Thursday, October 20, 2005

NFL WEEK 6 WRAP-UP!

WEEK 6 WRAP-UP!"

St. Louis at Indianapolis: "St. Louis may have a hi-powered O... but they are "O" so defensively challenged. Facing the league's stingiest defensive unit... a Colt team that has allowed a scant 2 TDs all season, the Ram outlook is bleak. St. Louis QB Marc Bulger's arm threatens to fall off as the guy has been forced to throw with such frequency..."..."Ok, THIS is a "can't miss" Sunday for Manning. The Ram defense is just painful to watch, and they're like... human turnstiles. The St. Louis D allows almost 264 passing yards, and slightly more than a C-note on the ground. Look for a pissed-off Peyton to tee-off on the Rams. Likewise, WRs Marvelous and Reggie, and RB Edge' are all solid plays this week in what should be a high-scoring affair." "...As I did last week, I'm lookin' for 135 total yards and a score or 3 from this tremendous all-around back."
Why don't we start with "Monday Night Football's" offensive free-for-all? The Colts, as expected by nearly everyone, took the defensively flaccid Rams to task. Peyton and pals were firing on all cylinders, everyone got in on the action, and the In-D was stellar. If you can believe it, the game wasn't nearly as "close" as the 45-28 final score might suggest. If you didn't watch the game, looking at the 45 point surge... one might reasonably assume that Manning finally took the kid gloves off and "passed" an opponent senseless. Uh-uh, not so, as I was saying, the Colt defense came up HUGE. LB Cato June snagged a pair of errant St. Louis passes, CB Nick Harper picked off yet another PLUS he recovered a fumble, and all four Ram turnovers led to Colt scores. Following an unsettling season-long pattern, at least from a fantasy perspective, Peyton again posted pedestrian (certainly for him, anyway) numbers; 22/32 for 191 yards and 2 TDs. On the season, the record-breaking, two-time league MVP has completed 66.7% of his attempts, with 9 TDs, 4 INTS, and he's averaging a hair under 220 YPG. Very human diggies' indeed. However, compared to last year's pass-stupid model- the '05 Indianapolis offense is far more balanced, the D isn't surrendering points like my uncle Bruce is hair (as it was last season), and most importantly- the team remains undefeated. Of note, Manning made certain to cater to friend and teammate WR Marvelous Marvin Harrison last night. Harrison may have hauled in a mere 4 passes... but one of 'em (their 86th scoring connection) broke the impressive "QB to WR TD Record" formerly held by San Fran' duo Steve Young and Jerry Rice. However, it should also be noted that Manning was virtually locked-on to the younger and more explosive WR Reggie Wayne. While he has 4 TD receptions, Marvelous has cracked 100 yards receiving only once this season, and 60+ yards only once. RB Edgerrin James... he's on the other end of the fantasy spectrum. Edge' was quite the fabulous fantasy play Monday. But... Edge' has been consistent ALL season long. While he may no longer possess multiple gears and cut-on-a-dime ability, James is also a far more powerful than he was as a rook' coming out of Miami in '99. Now, 'bout that "135 total yard and a score or 3" prediction? James recorded 159 total yards and 3 scores on the night. Likewise, WR Reggie Wayne found the end-zone on one of his 7 receptions. The news is not quite so rosy for Ram fans. Nothing's been going right for this crew, and the stinging loss to Indy' drops St. Louis to 2-4 on the season. But more costly than the loss of the game is the potential loss of QB Marc Bulger to a "shoulder sprain." Suffered on an ugly lookin' attempted tackle following an interception, Bulger left the game in the 2nd quarter... and took with him ANY chance the team had of pulling out a win. With Bulger the team had a chance, albeit a slim one, of out-pointing the hi-powered Colts. But, alas, once Bulger went to the locker-room for X-Rays... a slim Ram lead went the way of the Passenger Pigeon and Mammoth. Backup QB Jamie Martin could do little aside throw incomplete, picks, and a garbage-time TD to TE Cam Cleeland. Now, here's the Rams' rub: Jamie Martin's a big ol' zero, Bulger suffered a similar injury last year and it cost him 2 full games, and you can bet the deed to the ranch that opponents will dare an Isaac Bruce-less, gummy-armed Martin, hobbled Torry Holt squad to beat them by stacking the line DEEP in order to take bullish RB Steven Jackson out of the game. *NOTE: news off the 'Wire says Bulger is on the shelf for 3 weeks. While some sites claim that Jamie Martin will serve as a fine temporary steward... he looked terrible this past week, and opponents will dare him to beat them.
Jackson, incidentally, was... and is, a force to be reckoned with. It almost seems as if the dude runs with a defensive vendetta; the Ram back finishes his runs by trying to finish the DEFENDER... and he refuses to give up on a run by going down or skipping out of bounds. Steven Jackson's productivity, for the next few games anyway, will be predicated upon Bulger's health. Check the reports later in the week.

San Diego at Oakland: "QB Drew Brees has been playing brilliant football, bolstered by the best running back in the league and the best TE in the game..." "look for San Diego to come at Kerry Collins HARD. Collins has responded very poorly to pressure this season, a trait he displayed as a Giant." "Historically, Brees has been a hurricane force against his division rival Raiders. Having won his last 3 starts against Oakland, and with 7 TDs (including last season's 22 of 25, 281 yard, 5 TD outing) and NO INTs... the Bolt' QB is a rock-solid fantasy start this week." "Tomlinson is quite arguably the best, most complete back to hit the gridiron since Barry Sanders prematurely hung up his black cleats. LT is averaging 102 YPG, he has scores in EVERY game thus far (a sweet 9), and has multiple scores in 3 of his 5 games. The Bolt' back has faced some of the toughest Ds in the league, too; LT has stepped up and performed against Dallas, Denver, and Pittsburgh. This week, look for QB Drew Brees and TE Antonio Gates to knock a porous Raiduh' Secondary (almost 270 YPG porous) back on their heels, allowing Tomlinson room to roam. There's more good news! Tomlinson, with mitts as good as ANY Wideout, has been seeing more receptions of late."
Okay, so I'm not "Karnak The Magnificent" or "Jean Whatever-her-name was," and I honestly thought the game would be much closer than 27-14... because I thought Raider QB Kerry Collins would be "Oakie" dokey' at worst, and downright dangerous at best. With a world-class pass catching contingent that features Randy Moss and includes Doug Gabriel, the heretofore productive Jerry Porter, TE Courtney Anderson, and bolstered by top off-season acquisition RB LaMont Jordan... one would think the Raider offense po-tent. But, at 1-4, the "Black and Silver" are as threatening as "powder blue and cotton candy pink." Certainly, much of the blame for the offensive offense must fall to Kerry Collins. The Raider Signal Caller, even dating back to his days as a Panther, has NEVER responded well to pressure. And, most recently as a Giant, Collins developed some rather nasty mechanical habits. Always looking for the next 300 pound D-lineman (wouldn't YOU?), Collins is more inclined to step back, rather than into his passes, and the guy also suffers from a maddening case of "happy feet. The Bolt pass rush, following the successful blueprint established by the Chiefs and replicated by the Cowboys, was electrified and brought pressure upon the beleaguered QB all day, Sacking him 4 times. Not helping matters, the 1st Q' loss of Moss to a groin injury and bruised ribs. This bodes poorly for the already floundering Field General. Collins, who completed just half of his semi-ridiculous 48 pass attempts, was held without a TD... and if Randy is to miss substantial time... it could get even uglier for the Raiders. Hard to imagine, huh? And... while we're on the topic of ugly, let's look at RB LaMont Jordan for a moment, shall we? As a person, I'm sure the guy's a beautiful human being. But, next to the acquisition of Moss, LaMont's signing was perhaps the most heralded off-season addition in the league. LaMont's hit the century mark on the ground only once, has 70 or more rushing yards but once, and then his next highest rushing total is 59 yards. Gaudy? No. What was expected of him? Assuredly not. Can this ALL be Collins' fault? Well, it'd be easy to blame him... but no, that wouldn't be fair. The Raiders have consistently abandoned the run game early, and Jordan... who it had been said would see 25 or more touches per game, has only enjoyed a 25+ touch game ONCE all season. Next week, against a ghastly-bad Buffalo Bill run D, LaMont should enjoy his most productive game of the season.

Yet as bad as things are for the Raiders... things couldn't be any better for their rival Chargers. QB Drew Brees has been as cool as the other side of the pillow, his job is made much easier by the presence of the best back in the game, LaDainian Tomlinson, and young Philip Rivers is squarely in the rear-view. It's been all Merlot and Godiva chocolates for Drew, who was simply asked to "manage" Sunday's game. On the year, Brees has completed 66% of his attempts, with 8 scores and 4 picks. With a weapon like LT in the lineup... everyone's job is made easier. Tomlinson, the best all-around back in the biz', is having perhaps his best season yet. Short of knitting an Afghan by Half-Time, it seems as if there's nothing the kid can't do. And, given the proper materials and a blocking back... I wouldn't bet against him and the Afghan thing. Sunday, Tomlinson delivered yet another stirring performance and hit the Touchdown Trifecta. LT caught a short pass and took it 35 yards to the "Hizzou," he rumbled in from the 7 for his second score, and finished the scoring sonata with a 4 yard TD pass to Justin Peelle. With almost 700 total yards and 8 TDs in his past 4 games, any doubt owners had over the great "1st overall pick" debate should have been finally put to bed Sunday. Manning? Oh passhaw!

Atlanta at New Orleans: "With or without Vick and even with an injury-thinned D, Atlanta should get a W here..." "Dunn is a strong play Sunday; he plays well against the Saints, he plays well on "Faux-Grass," and he gets both this week."
New Awlins' gave the Falcons a much, much better fight than many believed they would Sunday, for it was widely believed that the loss of Saint feature back Deuce McAllister for the season had firmly planted the final nail in New Orleans' coffin. And yet... a questionable, at best, holding penalty allowed Atlanta K Todd Peterson to make good on his second attempt, thus ending a wild and wooly game in the Falcs' favor. A bitter pill for Saint fans and players to be sure. The Saints, coming off a 49 point Week 5 shaming at the hands of the Green Bay Packers, received surprisingly solid play from QB Aaron Brooks, WR Devery Henderson, and McAllister's fill-in, RB Antowain Smith. And while the Saint D may have stymied hobbled Hot-lanta QB Mike Vick... silly mistakes and penalties, a pair of defensive TDs, and Falcon RB Warrick Dunn's 100 yard day proved too much for the Aints' to contend with. In an unforgiving division, with a 1-4 conference record, and without a reliable running game, a 2-4 Saint team is in a free-fall. In their 4 losses, the Saints have been remarkably generous, turning the ball over no less than 18 times! Look for New Orleans and Houston to be engaged in a season-long "Stink-off" for the services of College QB prodigy Matt Leinart. Assuming, of course, that Leinart doesn't panic at the notion of being a Texan or Saint... and attempt to be accepted to Graduate school for classes such as "Competitive Basket Weaving" or "Great American Beers." Although Saint sub' Antowain Smith crossed the stripe twice, they were his first TDs since 2001 for cryin' out loud. At this point, until he duplicates his success, Smith is a marginal "Flex" RB 3."

RB Warrick Dunn continues to be as solid a #2 fantasy back as exists anywhere in the league. Dunn eclipsed a rushing C-note for the 3rd time this season, and has 100+ total yards in 5 of his 6 games. Should T.J Duckett miss time with his leg injury, Dunn could see a heavier workload. As for slick Michael Vick... should that guy continue to play the way he did Sunday, his life expectancy will be sharply diminished. On one scramble that saw Vick run for probably 20 yards... but net 5, Vick came down hard upon his injured knee. Against the Jets this coming Monday Night, fans nation-wide will have the opportunity to see if Vick re-injured himself. Backup QB Matt Schaub (298 passing yards and 3 TDs in his 1 start) may not have Vick's elusiveness... but he DOES possess a strong arm, a solid pocket presence, and he brings a different dimension to the O.

Jacksonville at Pittsburgh: "With Roethlisberger... I like the Steelers in this one, even without stud WR Hines Ward. It seems as if the productive pass catcher really antagonized his Hammy' pull. However, where Big Ben was listed as "Likely to play" yesterday... he's listed as "Unlikely" today. I think Pitt' will receive strong showings from Randel El and Jerome Bettis (Jags' yield yards on the ground), but I'm unconvinced Tommy Maddox can steward this squad. The Steelers are due for a loss, a tough Jag' pass rush will unsettle Maddox, and the Cats escape P.A with a win."
Tommy Maddox, the Steelers' former starter, was out of practice. A simple and understandable... well, almost, error; Maddox neglected to look-off the defender. Jag' CB Rashean Mathis (he also partially blocked a punt), a Pro Bowl caliber talent, was off to the races; a 41 yard pick and score, thus ending the game in favor of the visiting Jaguars. They say that "bad things happen in threes." If Steeler backup QB Tommy Maddox is any measuring stick... then whoever the hell "they are" ... well, "they" seem to be correct. THING 1: Tommy Maddox throws 3 INTs. THING 2: Tommy Maddox fumbles the ball away. THING 3: Tommy Maddox caps his miserable day off with a shoulder injury, leaving him questionable for Week 7. Ironically, Maddox has now been demoted to... yup', "3rd string." The defensive-minded Jaguars entered Pittsburgh with an agenda; prove to the NFL that we are NOT a patty-cake squad. The cats jumped all over the passing game, holding Maddox to a scant 154 passing yards and forcing those 4 turnovers we spoke of, and with 73 rushing yards-the Pitt' run game was largely fictitious as well. RB Jerome Bettis, so effective against San Diego Week 5, was a virtual non-factor. Bettis needs touches to warm up, and coach Cowher didn't provide "The Bus" with the needed totes. Surprise runner Willie Parker garnered the only rushing yards of consequence. Naturally, the sputtering run game hindered the passing game, and without savvy veteran pass catcher Hines Ward on the field, the Steeler air attack fizzled. If both Ben Roethlisberger AND Tommy Maddox miss next weeks' game against the Bengals, the Steelers stand to drop their 3rd consecutive game. The sole bright spot here? Top draft pick TE Heath Miller really stepped up, snaring 4 for 72 and a touch'. Should Hines Ward miss more time with his naggy' Hammy, and such injuries really impact Wideouts as they are unable to kick it into 2nd gear, than the handsomely paid pass catcher could emerge as Pitts' top receiving threat. At the very least, owners who are starved for production at the position should grab Miller off the 'Wire should he remain available. Jaguar QB Byron Leftwich may have been unspectacular at best, taking 3 Sacks and tossing a pick, but he also threw for a score and, frankly, wasn't nearly as bad as his Pittsburgh counterpart. Along with a spectacular defensive effort, Jacksonville received impressive production from unexpected sources as well on Sunday. RB Greg Jones finally provided some return on coach Jack Del Rio's 2nd round ('04) investment, and the huge (6-1/250) backup runner rumbled for 77 yards and a score. Freakishly athletic former QB turned WR Matt Jones notched the first TD of his career, a one-handed circus catch. And while the rookie receiver had but 2 receptions on the afternoon, he certainly made 'em count. Make no mistake, once the 6-6/245 Lb pass catcher grasps the nuances of his position, he's going to be a red-zone nightmare. For the Jags' to really succeed, however, the team MUST receive improved play from the receivers, and "Lefty" will have to play to the level of his ability.

N.Y. Giants at Dallas: "This is almost a "pick 'em." The G-Men sport a top passing game and an awfully effective run game, but the D has been somewhat suspect. The 'Boys are riding high, coming off an upset win over the Eags' last week. I go with Eli, Shockey, Tiki and Plaxico. The Dallas run game isn't intact, and the secondary was vulnerable up and through week 3."... "In the game before the Giant's Week 5 Bye, against the St. Louis Rams, Eli had what was arguable his finest game as a pro. With 296 passing yards, 4 TDs, and a passer rating of 120.7, Peyton's little bro came into his own and served his "I have arrived!"notice to the NFL. Eli was also named "FedEx Air Player of the Week" for that stirring performance... quite an honor, I'm sure. Anyway, against a Dallas Secondary that rose to the occasion last week and limited regal Eagle Donovan McNabb to 119 passing yards, I STILL like Manning. This same Secondary allowed former Niner' starter Tim Rattay almost 270 yards and 3 TDs (week 3) and Redskin Signal Caller Mark Brunell (week 2) almost 300 and 2 TDs. RB Tiki Barber should be reasonably effective against a stingy Dallas run D, and a healthy TE Jeremy Shockey should prevent hard-hitting 'Boy S Roy Williams from rolling over and doubling-up WR Plaxico Burress. It'll be up to Williams to play Centerfield, because ANY of the G-Men pass catchers is capable of burning the D, including the somewhat overlooked WR Amani Toomer."
With Dallas having beaten the Eagles over Week 5, this was a battle for the NFC East The truth is, though, both teams exited Week 6 licking wounds and pondering weaknesses. Short of Dallas allowing RB Tiki Barber a free pass to the end-zone, the Giants had EVERY opportunity to win this game. QB Eli Manning may put the "Oooh!" back in "Big Blue," but with 2 costly turnovers in Cowboy country Sunday... the young Man-ning was more like "eew!" If Eli's Week 4, 296 yard-4 TD explosion against the hapless Rams was his "I have arrived" notice? Then Sunday's 215 yard, 2 turnover, 1 TD game reminded fans and owners that the G-Man is still just a young Signal Caller trying to live up to some lofty... nearly impossible expectations. If fans and owners wish to hang a helmet on something positive, then an impressive 2 passing play, 52 second, 52 yard drive that culminated in a Jeremy Shockey TD receptions is it. Such a drive is a reflection of Manning's intensity, drive, ability, and roots. "The Shock Jock," incidentally, finally had hisself' quite a real, and fantasy, game. The The big TE snatched 5 for almost 130 yards and 1 TD. In the future, both WR Plaxico Burress and Shockey will be as hard as calculus to cover simultaneously. Contrary to expectations, NY got bupkiss' from WR Amani Toomer; 2 catches and 12 yards of bupkiss.
If the Giants shot themselves in the proverbial foot Sunday... then the Cowboys certainly blew some of their own toes off as well. Had New York won the flip to determine Overtime possession, they could have won the game just as easily, irregardless of what the statistics say. Cowboy QB Drew Bledsoe, even with his 312 yard passing day, still afforded the Giants with 3 turnovers and ample scoring opportunities. The difference Sunday was an impressive effort from the 'Pokes to remove RB Tiki Barber from NY's game plan... and a fortuitous call on the Overtime coin-flip.

New England at Denver: "An injury-riddled D, backup QB and an iffy-squad of Atlanta pass catchers lost to New England by a waning moments Field Goal. The Falc's also hung 28 points on an equally diminished Pat' D. Look for both Bronc backs Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell to exploit N.E's poor run stoppers." ... "With a ludicrous 18 players on the IL, New England's more "M.A.S.H" unit than Football team. Further complicating matters, Tom "Terrific" and his band of merry Patriots are faced with their 4th road game in 5 weeks. The good news is that NO team responds better to adversity..." ... "With a better than expected defense and an ALWAYS productive run game, the Broncos simply need execution from the QB position. "The Snake" has provided precisely that. In this match-up of divvy' leaders, each Field General is a sound fantasy start. Denver, on a quest for their 5th consecutive win, has an interesting dilemma; they can again brag a 2-headed running monster. "Marine" Mike Anderson is a powerful, determined, North-South runner, and Tatum "Chips... or Come Ring My" Bell (can't decide which I like better) is a nifty-footed break-away back. The smart money says that if Bell can stay healthy... no small feat for him, he'll see the bulk of the carries and win the feature role. Anyway, the Patriots are missing several key cogs from their D, most significantly LB Tedy Bruschi (coming back from his stroke.. props to the man for his courage) and S Rodney Harrison. Allowing almost 225 passing yards per game, but decimated by injury, look for a good and (I can't believe I am saying this, but...) "smart" game from the Denver QB."
Denver QB Jake "The Snake" Plummer has had a history of biting his own team(s); bisquet-head plays, lapses in judgment, and silly turnovers were Plummer hallmarks. Recently however, and we're talkin' this season recent, Plummer has strayed from his formerly "myopic-Gunslinger" style of play. No longer near-sighted, Plummer has shown remarkable foresight of late. And if Sunday's 28-20 win over the Patriots is any kind of indicator, then Plummer has matured into the Signal Caller observers always believed him capable of being. Now let's not go too far overboard here, for the Pats' are riddled with injuries on both sides of the ball. Amongst others, RB Corey Dillon sat this tilt out, as did T Matt Light and backup RB and 3rd-down specialist Kevin Faulk. However, if you had the good fortune to be able to watch this game, you walked away with one... perhaps two inescapable conclusions. As predicted in this week's "Star and Sit," Plummer played a VERY good, very smart game, and daaaammmmn! Those Broncos have SUCH a knack for finding runners capable of contributing! "Snake" lashed out at the Patriots, and finished the game with 262 passing yards, 2 scoring passes, and no INTs. The fact of the matter is, Plummer posted a season high Passer Rating of 134.4 Sunday, he hasn't tossed a pick since the Week 2 game against San Diego, and he's thrown TD passes in every game but that game. Plummer has to throw the ball to someone besides septuagenarian Rod Smith, and young (certainly by comparison, anyway) Asley Lelie finally broke out of a season-long receiving slumber, with 81 yards on 3 receptions. Though he didn't find the end-zone, as he did the week prior, an average of 27 YPC will assuredly garner him looks from Plummer. As for the breakaway Bronco running game, Tatum "Chips" Bell (I reached my decision, "Chips" it is) affords Denver with a dimension Mike Anderson doesn't; the ability to go the distance from anywhere, at anytime. The 2nd year runner had one 28 yard scamper, finished the day with 114 yards and a TD, and has run for 241 yards and 3 TDs over the past 2 weeks. The brutish, more physical Mike Anderson is, however, a viable weapon for Denver. Shanahan divided the running work up almost equally on Sunday; Marine Mike had 15 carries, Tatum "Chips" 13 plus 3 receptions. I am inclined to believe that coach Shanny' will leave things as the are, because with a combined 752 rushing yards between the 2 runners, the Bronco rushing attack is running as smoothly as a Swiss watch.
And what of the Patriot "dynasty?" Certainly history demonstrates that all dynasties must come to an end; the Roman Empire crumbled because of the Huns, and the Huns self-destructed once they became leaderless. The British empire over-extended itself and hence crumbled, and the Ottoman (Not the cushy thing you put your feet up on) empire hardly had time to even "empirize" before the Allies of World War I nipped em in their bad bud. See a theme? Most dynasties come to an end due to internal strife and discord. And although the Pats', as a TEAM, are united... they lack the internal structure (I.E defense) necessary to win. They're not built to outscore opponents, and the defense is littered with holes. While no team responds better to adversity, while no team possesses stronger intestinal fortitude, few teams can overcome so much. Aside from the thin D, RB Corey Dillon dressed, but was held out of Sunday's game. As mentioned above, New England loves to play games with the injury report but Dillons' bum ankle was no lie. With both Dillon and Faulk on the IL, unheralded Patrick Pass served, and performed, as running back understudy. Pass's fine play provided Tom Brady with some room to operate, and Brady responded with 299 yards and a pair of TDs. While his team fell 9 points shy of a win, Tom "Terrific" led his troops in a manner befitting a 2 time SuperBowl MVP. Brady cannot, however, stem the defensive leaks. New England was outmanned, outgunned, and indeed outplayed Sunday. The flat Pats' get a much-needed Bye this week. It's funny how that almost always seems to happen.

Carolina at Detroit: "Although Detroit plays well at Home (2-0 this season)... I don't like the Lions in this cat fight. With luck, RB Stephen Davis gets his rear in gear, making it easier for QB Jake Delhomme and the passing game.
In a close game that was more "snoozer" than "doozer" until mid-4th, the real storyline was "ineptitude," especially by the respective Quarterbacks. We've come to expect poor performances from Lion Signal Caller Joey Harrington, but Panther QB Jake Delhomme has truly done yeoman's work. Sunday, however, in a poor effort, Delhomme tossed 2 picks that were returned for TDs. And then... well, Lion S Kenoy Kennedy cleaned the QB's clock (and was penalized for nearly decapitating Jakey' boy as Delhomme slid to end a scramble). "Jake! Jake! How many fingers am I holding up? And, when Jake responded "Hmmm, Blue! Chris Weinke was jammin' hands under Center. Weinke was obviously up to the task, and with roughly 3 minutes left in regulation, he briskly drove Carolina downfield and tossed a 3 yarder' to greybeard receiver Ricky Proehl, thus ending the game in Panther favor. Weinke, who completed 5 of 7 for 47 and a score, hadn't tossed a TD since his rookie season ('00). The Lions have talent on both sides of the ball, but they continue to be a study in offensive mediocrity. Even on a day when a motivated D-Troit D scored twice, the team loses the ball game. Reality is, the unit can do only so much. "Blowy" Harrington is just not an NFL caliber starter, he's far better suited to be a backup. You want numbers? I'll give you numbers. Harrington's 201 passing yards aren't abysmal, but what would you call 6 Sacks? Not his fault? Okay, how's about 2 lost fumbles AND a costly INT! That, my fantasy friends, is horrendous. And the receiving group, decimated by injury, is almost a joke. With Charles Rogers out due to a subby' suspension, Roy Williams out with a quad' injury, and Eddie Drummond sidelined with a knee injury, it was up to "also-injured-but-not-quite-as-badly" Mike Williams (back), Kevin Johnson, and "practice-meat" Scottie Vines to pick up the pass catching slack. Right! Carolina worked at shutting down RB Kevin Jones, and TE Marcus Pollard hit a 100 on the "pass catch-ometer" as the Panthers' defensive assets were allotted elsewhere. Head coach Steve Mariucci's patience with the underwhelming Harrington, which had been worn thread-bare even before Week 1, is at an end. That cat's fully exhausted all 9 of his lives! Look for the team to start former Niner' Jeff Garcia as soon as he's able. This franchise will do nothing but look up at its Divvy-mates with Harrington at the helm.

The Panthers also received poor play from the Quarterback position for most of the game, but nothing that even approached Harrington's breathtaking incompetence. Delhomme may have tossed those 3 picks, and 2 of 'em might've been returned for scores, but he also threw a pair of TD passes. Extraordinary play from WR Steve Smith certainly aided the Panther cause on Sunday; Smith snared 6 for 123 yards and a score. With 4 receptions and a TD Sunday, newcomer Rod Gardner also made his Panther presence felt, and it wouldn't be a surprise if the bigger Gardner supplants sophomore receiver Keary Colbert as the team's #2. Of far greater concern is the state of the Panther rushing attack. With jitter-bug quick DeShaun Foster nursing a bruised knee, almost the entire rushing load fell to Stephen Davis. With 7 scores Davis may be finding the end-zone, but his yardage totals have suffered of late, and Sunday was no exception. The veteran back has yet to reach the century mark; 81 yards has been his highest rushing total. Still, so long as Davis bangs his way over the stripe his owners won't mind. You better believe the Panther coaching staff is monitoring the situation closely, and Davis' owners should too. In an effort to keep him fresh for final quarter of the season, both Nick Goings and Foster (assuming he pinks up) will probably see ample totes.

Cincinnati at Tennessee: "The numbers are ug-LEE! The Tennessee D has allowed 14 total TDs, 11 of 'em came via the passing game. The passing game is a Cin' city strength, and Palmer should have hisself' quite a day" "With over 1,300 passing yards and 11 TDs (TD passes in EVERY game this season, and MULTIPLE TDs in all but 1) already in the bank, Palmer's been utterly brilliant this season. He's limited his mistakes, he doesn't seem to get rattled, and even the best defenses (I.E Chicago, where he enjoyed a 3 TD day) can't slow him down. This week, against a Titan Secondary that has allowed a whopping 11 TD passes (of 14 total TDs scored against them), Palmer is as an excellent start."
Carson Palmer is the next great NFL Signal Caller; on par with Brady and no less talented than Manning (the Peyton variety). This season, Palmer's been guilty of arson, 'cause he's set the league on FIRE! Sunday, against a Tennessee Titan D that had allowed 11 passing TDs entering the game, Palmer continued his campaign of excellence. With only 6 Inc's, 272 passing yards, a pair of scoring strikes and no picks, the Beng' Field General hasn't posted a Passer Rating below 108 all season! In fact, that lil' stat' saw Palmer's name posted alongside Peyton's in the record book; 9 consecutive games with a Passer Rating of 100+. Helping Palmer is a po-tent group of receivers. Carson's rapport with receiver Chad Johnson, in particular, continues to border on the preternatural; Johnson hung 135 receiving yards and a score on the hapless Titan Secondary, has at least 5 receptions in all but 1 game this season (and in that game, against the Bears, he STILL scored twice!) and scores in 4 of the Bengals' 6 games. With increasing frequency, Johnson's name is being uttered alongside Torry Holt's, Marvelous's, T.O's, and Randy Moss's. But the "Palmer to Johnson" connection did more than post gaudy numbers, the Palmer to Johnson air attack freed RB Rudi-RUdi-RUDI up for 80 rushing yards and a trip to "The 6 Point Promised Land," his first such trip since the teams' Week 1 tilt against Cleveland. Look for the Cin City triplets to continue their all-out assault on the Pittsburgh D next Sunday. In fact, with upcoming games against teams such as Green Bay, the to-date punchless Ravens, and Cleveland- it's not inconceivable that Cincy' goes 12-4. Tennessee has been anything BUT titanic. Compounding the problems wrought by a soft group of Wideouts is a defense that saw numerous off-season defections. Worse still, the team was overwhelmingly generous with the ball Sunday, turning it over... and over... and over... and yup, over once more for a 4th time. Even with the skill po' players handing out the ball like candy on Halloween, the Titans were in the game... and even took a brief lead, with 4 and change left in the fourth quarter. Alas, that porous Tenne'D made Carson Palmer look like the 2nd coming of legendary San Fanciscan' Joe Montana, and Palmer marched his Bengal bevy up the field in effortless fashion. McNair turned the game over, allowing the Bengs' to score again, effectively ending the game. The bright spots for the Titans were few, but RB Chris Brown DID log a pair of TD runs and rook' receiver Brandon Jones hauled in 5 passes for 80+ yards.

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