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Celebrity NFL Picks: Among hot backs, Turner is the burner

Sal DeFilippo

Celebrity Picks

Lance Burton, Monte Carlo master magician (21-15)
Jets -7 ½ vs. Broncos
Chiefs +3 at Raiders
Texans -3 vs. Jaguars
****
Anthony Crivello, star of Phantom -- Las Vegas Spectacular (22-14)
Bills -7 vs. 49ers
Redskins +3 1/2 vs. Giants
Steelers +1 at Patriots
****
Carrot Top, Luxor headliner (13-22-1)
Jets -7 ½ vs. Broncos
Dolphins -8 at Rams
Colts -4 ½ at Browns
****
Danny Gans, Encore headliner (20-16)
Colts -4 ½ at Browns
Jets -7 ½ vs. Broncos
Bills -7 vs. 49ers
****
Oscar Goodman, mayor of Las Vegas (18-18)
Giants -3 ½ at Redskins
Falcons +5 at Chargers
Patriots -1 vs. Steelers
****
Kevin Janison, KVBC meteorologist (16-18-2)
Giants -3 ½ at Redskins
Falcons +5 at Chargers
Jets-Broncos over 47 ½
****
Wayne Newton, "Mr. Las Vegas" (23-13)
Giants -3 ½ at Redskins
Jets-Broncos over 47 ½
Texans -3 vs. Jaguars

It’s not too surprising that the featured back in this weekend’s Falcons-Chargers game is tied for the league lead in touchdowns and has surpassed the 1,000-yard mark in only 11 games.

The surprise, however, is that the featured back is not heralded LaDainian Tomlinson of the Chargers.

Instead of L.T., the best runner in this game – this season, anyway -- is M.T. That’s Michael Turner, Atlanta’s blooming star who spent a few seasons as L.T.’s backup before taking a starting role, and a starring role, with the Falcons.

M.T. is carrying a full load in Atlanta, with 1,088 yards and 13 scores, which compares favorably to L.T.’s 770 yards and five TDs. Not bad for a backup-turned-featured back.

Their roles aren’t the only things that are seemlingly reversed in this game. Atlanta, who was in shambles at the end of last season, is 7-4 and entertaining thoughts a postseason berth. The Chargers, the consensus choice to win the AFC West and considered among the conference’s elite teams heading into the season, is 4-7 and on the brink of elimination from playoff contention. Last week, Turner found the end zone four times in a win over the Panthers while Tomlinson was scoreless in compiling 84 yards against Indianapolis in a home loss.

So, since M.T. started getting some P.T., he’s fared better than L.T., who some people think may be hurt and keeping it on the Q.T. Whatever the case, It doesn’t take someone from M.I.T. to see that M.T. and the new-look Falcons are the real deal, so I’ll take Atlanta this week – in O.T.

A 2-1 week puts the season ledger at 23-12-1 against the number. This week, I’ll take Atlanta plus the 5 against the Chargers, the Jets-Broncos over 47 ½ and the Bills -7 against the 49ers.

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