Plays of the Week
The biggest number on the board this week is 13, Seattle favored at home against San Diego. In spite of all of the above, I will take the Seahawks.
As mentioned, giving this many points always is tricky. I rarely do it with a team playing away from home, and I want to have several reasons for making any selection that essentially calls for a blowout.
First, there's the injury to Chargers quarterback Dan Fouts. His replacement is Mark Herrmann, who couldn't make it with Indianapolis, where the competition was Mike Pagel and Art Schlichter.
I can't see Herrmann scoring much against an excellent Seattle squad that surely must be primed for a good effort following losses to the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City.
The Seahawks defense is not nearly as soft as it has looked. The problem the past two weeks has been the offense. It could not move against the Rams and seven turnovers killed whatever chance Chuck Knox's team had against the Chiefs. Dave Krieg is an erratic passer but he usually does well in the Kingdome when the opposition can't mount a strong rush. The Chargers defense probably can't.
Three weeks ago, in San Diego, Seattle defeated Fouts, 49-35. There are many handicappers who stay off the favorite in such return meetings. I often do, too, but the absence of Fouts should affect the San Diego offense tremendously. The other prime consideration is that Seattle is at home after two losses in a row. There is every reason to believe the Seahawks will be more fired up for this than, say, San Francisco was for New Orleans.
The week's other play is the Los Angeles Raiders giving 3 1/2 at home against Kansas City. The Chiefs defeated the Raiders, 36-20, in Arrowhead Stadium Sept. 12 when Nick Lowery kicked five field goals and the defense pressured Jim Plunkett into two fumbles that were turned into 14 points.
Howie Long and the Raiders defense gave Kansas City quarterback Bill Kenney a pounding throughout the first half and Kenney stood up well. He may not have Carlos Carson in top form for the return match, however, the speedy receiver having been forced to miss last week's game injured.
I expect the Los Angeles defense to force the breaks this time. The danger is that Marc Wilson, filling in for injured Plunkett, may put the defense in a hole with turnovers. Wilson worries me. So does Lowery. But I love the way the Raiders, trailing by 20-14, pulled everything together in the second half at New England Sunday and rallied for a 35-20 victory with third-string quarterback Rusty Hilger.
Kansas City is 3-1 atop the AFC West. The Raiders are 2-2. This is a spot where you can expect a maximum effort from the L.A. defense, which is going to become even better with the acquisition of linebacker Jerry Robinson from Philadelphia. Game of the Week
Dallas at the New York Giants, Sunday night. The Giants are favored by 2. I almost gave the points on the premise Cowboys quarterback Danny White will make the big mistake somewhere along the line. But the Dallas offensive front seems to be improving slightly and the Cowboys defense intimidates me. So I'll pass. Monday Night
St. Louis at Washington. The Cardinals are favored by 2, which shows what the linemakers in Las Vegas think of the Redskins. How could any team fall apart so quickly? Well, I'm not convinced Washington has, although the need for a wide receiver to complement Art Monk is desperate. Forced to make a pick, I'd take the Redskins because the Cardinals offense often is less formidable on the road. But I'll be quite content to watch this game without making a selection.The Line
Las Vegas' early week numbers also had Indianapolis 3 1/2 over Buffalo, Chicago 8 at Tampa Bay, Green Bay 4 over Detroit, Denver 8 over Houston, Los Angeles Rams 7 over Minnesota, Cleveland 3 1/2 over New England, Cincinnati 3 over the New York Jets, New Orleans 3 1/2 over Philadelphia, Miami 7 1/2 over Pittsburgh and San Francisco 11 at Atlanta.