Dr. Z's Forecast

September 22, 2002

What's wrong with the Rams? First of all, I don't think Kurt
Warner's healthy. Maybe it's his arm or shoulder or thumb, but
something's wrong with his delivery. Watching the Rams lose to
the Giants on Sunday, I heard Fox analyst Cris Collinsworth say
something to the effect that Warner's passes don't always look
pretty, but they get there. That's the first time I've ever heard
that said about Warner, who always had one of the game's classic
deliveries. His last pass on Sunday was intercepted by cornerback
Will Peterson. The ball didn't come out right. It fluttered. No
one will convince me that there isn't something wrong with him.

The offensive line lacks punch. Oh, it can pass-block and create
creases for Marshall Faulk with traps and angle blocks, but it
got whipped when it had to bang away in short-yardage situations
against the Broncos in the opener and again versus the Giants.

The defense on Sunday made Kerry Collins look like John Elway.
Part of the problem is that the Rams don't blitz much, and they
don't generate enough heat with their front four. They have one
big league rusher, Leonard Little, and a pair of high-motor
D-linemen in Grant Wistrom and Brian Young, but they burn
themselves out in a rush scheme that doesn't give them much help.

In the secondary Aeneas Williams is still as clever as they come,
but at 34 he's slowing down. At the other corner Dre' Bly is
talented, but he gambles too often.

Still, I think the Rams will beat the Bucs with defense,
overrunning quarterback Brad Johnson. St. Louis's back is to the
wall now, and it's a proud team that's finally gotten mad.

The Jets have beaten the Dolphins eight straight times.
Remarkable, isn't it? Do I dare pick the Jets out of habit,
after they got murdered by New England and should have lost to
Buffalo? I do not. Miami breaks the jinx.

The Saints are no longer a grind-it-out team. They're strictly
big-play now, with lots of flash. On a hunch, let's give New
Orleans a road win over the Bears in Champaign, Ill., in our
upset special.

The Giants are due for a letdown after their upset of the Rams,
but the Seahawks have more problems than they do, even with Trent
Dilfer back. The Giants are the pick.

Tell me which quarterbacks are going to play, and I'll give you
a winner in Cleveland-Tennessee. The Browns' Tim Couch is iffy
with a sore right elbow. Steve McNair suffered a concussion in a
loss to the Cowboys. If McNair's functional, I'll go with the
Titans.

Drew Bledsoe is off to a terrific start, best of his career, but
Denver has become a team that's led by its defense, along with a
thumping running game. Plus, Mile High--excuse me, Invesco Field
at Mile High--is a tough place to play. The Broncos are the pick,
but it won't be easy.

The Chargers have allowed 321 yards total and no touchdowns in
their first two games, but the Arizona heat can be brutal in
September. Still, I'll take San Diego in a squeaker.

Washington at San Francisco. The Niners were manhandled by the
Broncos' defense, and they didn't look all that sharp against the
Giants, but I still like San Francisco at home.

Finally, the Cowboys visit the Eagles, who have won four
straight in the series. So which are the real Cowboys, the ones
who went into shock against Houston or the team that lit it up
against Tennessee? I think the truth lies somewhere in the
middle. The Eagles are my pick. --Paul Zimmerman

Check out Dr. Z's Inside Football every week during the season
at cnnsi.com/football.

COLOR PHOTO: TIM PARKER/REUTERS Warner is throwing like a player who's hiding an injury.

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)