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Dr. Z's Forecast
Paul Zimmerman
January 21, 2002
Green Bay at St. Louis. The Packers haven't faced St. Louis in the Rams' three Greatest Show on Earth years. The first thing they'll find out is that St. Louis's speed is almost impossible to gauge on film. But as buttoned-up as Green Bay coach Mike Sherman was with the offense in the first half against the 49ers on Sunday, that's how bold his defensive coordinator, Ed Donatell, was. That may be the way to attack the Rams. Kurt Warner is deadly on his hot reads, but the Eagles' all-out pass rush gave him trouble in the opener. I'm guessing the Packers will go after him with the same bold approach they used against the Niners' Jeff Garcia. On offense, if Sherman lets Brett Favre open it up right away, we'll have the shootout everyone's hoping for. If not, one team will shoot and the other will be out. The pick: Rams, on the shock value of their speed. Philadelphia at Chicago. The Bears will come out running, and their passing game will be of the dink variety. If the Eagles get a lead, Chicago might try to get something going downfield, but that'll be playing into Philly's hands because the Bears' receivers are overmatched against that secondary. How will the Eagles get a lead? Look for Donovan McNabb to throw off his scrambles, trying to create chaos downfield, as he did against Tampa Bay. I don't see it. Chicago's defense is too disciplined. The Eagles got a bit of a running game going against the Bucs, but that was only after they'd built a lead. I don't think it'll happen this time. The Bears will take it in the low scorer we all expect. Oakland at New England. Patriots coach Bill Belichick will have had two weeks to prepare for a Raiders attack that laid 502 yards on the Jets. I can't begin to imagine what kind of devilry he'll have cooked up for Rich Gannon, but I'd guess that he'll focus on Jerry Rice's crossing patterns, have his defensive backs sit on Tim Brown's short routes and drop plenty of linebackers into the underneath zones. I don't think he feels the Raiders can beat him running. Neither do I. The Patriots win it.
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January 21, 2002

Dr. Z's Forecast

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Green Bay at St. Louis. The Packers haven't faced St. Louis in the Rams' three Greatest Show on Earth years. The first thing they'll find out is that St. Louis's speed is almost impossible to gauge on film. But as buttoned-up as Green Bay coach Mike Sherman was with the offense in the first half against the 49ers on Sunday, that's how bold his defensive coordinator, Ed Donatell, was. That may be the way to attack the Rams. Kurt Warner is deadly on his hot reads, but the Eagles' all-out pass rush gave him trouble in the opener. I'm guessing the Packers will go after him with the same bold approach they used against the Niners' Jeff Garcia. On offense, if Sherman lets Brett Favre open it up right away, we'll have the shootout everyone's hoping for. If not, one team will shoot and the other will be out. The pick: Rams, on the shock value of their speed. Philadelphia at Chicago. The Bears will come out running, and their passing game will be of the dink variety. If the Eagles get a lead, Chicago might try to get something going downfield, but that'll be playing into Philly's hands because the Bears' receivers are overmatched against that secondary. How will the Eagles get a lead? Look for Donovan McNabb to throw off his scrambles, trying to create chaos downfield, as he did against Tampa Bay. I don't see it. Chicago's defense is too disciplined. The Eagles got a bit of a running game going against the Bucs, but that was only after they'd built a lead. I don't think it'll happen this time. The Bears will take it in the low scorer we all expect. Oakland at New England. Patriots coach Bill Belichick will have had two weeks to prepare for a Raiders attack that laid 502 yards on the Jets. I can't begin to imagine what kind of devilry he'll have cooked up for Rich Gannon, but I'd guess that he'll focus on Jerry Rice's crossing patterns, have his defensive backs sit on Tim Brown's short routes and drop plenty of linebackers into the underneath zones. I don't think he feels the Raiders can beat him running. Neither do I. The Patriots win it.

Baltimore at Pittsburgh. Kordell Stewart had the game of his life when these rivals last met, on Dec. 16, but this is a different Ravens team. The defense has come together, and so has the running game. This might be a different Steelers team too. Stewart threw a total of six interceptions in the last two games. (Granted, Pittsburgh had already clinched.) Jerome Bettis will be back after missing five games. Will rust be showing, or will the week's rest be what the Steelers needed to get energized for a bruising game? I'm betting on the latter. They'll crowd the line and defy Elvis Grbac to beat them. But if the Ravens force turnovers, look out. The Steelers are still the pick.

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