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Super Bowl hopefuls face long, hard tackle for title

By Daily Bruin Staff

Aug. 23, 1998 9:00 p.m.

Monday, August 24, 1998

Super Bowl hopefuls face long, hard tackle for title

COLUMN: Atlanta Falcons may sport worst record, 49ers projected
to win

The Super Bowl would not be complete with only one team, and
since last week’s issue provided the predicted American Football
Conference (AFC) representative, it is only fitting that I continue
this week and tell you what National Football Conference (NFC) team
will attempt to dethrone the reigning champions, the Denver

My fearless forecast for the NFC:

NFC East

The Arizona Cardinals were one or two players and a couple of
calls away from doing what Tampa Bay did last year. Led on offense
by Jake "The Snake" Plummer and a receiving corps of Frank Sanders
and Rob Moore, Arizona will look to fly high against a division
that is virtually a toss up. Look for Simeon Rice and Aeneas
Williams to have huge impacts on defense. Expected record: 9-7.

The Dallas Cowboys still have Jerry Jones, a redneck version of
Al Davis. Expected record: 8-8.

The Philadelphia Eagles look to join a new flock after the
losses of Ty Detmer and Ricky Watters to free agency. Chris T.
Jones and Bobby Hoying will have a lot of work to do under the
always angry Ray Rhodes. Bobby Taylor’s return to the defense is a
key to the Eagles’ success. Expected record: 6-10.

The New York Giants will have much to do in order to be the main
attraction at the Meadowlands this year. The losses of Dave Brown
and Rodney Hampton on offense will be felt. Last year’s division
title was won by the defense. Jason Sehorn is out for the season
with a knee injury, so Jesse Armstead will have to anchor a defense
good enough to allow fewer points than the stagnant offense, led by
quarterback Danny Kanell, can muster. Expected record: 9-7.

The Washington Redskins have had quite an off-season. With the
healthy return of Gus Ferrotte and Terry Allen on offense, along
with a highly ranked defense growing in age and maturity, the
Redskins have it made. They also went out and got Dana Stubblefield
from San Francisco and Dan "Big Daddy" Wilkinson. Expected record:

NFC Central

The Chicago Bears, also known simply as "Da Bears," are still in
the confines of Soldier Field. All I have to say is, "No Ditka, no
McMahon, no Fridge, no Payton … who cares???" Expected record:

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, under NFL guru Tony Dungy, face the
daunting task of trying to prove to the NFL that last year was no
fluke. Trent Dilfer was not very impressive in 1997 and is lucky to
still have a job. Warrick Dunn and Warren Sapp are the small and
large leaders on this team. The fact that both their names have the
prefix of "war" indicates the type of attitude Tampa Bay fans have
long desired. The question is whether the Bucs will remain standing
at the end, or end up walking the plank. Expected record: 9-7.

The Detroit Lions can rely on only two things. One is that Tim
"The Toolman" Taylor will never play for them. The other is that
they will continue to hand the ball off to Barry Sanders. Mr.
Instant Offense will take the load off Scott Mitchell to find
Herman Moore all the time. The tame defense is, once again, the key
to the team’s winning ways. Expected record: 7-9.

The Green Bay Packers found out last year that every game after
Super Bowl XXXI was going to be every opponent’s mini-Super Bowl
(an oxymoron, if you will).

Favre and company will have to stop the cheese-and-wine gorging
and keep Reggie White’s big mouth shut. Otherwise, Wisconsin fans
will have to go back to the other sport on the yearly schedule:
fishing. Sounds like loads of fun, huh? Expected record: 11-5.

The Minnesota Vikings have one thing to worry about: winning
games. The whole story about who the owner of the franchise is
should be left to Tom Clancy to embellish, not to create and be a
part of. And what’s with Cris Carter getting paid more than Jerry
Rice? Watch for Jake Reed to take hold of these savages. Expected
record: 11-5.

NFC West

The Atlanta Falcons are doomed. They let June "I am not named
after a girl" Jones run off to the Chargers and got Steve DeBerg to
back up for Chris Chandler at quarterback. Expected record:

The San Francisco 49ers are always in the hunt. Whether they can
do it all is debatable. With Steve Young, Terrell Owens, J.J.
Stokes and a little of the San Francisco Treat on offense, why not
throw the ball on every down? They lost Stubblefield to Washington,
but before he jetted off to Cleveland, Carmen Policy got some help
up front in Gabe Wilkins from Green Bay. They may have done it
again, but the holy grail of football is anyone’s for the taking.
Expected record: 12-4.

The Carolina Panthers got Greg Lloyd. NFC quarterbacks beware.
The question is whether Kerry Collins can suck it up and go play
the game after a 1997 jaw injury. There’s no Joe Paterno to cry to
now, Kerry. Expected record: 7-9.

The Saint Louis Rams should sign Mark McGwire to play for them.
Then we could see what else his mighty python badboys can do
besides hit baseballs into outer space. He would probably be a bit
better than Tony Banks right now. Issac Bruce will keep the team
somewhat respectable. Expected record: 5-11.

The New Orleans Saints have prayed Ditka would turn the team
around. He’s doing it his way, in tribute to Frank Sinatra. If the
players listen and stick to his philosophy, the Saints might not
have to rely on miracles and Hail Marys at the end of games.
Expected record: 7-9

The battle of the networks will go to Fox Sports. Murdoch must
be thankful for holding on to Fox after botching his wealth on the
Dodgers. Boomer Esiason will be a pleasant surprise in the booth
for ABC. And my pick for the champion … I think I’ll go with the
Niners.AJ Cadman

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