AND THE SUPER BOWL WINNER IS... REDSKINS Washington spread sole challenge

MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis -- The Buffalo Bills are proving that Abe Lincoln was right.

You can't fool all the people all the time.


The Bills fooled them last year. The nation's football fans got so excited about their two one-sided playoff victories over the Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Raiders that they made the Bills a touchdown favorite over the New York Giants.

Sure, the oddsmakers set the line, but they're just reflecting the fans' opinion because they want people to bet on both sides.


What the fans overlooked last year was that the Giants defense was too good to lose by a touchdown. Sure, the Bills could have won if Scott Norwood had made the field goal, but they weren't going to win the game by more than a touchdown.

The fans have learned a lesson. They also noticed how much trouble the Bills had beating Denver in the playoffs.

The result is that the Redskins are favored by a touchdown. That spread is the most interesting part of the game. The question isn't whether the Redskins are going to win; it's whether they're going to cover.

Coach Joe Gibbs is happy to win the game by a point. If he's ahead by 10, he wouldn't mind giving up a late touchdown.

That's why giving the seven points is risky. It's not risky to pick the Redskins to win.

The Bills have only two things going for them: They're playing indoors on a carpet, and they have the glamour players.

The trouble is that these glamour players are too busy squabbling among themselves to pull together and beat the Redskins. I haven't heard so much whining since my kids stopped teething.

You get the idea that if Thurman Thomas is voted the MVP and makes the cover of Sports Illustrated, he couldn't care less whether his team wins. The Bills are the prototype of today's high-priced, spoiled athletes. There's nothing wrong with them that couldn't be solved by sending them to their rooms.


Then there's the football part of it. Yes, a football game is going to break out during the Super Bowl hype, and Gibbs and Richie Petitbon get the edge in this department. Give them two weeks to prepare for Marv Levy's team and they've got an edge. Levy's team is undisciplined on and off the field.

The Redskins can start with the blueprint that Bill Parcells used in last year's Super Bowl. If Parcells made it work with his paint-by-the-numbers New York Giants offense with Jeff Hostetler and Ottis Anderson, the Redskins can make it work with their diversified offensive attack.

First, they'll pound away at the Bills on the ground. Last year, Jumbo Elliott of the Giants dominated Bruce Smith when he was the defensive MVP. Now, Smith still is recovering from a knee injury, and Jim Lachey should be able to hammer him and enable the Redskins to run right at him.

Once the Redskins soften up the Bills on the ground, Mark Rypien can go deep to The Posse. Rypien's mild ankle sprain gave the Redskins a scare Thursday, but as long as he doesn't injure it again during the game, he shouldn't have any problems. Rypien is the one player the Redskins can't afford to lose.

The fascinating matchup will be the Bills' no-huddle offense against Petitbon's Rope-A-Dope defense.

Because Petitbon relies so much on situation substitution, the Redskins figure to have trouble against the no-huddle, because they could get caught with the wrong players on the field on the wrong downs.


Petitbon, though, is a master at figuring out a way to overcome obstacles. Remember how well the Redskins did against the run-and-shoot teams?

For the casual Super Bowl fan who likes a wide-open game, this one might not live up to its billing. For the fan who's a student of the game, this game should turn into a coaching clinic.

Gibbs and Petitbon are the best at what they do. They'll find a way to get it done today. They'll prove once again that football is still a team game. The better team will beat the better players.

Redskins, 27-17.