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TALK OF THE TOWN

Five topics suitable for inane debate on talk radio:

SIMPLE CHOICE, DIFFICULT ANSWER: At this moment, the Bucs are more likely to find the end zone with Chris Simms at quarterback. They also are more likely to have a turnover or a sack. So do you gamble with the young QB or do you make the safe choice by going back to Brad Johnson? Gut instinct says Johnson will get more time to prove his case.

JOE MONTANA WOULD HAVE BEEN PROUD: On their final drive, the Bucs picked up 15 yards on a personal foul. Then 9 for pass interference. Then 15 for a personal foul. They might have scored if they had gone for unsportsmanlike conduct on first down.

STILL SOME PRIDE: The Falcons have given up 36 points and lead the division at 2-0. The Bucs have given up 26 and are last at 0-2. That's a heck of an indictment of Tampa Bay's putrid offense, but it also says something about the defense. The gray may be showing around the temples, but Monte Kiffin's group still has the potential to shut down most offenses. It's early, but no NFC defense has given up fewer points per game.

THIS JUST IN: Michael Pittman is due back in two weeks. No word on when Simeon Rice is supposed to show up.

SORRY, BUT IT'S LEGIT: It seems so long ago, it almost escapes your attention. But what would you give to have Keyshawn Johnson going across the middle on a critical third down? He was obnoxious, a pain in the rump. But of all the veterans lost, Warren Sapp and John Lynch included, Johnson's absence has been felt the most.

A LIST OF FIVE

Five ways to help the offense:

5. Offer two draft choices and three kilos to pry Ricky Williams loose from Miami.

4. Confuse defenses by aiming for the end zone.

3. Break down and admit Kenyatta Walker was the best thing to happen to this offensive line.

2. Check for liver spots before signing more receivers.

1. Ask Clyde Christensen.

FIVE QB COMPARISONS

DRIVE CHARTS: Johnson has been in charge of the offense 16 full possessions and has one drive of more than 30 yards. Simms has had nine possessions and four drives of 30 yards or more.

MOBILITY: Johnson was sacked four times by Washington. Simms was sacked four times by the Seahawks. Simms may be more mobile, but it helps to know when to get rid of the ball.

GOING DOWNFIELD: Simms averages 8.33 yards per completion. Johnson is averaging 7.25. Entering 2004, Johnson had averaged 10.52 yards with Tampa Bay.

TURNOVERS: Not pretty for either. Simms has an interception and a fumble in three quarters. Johnson has two interceptions and a fumble in five quarters.

RETROSPECTIVE: Johnson is 62-42 as a starter in the NFL, including the postseason. Simms is 0-0. Yeah, it matters.

FIVE SUPER PICKS

Checking out the best bets for Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville:

1. EAGLES: Most consistent team of past five years finally may have a Super Bowl in its future.

2. PATRIOTS: Should be a law against adding Corey Dillon.

3. SEAHAWKS: Drops from No. 1 after giving up six points to the Bucs.

4. FALCONS: Michael Vick's hair grows another half inch.

20. BUCS: Not just 0-2, but the offense is 0-for-the-end zone.

FINAL FIVE WORDS

The scalpers are getting worried.

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