At the three-quarter mark of the season, two age-old NFL questions persist:
(1) Can any team from the AFC win the Super Bowl?
(2) What are the chances Art Donovan’s home has a cappucino maker?
At the moment, only five of 15 AFC teams are even above the .500 mark. From this squalor, can somebody possibly rise on Super Sunday? As a palace guard told Marie Antoinette the night before she was guillotined, “It doesn’t look good, ma’am.”
But, folks, it’s always darkest before dawn (particularly when you sleep under your bed as I do).
Super Bowl XXX will be the AFC’s day. Finally.
Granted, the NFC’s top teams appear to be superior to the AFC’s top teams. But, you know, the best man does not always bring home the big prize. (Example: New York Mets, World Series winners in 1969. Example: Villanova, NCAA basketball champion in 1985. Example: Sonny Bono, elected U.S. congressman in 1994.)
It’s been 12 years since the AFC reigned, when the Raiders beat the Redskins 38-9 in Super Bowl XVIII. Football, though, is cyclical, just like fashion. (Speaking of which, The Man’s Ban-Lon pullovers and brown, flared corduroys ARE BACK IN STYLE, baby. And the ex-wife told me to burn that stuff. Hah!)
The latest cycle will favor blue-collar quarterbacks and old-guard owners (Jim Kelly and Ralph Wilson, Neil O’Donnell and Dan Rooney, Steve Bono and Lamar Hunt) over the chardonnay-and-cell-phone crowd (Ed DeBartolo and Jerry Jones).
So, in a year in which three preseason favorites (Miami, Cleveland and San Diego) have faltered, in a year in which the always overblown Raiders have selfdestructed in spotlight games, in a year in which the incomparable Dan Marino and John Elway both are 6-6 and breathing heavily, either Buffalo, Pittsburgh or K.C. will make it to the Super Bowl in Tempe, Ariz.
Even if Indianapolis - that’s right, Indianapolis - makes it, we’re talking Colts 30, Cowboys 29.
As for Art Donovan, I think the operable word here is “six-pack.”
Why are teams penalized for “too few men” on the field? Too many, sure. But if you want to play 10 against 11, or 9 against 11, or even Deion against 11, what’s wrong with that? In fact, I think you should be credited with a two-point conversion if you kick the ball without a holder.
As always, the following picks against the point spread are for recreational purposes only:
Bengals at Packers (-11)
You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension - a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into the Brett Favre Zone. … I like Jeff Blake, too. Pick: Bengals.
Chiefs at Raiders (-3)
I am of the firm belief that, in order to promote sporting justice and in order to reduce on-the-field crime, the entire Raiders active roster should be shackled in ankle chains for the duration of any game. Pick: Chiefs.
Browns at Chargers (-6)
Overlooked in Browns’ Baltimore stadium deal: Thirty-year rent-free lease does not include heat and hot water. … Memo to Cleveland: I know you’re hurt, but please - Just Say No to the Buccaneers. Pick: Chargers.
Falcons at Dolphins (-4)
Defensive coordinator Tom Olivadotti says he could’ve solved all the Dolphins’ problems on flight back from Indianapolis, but Don Shula made him sit in the back of the plane. Pick: Dolphins.
Buccaneers at Vikings (-8-1/2)
What separates man from the rest of the animal kingdom, we are told, is the ability to reason. Then again, there’s Sam Wyche. … Tampa Bay: Today, 6-6. Tomorrow, 6-10. Pick: Vikings.
Rams (-2-1/2) at Jets
By beating Seahawks, coach Rich Kotite (3-9) tied Lou Holtz (3-10) for ninth place on Jets’ all-time victory list. Next stop: Clyde Turner (5-9). Pick: Jets.
Oilers at Steelers (-9)
With Oilers destined for Nashville, President Clinton pledged to send 20,000 U.S. troops to Houston on “peace-keeping mission.” Pick: Oilers.
Bears at Lions (3-1/2)
Dear Detroit: Lay off Wayne! And make better cars. Thank you. Sincerely, The Man. Pick: Lions.
Eagles (2-1/2) at Seahawks
If I am a loser - and the fact that I keep betting on the Seahawks indicates that I may be - then Rick Mirer is an enabler. Pick: Seahawks.
Jaguars at Broncos (-11)
Federal 55-mph speed limit has been lifted, but Jacksonville still prefers to move 3 yards at a time. Pick: Jaguars.
Colts (-4) at Panthers
If Indianapolis is a legitimate Super Bowl contender, then I’ll be a monkey’s uncle. Pick: Colts.
Saints at Patriots (-4-1/2)
I was talking the other day to my nephew Cheeta, and he says Bill Parcells is a bloated coach with a bagel fetish. Pick: Saints.
Redskins at Cowboys (-17)
Deion Sanders now uses stunt double during tackling drills. Pick: Redskins.
Bills at 49ers (-14)
Bills plan to use Marv Levy as a decoy. Pick: Bills.
Last week: 9-6. Season record: 84-87-7.
The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Norman Chad Syndicated Columnist
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