If the New England-Detroit game Thursday goes into overtime, Marty Mornhinweg has one major burden off his back:
The game is indoors, so the Lions' coach won't have to decide whether to take the wind or the ball.
OK, enough about Detroit's loss last week to the Bears, in which Mornhinweg took a 17 mph wind in overtime, giving Chicago the ball. The Bears, of course, drove down and won the game on Paul Edinger's 40-yard field goal into the wind.
It probably won't come to that Thursday.
New England has won three of four games and is favored by 5 1/2 points against a Detroit team that has lost three straight and could give up on the season after the demoralizing loss to the Bears.
Not so, says New England cornerback Ty Law, who played college football at Michigan.
''They're always up for it,'' Law said. ''Those guys come out and beat anybody. We're aware of that. This is their big game. This is their show, their Super Bowl, year in and year out.''
Take the wind.
Er, the spread.
Washington (minus 1) at Dallas (Thursday)
Despite its overall travails the past few seasons, Dallas has won nine straight in this series.
Tampa Bay (minus 1) at New Orleans
The Saints need it more than the Bucs, who may be exhausted after their battles (physical and verbal) with Green Bay.
New York Jets (plus 6) at Oakland (Monday night)
Third game between these teams since January. The Jets have won four straight, the Raiders three.
Denver (minus 3) at San Diego
Broncos are 7-0 in daylight.
St. Louis (minus 1) at Philadelphia
Is A.J. Feeley the next Mark Bulger? Delayed reaction to the loss of McNabb.
Tennessee (plus 3) at New York Giants
Two teams coming off bad, bad losses.
Miami (minus 2 1/2) at Buffalo
Like a lot of young teams that start fast, the Bills are fading.
Chicago (plus 9 1/2) at Green Bay
Mike Sherman will take the ball, not the wind.
PACKERS, 20-17 (overtime)
Baltimore (minus 3) at Cincinnati
A classic example of why the Bengals lose. They may have more talent; the Ravens have a front office.
Atlanta (minus 3 1/2) at Minnesota
How come Randy Moss gets tired and Michael Vick doesn't?
Carolina (plus 7 1/2) at Cleveland
At least the Panthers get to face the stationary Tim Couch instead of Vick.
Houston (plus 11) at Indianapolis
Tony Dungy is known for late-season streaks.
Pittsburgh (minus 3) at Jacksonville
The Steelers have been flirting with trouble. Here it is.
Seattle (plus 9) at San Francisco
Terrell Owens Sharpied the Seahawks the first time. And no more Jose Cortez to kick (around).
Arizona (plus 9 1/2) at Kansas City
The battered Cardinals are back in their accustomed patsy role.
LAST WEEK: 7-9 (spread), 9-7 (straight up)
SEASON: 86-86-4 (spread), 111-64-1 (straight up)
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