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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

A Parody of Parity In the NFL Season

NEW YORK -- With four weeks left in the regular season, parity has taken over the National Football League.


Take Dallas and San Francisco out of the mix and the NFL is the ultimate parody of former commissioner Pete Rozelle's vision that "on any given day" any NFL team could beat another.


To wit:


?Fifteen teams, more than half the league, are between 7-5 and 5-7 and eight are at .500.


If the playoffs started next week, a .500 team would qualify in each conference -- the Jets in the AFC and the Packers or Falcons in the NFC.


?Philadelphia and Minnesota, two teams that seemed a month ago to have a chance to challenge the 49ers and Cowboys in the NFC now have lost three straight.


Each is in that 7-5 pack and each could easily miss the playoffs, as could Kansas City, another 7-5 team.


?Pittsburgh and Cleveland are tied at 9-3 with San Diego for the best record in the AFC.


Chicago, with Steve Walsh 7-0 as a starter replacing the high-priced Erik Kramer, is atop the AFC Central at 8-4.


Here's how bizarre it gets.


The Browns moved to 9-3 Sunday by beating Houston 34-10 with Vinny Testaverde back at quarterback after owner Art Modell made it clear to coach Bill Belichick that he wants one quarterback, not Testaverde and Mark Rypien.


Pittsburgh beat the Raiders 21-3 with Mike Tomczak at quarterback, but coach Bill Cowher said Neil O'Donnell, his leg healed, would be back this week when the Steelers visit Cincinnati.


"I've played enough to satisfy my ego," said Tomczak, who had 343 passing yards in last week's win over Miami and two touchdown passes in the win over the Raiders.


But the Steelers may be glad next week's game is on the road -- Tomczak is the favorite of Pittsburgh fans.


Pittsburgh is the "hot" team in the AFC now, primarily because of its defense. But the Vikings and Eagles were the "hot" teams three weeks ago at 7-2 and are suddenly groping for identities.


"I wish I could pinpoint why we've lost three in a row. We're all frustrated right now," said the Eagles' Rich Kotite, a candidate for coach of the year a month ago; a candidate for a new job next year.


When the Vikings were winning, they were scoring off turnovers -- cornerback Anthony Parker had three touchdowns in three games. In three losses, they're minus-five in turnover ratio.


In New England's 12-10 win over the Colts, Don Majkowski's ill-advised lateral resulted in a turnover that killed the Colts' last chance.


New England is 6-6, Indianapolis 5-7.


And where San Francisco has overcome injuries in its offensive line and the Cowboys got a storybook performance from Jason Garrett on Thanksgiving in the absence of Troy Aikman and Rodney Peete, other teams can't overcome injuries as well.


Miami, despite its comeback victory over the Jets, has been hurt by injuries to running backs Terry Kirby, Keith Byars and Bernie Parmalee.


In fact, that may help by "forcing'' Dan Marino to pass, as he did Sunday.


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Kansas City quarterback Joe Montana was diagnosed with a sprained foot and listed as questionable for Sunday's game against Denver, Chiefs' coach Marty Schottenheimer said. Montana, who suffered the injury in Kansas City's 10-9 loss to Seattle last Sunday, was due to be examined again Wednesday.


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Canadians rejoiced after the British Columbia Lions captured the Canadian Football League's time-honored Grey Cup championship, fending off the challenge by the expansion Baltimore "CFLers."


"Grey Cup Stays Home," proclaimed a banner headline in the Toronto Star newspaper, Canada's biggest selling newspaper. "It's Still The CANADIAN Football League," the tabloid Toronto Sun said on its front page.


But the game, which the Lions won 26-23 on a dramatic last-minute field goal, was not without controversy. Some Baltimore players complained bitterly about the officiating, particularly a key B.C. reception late in the game which Baltimore argued was incomplete.


"They just don't want to see the Cup in the United States," Baltimore cornerback Karl Anthony, the game's most valuable player, told the Canadian Press.