Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around e-mails to each other, both during and after the games. It lets us share ideas for columns and comments, and get an idea of how teams that we can't watch are playing. Be aware that the material in this roundtable might seem a bit disjointed and un-edited. It also might still show up later in the week in other columns, or in comments in PFP 2007. Games are chosen based on our own personal viewing preferences, and are going to reflect the teams we support and the cities where we live.
Great Moments in Sunday Ticket Bar History
Aaron Schatz: I have to start Audibles this week with a small story about the day Ian Dembsky and I had at Rock Bottom in Braintree, MA. My goal for the day was to see the Saints and the Rams, to figure out whether those teams were really as good as their records. Ian wanted to see his beloved Bucs try to get off the schneid. So we get to the bar and every television is playing Tennessee-Washington. We go up to the bar and ask, and they show us the list of what games they are showing. Eight televisions, and the list has a total of three early games: Philadelphia-New Orleans, Tennessee-Washington, and Buffalo-Detroit. Buffalo-Detroit??? Yes, it turns out they have only three satellite dishes, and according to the staff, "we received a lot of calls from Mug Club members requesting Buffalo-Detroit." After 20 minutes of arguing and the staff trying to figure out how to work the television remote controls, we finally talked them into changing one of the Buffalo-Detroit televisions to Giants-Atlanta on local broadcast. I don't think we're going back there again.
By the way, a grand total of one guy showed up specifically to watch Buffalo-Detroit. He showed up in the middle of the second quarter in a Willis McGahee jersey. We feel that Detroit's win was karmic justice. Plus, the other CBS games ended early enough that Ian got to see Tampa score the go-ahead touchdown in "bonus coverage," so we were happy.
Oh, and apparently the batteries in the remote control for the television switched to local broadcast died during the afternoon, so when we hit the late games, we watched San Francisco-San Diego, Kansas City-Pittsburgh, and The Cosby Show, until they finally went out and bought batteries so they could switch that television to Jets-Miami at halftime.
New York Giants 27 at Atlanta Falcons 14
Bill Barnwell: Pretty much awful execution by both offenses so far -- the Falcons offensive line is no match for the Giants defensive line on running plays. Daryl Johnston actually made a good point talking about how Strahan is underrated as a run stopper, which is what separates him from the Freeney types.
Kareem McKenzie has been getting abused by John Abraham. Abraham sacked Manning and forced a fumble on the Giants' two-minute drive, which would've killed the drive if it wasn't for Tiki Barber tiptoeing through the Falcons defense on a screen for 25 yards, which would've kept the drive going if it wasn't for an unnecessary hold by Chris Snee making the play come back. Ugh.
Has anyone ever been able to figure out why they don't just put Tony Siragusa in the broadcast booth? Does he have a push-to-talk mic? He also said he wore a L.T. jersey growing up in New Jersey. Siragusa's all of eight years younger than Taylor himself.
Mike Tanier: Falcons-Giants was my over-the-shoulder game at the bar this week. Every time I turned around, the Giants had the ball, even when the Falcons led. Factor in the long TD by Dunn, and I know without going to the Gamebook that the Falcons were lousy on third downs and had several three-and-out drives.
Bill Barnwell: We're in the second half now and the defenses have seemingly given up on tackling, taking good routes to the ballcarrier, or really anything beyond looking silly. That is, except for Patrick Kerney on screen plays. Jim Mora threw the red flag for the worst of all possible challenges -- the ballcarrier-stepped-out-at-the-one-foot-line challenge, which even if successful means the other team still has first and goal from the one inch line, and you've wasted a challenge.
Does Eli Manning practice throwing the ball three inches over Plaxico Burress' fingertips? He has to. No one can be that good at it.
Is there any sort of fake LaVar Arrington won't fall for? Do his teammates laugh each week when Arrington comes to practice and shows off the watches he bought on Canal Street, or do they just accept it at this point? How much money has he sent to Nigeria? This has to be an unreported story.
I love him, but Jared Lorenzen still looks like he won a contest to stand on an NFL sideline each game.
Keith Brooking's had a pretty poor game -- he hasn't been shedding blockers and he's been no match inside for Shockey. Atlanta's played really well against tight ends so far this season, but they were awful last year and I'm inclined to think they haven't improved that much from what I've seen today. Right as I type that, Shockey strolls over the middle, catches a pass from Manning, and falls backwards into the end zone for the game-ending touchdown. Falcons could've won this game if their defense had shown up for the second half -- Kerney coming out with a hamstring injury really hurt them.
Aaron Schatz: The comments Ian and I were making to each other during this game were exactly the same as what Bill wrote. I wonder what percentage of Plaxico Burress jump balls are not actually supposed to be jump balls? I mean, when a guy has to leap a foot in the air to catch the pass on a 12-yard curl route, the quarterback has some problems.
As much as Kareem McKenzie was being abused, I also thought that Wayne Gandy had some major problems with the Giants pass rush. There were a couple plays where guys would come on either side of him and he'd sort of stand around wondering why he forgot to block one of them.
For those who didn't see this game, there was a hilarious mishap on the shotgun option. I guess that there were some crossed signals on the audible, but Vick tried to hand it to Dunn, but I guess Dunn thought it was a play-fake and Vick ended up dropping the ball on the ground. Sam Madison picked it up. I guess between that and an earlier interception off a tipped pass, Madison could pretend for a week that he was still a Pro Bowl player and not a toasty-good has been.
Does anyone know why:
1) The Giants were doing fake basketball jump shots after sacking Michael Vick?
2) FOX kept showing a big picture of swimming fish superimposed on the Atlanta jumbotron -- then showed the fish superimposed on the Atlanta skyline while going to commercial at one point?
Ian Dembsky: On Michael Vick's touchdown run, the key block that allowed him to score was thrown by Warrick Dunn 20 yards downfield. Is there anyone who does not like Warrick Dunn?
Seattle Seahawks 30 at St. Louis Rams 28
Doug Farrar: Seattle's defense is playing tremendously soft against the Rams. This is much more a defense you'd see from Ray Rhodes, the current consultant and former coordinator, than the creative line stunts and twists exhibited by current coordinator John Marshall last season. Especially in the postseason, the Seahawks would get pressure with four and allow the linebackers to hit the zones, with movement on the snap up front. I don't know what the problem is -- they didn't lose a Steve Hutchinson on THAT side of the line. Same personnel, much less spice. When they finally do get to Bulger, Ken Hamlin pushes off on him as he gets up, and the Rams get a 15-yard freebie.
On offense ... well, let's put it this way. There is 9:19 left in the second quarter as I write this, and the Seahawks have rushed for -1 yards. The offensive line is a shell of what it used to be.
An interesting second-quarter twist to that defensive strategy is that Bryce Fisher sacked Bulger twice with Seattle only rushing three. The first time, he bull-rushed Orlando Pace into Bulger. Second time, he just blew right by him.
Seattle's first third-quarter drive stalled, and Josh Brown's subsequent field goal attempt hit the left AND right uprights before falling in front of the goalposts, no good.
Sometimes, it's just not your day.
...and sometimes you go and win anyway.
Boy, has this been a tale of two halves. The Seahawks came out looking like the team that got skunked by Chicago two weeks ago, turned the tempo around, and wound up resembling a slightly less fundamentally sound version of the defending NFC champs.
On third-and-19 from the St. Louis 34 on the first play of the fourth quarter, Seattle had Deion Branch lined up right wide against Tye Hill, the rookie CB, who hasn't been having his best day, with no safety help. The play called is Maurice Morris up the middle for three yards and a field goal. The Seahawks really need to substitute a second head coach on every third and long -- Holmgren always calls those damned running plays.
Aaaaaaand ... Seattle takes the lead for the first time in the game after Kevin Curtis fumbles the kickoff return and Hasselbeck goes to Branch in the end zone two plays later. I need a beer.
Five of Seattle's six sacks came with three ends/tackles on the line -- two with Julian Peterson as a rushing end, and three without. When Orlando Pace goes to Canton, they're not going to run films of this game. Bryce Fisher has been overpowering him. The defense, so cautious in the first half, is playing up a bit more now.
Seattle's 17 unanswered points in the second half were assisted greatly by two pass interference penalties on St. Louis in the third quarter -- one on Travis Fisher and one on Hill. Bulger's first pick of the year was due to Lofa Tatupu's most unheralded ability -- the ability to back into coverage against elite receivers. The pass was meant for Torry Holt. Maurice Morris' subsequent fumble was St. Louis' sixth red zone takeaway this season, most in the NFL.
Michael Boulware covered Holt on that late TD as well as anyone can. Holt just adjusted, made what he thought was the catch, handled the bobble, and finally caught the ball going away. Just an amazing play. I know Steve Smith had an incredible day for Carolina, but I don't know if it would be possible for him to do anything that impressive. Might be the play of the year so far.
Seattle had an offensive penalty with four seconds left, but it was illegal formation -- no 10-second runoff on that particular foul. Josh Brown hit the 54-yard field goal to give the Seahawks the 30-28 nail biter, because Ed Hochuli knew a rule that I'd bet half the officials in the NFL would have blown.
Aaron Schatz: Clutch performance is a cruel mistress.
Bill Barnwell: Special thanks to Torry Holt's play of the year for ensuring that the Scramble Lock of the Week won't be Sex Panther-related. Grumble grumble grumble...
Ned Macey: Sports Illustrated had a player pool of who was the top wide receiver in football, and Holt was in the equivalent of "others receiving votes." What a joke. He's a great receiver. Great hands, great routes. He abused the Seahawks throughout the game. He's on his way to his seventh straight 1,300-yard season.
This was the first game of the season where the opposition has really gotten a lot of pressure on Bulger, and he still likes to hold the ball a bit much.
The Rams defensive success is a fraud based on an inordinate amount of turnovers forced. Leonard Little gets pressure, and Witherspoon makes the occasional big play, but they give up a lot in the passing game. Admirable performance against Seattle up front, but every team that has played Seattle has felt their defensive line did a good job.
Aaron Schatz: Speaking of Seattle, I'm eating delicious new Chunky BBQ Burger Soup for dinner. Later tonight, Ricky Manning is coming over so I can throw him some ridiculous interceptions.
Doug Farrar: Don't forget to shave your head!
Mike Tanier: Wait a minute, I thought that was a reference to Manning picking off McNabb in the 2003 playoffs. Does Manning abuse all the soup guys?
Doug Farrar: Hmmm ... has FO discovered another trend?
Tennessee Titans 25 at Washington Redskins 22
Bill Barnwell: Don Criqui is abysmal. And it's not as if Steve Beuerlein was saving him. He seriously wasn't even forming coherent sentences.
Jeff Fisher was celebrating this win like it was the Music City Miracle. Small victories...
Mike Tanier: Vince Young kept getting hammered in this game, and he kept getting up. I guess he's smart enough to know that he doesn't want Kerry Collins to get another shot at starting.
I'm still amazed at how much the Redskins rely on those little flat passes to Santana Moss, plus all of the screens and draws. They really look like they are outsmarting themselves at times. On one play, they tried to set up this complicated double-screen to Clinton Portis: Mark Brunell turned and faked to Moss to the right, dropped further, tossed to Portis. Chris Hope, a Titans safety, read the play from the snap and tackled Portis for a seven-yard loss or so. It's rare to see a receiver working the middle of the field; everything is flats, flats, flats, then the bomb.
Overall, the Redskins looked mediocre on both sides of the ball and had a big special teams gaffe. And they are relatively healthy right now. What if they suffer some injuries? I can't see how they would move the ball without Moss as a receiver and a decoy/threat.
Ryan Wilson: The Redskins were without both DTs, today but I can't imagine a scenario where I would expect the defense to ever give up 194 rushing yards. And to the Titans no less. Carlos Rogers continues to stink, and for all that Sean Taylor doesn't, he struggles in coverage.
Pac-Man Jones continues to play well, and he did a solid job on Moss when Washington wasn't running some variation of the slip screen or end around. I have no idea what Brunell was doing on the final interception of the game. The Skins had over a minute on the clock and on the very first play he throws a Hail Mary that's intercepted at the 50. Huh? Obviously, Washington needs more high-priced coaches.
Aaron Schatz: Vince Young had a throw on a second-down pass to Ben Troupe in the fourth quarter that was so hard Troupe couldn't handle it. That's one of those things young quarterbacks really need to learn in the NFL: touch. You don't have to throw everything as hard as possible.
Philadelphia Eagles 24 at New Orleans Saints 27
Mike Tanier: A very frustrating game. The Eagles kept launching bombs, and most of the throws were dropped by receivers or a little too long or were broken up at the last minute. The muffed punt with two minutes to go in the half completely changed the complexion of this game. Ryan Moats (who bumped into Dexter Wynn) makes too many mental errors, and it seemed like Wynn could never find the ball against the dome roof. I want Reno Mahe back!
Gotta give the Saints credit. Their offensive line is better than anyone expected, and their linebacking corps is not as bad as it looked like it would be at the start of camp. Scott Fujita and that Shanle kid did a great job sniffing out screens, which took away a big part of the Eagles gameplan. The Saints real weakness is their secondary, and while I'm impressed with what they've done this year, I think it will be hard for them to keep protecting their safeties and their non-McKenzie cornerbacks (and McKenzie isn't that great).
Maybe a reader can help: The Saints ran a triple stack formation today, with 3 receivers lined up directly behind each other. It's a common formation at lower levels of competition that is now seen a lot in I-A college football. That's the first time I spotted it in the NFL. Are any teams using it frequently?
Ned Macey: Somewhere along the way, the Eagles removed all 10-to-25 yard passes from their playbook. They have the screen, the short cross, and the McNabb-hold-the-ball-a-long-time-and-throw bombs. That being said, they were the better team after the first quarter. Credit to New Orleans for getting their act together to drive down for the game-winning field goal.
I must say I'm impressed watching longtime FO-punching bag Deuce McAllister. He runs hard and aggressively. The list of reasons for New Orleans' turnaround has about 10 items on it before "Reggie Bush" appears. I think all the efforts to "get him the ball" are holding the offense back. Joe Horn, by the way, looked like his old self today.
Michael David Smith: Although a blitz forced him to throw his first interception in a few games, Drew Brees was great at avoiding Philly's pass rush, and an assist has to go to Reggie Bush. No, Bush wasn't picking up the blitzes, but the threat of Brees dumping off short passes to Bush had Philly's linebackers staying at home more than they usually do. Bush is a good rookie wide receiver who lines up in the backfield a lot and might become a good running back some day, too.
Aaron Schatz: Unfortunately, when you are in a bar, you can't sit with your DVR and rewind and watch things in slow motion. Can anyone explain just what defense the Eagles were trying to play on the long Joe Horn touchdown to tie the game late, and how exactly did they screw it up?
Mike Tanier: The Eagles were in Cover-2 on that bomb to Horn. Sheppard reacted to the motion of a receiver in front of him and did not get back to his drop point. Horn started a corner route and then came back to the post. Michael Lewis tripped all over himself trying to turn around. If you are keeping score, the bomb to Terry Glenn last week was a Cover-2 and Horn's first touchdown was against a Cover-2. And all 3 times, Lewis was the deep safety. I think opponents have found a weakness.
Aaron Schatz: I really came away from this impressed with the Saints. They were pressuring McNabb, and their own offensive line was doing a very good job of preventing pressure on Brees -- not a perfect job, but considering how strong a pass rush the Eagles bring, a very good job.
Brian Westbrook, like Warrick Dunn, is pretty good at pushing for extra yards up the middle. Why is Andy Reid so afraid to just let the guy run sometimes?
I wrote in my preview of this game that Deuce McAllister is having a big comeback season. "Someone," a frequently critical commenter, wrote in the discussion thread: "McAllister is a painfully mediocre back according to FO and some posters here. What's he coming back to?" The answer is that he's coming back FROM a big injury TO being a better running back than he was before. This is a different guy than the pre-injury McAllister. He's running forward with more authority instead of junking and looking for the hole that will bring him the big play. He's far more consistent, with more 5-7 yard runs that keep drives going and put the team into good passing situations instead of third-and-long. Some of it is the offensive line improvement, but Bush can't get any yards behind this line because he's not this kind of runner.
By the way, Edgerrin James underwent the exact same transformation when he came back from his ACL injury. The difference is that James was great as a boom-and-bust back, and great as a consistent back. McAllister was mediocre as a boom-and-bust back, and very good as a consistent back.
I still think the Eagles are the better team on a neutral field, but the Saints are definitely not a fluke and are going to be in the hunt all year.
Buffalo Bills 17 at Detroit Lions 20
Michael David Smith: The Lions actually looked like a competent NFL team today. Hard to believe. I think Kevin Jones might finally be figuring out that the way to gain yards is to run hard as soon as you get the ball, not to dance around in the backfield and hope you get an engraved invitation to run through the defense. Still, this isn't a very talented team. It's not even the high-profile first-round busts: A team that has drafted at the top of the second, third, and fourth rounds for five straight years should have better young depth all over the field than the Lions do.
Houston Texas 6 at Dallas Cowboys 34
Michael David Smith: Speaking of teams that draft high and don't have enough to show for it, the Texans are no better than they were last year. Andre Johnson is a stud, and the rest of the team is a mess.
Mike Tanier: This game was 6-3 Texans at half. In fact, all four NFC East teams were trailing for about a half hour or so, then all four came back to at least tie the game.
Drew Bledsoe looked really, really bad in the first half. The whole Cowboys offense looked flat. In the end, T.O. got his touchdowns and the game was a rout, but I can't imagine what the halftime mood was in the locker room.
Will Carroll: Nearly the entire Texans team is banged up after today's game, especially on defense. Is there any way to know if specific teams actually do end up beating the hell out of their opponents so much that the team is reduced the next week? A Physicality Factor?
Miami Dolphins 17 at New York Jets 20
Bill Barnwell: Jim Nantz talks about "Little Wes Welker" like he just got called up from sprint football or something.
The Dolphins would repeatedly spend time in the first half running at the perimeter of the Jets defense with goofy toss plays and reverses when the Jets weakness, all season, has been straight up the middle. That's poor preparation or an utter lack of confidence in your interior OL.
A Jets offensive series, chosen at random: busted draw with Barlow on first down, instant throw to a split-out Barlow called at the line for five yards, bizarre Arena-esque screen to Tim Dwight that astronauts could've seen developing from space for a loss of seven yards. Just goofy.
Drew Coleman tries to make the big hit on Chris Chambers and, despite a six-yard running start, bounces right off of Chambers. Oops.
Joey Harrington kills a drive with an unfathomably bad throw to Victor Hobson.
An unusually intelligent point from Phil Simms: he actually talks about how great Miami's corners have been against opposition wide receivers and he's half right -- they're fourth against #1 WRs through five weeks, 31st against #2's. Unfortunately for Simms, he makes up for it with a hilarious moment a few minutes later when, in the middle of praising Ben Graham, he talks about Graham's years spent kicking for the Chargers and then stops in mid-sentence. You know, because all those Australian kickers are the same.
Speaking of Ben Graham, I continue to believe that the Jets don't deserve him. He boots a 67-yard punt that's nullified because the first Jet (of eight surrounding it) to touch the ball had been out of bounds. The next punt ends up spotting the Dolphins 46 yards of field position. Hooray Jets.
Nick Saban throwing out the Challenge flag while the announcers talk about how he's going to lose the challenge is eerily like someone calling an all-in bet on TV when they're drawing dead.
The Jets continue to employ Brad Smith in the Mike Vrabel "I am never a decoy" role.
This game really came down to whoever could screw up coaching the least. On one hand, Eric Mangini was constantly leaving his defensive backs in matchups against Derek Hagan, Randy McMichael, and Wes Welker (who made a gorgeous diving catch) that they couldn't handle just so he could double Chris Chambers, and when those DBs started giving six-yard cushions, the Dolphins moved down the field pretty much impeded for three consecutive drives. Unfortunately, Nick Saban managed to out-uncoach Mangini. On third-and-2 with 45 seconds left from the Jets 33, he decided to throw instead of running the ball, despite having a timeout to spare -- an incompletion meant Olindo Mare had to kick a 50-yard field goal, which he then dutifully missed to give the Jets the win. It was Herm Edwards-esque.
By the way, the Jets managed to keep Ronnie Brown under 6 yards per carry today. Pretty good day for them.
Pennington really stares down Coles when he wants to throw the slant to him. When he sails the throw a little, like he did today deep in his own territory, a sure-handed DB's going to read it and return it for six. Unfortunately, the Dolphins don't have a sure-handed DB.
Does Hank Poteat rent the same apartment every time the Patriots signed him? We really need to do a feature on his conversations with Belichick and Pioli.
Mike Tanier: Wow, the Dolphins sure are a mutt team this year. Glad we called for a bad year from them in PFP.
Michael David Smith: Laveranues Coles is really good. Early this season I thought Pennington was having a renaissance, but now I think it's more that any quarterback can look good when he has Coles to throw to. I can't think of anyone with his pure speed who also runs such good routes.
Aaron Schatz: The Jets didn't just throw on third-and-2, they threw long. REALLY long. If you're going to try to switch things up by throwing on third-and-2 while you are trying to run out the clock, at least throw a high-percentage pass that will likely end with a tackle in bounds.
As far as the Dolphins being a mutt team, PFP didn't call for a bad year, it just called for an 8-8 year instead of a Super Bowl year like many were predicting.
Kansas City Chiefs 7 at Pittsburgh Steelers 45
Mike Tanier: I usually root for the Chiefs in the AFC, but I am enjoying this beat down. This job has got me rooting against all of the "sky is falling" rhetoric that you hear every time a good team loses.
Doug Farrar: In the PIT-KC game, I'm torn between wanting to applaud Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt for a great gameplan and feeling the need to throw up at the sight of this Kansas City defense. Terrible coverage, arm tackles all over the place ... either there's something wrong with the way my laptop is displaying FO stats, or the sixth-ranked defense in overall DVOA and DAVE is having an uncharacteristic run of pure badness.
I also need a clarification on something - on Troy Polamalu's third-quarter INT, Larry Johnson dragged Polamalu down by his hair and got a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Isn't the hair fair game? Is that considered a "safety rule", or is that no different than dragging a player down by the arm?
Aaron Schatz: I would like to thank the Kansas City Chiefs for getting pummeled today, thus fixing DVOA's "early-season blowouts skew the numbers" problem. After this week, their rating will drop down to where we all expect them to be. None of us thought they were really a top five team and I straight out said that in the commentary two weeks ago, which our critics of course totally ignored.
This is the same thing that happened to both Washington and Chicago last year -- a huge blowout win followed very soon afterwards by a huge blowout loss. Remember: Just as Kansas City is not as good as they looked against San Francisco, they are also not as bad as they looked today.
I thought that Joey Harrington had shaved and cut his hair when he got the starting job, but it turns out I was mistaken -- CBS is just using Brodie Croyle's photo instead of Harrington's by accident.
And yes, the penalty on Larry Johnson for pulling down Troy Polamalu by the hair was total, complete bullshit. The rule is that the hair is part of the body, simple and plan. With all the guys running around the league with dreadlocks these days, I can't believe the refs still don't know the actual NFL rules.
Ryan Wilson: Yeah, the Steelers blew the doors off the Chiefs, but Santonio Holmes muffed a punt and fumbled another, and Willie Parker fumbled twice. Teams usually don't win games when that happens. And oh yeah, Jeff Reed missed a 28-yard field goal attempt. My wife actually remarked that the commentators weren't bad, and I noted that when one team is crushing another team and it's late in the fourth quarter, it's kinda hard to be really annoying. That said, I've never had any issues with Gumbel and Dierdorf. Well, at least not Good Gumbel.
Credit to both Mike T. and Aaron for predicting Big Ben would bounce back because, frankly, I wasn't so sure. Of course, he didn't have to make any super tough throws today, but at least he was accurate, didn't force much, and checked down to his RBs/TEs.
Concerning the Polamalu penalty: the hair is a completely legal means for taking down a player, but the refs called unsportsmanlike conduct on LJ for flipping Polamalu's hair after the tackle and both players were off the ground. Ridiculous, I know. Like I told my wife: either put it in a bun or cut it if you don't want people doing that to you.
Aaron Schatz: Did they say that during the game itself, or in explanations afterward? That sounds like a real CYA explanation for a bad call.
Ryan Wilson: Luckily, I don't think that play changed the outcome.
Carolina Panthers 23 at Baltimore Ravens 21
Will Carroll: McNair got the snot knocked out of him, almost literally. You can see that he was holding his hand up to his face as he woozily walked off the field. Sometimes, guys will get hit hard enough to make things in the sinuses move around. Lesson to players? Blow your nose good before the game.
Michael David Smith: The Panthers were a lot better on third downs today than they have been this year. Getting Steve Smith back to 100 percent health has totally opened up their offense. And after today, I think a whole lot of teams are going to follow Carolina's lead and target Samari Rolle. He really struggled.
Aaron Schatz: Remember after two weeks how everybody was freaking out about how Carolina was in tons of trouble and how could we have all picked them for the Super Bowl, and Baltimore's defense was as strong as ever and Steve McNair made them a leading Super Bowl contender? Yeah, both teams now have the exact same 4-2 record. Patience, football fans, patience.
Oakland Raiders 3 at Denver Broncos 13
Aaron Schatz: This is the second straight week that I've noticed this from the Broncos, but I'm noticing it more all over the league. Is it me, or are teams having serious problems of fundamentals on screen plays? Denver keeps throwing it over to Tatum Bell, but the offensive linemen have not gotten there yet, or there are two defensive linemen between the blockers and the receiver, and the quarterback never should have thrown the ball seeing that. I think I saw Chris Hope blow up one of these screens with no blockers today in the TEN-WAS game, if I'm not mistaken. For crying out loud, practice the screens so the blockers are BLOCKING for the receiver.
Mike Tanier: Defensive linemen seem to get better and better every year on screens. They read them and stop the pass rush, or they tangle up the offensive linemen longer so they cannot get out to block.
Doug Farrar: It's funny -- I grew up in Denver, and I've lived in Seattle since 1985. I have spent most of my life in an AFC West city, and I have lived around "Raider-haters" from my earliest childhood. All I can feel now is pity. Were the NFL ever to take a team into receivership, this might be the one.
Coming This Week:
Any Given Sunday: Buccaneers over Bengals
Every Play Counts: Julius Peppers