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SPORTS WEEKEND | WEEK 9 PRIMER

October 30, 1998|T.J. SIMERS

Game of the Week

San Francisco (6-1) at Green Bay (5-2), 1 p.m., Ch. 11.

When the schedule came out it looked like the game of the year, but the Packers are without a running game and have been left behind in the NFC Central Division by Minnesota. Steve Young is 0-7 against the Packers. Brett Favre is 4-0 against the 49ers. Line: Green Bay by 3.

Upset of the Week

New York Giants (3-4) at Washington (0-7), 10 a.m.

The Giants are 2-7 after a bye, and although both victories were against Washington, they are playing a team destined for a long afternoon of booing unless they jump on top quickly. The Giants have an NFC East showdown against Dallas next, so the "looking ahead" factor applies. Line: New York by 2 1/2.

POTENTIAL STAR OF THE WEEK

Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre. The 49ers seemingly can't beat the Packers, and they still have one of the worst pass defenses in the game, something that makes them vulnerable in the playoffs. Favre needs a breakout game to reestablish himself as the game's premier quarterback, and this could be the day to do it.

The Rams' offense. Besides being leveled by injuries, Coach Dick Vermeil has a problem at quarterback. Tony Banks, who has yet to establish himself as an NFL-caliber quarterback, passed for three interceptions last week, was sacked eight times and fumbled twice--and he was playing the defenseless 49ers.

THIS WEEK'S TREND

Since 1970, 26 teams have opened the season 0-7, as Washington and Carolina have. Only one went on to finish with more than four wins--St. Louis in 1978. . . . The Raiders and Seahawks have met 40 times, but only seven times have both teams had a winning record. The Seahawks have won three in a row from the Raiders and four of six since the team moved back to Oakland.

NO DOUBT ABOUT IT

Some people appear to have overrated the Chiefs and expected their defense to dominate while quarterback Elvis Grbac matured on the job. The Chiefs' defense ranks No. 1 against the pass, but that's because everyone can run on them as evidenced by Jerome Bettis' big day for Pittsburgh. And now Grbac is ripping into his teammates. It's weeks before the Chiefs normally fall apart.

AND FINALLY

The Cowboys are expected to have Troy Aikman back at quarterback this week. Big deal. The four previous times he returned from injury the team lost.

ON TV

* Denver at Cincinnati, 10 a.m. Ch. 2

The Bengals have the worst run defense in the NFL. Terrell Davis, the NFL's rushing leader, can't wait.

Line: Denver by 11

* Minnesota at Tampa Bay, 10 a.m. Ch. 11

Randall Cunningham is having a Pro Bowl season. The Buccaneers? They are the lost Pirates of the Caribbean.

Line: Minnesota by 6.

* San Francisco at Green Bay, 1 p.m. Ch. 11

A matchup of the top two passing offenses in the NFC. Which team will pass this test?

Line: Green Bay by 3.

* Oakland at Seattle, 5:15 p.m., ESPN

What's the secret to greatness of the Raiders? The defense, which ranks No. 1 in the AFC.

Line: Seattle by 6 1/2.

THE REST

* Miami at Buffalo, 10 a.m.

Line: Buffalo by 2.

* New York Giants at Washington, 10 a.m.

Line: New York by 2 1/2.

* Jacksonville at Baltimore, 10 a.m.

Line: Jacksonville by 3 1/2.

* New England at Indianapolis, 10 a.m.

Line: New England by 6.

* New Orleans at Carolina, 10 a.m.

Line: Carolina by 3.

* Tennessee at Pittsburgh, 10 a.m.

Line: Pittsburgh by 6.

* Arizona at Detroit, 10 a.m.

Line: Detroit by 6.

* St. Louis at Atlanta, 10 a.m.

Line: None.

* New York Jets at Kansas City, 1 p.m.

Line: Kansas City by 5.

* Dallas at Philadelphia, Mon., 5:15 p.m.

Line: Dallas by 6 1/2.

SIMERS' RANKINGS / TOP 5

1. DENVER: Only challenger left is Oakland; that's not enough to keep the Broncos' interest.

2. MINNESOTA: Rest of the league can't wait for Brad Johnson to replace Randall Cunningham.

3. GREEN BAY: Credibility check. Packers get wild-card test against the Whiners.

4. SAN FRANCISCO: The 49ers get to play the big boys for the first time this season.

5. OAKLAND: Just kidding.

BOTTOM 5

26. INDIANAPOLIS: Patriots have won five in a row against Colts--without help from Manning.

27. SAN DIEGO: Natrone Means. Natrone Means. Ryan Leaf incomplete pass. Punt.

28. PHILADELPHIA: When Ray Rhodes looks in the mirror, he cusses himself out.

29. WASHINGTON: Redskins for sale. Getting cheaper by the day.

30. CAROLINA: First-round pick breaks hand punching teammate in helmet; he was aiming for facemask.

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