. . . The NFC holds a 22-20 edge in victories over the AFC. If the NFC can hang on, it would be the first time the AFC has lost the series since 1972 . . . The AFC, however, continues to be much more wide-open in its plays. One indication: only one of that conference's top 10 receivers is a running back, but four of the NFC's top 10 are backs. Throwing more to backs is a conservative approach . . . While the Bengals, 49ers and Jets (4-12 last year; last winning season: 1969) are enjoying amazing turnarounds, the Rams will have their first nonwinning season since 1972. Coach Ray Malavasi says the media overrates his personnel.
Don't think that the Redskins have little chance of getting a quality defensive lineman just because they've traded away their No. 1 pick. The following were chosen on the second round or later: Fred Dean, Joe Klecko, Mark Gastineau (the league's three best pass rushers this season), Harvey Martin and the entire Philadelphia front three . . . Terry Bradshaw's request that Coach Chuck Noll call the plays ranks as one of the more startling developments of the season. Just ask any other quarterback in the league if he would relinquish the play calling. The Steel Curtain defense has returned, somewhat. Pittsburgh has held opponents to fewer than 100 yards rushing three of the last four games and has 31 sacks, compared with 18 in all of 1980. The present front four: John Goodman, Tom Beasley, Gary Dunn and John Banaszak, with Joe Greene and L.C. Greenwood on the bench.
Before this season, the Jets' Richard Todd was one of the more interception-prone passers in the NFL. He now has thrown 125 straight without an interception . . . Until his ankle was broken last week, Jim Zorn had started all but four games in the history of the Seattle franchise . . . The Redskins had a chance to sign defensive end John Lee when he was waived recently by San Diego. They passed, but New England didn't. Lee had two sacks last week for the beleaguered Patriots, who also have replaced tackle Dwight Wheeler with No. 1 draft choice Brian Holloway . . . J.T. Smith of Kansas City is proof that a kick returner such as Mike Nelms also can function effectively on offense. Smith is the Chiefs' leading receiver, as well as one of the best punt returners in the league.
The Colts and Rams are denying reports that they are discussing a trade for Bert Jones, but league sources say there is some credence to the speculation. It seems probable that Baltimore is trying to establish Jones' trade value as soon as possible . . . Dan Pastorini was demoted to third-string quarterback by the Rams this week . . . Even without Joe Gibbs around to call plays, the San Diego offense still is rolling. The Chargers averaged 400.6 yards a game last year; this season, it's 419.7. But that's small change compared with the 1950-51 Rams, who had back-to-back years of 451 and 458 yards.