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SPORTS WEEKEND | WEEK 2 PRIMER / T.J. SIMERS

Kidding Aside, Giants Not Real Deal

September 05, 1997|T.J. SIMERS

Game of the week: N.Y. Giants at Jacksonville, Sunday, 1 p.m.

The Giants shocked Philadelphia in the opener with their Kiddie Corps and catch the Jaguars scrambling to put a sound quarterback on the field. Rob Johnson, subbing for an injured Mark Brunell, limped on a badly sprained ankle--because it was either that or play Steve Matthews--and defeated the Baltimore Ravens. Everybody defeats the Ravens. Johnson's ankle was put in a hard cast and the team signed Jim Miller, Pittsburgh's starting quarterback on opening day a year ago, but released before the start of this season. Matthews was with the Chiefs for three years and never took a snap.

The Giants are 4-2 on the road against AFC Central opponents and will rely heavily on rookie running back Tiki Barber, who had 120 yards from scrimmage last week. They wouldn't have a prayer if Brunell were playing.

Key stat: The Jaguars have won six consecutive regular-season games.

The line: Jacksonville by 4 1/2.

Super edge: to Jacksonville.

Five Things to Look For

1. Arizona and St. Louis have something in common: Each has lost 13 consecutive times to this week's opponent. The Cardinals figure to fall again to Dallas, but the Rams catch the 49ers without wide receiver Jerry Rice and quarterback Steve Young. Thirteen consecutive losses is the fifth-longest futility streak in NFL history. Buffalo holds the mark for being the crummiest the longest, losing 20 times in a row to Miami in the '70s.

2. Barry Sanders started slowly last week, and he's matched against Tampa Bay this week. While the Buccaneer defense has shown tremendous improvement under Coach Tony Dungy, Sanders has been at his best against them. In 15 games against Tampa Bay, Sanders has run for 1,763 yards, an average of 5.7 yards per carry and 117.5 a game.

3. Emmitt Smith can pass Chicago's Walter Payton for second place on the NFL's all-time rushing touchdown list with three against Arizona. Smith has 108, Payton 110, and then it will be time to chase down Kansas City's Marcus Allen, who has 112. Maybe after halftime.

4. Philadelphia kicker Chris Boniol has made 28 consecutive field goals and needs four more to break Fuad Reveiz's mark of 31 with the Minnesota Vikings.

5. New England punt returner David Meggett needs 18 yards to pass Billy "White Shoes" Johnson and become the NFL's all-time punt return leader with 3,318 yards.

ON TV

* San Francisco (0-1) at St. Louis (1-0), 10 a.m., Channel 11: The Rams are convinced that their destiny is to humiliate the 49ers in the Trans World Dome, and they look on San Francisco's injuries as a sign from on high. They probably still lose.

Line: St. Louis by 1 1/2.

* Green Bay (1-0) at Philadelphia (0-1), 1 p.m., Channel 11: The Eagles are reeling, losers to the Giants, and have decided to stick with Ty Detmer as starting quarterback.

Line: Green Bay by 7 1/2.

* Denver (1-0) at Seattle (0-1), 1 p.m., Channel 4: Warren Moon starts at quarterback for the Seahawks, who have apparently decided to play this week rather than fly off in embarrassment after being spanked by the Jets.

Line: Denver by 5 1/2.

* Dallas (1-0) at Arizona (0-1), 5 p.m., TNT: The Cowboys should be ripe for a letdown, but how hard do they have to play to take on the likes of Kent Graham and the Cardinals? Switzer is 6-0 against the Cardinals.

Line: Dallas by 9 1/2.

SUNDAY'S OTHER GAMES

* Washington at Pittsburgh, 10 a.m.

Line: Pittsburgh by 6

* Tennessee at Miami, 10 a.m.

Line: Miami by 6 1/2

* Carolina at Atlanta, 10 a.m.

Line: Carolina by 3

* Minnesota at Chicago, 10 a.m.

Line: Minnesota by 1 1/2

* New England at Indianapolis, 10 a.m.

Line: New England by 5

* Tampa Bay at Detroit, 10 a.m

Line: Detroit by 4 1/2

* Cincinnati at Baltimore, 10 a.m.

Line: Cincinnati by 1 1/2

* Buffalo at N.Y. Jets, 10 a.m.

Line: N.Y. Jets by 4 1/2

* San Diego at New Orleans, 10 a.m.

Line: New Orleans by 1 1/2

AROUND THE NFC

WEST

Atlanta quarterback Chris Chandler was knocked down 22 of the 40 times he went back to pass. . . . There is a chance linebacker Sam Mills will miss Sunday's game for the Panthers because of a sore ankle. "Sam Mills not being in there to make the [defensive] calls is kind of like saying Dom [Capers] is not going to be here Sunday. Sam's the head coach of the defense, so to speak." Said Capers: "I think Sam's probably a lot more critical to this team than I am." . . . Here's a switch: Steve Young ran the scout team for the 49ers while Jim Druckenmiller settled in as the team's starting quarterback. The last rookie to start at quarterback for the 49ers? Joe Montana--and in St. Louis--on Dec. 2, 1979, in a 13-10 loss in which he completed five of 12 passes for 36 yards.

Quote to ponder: Atlanta lost to Detroit by 11 points, but Falcon defender Lester Archambeau was feeling pretty good: "We made a statement that we don't intend to be the same defense people have ripped for years. It makes you feel good to play this well."

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