SI Vault
Paul Zimmerman
December 22, 1997
They're a pretty sorry bunch of playoff contenders. They came into last weekend needing a win to stay alive or clinch a berth or even win a division outright. Some got blown away, a few played their worst game of the season, and one of them, the Patriots, got suckered by a 282-pound defensive lineman.
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December 22, 1997

Dr. Z's Forecast

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I picked Tampa Bay to beat the Jets, purely because of the condition of New York's offensive line. Then when the weather came up windy, with gusts of up to 30 mph, I didn't like my pick so much because no one knows how to call a game in the Meadowlands winds as well as Bill Parcells. As it turned out, the winds were beside the point. Instead of rallying around Trent Dilfer, who was trying to hang in with a very sore ankle, the Bucs' receivers came up with a case of the drops. And their special teams went south.

Well, there won't be any wind in the Silverdome on Sunday, and the Jets' line is still in tough shape. And the defense has never had to tackle anyone like Barry Sanders, though Tampa Bay's Warrick Dunn (88 yards rushing) did a fair imitation. Yes, I do like the Lions, and was there a more courageous performance than the one Herman Moore turned in against the Vikings, dragging himself around on a bad foot, with a dislocated pinkie on each hand, and still catching six passes, including the one for the winning score?

A Detroit victory will knock out either the Redskins or the Vikings, but neither of them will know the outcome because Jets-Lions is a four o'clock start. If the Vikings beat Indy at the Metrodome, they're in, no matter what Detroit does. Piece of cake, you say? Hardly. Just ask Miami. The Colts are coming off wins over the Jets and the Dolphins. But here's where the streak ends. Minnesota will get things together and pull out the win.

Finally, we have the 7-7-1 Redskins, who are in if they beat Philly at home and either the Lions or the Vikings lose. What is there to like about this team? Jeff Hostetler's kiddie corps of wide-outs, Jimmy Thrash, Albert Connell and Chris Thomas, caught 10 balls against the Giants; the varsity, Henry Ellard and Michael Westbrook, had one, total. Westbrook looks more and more like the classic coach-breaker. Jason Sehorn and Phillippi Sparks ate him up. Westbrook slipped and fell on Sehorn's 35-yard interception return for a touchdown that put the game away. The Skins defense plays hard but the offense is screwing things up. Washington should get some yards running the ball, seeing as how the Eagles gave up 211 on the ground to the Falcons. So I guess Washington is the pick, but nothing would surprise me, not even a tie.

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