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Crossing the Line - Week 3
By Fritz Schlottman
September 18, 2003
 
New York Jets vs. New England

New York Offense
Sacked/G= 1.0
Rush TDs/G= .5
Rush Avg.=2.4

New England Defense
Sacks/G=3.5
Rush TDs Against/G=1.5
Rush Avg. Against=4.1

New York Defense
Sacks/G=2.5
Rush TDs Against/G=1.0
Rush Avg. Against=4.4

New England Offense
Sacked/G=2.0
Rush TDs/G=0.0
Rush Avg.=3.3

When the Jets have the ball - New York proved again last Sunday that they still haven't figured out how to run the ball. RB Curtis Martin is taking heat from fantasy owners and Jets fans alike. He had 32 yards on 10 carries against the Dolphins a week after a poor performance in the season opener when he had 48 yards on 15 rushing attempts against Washington. It got so bad on Sunday that Head Coach Herm Edwards told offensive coordinator Paul Hackett, "We are kidding ourselves. We might as well throw the ball. After a while, we didn't even throw a screen any more. We would just try to throw it down field."

If the Jets can't run the ball against the Patriots this Sunday, they're playing into the strength of a defense that is averaging 3.5 sacks per game. When the Eagles couldn't run the ball last Sunday, McNabb was a dead duck. New England's defense dominated the Eagles' offensive line even though LB Ted Johnson missed the game with a broken foot and LB Rosevelt Colvin left early in the second quarter with a left leg injury. In that game, the Eagles committed six turnovers, two interceptions by McNabb, one of them returned 18 yards for a touchdown by Tedy Bruschi late in the game. McNabb was a woeful 18 for 46 for 186 yards. He was sacked seven times. LB Willie McGinest stepped in when Colvin exited, getting three tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. That's a long way of saying if New York can't run the ball, bad things may happen.

When the Patriots have the ball - The one sure thing you can say about the Patriots offense after two games is that they have no hope of running the ball successfully this season. Antowain Smith led the Patriots Sunday with 12 carries for 25 yards while Kevin Faulk had seven runs for 23 yards. Yippie. The team is averaging 3.3 yards per carry and may not have a rushing touchdown until Halloween.

To make matters worse, QB Tom Brady, playing behind a very weak line, is already banged up from the beating he's taken. Brady suffered a right elbow injury but is expected to play this Sunday, although he may have to suck it up.

New England spread the field, which was a great coaching decision. Brady and the offensive line were better able to see the blitz coming and unload the ball before the rushers could get to the quarterback.

The Patriots inability to run the ball is a blessing to a Jets team that struggles to stop opposing rushers. Dolphins' RB Ricky Williams ran for 125 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries as the Dolphins racked up 187 yards rushing. Last week, it was the Washington Redskins that amassed 160 yards against the Jets in the season opener.

Defensively, the Jets yielded 276 yards total offense in the first half, 136 yards rushing.

DT Dewayne Robertson was benched for most of the second half in favor of veteran Chester McGlockton. Teams have been taking advantage of the rookie and running the football directly at him.

Pittsburgh vs. Cincinnati

Pittsburgh Offense
Sacked/G=3.0
Rush TDs/G= .5
Rush Avg.=3.0

Cincinnati Defense
Sacks/G=.5
Rush TDs Against/G=1.5
Rush Avg. Against=5.3

Pittsburgh Defense
Sacks/G=1.5
Rush TDs Against/G=2.0
Rush Avg. Against=4.2

Cincinnati Offense
Sacked/G=3.0
Rush TDs/G=.5
Rush Avg.=3.0

When the Steelers have the ball - The good news is the Steelers lead the AFC in total offense and pass offense, but their running game is 14th in the 16-team conference, averaging 74 yards a game and less than 3 yards per carry. Out of 132 offensive snaps in two games, the Steelers have run the ball only 50 times.

Problems on the offensive line have contributed to the lack of balance on offense. RBs Amos Zereoue and Jerome Bettis didn't have many holes through which to run. The Chiefs often overwhelmed the offensive line. When the Steelers got behind, the Chiefs began teeing off on the quarterback. Kansas City held Pittsburgh to 13 rushing yards in the first half and had four sacks in the second half. C Jeff Hartings may miss this week's game with a chronic knee injury.

The Cincinnati defense bounced back on the road against the defending AFC champions. They controlled the time of possession on offense and played press coverage on defense, and it worked right up until the end. The Bengals' offense outgained the Raiders 416-237 and held the ball for 39:24 compared to the Raiders' 20:36. 103 Yards passing by NFL MVP Rich Gannon, his lowest total since Sept. 23, 2001.

When the Bengals have the ball - Like the Defense, the Cincinnati Offense played a much better game this week. After Week 1's disaster on offense, the Bengals reshuffled their offensive line. Starting C Mike Goff once again played guard. The former starter, O'Dwyer lost his job, but played the second and fourth quarters at Oakland, alternating with Goff. Rich Braham replaced Goff at center, and the new configuration helped to account for an almost 2-1 edge in time of possession. ROT Willie Anderson (hamstring) said he would be handled similar to last week, when he did not participate fully in the Wednesday practice but was able to go on Thursday. He should be available again this weekend. RB Corey Dillon rushed for 84 yards on 19 carries, but was limited in the second half by a hyper-extended right knee. His availability this Sunday has yet to be determined. If he can't go, it would be a huge blow to the Bengals chances.

The Steelers lead the AFC in total defense and are fifth in the NFL, and their pass defense is third and fifth in the league. Unfortunately, getting crunched by the Chiefs has to hurt more than their pride. The Chiefs ran 35 times and averaged a solid 4.5 yards per carry. RB Priest Holmes finished the game with three touchdowns and 122 yards on 26 carries. Fortunately, the Bengals aren't exactly the offensive machine Kansas City has become.

Jacksonville vs. Indianapolis

Jacksonville Offense
Sacked/G=3.5
Rush TDs/G=1.0
Rush Avg.=3.4

Indianapolis Defense
Sacks/G=2.5
Rush TDs Against/G=0.0
Rush Avg. Against=3.4

Jacksonville Defense
Sacks/G=2.5
Rush TDs Against/G=1.5
Rush Avg. Against=2.8

Indianapolis Offense
Sacked/G=1.0
Rush TDs/G=.5
Rush Avg.=4.0

When the Jaguars have the ball - the Jacksonville offensive line played well, until the team fell behind early. Once the Jag's were reduced to passing every down, they mystery was gone from the offensive game plan and their quarterback was under siege.

Fred Taylor averaged five yards a carry with 71 yards in 14 carries, but carried only five times in the second half because the Jaguars were behind. QB Mark Brunell passed for just 122 yards and was sacked three times a week after an amazing performance against the Panther's defense. The Jacksonville offensive line held up fairly well, but the Bills gave up blitzing them early and played a lot of zone in the second half. The Jaguars will have to run the ball well and play defense to stay in this week's game against the Colts.

When the Titans came out flat and couldn't move the ball on the ground, Dungy's defense pinned their ears back and went after the Tennessee quarterback. McNair was sacked five times and had just 100 yards by air after the third quarter. McNair finished 15-of-24 for 138 yards. David Macklin, Dwight Freeney, and Robert Mathis terrorized the Titans backfield. Indianapolis allowed only 236 yards of total offense and RB Eddie George rushed for only 46 yards. George gained 11 yards run on a second-quarter run. His other 14 carries netted 35 yards.

Things are not well, however, on the injury front. DT Josh Williams is still has a sprained thumb, which he hurt in practice last week. DE Dwight Freeney picked up a bruised shin a week ago, but returned to start against the Titans on Sunday. Freeney then rolled his ankle this week and did not practice Monday. The injury is serious and he may not be available against Jacksonville.

When the Colts have the ball - Indianapolis went back to the running game on Sunday, and it paid off big time. RB Edgerrin James rushed 30 times for 120 yards and a touchdown. Credit the Colts offensive line for opening up holes for the running game and providing the balance on offense that was missing against Cleveland. Tennessee couldn't stop James even when they knew it was coming.

The Jaguars rebounded from last week and stopped the Buffalo running game as RB Travis Henry averaged just 1.2 yards a carry. Jacksonville loaded up in the box to take away the Bills rushing attack, and it worked.

Putting eight in the box did shut down Henry (other than those darn three touchdowns), but the Jaguars secondary paid the price. It was open season for Buffalo QB Drew Bledsoe who shot up the Jacksonville secondary early and often. Bledsoe passed for 314 yards and two touchdowns, 54 yards to former Jaguar WR Bobby Shaw and 36 yards to WR Eric Moulds.

Jaguar DEs Hugh Douglas and Tony Brackens were MIA for much of the game. The Jaguars didn't get a single sack on Bledsoe. Jacksonville's best defensive players had just three tackles between them after combining for three sacks Week 1 against Carolina.

Jacksonville has a number of injuries this week. LB Keith Mitchell suffered a serious neck injury against Buffalo Sunday. He's supposed to make a complete recovery, but he's out indefinitely. DB Kiwaukee Thomas suffered a serious groin injury. Coach Jack Del Rio wouldn't put a timetable on when he'll return. LB Eric Westmoreland suffered a strained MCL and he may not play this weekend.

Minnesota vs. Detroit

Minnesota Offense
Sacked/G=2.5
Rush TDs/G=.5
Rush Avg.=4.7

Detroit Defense
Sacks/G=1.0
Rush TDs Against/G=.5
Rush Avg. Against=5.4

Minnesota Defense
Sacks/G=2.0
Rush TDs Against/G=1.0
Rush Avg. Against=3.9

Detroit Offense
Sacked/G=.5
Rush TDs/G=0.0
Rush Avg.=3.1

When the Vikings have the ball - The Bears decide that it was strategically better to slowly bleed to death than face amputation, and it almost worked. The played six in the box, doubled the wide receivers, and forced Minnesota to be patient, avoid mistakes and run the ball.

And running is what Minnesota did. The Vikings massive offensive line teed off on the outnumbered Chicago defenders. Minnesota took advantage of the Chicago strategy to rush for 202 yards. RB Moe Williams led the way with 108 yards on 21 carries and caught four passes for 50 yards. The Vikings lead ball carrier converted an unbelievable 12 first downs. Two massive drives finished the Bears, a 12-play, 92-yard drive that consumed 7 minutes, 12 seconds and the final sixteen plays, 93 yards and almost 10 minutes drive that secured a 24-13 victory. 62 of the final 93 yards were on the ground.

Bad news for Detroit as the Lions are terrible against the rush. Averaging whopping 5.4 yards per carry against after two weeks, Detroit must do better to beat the Vikings.

The Lions gave up 200 yards rushing in a 31-6 loss at Green Bay in Week 2. They were also 26th against the run before the MNF game, giving up 147.5 yards per game.

A summary of the Lions first quarter defense is as follows. On the second play of the game, RB Ahman Green broke through the Lions' defensive line, then creamed S Corey Harris, 65 yards, touchdown, 7-0. Next possession, another Green Bay touchdown, 14-0.

Ahman Green had 109 yards rushing by halftime. Green's 65-yard touchdown run was for more yards than the Lions' backfield had combined (51 yards) for the game. Green Bay continued to pound the ball with Green (160 yards, 23 carries) and RB Najeh Davenport (eight carries, 32 yards) throughout the first half. This Lions team can't cover and God knows they can't tackle.

When the Lions have the ball - The Detroit running game has been extinct through two games. RB Olandis Gary carried nine times for eight yards. After the loss of RB James Stewart (dislocated shoulder), the team had no choice but to go to running back by committee, relying on Olandis Gary, Shawn Bryson and Avon Cobourne. It doesn't matter who is carrying the football, it's not working. The offensive line isn't opening holes and the RBs aren't making things happen on their own.

Good thing the offensive line can pass protect. Detroit led the league in sacks against in 2002 and has only surrender one sack so far this season. QB Joey Harrington has had plenty of time to throw and should again this week.

The Vikings defense held the Bears to 208 yards even though the Bears started four drives at their 40-yard line or closer. In the fourth quarter, the Bears managed just 33 net yards on two drives. Of course, they never had the ball until they were out of time and hopelessly behind, but who am I to quibble.

New Orleans vs. Tennessee

New Orleans Offense
Sacked/G=2.0
Rush TDs/G=.5
Rush Avg.=3.9

Tennessee Defense
Sacks/G=2.5
Rush TDs Against/G=.5
Rush Avg. Against=3.7

New Orleans Defense
Sacks/G=1.0
Rush TDs Against/G=1.0
Rush Avg. Against=4.0

Tennessee Offense
Sacked/G=3.0
Rush TDs/G=0.0
Rush Avg.=2.7

When the Saints have the ball - New Orleans played a curious game against the visiting Texans last Sunday. For the first half, they stubbornly ran the ball (without any noticeable effect) at the heart of the defense. At intermission, they had a total of 73 yards and seven points.

But pounding the ball seemed to wear down the visitors and the Saints offense opened up in the second half. New Orleans finished the game with 110 rushing yards -- 77 in the second half. RB Deuce McAllister had 96 yards on 20 carries and the Saints averaged 4.1 yards per carry on 27 attempts. The Saints finish with 292 total yards. A much better game all around for the offense and the New Orleans offensive line.

The Titans defense didn't play with the same sense of urgency they had Week 1 against the Raiders. Colts RB Edgerrin James ripped them for 120 yards, and a good portion of that yardage was on first down, setting up second and short.

The Titans had just three healthy DT in uniform (Smith, Haynesworth and James Atkins) against the Colts. Atkins, a reserve, played extensively for Haynesworth at right defensive tackle, and DE Kevin Carter, who plays tackle at times, had to play there yesterday far more than the Titans had planned, especially on passing downs.

If Haynesworth is out for an extended time, Carter will probably spend even more time at tackle.

When the Titans have the ball - Tennessee cane out flat against the Colts and once QB Steve McNair went down with a dislocated finger that was pretty much the end of it. RB Eddie George got yards in big chunks early. He had a long run of 11 yards and consecutive runs of 9, 5 and 6 during a second-quarter drive. But when the Titans got close to the goal line he wasn't effective. He averaged 3.1 yards per carry and the Titans had just 53 yards on the ground for the game. The running game disappeared entirely in the second half. At least the running game had a highlight. The Titans had just 100 yards by air after 45 minutes and McNair finished 15-of-24 for 138 yards. Most of WR Derrick Mason's 98 yards came after the Titans were hopelessly behind, the rest of the receivers did nothing but drop the ball.

Some Tennessee injuries of note: G Benji Olson (knee-MCL and ACL) and defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth (elbow) will have (MRI) are not expected to play. Losing Olson would force the Titans to shuffle their line. T Brad Hopkins (knee), ED Carlos Hall (knee) and QB Steve McNair (finger) were banged up.

Reserve OL Tom Ackerman played at Olson's right guard against Indianapolis, but at 295 pounds he's undersized for the NFL. 305-pound center Justin Hartwig may move back to guard, which was Hartwig's old position during camp. Ackerman would move to center if Hartwig plays guard.

The Saints have their own injury problems on defense. DT Jonathan Sullivan (knee), OLB Sedrick Hodge (knee), CB Dale Carter (eye), and DE Darren Howard are out of this football game.

Tampa Bay vs. Atlanta

Tampa Bay Offense
Sacked/G=.5
Rush TDs/G=0.0
Rush Avg.=2.8

Atlanta Defense
Sacks/G=4.5
Rush TDs Against/G=1.5
Rush Avg. Against=5.0

Tampa Bay Defense
Sacks/G=2.0
Rush TDs Against/G=0.0
Rush Avg. Against=5.2

Atlanta Offense
Sacked/G=2.5
Rush TDs/G=1.5
| Rush Avg.=3.8

When the Buc's have the ball - Who would have thought that the Tampa Bay Buc's would drop back and pass the ball 61 times in a game? Obviously, there are serious problems on the offensive line if a defensive, run oriented team is abandoning the running game in a football game where neither side has scored ten points. The Bucs generated just 60 yards rushing on 22 carries (2.7 per carry). RB Michael Pittman had 10 carries for 38 yards. Without a rushing game, the Bucs went 8-for-18 on third down. Tampa Bay's offense has scored just 26 points in two games despite averaging 362.5 yards of offense.

G Cosey Coleman took the hit for the poor run blocking and the three blocked kicks. The Panthers DT Kris Jenkins on all three of the blocked kicks overpowered the starting guard. Coleman may be replaced on the special teams an on the starting offense.

All you can say about the Falcons defense is that it is very unreliable, even within a single game. Last Sunday, the pass rush was awesome in the first half (5 sacks) and terrible in the second (1 on 15 Washington passing attempts). The Redskins went to a two tight end alignment that shut down the blitzing Falcons linebackers. Regardless, the Redskins marched up and down the field for 435 total yards. A 17-point halftime lead evaporated in a heartbeat and the Falcons were down by nine. The Redskins' starting WRs combined for a 20 catches for 298 yards and two touchdowns.

When the Falcons have the ball - Again, a tale of two halves. In the first 30 minutes, the Falcons offensive line did a great job opening holes, and in the third and fourth quarters, they couldn't block anyone. Atlanta rushed 18 times for 92 yards before halftime and six times for seven yards after the break. The Falcons were 1-11 on third down and 0-9 after their opening drive. QB Doug Johnson completed 2-9 third-down passes for 4 yards and both interceptions came on third down.

If the Buc's defense has a weakness, it's trying to stop big, powerful runningbacks and the Panthers have one of the biggest and most powerful in Stephen Davis. The former Redskin tore up the Tampa defense for five periods of play for a total of 142 yards including 50 on the opening drive of the game. The Falcons T.J Duckett may get more work this week at runningback if Atlanta follows up on Carolina's success.

Kansas City vs. Houston

Kansas City Offense
Sacked/G=2.0
Rush TDs/G=2.5
Rush Avg.=4.3

Houston Defense
Sacks/G=2.0
Rush TDs Against/G=.5
Rush Avg. Against=4.0

Kansas City Defense
Sacks/G=3.5
Rush TDs Against/G= 0.0
Rush Avg. Against=3.6

Houston Offense
Sacked/G=2.5
Rush TDs/G=.5
Rush Avg.=3.5

When the Chiefs have the ball - Everyone is awaiting for the word on RB Priest Holmes ribs. He got dinged on his first touchdown run, a three-yard dive over the pile. Holmes finished with three touchdowns and 122 yards on 26 carries. The Chiefs already have five rushing touchdowns this season. If Homes can't go it will change their offensive approach. Kansas City pounded the ball on the Steelers 35 times and averaged 4.5 yards per carry.

If the Chiefs have to go back to the passing game, QB Trent Green will have to play better. Green did not play well last week; he completed 15 of 21 passes for 125 yards, a touchdown pass, and two interceptions. Protecting Green will be a high priority if Holmes can't go.

The Texans defense didn't play badly against the Saints. Unfortunately, they got pretty beat up in the process. NT Seth Payne will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a torn ACL in his left knee. The Texans signed DT Steve Martin on Monday to plug the hole caused by injuries to NT Seth Payne and DE Gary Walker. The Chief's powerful offensive line should be able to handle the Texans reserve linemen.

When the Texans have the ball - Just when you thought the Houston offense had finally turned the corner, they regressed back to their expansion form. Their offensive line played terribly last Sunday. Not only did they give up five sacks and numerous other vicious hits on QB David Carr, but they weren't run blocking either. The running game only produced 75 yards with 3.1 yards a carry. RB Stacy Mack managed just 31 yards on 13 carries. Under pressure from the Saints' blitz, the Texans managed just 97 passing yards in the second half. As if it could get worse, the Houston was flagged 11 times for 96 yards and the offense was responsible for seven of those penalties.

LG Milford Brown will not practice Wednesday due to a sprained PCL in his right knee. This line can ill-afford injuries as they are neither talented nor deep.

A banged-up Texans offensive line would be an easy kill for a Kansas City defense that has put pressure on opposing QBs this season. DT Ryan Sims, the sixth pick in the 2002 draft, has had a bounce back year. He dominated the center of the Steelers offensive line, stuffing the run and claiming two of the team's four sacks. Sims and the rest of the Chiefs defense limited Pittsburgh to just 13 rushing yards in the first half, and 60 for the game.

New York Giants vs. Washington

New York Giants Offense
Sacked/G=2.0
Rush TDs/G=.5
Rush Avg.=4.6

Washington Defense
Sacks/G=2.0
Rush TDs Against/G=1.5
Rush Avg. Against=3.5

New York Giants Defense
Sacks/G=5.0
Rush TDs Against/G=.5
Rush Avg. Against=3.0

Washington Offense
Sacked/G=5.0
Rush TDs/G=1.0
Rush Avg.=4.4

When the Giants have the ball - The Giants' offensive line is tattered. Three rookies started against the Cowboys: RG David Diehl, C Wayne Lucier and LT Jeff Roehl. It was only the seventh time in NFL history that three rookies started on a team's offensive line.

LT Luke Petitgout didn't dress for the game. He's bothered by back spasms but he's expected back for this Sunday's game against the Redskins. C Chris Bober played RT in his absence and should return to his usual position this week.

The inexperience on New York's offensive line played a major part in Monday night's loss. RB Tiki Barber carried 15 times and gained 41 yards. Without a running game, QB Kerry Collins was running for his life and was sacked twice.

When the Redskins have the ball - The 'Skins offensive line got off to a terrible start against the Falcons. When you're giving up five sacks per game the pass blockers are going to take a lot of heat on the sidelines. G Dave Fiore and T Chris Samuels in particular struggled with pass protection against the Atlanta blitzers. Playing on the road, in a dome is tough on linemen who can't hear the signal count or the audibles. The result last Sunday was six sacks and numerous false start penalties.

Credit QB Patrick Ramsey for keeping his cool under pressure. He hung in the pocket and delivered the ball for 25 of 39 completions, a career-high 356 yards, and a 110.6 rating. Before fantasy owners jump on this bandwagon, just remember, on big hit and Ramsey's toast, and he's getting hit a lot right now. Ramsey suffered a sprained left shoulder after a second-quarter hit and was already hobbled with a knee injury suffered Week 1.

To keep Ramsey alive to play another game, the Redskins have suddenly become more of a running team. They're averaging averaging 142.5 rushing yards, 4.4 per carry.

The New York Giants defense have to be scratching their heads. How does your defense allow one offensive touchdown and Cowboys score 35 points? The answer is the Giants let Dallas move the ball up and down the field at will. QB Quincy Carter completed 25 of 40 passes for 321 yards, including 15 of the Cowboys' 24 first downs through the air.

Carter was sacked four times, but most of those were the result of him taking off on his own. The Giants shut down the Cowboys running game, although Dallas RB Troy Hambrick did get away from them at all the wrong times. He finished with 23 carries for 60 yards.

Green Bay vs. Arizona

Green Bay Offense
Sacked/G=.5
Rush TDs/G=1.5
Rush Avg.=4.9

Arizona Defense
Sacks/G=.5
Rush TDs Against/G=1.0
Rush Avg. Against=3.7

Green Bay Defense
Sacks/G=1.5
Rush TDs Against/G=0.0
Rush Avg. Against=4.0

Arizona Offense
Sacked/G=2.0
Rush TDs/G=0.0
Rush Avg.=4.3

When the Packers have the ball - Green Bay took advantage of a Detroit defense that features linebackers and safeties that can't tackle. On the second play of their opening series, the first run of the game, RB Ahman Green busted through the Lions defensive front and broke a tackle in the secondary on his way to a 65-yard touchdown run. Green finished with 160 yards on 23 carries (7.0 average) and the team finished with 200 rushing yards on 35 carries, the third most in the Packers last 19 games. Essentially, Green Bay's offensive line came out and beat up the opposing Lions. They called running play on 11 of the first 15 calls. With the running game working, QB Brett Favre could stand in the pocket and deliver the football without being harassed by Detroit defenders. The Lions never got near him, and had no sacks on the day. Credit the Packers tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher for exceptional play against the Lions speed rushing ends.

The Cardinals defense was just another victim of Arizona's incompetence on offense. The Seahawks offense always had a short field, and the 'Cards defenders hung in there, at least for a while, denying Seattle on two of the first four quick change of possessions. In the end, it was just too much pressure as the Arizona offense made mistake after mistake on offense.

When the Cardinals have the ball - This will probably be the Cardinals worst game of the season. Then again, this is Arizona and anything bad is possible.

In front of 50,000 empty seats, the home team imploded on offense. The bumbling Cardinals turned the ball over on their first four possessions in the first 15 minutes of the game. They finished the game with six turnovers. Not surprisingly, the game was over at half 24-0. Arizona has lost the turnover battle 9-0 and the first two games by a combined score of 80-24.

It's hard to pin this disaster on the offensive line. When you constantly are giving the opponents' the ball and you're buried by halftime, it's nearly impossible to get any timing on offense. With three of Arizona's top six WRs injured and now their starting quarterback dinged, this could be another ugly week.

St. Louis vs. Seattle

St. Louis Offense
Sacked/G=5.5
Rush TDs/G=.5
Rush Avg.=3.5

Seattle Defense
Sacks/G=2.0
Rush TDs Against/G=0.0
Rush Avg. Against=3.8

St. Louis Defense
Sacks/G=1.5
Rush TDs Against/G=1.0
Rush Avg. Against=5.6

Seattle Offense
Sacked/G=2.0
Rush TDs/G=1.5
Rush Avg.=4.5

When the Rams have the ball - The Rams offensive line played better this last week, but they still have a long way to go. So far, they're failing both to open holes for the running game and they're not protecting their quarterback.

You can blame QB Kurt Warner for holding the ball too long and taking six sacks against the Giants. Fair enough. But who's responsible for the five sacks, at home, against the 49ers? Even when the Rams went back to the running game after ignoring it for so long, (although it was largely ineffective) they still couldn't protect their quarterback. RB Marshall Faulk rushed 18 times for 57 yards and 26 of that come on single third quarter run from the St. Louis 7. Playing RB Lamar Gordon at fullback did not help the running game one bit. He played much better as the ball carrier after Faulk went out with an eye injury. The Rams can put a blocking fullback on their long needs list this year.

Seattle toyed with the Cardinals before putting them out of their misery in the second quarter. Rookie S Ken Hamlin had a huge game forcing turnovers on the first three Arizona drives before collecting an interception on the last one. The Seahawks forced turnovers on each of the first four Arizona possessions and the game was over. It's difficult to say how good this unit is after beating the Cardinals, but six points per game against looks pretty good right now.

When the Seahawks have the ball - Difficult to say how good this team is when your missing your number one WR (suspended) and the other team came out of the tunnel, took dead aim at their foot, and pulled the trigger until they run out of bullets or it stopped hurting. QB Matt Hasselbeck completed 8-of-19 passes for 175 yards without an interception. Shaun Alexander and Maurice Morris combined for 24 carries and 118 yards. Seattle was playing mercy offense ten minutes into the third quarter and the Cardinals couldn't stop them even when they knew the Seahawks were going to run the ball on first and second downs.

The Rams have a very average defense. Rams pass rushers got to 49ers QB Garcia only once, but DEs Wistrom and Little kept him in the pocket by taking narrow rush lanes. The interior defense played better, but 49ers still averaged 5.7 yards per rush. How the Rams beat the 49ers who dominated them statistically and didn't turn the ball over excessively is beyond me.

Baltimore vs. San Diego

Baltimore Offense
Sacked/G=3.0
Rush TDs/G=1.5
Rush Avg.=6.7

San Diego Defense
Sacks/G=2.0
Rush TDs Against/G=1.5
Rush Avg. Against=5.0

Baltimore Defense
Sacks/G= 2.5
Rush TDs Against/G=.5
Rush Avg. Against=2.7

San Diego Offense
Sacked/G=1.5
Rush TDs/G=0.0
Rush Avg.=5.1

When the Ravens have the ball - The Ravens couldn't pass protect, but when your offensive line block for 343 team rushing yards, who gives a crap? This was particularly impressive because the Ravens were under strength for most of the afternoon.

T Jonathan Ogdon played like a Pro Bowl tackle and Ethan Brooks and Orlando Brown continued to rotate at right tackle, but Anderson missed some time in the first half because of a thigh bruise and was replaced by Casey Rabach. Anderson returned to the lineup in the third quarter and was needed immediately. G Edwin Mulitalo left in the fourth quarter with knee and ankle injuries. Even with the injuries Lewis had 129 yards rushing before the Browns even had a first down. In five career games against Cleveland, Lewis has averaged 168 yards a game and 7.0 yards a carry.

This is not good news for the Chargers defense. A review of their season is as follows: Week 1: blown out by Chief RB Priest Holmes, game over at the half. Week 2: blow out by RB Clinton Portis: ditto. Week 3: NFL record rusher Jamal Lewis in town-bad things may happen. San Diego's defense can't get a break right now.

The Chargers continue to struggle to explain why they can't stop anybody, and now look who's coming to town. After Kansas City and Denver disasters, the Chargers have to try and stop Baltimore's Jamal Lewis, who set the NFL's single-game rushing record with 295 yards on Sunday. Denver scored on seven of its first eight drives to beat San Diego 37-13 on Sunday, a week after Kansas City scored on five of its first eight possessions in a 27-14 win. In two games, Chargers opponents have scored on eight of 11 first-half drives - six touchdowns and two field goals. Good luck, San Diego.

When the Chargers have the ball - The Chargers will be playing without their two starting WRs this week. This will put added pressure on the offensive line to open holes for RB LaDainian Tomlinson. If San Diego can't run the ball and plays defense against the run as well as they've done through two week, they'll get blown out of another football game.

Tomlinson finished with 93 yards on 16 carries against the Broncos. The problem is that the Chargers give up early on the gunning game when they fall behind quickly. WR Reche Caldwell (dislocated wrist) could be out for eight weeks. Who knows when WR David Boston will suit up? QB Drew Brees has cut down on his mistakes, but he doesn't have anyone to throw the ball to.

If San Diego can't keep the Ravens defense honest, Tomlinson will spend the afternoon getting blasted by Baltimore Pro Bowl LB Ray Lewis. The Ravens defensive leader took over the Cleveland game. He had nine tackles; two passes broken up, one fumble recovery and knocked the stuffing out of 11 Cleveland offensive players.

The Steelers ripped the Baltimore secondary Week 1, but the birds countered by putting more heat on the opposing QB in Week 2. Cleveland QB Kelly Holcomb was harassed all afternoon. He was sacked three times, threw two interceptions, and had only one completion for more than 15 yards. Browns RB William Green was held to 54 rushing yards.

Cleveland vs. San Francisco

Cleveland Offense
Sacked/G=1.5
Rush TDs/G=0.0
Rush Avg.=3.4

San Francisco Defense
Sacks/G=5.0
Rush TDs Against/G=.5
Rush Avg. Against=3.3

Cleveland Defense
Sacks/G=2.5
Rush TDs Against/G=1.0
Rush Avg. Against=7.3

San Francisco Offense
Sacked/G=.5
Rush TDs/G=1.5
Rush Avg.=4.6

When the Browns have the ball - This offense is not very good right now, and it starts with the offensive line and the defense. They had one rushing first down and gave up ten. They had 175 net total yards and gave up 375. The offenses average gain was a lousy 2.9 yards per play. Over two games, the offense has generated one touchdown. That's simply dreadful. Until this team starts doing the basics, like blocking and tackling, they're going nowhere.

The 49ers are probably still scratching their heads. How did they lose a game they dominated statistically and didn't have excess turnovers? The Rams couldn't run the ball and they couldn't pass either, and you still lose. Part of the explanation is penalties. Part of it was a receiver that tried to make a play when he needed to fall down and call a timeout. The loss to the Rams should have this defense fired up this week.

When the 49ers have the ball - The 'Niners took a pounding in this game and still dominated. Unfortunately, they have some key personnel dinged coming into Week 3. QB Jeff Garcia (concussion) and WR Terrell Owens' injuries you probably know about, but the big guys that protect them are in worse shape. Last week against the Rams, three of the starters on the offensive line were back-ups. LT Derrick Deese, LG Eric Heitmann and RT Scott Gragg were out of the starting lineup because of ankle injuries. C Jeremy Newberry and RG Ron Stone left the field during the game because of ankle twists. If it were not for the play of first-round draft pick Kwame Harris starting in place of Deese, Kyle Kosier starting for Gragg and Dwayne Ledford starting for Heitmann this team would have gone nowhere against the Rams. Even with the back-ups in, the 49ers rushed for 148 yards in 26 carries (a 5.7-yard average), and Garcia was sacked only once.

The Browns defense was horrible against the Ravens. The Browns had to know that with a rookie quarterback making his second start in the league and RB Jamal Lewis's history of tearing up the Cleveland defense, the Ravens were going to come out and rush the football. They knew it, and they couldn't stop them.

The defensive line was a mixed bag and the linebackers were a disaster. Two sacks by Kenard Lang and one by Mark Word didn't compensate for the horrible performace against the Ravens interior offensive line. DT Gerard Warren got blown off the line of scrimmage and the linebackers either got caught in traffic or couldn't get off their blocks to make a tackle. Lewis was past the safeties before they knew what hit them. They will have to be much better this week in California if the Browns are going to stay in this football game.

Buffalo vs. Miami

Buffalo Offense
Sacked/G=1.0
Rush TDs/G=2.5
Rush Avg.=2.3

Miami Defense
Sacks/G=.5
Rush TDs Against/G=0.0
Rush Avg. Against=3.3

Buffalo Defense
Sacks/G=2.5
Rush TDs Against/G=.5
Rush Avg. Against=4.7

Miami Offense
Sacked/G=1.5
Rush TDs/G=1.0
Rush Avg.=4.1

When the Bills have the ball - The Jaguars sat on RB Travis Henry last Sunday, and QB Drew Bledsoe made them pay. Jacksonville played eight and even nine in the box to slow the Buffalo running game down, but all that attention to Henry exposed their secondary to a withering Bills passing game.

Henry averaged just 26 yards and a 1.2 yards per carry average. I guess he'll just have to comfort himself with the memory of the three rushing touchdowns he scored-poor guy. Meanwhile, Bledsoe was ripping up the Jacksonville secondary. He finished 19-25, 314 yards, two touchdown passes, and a QB rating of 144.2. None of the Jaguars laid a hand on him all day, thanks to the offensive line. T Jonas Jennings and Mike Williams made Jaguars DEs Hugh Douglas and Tony Brackens disappear. C Trey Teague needs to work on his long snap, however. The Bills botched their second snap from the shotgun formation this year.

Miami's defense still hasn't been able to get pressure on the opposing quarterback. After two weeks, they have one sack. They will have to get more pressure against the immobile Buffalo quarterback if the Dolphins are going to slow down the Bills passing game.

The linebackers and the defensive tackles took away what little running game the Jets could muster. The front seven limited the Jets to 21 net rushing yards. They'll get a much bigger test then they've faced against either the Texans or the Jets on Sunday.

When the Dolphins have the ball - The Miami running game picked up after sputtering against the Texans. Changes to the offensive line and a commitment to running the ball contributed to their success.

RB Rickey Williams had a decent day. He had 34 carries for 125 yards on the afternoon. Tim Ruddy rotated in and out of the line-up. Ruddy played the first two series, finished with 38 snaps compared to McKinney's 29. Wannstedt said the rotation was necessary because of Ruddy's sore knee, but McKinney has been playing well before the injury. LT Wade Smith was solid. Smith held his own against Jets DE John Abraham (with some help) and may stay in the starting lineup even when LT Mark Dixon (ankle) is ready to play again.

The Bills defense smoked the opposing offense for the second straight week. They're getting great pressure on the quarterback (five sacks this season) but they still haven't solved their problems against the rush. DT Sam Adams was quiet one game after scoring a touchdown on an interception and blowing up the Patriots rushing game. He needs to be more of a factor this week against the Dolphins. Miami will try and take advantage to the Bills weakness and pound Rickey Williams into the center of the Buffalo.

Oakland vs. Denver

Oakland Offense
Sacked/G=2.0
Rush TDs/G=.5
Rush Avg.=5.6

Denver Defense
Sacks/G=2.0
Rush TDs Against/G=0.0
Rush Avg. Against=4.3

Oakland Defense
Sacks/G=1.5
Rush TDs Against/G=.5
Rush Avg. Against=3.1

Denver Offense
Sacked/G=1.0
Rush TDs/G=1.5
Rush Avg.=5.2

When the Raiders have the ball - What the heck happened to the Oakland offense this year? Third receivers are generally not the most important players on a football team, but the Raiders offense looks lost without the big play threat from WR Joey Porter.

Oakland more or less jettisoned the rushing game at the beginning of last year. Not surprisingly, they are dead last in yards rushing one week into the season. With defenses playing press coverage on the Raiders two aging WRs and no running game, it's been open season on the Oakland quarterback. Rich Gannon looks like a deer in the headlights right now. When Raiders DB Phillip Buchanon intercepted a Jon Kitna pass and returned it 83 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter it was 19 more yards than the Oakland passing game had produced up to that point. In the end, the Raiders gained just 103 yards in the air.

Look for the Raiders to go back to the running game against the Broncos. When teams get in trouble on offense, running the football give those defensive linemen something to think about. Oakland averaged 4.7 yards per carry against the Bengals, so it's not like they can't run if they choose to.

Denver's defense didn't have to do a lot against the Chargers. San Diego was out of he game so fast, the Broncos could play base defense for most of the afternoon knowing that Tomlinson wasn't going to get the ball. Denver haven't been challenged in their two games against the Bengals and the Chargers, so it's difficult to determine if they're as good as they look.

When the Broncos have the ball - Denver's immediate concern is the health of their starting backfield. RB Clinton Portis has a bruised chest after getting whacked in the second quarter last week. He's really sore, but likely to play against the Raiders. QB Jake Plummer had a concussion. err shoulder separation and it's unlikely he'll be available against Oakland.

If either can't go, it changes the Broncos offense significantly. Without Portis in the line-up, Oakland is going to scheme to attack Denver's QB. If Plummer isn't back there, or isn't mobile enough to avoid the rush, then the Bronco's offensive line will have to protect a stationary target. Either way, Oakland's going to pin their ears' back and get after them this week.