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Original Issue

Dr. Z's Forecast

Not once all summer did I hear anyone express the remotest hope that Tampa Bay would turn it around. Only two teams, Oakland and Detroit, had worse records than the Bucs' 4--12 last season. The defense, once Tampa Bay's calling card, was showing age. The QB, Jeff Garcia, is loved only by the fans. Well, the Bucs are 3--1. Garcia (right), known for his frenetic style, has been a steadying influence and has yet to throw a pick. The D had Carolina in disarray on Sunday.

Cynics point out that the Bucs have yet to face major competition. Step up, please, and say hello to the Colts. Denver scared Indy early last week, gashing the Colts on the ground before falling behind and going into catch-up mode. Tampa Bay, which hit Carolina for 189 rushing yards, could try the same route, because Indy's two serious run-stoppers, strongside linebacker Rob Morris (knee) and strong safety Bob Sanders (ribs), left the Broncos game with injuries. A strong running attack—admittedly tougher for the Bucs now that Cadillac Williams is out for the year with a torn patellar tendon—could tire out Indy's defense and keep Tampa's own D fresher. An upset? No, not yet for the Bucs, but it could be interesting. The Colts are the pick.

Because I always pick the Monday-nighter, I'll go with another high-spread puppy, Dallas over Buffalo, and I apologize for taking the easy route. To make up for it, here are two upsets: Panthers over Saints, and Chargers on the road against the Broncos, who've gotten very soft. I've got to take the Packers over the crippled Bears, and Pittsburgh, on the rebound, over Seattle. If the Jets had a better pass rush, I'd pick them, but I'll ride with the Giants. I like Jacksonville over K.C., but Detroit, still celebrating its Chicago win, will fall in Washington, where the Lions are 0--20.

Last week 3--4
Season 18--12