I broke down the Colts-Patriots game separately (page 38), so let's move on to a conference with more modest aspirations. Dallas is staking a claim as the king of the NFC, but first the Cowboys have to overcome what's been a very nasty environment for them: They've lost seven of their last eight in Philadelphia. Last year, when both were playoff teams, the Eagles treated the Cowboys most rudely in Philly, sacking Drew Bledsoe seven times and forcing three interceptions on the way to a 38--24 victory. Even when things shifted to Dallas on Christmas, the Cowboys didn't fare any better. The Eagles intercepted Bledsoe's successor, Tony Romo, twice and limited him to 142 passing yards. Terrell Owens hugged the sidelines and caught a couple of insignificant passes, dropped two more and complained about not getting the ball. Philly won 23--7. Are the 'Boys looking for revenge? Well, I don't know about them, but I am, because I picked Dallas in both Philly games last year. I like the Cowboys' rush, featuring DeMarcus Ware (right) and a reinvigorated Greg Ellis, to give Dallas the win.
The Broncos beating the Lions in Detroit is my mini upset. It's the old AFC-NFC thing, and while we're on that kick, let's go with four more American leaguers: Titans over the Panthers; Chiefs to edge the Packers, who are coming off a short work week; Chargers over the Vikings; and the amazing Browns to beat the up-and-down Seahawks. But here's one that will go the other way, Saints over Jacksonville, minus its No. 1 QB, David Garrard. I'll take Buffalo to beat the Bengals, whom I have finally given up on; Atlanta to overcome sagging San Francisco; and Houston to preserve its record of never having lost to the Raiders. Finally in the Monday-nighter, the Steelers will beat the current Team in Turmoil, Baltimore.
Last week 3--4
TIM HEITMAN-US PRESSWIRE (WARE)