Rams still rule, but Raiders, Steelers inching closer

Nov 27, 2001 8:50 AM

Though St. Louis is the early favorite to win the Super Bowl, there are two teams in the AFC with a great chance to overtake the Rams.

Namely, the Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Rams will have an easy road to the NFC title with hardly any obstacle in their way.

The AFC has a difficult path for any team to reach the promiseland. The Steelers, besides worrying about Oakland, have Baltimore, the Jets, Dolphins and, yes, the Cleveland Browns.

The Super Bowl is a long way off, but it’s fun anticipating the matchups.

Thursday, Nov. 29

Chiefs 20, Eagles 16: The Eagles may be leading the NFC East, but there are many roadblocks ahead of them besides this game. The remainder of their schedule includes road contests with the rejuvenated Redskins, 49ers, and Tampa Bay. Home games include Giants and Chargers. Lots of luck, Eagles. Take Chiefs (+3)

Sunday, Dec. 2

Broncos 24, Dolphins 20: Miami escaped with their football lives versus Buffalo last outing. The Bills ran out of gas and the Dolphins were a bit lucky. Those happenings won’t occur against a well-rested Broncos team that is fighting for their playoff lives. Take Broncos (+3½).

Ravens 27, Colts 20: The Colts season looks to have gone down the drain. No defense. The Ravens are no ball of fire, but have been involved in more narrow escapes than the perils of Pauline. Another on tap here. Take Colts (+7½).

Saints 31, Panthers 9: The Panthers have very little offense, which makes New Orleans look like a Super Bowl contender. Take Saints (—8).

Steelers 31, Vikings 20: The Vikings unable to stop RB Jerome Bettis, and that makes QB Kordell Stewart dangerous. That means a rout. Minnesota offense will put points on the board, but not enough to stay within the spread. Take Steelers (—7).

Patriots 26, Jets 24: This is a different Patriots team than the one encountered earlier in the season at Foxboro. QB Tom Brady makes them dangerous and Jets have not played as well at home. Interesting game. Take Patriots (+4).

Rams 38, Falcons 33: Shootout in Atlanta where the Falcons give as good as they take. The Rams will have no picnic with the wiles of QB Chris Chandler pitching. Take OVER.

Bucs 24, Bengals 10: Last week we thought the Bengals hit a wall. Seems that was an impenetrable one. The Bucs need a victory to stay alive in their playoff chase. Take Bucs (—4).

Browns 20, Titans 19: Seems there is a new bully on the block. Two teams going in opposite directions.  Cleveland wins, but the ­­Titans put up a fight to ­­cover. Take Titans (+3).

Lions 26, Bears 23: The ­­Lions knocking on the victory door, but having a hard time breaking that barrier. The Bears coming off fierce battle with Vikings. Have nothing left for inspired ­­Lions. Take Lions (+7).

Chargers 24, Seahawks 20: The Chargers can’t win for losing. Seahawks can’t win on the road. This week they lose at home. Flutie magic seems to have gone the way of a wispy cloud, however he will dash Seattle’s playoff hopes. Take Chargers (+4).

Raiders 34, Cardinals 14: Arizona pulled out a nail-biter last outing versus San Diego. The Cards will be hard put to be in position to win in the closing seconds here. The Raiders continue their merry way to the Glory Road by routing Arizona. Take Raiders (—14).

Redskins 24, Cowboys 7: The Redskins after losing five in a row have won five in succession. Now trying for six to make themselves a playoff contender. Take Redskins (-7½).

49ers 37, Bills 23: The Bills coming off gut-wrenching loss to hated Miami in the closing moments. Buffalo will be hard-pressed to be in that position again against the  49ers. Take Niners (—10).

Monday, Dec. 3

Jaguars 24, Packers 17: The Jaguars are riddled by injuries and bad breaks. Will try to right the ship against high-flying Green Bay. The Packers have been tough all season. Jaguars pull hard for a victory. Take Jaguars (+3½).