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Pro Football : The Other Games

November 01, 1987|RICH ROBERTS | Times Staff Writer

GAME OF THE DAY Washington (5-1) at Buffalo (3-3), 10 a.m. This has the look of an ambush. The Redskins can relax with a two-game lead in the NFC East, thanks to their 3-0 strike team, and the Bills are starting to think they're a football team after last week's comeback victory at Miami. The Redskins' defense is tougher than the Dolphins', but quarterback Jim Kelly is hot, and running back Robb Riddick, who leads the league with seven touchdowns, made the sulking Greg Bell expendable to go to the Rams in the three-way Eric Dickerson deal. The Redskin running game should be productive with the return of George Rogers.

NFC GAMES Tampa Bay (3-3) vs. Green Bay (3-2-1) at Milwaukee, 10 a.m. When was the last time these two met when neither had a losing record? Tenth-round rookie Don Majkowski isn't Bart Starr yet, but he's giving the Packers some steady play at quarterback. The Buccaneers' Steve DeBerg had the Bears on the run for a while last week. Noteworthy trend: the Packers have won seven of the last eight between these teams, and the Buccaneers have won only 2 of their last 29 on the road--one of those by their strike team.

New Orleans (3-3) at Atlanta (2-4), 10 a.m. "We are the worst franchise in the league and have been for 21 years. For people to think we're a playoff caliber team is ridiculous." With that inspiration from Coach Jim Mora, the Saints find themselves in a crossroads game. Each team has a solid runner--Saint Rueben Mayes and Falcon Gerald Riggs--but need some big plays at quarterback.

Philadelphia (2-4) at St. Louis (2-4), 10 a.m. Both of the Eagles' victories are by their "real" team, which is rallying around Coach Buddy Ryan, who backed them during the strike. If Eagle tailback Keith Byars is finally past his foot injuries, quarterback Randall Cunningham can settle down and leave the running to him. The Cardinals may be more comfortable with their next three games at home, but Coach Gene Stallings has told the non-union players to stay close to their phones.

AFC GAMES Cleveland (4-2) at San Diego (5-1), 1 p.m. This is the Chargers' first chance to say they've really beaten someone, besides St. Louis, Kansas City and three strike teams. This is a good quarterback matchup between Bernie Kosar and Dan Fouts. Charger receiver Wes Chandler has a slightly separated shoulder but will play.

Indianapolis (3-3) at New York Jets (3-3), 10 a.m. The records are the same, but the Colts' acquisition of Eric Dickerson clarified which team is climbing and which one is sinking. Dickerson will be in uniform today and may play a little. The Jets' anemic pass rush shouldn't be much of a problem for the Colts' Jack Trudeau. Jet quarterback Ken O'Brien could be well into another confidence crisis after getting sacked seven times last week.

Pittsburgh (4-2) at Miami (2-4), 10 a.m. Despite the lack of a running threat, Dan Marino leads the league's highest scoring offense, but it's not always enough to cover what the defense allows. Only the Rams are worse against the pass, which gives Steeler quarterback Mark Malone a rare chance to sparkle, especially if receiver Louis Lipps (hamstring injury) can run.

Houston (4-2) at Cincinnati (2-4), 10 a.m. The Bengals have seen leads turn into defeats, their offensive line is hurting and the home field advantage won't help. They have lost all three games at Riverfront Stadium this season. The Oilers can score quickly from anywhere on the field.

INTERCONFERENCE GAMES Detroit (1-5) at Denver (3-2-1), 1 p.m. You're 1-5 and about to face John Elway at Mile High Stadium before a sellout crowd of screaming orange-clad fans, and your employer is saying you have "a lousy football team." That's what Lion Coach Darryl Rogers heard from William Clay Ford last week. Mrs. Rogers had better put off buying any new furniture. But there is a case for the Lions. Young Detroit quarterback Chuck Long is coming off his best game, they do play better away from the Silverdome and the Broncos, not always overpowering at home, have lost three offensive starters with injuries, their pass rush has been ineffective and their kick coverage is sloppy. They should be motivated, though, because Monday night's loss at Minnesota puts them in a critical position.

Kansas City (1-5) at Chicago (5-1), 10 a.m. Chief Coach Frank Gansz, known for his ability to motivate, is trying a new method. "You play or you're out of here," he told the team. But if the punchless Chiefs need to win this one to keep their jobs, the waiver wires might blow a fuse next week. The Bears may be returning to their ferocious 1985 form with the dramatic return of Jim McMahon in relief to pull out a victory at Tampa last week.

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