By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated January 23, 2002 04:25 PM
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Thanks to a New England Patriots-Oakland Raiders football game, CBS won the weekly Nielsen race. (On the field, the Patriots won.) Some 28.7 million viewers tuned in to watch the snowy battle of the gridiron teams last Saturday, which is usually the least popular TV night of the week. Still, passing the pigskin was only a No. 2 pastime compared to the strong viewer turnout on Thursday to see about the sex of Rachel’s and Ross’s child on “Friends.” That was No. 1 for the week. In competition between new programs — rival game shows, at that — ABC’s “The Chair” got the upper hand (with 12.3 million views, quite respectable) over Fox’s “The Chamber” (10.2 million.) The two networks are engaged in a legal battle over the two similarly themed series. And while nostalgia seemed to be riding high late last year (with Carol Burnett and Lucille Ball retrospectives attracting viewers en masse), last week’s CBS special celebrating Muhammad Ali’s 60th birthday did poorly, with only 8 million viewers. An NBC special marking the 25th anniversary of the miniseries “Roots” drew an audience of only 6.4 million. The Top 10 for the week of Jan. 14-20: