (straight up)

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