- Woman sleeping in car accused of attacking Cape officer (7/26/16)13
- Seeking new history: Centurion Development buys former Woolworth building at 1 N. Main St. (7/28/16)5
- Prosecutor says shooting by state trooper was justified (7/24/16)15
- Cape resident gets seven years in prison for shooting at man (7/26/16)1
- Former Scott City mayor refutes claims made about loss of curbside recycling pickup (7/26/16)
- Burglary of trailer leaves its residents homeless (7/27/16)4
- Golden Corral coming to Cape; may hire 100 workers (7/21/16)10
- Police: Child's video revealed stepfather's abuse of sibling (7/28/16)3
- Foot plots provide habitats and nutrition to attract wildlife, grow populations (7/18/16)
- City may spend extra park tax money on Cape Splash, skate park, other projects (7/25/16)10
The playoff picture - St. Louis, then everyone else
As the NFL playoffs begin, most indicators suggest this is the year of the Ram. Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk seem unstoppable, and the defense that allowed 471 points in 2000 gave up 198 fewer this season.
It could produce the team's second Super Bowl appearance in three years.
Two years ago, Tampa Bay almost beat the Rams in St. Louis, losing 11-6 in the NFC title game, and the Rams went on to win the Super Bowl. The Bucs beat the Rams in Tampa Bay last season, and on Nov. 26, they won again in St. Louis, 24-17. In that game, Warren Sapp dominated guard Frank Garcia, who was starting in place of the injured Tom Nutten.
But the problem for the Bucs will be getting by Philadelphia in the first round.
The game will be Saturday in Philadelphia and the temperature probably will be below 40 degrees. The Bucs never have won in those conditions, which might be playing with their heads a bit.
The rundown by conference:
The Rams (14-2) are clear favorites, perhaps vulnerable to the Bucs if Tampa Bay can get by Philadelphia.
"I think we're a better team than we were two years ago. I really do," says coach Mike Martz, whose unconventional ways have irritated some of his coaching brethren. "I shouldn't say that, I guess. That was an outstanding team that won the Super Bowl."
Chicago, which went from 5-11 last season to 13-3, is seeded second and has some things going for it, too.
The Bears gained confidence as the season went on, winning their final four games by an average of 18 points after going through the first three-quarters of the season winning by narrow margins on strange bounces. That late momentum is often an indicator of a team that can go deep into the playoffs.
But Chicago has a problem: Green Bay, which inflicted two of its three losses. Depending on what happens in the first round, the Packers could go to Soldier Field for the second round. They won there 20-12 on Nov. 11, then beat the Bears at Lambeau 17-7 a month later.
Philadelphia (11-5) also matches up against the Bears -- its defense forces turnovers and might cause trouble for Jim Miller.
San Francisco (12-4) plays Sunday at Green Bay (12-4), which never has lost a playoff game at Lambeau. The 49ers have a reputation for offense, but also have three shutouts in their last six games.
Tampa Bay lost 21-3 in Philadelphia at the same stage last season. Is there any reason the result should be different this year?
Pittsburgh (13-3) isn't the overwhelming favorite the Rams are in the NFC. It led the league in defense and Kordell Stewart returned to the form he hadn't show in three straight seasons. But there remain doubts about:
Stewart's ability to repeat his regular season in the playoffs.
The health of Jerome Bettis, who missed the last five regular-season games with a groin injury. Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala was fine in the regular season but isn't Bettis, who carried the Steelers in the first half of the season.
The kicking of Kris Brown, who missed three extra points and 14 field-goal attempts during the season. That, of course, could decide any close game.
Who's to challenge?
New England (11-5) is seeded second and is 11-3 since Tom Brady took over at quarterback. The Patriots have won six straight and are also fresh -- they had a bye week before beating Carolina 38-6 Sunday and will have another bye in the first round of the playoffs.
Oakland (10-6) has lost three straight and four of six and seems stagnant on offense.
Miami (11-5) has an interesting history -- it's won its opening playoff game the last three seasons, then lost the second by a combined score of 127-10. That includes a 62-7 loss in Jacksonville two seasons ago, when Jay Fiedler, the Dolphins' QB, was the backup for the Jaguars and threw two TD passes.
The most dangerous team could be Baltimore, the defending Super Bowl champion, which had to beat Minnesota on Monday night just to get into the playoffs. The Ravens, who would travel to Miami for the opener, still know how to win even if they haven't been doing it as much this season.