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Friday, August 25

   by Larry Ness - 08/25/2006

You've gotta love the NFL, regular season or preseason! The Dolphins outgained the Panthers last night 323 yards to 145, gaining 20 FDs to Carolina's nine (Panthers were just 2-of-14 on 3rd downs). However, the final score read Carolina 19-10, a win and 'cover' for the Panthers!

My free play for Friday is on the Oak A's over the Tex Rangers at 8:35 ET. It's a Las Vegas Insider Friday as I look to extend my current 7-1 (87.5%) run in MLB (since Aug 5) and look to make it three straight Las Vegas Insider wins in the NFLX (won with the Cardinals in Week 1 and 30-3 with the Pats in Week 2) with my LONE Las Vegas Insider in Week 3 of the NFLX. Also, check back for more MLB.

How'd the Panthers win? First, the Dolphins had a 32-yard TD pass nullified by a penalty and then later on that same drive, saw Ronnie Brown stopped on a fourth-and-one play at the goal line. An excellent open-field tackle ended another Miami drive deep into Carolina territory, forcing a 23-yard Mare FG. Then on the ensuing kickoff, Carolina's DeAngelo Williams returned it for a 98-yard TD! Football's back!

Week 3 continues with five more games tonight, highlighted by the Giants and Jets in the Meadowlands (8:00 ET) and the Steelers visiting the Eagles in Philadelphia at 8:00 ET on ESPN. Carolina's win last night ups the team's record to 3-0 (2-1 ATS), joining the Oakland Raiders (who played in the HOF game) as the NFL's lone 3-0 teams this preseason (Raiders are also 3-0 ATS).

Four other teams, Cincinnati, Dallas, Houston and the NY Giants join Carolina and Oakland as teams still undefeated this preseason. These six teams have combined to go 14-0 SU and 13-1 ATS. The lone ATS loss was in Week 1 when the Panthers beat the Bills 14-13 as a three-point favorite.

The Giants and Cowboys share five-game preseason winning streaks (both are also 5-0 ATS), the longest active preseason winning streak among NFL teams. The Giants play tonight against the Jets and are favored by 4 1/2 points with a total of 36. The Cowboys will host the 49ers Saturday night at 8:00 ET and are favored by seven points with a total of 36.

Six teams remain winless in preseason play this year, all at 0-2. The list includes Buffalo, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Tennessee and Washington. The six teams are a combined 0-12 SU and not much better ATS, going 2-10.

The Steelers play tonight in Philadelphia and it will be interesting if Big Ben finally gets to see some action, as he's attempted just eight passes so far. The Eagles have played three games and McNabb has looked sharp. Philadelphia is favored by three points (34 1/2).

The Chiefs and Colts are both winless and both take eight-game preseason losing streaks into their games this week. The Colts are in Jackson, Mississippi on Saturday night (7:00 ET) to play the Saints, while the Chiefs host the Rams at 8:30 ET on Saturday. The Colts, who are 2-6 ATS during their slide, are favored by 3 1/2 points with a total of 42 , while the Chiefs, who are 0-8 ATS during their eight-game slump, are favored by 3 1/2 points with a total of 39 1/2.

MLB notes

Thursday night's 6-2 victory over the Cards gave the Mets seven straight victories overall and 11 in a row at Shea Stadium, their longest home winning streak since September 1995. The Mets (78-48) moved to 30 games over .500 for the first time since 1999 and lead second-place Philadelphia by 14 1/2 games in the NL East.

New York's seven-game winning streak is the longest active one in MLB, with the Marlins' and Padres' (both had off days yesterday) streaks of four straight wins being second-best. The Rockies own a six-game losing streak as play begins on Friday, the longest active losing streak in MLB.

Highlights from Thursday's play included the White Sox beating the Tigers, 10-0. Detroit had beaten Chicago in the first two games of this four-game series but Chicago won the final two games, leaving them 5 1/2 games behind the Tigers in the AL Central and keeping them a half-game ahead of the Twins in the wild card race.

Jon Garland threw a complete game shut out and has now won each of his past 10 starts on the road. In the past 10 years, only two other pitchers have had streaks as long at that, David Wells (won 13 straight starts away from home, spanning 1999 to 2000) and Chris Carpenter (10 in a row in 2005).

Carlos Zambrano continued his season-long role as the Cubs' stopper, pitching seven innings and earning the victory against Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon. It was his 10th win this season that immediately followed a Cubs loss, the most such wins in the majors. It was the fifth time this year that Zambrano won a game to stop a Chicago losing streak of at least three games. The Cubs are 18-10 (.643) in game started by Zambrano and just 36-63 (.364) in games he doesn't!

The weekend opens with a full 15-game schedule and two AL series provide the most interesting storylines. The Minnesota Twins look to take over sole possession of the AL wild card lead on Friday night when they begin a critical three-game series against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field (8:35 ET).

Minnesota (74-52) started slowly through the first two months of the season before turning it around.The Twins, who are 49-19 since June 8 after opening the season 25-33, pulled even with the White Sox (75-52) after sweeping a three-game series in Chicago from July 24-26, but have never able to take the lead.

Radke (12-9, 4.35 ERA) starts for the Twins and is 2-2 with a 5.40 ERA in four starts against the White Sox this year, while Javier Vazquez (11-8, 5.13) will face Minnesota for the second straight outing. He was the loser Sunday, when he gave up five runs and seven hits over five innings in a 7-3 loss.The right-hander fell to 0-3 with a 7.71 ERA in three starts against the Twins this year.

The Angels host the Yankees tonight in Anaheim (10:05 ET) in the opener of a three-game series. The Angels (67-61) are 4-3 against the Yankees (76-50) this season and are seeking to capture the season series for the third straight year. They're 53-51 against New York since the start of the 1996 season, the only team with a winning record against the Yankees during manager Joe Torre's tenure. Los Angeles has also eliminated New York from the playoffs twice in four years, including a five-game victory in the division series last season.

Jaret Wright (9-7, 4.63) returns to the rotation when he takes the mound for New York. Wright hasn't started since Aug. 17, although he's made a pair of appearances out of the bullpen since that outing. He's 4-1 with a 3.78 ERA in 10 road starts this year but just 2-2 with a 7.60 ERA in seven career starts against the Angels.

John Lackey (10-9, 3.92 ERA) has struggled in his career against the Yankees, going 3-6 with a 5.74 ERA in nine regular-season starts. He lost at New York on Aug. 14 after giving up three runs and 11 hits over seven innings in a 7-2 defeat. He's 0-3 with a 7.36 ERA over his last four starts and opponents are hitting .332 against him over his last eight outings after batting .195 in his first 18. Lackey is 5-4 with a 4.28 ERA in 14 starts at home (team is 8-6).

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

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