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VIKINGS-DOLPHINS MATCHUP A STUDY IN CONTRASTS

The Minnesota Vikings have allowed the fewest points in the NFL, 33 in three games. The Miami Dolphins have scored the third most, 91.

So we have a doubleheader in the Metrodome this weekend: an "Irresistible Force-Immovable Object" game and . . .A second-level "Super Bowl Preview!"

As usual, Miami has injury problems - the Dolphins are down to a fourth-stringer at one corner. At usual, injury problems don't faze Don Shula (unless they get overwhelming, as they did in the final weeks of last season.)

One reason for the success of the Minnesota defense may be the opposition - Green Bay, Detroit and Chicago are NOT offensive powers. But they did hold Barry Sanders to 16 yards, or 178 fewer than Dallas was able to do.

So the Vikings are favored by 31/2 points, three for the HomeDome and the other half . . . maybe for being in the NFC. Except that except for the very top, the AFC may be just as good this season if not better.

So give the Vikings' defense an edge and give Warren Moon an edge on that weak Miami corner. Plus, his receivers are starting to catch the ball.

VIKINGS, 24-20

New England (plus 31/2) at Detroit

A trap for the Lions, who played the dreaded Monday night road game and now have the dreaded short week to get ready for New England. Worse, there's the dreaded celebration factor after beating the Super Bowl champs.

That wouldn't be bad if their coach were Joe Gibbs, Dan Reeves, Jimmy Johnson or Bill Parcells, who can deflate their teams in a second.

Unfortunately, Parcells coaches the other guys.

PATRIOTS, 38-37

San Diego (plus 31/2) at Raiders

This is one of those games they seem to play every week.

Two things going for the Raiders.

1, They woke up in Denver.

2, The Chargers aren't quite good enough to be 4-0.

RAIDERS, 22-17

Pittsburgh (pick 'em) at Seattle

These odds are a mark of how far the Seahawks have come, last week's loss notwithstanding. If Chris Warren were healthy, maybe. But . . .

STEELERS, 20-17

New Orleans (plus 16)

at San Francisco

How times have changed . . . for the Saints.

49ERS, 41-19

Chicago (plus 71/2) at Jets

The Jets play better on the road, so this spread's a little big.

JETS, 17-11

Rams (plus 141/2) at Kansas City

The biggest controversy anyone can drum up in Kansas City is whether to rest Joe with a 20-point lead.

Maybe this week.

CHIEFS, 24-3

Tampa Bay (plus 7) at Green Bay

Green Bay can't run. Tampa Bay can't win.

PACKERS, 13-7

Cleveland (minus 1) at Indianapolis

If Vinny Testaverde manages to keep the ball in the hands of his own receivers . . .

BROWNS, 20-10

Atlanta (pick 'em) at Washington

The Falcons are 0-10 at RFK and can't stop anyone. The Redskins are 10-0 against the Falcons at RFK and can't stop anyone.

REDSKINS, 40-38.

Cincinnati (plus 81/2) at Houston

The Oilers' defense is fighting with the offense. The Bengals are simply fighting for a win.

David Klingler comes home.

BENGALS 9-6.

Monday night

Denver (plus 7) at Buffalo

The "Wade Must Go" chants are beginning. This week, Wade goes to Buffalo, where his defense should perk up the Bills' somewhat dormant offense.

BILLS, 34-20

Last week 7-6-1 (spread); 9-5 (straight up)

Last week 20-20-2 (spread); 25-17 (straight up)