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Sports Weekend | Week 11 Primer

Game of the Week

November 13, 1998|T.J. SIMERS

Game of the Week

San Francisco (7-2) at Atlanta (7-2). How big is this one? It's Atlanta's first sellout since Oct. 29, 1995. The 49ers have already defeated the Falcons this season, 31-20. Atlanta has won 13 of its last 17 with Coach Dan Reeves orchestrating the magic trick, but it's going to take major hocus-pocus to pull this one off.

Upset of the Week

New England at Buffalo. The Patriots were goners by the end of the first quarter last week, and haven't been the same since suffering a rash of injuries at wide receiver. But a loss here ends the Patriots' chances of winning a division title, and now that Doug Flutie has been knocked down, making him no taller than a gnat, they can squash him. Record: 3-7

Potential Star of the Week

Miami quarterback Dan Marino. Coach Jimmy Johnson has turned Marino into a hand-off machine, but the Panthers have no pass defense and have surrendered 20 touchdown passes--most in a league that averages 11.8 a team. Marino needs four more touchdown passes to become the first NFL player to reach 400.

Potential Stiff of the Week

Denver's defense. This has the makings of the upset of the season, the Broncos losing to the Chiefs Monday night. Kansas City can't score, but what if Andre Rison gets free early against Darrien Gordon, left, igniting the crowd and firing up the defense, providing the Chiefs with the kind of victory that makes up for a season appearing lost already?

THIS WEEK'S TREND

The Chargers are allowing a league-low 3.7 yards a play on first down by their opponents, who know, of course if they fail to get a first down, they'll get the ball back from San Diego's anemic offense in no time.

NO DOUBT ABOUT IT

This goes down as the dumbest-but-just- the-way-most-people-in-sports-think quote of the year: "As long as [Ryan Leaf] is playing well, I'll just ignore the other crap. That is the most important thing."

It's from Alex Spanos, owner of the Chargers.

AND FINALLY

The Lions are finished--Barry Sanders missed a practice. For the first time since 1993 Sanders sat out a practice, bothered by sore ribs. He missed the last five games of the regular season in 1993 because of a knee injury--the last time he took any time off.

"I'm getting old," he said. "I'm breaking down."

If that's true, the Lions might as well pack the gear away and shut down the Silverdome.

ON TV

* San Francisco at Atlanta, 10 a.m., Ch. 11

The Falcons can earn their NFC West wings with a victory.

Line: 49ers by 3.

* Seattle at Oakland, 1 p.m., Ch. 2

In a nutshell, the Silver and Black isn't back.

Line: Seahawks by 1 1/2.

* Dallas at Arizona, 1:15 p.m., Ch. 11

Cowboys were ambushed in Tempe last season.

Line: Cowboys by 3 1/2.

* Chicago at Detroit, 5:15 p.m., Ch. 2

That ESPN commercial spot doesn't have the only dogs in it.

Line: No line.

THE REST

* Cincinnati at Minnesota, 10 a.m.

Line: No line.

* Miami at Carolina, 10 a.m.

Line: Dolphins by 3.

* New England at Buffalo, 10 a.m.

Line: Bills by 3.

* New York Jets at Indianapolis, 10 a.m.

Line: Jets by 6 1/2.

* Philadelphia at Washington, 10 a.m.

Line: Redskins by 4 1/2.

* Pittsburgh at Tennessee, 10 a.m.

Line: Oilers by 1.

* St. Louis at New Orleans, 10 a.m.

Line: Saints by 2 1/2.

* Baltimore at San Diego, 1 p.m.

Line: Ravens by 1.

* Green Bay at New York Giants, 1:15 p.m.

Line: Packers by 7.

* Tampa Bay at Jacksonville, 1:15 p.m.

Line: No line.

* Denver at Kansas City, 5:15 p.m., Monday

Line: No line.

SIMERS' RANKINGS / TOP 5

1. DENVER: Elvis Grbac or Rich Gannon? Do you think it makes a difference to the Broncos?

2. MINNESOTA: Arthur Fiedler is best known for the 1812 Overture and fireworks. Jay Fiedler plays second fiddle.

3. JACKSONVILLE: Still has two games left with Steelers.

4. MIAMI: Super Bowl is in Miami this season. If they want to make it a good game they won't invite the Dolphins.

BOTTOM 5

5. PITTSBURGH: Do you think the NFC will ever be powerful enough to beat the AFC?

26. CINCINNATI: Neil O'Donnell has gone from the penthouse to the outhouse: Pittsburgh to Cincinnati.

27. DETROIT: The Lions are 2-7. Could they have been any worse with Scott Mitchell?

28. CAROLINA: GM Bill Polian left for Indianapolis before the season. Either way, he ends up with only one win.

29. INDIANAPOLIS: Now that Ryan Leaf has been benched, he'll have more time to watch Peyton Manning.

30. WASHINGTON: The joy, the jubilation of playing Philadelphia; a chance for the Redskins to double their wins.

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