ALL FONTES NEEDS IS A GIMMICK

I am glad the Lions have a new coach. And I hope he does well. But in order to save his job for next year, Wayne Fontes must improve morale, sharpen up the offense and win games.

Plus, he must establish a coaching personality. As a defensive co-ordinator, Fontes was known as a nice guy who was liked by his players.

Good. But head coaching is a different animal. You need a style. You need a gig. You need . . . an act.

But which act to choose?

TALL, SKINNY AND STOIC: This worked for Tom Landry, who was long considered the master of computerized football. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line, the computer overheated, and now Landry just stands on the sidelines with insufficient data, looking like a man who missed his bus.

BIG, FAT AND LOUD: This worked well for John Madden, who went from Super Bowl to TV superstar. It is tough on the voice, however, as you have to do all that screaming whenever a camera shows up. Also, just how many chocolate cream pies can one man eat?

CONTROVERSIAL, ANGRY AND FOUL-MOUTHED: Call this the Buddy Ryan mold. An excellent approach for your defensive players, as most of them figure all people behave that way. Not so good, however, with the media, female fans and foreign-born place- kickers.

Of course, he could always take the BILLY JOEL AND BILLY GRAHAM APPROACH: Which is: Stay just the way you are . . . and pray.

And now for this week’s picks . . .
* LIONS 17, GREEN BAY 13: Now, if they can only find those “New Attitude” T-shirts they stuck in the closet in September.
* CHICAGO 20, TAMPA BAY 10: Vinny Testaverde gets to know the Bears. Intimately.
* CINCINNATI 27, DALLAS 13: Both teams were clearly embarrassed in losses last week. The difference is, the Bengals can do something about it.
* MINNESOTA 17, INDIANAPOLIS 16: Eric hits a wall.
* BUFFALO 21, NY JETS 7: Pat Ryan, who hasn’t started in two years, gets the nod against the league’s best pass rush. Gee, thanks guys.
* HOUSTON 28, PHOENIX 10: You think Lorenzo White is getting a little tired of carrying the clipboard?
* CLEVELAND 23, PITTSBURGH 7: Back in August, I picked Cleveland to go to the Super Bowl. Hey. Browns. WAKE UP!!!
* SEATTLE 20, KANSAS CITY 17: The Chiefs are still giggling over last week’s win over Cincinnati.
* LA RAMS 31, SAN DIEGO 12: The Laid Back Bowl.
* NEW ORLEANS 30, DENVER 28: Assuming the same Elway shows up as last week.
* NY GIANTS 20, PHILADELPHIA 17: The way they play, they really shouldn’t be called Giants this year. How about the New York Tall Guys?
* LA RAIDERS 13, ATLANTA 6: Bo Jackson is questionable after pulling a muscle getting out of his jockstrap last week. I am not making this up. Really. I promise.
* NEW ENGLAND 17, MIAMI 16: Stick a fork in the Dolphins. They’re done.
* (MONDAY NIGHT) SAN FRANCISCO 23, WASHINGTON 17: Why? Because somebody has to win it, right?
* RECORD LAST WEEK: 6-8.
* RECORD FOR SEASON: 100-53-1.
* LAST WEEK VS. SPREAD: 6-8.
* SEASON VS. SPREAD: 75-76-3.
* BEST PICK LAST WEEK: Phoenix 24, NY Giants 21 (Phoenix won, 24-17).
* WORST PICK LAST WEEK: Cleveland 31, Denver 17 (Denver won, 30-7).

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