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DR. Z'S FORECAST
Paul Zimmerman
September 08, 1997
Let's not get too hysterical over what we saw on opening day. Hold off, please, before you assign Dallas a Super Bowl berth. Don't tell me the Steelers and the 49ers are finished, kaput. It's only one week, for Pete's sake. Teams' identities change, the deck gets shuffled many times before the final hand is dealt.
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September 08, 1997

Dr. Z's Forecast

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Let's not get too hysterical over what we saw on opening day. Hold off, please, before you assign Dallas a Super Bowl berth. Don't tell me the Steelers and the 49ers are finished, kaput. It's only one week, for Pete's sake. Teams' identities change, the deck gets shuffled many times before the final hand is dealt.

What I did see, though, were a few teams that had been dormant for as long as I can remember finally playing with a real passion: the Bucs, the Rams, the Jets. Opening day frenzy? I'm not so sure. Let's see how it carries into Week 2.

If they aren't too busy congratulating themselves over their defeat of the 49ers, I like the Buccaneers in another upset, to beat the Lions in Detroit. So what if the Bucs haven't won at the Silverdome in four years. The Lions' offensive line can't contain Warren Sapp, who turned in the defensive performance of the weekend, and I don't think Barry Sanders will run for many yards against those relentless Tampa Bay linebackers.

The Rams are another team that waged spirited combat last weekend, and here come the Niners, whose tackles were exposed against the Bucs; whose quarterback, Steve Young, got whacked in the head again; and who will be minus Jerry Rice, out for the year with a knee injury. But I think the 49ers are at their most dangerous when they've had to read gloom-and-doom stuff all week and then go on the road. Don't forget, the Rams beat the Saints, who I think are the worst team in football. Look for the Niners to bounce back.

The Jets put on an offensive show in Seattle, but that's not why I think they'll beat Buffalo in the Meadowlands. Bills quarterback Todd Collins was overmatched against the exotic coverages the Vikings showed him, and I don't like his chances against the defenses Bill Belichick will put up. Chalk up another win for the Jets.

The Cowboys took Pittsburgh's big hammer, Jerome Bettis, out of the game with their 17-point second quarter, but the Redskins are woefully weak up the gut, and I'm afraid that malady won't go away until defensive tackle Sean Gilbert ends his holdout. I like the Steelers to win it, and let's give Bettis, oh, about 150 yards.

Kansas City meets Oakland on Monday night, and I'll give this one to the underdog Chiefs for exactly the same reason. I can just see Marty Schottenheimer checking the stat sheet of the Raiders-Oilers game, and when he comes to the line that says " Tennessee: 42 carries, 255 yards rushing," his face will light up and his path will be clear. Never mind the fancy wideouts that K.C. brought in. Brett Perriman was inactive in the Denver loss, Andre Rison did zilch. Never mind that Schottenheimer's got another former 49ers quarterback, Elvis Grbac.

All preseason Schottenheimer touted running back Greg Hill, the Chiefs' first-round pick in 1994, and then, in the first half against the Broncos, he carried the ball two times. When he finally started busting loose with some big gainers, the Chiefs were in a catch-up mode, and it was too late. Look for Hill to carry early and often Monday night. Look for Kansas City to win it.

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