Publish date:

Dr. Z's Forecast

I've always liked Oakland-Denver matchups. Strange things happen.
It's particularly interesting now, because they're the only teams
in the AFC West that have beaten anybody, and the division was a
head scratcher for the preseason handicappers, who decided that
any of four teams could win it. Two of those teams, Kansas City
and Seattle, are 0-2. The Raiders are 2-0, the Broncos 1-1,
suffering little loss of prestige after bowing to the Rams in
their opener, during which they matched the Super Bowl champs
punch for punch.

Denver beat the Raiders twice last year, the first win coming in
Oakland when Brian Griese got word he was starting two hours
before kickoff. Griese led the Broncos to the winning field goal
in the fourth quarter. The second victory came in overtime in the
snow at Mile High. Griese came in after Chris Miller was knocked
goofy in the fourth quarter, and led Denver to the tying field
goal. So Griese is 2-0 against the Raiders.

How good is Griese? Real good. He's got the coolness of his
father, Bob. He's got enough arm to make the required throws, and
he's made real progress in getting his reads down. Plus the
Broncos can run the ball. Terrell Davis went down against St.
Louis, so they plugged in Olandis Gary. Gary was lost after the
same game for the year, so they came up with a sixth-round pick
named Mike Anderson, who led all NFL rushers on Sunday with 131
yards against Atlanta. Where does Denver find these guys?

This year Oakland has won two heart-stoppers, a 9-6 bleeder
against San Diego and a 38-31 come-from-behind shootout over
Indy. It's hard to figure out what the Raiders are going to give
you, except that last year they were losing tight ones, and now
they're winning them. So which team do I like? The Broncos in an
upset, only because they're better than anyone dreamed they'd be.

The Giants sit atop the NFC East after a surprisingly easy win
over the pickle juice king, Philadelphia. New York's riding high
at 2-0, but beware: Chicago on the road is a trap. The winless
Bears are wounded but dangerous. (They're favored because no one
really believes in the Giants--yet). All logic says go with New
York, but I have a hunch about this one. Chicago it is.

Tampa Bay at Detroit looks like another trap, but I saw the rush
that Washington got on Lions quarterback Charlie Batch. I say
Tampa Bay will do likewise. Call it a Bucs win and give 'em about
five sacks.

I don't like the Jets with a short work week to prepare for
Buffalo's defense. The Bills will take it in a low-scorer.
Baltimore's defense was embarrassed by Jaguars quarterback Mark
Brunell, but Miami doesn't have the firepower to do the same. I'm
taking the Ravens. The Eagles will upset the injury-ravaged
Packers in Green Bay.

When's the last time the Vikings won in Foxboro? Answer: Never in
three visits. (But they did win in Boston 30 years ago.) I like
the Patriots, but why do I keep picking against Minnesota, and

Finally, the Monday nighter. Rumors are that Washington
quarterback Brad Johnson has a tired arm and that Deion Sanders
has lost more than a step and can't cover anyone. If the Skins go
1-2, Dan Snyder will fire everybody and open a new can of
players. Heaven forbid. Washington will beat Dallas.

--Paul Zimmerman

COLOR PHOTO: RICHARD MACKSON The Jets will have a rough time against Jay Foreman (55) and the Bills.