A Capsule Look At The Nfl Playoffs

December 28, 1990|By staff writer Ken Murray

National Conference SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (13-2)

PLAYOFF STATUS: Clinched Western Division title, first-round bye and home field advantage through NFC playoffs. Will host either Dallas, New Orleans, Philadelphia or Washington in divisional round Jan. 12 or 13.

MOMENTUM: Lost two of last five after going 10-0.

TREND: In his first five games of the season, quarterback Joe Montana averaged 358.4 passing yards per game with 14 touchdowns and five interceptions. In his last five games, before sitting out a Week 16 loss to New Orleans, he averaged 204.2 yards with six TDs and five intercepts.

GROUND BEEF: The 49ers have had only two 100-yard rushing games this year, and one of them was by quarterback Steve Young (102) in Week 16. The only running back to hit the century mark was rookie Dexter Carter, who leads the club with 433 yards.

KEYNOTE: Their home field advantage is no big deal to the 49ers, who are working on a league-record 18-game road winning streak. The 49ers are at their best against the best teams. They are 5-0 this season against teams with winning records. They figure to need a healthy Montana, or an improved running game, to capture their third straight Super Bowl, though.


PLAYOFF STATUS: Clinched Eastern Division title and first-round bye. Will host either Chicago, Washington or Philadelphia in divisional round Jan. 12 or 13.

MOMENTUM: Lost three of last five since going 10-0.

TREND: The Giants' running game has shifted from old, reliable Ottis Anderson to young, robust Rodney Hampton down the homestretch. In the last five games, Anderson rushed 46 times for an average gain of 1.9 yards, while Hampton carried 68 times for an average of 4.3.

THE MEGGETT FACTOR: Third-down specialist Dave Meggett catching the ball more this season, but scoring less. A year ago, Meggett averaged 15.6 yards for 34 catches and four

touchdowns. With one week left this season, he is averaging 10.4 yards for 36 receptions, but hasn't scored off the offense. Meggett's only 1990 touchdown came on a punt return.

KEYNOTE: The Giants built their record on ball control (only 13 turnovers in 15 games) and defense (they held the opposition to one TD or less eight times). Losing quarterback Phil Simms to injury was a critical blow because seven-year man Jeff Hostetler still is unproven. The Giants went 4-3 against winning teams this year.


PLAYOFF STATUS: Clinched Central Division title. Will host wild card team with third-best record, either Dallas or New Orleans, on Jan. 5 or 6.

MOMENTUM: Lost three of last five after 9-1 start.

TREND: In the last five games, the defense has given up an average of 24 points a game. In the previous 10 games, the Bears allowed an average of 13.9.

ZAK'S BACK: Quarterback Mike Tomczak, who never was able to secure the job once Jim McMahon left, got another chance after Jim Harbaugh's shoulder separation in Week 15. Since then, Tomczak is 20-for-42 (47 percent) for 265 yards, two TDs and three interceptions. Tomczak was so bad replacing Harbaugh in Week 15 that rookie Peter Tom Willis got his NFL baptism.

KEYNOTE: The Bears are unbeaten at home (7-0) going into tomorrow's finale. Their schedule this season is hardly awe-inspiring, however. They are 1-2 against winning teams, and that one win was over Seattle in Week 1. They should survive against Dallas, but may not against New Orleans.


PLAYOFF STATUS: Clinched wild card spot and will play Washington next week. They host that game if they beat Phoenix tomorrow or if the Redskins lose to Buffalo Sunday.

MOMENTUM: Won seven of last nine after 2-4 start. Are 2-2 in last four.

TREND: In the last nine games, quarterback Randall Cunningham averaged 200.3 passing yards and 64.1 rushing yards. In that stretch, he threw 18 touchdowns and five interceptions.

MISNOMER: The Eagles list Keith Byars as a running back, but in fact he has more receptions (76) than carries (35) this season. He lines up at tight end, wide receiver and in the backfield, and has caught a pass in 55 straight games. His season rushing highs came last week against Dallas ` six carries for 27 yards.

KEYNOTE: The Eagles' defense has held the opposition under 20 points only five times this season. Still, it inspires fear and loathing. The pass rush has knocked out six quarterbacks in the last eight weeks.


PLAYOFF STATUS: Clinched wild card berth. Need an Eagle loss in Phoenix and a win over Buffalo to bring their wild card game to RFK Stadium next weekend.

MOMENTUM: Won four of last six.

TREND: For the first time since John Riggins wore burgundy and gold, the Skins have a legitimate running game again. Earnest Byner has four consecutive 100-yard rushing games, averaging 32 carries and 145 yards over that span.

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