GAME OF THE WEEK
Nothing in the NFL comes close unless you're into predicting miracles and think Atlanta (2-0) and San Francisco (2-0) has NFC championship game implications. The 49ers have defeated the Falcons in seven of eight meetings and scored 34 or more points in each of those victories.
UPSET OF THE WEEK
Washington over Denver.
Record to date: 0-3.
POTENTIAL STAR OF THE WEEK
Tennessee running back Eddie George. The Oilers are underdogs against Jacksonville, and if the Jaguars jump ahead quickly, negating George's impact, this is really not a very good prediction. But if George gets untracked early against one of the worst defensive fronts in football, Tennessee might even win the game.
POTENTIAL STIFF OF THE WEEK
Cincinnati running back Corey Dillon. A year ago he was a sensation, topping the 1,000-yard mark, but he has become a sullen performer, not speaking to reporters and going nowhere on the ground. Only three teams have tried to run the ball less than the Bengals, and after getting 26 yards last week, Dillon faces the AFC's third-best run defense in Baltimore.
THIS WEEK'S TREND
The Vikings are 7-0 since Red McCombs bought the team during the exhibition season. Maybe Bill Bidwill should think about selling the Cardinals. . . . Tampa Bay has been outscored in first-half play, 52-0, even though it employs Trent Dilfer at quarterback. . . . Is this what Archie Manning has passed on to his son, Peyton? The Colts have yet to experience a lead and have been outscored in the first half, 60-6.
NO DOUBT ABOUT IT
The Cardinals return to St. Louis for a regular-season game for the first time since Bidwill took them to Arizona in 1988. They were replaced by the Rams in 1995. Ordinarily, this would be a historic encounter, but the Cardinals haven't had a winning record since moving and the Rams have the NFL's worst record in the '90s. More important, in St. Louis all attention will be focused on Mark McGwire down the block.
* Oakland vs. Dallas, 10 a.m., Channel 2
Who needs Aikman when you have Deion? Chris Warren expected back for Dallas.
Line: Dallas by 5
* Green Bay at Carolina, 10 a.m., Channel 11
Injury problems continue for Panthers, who finally look like an expansion team.
Line: Green Bay by 6 1/2
* Atlanta at San Francisco, 1:15 p.m., Ch. 11
49ers have won 12 of past 16 matchups, and have not lost to Falcons at home since 1991.
Line: San Francisco by 10 1/2
* Cincinnati at Baltimore, 5:15 p.m., ESPN
Winner of this game could get No. 4 pick in draft, and the loser No. 3.
Line: Baltimore by 5 1/2
Denver at Washington, 10 a.m.
Line: No line
Kansas City at Philadelphia, 10 a.m.
Line: Kansas City by 8
Jacksonville at Tennessee, 10 a.m.
Line: Jacksonville by 3
Arizona at St. Louis, 10 a.m.
Line: St. Louis by 3
New Orleans at Indianapolis, 10 a.m.
Seattle at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.
Line: Pittsburgh by 3
New York Giants at San Diego, 1:15 p.m.
Line: Giants by 1
Minnesota at Chicago, 1:15 p.m.
Line: Minnesota by 6 1/2
* Tampa Bay at Detroit, Mon., 5:15 p.m., Ch. 7
Line: Tampa Bay by 1 1/2
SIMERS' RANKINGS / Top 5
1. Denver--Broncos' plan is to go undefeated until new stadium vote in November.
2. San Francisco--Atlanta's request to stop the season and let it go home 2-0 has been denied.
3. Kansas City--Chiefs have No. 1 defense and Philly can't score. Eagles' best hope is for 0-0 tie.
4. Green Bay--Packers get a taste of that cream-puff 49er schedule with Carolina date.
5. Seattle--It's been three weeks, about time Warren Moon asks for another raise.
SIMERS' RANKINGS / Bottom 5
26. Washington--Starr report also links Redskins' decline to president's doings.
27. Chicago--Brant Brown drops fly ball for Cubs . . . Bears suddenly interested in him.
28. Buffalo--Marv Levy wasn't too old to coach, he just knew his team was over the hill.
29. Indianapolis--Manning could have thrown a tantrum like Leaf, but like passes, it would have been incomplete.
30. Philadelphia--On coming episode of "ER," Eagles' offense cannot be saved.