TAPS FOR BUGEL?
Phoenix owner Bill Bidwill apparently hasn't decided whether to fire coach Joe Bugel, and the team's last three games—against the Giants and the Bucs at home, and on the road against the Colts—may well decide his fate. All three are winnable, so Bugel probably has to go 3-0, or look impressive in going 2-1, to keep his job.
Bugel hopes he can hang on with the Cardinals for at least one more year, because he thinks they will benefit greatly when the free-agency system is liberalized this off-season. He figures players will flock to Phoenix, lured by its warm climate, its grass playing field and the team's new $13.6 million, state-of-the-art training complex. But he realizes the clock is ticking. " Mr. Bidwill knows I'm totally loyal, and I know he wants to see me succeed, but we've got to win," said Bugel last Friday. "And we've got to start putting some fannies in seats."
The Cardinals' 27-21 loss to the Chargers on Sunday—in front of the second-smallest Sun Devil Stadium crowd (26,880) since the franchise moved from St. Louis, in 1988—was not a good sign.
STATS OF THE WEEK
?The Browns got more points (21) in a 95-second span against the Bengals on Sunday than they had scored in eight of their games this year. Cleveland scored twice on Bernie Kosar touchdown passes and added a third TD on linebacker Mike Johnson's fumble recovery in the Bengal end zone. That burst gave the Browns a 34-7 lead en route to a 37-21 victory.
?Last year 50.2% of all NFL games (including playoffs) were decided by seven points or fewer. This season only 38.7% have been that close.
?The average age of the Bronco quarterbacks, Shawn Moore and Tommy Maddox, in Denver's 31-27 loss to Dallas was 22.5. The Bronco running backs in that game averaged 24.7 years and the wide-outs 25.8. Since John Elway went out with a bruised shoulder, Denver has lost three straight.
?The Seahawk defense intercepted Steeler quarterback Neil O'Donnell on three straight series in the first quarter, but the Seattle offense responded with drives of minus-one, minus-one and minus-three yards. Pittsburgh won 20-14. The Seahawks have forced 25 turnovers, but the offense has converted only one of them into a touchdown.
AS THE PATS BURN