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Original Issue

Dr. Z's Forecast

Members of the unbeaten '72 Dolphins are casting their eyes to the heavens and pleading, "Won't anybody stop them?" When the talk about the Patriots' going undefeated this season got serious, Pittsburgh at New England on Dec. 9 was penciled in as the biggest potential roadblock. After that, the Pats have the Jets and Miami, both in Foxborough, and the Giants in the finale at the Meadowlands. Thus the spotlight falls on the 9--3 Steelers.

Remember Super Bowl XXV, when the Giants' defensive brain trust, Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick, defeated Buffalo's K-Gun attack by leaving their big linebackers on the field against the Bills' multiple wideouts? The theory was, let 'em catch the short stuff in front of you and then whack 'em hard. It worked. In the second half the Buffalo receivers were dropping the ball.

Pittsburgh has four linebackers who are fast and pack a wallop. I think they'll all play a crucial role against the Patriots' onslaught. Philly tried roughing up Randy Moss and Wes Welker, New England's two most dangerous players, with defensive backs. Moss was taken out of his game. Welker was held to 13 catches. You win some, you lose some. The Steelers' D will give the Pats problems for a while, but I don't think there's any way Ben Roethlisberger (above) and the boys will match New England's point production. Picking the Patriots straight up is like stealing, but it is the week's keynote game.

The Redskins will get themselves together and edge the Bears. The Eagles will have too much defense for the Giants. Tennessee is tempting, but I'll go with visiting San Diego. I like Houston over Tampa Bay. And here's an upset from way out of leftfield: St. Louis over Cincinnati, but only if Marc Bulger plays. Finally, New Orleans outlasts Atlanta in the Monday-nighter.

Last week 5--3
Season 65--37