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Tuesday, October 29, 1997

Chiefs own win, Eagles better playoff odds

PECOS, Oct. 29 -- With two weeks left in the season and an 0-3 record in District 4-4A play, how do the Pecos Eagles' playoff chances look?

Not great. But not far-fetched. And better than those of this week's opponent, the San Angelo Lake View Chiefs, even though Lake View has already won a district game.

Thank the schedule, the three-team playoff format instituted in Class 4A last year, and in part, the Chiefs for the Eagles' continued playoff life, despite dropping their first three 4-4A contests. By rallying in the final minutes to defeat Fort Stockton in their district opener, Lake View gave Pecos a chance to reach the playoffs with a 2-3 record -- though they'll now need some help from Fort Stockton at Big Spring.

Both those teams have to defeat Andrews over the next two weeks, and the Panthers have to do it by three points or more this Friday at the Mustang Bowl for the Eagles to stay alive. Pecos then would have to defeat Lake View at home this Friday and then go to Fort Stockton and beat the Panthers by anywhere from 11 to 18 points, depending on the outcome of Friday's game in Andrews.

Those results would leave the Eagles, Panthers and Mustangs tied for third, all with 2-3 marks, and bring in the `head-to-head' points system to break the tie. Teams are given positive points for each victory, up to a maximum of 18 under district rules, meaning that due to their 17-7 loss two weeks ago at Andrews, the best the Eagles could be in a three-way tie would be plus-8 with a victory against Fort Stockton. That's also why Andrews, currently plus-10, would have to lose by at least three points this Friday in order for Pecos to stay alive.

The Eagles could also conceivably end up in a three-way tie for third with Fort Stockton and Big Spring or in a two-way tie for third with the Steers. But in both those cases, Pecos could not win the tie-breaker, due to their 37-0 loss to Big Spring on Oct. 10.

That's the problem facing San Angelo Lake View, since their last two games are against the 0-3 Eagles and the 3-0 Sweetwater Mustangs. The 1-2 Chiefs can't finish in a three-way tie with both of those teams, and with an eight point loss to Big Spring, a 13 point loss to Andrews and a four-point win over Fort Stockton, none of the tie-breaker possibilities with those teams comes out in the Chiefs' favor, if they finish with 2-3 marks.

Lake View's only chances for a fourth straight post-season trip are a pair of season-ending losses by either Andrews or Big Spring, a win by Pecos over Fort Stockton and victories by the Chiefs in their own games against the Eagles and Sweetwater Mustangs. That would leave Lake View in third place with a 3-2 mark.

They could also go in a three-way tie-breaker at 3-2, but only if they and Andrews win their final two games, and Big Spring defeats Sweetwater this Saturday. Then it would come down to the same `head-to-head' points situation the Eagles are hoping can happen.

But that would require Sweetwater to lose two straight regular season games. And since the Mustangs haven't even lost one since 1994, the Eagles' longshot hopes are a lot better than the Chiefs' odds are right now.

Aikman vows to be starter against 49ers

AP Sports Writer
IRVING, Texas, Oct. 29 -- The Dallas Cowboys got a quarterback and a strong safety back for the San Francisco game but lost an outside linebacker. That's life in Dallas these days.

Troy Aikman had a stiff neck and headache Monday but vowed he'll start against the 49ers.

Strong safety Darren Woodson said he will shake off his knee injury and play.

But outside linebacker Vinson Smith broke his jaw against Philadelphia and won't be able to compete on Sunday against San Francisco.

Aikman suffered the fifth concussion of his NFL career in the first period of the Dallas Cowboys' 13-12 loss to Philadelphia.

``I have no doubt I'll be fine,'' Aikman said Monday. ``I felt I could have played in the second half yesterday. I felt I had gained my senses and could go back in but the doctors wouldn't let me.''

As far as concussions go, Aikman said Sunday's wasn't the worst.

``I think the worst one I had was in the 1994 NFC championship game but I practiced and played in the Super Bowl next week,'' Aikman said.

Aikman, who has had a total of seven concussions counting high school and college, said his helmet-to-helmet collision with Jimmie Jones of the Eagles was legal.

``Jimmie and I have been friends a long time and I don't think it was intentional,'' Aikman said of the former Cowboy.

It was Aikman's first concussion since Oct. 24, 1994 at Arizona. He said it was the first he has had with a new style of helmet he has been wearing.

``I really don't wear a special helmet because it's limited what I can do because of the communication device we have in there,'' Aikman said. ``I guess I could start wearing one of those helmet liners on the outside but don't look for me to do that.''

Midway through the season the Dallas Cowboys are off to their worst start since 1990.

``Between the 20-yard lines we're the best team in the NFL,'' said Dallas running back Emmitt Smith, referring to the fact that the Cowboys are the worst at scoring touchdown after they get inside the 20.

The Cowboys are 4-4, with all four losses coming on the road against NFC East foes. Dallas has won five consecutive NFC East titles and have made the playoffs six consecutive years.

Aikman said if the Cowboys can beat the 49ers (7-1) on Sunday they can put the bad game in Philadelphia behind them.

``We need to win all of them now,'' Aikman said. ``We've left no room for error.''

Dallas also will have one of its best defensive backs for San Francisco.

Woodson, who missed the Eagles game because of a bone bruise on the knee, said ``I will definitely play Sunday.''

Woodson was missed against the Eagles because rookie Omar Stoutmire, his replacement, gave up the eight-yard winning touchdown pass to tight end Chad Lewis with less than a minute to play.

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