Smith's dive was risky proposition Dallas moves dumb, Week 1 picks dumber

September 06, 1996|By Gerald Strine | Gerald Strine,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

With 3: 41 remaining in Monday night's game in Chicago, Emmitt Smith dived over the left side of the Dallas Cowboys' offensive line. He was a decoy on a play that took place near the Bears' goal line. Smith landed awkwardly, felt pain in his neck and back, and eventually was wheeled off the field amid speculation that his -- and Dallas' -- season might be over.

Smith and the Cowboys got lucky, as the great running back escaped serious injury. But the question remains: Why, with the game hopelessly lost, was the Dallas coaching staff risking injuries to Smith, Troy Aikman and other valuable players?

The answer, of course, is that many high-priced stars, with their lucrative incentive clauses, want to stay in and pad their statistics whenever possible. Smith has been an exception, often leaving games early, once victory is assured.

Nonetheless, his flying leap was less than brilliant. He had virtually nothing to gain, and Dallas had much to lose.

The only things dumber last week were this column's selections. I went 1-4 (see below). There's no mythical $500 to risk on this week's card. Instead, I'll look in on as many games as possible, hoping to learn something from a league that appears to be incredibly balanced.

This week's picks

Ravens at Steelers (-4): The Ravens don't have a running game. The Steelers do, and Pittsburgh still can pressure the passer. Vinny Testaverde will be under the gun, and I'll pay to find out if he can scramble as well against the Steelers as he did in beating the Raiders.

Take the Steelers, for a mythical $250.

Vikings at Falcons (-3): Atlanta should be able to bounce back from a disappointing effort against Carolina's aggressive defense and defeat Minnesota, which probably will be without Warren Moon, who's hurting.

Take the Falcons, for a mythical $250.

Buccaneers at Lions (-11 1/2 ): Detroit should have won at Minnesota. Maybe Wayne Fontes will let Barry Sanders carry the ball inside the 5.

Take the Lions, for a mythical $100.

Bears at Redskins (even): Michael Westbrook, a big wide receiver who can get deep, is likely to be back. He's the key to Washington's offense.

Take the Redskins, for a mythical $100.

Patriots at Bills (-4 1/2 ): Buffalo came out flat against the Giants. That's not likely to happen here. Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe is either lacking a decent wide receiver or is quite overrated. Buffalo is solid.

Take the Bills, for a mythical $100.

Broncos (-2) at Seahawks: Denver hardly ever wins at the Kingdome. This could be different. The Broncos' front seven on defense should be sound enough to keep things from getting out of hand early.

Take the Broncos, for a mythical $100.

Dolphins (-6) at Cardinals: Miami still has much to prove, offensively and defensively. Arizona played spiritedly in Indianapolis.

Take the Cardinals, for a mythical $100.

Eagles at Packers (-8): The bandwagon has formed for Green Bay, which was impressive in its rout of Tampa Bay. This looks like the perfect spot for the Pack, a national showcase. But the Eagles offer a good, albeit dull, group of journeymen. They could hang tough.

Take the Eagles, for a mythical $100.

Last week's picks

Bills, giving 4 1/2 , beat Giants, 23-20, minus $550; Cowboys, HTC giving 2 1/2 , lost to Bears, 22-6, minus $110; Broncos, giving 7 1/2 , beat Jets, 31-6, plus $100; Bengals, getting 3, lost to Rams, 26-16, minus $110; Patriots, getting 3, lost to Dolphins, 24-10, minus $110.

Net for week: minus $780.

Pub Date: 9/05/96

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