Sunday's matchup between the Steelers and Browns may go a long way in showing that the AFC can produce hard-hitting games, too.
"They say the AFC isn't as physical," says Browns safety Eric Turner, referring to the NFC's reputation as the tougher conference. "But I know the Browns play physical football. And we went out and showed that."The Browns may be boring, but they aren't passive. Neither are the Steelers, especially on defense as coordinator Dom Capers sends Greg Lloyd, Kevin Greene, Rod Woodson and Carnell Lake flying at quarterbacks from all angles.
That and the home field make the Steelers 31/2-point favorites to win. A victory would give Pittsburgh the AFC Central title and home field edge throughout the playoffs.
Both the Steelers' running backs, Barry Foster and Bam Morris, are banged up, although both are likely to play. Woodson is also sore.
But the Browns, who lost to the Steelers 17-10 on Sept. 11, have a problem.
He's Vinny Testaverde and he's never been great at reading defenses. So imagine what Testaverde will see when he starts trying to call audibles.
So figure Pittsburgh for a touchdown, a field goal and a safety. That should be enough.
Minnesota (plus 11/2) at Detroit
The first time it was the second week of the season and the Vikings won 10-3. That was pre-Dave Krieg and it was when Minnesota's defense was at its peak.
Not this time.
New England (plus 1) at Buffalo
This opened as a 4-point spread and then Jim Kelly was declared out.
Frank Reich wins big games and the Bills do, too, especially this year, when everyone thinks they're gone.
New York Giants (plus 41/2)
Neither of these teams is good enough to be in the playoffs.
But a lot better Giants' teams have lost in Philly (they lost five straight there until last year) and the change to Bubby Brister should make a difference.
Denver (plus 15) at San Francisco
Whether John Elway plays makes no difference. The 49ers score 30 against everyone and the Broncos can't match that.
Raiders (minus 61/2) at Seattle
The Raiders may yet fulfill Al Davis' destiny.
San Diego (minus 2) at Jets
The Chargers try again ... and get by.
Dallas (minus 10) at New Orleans
Troy Aikman needs to get back in stride. He will.
Miami (minus 3) at Indianapolis
The Colts go back to Jim Harbaugh at quarterback.
The Dolphins have Dan Marino.
Houston (plus 9) at Kansas City
Joe Montana has to be back.
Atlanta (plus 71/2) at Green Bay
The Packers may have peaked too late.
But they're still trying.
Rams (plus 61/2) at Chicago
Dave Wannstedt will find a way against a team that's already packed its bags.
Cincinnati (plus 7) at Arizona
Cardiac Cards stay in the playoff chase.
Tampa Bay (plus 2)
Four straight for the Bucs?
Last Week: 6-8 (spread); 8-6 (straight up)
Season: 86-105-5 (spread); 119-77 (straight up)