A Capsule Look At The Nfl Playoffs

January 04, 1991|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Compiled by Ken Murray of The Evening Sun Staff

Tomorrow's Games


Washington Redskins (10-6) at Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)

* TV: Channel 13, 12:30 p.m.

* LINE: Eagles by 4.

* SERIES: This is the rubber match. Redskins took Week 7 meeting, 13-7, in RFK Stadium. Stan Humphries, replacing the ++ injured Mark Rypien, threw for 200 yards and Gerald Riggs ran for 52. Eagles' Randall Cunningham passed for 220 yards and rushed for 54. Redskins completely throttled the Philadelphia offense; Eagles averted a shutout with a late Cunningham TD pass. Eagles avenged that loss in Week 10 with a 28-14 pounding of the Redskins. Eagles defense scored twice, set up two more touchdowns, and knocked out two quarterbacks (Jeff Rutledge, Humphries). Cunningham threw for 132 yards and one TD. Heath Sherman had 147 scrimmage yards (124 rushing) to key Eagles offense.

* WHAT REDSKINS HAVE TO DO: Run the ball. If they can run, they can slow the pass rush against the cement-footed Rypien. And then they can pass. And then they can beat the Eagles' vulnerable secondary. And then they can win. That's not a simple order, though. Earnest Byner gained just 75 yards in two games against the Eagles this year, averaging a modest 2.7 a carry. Rypien, 1-1 lifetime against Eagles, and the offensive line also must have great games.

* WHAT EAGLES HAVE TO DO: Stop the Redskins' running game and put the heat on Rypien. Byner has been a terror since that Week 10 loss, rushing for 100 yards five times. That's what the Eagles do best, though. They lead the NFC in rush defense, allowing 73.1 yards per game. Eagles also need to generate more offense against the Skins. Their offense in the two previous games was sporadic, and Cunningham lackluster. Eagles offensive coordinator Rich Kotite against Redskins defensive coordinator Richie Petitbon is a key matchup.

* SUBPLOT: The Redskins were physically hammered in Week 10, and it wasn't just the quarterbacks. They have accused the Eagles of taunting them, of pouring salt in their wounds. If Redskins can get past the intimidation factor -- and that's a big if -- that memory may spur them on in hostile territory. On the flip side, the Eagles are 0-2 in the postseason under Buddy Ryan, losing first-round games the last two years. They figure they have to do better if Ryan is going to keep his job.

Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) at Miami Dolphins (12-4)

* TV: Channel 13, 4 p.m.

* LINE: Dolphins by 2 1/2 .

* SERIES: Didn't meet this season. Chiefs swept two from Dolphins in 1989, though, to take a 9-7 series lead. Victories were 26-21 and 27-24. KC's Christian Okoye rushed for 246 yards in those games. Chiefs' Marty Schottenheimer is 3-2 vs. Dolphins; Dolphins' Don Shula is 7-3 vs. Chiefs.

* WHAT CHIEFS HAVE TO DO: Pound away at the interior of that Dolphins defense and soften it up for those short Steve DeBerg passes. The Chiefs have one of the best play-action offenses in the NFL. They have one of the best running back tandems in history, although Barry Word (1,015 yards) and Okoye (805) are not normally on the field at the same time. Big backs, Word and Okoye will wear down the Dolphins by the second half. This is a strength-against-weakness matchup. Miami has been shredded by the more physical teams it has played, giving up 177 rushing yards to the Raiders, 222 to the Redskins, 257 to the Eagles and 206 to the Bills.

* WHAT DOLPHINS HAVE TO DO: Disrupt that plodding, methodical Chiefs' attack. If you can't stop the run, the best way to do that is get turnovers. Kansas City led the league in turnover ratio with plus-26, though, so it won't be easy. Quarterback Dan Marino will have to fashion his own brand of ball-control because running back Sammie Smith is often invisible.

* SUBPLOT: Dolphins cornerback Tim McKyer, who was unhappy a year ago playing for the 49ers, enraged his own teammates this week by calling the Chiefs beatable and their corners "suspect." McKyer pointed to the fact the Oilers' Warren Moon had brutalized the Chiefs for 527 yards and five touchdowns last month. True enough. But the Chiefs start three current or former Pro Bowlers in the secondary. And comparing the Oilers' run-and-shoot offense to Miami's quick-drop, stand-in-the-pocket attack is comparing apples and oranges.

Sunday's Games


Houston Oilers (9-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (9-7)

* TV: Channel 2, 12:30 p.m.

* LINE: Bengals by 3 1/2 .

* SERIES: Another rubber match. Oilers whomped the Bengals 48-17 in Houston in Week 6. Moon passed for 369 yards and five TDs and the Oilers rolled up 514 total yards. The Bengals whomped the Oilers 40-20 in Cincinnati in Week 16. James Brooks rushed for a club-record 201 yards to key the rout. That was also the game in which Moon dislocated his thumb in the final two minutes. That means the Oilers go into the playoffs with Cody Carlson instead of the NFL's hottest quarterback. The Bengals have outscored the Oilers 145-48 in the last three games at Riverfront Stadium. They have won nine straight games against division opponents at home.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.