The Cowboys and 49ers meet again Sunday, only this time they will be wearing the uniforms of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns.

This is the AFC's version of Dallas-San Francisco, rivals with the two best records in the conference going at it in Three Rivers Stadium. The winner has a good chance of getting to Super Bowl XXIX, but right now fans in Cleveland and Pittsburgh are just excited about getting the chance to win Blue Collar Bowl I.Actually, these teams are nothing like the Cowboys and 49ers. Vinny Testaverde is no Steve Young. Leroy Hoard is a load, but he's no Emmitt Smith. Neither team has a receiver whose name should appear in the same sentence with Jerry Rice. Both teams have outstanding cornerbacks who perhaps play the game about as well as Deion Sanders, but they lack his flair and national appeal.

But having lived in Pittsburgh for two years during the 1970s when the Steelers were winning their third and fourth Super Bowls, I know the enthusiasm of the fans there. Everybody from the guy at the market to the truck driver to the doctors and lawyers will put on their hard hats Sunday and root for the Steelers.

Having spent a little time in Cleveland observing the Dawg Pound, I know they share the same loyalty for their team.

Both the Browns and Steelers play outstanding defense and rely on physical running games on offense. That may result in a game Sunday in which the scoreboard doesn't light up too much, but the educated fans in Cleveland and Pittsburgh appreciate an old-fashioned slugfest.

The Browns showed on Saturday in beating Dallas at Texas Stadium that they could represent the AFC quite well in Miami on Jan. 29. The Steelers have gone 11-2 since their opening loss to the Cowboys and showed last week they are certainly superior to a fading Philadelphia team.

The Browns played the Cowboys' passing game as well as I have seen it played. Cornerbacks Don Griffin and Antonio Langham have the quickness and savvy to play against the best receivers. The Browns got physical up front, too, and did a good job against the Dallas offensive line. But Pittsburgh's front seven is as physical as any, maybe the best in the NFL.

It is interesting to see Vinny Testaverde for the first time in the NFL performing with a solid supporting cast. He never had that in Tampa Bay. Vinny has an outstanding arm and can make all of the throws. This year has allowed him to demonstrate his skills. Unfortunately, he still makes as many big plays for the opponents as he does for the Browns. Pittsburgh gets most of its big plays from the defense. Cornerback Rod Woodson deserves to be regarded as one of the premier players in the game. The Steelers' scheme at times gambles too much for my tastes, but that style is the reason they lead the NFL with 53 sacks and lead the AFC with a plus-11 on turnovers.

On offense, Neil O'Donnell's strength may be that he takes a lot of sacks. At least he doesn't make too many mistakes. Although he has thrown more passes than Testaverde, O'Donnell has nine interceptions to Vinny's 15. The Steelers have had injury problems with Barry Foster and Bam Morris and really need one of them to be healthy for this game.

If Cleveland can avoid the turnovers, they can win the game, because they have more playmakers on offense with Eric Metcalf, Michael Jackson and rookie Derrick Alexander. But the home field, the strong defense and the tendency to make fewer offensive mistakes cause me to lean toward the Steelers in this one.

No, this won't remind too many folks of the Cowboys and 49ers. These are the NFL's grunge teams, not the glamour teams. But if one of them gets to the Super Bowl, I look for them to give Dallas or San Francisco strong competition. Either would be a more formidable foe than the AFC team that's been traveling to Super Bowls the past few seasons.