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Original Issue

Dr. Z's Forecast

It's startingalready. Never before have I heard serious speculation about a team's chancesof going undefeated as early as September. I'm not kidding. Right now the juryis divided on whether the Patriots will put together the first unbeaten seasonsince the league went to 16 games in 1978. I see five obstacles they have toovercome: Oct. 14 at Dallas, Nov. 4 at Indianapolis, Dec. 3 at Baltimore andDec. 9 versus Pittsburgh at home. What's the fifth? Well, the Monday nighterthis week in Cincinnati.

Don't laugh. TheBengals' defense has been dismal, but this is a team that specializes inshootouts. What's the best way to beat New England? Score more than 38 points.That's how many the Pats had in each of their first three games this season,and when they beat the Bengals in Cincy last year.

What chance do theBengals have? Two big-time wideouts, Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh;Carson Palmer (above), a hot-and-cold quarterback who can put up big numberswhen he's on; and Monday-night madness in a town that needs a win real bad. DoI see a Bengals victory here? No, the Patriots will take it.

This is an oddweek because teams that should be favored by a lot aren't. That goes for theJets, who are only slight favorites over crippled Buffalo. O.K., I'll fall intothe trap and pick the Jets. Ditto the Eagles over the Giants, and I'll also gowith the Bears, who despite their problems should be more than a field goalfavorite over Detroit. I'll take my upset shot with the 49ers and their anemicoffense at home over the Seahawks. The biggest trap is Green Bay in Minnesota,but I'll ride with the Packers (and probably regret it). Indianapolis will beblowout city: The Colts will run it up on Denver.

Last week 4--4
Season 15--8