I wonder what kind of price you could have gotten in Vegas for a
parlay on Atlanta, New Orleans and San Diego all being unbeaten
after two weeks. The Saints and the Falcons are in no danger of
losing this week--they have byes--but the Chargers have an
intriguing game. Two weeks ago I wouldn't have bothered with San
Diego's matchup against Kansas City at Arrowhead, but as the man
says, a lot has happened in the meantime.
This is exactly the right time to get the Chiefs because they're
in such rough shape physically. Six regulars, including
quarterback Elvis Grbac, sat out the loss to Jacksonville on
Sunday, and the guys who were on the field wound up in the kind
of punishing battle that doesn't shorten recovery time.
San Diego, though, beat a team that many people, including yours
truly, felt would be a dark horse this year--Tennessee. The
Chargers won in the Oilers' regular-season debut in Nashville
before a full house, and they did it by playing tough,
fundamentally sound football. Their new offensive line, stocked
with one medium-priced and two high-priced imports, kept their
rookie quarterback, Ryan Leaf, from being sacked, and this was
against a team coached by Jeff Fisher, who learned his football
under Buddy Ryan in Chicago, Sack City back then.
Natrone Means, pumped full of new life for the umpteenth time,
ran like the old Natrone (if you can call a guy who's 26 old) and
even showed some nimble moves. Leaf ran an effective low-risk
offense that produced a touchdown, two field goals and another
field goal attempt in its first four possessions. The defense
kept Tennessee from crossing midfield in the second half.
Add to that the fact that San Diego has won two of its last four
games at Arrowhead, and you've got the ingredients for a nifty
upset. Does your faithful narrator have the guts to venture such
a pick? Well, uh, you see, it's like this:
The Chiefs should have gotten slaughtered by the Jaguars, just as
they were last year, but they didn't. They were victimized by a
couple of long kick returns, a pair of turnovers and, finally, by
a pounding ground game. But they hung in and played courageously,
and now they've got a rookie quarterback coming in to face the
crowd noise and their exotic package of blitzes, which is still
one of the NFL's best. I think it'll be just a little too much
for the youngster. So one cop-out pick on the Chiefs, but it'll
certainly be interesting.
Giants over the Cowboys in the Monday-nighter. It's a no-brainer.
Troy Aikman's out, the Dallas defensive line is hurting. The
Broncos' John Elway stayed nice and comfortable in the pocket
against the Cowboys on Sunday, and Terrell Davis ran up gaudy
rushing stats. Never have I seen so many holes in a Dallas
What's with these Sunday-night matchups? Two blowouts, and now
we've got Philadelphia at Arizona, with the winner to face the
Arena League champ. O.K., I'm picking the Cardinals, who gave up
seven sacks to Seattle, to squeeze one out against an Eagles team
that's winless in its last 10 road games.
The Jets' Aaron Glenn figures to have a big day on Sunday. Left
cornerback is Colts super rookie Peyton Manning's favorite
target. In the first two games Terrell Buckley of the Dolphins
and Ty Law of the Patriots each nailed Manning for two
interceptions and one return for a touchdown. A Jet win? Why not?
But a blowout? Not so sure. The Colts' defense showed real muscle
in shutting down New England's running game, and the Jets showed
zero on the ground against the Ravens.
Finally, the Dolphins over the Steelers in Miami. Steelers passer
Kordell Stewart is off to a slow start, and Miami has collected
12 sacks in two games. Jimmy Johnson backs off his
much-publicized running game and opens it up.
COLOR PHOTO: PATRICK MURPHY-RACEY BACK IN BUSINESS Means looked like his old bruising self against the Oilers. [Natrone Means in game]