Let's not get too hysterical over what we saw on opening day.
Hold off, please, before you assign Dallas a Super Bowl berth.
Don't tell me the Steelers and the 49ers are finished, kaput.
It's only one week, for Pete's sake. Teams' identities change,
the deck gets shuffled many times before the final hand is dealt.

What I did see, though, were a few teams that had been dormant
for as long as I can remember finally playing with a real
passion: the Bucs, the Rams, the Jets. Opening day frenzy? I'm
not so sure. Let's see how it carries into Week 2.

If they aren't too busy congratulating themselves over their
defeat of the 49ers, I like the Buccaneers in another upset, to
beat the Lions in Detroit. So what if the Bucs haven't won at
the Silverdome in four years. The Lions' offensive line can't
contain Warren Sapp, who turned in the defensive performance of
the weekend, and I don't think Barry Sanders will run for many
yards against those relentless Tampa Bay linebackers.

The Rams are another team that waged spirited combat last
weekend, and here come the Niners, whose tackles were exposed
against the Bucs; whose quarterback, Steve Young, got whacked in
the head again; and who will be minus Jerry Rice, out for the
year with a knee injury. But I think the 49ers are at their most
dangerous when they've had to read gloom-and-doom stuff all week
and then go on the road. Don't forget, the Rams beat the Saints,
who I think are the worst team in football. Look for the Niners
to bounce back.

The Jets put on an offensive show in Seattle, but that's not why
I think they'll beat Buffalo in the Meadowlands. Bills
quarterback Todd Collins was overmatched against the exotic
coverages the Vikings showed him, and I don't like his chances
against the defenses Bill Belichick will put up. Chalk up
another win for the Jets.

The Cowboys took Pittsburgh's big hammer, Jerome Bettis, out of
the game with their 17-point second quarter, but the Redskins
are woefully weak up the gut, and I'm afraid that malady won't
go away until defensive tackle Sean Gilbert ends his holdout. I
like the Steelers to win it, and let's give Bettis, oh, about
150 yards.

Kansas City meets Oakland on Monday night, and I'll give this
one to the underdog Chiefs for exactly the same reason. I can
just see Marty Schottenheimer checking the stat sheet of the
Raiders-Oilers game, and when he comes to the line that says
"Tennessee: 42 carries, 255 yards rushing," his face will light
up and his path will be clear. Never mind the fancy wideouts
that K.C. brought in. Brett Perriman was inactive in the Denver
loss, Andre Rison did zilch. Never mind that Schottenheimer's
got another former 49ers quarterback, Elvis Grbac.

All preseason Schottenheimer touted running back Greg Hill, the
Chiefs' first-round pick in 1994, and then, in the first half
against the Broncos, he carried the ball two times. When he
finally started busting loose with some big gainers, the Chiefs
were in a catch-up mode, and it was too late. Look for Hill to
carry early and often Monday night. Look for Kansas City to win
it.

--PAUL ZIMMERMAN

COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK The Chiefs would be wise to put the ball in Hill's hands. [Greg Hill in game]
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)