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Calling the Plays

November 27, 1986

Chris leaped from the couch, almost knocking his beer over.

"I knew it! I knew it!"

On television, USC quarterback Rodney Peete had just thrown a pass for 10 yards against Stanford. But Chris had guessed USC would run the ball, so he didn't get any points for the play.

"They always throw on the first play of the game," he whined, slumping back on the couch again. "I'm so stupid."

The game is called "NFL Armchair Quarterback." You play while watching an actual football game--college or professional, even high school--on television. There is a score card that you mark, guessing what play the offense will call next. There are dozens of possibilities, including: run or pass, left or right, gain or no gain. And there are categories for defense: a sack or a turnover.

You get points for each correct guess. One incorrect prediction, and you get no points for the play.

The number of people who can play depends on how many you can fit in front of the television set. With the plethora of games broadcast each week this season, there are plenty of opportunities to play.

"NFL Armchair Quarterback" is undoubtedly designed for football fanatics. Although the rules are simple, players must know enough about football and the teams playing to predict what will happen next. And the game calls for quick thinking, especially during two-minute drills.

The game, which comes with four score cards and a scoreboard, costs $15 and is available at toy stores in the Valley.

Chris, who claims to know a lot about football, didn't do too well early on in the USC-Stanford game and he didn't like "NFL Armchair Quarterback" much at first. But he got hot in the second quarter, built a big lead and never looked back.

"This is great," he said, leaning toward the television screen, ignoring his beer.

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