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Dr. Z's FORECAST
Paul Zimmerman
November 23, 1998
Philadelphia owner Jeff Lurie, after his Eagles were blown out by Washington 28-3 on Sunday: "We were pitiful. I'd rather see paint dry than watch our team play. Pitiful."
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November 23, 1998

Dr. Z's Forecast

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Philadelphia owner Jeff Lurie, after his Eagles were blown out by Washington 28-3 on Sunday: "We were pitiful. I'd rather see paint dry than watch our team play. Pitiful."

New York coach Jim Fassel, after his Giants were blown out by Green Bay 37-3: "If this is the way we're going to play, I'd rather give some other guys an opportunity."

The Giants have the second-worst offense in the league, averaging 246.6 yards a game. The Eagles have the worst, at 245.6. That means, with 10 games under their belts, only 10 yards separate these clubs, which makes their meeting in the Meadowlands this Sunday especially dramatic. I can hear Philly coach Ray Rhodes now: "O.K. guys, let's go out there and outgain them by 11 yards."

It'll be dramatic, all right. But any coach will tell you that yards don't mean a thing; it's what you put up on the scoreboard that counts, and the Eagles are pretty astounding in that department, too. They're the most anemic scoring team in the NFL, with 92 points, a 9.2 average, which is their lowest since 1937, when they averaged 7.8. That figure might seem out of reach, but you never know. If the Eagles keep putting up 3s (and Bobby Hoying has thrown 199 passes this year without a touchdown), they'll be right on the mark after their 13th game.

The Giants specialize in three-and-out series, in which they lead the league, and they seem to be getting further and further away from the passing game. Their passing yardage has gone down steadily in the last three weeks, from 143 to 127 to 62 against the Packers, but I foresee a bold approach this weekend because Eagles cornerbacks have intercepted none of the 283 passes thrown by the enemy this season.

O.K., enough stats. But how do you handicap a matchup like this? Easy. Take the home team. Giants to win it on a safety.

What's the motivational hook for the Jets when they travel to Tennessee? Plagiarism. The Oilers stole New York's old AFL nickname last week when owner Bud Adams decreed that starting next season his team will be known as the Tennessee Titans. From 1960 through '62 the Jets were known as the Titans. So call this game the Battle of the Titans. I like Tennessee, despite the fact that the Jets make a habit of traveling to tough places (i.e., New England and Kansas City) and coming away with a win. The Oilers hung in with inspirational defense against the Steelers, fighting poor field position all day and finally putting it together for the winning drive. Tennessee is on a roll.

Jacksonville has never beaten Pittsburgh in Three Rivers, and now that the Jaguars lead the Steelers by two games in the AFC Central, you'd think that there would be more pressure on the home team. Could be, but I think this one will be decided by whichever team is healthier. Jacksonville quarterback Mark Brunell wasn't right in the win over Tampa Bay. Neither was Pittsburgh left corner Carnell Lake. But the toughest injury was to Steelers kicker Norm Johnson, who didn't play because of a strained calf muscle. Rookie Matt George took his place, but he looked so shaky in warmups that coach Bill Cowher went for it twice on fourth-and-one within field goal range, and his team was stuffed both times. I also think that Jerome Bettis is still bothered by a knee injury; he wasn't running with his usual zip against Tennessee. Too many injuries. Too many ifs. Jaguars in a squeaker.

Miami to beat New England in the Monday-nighter in Foxboro. The Patriots probably give Dan Marino as much trouble as any team, but they've got too many people banged up. Minnesota over Green Bay in the Metrodome, although I don't foresee a repeat of that long-range bombing the Vikings inflicted on the Packers last month. Packers defensive coordinator Fritz Shurmur will have some exotic blitz scheme cooked up. Turnovers might decide it.

The Cardinals are finally taking the wraps off Jake Plummer, and I look for Arizona to win in Washington. Denver over Oakland, and I hate to sound like Johnny-one-note with this injury thing, but the Raiders' Napoleon Kaufman, Eric Allen and Anthony Newman went down against Seattle. Allen is out for the year, and I don't know how functional the other two will be. Finally, Dallas big over the Seahawks, who are on a self-destruct mission with all those penalties (27 in the last two games) and who went 0 for 13 on third-down conversions against Oakland.

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