NFL Odds & Endzones

The NFL is featuring races at both ends of the spectrum -- best and worst.
A month into the 2007 season four clubs are battling to stay unbeaten, two in each conference.

The AFC affair seems to be a replay of last year, when New England and Indianapolis fought for supreme honors and Peyton Manning led the Colts to the Promised Land.

Two old dynasties are vying for NFC rebirth: Green Bay and Dallas.

Meanwhile, a trio is dueling for the dubious distinction of the campaign's biggest disappointment: NFC champion Chicago, runnerup New Orleans and once-promising San Diego from the AFC.

The Saints had a bye last week to remain at 0-3, while the Bears and Chargers lost to tumble to 1-3 each.

"San Diego in the NFL is the No. 1 disappointing team over the Bears," declared Professional Handicappers League member Bill Fishman.

Fellow PHL analyst Steve Zukiel looks at it pretty much as a three-way toss-up.

He places blame for San Diego's demise squarely on the shoulders of new Coach Norv Turner, who was supposed to work wonders with Tomlinson and Co. as he replaced veteran Marty Schottenheimer at the Chargers' helm.

"Norv Turner is a bust," Zukiel declared.

"I said it at the beginning of the season and I will continue to say it.

"He was a bust in Washington, he was a bust in Oakland and as an offensive coordinator for Miami, he was a bust as well.

"He had the best running game in football and the team still couldn't make the playoffs.

"I understand that you wanted to fire Marty because he wasn't winning the big games come playoff time, but at least he made the playoffs.

" A.J. Smith should be fired immediately."

PHL member Jimmy Boyd isn't sure Turner bears all responsibilty and says departure of Schottenheimer's crack staff, including Wade Phillips, now 4-0 in Dallas, played a role.

"I don't know if it's so much Norv Turner's fault in San Diego as it is the absence of Schotty, Phillips, and Cameron," he said.

"That's an All-Star coaching staff and the players knew it.

"Turner is a proven coordinator, but not a head man.

"I think the tramatic staff change is something the personnel has not gotten used to."

Zukiel believes Chicago has spiraled down from the conference's best to the North Division's worst in one short season.

"Absolutely they have," he said.

"Their slow demise has everybody believing it to be because of the horrible two-headed monster
they have at the quarterback position.

"Um, I would think their decline is mainly due to a very leaky defense.

"Look at how they have done defensively over the past two weeks and get back to me."

The Bears and Packers renew their ancient rivalry Sunday at Lambeau Field, with the Cheeseheads laying a field goal in the Las Vegas Hilton SuperContest and Chicago hoping for a reversal of fortunes.

"The Packers have to be the front runners in the North right now," Boyd said.

Brett Favre has been resurrecting ghosts of glory on Lake Michigan's northern shores, something Boyd believes the veteran quarterback would be doing anywhere, especially a few hundred miles to the south.

"Put Favre on any of those teams in the North and they probably win the division this season," Boyd said.

"God knows the Bears would die for him."

Zukiel also weighed in on the future Hall of Famer.

"So far, so good," Zukiel said.

"Brett Favre has looked absolutely awesome.

"Good for him."

Zukiel also had the last word on New Orleans, which is laying a field goal to visiting Carolina in its return to action.

Asked if their bye week will help the Saints, Zukiel responded, "It can't hurt."

by: Staci Richards - - Email Us

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