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SPORTS WEEKEND | WEEK 7 PRIMER

October 16, 1998|T.J. SIMERS

Game of the Week

New Orleans (3-2) at Atlanta (4-1). A classic. The only game this weekend featuring winning teams. Billy Joe Tolliver versus Chris Chandler. And the NFL is making people pay to watch. The Falcons have won 10 of 13, which suggests there are a lot of bad teams and they've been playing Atlanta. The Saints are so bad that the Falcons have swept them three years in a row. Line: Atlanta by 7.

Upset of the Week

Buffalo over Jacksonville. The Bills have a giant killer in pint-sized Doug Flutie, they're home and matched against the Jaguars, who are coming off an emotional Monday night game and may be looking ahead to a showdown with the Broncos. You just have to overlook that the Bills are crummy and have no shot. Line: Jacksonville by 3. Perfect record to date: 0-6.

Potential of the Week

Pittsburgh quarterback Kordell Stewart. He has been a raging disappointment and the Steelers have soured on him. But Jerome Bettis is hurting and the Ravens will be doing everything they can to make Stewart throw. He does, someone catches the passes and Baltimore is stunned, like everyone else.

Potential Stiff f the Week

Oilers' defense. They shut down the Ravens last week, are home and can hit the .500 mark at 3-3. But they gag. The Bengals have not turned the ball over since the first week, and quarterback Neil O'Donnell can run a ball-control offense. O'Donnell & Co. emerge victorious.

THIS WEEK'S TREND

The Falcons are 4-1 for only the third time in team history, but have beaten teams with a combined record of 3-19. Atlanta is 10-3 since a 1-7 start last season, but none of the 10 victories has been over a team with a winning record. . . . More scintillating Falcon news--Atlanta has outscored every opponent in the second half, even the 49ers.

NO DOUBT ABOUT IT

New England Coach Pete Carroll has had it with predecessor Bill Parcells. Asked about Parcells' contention that the Patriots used running back Curtis Martin too much last season, Carroll said, "That was the biggest crock. Everything he says is a crock. You might as well make a list. He's just full of it."

AND FINALLY

Raise your hand if you like Baltimore to knock off Pittsburgh on Sunday in Three Rivers Stadium. Don't you feel foolish sitting there all by yourself with your hand in the air. Beyond that, the Ravens-Browns are 4-24 at Three Rivers.

Said Raven Rob Burnett: "You know there are some things you want to do before you die. I want to win a game at Three Rivers Stadium."

ON TV

* Washington at Minnesota, 10 a.m., Ch. 11

The news goes from bad to worse for the Redskins, who at least get an open date next.

Line: Minnesota by 13 1/2

* Indianapolis at San Francisco, 1 p.m., Ch. 2

Mr. Manning, meet Mr. Young. Watch his every move and please take notes.

Line: San Francisco by 17 1/2

* Dallas at Chicago, 1:15 p.m., Channel 11

The Cowboys ain't what they used to be, but they're better than the Bears.

Line: Dallas by 3 1/2

THE REST

* Arizona at N.Y. Giants, 10 a.m.

Line: New York by 2 1/2

* Baltimore at Pittsburgh, 10 a.m.

Line: Pittsburgh by 5 1/2

* Carolina at Tampa Bay, 10 a.m.

Line: Tampa Bay by 7

* Cincinnati at Tennessee, 10 a.m.

Line: Tennessee by 3 1/2

* Jacksonville at Buffalo, 10 a.m.

Line: Jacksonville by 3

* New Orleans at Atlanta, 10 a.m.

Line: Atlanta by 7

* Philadelphia at San Diego, 1:15 p.m.

Line: San Diego by 3

* St. Louis at Miami, 1:15 p.m.

Line: Miami by 7

SIMERS' RANKINGS / TOP 5

1. Denver--Broncos get an open date, but somehow Terrell Davis still runs for 200 yards.

2. Jacksonville--One more victory and undefeated Jaguars get a shot at undefeated Broncos.

3. Minnesota--Vikings rolled out to a lead last year, then Green started coaching.

4. San Francisco--Peyton Manning finally catches a break, chance to throw at scrubs in 49ers' secondary.

5. Atlanta--Just seeing if you were paying attention.

BOTTOM 5

26. New York Giants--Imagine what Steinbrenner would do if Kanell were pitching for him.

27. Philadelphia--Had history not documented it, would have guessed frustrated Rhodes cracked that bell.

28. San Diego--Hello, anybody home? Beathard gives Ross, Gilbride bums to play with, then fires them.

29. Carolina--How bad have things gotten? Collins cut, goes to winner--in New Orleans.

30. Washington--If politicians can balance the budget, don't you think the Redskins could figure out a way to win a game?

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