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It's Early, so Where Did Everybody Go?

Pro football: With Cowboys seemingly falling back, it already appears to be coming down to 49ers and Green Bay.

September 08, 1996|T.J. SIMERS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Week 2, and this week's list of questions:

1. Has the NFL been reduced to Green Bay versus San Francisco during the regular season, and then Green Bay versus San Francisco in the playoffs?

2. Will Dallas become the ninth team in NFL history to win the Super Bowl and then, a year later, miss the playoffs?

3. What happened to the teams that were going to break through this season?

4. Are there any surprise teams?

5. How many teams went 2-0 at the start of last season, and then moved on to the playoffs?

And the Week 2 answers:

1. If the Packers don't put on a show Monday night against the Eagles, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue is going to need a painkiller. The early collapse of the Cowboys, complete with Michael Irvin's sordid life, has muzzled some of the game's greatest stars. The NFL needs a storybook comeback by Brett Favre and a reminder that some of their players can be good citizens, such as Reggie White. That Green Bay at San Francisco game, by the way, is also on a Monday night, Oct. 14.

2. The Cowboys began this season believing it started with the sixth game and the return of Irvin and possibly an injured Jay Novacek. This mind-set makes them even vulnerable to getting whacked by the New York Giants. A soft NFC East, however, might be enough to get them into the playoffs if chaos rules early on.

3. Seattle, Cincinnati, New England, the New York Jets, Washington, New Orleans and St. Louis were being touted as big surprises this season. Here's the big surprise: The Rams were the only team to answer the bell.

4. Miami. The popular opinion was that Jimmy Johnson was Superman and could lift the Dolphins on his will and move them into the playoffs. The experts, who make their livings detailing this stuff, said Miami lost too much talent. So far the fans know it all.

5. Five--Kansas City, Miami, San Francisco and the Super Bowl teams, Pittsburgh and Dallas. St. Louis, Cincinnati and Oakland went 2-0 and then played themselves out of contention.

ON TV:

* BUDDY BOWL: MARCUS & AL

Oakland (0-1) at Kansas City (1-0), 10 a.m., Channel 4: So everybody makes mistakes, Al Davis, but treating Marcus Allen that way, then letting him go, and then having to sit there and watch him grind your lads into the turf--yikes, Al, don't you ever just want to yell, "Uncle?" Allen needs two touchdowns to move past Walter Payton and Jim Brown into second place on the scoring list. You don't think they will give him the ball at the goal line, do you?

--Say what? Billy Joe Hobert wasn't bad. He was five for eight for 45 yards on third down with one touchdown against the Ravens, and if Tim Brown makes the right adjustment and rookie tight end Rickey Dudley brings his hands to Baltimore, the Raiders win.

--Player to watch: Jeff Hostetler. If he doesn't play, and now there are some who think the Raiders don't want him to crowd Hobert, count the evil looks he throws at Coach Mike White--especially on third down.

--Finally: Davis has been tabbed to replace Kurt Russell in New York-Los Angeles sequel: Escape From Oakland.

* TAKE THE TOUR NOW

Chicago (1-0) at Washington (0-1), 10 a.m., Channel 11: Giddy Bear fans already have their heroes meeting the president next February after the Super Bowl. One suggestion: They may want to take the White House tour now--just in case someone besides their wide receiver or punter is asked to throw a touchdown pass.

--Say what? Running back Raymont Harris has more touchdown catches than wide receiver Curtis Conway, who has more touchdown passes than quarterback Erik Kramer.

--Player to watch: Wide receiver Michael Westbrook, who has had a knee injury. Leslie Shepherd replaced the Redskins' injured deep threat last week. Would you feel threatened by a guy named Leslie?

--Edge to Washington: The Bears have lost the second game of the season in Dave Wannstedt's three previous seasons at the helm.

* SACRIFICIAL LAMBS

St. Louis (1-0) at San Francisco (1-0), 1 p.m., Channel 11: Coach Rich Brooks was 5-0 in the month of September. The Rams have lost 11 in a row to 49ers, including being outscored in two games last season, 85-23.

--Say what? The NFL has denied quarterback Steve Young's petition to play the Rams every week. In 13 games against them, Young has completed 67% of his passes for 20 touchdowns with four interceptions.

--Player to watch: Sean Landeta. The Ram punter could be busy.

--Edge to San Francisco: The Rams have the No. 1 NFC rushing defense, but the 49ers figure to pass.

* MORE AIR TIME FOR J.J.

Miami (1-0) at Arizona (0-1), 5 p.m., TNT: Hasn't Jimmy Johnson had his 15 minutes of fame by now? Check this out: Rookie Karim Abdul-Jabbar ran the ball more times last Sunday than Dan Marino threw it.

--Say what? With last week's opening-day victory, Johnson has 31 consecutive victories in Florida, extending back to 1985 when he was coaching at the University of Miami.

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