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SPORTS WEEKEND | WEEK 7 PRIMER

October 23, 1998|T.J. SIMERS

Game of the Week

Jacksonville (5-1) at Denver (6-0), 1 p.m., Ch. 2. Broncos are trying to win their 20th consecutive regular-season game in Mile High Stadium. Denver avenged a 1996 playoff loss to Jacksonville last year and appears invincible. The Jaguars come limping in after a loss at Buffalo and recording five wins by seven or fewer points. Line: Denver by 7 1/2.

Upset of the Week

Cincinnati (2-4) over Oakland (4-2) at Oakland, 1 p.m. This will really drive Jon Gruden to drink, but hopefully not drive again. Next four games for Bengals come against Raiders, Broncos, Jaguars and Vikings. It might be a good idea to beat the Raiders before losing the next three. Line: Oakland by 2 1/2. Record to date: 1-6.

POTENTIAL STAR OF THE WEEK

Seattle wide receiver Joey Galloway. Chargers rank No. 1 on defense but have been matched against quarterbacks Rob Johnson, Steve McNair, Rich Gannon, Danny Kanell, Peyton Manning, Donald Hollas and Rodney Peete. They might catch another break with John Friesz replacing an injured Warren Moon, but either can go deep to Galloway.

POTENTIAL STIFF OF THE WEEK

New England quarterback Drew Bledsoe. Huge AFC East clash with the Dolphins, and that means Bledsoe will be quaking, the big guy once again faltering in a big game. Miami has No. 2 pass defense with nine interceptions and the chance to become No. 1 after handcuffing Bledsoe.

THIS WEEK'S TRENDS

Five of Carolina's six losses have been by seven or fewer points. Well, that makes a difference. . . . Now we'll find out if Doug Flutie really is a magician. The Bills have lost 13 consecutive games on grass, and they play on it again in Carolina. . . . Cowboy wide receiver Michael Irvin has gone seven games and 38 catches without a touchdown this season. The thing is you can't keep a good man down, though.

NO DOUBT ABOUT IT

Deion Sanders remains the most exciting player in the NFL. In addition to returning a punt 59 yards for a touchdown, he has had punt returns of 60, 43 and 39 yards, along with a 71-yard touchdown return nullified by a penalty. "It's getting to a point that teams should just go for it on fourth down, because it's coming right back at them," Sanders

said.

AND FINALLY

It's NFL business as usual. The Rams, the team that brought Lawrence Phillips to the league and stuck with him while his troubles mounted just in case he might win the day for the team, have fined quarterback Tony Banks $5,000 for walking off the team bus and remaining AWOL for Monday's workout. Coach Dick Vermeil chose not to bench him, he said, because he gives the Rams the best chance to win. And that's what counts.

ALSO ON TV

* Baltimore (2-4) at Green Bay (4-2),

10 a.m., Ch. 2

Packers try to recapture home-field magic. A Lambeau Leap or two would also be nice.

Line: Packers by 10 1/2.

* San Francisco (5-1) at St. Louis (2-4),

10 a.m., Ch. 11

The 49ers have the Rams' number. Make that Tony Banks' number too.

Line: 49ers by 9.

* Buffalo (3-3) at Carolina (0-6),

5:15 p.m., ESPN.

The Bills have followed their Pied Piper, Doug Flutie, to respectability. As for the Panthers, no one has followed Kerry Collins to New Orleans, yet.

Line: Carolina by 2.

THE REST

* New England (4-2) at Miami (4-2), 10 a.m.

Line: Dolphins by 1

* Minnesota (6-0) at Detroit (2-4), 10 a.m.

Line: Vikings by 5 1/2

* Tampa Bay (3-3) at New Orleans (3-3), 10 a.m.

Line: Buccaneers by 3

* Atlanta (5-1) at New York Jets (3-3), 10 a.m.

Line: No line

* Chicago (2-5) at Tennessee (3-3), 1 p.m.

Line: Oilers by 6

* Seattle (3-3) at San Diego (3-4), 1 p.m.

Line: Seahawks by 6 1/2

TV game comments by Times staff.

SIMERS' RANKINGS / TOP 5

1. DENVER: The way the Broncos are playing, is there any reason not to award the Lombardi Trophy now?

2. MINNESOTA: No team playing at home under a dome has ever advanced to the Super Bowl. No exceptions.

3. JACKSONVILLE: Jaguars catch a break, get Elway and Davis instead of that gnat Flutie.

4. KANSAS CITY: Local columnist suspended for making fun of Patriots--shocking, he ignored Chiefs.

5. GREEN BAY: Favre has nine interceptions in last three games--a public service, silencing Cheeseheads.

BOTTOM 5

26. SAN DIEGO: Wake me if Chargers score two touchdowns in same game.

27. INDIANAPOLIS: Are the 49ers that bad or are Colts improving? 49ers are that bad.

28. PHILADELPHIA: 1-6 and only three games out of first place in the NFC East.

29. CAROLINA: Kerry Collins didn't quit, but the Panthers have.

30. WASHINGTON: Day 275 of the Clinton-Lewinsky investigation and not one Redskin victory.

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