The NFL's second season begins this week with the wild-card pairings. In the NFC, I make the Dallas Cowboys three-point favorites over the Rams despite the fact that Los Angeles whipped Dallas solidly two weeks ago.
The main reason for favoring the Cowboys is the home field advantage. On the field itself, the teams are nearing equal. The Rams have proven that they can beat Dallas by throwing the b all deep.
Vince Ferragamo has now thrown a total of six TD passes in the two games he has started against Dallas, no matter what the coverages were and no matter who the defensive backs were. In order for Dallas to stop Ferragamo this time, the Cowboy pass-rushers, who hardly laid a hand on Ferragamo that past two outings, must put the kind of pressure on him that results in interceptions. If not, the Dallas secondary will again prove to be very vulnerable.
As for the rest of the NFC race for the Super Bowl berth in New Orleans, I make the Atlanta Falcons the early favorites. That's because the Falcons have two advantages: they must play and win only two games, and because both of those contests will be at home. The Falcons are listed at 8 to 5.
The Eagles, a club that has been somewhat inconsistent over the past month, rate as an 11-to-5 choice. The Eagle offense has returned to the lackluster form it showed prior to the loss of Wilbert Montgomery, and when the Eagles can't get the ball to Montgomery or Harold Carmichael, they don't win.
Both the Rams and the Cowboys are 4 to 1 because of their wild-card status. Of course, the Cowboys and Rams remain the two best teams in the NFC.
Minnesota is the dark horse at 8 to 1.