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Monday, August 21

   by Larry Ness - 08/21/2006

The Seahawks beat the Colts last night at Indy 30-17 and the Raiders made it three straight wins this preseason when they beat the 49ers 23-7 in Oakland. The Colts have now lost eight consecutive preseason games (2-6 ATS), matching the Chiefs' eight-game slide (0-8 ATS). The 49ers had their five-game ATS winning streak snapped last night (were just 3-2 SU), leaving the Giants with the longest active winning streak at five (both SU and ATS).

My free play for Monday is on the Oak A's over the Tor Blue Jays at 7:05 ET. After a 7-2 all-sport weekend (Fri-Sun), I open the new week in MLB with an exclusive Las Vegas Insider (5-1 since Aug 5). In the NFLX, I continue my 5-1 Week 2 run (5-0 on sides by a combined winning margin of 132-23!) with my 15* Monday Night Delight!

The Cowboys will visit the Saints tonight in Shreveport for MNF on ESPN (8:00 ET). Dallas will take a four-game preseason winning streak (both SU and ATS) into the contest, after opening with a 13-3 Week 1 win in Seattle. The Saints, just 8-12 SU and 7-12-1 ATS the last five years in the preseason, also won their Week 1 opener, beating the Titans 19-16 in Tennessee. The Cowboys are favored by three points with a total of 35.

Home teams are 8-7 SU and ATS in Week 2 (just tonight's game left), with eight of the 15 games going over the total. Things can change quickly in any sport (at any time of the year) and we were reminded of that this weekend. After two more unders on Thursday, under bettors were on a 15-4 run to open this year's preseason. However, eight of the last 13 games have gone over.

Six teams have scored 30 points or more since Friday, after only the Jaguars scored that many in their 31-26 Week 1 win over the Dolphins, over the preseason's first 19 games. The Bengals beat the Bills in Buffalo on Friday, 44-31. It's the highest scoring game so far (75 points) and the Bengals' 44 points are the most for any team to-date.

MLB notes

In 1978 it was called the "Boston Massacre" and with one game left in the Yankees/Red Sox five-game series (today at 1:05 ET), it shaping up as the "Boston Massacre, Part 2." In the first three games of the series, the Yankees scored a total of 39 runs, as Boston starters allowed 24 hits and 20 runs in just 13.2 innings. Last night, Curt Schilling went seven innings allowing just three runs and left with a 5-3 lead.

However, the Boston bullpen allowed single runs in the 8th and 9th innings (tying run scored with two out!) and two more in the 10th, as the Yanks won again, 5-3. The Boston bullpen, through four games, has allowed 28 hits, 16 walks and 23 ERs in 16.1 innings (12.67)! The Yankees have now extended their lead in the AL East to a season-high 5 1/2 games. Monday's starters are Cory Lidle and David Wells.

While Boston's staff gave us plenty of pitching lowlights over the weekend, Jered Weaver of the Angels won his ninth game without a loss on Friday night (12 ML starts) when he beat the Mariners 3-0. He's now 9-0 with a 1.95 ERA and joins Whitey Ford as the only AL rookie to have ever opened his career 9-0.

Johan Santana defeated the White Sox at Minnesota yesterday 7-3, improving his record to 13-0 over his last 20 starts at the Metrodome (since Aug. 6, 2005). The Twins have won each of those games, becoming the first team in the modern era (since 1900) to win 20 straight home games that were started by a particular pitcher. His ERA during that 20-game stretch is 2.03.

The Mets won their fourth straight game on Sunday (2-0) behind Orlando Hernandez. Interestingly, the Mets had opened the week by losing Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at Philly, by the combined score of 27-4. The team's four-game winning streak is the longest active one of any team in MLB but more importantly, the Mets are 14 games up on the Phillies in the NL East, easily the largest margin of any division-leader. The Tigers and Yanks lead their divisions by 5 1/2 games.

Hernandez improved his record with the Mets to 7-5 and since El Duque's first start for the Mets (May 28), he and Steve Trachsel have a combined 17-6 record in 30 starts. Over that span, the projected one-two punch of Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine are 8-8 in 25 starts. Just who should be the Mets' Game 1 and 2 starters come playoff time?

The Angels are tied with the Mets at four straight wins, as they completed a weekend sweep of the Mariners on Sunday, 3-2. The Mariners own MLB's longest active losing streak at 11 in a row but that's not half the story. Seattle completed its 0-11 road trip with Sunday's loss in Anaheim. Since 1977 (the Mariners inaugural season), only one other major-league team has had a winless road trip of at least 11 games. In 1989, the Tigers were swept on an 11-game swing through Toronto, Boston and Kansas City.

Sunday's defeat extended Seattle's unprecedented losing streak against AL West rivals to 20 games (the longest by any team within its division since the inception of divisional play in 1969). Seattle is 10-32 vs the AL West in 2005. Neither the Angels, Mets nor the Mariners play Monday. Monday's schedule is fairly light with just 10 games on the card. All but the Yankees/Red Sox game will be played under the lights.

The marquee matchup is of course, the opener of a four-game series between the White Sox and Tigers in Detroit (7:05 ET). Chicago swept a three-game series from Detroit from August 11-13 at U.S. Cellular field to move within 5 1/2 games of the division-leading Tigers, and have managed to keep the deficit at that figure despite losing four of seven since that series.

Contreras (11-5, 3.78 ERA) threw a three-hitter against the Tigers on Aug. 11 and picked up the first shutout of his career in a 5-0 victory. He is 3-1 with a 1.45 ERA in four starts against Detroit this season, and 8-3 with a 3.01 ERA in 15 career outings against the Tigers. However, after winning 17 straight decisions dating back to last year, he is 2-5 with a 4.63 ERA over his last eight overall starts.

Detroit will send Verlander (14-6, 3.14) to the mound to open this series. He is 0-3 with a 9.88 ERA in three starts against the White Sox this season, including a defeat to Contreras on Aug. 11 when he allowed five runs and a career-high 13 hits in five innings.

CFB notes

The AP's preseason poll was released over the weekend and like in the coaches' poll which has been out for a couple of weeks, Ohio State will open as the nation's top-ranked team. It's Ohio State's first preseason No. 1 ranking since 1998 and the seventh time it's happened in school history (Oklahoma leads with nine preseason No. 1s). Ohio State fans will be hoping that history doesn't repeat, as the Buckeyes have never won a national title after opening as the nation's top-ranked team.

Troy Smith returns at QB and he led Ohio State on a season-ending seven-game winning streak (7-0 ATS). The Buckeyes averaged 38 PPG during that run and Smith capped the season by throwing for 642 yards in wins over Michigan (25-21) and Notre Dame (34-20 in the Fiesta Bowl). Offense won't be a problem for Ohio State but the defense must replace NINE starters, including first-round NFL draft picks linebacker AJ Hawk (No. 5 to GB), safety Donte Whitner (No. 8 to Buffalo) and LB Bobby Carpenter (No. 18 to Dallas).

Ohio State received by far the most first-place votes (35 of 65) but six teams received at least one, the most since 11 schools received first-place votes back in 1984. Notre Dame (10) will open as the nation's No. 2 team, the school's best showing since opening No. 2 in 1994. By the way ND fans, the Irish finished 6-5-1 that year and unranked, after losing 41-24 to Colorado in the Fiesta Bowl. That loss began an eight-game bowl losing streak for ND, one in which the Irish have been outscored 275-143!

Texas, the defending national champs, open at No. 3 (8) and will host Ohio State in the season's first "showdown game" on September 9. Auburn (6) opens at No. 4, West Va (6) at No. 5 and USC (3) at No. 6. Rounding out the top-10 are Florida, LSU, Cal and Oklahoma.

Ness Notes is available Monday through Friday by 1:00 ET.

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