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Crossing the Line - Week 5
By Fritz Schlottman
October 2, 2003
 
Tennessee vs. New England

Tennessee Offense
Sacked/G= 2.25
Rush TDs/G= .25
Rush Avg.=2.6

New England Defense
Sacks/G=3.0
Rush TDs Against/G=1.25
Rush Avg. Against=4.1

Tennessee Defense
Sacks/G=2.75
Rush TDs Against/G=.5
Rush Avg. Against=3.0

New England Offense
Sacked/G=2.5
Rush TDs/G=.25
Rush Avg.=3.6

When the Titans have ball - The Titans rank 31st in yards per rush (2.6 yard average) after four weeks. That's not a good thing. Against Pittsburgh last Sunday, they tried to run the ball in the first half, only to abandon it midway through the second quarter when they couldn't sustain drives. RB Eddie George finished 21 yards on 11 carries, about 1.9 yards a carry. His longest run was 6 yards. Rookie RB Chris Brown got into the game, but only gained 3 yards in six plays.

Yes, Eddie George looks done, but the offensive line didn't have its best day either. The Titans seem to struggle against 3-4 teams that cover up the center. C Justin Hartwig was called for three penalties including a rarity for linemen-an offensive pass interference penalty. Given his struggles against nose tackles playing over him, he's fortunate the Patriots human road block DT Ted Washington is out with a broken leg.

New England's injury problems on defense forced a change in defensive philosophy last week against the Redskins. They were without nine opening day starters. New England took a lot of chances on defense, at times daring the Redskins to run the ball and at other times playing man-to-man in the secondary and bringing the heat. Expect more of the same this week, as the Patriots will continue to play without a handful of starter on defense.

When the Patriots have the ball - The Patriots are really banged up on the offensive line. Last week against the Redskins, they played without three starters and were nearly without a fourth. G Joe Andruzzi (arm) nearly became the fourth Patriots offensive lineman on the injury list. He left the game but returned one play later. The Patriots were already playing without LG Mike Compton, C Damien Woody and RT Adrian Klemm. New England started two linemen making their first NFL appearances and a rookie at center starting his third game.

The Patriots had just 41 rushing yards in the first 30 minutes of play and 21 of those came on their first possession. They finished with 110 for the game on 30 carries. After the opening drive, the Patriots forgot about the running game until they were behind by two scores in the third quarter.

The Titians defense has been awesome against the rush this year. They only give up an average of 3.0 yards per rush and have surrender only two rushing touchdowns.

The Patriots poor rushing game will struggle this week even with Titans LB Peter Sirmon on the bench. Sirmon will miss two to four weeks after fracturing two transverse bones in his lower back in Pittsburgh. It's the same injury Vikings' QB Daunte Culpepper has. His replacement, LB Rocky Boiman, played well against the Steelers. Boiman had a sack for a safety and had a 60-yard interception return for a touchdown in the 4th quarter.

Cincinnati vs. Buffalo

Cincinnati Offense
Sacked/G=2.5
Rush TDs/G= .25
Rush Avg.=3.0

Buffalo Defense
Sacks/G=2.0
Rush TDs Against/G=1.0
Rush Avg. Against=4.5

Cincinnati Defense
Sacks/G=1.0
Rush TDs Against/G=1.0
Rush Avg. Against=4.4

Buffalo Offense
Sacked/G=2.0
Rush TDs/G=2.0
Rush Avg.=2.3

When the Bengals have the ball - Time to give credit where it's due. I've said many unkind things about the Bengals offensive line in the past, but they played exceptionally well against Cleveland last week. They didn't give up a sack, and even with RB Cory Dillon on the bench for much of the game, the Bengals were still able to move the ball on the ground. The Bengals had 80 yards rushing, 51 by back-up RB Rudi Johnson. The Bengals had just enough of a rushing game to balance Kitna's effective throwing. Kitna finished with three touchdown passes.

There seems to be a pattern to beating the Bills defense.run the ball and beat them to death. The Eagles, who hadn't managed any kind of a rushing game in the first two weeks of the season, pounded the Buffalo defenders on the ground. The Eagles ran the ball a season-high 34 times against the Bills. Miami ran RB Ricky Williams at the Bills defenders the game before. The result... two straight Buffalo losses. The Bills are now giving up an average of 4.5 yards per carry, so expect the Bengals to do more of the same this week if Dillon is healthy.

When the Bills have the ball - The interior of the Bills offensive line has really struggled this year. The Eagles, particularly DT Corey Simon, dominated Gs Ruben Brown and Mike Pucillo and C Trey Teague. The Bills managed just 129 net yards of offense and trailed 16-0 through the first 45 minutes. New RB Joe Burns finished with only 17 yards on eight carries for the game.

Bledsoe's numbers look better than the flow of the game would suggest. Bledsoe was 27-of-43 for 296 yards, but he was under pressure all day. The Eagles blitzed on more than 75% of Buffalo's passing plays, and the offensive line struggled to keep the heat off Bledsoe. He was hurried on almost every throw, and while he was sacked only twice for nine yards, Bledsoe never had the time he needed to look downfield and exploit the Eagles' banged up secondary. Too often he was forced to dump the ball off quickly to his hot read.

In particular, RG Mike Pucillo has struggled badly the last two weeks against two of the better run-stuffers Tim Bowens of Miami and Simon. Pucillo has three holding calls the last two weeks (one was declined), and he's gotten little or no push against either of these opponents.

This would be a great week to get RB Travis Henry back as the Bengals struggle to stop the rush. Cincinnati is giving up an average of 4.4 yards per carry, although they did a better job last week against a piss poor Browns offensive line. Cincinnati still hasn't overcome the loss of LB Takeo Spikes, who will wear a Bills uniform this week.

Miami vs. New York Giants

Miami Offense
Sacked/G=1.33
Rush TDs/G=1.0
Rush Avg.=4.0

New York Defense
Sacks/G=4.33
Rush TDs Against/G=.33
Rush Avg. Against=3.8

Miami Defense
Sacks/G=1.67
Rush TDs Against/G=0.0
Rush Avg. Against=3.2

New York Offense
Sacked/G=1.67
Rush TDs/G=.33
Rush Avg.= 4.4

When the Dolphins have the ball - Miami comes off a bye week. That's good because RB Ricky Williams needed the rest. I'm sure he woke up a wee bit tender after all those carries against the Bills. Williams tied an NFL record with 76 carries in a two-game stretch. I wouldn't be surprised if he spent the better part of his off-week in the training room's whirlpool.

If you're running the ball that many times, the offensive line must be playing pretty well. Unfortunately, they've gotten beaten up in the process. C Tim Ruddy (knee) didn't practice Monday and is highly unlikely to play Sunday against the New York Giants. Ruddy could miss as many as five games before being back in uniform. C Seth McKinney was officially named the starter for Sunday's game against the New York Giants.

There was some good injury new, however. LT Mark Dixon (ankle) practiced Monday and could play for the first time this season. Dixon returned to practice last week after experiencing a setback in early September relating to the surgery he had following the first exhibition game. LG Jamie Nails had a week to recover from his nagging injury and should play this week.

The Giants have had a week off as well. Hopefully they've solved their pass defense problems. Through three games, the G-Men have allowed 943 total net yards passing, more than 300 yards per game. S Omar Stoutmire has been burned often on the crossing patterns. MLB Mike Barrow leads the team in tackles, but his pass coverage has been inconsistent at best. S Shaun Williams has moments when he has no clue about what's going on. The Giants have recorded 13 sacks, which had tied them for the NFL lead with San Francisco going into the bye week, but six of them came in the first game against Kurt Warner who had a concussion. Defensive coordinator Johnnie Lynn has taken a lot of heat for not being aggressive at the end of ball games. The Giants go to a three-man pass rush but they lose any pressure on the opposing quarterback in the process, further exposing their struggling secondary.

When the Giants have the ball - The annual rebuilding project on the Giants offensive line seems to be going according to plan. This off-season, the entire right side was lost to free agency a year after the first reconstruction effort. To make matters worse, LT Luke Petitgout (back) missed the first two games as well, but the reserves did well enough in relief. Petitgout should play this week next to LG Rich Seubert who in his second year has become the best lineman on the team. RG David Diehl, converted center playing RT Chris Bober and rookie C Wayne Lucier, have played reasonably well. In particular, Diehl and Lacier have played like veterans. The Giants have only given up five sacks through the first three games and are averaging nearly four and a half yards per carry.

Where did that defense come from? The Bills and most of America were scratching their heads after the Dolphins defense just dominated the Buffalo offense. The Bills managed just 129 net yards of offense in South Florida.

The Dolphins defense has improved greatly in games two and three after looking old and sluggish against the Texans. Miami has allowed only 62 yards on 25 carries against the Jets and Bills. The DTs Tim Bowens, Larry Chester and Jeff Zgonina get a lot of the credit. Together, they've just shut down all the running lanes in the interior of the Dolphin's defense. WLB Junior Seau looks much more familiar with the defense after a couple of games as well. He's flying to the ball and making play like the Junior of old. The Dolphins have yet to give up a rushing touchdown. Now, if only the pass rush would come alive, this Miami defense may yet live up to its preseason expectations.

Seattle vs. Green Bay

Seattle Offense
Sacked/G=2.67
Rush TDs/G=1.0
Rush Avg.=4.4

Green Bay Defense
Sacks/G=2.0
Rush TDs Against/G=.75
Rush Avg. Against=4.2

Seattle Defense
Sacks/G=1.33
Rush TDs Against/G=.33
Rush Avg. Against=3.5

Green Bay Offense
Sacked/G=.25
Rush TDs/G=1.25
Rush Avg.=5.0

When the Seahawks have the ball - Seattle can't wait for RT Chris Terry to return from a four-game suspension. If he's in shape, he'll play next week against the 49ers. Terry's arrival in Seattle had much to do with the Seattle's offensive revival last year.

The Seahawks' offense has been good enough to win their first three games without him. The ground game was excellent New Orleans and Arizona. RB Shaun Alexander averaged 4.3 yards a carry in the first three games despite failing to break a run longer than 17 yards. RB Maurice Morris averaged 6.1 yards a pop with no runs longer than 16 yards.

USA Today reports that Terry's replacement (RT Floyd "Pork Chop" Womack) watched practice Monday, resting his sore toe. Seattle expects him to start Sunday at Green Bay. Womack shadowed teammates during practice, lining up behind them as if to envision the play unfolding. He an adequate fill-in when healthy, but he's not again this week and that's hurting the offense. Pro Bowl left tackle Walter Jones practiced after resting a sore thigh last week.

The Packers defense continues to struggle. They can't stop opposing rushers and they can't get pressure on the quarterback with their front four. The Packers had merely three sacks in the first three games but came through with five on Monday night. Green Bay sent the corners or the safeties to test Chicago's suspect tackles.

When the Packers have the ball - The Packers offensive line had their best game to date on Monday Night. They dominated the Bears front seven, tearing open running lanes and stumping Chicago's pass rushers. Chicago didn't lay a finger on QB Brett Favre who had a passer rating of 104 and three touchdown passes on the night. Green Bay's offensive line has given up one sack so far this season. RB Ahman Green was the player of the game with 176 yards in 19 carries (9.3-yard average). Credit the offensive line for much of the Packers success against the Bears.

Seattle's perfect start to the season has been a little fortunate. They've gotten by despite a number of problems on defense and offense. The defensive is living off turnovers and what happens later in the year when offenses begin catching up is a big concern for the Seahawk coaching staff.

Most of their concern is focused on the front seven. Four sacks in three games are troubling. Thirty-five year old DT John Randle is catching some heat for his lack of production. LB Chad Brown has had a slow start following off-season foot surgery. He practiced Monday after sitting out recent practices. LB Anthony Simmons has a bad case of turf toe that's had him on and off the practice field. DT Norman Hand has the same affliction.

There is some good news. The Seahawks defense looks most improved against the run. Seattle has given up only 271 yards rushing in the first three games, down from 470 in the first two games last season.

Oakland vs. Chicago

Oakland Offense
Sacked/G=3.0
Rush TDs/G=.75
Rush Avg.=4.7

Chicago Defense
Sacks/G=1.0
Rush TDs Against/G=1.67
Rush Avg. Against=5.2

Oakland Defense
Sacks/G=1.25
Rush TDs Against/G=1.25
Rush Avg. Against=4.3

Chicago Offense
Sacked/G=4.33
Rush TDs/G=.67
Rush Avg.=4.9

When the Raiders have the ball - the Raiders finally found a defense (the Chargers) they can move the ball on, but only when one of their cornerbacks is on the sidelines. WR Jerry Rice exploited San Diego's reserve CB is the second half leading the way to a big come from behind victory.

Oakland's offensive line still isn't great. C Barrett Robbins played his first game as a starter. You may recall that he missed the Super Bowl after a late night in Mexico and then had surgery in the off-season. His return was negated by the departure of Lincoln Kennedy who missed the game with a calf problem. His replacement (Langston Walker) played well. Kennedy may return to the line-up this week.

Despite the juggling up front, Oakland managed a decent offensive performance. The Raiders gained 120 yards in 24 carries for an average of 5.0 per carry including RB Charlie Garner's 24-yard touchdown run sent the game into overtime.

On the other hand, the Bears defense was pitiful on Monday night. They couldn't do anything right and the only way they could get off the field was to let the Packers score. Chicago is last in the league in rush defense giving a league-worst 184 rushing yards per game. LB Bryan Knight will likely get benched for his performance. Rookie Lance Briggs may get a shot this week despite missing an assignment that resulted in the Packers' block of a Brad Maynard punt, which turned into Green Bay's second touchdown. One or more members of the Bears' secondary may also lose their jobs if the sloppy tackling and dropped assignments continues.

When the Bears have the ball - Is punting on first down an option? I may be a little harsh, but when your most effective plays are the option and the quarterback draw, you have some serious issues.

Chicago's offensive line continues to struggle. The Packers challenged their tackles to come out on the corners and stop the corner blitz. Unfortunately for the Bears fans, moving is a little too much to ask from this personnel, especially T Aaron Gibson who's carrying an extra safe with him above his belt line. It took 49 attempted passes, including five sacks for the Bears to net 180 yards through the air. Aside from the 67-yard run by RB Anthony Thomas where the Packers safeties got caught up in the wash and didn't lay a hand on him, the Bears runningback had nowhere to go. He finished with 43 yards on his other 11 carries. Chicago exceeding their rushing totals for the previous two games 181-135.

I watched the Raiders game and it was everything I could do not to scream at the television. Weren't these guys paying attention in class this week? Everybody knew that the Chargers were going to play without their four top three wide receivers and LaDainian Tomlinson was going to get the freaking ball. Sometime during the week's practice some coach must have mentioned that stopping the Chargers runningback was going to be a high priority, and yet no one laid a glove on this guy until the second half. Tomlinson had 143 yards at halftime against this clueless defense.

New Orleans vs. Carolina

New Orleans Offense
Sacked/G=2.25
Rush TDs/G=.5
Rush Avg.= 4.1

Carolina Defense
Sacks/G=3.67
Rush TDs Against/G=.33
Rush Avg. Against=3.8

New Orleans Defense
Sacks/G=2.75
Rush TDs Against/G=.75
Rush Avg. Against=3.6

Carolina Offense
Sacked/G=2.0
Rush TDs/G=.33
Rush Avg.=4.6

When the Saints have the ball - The Saints offensive line was passable against the Colts. They did a good job in run blocking, but struggled against the Colts pass rush. RB Deuce McAllister rushed for 101 yards on 17 carries, 81 yards came in the first half when the game was still somewhat in doubt. McAllister averaged 5.9 yards per carry and the Saints finished with 25 rushes for 155 yards on the ground. QB Aaron Brooks was dreadful. The Saints QB had a 2.8 passer rating in the first quarter and a 44.6 rating for the game. He was 16 of 28 passes for 166 yards, had two interceptions, lost two fumbles, and was sacked twice before getting the hook early in the fourth quarter. Brooks made a lot of bad decisions, but he was also under a great deal of pressure most of the night.

To make matters worse, the Saints picked up a couple of injuries on the offensive line. LT Wayne Gandy injured his right hamstring in the first half and is out one-to-two weeks and RG LeCharles Bentley has a strained knee, but may play Sunday.

The Panthers defense just creamed the Falcons. Carolina sacked Doug Johnson six times and intercepted him once. Atlanta had just 123 net passing yards. They should dominate the beat up Saints this week.

When the Panthers have the ball - Should be another great week for the Panthers offensive line. Their coming off a game where the Falcons defense put up little opposition and now they get Saints coming off a humiliating loss and with a long and growing injury list.

Carolina's offensive line just blew Atlanta's front seven off the football. The Panthers rolled up 193 yards on the ground Sunday, led by RB Stephen Davis who ran for 153 yards. Davis is averaging 135.3 yards per game. He now leads the league in rushing despite having played just three games. Davis now has 406 yards rushing despite sitting out most of the fourth quarter last week. As a team, Carolina is third in rushing yardage. Even RB DeShaun Foster got into the game. His rebuilt knee looked pretty solid and he rushed 10 times for 46 yards. The Panthers offensive line doesn't get a lot of press, but they've had a great start to the season and look to be one of the NFL's better units.

The Saints defense just rolled over and begged for mercy Sunday night. Indianapolis did whatever they wanted including having QB Peyton Manning throw a club record six touchdown passes. The Colts scored on eight of their first nine possessions.

The Saints went into the game without five injured defensive starters lost six more players during the game. It may even be difficult to practice this week, let alone beat the Panthers.

Just a quick rundown of the Saints wounded for this week. FS Tebucky Jones strained his groin and is out for one-to-two weeks. FS Victor Green will likely start in Jones' place. DT Kenny Smith, who started for an injured Johnathan Sullivan, is out two-to-four weeks with a knee injury. DT Johnathan Sullivan (knee) will not play this week. DE Melvin Williams has a hamstring injury, but may play. LB Cie Grant is out. LB Sedrick Hodge has a broken leg and will miss this week. LCB Dale Carter is out with a fractured orbit bone. DE Darren Howard had surgery on his dislocated right wrist and will miss most of the season.

Minnesota vs. Atlanta

Minnesota Offense
Sacked/G=2.25
Rush TDs/G=1.0
Rush Avg.=4.6

Atlanta Defense
Sacks/G=2.5
Rush TDs Against/G=1.5
Rush Avg. Against=4.6

Minnesota Defense
Sacks/G=2.5
Rush TDs Against/G= .75
Rush Avg. Against=4.2

Atlanta Offense
Sacked/G=3.25
Rush TDs/G=1.0
Rush Avg.=3.9

When the Vikings have the ball - The Viking offensive line just beat up the 49ers front seven last Sunday. They pounded the ball at the smaller, quicker San Francisco defense until the 49ers brought their safeties up, then Randy Moss took over against a very suspect San Francisco defense.

The Vikings averaged only 3.4 yards per carry, but their relentless grinding in the first quarter opened up the passing game. The Vikings ran on 12 of the first 17 plays. RB Charles Stackhouse, a 250-pound fullback, was an unpleasant surprise for the visitors. Minnesota's runningbacks followed behind him through the center of the defense on seven of the first 12 rushes, including a 5-yard touchdown run by RB Onterrio Smith. The Vikings had 52 of their 102 yards rushing on their first two series. After playing power football for the first 15 minutes of the game, the 49ers had to stack the line. Once that happened, it was the Randy Moss show. QB Gus Frerotte completed 16 of 21 passes for 267 yards, four touchdowns and no turnovers. Credit goes to C Matt Birk who led the charge on most of those early runs.

Atlanta's defense just got steam-rolled by the Panthers. They allowed 193 rushing yards and 153 rushing yards on 21 carries by RB Stephen Davis.

The Falcons' injury concerns on defense continue to grow LB Will Overstreet sprained his surgically repaired left shoulder, suffering a possible dislocation. He was playing for LB Sam Rogers (swollen left knee). S Cory Hall, who missed the first two games with a torn MCL, sprained the same knee again in the first quarter. He played through it only to suffer a torn PCL. Backups, Gerald McBurrows (strained left shoulder/neck) and Kevin McCadams (strained left hamstring) aggravated existing injuries, and neither are expected to play this week. LB Chris Draft had food poisoning and spent Sunday worshipping the porcelain gods.

When the Falcons have the ball - I still think punting on first down sounds good.

Oh well, the Falcons offensive line is just another piece of a really screwed-up offense. Where do I begin? QB Doug Johnson was sacked six times by the Panthers, there were 12 penalties against the unit, and the Atlanta offense converted just two third downs. Johnson finished the game with 154 passing yards, but only completed eight for just 58 yards before the game was completely out of reach. Yuck! The only bright spot was the running game. RB T.J. Duckett got the first start of his career and responded with a nice day at the office. Duckett finished with 100 rushing yards, including an impressive 41-yard run.

It wasn't all good news in the Vikings 28 point win. The defense has some things to work out. The tackling on some of the 49ers' running plays was god-awful. San Francisco averaged 5.8 yards per carry and became the first team to reach 100 yards rushing (145) this season against Minnesota. San Francisco RBs Kevan Barlow (11 for 72 yards-6.5-yard average) and Garrison Hearst (4.3 yards per attempt) really tore them up at times. Look for both the Vikings and the Falcons to run the ball early again this week.

Denver vs. Kansas City

Denver Offense
Sacked/G=1.75
Rush TDs/G=1.25
Rush Avg.=4.8

Kansas City Defense
Sacks/G=2.75
Rush TDs Against/G=.25
Rush Avg. Against=4.5

Denver Defense
Sacks/G=2.5
Rush TDs Against/G=.25
Rush Avg. Against=4.4

Kansas City Offense
Sacked/G=2.0
Rush TDs/G=2.0
Rush Avg.=4.5

When the Broncos have the ball - RBs Clinton Portis and Priest Holmes could put on a show this week. Both teams have exceptional running games and both defenses looked a little shaky against the run last Sunday.

Denver was clearly looking ahead to this game last week and did well to avoid an upset against the lowly Lions. Most of all they missed the running of Portis who sat out the game with a rib injury. RBs Mike Anderson and Quentin Griffin found very little room to run with the Lions putting eight men in the box and daring QB Jake Plummer to throw the ball. In addition to being the quarterback, Jake Plummer also was the Broncos' leading rusher with 40 yards. Denver's other backs managed just 33 yards on 16 carries.

Injuries to the offensive line may have played a role in the running game's struggles. C Tom Nalen suffered a sprained ankle and is questionable this week. RT Matt Lepsis had an MRI on his knee after twisting it, but will likely play this week.

The Chiefs come off a very physical game against the Ravens. Not much strategy here as both teams just lined up and knocked the crap out each other. The Chiefs defense kept RB Jamal Lewis from having a huge game. The Ravens finished with 202 yards rushing and a 5.6-yard average. Lewis had 4.4 yards per carry, but didn't break the big one even if he gave the Chiefs safeties a scare or two. It was reserve RB Chester Taylor that got the big runs including a 32-yard romp that set up a score.

And don't feaking kick the ball to Dante Hall. Hopefully the have looked at film and can take a hint. It's better to knock the ball straight out of bounds than to take your chances with the Chiefs Pro Bowl returner.

The Chiefs came away from Baltimore bruised but not broken. DE Vonnie Holliday sustained a groin injury that kept him out for the last part of the game. Kansas City will need to get the big guy healthy for the big game this week.

When the Chiefs have the ball - As I said there was no subtlety in the Ravens or the Chiefs game plan. It was pretty much just line up and knock them on their butts all day.

The Chiefs offensive line held their own against the ferocious Baltimore defense. RB Priest Holmes had 22 carries for 90 yards (4.1-yard average) on a day when the Baltimore defense was zeroed in on him and going in for the kill. The biggest run of the day was a reverse. QB Trent Green faked a handoff to Holmes straight ahead and Dante Hall on a reverse before finally giving to Morton reversing the other way for a 36-yard gain.

Meanwhile, the Broncos defense was making the Lions rushing game look good, and that's hard to do. Detroit's collection of cast-off running backs tore up a defense that looked fantastic the week before against the Raiders. The Broncos overall allowed Detroit 6.0 yards per carry, and let the Lions run for 144 on the day. Hopefully, that's not a tune up for Priest Homes or Denver's in for a really long day.

Arizona vs. Dallas

Arizona Offense
Sacked/G=1.25
Rush TDs/G=.5
Rush Avg.=3.4

Dallas Defense
Sacks/G=1.33
Rush TDs Against/G=.33
Rush Avg. Against=3.0

Arizona Defense
Sacks/G=.5
Rush TDs Against/G=1.0
Rush Avg. Against=3.4

Dallas Offense
Sacked/G=3.0
Rush TDs/G=1.0
Rush Avg.=4.5

When the Cardinals have the ball - Arizona gets one win and the next week they come out flat as a pancake. They did absolutely nothing on offense against the Rams last Sunday. QB Jeff Blake was 10-for-17 for only 88 yards and RB Emmitt Smith was held to 25 yards on 12 carries (2.1-yard average). Definitely, not good. They may have been better if the Cardinals defense could have gotten off the field. As it was, the Rams had several long drives and the Card's offense played from behind for the entire game.

The Cardinals best offensive lineman continues to be C Pete Kendall. Kendall has made a relatively smooth position transition from guard. He's not only a very good technical blocker but also will get in and mix it up. In the final minutes Sunday, he was penalized twice for unsportsmanlike conduct, showing that at least one player on this Arizona squad wasn't all right with losing another football game.

Dallas continued on its triumphant Tuna World Tour with another victory in New Jersey. The Jets offense did nothing against the visitors. New York's ground game was held to just 66 yards on 26 carries. LB Dat Ngyuen led the way with 10 tackles, followed by Dexter Coakley's eight and Al Singleton's six. Teams are averaging just 3.0 yards per carry against a very tough Dallas defense.

When the Cowboys have the ball - This is looking more and more like a Tuna coached team. The Cowboys controlled the game with their offensive line and ground the Jets into submission.

Dallas is an oddity in one way, they prefer to run behind the left side of their offensive line. Most teams have their best run-blocking linemen on the right side. Getting their huge LG Larry Allen and LR Flozell "the Hotel" Adams matched up on the defenders smaller speed rushers seems to be an advantage. The Cowboys gained most of their 202 yards on the ground behind the left side of the line. Coach Bill Parcells said he was going to run behind Allen and Adams and did exactly that.

RT Ryan Young pulled himself out of the Jets game just before kickoff because of knee swelling and pain. The team thinks he'll be ready for the Cardinals. T Kurt Vollers had a decent game in his place and looks like he could start for a number of teams.

San Diego vs. Jacksonville

San Diego Offense
Sacked/G=1.0
Rush TDs/G=.75
Rush Avg.=5.1

Jacksonville Defense
Sacks/G=1.5
Rush TDs Against/G=1.25
Rush Avg. Against=2.8

San Diego Defense
Sacks/G=2.0
Rush TDs Against/G=1.25
Rush Avg. Against=5.0

Jacksonville Offense
Sacked/G=2.25
Rush TDs/G=.75
Rush Avg.=4.1

When the Chargers have the ball - The beaten up Chargers offensive line had a huge game against the Raiders. I think it had more to do with Oakland's ineptness than any thing San Diego's offensive line did on the day.

QB Drew Brees sat back in the pocket and had all day to find a receiver. He wasn't sacked all afternoon even with the Chargers missing their top four receivers and two key players on the offensive line. He completed 21 of 31 passes; most of them were of the dink and dunk variety.

RB LaDainian Tomlinson had a huge day. He rushed for 187 yards and a touchdown (55 yards) on 28 carries. It was his third-best day as a pro, as he collected 143 yards in the first half. The run blocking was great, as Tomlinson time and again had huge holes to sprint through. RG Kelvin Garmon and rookie RT Phil Bogle, making his first NFL start, get a lot of credit for Tomlinson's success.

Well, one of these two teams has to win a ball game this week. The Jaguars seem to have the better of the two defenses. Although they allowed the Texans just 3.0 yards per rush last week, Houston was undaunted. They ran the ball 37 times at the Jaguars defense and waited to pounce on the Jaguars mistakes, which will happen when your rookie QB is making his first start. Only a last second, one-yard dive over the top by Houston QB David Carr settled this hard-hitting game.

When the Jaguars have the ball - Well, the Jaguars fans are just going to have to live with the mistakes for a while. The baton seems to have been passed and there's no going back now that QB Mark Brunell is out and it's the rookie's team.

The Jacksonville offensive line will have to cope with the change. Look for more RB Fred Taylor for at least a month while WR Jimmy Smith gets up to speed. Taylor only got 19 carries, averaging just 3.5 yards a carry. Jacksonville needs to get him the ball more if they're going to be starting a rookie quarterback. The Ravens would be a good model, but who knows if Fragile Fred can take the pounding that Jamal Lewis absorbs without breaking down.

The Chargers defense played a good 30 minutes of football, but when starting CB Sammy Davis went out in the third quarter, the Raiders came after his replacement. QB Rich Gannon and WR Jerry Rice abused rookie DB Drayton Florence, then DB Kevin House when Florence failed to stop the bleeding. The Chargers pass rush was MIA. Gannon had more than enough time find a receiver, or scramble out of the pocket. DE Marcellus Wiley continues to struggle. Four games and no sacks for San Diego's outspoken player. Maybe he should work harder at that budding rap career.

Washington vs. Philadelphia

Washington Offense
Sacked/G=3.75
Rush TDs/G=1.0
Rush Avg.=4.5

Philadelphia Defense
Sacks/G=1.33
Rush TDs Against/G=.33
Rush Avg. Against=2.4

Washington Defense
Sacks/G= 1.5
Rush TDs Against/G=.75
Rush Avg. Against=3.7

Philadelphia Offense
Sacked/G=4.33
Rush TDs/G=1.0
Rush Avg.=6.0

When the Redskins have the ball - The Redskins offensive line had another penalty filled performance last Sunday. Washington hired referees to participate in their practice, but it didn't seem to help. After 30 minutes, the Redskins had committed six infractions for 60 yards. The crucial two minutes brought a rash of stupid penalties. C Larry Moore couldn't hear Ramsey's snap count and the offensive line was all over the place. It nearly cost Washington the game. The Redskins finished with nine penalties for 75 yards.

Aside from the weekly brain cramps, the big boys had a so-so game against a beat-up Patriots squad that was missing seven starters. RBs Trung Canidate and Ladell Betts had decent games. Canidate had 12 rushes for 69 yards and Betts had 11 for 35 against New England.

Veteran LG Dave Fiore will return to practice this week. The play of his back rookie Derrick Dockery may have something to do with his remarkable recovery. Dockery, a third-round draft choice out of Texas, played well in his first NFL start.

The Redskins will need everything the offensive line can give them this week against the Eagles. Philadelphia has limited opponents to just 2.4 yards per carry even with a number of starters sidelined with injuries. The Eagles interior defense, and especially the tackles, have been strong this season. Expect Philadelphia to continue to blitz and test the discipline of the Redskin's offensive line.

When the Eagles have the ball - Philadelphia really needed QB Donovan McNabb to play well and the offensive line to return to form against the Bills. Whatever the Eagles did during the bye week seem to work, as Philadelphia was determined to run the ball consistently against the Bills. Thirty-five rushing attempts is just about as determined as a team can get.

RBs Brian Westbrook and Correll Buckhalter had 22 of those carries, and quarterback QB Donovan McNabb had nine. Westbrook rushed for 96 yards on 11 carries, including a 62-yard touchdown run late in the game. Buckhalter rushed for 25 yards on 11 carries

The Eagles' running backs had carried the ball just 21 times in the club's two season-opening losses to Tampa Bay and New England.

Washington played good defense; right up until they decided to play prevent zone late in the game. That decision came close to blowing up in their faces as they finally stopped the Patriots on fourth down when New England might have attempted a long game-tying field goal.

The Redskins pass rush continues to be a concern. They aren't getting much pressure on the opposing quarterback and it's exposing their safeties. Also, teams are running on the corners of their defense with some success making the Redskins smaller cornerbacks come up and tackle larger runningbacks. Look for the Eagles to come after them again this week by running more sweeps and screens.

Detroit vs. San Francisco

Detroit Offense
Sacked/G=1.0
Rush TDs/G=.25
Rush Avg.=3.8

San Francisco Defense
Sacks/G=3.75
Rush TDs Against/G=.5
Rush Avg. Against=3.2

Detroit Defense
Sacks/G=1.75
Rush TDs Against/G=.75
Rush Avg. Against=5.0

San Francisco Offense
Sacked/G=1.75
Rush TDs/G=.75
Rush Avg.=4.5

When the Lions have the ball - It was another road loss last week in Denver-Detroit's 18th in a row, but there was a silver lining-the Lions did find a running game.

Fantasy owners should note that RB Shawn Bryson is establishing himself as the Lions' most dangerous rushing threat and may be worth a pick-up. He had a burst against Minnesota a week ago and had 73 yards on 13 carries against the Denver Broncos. Detroit finished with a season's best 144 yards of rushing. They had only 199 total in the first three games.

C Dominic Raiola is in the dog house this week. Raiola was penalized twice for chop blocks in the second half; both times the infractions wiped out big plays and stalled scoring drives. There is a certain sense of irony in the penalties as the Broncos have been accused of more than their fair share of leg whips and cheap shots through the years.

You can't take much of anything positive of the 49ers 28-point loss in Minnesota. They got stomped by the Vikings offensive line early, and Randy Moss and company torched their secondary when SF put eight in the box later in the game.

The pass rush was a no-show. Vikings QB Gus Frerotte had all the time he needed to pick the 49ers' secondary apart. WR Randy Moss had eight catches for 172 yards and three touchdowns. CB Mike Rumph continues to look like a first-round bust. Rookie WR Nate Burleson burned him on a 22-yard touchdown pass. Will it get better this week against the Lions? It better because the 49ers faithful have seen more than enough already this season.

When the 49ers have the ball - Can't we all just get along? Maybe the 49ers need a slumber party where they can make smores and hold hands because whatever they're doing now just isn't working.

San Francisco's offensive line took another beating on the field and in the press. Without time to throw, QB Jeff Garcia completed just 11 of 23 passes for 108 yards, with three interceptions and no touchdowns. The 49ers were losing 35-0 at the start of the fourth quarter when Rattay came into the game to replace Garcia.

LT Derrick Deese (ankle) did not play for the third consecutive game. Rookie Kwame Harris started in place of Deese and sucked. He yielded three QB sacks. Deese may play against the Lions if he's ready or not, just to get the rookie tackle off the field. RG Ron Stone isn't going to be pointing fingers at anyone this week. He had two false starts and one holding penalty. G Eric Heitmann (ankle) missed his third consecutive game and will not play against the Detroit Lions, as well.

The Lions had one of their better efforts last Sunday. The Broncos didn't even pretend that they needed RB Clinton Portis to beat Detroit, and Denver played with an uncharacteristic lack of enthusiasm as a result. The Broncos running game went nowhere and their defense played indifferently. Detroit almost pulled off the upset, but had to settle with a good effort in a losing cause instead. With the 49ers coming off three straight losses and distracted by their own recriminations, Detroit figures they've got another shot this week at an upset.

Cleveland vs. Pittsburgh

Cleveland Offense
Sacked/G=2.0
Rush TDs/G=0.0
Rush Avg.=3.2

Pittsburgh Defense
Sacks/G=2.0
Rush TDs Against/G=1.0
Rush Avg. Against=3.6

Cleveland Defense
Sacks/G=1.75
Rush TDs Against/G=.5
Rush Avg. Against=5.2

Pittsburgh Offense
Sacked/G=2.5
Rush TDs/G=.75
Rush Avg.=3.1

When the Browns have the ball - Just an all-around horrible game by the Browns last Sunday. Just when the team seemed to get a spark from the come from behind victory at San Francisco the week before, morale circled the bowl twice and plunged straight down after the home loss to the Bengals.

The Browns offensive line still can't do anything right. From guard to guard, it's the worst unit in football after four weeks. They are getting zero push against opposing defensive tackles and the Browns can't run the ball as a result. RB William Green averaged just 2.9 yards on his 16 carries against the Bengals-one of the worst rush defenses in the league. The Browns' inability to run the ball better this season is one of the main reasons for the offense's struggles.

RG Paul Zukauskas got his first start of the season as the Browns continue to throw players at the problem. Zukauskas was inactive the week before in San Francisco, then started as Melvin Fowler was benched and made inactive after starting the first three games. The results speak for themselves. Besides not being able to open running lanes, the Browns committed 11 penalties, including a holding call that negated a Kevin Johnson touchdown.

Pittsburgh's defense played well against the Titans, but not well enough to make up for the Steelers offensive miscues. They probably deserved a better result. Just when Pittsburgh's secondary started looking good, the Titans no-name receiving corps exposed them. QB Steve McNair went 15-of-16 for 161 yards and three touchdowns, for a 148.2 rating. Oh well, back to the old drawing board.

When the Steelers have the ball - Pittsburgh has more or less abandoned the rushing game and now dinks and dunks their way down the field. The offensive line play has contributed to the lack of a runnning game. It wasn't that many years ago that when Pittsburgh got inside an opponent's 30 yard line, they'd try to ram the ball down the opponent's throats. Tennessee still plays that way, but the Steelers don't.

T Oliver Ross got a chance to play because of an injury to Marvel Smith (shoulder). He promptly got beaten by Titans DE Jevon Kearse on a play that turned into a safety that turned the game around in the second quarter. To make matters worse, Ross also negated a big gain on a pass to Antwaan Randle El because of a holding penalty. Ross was supposed to be the answer at RT, but lost the job this summer. It doesn't look like he'll be starting at LT any time soon either.

The Browns got no pass rush against the Bengals and QB Jon Kitna ate them alive. The Bengals QB threw three touchdown passes without a sack. Even the Bengals running game looked decent, despite having an injured RB Corey Dillion watching from the bench.

That's the nature of this very young defense-you never know what to expect. They played well against the Colts and the 49ers and stunk against the Bengals and the one-dimensional Ravens. How they will play this week, and especially how that $100 million defensive line will play, is anyone's guess.

Indianapolis vs. Tampa Bay

Indianapolis Offense
Sacked/G=.75
Rush TDs/G=.25
Rush Avg.=3.4

Tampa Bay Defense
Sacks/G=2.0
Rush TDs Against/G=.33
Rush Avg. Against=4.3

Indianapolis Defense
Sacks/G=2.25
Rush TDs Against/G=.25
Rush Avg. Against=4.8

Tampa Bay Offense
Sacked/G=.67
Rush TDs/G=1.0
Rush Avg.=3.1

When the Colts have the ball - The Colts had their way with the Saints defense on Sunday night. This game wasn't even close. QB Payton Manning was red hot behind an offensive line that stoned the Saints rushers. Manning finished with a club-record tying six touchdown passes. The running game was on as well. The combination of Ricky Williams, James Mungro and Dominic Rhodes had 100 yards rushing in 28 attempts combined. Indianapolis averaged a respectable 3.6 yards per rush as a team. But with Manning smoking the New Orleans secondary, who needs to run the ball anyway?

Despite the Colts' success, there's a world of difference between the Saints defense missing half of their starters and a well rested, world champion Buc's defense. Tampa Bay is No. 1 in scoring defense, allowing just 7.3 points and 213 yards per game. QBs are averaging just 106 yards passing per game against this squad. DE Simeon Rice leads the Bucs with four sacks, and Tampa Bay is getting interceptions due to the pressure of their front four. Indy can just forget about laying another 50 point game on the opposing defense this week.

When the Buc's have the ball - Tampa used the week off to get healthy on the offensive line. G Cosey Coleman is probable against the Colts with a right ankle sprain but should practice Wednesday. Coleman lost his job after getting beaten by the Carolina Panthers on each of the blocked kicks that cost Tampa the game. He may be healthy but he may not have worked himself out of the dog house yet.

The Buc's want to get more out of their rushing game. They're only averaging 3.1 yards per carry and have become a little too one-dimensional. Look for Tampa to run the ball more this week against a smaller Indianapolis defensive line that's giving up 4.8 yards per rush.