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Giants Like Fassel, Bugel

The George Young Coaching World Tour continued in Oakland, Calif., Friday as the general manager of the New York Giants met with the Raiders’ offensive line coach, Joe Bugel, a day after meeting in Phoenix with the Arizona Cardinals’ offensive coordinator, Jim Fassel.

Young met with Fassel for 7 hours on Thursday and for almost the same amount of time with Bugel Friday. He is expected to fly back to New York today, but has said he will not comment on his interviews with any candidate.

While Fassel appears to be the odds-on favorite to replace Dan Reeves as the Giants’ head coach, Bugel is a close second.

In addition to Fassel and Bugel, Young plans to interview Green Bay offensive coordinator Sherman Lewis, Philadelphia defensive coordinator Emmitt Thomas and Michigan State coach Nick Saban. Another name that may be creeping in is ex-Saints coach Jim Mora.

Patriots focus on Steelers

Bill Parcells is spending his time studying a team he might not play, and it makes perfect sense.

The Patriots’ coach is focusing on the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England’s likely opponent in the second round of the AFC playoffs. First, though, the favored Steelers must beat Indianapolis on Sunday.

If the Colts win, the Patriots, who have a bye this weekend, will play the winner of today’s game between the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars.

“We’re going to prepare a little for the team that we know the least about, which is Pittsburgh,” Parcells said Friday.

The Patriots played Buffalo twice and Jacksonville once this season. They last played Pittsburgh in the next-to-last game of 1995, losing 41-27 when the Steelers scored two touchdowns in the final 2 minutes.

49ers, Eagles set for mud bowl

Sunday’s NFC wild-card game between the San Francisco 49ers and the visiting Philadelphia Eagles could turn into a mud bowl.

Forecasters predict a major storm this weekend, with high winds and rains blowing over the already soggy field at 3Com Park through Monday.

“That’s just the way it is and we’ll both have to play in it,” San Francisco coach George Seifert said.

Philadelphia coach Ray Rhodes said that a wet, sticky field could work to the advantage of the 49ers, particularly quarterback Steve Young and Jerry Rice, because they know the field so well and know where they’re going.

Fontes flip-flops

The thought of life without football apparently has changed Wayne Fontes’ mind about coaching for another team.

Less than two weeks ago Fontes said that if he were fired by the Lions, his coaching career would be finished.

By Friday morning, however - the day after he and his assistants were fired by Lions owner William Clay Ford - Fontes had changed his tune, possibly because of encouragement he received Monday from several members of the 49ers’ front office, including former coach Bill Walsh.

Redskins fire defensive coordinator

Defensive coordinator Ron Lynn, bearing the brunt of team and public disenchantment over the Washington Redskins’ second-half collapse, was fired by coach Norv Turner.

After a 7-1 start, the Redskins lost six of their next seven games. Though the team finished with its first winning season since 1992, the defense was ranked 28th out of 30 teams and last against the run.

Possible candidates to replace Lynn include New York Giants defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and former Detroit Lions assistant Jim Eddy.