Shanahan Remembers 27-0, Makes Sure Raiders Do Too

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Week 10 and the questions:

1. Why do those guys dressed in orange think they are so intimidating, given this week's assignment against the Silver and Black?

2. Has Denver's Terrell Davis been more effective than Barry Sanders was in his first two years in the league? Than Eric Dickerson?

3. What's the most shocking development this season?

4. Why are the Seattle Seahawks worth keeping an eye on?

5. This week's upset special?

And the answers:

1. The Raiders are 32-13-1 on "Monday Night Football," but Denver Coach Mike Shanahan declined to be politically correct and praise this Monday's opponent: "What happened last [year]?" Shanahan said.

The Broncos thrashed the Raiders, 27-0, on Monday night a year ago.

Talk like that would make Shanahan a natural to coach the Raiders--oops, he has. The Raiders fired Shanahan after allowing him to coach 20 games (8-12 record).

Shanahan is 2-0 against his former team and free to talk trash. Asked if he believed there was another NFL team better than the Broncos, Shanahan said: "I don't think anybody's better than us. We can play with anybody. I said this before the year started. I really thought we could go and win every football game if we played to our capabilities."

2. Project a little. After eight games, Davis leads the NFL with 1,060 yards from scrimmage, and at that pace he will finish with 2,120. Throwing in his rookie season total of 1,484 yards, Davis would have 3,604 yards after two years--third most in league history--and two spots in front of Sanders (3,536 yards).

The only two running backs to be more productive in their first two years: Dickerson, of course, with 4,456 yards in 1983 and 1984, and how quickly everyone forgets--Billy Sims with 3,812 yards in 1980 and 1981.

3. Baltimore's Vinny Testaverde. The big stiff leads the AFC with a quarterback rating of 91.1--ahead of John Elway and Dan Marino. He beat the St. Louis Rams last week by changing the play, and instead of running a quarterback sneak, he threw for the end zone in overtime. Michael Jackson caught the 22-yarder for a touchdown with 10 seconds remaining in overtime--Elway-like heroics.

In the last five games, he has thrown 13 touchdown passes.

The reason for the change: Miracle-worker Ted Marchibroda, who turned around Jim Harbaugh's career in Indianapolis a year ago.

4. There is really no good reason to keep an eye on the Seahawks, but Seattle has won two of its last three games because Chris Warren is running the way everyone expected Chris Warren to run. He has gained 245 yards with a 5.4-yard average in his last three games after running for 232 yards and a 3.3-yard average in his first five.

5. Way out on a limb here--New Orleans--with Jim Everett at quarterback--knocks off the 49ers under new coach Rick Venturi. Yes, way out on a limb here.

THE TV GAMES

* CROSSROADS

Philadelphia (6-2) at Dallas (5-3), 10 a.m., Channel 11: So who chases the Redskins the rest of the way? The Eagles are 3-0 with itty-bitty Ty Detmer at quarterback, and the Cowboys are 3-0 since the return of wide receiver Michael Irvin.

--Say what: The Cowboys will try to win their fifth consecutive game for the first time since 1994.

--Player to watch: Philadelphia wide receiver Irving Fryar became the 15th player with 600 catches; he's only 397 behind Jerry Rice.

--Finally: The Cowboys knocked Rodney Peete out for the season because of a knee injury in a 23-19 victory earlier, and left Detmer woozy with a concussion.

* BANDAGES, PLEASE

San Diego (4-4) at Indianapolis (5-3), 10 a.m., Channel 4: This game should be featured on "ER." The Colts have been successful much of the season overcoming a rash of injuries. The Chargers, meanwhile, have been unable to cope with adversity.

--Say what: San Diego has won the last four regular-season meetings, but the Colts played without Marshall Faulk in San Diego last season and knocked the Chargers out of the playoffs with a 35-20 victory.

--Player to watch: Charger quarterback Sean Salisbury will start because of Stan Humphries' injured shoulder, giving the Colts an opportunity to improve their lowly interception totals (three).

--Finally: The Chargers' offense never had the opportunity to run a play from inside the Seattle 20-yard line last week.

* RALLY TIME

Kansas City (5-3) at Minnesota (5-3), 1 p.m., Channel 4: The Vikings have the dome advantage, but they also have an injury report filled with key performers, including quarterback Warren Moon (ankle) and running back Robert Smith (knee).

--Say what: The Vikings have lost three of four games after a 4-0 start; ditto for Kansas City.

--Player to watch: Quarterback Brad Johnson, who will start in place of Moon, has the best fourth-quarter rating among NFC quarterbacks, completing 26 of 39 for 261 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

--Finally: The Vikings opened up strong this season with Johnson filling in for Moon and have the defense to rough up Kansas City quarterback Steve Bono.

* SAINTS UPRISING?

San Francisco (6-2) at New Orleans (2-6), 5 p.m., ESPN: The Saints start over with Rick Venturi as coach, and to hear the players talk, they think the 49ers are in for a rough trip. This might be attributable to too much Halloween partying in the French Quarter.

--Say what: San Francisco wide receiver Jerry Rice needs three catches to become the first player with 1,000 receptions.

--Player to watch: Quarterback Steve Young, knocked out last week with a concussion, is still bothered by a groin injury.

--Finally: Eight of the last nine games between these clubs in New Orleans have been decided by seven points or fewer.

HEAVYWEIGHT DUEL

Washington (7-1) at Buffalo (5-3): First-place teams vying to stay there, and both have their detractors. The Redskins have remained relatively injury-free featuring Gus Frerotte at quarterback and Terry Allen at running back. The Bills' defense should be able to cope with Washington's offense, but can their decrepit offense muster any points against the Redskins? Yes, and a whole bunch.

--Say what: Washington's defense ranks No. 27 overall, although it is surrendering only a little more than 14 points a game.

--Player to watch: Redskin wide receiver Henry Ellard, considered washed up by the Rams, is on pace for 1,076 yards receiving, which would be the seventh 1,000-yard season in his 14-year career.

--Finally: Keep an eye on Buffalo wide receiver Andre Reed, who has had two 100-yard games in three meetings with Washington.

KEY TUSSLE

Miami (4-4) at New England (5-3): The Dolphins have taken a dive, and the Patriots are coming on. Miami's decline has coincided with its inability to run the ball and Dan Marino's ankle injury. Marino is back, but the Patriots rank No. 8 in shutting down the run.

--Say what: The Dolphins have defeated the Patriots in 13 of last 15 meetings.

--Player to watch: Rookie wide receiver Aaron Glenn has been improving and will be matched against a Dolphin secondary ranked No. 26; the Patriots haven't had a 100-yard receiver this season.

--Finally: The Dolphins, juiced up by Jimmy Johnson's Miami debut, beat New England, 24-10, in the opener.

FLIP A COIN

Houston (5-3) at Seattle (3-5): The Air McNair era gets an early start because of a groin injury suffered by Oiler quarterback Chris Chandler. Seattle, meanwhile, is still reeling from the Rick Mirer era.

--Say what: Mirer's replacement, John Friesz, has thrown only two interceptions.

--Player to watch: Houston running back Eddie George will be matched against the NFL's No. 27 rushing attack. Seattle's defense has surrendered nine rushing touchdowns--only two other teams have given up more.

--Finally: George (717 yards) is on pace to break Earl Campbell's NFL rookie-rushing mark of 1,450 yards set in 1978.

Carolina (5-3) at Atlanta (0-8): It has to happen sooner or later, doesn't it? The Falcons are at home and they came close to beating the Steelers and the Cowboys the last two weeks.

--Say what: The Panthers defeated Atlanta by 23 points earlier this season.

--Player to watch: Anthony Johnson, who opened the season on the bench, has boosted the Carolina attack with three 100-yard games in the last four contests.

--Finally: More good news for Atlanta--Carolina has lost three of four road games this year and is 3-9 in road games during its two-year existence.

SO WHAT?

Tampa Bay (1-7) at Chicago (3-5): The Buccaneers think Trent Dilfer is improving, and the Bears got a rushing touchdown from Rashaan Salaam last week. So what?

--Say what: Dilfer has thrown for 611 yards with four touchdowns in the last three games, but the offense still ranks No. 28.

--Player to watch: Bear linebacker Bryan Cox has decided not to have surgery on his injured thumb and will now try to lead the league in one-arm tackles.

--Finally: Tampa Bay has lost four in a row to the Bears, who have not exactly been the Mike Ditka Bears of old.

Cincinnati (2-6) at Baltimore (3-5): Testaverde leads all AFC quarterbacks with 18 touchdowns--only three behind Favre.

--Say what: Baltimore's defense is giving up 29 points a game.

--Player to watch: Testaverde has thrown three or more touchdown passes in each of the last four games.

--Finally: This used to be a matchup of in-state rivals. Now Cincinnati is rumored to be one of the candidates to become the new Cleveland Browns.

Arizona (3-5) at New York Giants (3-5): What a letdown for New Yorkers after the World Series.

--Say what: The Giants scored only 10 points against Arizona in their last meeting with the Cardinals. And won, 10-6.

--Player to watch: Arizona quarterback Kent Graham, the Giants' backup from 1992 to 1994, continues to pile up good numbers. He has thrown eight touchdown passes with only two interceptions in his last five starts.

--Finally: Hunker down for a thriller--the last four games between these two powerhouses have been decided by seven points or fewer.

REVENGE

St. Louis (2-6) at Pittsburgh (6-2): The Rams thought Jerome Bettis was finished. The Rams thought Lawrence Phillips would be a better addition. What do the Rams know? Bettis gets a chance to run over his former teammates.

--Say what: Bettis has six 100-yard games with Pittsburgh, and the Rams will counter with the NFL's No. 21 rushing defense.

--Player to watch: The Rams' Isaac Bruce is the only receiver in team history to have two 200-yard receiving games.

--Finally: Steeler Coach Bill Cowher is one win shy of 50 victories. Book it.

Detroit (4-4) at Green Bay (7-1): Scott Mitchell dressed up as Wayne Fontes for Halloween, although he wasn't carrying a suitcase.

--Say what: Packer Coach Mike Holmgren is 23-4 in games at Lambeau Field--one better than Vince Lombardi.

--Player to watch: Detroit wide receiver Herman Moore has nine touchdown catches against Green Bay.

--Finally: The Packers have a league-best 22 interceptions, and Mitchell might be replaced by Don Majkowski.

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