Statistics on NFL games published in Monday morning's newspapers often are basic to handicapping against the point spread. As such, the opening week's play produced a couple of interesting figures.
Buffalo quarterback Vince Ferragamo completed 31 of 46 passes for 377 yards against San Diego in Buffalo. Yet the Bills failed to score a touchdown in losing to the Chargers, 14-9. There was a time, not too long ago, that a 300-yard performance by a passer guaranteed his team would light up the scoreboard. Now, 300 yards is nothing to get excited about. Still, throwing for 377 yards with no touchdown is hard to do.
It's not as difficult to accomplish, however, as what occurred in the Louisiana Superdome, where Dave Wilson finally got his chance to be a starting quarterback for the New Orleans Saints. He responded by going two for 22, for 30 yards, against Kansas City.
Considering the way the game is played today, it seems impossible for a pro quarterback to compile such a record. Defenses readily give up short completions into the flat or underneath the linebackers. I thought, at first, that Wilson's production line had to be a typographical error. It wasn't. THURSDAY SPECIAL
The Raiders' jittery Jim Plunkett has to do better against the Chiefs than Wilson did, but it might not be enough. Kansas City's defensive front is one of the best. The secondary also is underrated.
Los Angeles scored 31 points in routing the Jets but the offensive line still appears to be below Raiders standards and the wide receivers aren't thrilling. Kansas City is on a roll from late last season, with Bill Kenney finally getting some help from a semblance of a running game.
L.A.'s defense will be tough and nasty, as usual, but the underdog-at-home looks inviting. Take K.C. getting 1 1/2 points. This is the game of the year for John Mackovic's squad.
One final note: These teams have been involved in bizarre endings to their Arrowhead games in recent years. Don't leave the set early. MONDAY NIGHT
The line (Pittsburgh favored by 2 1/2 at Cleveland) reflects the fact that the Steelers are still a popular team nationally and that they mauled Indianapolis, 45-3, in their home opener. Hey, with Art Schlichter at quarterback and Curtis Dickey hurting (and now out), any defense is going to look good against the Colts. The smart guys in Las Vegas anticipate the point spread will go out to three, so wait late before making a move. The pick is Cleveland.
Marty Schottenheimer has done a commendable job since taking over as the Browns' coach. His team was banged up quite a bit in its final preseason game against the Raiders -- no one should book the Raiders for the final exhibition game -- but the Browns played tough against St. Louis Sunday before losing in overtime and they have the quick defense necessary to give Pittsburgh quarterback Mark Malone the shakes. PLAY OF THE WEEK
I thought about Seattle, giving three at San Diego, and the New York Giants, getting two at Green Bay, before passing on both. That left the Los Angeles Rams as the only play left, giving four at Philadelphia.
The Eagles played poorly in the Meadowlands Sunday and the Giants made them look even worse, 21-0. Leonard Marshall and Lawrence Taylor accounted for 5 1/2 of the Giants' eight sacks against Ron Jaworski, who never had a chance.
So what did the Eagles do Monday? Announce that Jaworski would be sacked in favor of rookie Randall Cunningham. "I'm shocked," Jaworski said. "Cunningham's not ready."
Right on both counts. In preseason Cunningham, as a passer, showed he could scramble. That is an admirable quality, given the current state of the Eagles' offensive line. The quarterbacks are paid to throw, not run, and Cunningham will be facing one of the league's best-balanced defenses. The Rams should give him a rude introduction to the NFL.
If Dieter Brock will settle down and give L.A. consistency as a passer, the Rams are capable of challenging San Francisco in the NFC West. That's taking for granted, of course, the return shortly of running back Eric Dickerson from his holdout. KEEP AN EYE ON . . .
Let's hear it again, for the umpteenth time, for Tom Landry. Dallas has won 20 of its last 21 season openers. If you believe that is a coincidence, try another game. Given extra time in which to prepare a team, Landry has no equal. Monday, against Washington, a viewer had the feeling the Dallas secondary was more familiar with the Redskins' pass routes than Joe Theismann was. HOUSTON AT WASHINGTON
Why does Joe Gibbs seem so uptight? He was responding to everyone and everything -- before Dallas. That's not his style. One embarrassment does not ruin a season. But we'll learn something this week. If the Redskins can't run on Houston, it's time to realize the Hogs are getting sloppy, especially the right side. Give the 10. THE LINE
Vegas' early-week quotations had San Francisco 13 1/2 over Atlanta, New York Jets 3 1/2 over Buffalo, St. Louis 4 1/2 over Cincinnati, Dallas 5 at Detroit, Washington 10 over Houston, Miami 17 over Indianapolis, Tampa Bay 3 over Minnesota, Chicago 4 over New England, Denver 9 1/2 over New Orleans.Last week's won-lost record 3-1.