NFL marriages new, but in end, they'll again throw Rice NTC

August 30, 1991|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Evening Sun Staff

Quarterbacks Joe Montana and Phil Simms are out, at leas temporarily. Steve Young and Jeff Hostetler are in, at least for the moment.

Coaches Bill Parcells and Buddy Ryan are gone. In New York and Philadelphia, the buck now stops at Ray Handley and Rich Kotite, respectively.

Are these changes the harbingers of bigger, more pervasive change in the National Football League? Will they alter the balance of power in the National Football Conference?

The answer here, two days before the NFL begins its 72nd season, is no. The 49ers still will be the remarkably efficient team that won four Super Bowls in the last 10 years. The Giants still will be the blue-collar team that wins with a plodding running game and big-play defense. The Eagles still will be in search of their first playoff victory

since the Dick Vermeil era.

The question then is whether the AFC, with a more competitive crew of contenders, can snap the NFC's string of seven straight Super Bowl wins? The answer here again is no.

Look for Buffalo, Houston and Kansas City to win division titles in the AFC. Look for wild-card berths to go to Miami, Cincinnati and the Los Angeles Raiders.

Look for the Giants, 49ers and Green Bay to win division titles in the NFC. Look for wild-card berths to go to Washington, Philadelphia and the Los Angeles Rams.

Look for Kansas City to emerge in the AFC, but look for San Francisco to win Super Bowl XXVI in Minneapolis next Jan. 26. Montana may be hurting, but Jerry Rice isn't.

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