Philadelphia owner Jeff Lurie, after his Eagles were blown out by
Washington 28-3 on Sunday: "We were pitiful. I'd rather see paint
dry than watch our team play. Pitiful."
New York coach Jim Fassel, after his Giants were blown out by
Green Bay 37-3: "If this is the way we're going to play, I'd
rather give some other guys an opportunity."
The Giants have the second-worst offense in the league, averaging
246.6 yards a game. The Eagles have the worst, at 245.6. That
means, with 10 games under their belts, only 10 yards separate
these clubs, which makes their meeting in the Meadowlands this
Sunday especially dramatic. I can hear Philly coach Ray Rhodes
now: "O.K. guys, let's go out there and outgain them by 11
It'll be dramatic, all right. But any coach will tell you that
yards don't mean a thing; it's what you put up on the scoreboard
that counts, and the Eagles are pretty astounding in that
department, too. They're the most anemic scoring team in the
NFL, with 92 points, a 9.2 average, which is their lowest since
1937, when they averaged 7.8. That figure might seem out of
reach, but you never know. If the Eagles keep putting up 3s (and
Bobby Hoying has thrown 199 passes this year without a
touchdown), they'll be right on the mark after their 13th game.
The Giants specialize in three-and-out series, in which they lead
the league, and they seem to be getting further and further away
from the passing game. Their passing yardage has gone down
steadily in the last three weeks, from 143 to 127 to 62 against
the Packers, but I foresee a bold approach this weekend because
Eagles cornerbacks have intercepted none of the 283 passes thrown
by the enemy this season.
O.K., enough stats. But how do you handicap a matchup like this?
Easy. Take the home team. Giants to win it on a safety.
What's the motivational hook for the Jets when they travel to
Tennessee? Plagiarism. The Oilers stole New York's old AFL
nickname last week when owner Bud Adams decreed that starting
next season his team will be known as the Tennessee Titans. From
1960 through '62 the Jets were known as the Titans. So call this
game the Battle of the Titans. I like Tennessee, despite the
fact that the Jets make a habit of traveling to tough places
(i.e., New England and Kansas City) and coming away with a win.
The Oilers hung in with inspirational defense against the
Steelers, fighting poor field position all day and finally
putting it together for the winning drive. Tennessee is on a roll.
Jacksonville has never beaten Pittsburgh in Three Rivers, and
now that the Jaguars lead the Steelers by two games in the AFC
Central, you'd think that there would be more pressure on the
home team. Could be, but I think this one will be decided by
whichever team is healthier. Jacksonville quarterback Mark
Brunell wasn't right in the win over Tampa Bay. Neither was
Pittsburgh left corner Carnell Lake. But the toughest injury was
to Steelers kicker Norm Johnson, who didn't play because of a
strained calf muscle. Rookie Matt George took his place, but he
looked so shaky in warmups that coach Bill Cowher went for it
twice on fourth-and-one within field goal range, and his team
was stuffed both times. I also think that Jerome Bettis is still
bothered by a knee injury; he wasn't running with his usual zip
against Tennessee. Too many injuries. Too many ifs. Jaguars in a
Miami to beat New England in the Monday-nighter in Foxboro. The
Patriots probably give Dan Marino as much trouble as any team,
but they've got too many people banged up. Minnesota over Green
Bay in the Metrodome, although I don't foresee a repeat of that
long-range bombing the Vikings inflicted on the Packers last
month. Packers defensive coordinator Fritz Shurmur will have some
exotic blitz scheme cooked up. Turnovers might decide it.
The Cardinals are finally taking the wraps off Jake Plummer, and
I look for Arizona to win in Washington. Denver over Oakland,
and I hate to sound like Johnny-one-note with this injury thing,
but the Raiders' Napoleon Kaufman, Eric Allen and Anthony Newman
went down against Seattle. Allen is out for the year, and I
don't know how functional the other two will be. Finally, Dallas
big over the Seahawks, who are on a self-destruct mission with
all those penalties (27 in the last two games) and who went 0
for 13 on third-down conversions against Oakland.
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read more from Paul Zimmerman at www.cnnsi.com/football.