While favorites easily beat the point spread in most of yesterday's NFL games, Pittsburgh Steelers fans and bettors alike had their day ruined when a Bengals touchdown with 14 seconds left gave underdog Cincinnati a 23-20 victory.

In the process, the Steelers - four-point favorites - also blew the spread as they coughed up a 20-15 lead.

The Denver Broncos' jackrabbit start has surprised both their opponents and the oddsmakers.

After a horrible collapse last season, a head-coaching change, and a tumultuous off-season in which quarterback Jay Cutler was shipped to Chicago, the Broncos figured to be easy pickings'.

Well, new quarterback Kyle Orton may be no John Elway, but he has Broncos backers happily collecting on their wagers. So far, Denver is 3-0 in the standings and against the spread. Just 11/2-point favorites over Oakland yesterday, the Broncos easily covered, 23-3.

Less a surprise but still stronger than what the linesmaker figured are the New York Jets, who are also 3-0 against both their opponents and the spread after beating Tennessee, 24-7, covering a 21/2-point line yesterday.

New Orleans continued to be a betting beast. Yesterday, the Saints covered a six-point spread against Seattle with a 17-point fourth quarter that pushed them to 3-0 against the line (as well as in the standings).

On the flip side, the Redskins' performance against the point spread may show that Washington is in much more trouble than even its 1-2 record indicates. Yesterday, the 'Skins lost to the Lions (who had been winless in 19 straight), 19-14 - and, of course, failed to cover a 61/2-point spread. But it also was the second week in a row that the Redskins had failed to cover against a huge underdog. That spells real trouble.

Locally, Eagles supporters who chanced laying 81/2 points were counting their money midway through the third quarter when David Akers' field goal gave the Birds a 20-point cushion on the way to a 34-14 win over Kansas City.