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GAME OF THE WEEK

New York Giants (7-8) at Dallas (7-8). The Parity Bowl. Who gets the chance to get squashed in the opening round of the playoffs? The Cowboys, controlling their own mediocre destiny, only need to win. The Giants need the Packers to lose to Arizona earlier in the day and then beat the Cowboys. The excitement is almost unbearable. The line: Dallas by 6 1/2.

UPSET OF THE WEEK

St. Louis (13-2) defeating Philadelphia (4-11). There would be no bigger upset than the team that’s supposed to win, winning. Very little has gone according to form this year with the Rams and Colts rising to the top, and the two teams that played in last year’s Super Bowl combining for a 10-20 record. The line: St. Louis by 8.

POTENTIAL STAR OF THE WEEK

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Minnesota quarterback Jeff George. The Lions’ secondary is a mess and George is on a redemption quest to play in the Super Bowl against the Colts, the team that used the first pick in the 1990 draft to take him, before dealing him off to Atlanta. The first meeting in October, which the Lions won, 25-23, also was when George replaced Randall Cunningham.

POTENTIAL STIFF OF THE WEEK

Washington Coach Norv Turner. Team owner Dan Snyder announced this week that he will keep Turner for another year in order to have someone to berate regularly next season. Turner has agreed not to have any self-respect for at least one more season. The two, however, have overseen a return to the playoffs after a six-year absence.

THIS WEEK’S TREND

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Bad teams remain in the playoff hunt in the NFC. The Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers are all 7-8, but one will make the playoffs. The Cowboys have the best path, needing only a victory over the Giants to qualify.

NO DOUBT ABOUT IT

The St. Louis Rams have been dominant this season, scoring 495 points while giving up 204 for a 291-point differential. With a two-point victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, Coach Dick Vermeil’s team will establish an all-time point-differential record, passing the 1942 Chicago Bears, who outscored their opponents by 292 points.

AND FINALLY

Edgerrin James of the Indianapolis Colts, who leads the NFL with 1,503 yards rushing, can become the first rookie to lead the league in rushing since Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson did it for the Los Angeles Rams in 1983.

ON TV

* Oakland at Kansas City, 10 a.m., Ch. 2

The Chiefs’ playoff hopes are on the line while the Raiders simply play out the string again.

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Line: Kansas City by 4 1/2.

* Detroit at Minnesota, 10 a.m., Ch. 11

Vikings can earn NFC Central title with a victory and a Tampa Bay loss.

Line: Minnesota by 7.

* Miami at Washington, 1:15 p.m., Ch. 2

Meaningless game for Dolphins, who should know by kickoff if they’ve made playoffs.

Line: Washington by 3.

* San Francisco at Atlanta, Monday, 6 p.m., Ch. 7

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Pop a cork for Y2K: Both teams glad to have 1999 in their rearview mirrors.

Line: Atlanta by 6 1/2.

THE REST

Arizona at Green Bay, 10 a.m.

Line: Green Bay by 7 1/2.

Baltimore at New England, 10 a.m.

Line: Baltimore by 1 1/2.

Cincinnati at Jacksonville, 10 a.m.

Line: Jacksonville by 9.

Indianapolis at Buffalo, 10 a.m.

Line: Indianapolis by 2.

New Orleans at Carolina, 10 a.m.

Line: Carolina by 8.

Tampa Bay at Chicago, 10 a.m.

Line: Tampa Bay by 3 1/2.

St. Louis at Philadelphia, 10 a.m.

Line: St. Louis by 8.

Seattle at N.Y. Jets, 10 a.m.

Line: New York by 1.

N.Y. Giants at Dallas, 1 p.m.

Line: Dallas by 6 1/2.

San Diego at Denver, 1:15 p.m.

Line: Denver by 7.

Tennessee at Pittsburgh, 1:15 p.m.

Line: Tennessee by 4.


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