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SPORTS WEEKEND

THE KEY GAMES IN THE NFL : THE TIMES' RANKINGS / Top to Bottom

December 20, 1996

Team: 1. Denver (13-2)

Opponent: at San Diego

Comment: Broncos more keen on seeing Shamu than dead Bolts.

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Team: 2. Dallas (10-5)

Opponent: at Washington

Comment: Irvin says he's not doing drugs--Scout's honor.

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Team: 3. Green Bay (12-3)

Opponent: Minnesota

Comment: Cable deal will let Cheeselugs see Denver win it all.

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Team: 4. Carolina (11-4)

Opponent: Pittsburgh

Comment: Been a Panther fan all my life.

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Team: 5. New England (10-5)

Opponent: at N.Y. Giants

Comment: Parcells to Jets? After a vacation in Siberia.

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Team: 6. San Francisco (11-4)

Opponent: Detroit

Comment: Walsh made big difference, 49ers fall to wild card.

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Team: 7. Pittsburgh (10-5)

Opponent: at Carolina

Comment: Without Bettis, it's not a wonderful life for Steelers.

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Team: 8. Indianapolis (9-6)

Opponent: at Cincinnati

Comment: Colts recovering from injuries, spoiling their chances.

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Team: 9. Philadelphia (9-6)

Opponent: Arizona

Comment: Eagles are a sorry team, but they won't apologize.

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Team: 10. Minnesota (9-6)

Opponent: at Green Bay

Comment: Vikings make playoffs, leaving Holtz to wash cars.

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Team: 11. Buffalo (9-6)

Opponent: Kansas City

Comment: Wild-card match race between two plow horses.

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Team: 12. Kansas City (9-6)

Opponent: at Buffalo

Comment: Bono asked to save the day. Send for the coroner.

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Team: 13. Jacksonville (8-7)

Opponent: Atlanta

Comment: Win, and they're in playoffs, Lose, and they stink.

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Team: 14. Arizona (7-8)

Opponent: at Philadelphia

Comment: This is what NFL is all about--trying to go .500.

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Team: 15. Cincinnati (7-8)

Opponent: Indianapolis

Comment: Coslet fires coaches, but gives them fruitcakes.

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Team: 16. Chicago (7-8)

Opponent: at Tampa Bay

Comment: Dave Krieg celebrates his 60th birthday Sunday.

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Team: 17. Washington (8-7)

Opponent: Dallas

Comment: Life ain't fair: "Baywatch" loses Pamela, Redskins eliminated.

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Team: 18. Nashville (7-8)

Opponent: at Baltimore

Comment: Country songs sad now? Wait till Oilers arrive.

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Team: 19. Oakland (7-8)

Opponent: Seattle

Comment: Refs are picking on Raiders, well, let's hope so.

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Team: 20. Miami (7-8)

Opponent: at N.Y. Jets

Comment: Hope Jimmy Johnson doesn't get carried away and fire himself.

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Team: 21. Seattle (6-9)

Opponent: at Oakland

Comment: Erickson better at coaching Miami criminals than pros.

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Team: 22. Quitters (7-8)

Opponent: Denver

Comment: Charger fans will receive white towels to wave in surrender.

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Team: 23. N.Y. Giants (6-9)

Opponent: New England

Comment: One last wish: Reeves beats Parcells in Giants' finale.

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Team: 24. Tampa (5-10)

Opponent: Chicago

Comment: Just wait until next year when the Buccaneers lose 10 more games.

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Team: 25. Detroit (5-10)

Opponent: at San Francisco

Comment: E! fires O.J. actor; Fontes asks to audition.

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Team: 26. St. Louis (5-10)

Opponent: New Orleans

Comment: Just one more honeymoon for Georgia gone sour.

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Team: 27. Baltimore (4-11)

Opponent: Houston

Comment: Fans would rather have Tickle Me Elmo than bad Browns.

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Team: 28. New Orleans (3-12)

Opponent: at St. Louis

Comment: Ditka & Everett: Just imagine the possibilities.

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Team: 29. Atlanta (3-12)

Opponent: at Jacksonville

Comment: Gibbs to coach Falcons? Lombardi unavailable.

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Team: 30. N.Y. Jets (1-14)

Opponent: Miami

Comment: On the 12th day of Christmas, Kotite still had just one win.

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