The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on December 7, 1997 · Page 42
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December 7, 1997

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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 42

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Sunday, December 7, 1997
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THE PALM BEACH POST SUNDAY, DECEMBER 7, 1997 7B THIS WEEK'S STANDINGS AMERICAN CONFERENCE CENTRAL w i t pf pa Pittsburgh 9 4 0 307 246 Jacksonville 9 4 0 334 269 Tennessee 7 7 0 298 282 Cincinnati 5 9 0 308 367 Baltimore 4 8 1 260 286 NATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTRAL w l pf pa EAST W L PF PA WEST W L PF PA New England 8 5 308 233 Miami 8 5 294 242 N.Y. Jets 8 5 293 252 Buffalo 6 7 217 296 Indianapolis 1 12 222 348 y-Denver 11 Kansas City 10 Seattle 6 San Diego 4 Oakland 4 393 21 291 21 i 281 301. 253 344 294 347 EAST W L T PF PA WEST W L PF PA. luuli inn (11 N.Y. Giants 7 5 1 Philadelphia 6 6 1 Washington 6 6 1 Dallas 6 7 0 Arizona 310 0 226 227 247 286 244 199 260 240 216 288 y-Green Bay Tampa Bay Minnesota Detroit Chicago 10 9 8 7 343 245 262 200 285 289 322 250 215 377 x-SanFran 11 2 304 193' Carolina 6 7 214 240 Atlanta 5 8 260 312' New Orleans 5 8 170 258' St. Louis 3 10 225 301' 2 11 x-clinched division title y-clinched playoff berth jjljjffilP EES IWO-MIIIOIf DRILL Finding a scapegoat Let's see. Receiver AJvin Harper was a free-agent failure in Tampa Bay, so he joined his old offensive coordinator from his Dallas days, Norv Turner, THIA TIME No team has gone longer than the Packers without drafting a defensive lineman in the first round. Who was that Green Bay selection in 1984? IT FIGURES NFL writer Ed Price breaks down this week's games if . Green Bay at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m. 0akIand al Kansas x p m 1 j& fi yr in Washington. And when Harper caught two passes in 12 games for the Redskins, he had to find a way out and someone else to blame. After Washington's loss to the St. Louis Rams last BUZZWORD: "Protection The Packers have 19 sacks in their past six games. The Buccaneers have allowed three in their past four games. TV: WFLX-29, WSVN-7. LINE: Packers by 3 y2. BUZZWORD: "Heart" The Raiders obviously have none. The Chiefs have shown plenty. LINE: Chiefs by 8A PREDICTION: "I resent anybody ever saying you quit or threw the white flag up," Oakland coach Joe Bugel said. "I don't see it. I really don't." What's he watching? CHIEFS 30-6. 2 overtime touchdowns this year for Steelers RB Jerome Bettis, an NFL first. 4 straight seasons with 30 or more TD passes an NFL record for Packers QB Brett Favre if he gets two today. 9 consecutive games in which Falcons QB Chris Chandler has at least one TD pass. 10 players on the Saints' 53-man roster were not on the roster for the regular-season opener Aug. 31. 17 years since the 49ers had lost a regular-season game by more than the 44-9 margin at Kansas City last week. Dallas beat them 59-14 during Bill Walsh's second year as coach. (San Francisco lost to the Giants 49-3 in the divisional playoffs following the 1986 season.) 24 years since two teams met with a tie in their record as the Giants and Eagles will today. On Dec. 16, 1973, 6-5-2 Kansas City met 2-10-1 San Diego in the season finale. 1 727 days between outdoor victories for the Rams, from a victory over the Jets on Dec. 3, 1995, to last Sunday at Washington. PREDICTION: The Bucs are 7-0 outside their division but 2-4 against the NFC Central. PACKERS 24-21. Denver at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m. BUZZWORD: "Ally'' Steelers coach Bill Cowher sought advice from friend (and former boss) Marty Schottenheimer, whose Chiefs beat the Broncos three weeks ago. Of course, Schottenheimer called Cowher before playing the Jaguars last month and lost 24-10. LINE: Steelers by 1 'A PREDICTION: Marty has some insight. STEELERS 28-21. Minnesota at San Fran., 4 p.m. BUZZWORD: "Challenge" The 49ers have played two teams that currently have winning records - and failed to score a touchdown against while losing to both Tampa Bay and Kansas City. TV: WFLX-29, WSVN-7. LINE: 49ers by 9. AUOIDIES PREDICTION: Without QB Brad Johnson, out for the year with a neck injury, Vikings don't count as a winning team. 49ERS 24-17. Detroit at Miami, 8 p.m. BUZZWORD: "Slippery" Raiders RB Napoleon Kaufman had 69 yards on 12 carries against the Dolphins last week. Lions RB Barry Sanders is Kaufman on fast-forward. TV: ESPN. LINE: Dolphins by 3. ' PREDICTION: Sanders goes over 100 for the 12th straight week. LIONS 24-20. St. Louis at New Orleans, 1 p.m. BUZZWORD: "Underdogs" The Saints have been favored twice this year - and lost both times (against Atlanta at home and against San Diego). LINE: Saints by 2 y2. PREDICTION: St. Louis goes to 2-1 without Lawrence Phillips. RAMS 20-14. Buffalo at Chicago, 1 p.m. BUZZWORD: "Unsettled" The Bears, trying to find a quarterback, have moved Rick Mirer back to No. 2 on the depth chart and will play him some today. LINE: Bills by 1.' PREDICTION: Buffalo knows who its quarterback is: Todd Collins. That's not necessarily a good thing. BEARS 17-10. Seattle at Baltimore, 1 p.m. BUZZWORD: "Fading" The Seahawks have lost 4-of-5 and have eight regulars out with injuries. Then again, the Ravens - winless in their past five - will start two rookie safeties. LINE: Pick 'em. PREDICTION: Seattle has packed it in. RAVENS 20-14. Atlanta at San Diego, 4 p.m. BUZZWORD: "Acclimated" Forget jet lag; the Falcons stayed in San Diego all week after winning at Seattle last Sunday. LINE: Falcons by 2. PREDICTION: Atlanta has a shot at 8-8, and nobody talks about Dan Reeves for coach of the year. FALCONS 21-7. Washington at Arizona, 4 p.m. BUZZWORD: "Putrid" Jeff Hostetler, who takes over at QB for the Redskins with Gus Frerotte (hip) out, has a passer rating of 35.9. LINE: Cardinals by 2. PREDICTION: Jake Plummer keeps coming on. CARDINALS 21-6. Carolina at Dallas, Mon., 9 p.m. BUZZWORD: "Excluded" These teams played a year ago in the NFC semifinals. This year, they'll watch the playoffs on TV. TV: WPBF-25, WPLG-10. called Turner a J?mer: f ' "liar" and criticized His PanS are Turner for not al- on fire; HarPer lowing him to reach says-his big-play potential this season. "It was the statements that I made in the paper that really ticked him off and got him mad," said Harper, who signed a three-year, $3.5 million contract with the Redskins in March. "When we met (Monday), the only thing he said to me was he didn't appreciate being called a liar. Which he was. He lied to me. He's two-faced. I'm a grown man; he's a grown man. If you're going to do something, then do it. If not, then say we can't play you now.' "Heath (Shuler) told me that Norv lied to him, too," Harper said. "That didn't surprise me. There are a lot of Redskins playing for Norv right now who would probably tell you that. He needs to get a backbone." Well, Harper has a coach with a backbone now, for sure. The Saints claimed him off waivers, and coach Mike Ditka said he was not concerned by Harper's past. "We're looking at the man as of today," Ditka said. "That's the only way we can judge him; what he can bring to us. He didn't fit into Washington's plans for their reasons, and they might be valid reasons. He might fit into ours." Tripe for revenge The Oakland Raiders actually issued a statement last Tuesday titled "The Oakland Raiders respond to Al Michaels' Blather." Yes, the whole organizations has gone off the deep end. The team is losing badly and having trouble selling seats. So why not attack ABC's Monday Night Football play-by-play man. Michaels had the gall to ask Raiders ' owner Al Davis for an interview to be broadcast during the Oakland-Denver Monday night game two weeks ago. Of course, Davis is still miffed about Michaels' 1991 interview with Chiefs RB Marcus Allen, who ripped Davis. No interview. Then, during the game, Michaels made jest of Raiders slogans (Team of the Decades, Pride and Poise, Commitment to Excellence). At one point he said "Just litigate, baby." When cameras panned to Davis, Michaels suggested the Raiders owner could star in the Howard Hughes story. Asked about what the Raiders referred to as "his weird behavior" later, Michaels told USA Today's Rudy Martzke, "I have to be honest with fans." The Raiders' release concluded by saying: "Al Michaels ... has no right to talk about being honest with the fans. Michaels doesn't have an ounce of truthfulness or morality in his body. 4 Michaels should confess about his own. lack of truthfulness and morality in dealing with the fans over the last several years." ABC at first didn't believe this was a for-real Raiders release. For his part, Michaels said, in a statement released through the network, "I won't dignify this tripe with a response." Good idea. '. New Eng. at Jacksonville, 1 p.m. BUZZWORD: "Rolling" Jaguars QB Mark Brunell has thrown for 603 yards the past two weeks. The Patriots have allowed 699 yards in the air the past two weeks. ', ' "What happened was ridiculous. It's crazy what is going on. Some kind of feature back I am, huh?" JAMAL 'ANDERSON, Falcons RB, who had only four carries in the second half last ;week. "You can't afford to break up team chemistry. When that happens, we . kind of made excuses like, 'We lost iWillie Green, we lost Kevin Greene, we lost Brett Maxie and Howard Griffith.' We're missing their attitude. You just can't afford to lose guys like that if you want to win. You wouldn't have seen this team if we'd kept those guys." ANDRE ROYAL, Panthers ILB. "I know where his mind is, I know where his heart is, I know where his work ethic is. I trust him, and I can count on him." DICK VERMEIL, Rams coach, on new starting RB Jerald Moore, a contrast to the previous one (Lawrence Phillips). "I don't know a whole lot about TV: WPTV-5, WTVJ-6. 43 LINE: Jaguars by 4y2. PREDICTION: By the way, Brunell threw for 432 and three touchdowns against the Patriots at home last year. JAGUARS 31-17. Indianapolis at N.Y. Jets, 4 p.m. BUZZWORD: "Decimated" The Jets - averaging 3.0 yards per carry and 77 yards per game over the past eight games - have lost three linemen in the past two weeks: part-time LT William Roberts (knee), LT Jumbo Elliott (Achilles) and RT David Williams (back). LINE: Jets by 6 y2. PREDICTION: Peyton Manning's big break? COLTS 20-14. N.Y. Giants at Phil., 1 p.m. BUZZWORD: "Pressure" Not only do the Giants need to stop their skid (four touchdowns in a 1-2-1 stretch) but coach Jim Fassel has told QB Danny Kanell he'll be yanked if he starts slowly. LINE: Eagles by 5. PREDICTION: Philadelphia QB Bobby Hoying will not be yanked. EAGLES 17-14. LINE: Cowboys by 6 y2. PREDICTION: Dallas isn't six points better than them to tell you the truth. Really, they might be great entertainers. Most of you have probably forgotten Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney and people like that, so I'm showing my age." BOBBY ROSS, Lions coach, on the Rolling Stones, whose Silver-dome concert forced the Lions to practice in a golf bubble. "I've been locked out of my car this year, I've had flat tires, had to walk 3VS miles in the (blizzard), had a back spasm for a game, then the (irregular) heartbeat deal. This has been a freaky year." ALFRED WILLIAMS, Denver DE, who also sustained a partially torn rigjit tricep last week. TOIVIA ANSWER Alphonso Carreker, a Florida State defensive end. anybody. COWBOYS 14-10. LAST WEEK: 9-5 straight up, 6-8 against the spread. SEASON RESULTS: 127-66-2 (.656) straight up, 99-87-8 (.532) against the spread. Philadelphia's tough fans warm quickly to Hoying NFL notebook NFL teams that can clinch playoff berths today: JACKSONVILLE needs a victory over N.E. PITTSBURGH needs a victory over Denver AND a Jets loss to Indianapolis, or losses by Miami (to Detroit) and New England (to Jacksonville). KANSAS CITY needs a victory over Oakland OR a Jets loss to Indianapolis OR losses by Miami and New England. GREEN BAY can clinch the NFC Central title and a first-round bye with a victory over Tampa Bay. MINNESOTA needs a victory over San Francisco AND a Philadelphia loss to the Giants AND a Washington loss to Arizona AND a Carolina loss or tie against Dallas. TAMPA BAY Needs a victory over Green Bay OR (2) losses by Philadelphia (to the Giants) and Washington (to Arizona) and a Carolina-Dallas tie. The Associated Press The mania over Eagles quarterback Bobby Hoying shows that Philadelphia fans, noted for being quick to boo, can be just as quick to cheer a player who captures their fancy. Hoying has done just that, going from third-string quarterback to folk hero in three weeks. When the Eagles came to Baltimore three weeks ago with a 4-6 record for Hoying's first start, nobody dreamed he would make this kind of an impact. "I don't think anybody had any an idea he would play this well," Eagles coach Ray Rhodes said. "If anybody did, I wish they would have told me. I don't think you can predict that." Hoying showed a lot of poise against the Ravens, surviving nine sacks in the tie. He then led the Eagles to an upset victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, but his game against the Cincinnati Bengals last weejt was the stuff of legend. That's because they're owned by billionaire Paul Allen, the Microsoft co-founder whose net worth is probably more than the combined worth of the other 29 owners. If Allen wants to use his fortune to subsidize the team the way Eddie DeBartolo has done in San Francisco the past two decades, the Seahawks could become a dominant team if they spend wisely because there are so many loopholes in the salary cap. There's also much speculation that Allen will lure a big-name general manager to Seattle. Green Bay's Ron Wolf would be a good choice, but he probably can't get out of his Packers contract. That could leave the Seahawks looking at Bill Polian of the Carolina Panthers or Tom Donahue of Pittsburgh. The GM is expected to get the green light to hire a new coach. George Seifert's name keeps popping up as a logical choice. v, After his boyhood hero, Boomer Esiason, gave the Bengals a 42-41 lead with a minute left, the fans were chanting, "Bob-by! Bob-by! Bob-by!" when Hoying took over with 54 seconds left. He responded by directing a 61-yard drive to set up the winning field goal. Suddenly, the Eagles were 6-6-1 and still alive in the NFC East, which is now being called the NFC Least. If they beat the New York Giants at home Sunday, and win on the road at Atlanta and Washington, they'll finish 9-6-1 and probably win the division. Rhodes is doing his best to calm the Iloying-mania. "Don't jinx the quarterback," he said. Watch Seattle: The Seahawks, who make their first appearance in Baltimore today, are going to be one of tHe league's closely watched teams : ir

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