My Two Cents
As they try to secure home field advantage throughout the NFC
playoffs, the Vikings will be undone by the play of the
cornerbacks in their sievelike secondary. In its last three games
Minnesota can expect to face the Rams' Kurt Warner, the Packers'
Brett Favre and the Colts' Peyton Manning.... Here's a surprise:
Fast-improving Eagles left tackle Tra Thomas, a first-round pick
in 1998, is having a better season than pricey free-agent pickup
Jon Runyan, who starts at the other tackle.... Memo to Jerry
Jones: Please stop insulting the intelligence of your fans by
talking about the Cowboys' making a playoff push.... How stupid
were the Redskins to keep kicker Michael Husted when Joe Nedney
(17 for 18 in field goals for the Panthers) was available? Lousy
kicking may cost Washington the NFC East title.
A pro scout sizes up Steelers second-year outside linebacker Joey
Porter (above), who is tied for fourth in the AFC with seven
"Joey's a perfect guy for the 3-4 defense. In the 4-3 he would
have been a spot rusher, but he's set wide enough in the 3-4
that he can use his quickness and speed without getting tied up
along the line. There was a question when he came out of college
[Colorado State] about whether he could handle the mental part,
but he's getting it. Joey can knife through traffic when he has
to, but he doesn't want to make a living at it. I can see him
becoming a big-time player in that defense."
While Rob Johnson's separated shoulder mended, quarterback Doug
Flutie (20-9 as a Bills starter) won three of his four starts
and in his only loss, at Minnesota, built a 24-13 fourth-quarter
lead that the defense couldn't hold. But coach Wade Phillips
promised Johnson the job back once healthy, so Johnson gets the
reins for a brutal stretch (at Kansas City, at Tampa Bay, home
Countdown to 0-16
The Chargers are 0-10, and they figure to be underdogs in their
last six games (at Denver, Kansas City, San Francisco, at
Baltimore, at Carolina, Pittsburgh). Expect a housecleaning of
the front office and the coaching staff during the off-season.
In the past 11 months Bill Parcells, Jimmy Johnson, Bruce Coslet
and Bobby Ross quit. All cited the stress of being an NFL coach.
"Just saw Bruce in California," Boomer Esiason said last week.
"He looks 10 years younger." No question it's harder to motivate
rich players, but as one fortysomething coach told SI last week,
"I would be burned out too--if I could afford it."
The license plate of which NFL player?
A. Packers fullback William Henderson
B. Panthers cornerback Doug Evans
C. Steelers running back Richard Huntley
COLOR PHOTO: AL TIELEMANS (PORTER)
COLOR PHOTO: BOB ROSATO
The Last Word
"They are tough, they are physical, but they are not a Super
Bowl team." --PACKERS SAFETY LEROY BUTLER, on the Bucs after
they beat Green Bay 20-15 on Sunday