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Crossing the Line - Week 7
By Fritz Schlottman
October 16, 2003
 
Washington vs. Buffalo
Washington Offense
Sacked/G= 3.83
Rush TDs/G= .83
Rush Avg.=4.0
Buffalo Defense
Sacks/G=1.83
Rush TDs Against/G=.83
Rush Avg. Against=4.0
Washington Defense
Sacks/G= 1.50
Rush TDs Against/G=.67
Rush Avg. Against=3.9
Buffalo Offense
Sacked/G=3.17
Rush TDs/G=1.17
Rush Avg.=2.5
When the Redskins have the ball - Just a horrible game by the Redskins offensive line last week. You go into a game against Tampa knowing the heat is going to be on, but this was ridiculous. Buc's DE Simeon Rice has four sacks and a forced fumble before the first quarter was finished! By the end of the day, the Buccaneers had six sacks, had forced two interceptions, and had drawn a fist full of false starts and holding penalties.

The Redskins running game didn't function as well. A week after they managed only 49 rushing yards at Philadelphia, Washington had only 68 running yards.

The Bills defense has spent an eternity on the football field. With the offense going nowhere and unable to run the ball, Buffalo's defense can't catch their wind, and the wear and tear of all those minutes on the field is beginning to take its toll.

The addition of Takeo Spikes, Sam Adams and Lawyer Milloy looked like gold the first two weeks of the season, but their performances have tailed off recently. Adams is too big to be on the field every play and Spikes is getting beaten up because the Bills offense can't maintain possession.

When the Bills have the ball - The Bills offense has been a huge disappointment since Week 2. Yes, WR Eric Moulds is hurting and missed last game. Yes, this team misses WR Peerless Price and TE Jay Reimersma. But when your running game is only averaging 57 yards per game and your quarterback is a statue, he's going to get killed if you drop back and throw 50 times. Bledsoe has been sacked 17 times in the past four games and was taken down seven times against the Jets.

The lack of confidence in the offensive line was never more apparent then last week. Against the Jets, a team that can't stop anyone from running the football, the Bills passed on all fifteen third down attempts, converting five. How bad does the run blocking have to be when the coaches won't call even one rushing attempt on third down?

The Redskins defense played well for the first 30 minutes against the Buc's last week; unfortunately, games are one hour long. After giving up only 84 total yards in the first half, Washington surrendered 295 in the second 30 minutes. The Redskins surrendered touchdown drives of 80, 91 and 70 yards to the Buccaneers on consecutive second-half possessions to turn a 13-7 lead into a 28-13 deficit.

Washington's defensive problems boil down to two areas-stupid penalties and the lack of a pass rush. Sunday, the Redskins had both in spades. LB LaVar Arrington had a personal foul on a late hit out of bounds on Tampa RB Thomas Jones that moved the Buc's inside the Redskins 30 yard line and DE Regan Upshaw had a personal foul on a goal-line stand. Stupid penalties will kill a defense, if a team can't come back with a big play of their own. However, if you don't sack the opposing QB, big play just aren't going to happen. The Redskins have only nine sacks this season.

Philadelphia vs. New York Giants
Philadelphia Offense
Sacked/G=3.80
Rush TDs/G= 1.2
Rush Avg.=5.1
New York Defense
Sacks/G=3.4
Rush TDs Against/G=.80
Rush Avg. Against=4.0
Philadelphia Defense
Sacks/G=1.4
Rush TDs Against/G=.60
Rush Avg. Against=2.6
New York Offense
Sacked/G=1.6
Rush TDs/G=.4
Rush Avg.=4.0

When the Eagles have the ball - A so-so performance by the offensive line last week against the Cowboys. The run blocking looked better as the combination of RBs Brian Westbrook, Duce Staley and Correll Buckhalter had 122 yards on 31 carries against the Cowboys.

Unfortunately, the Eagles passing game was MIA again this week. QB Donovan McNabb was just 11 of 25 with the Eagles wideouts catching just four balls between them. As a group, they have yet to catch a single touchdown pass this season. McNabb has a bone bruise on his throwing thumb that may be affecting his release, but when you're 15th in a 16 team conference on offense, nothing is working right now. Philadelphia is averaging just 120 passing yards, partly due to the poor pass protection. McNabb has been sacked 19 times so far this season. His passer rating (54.2) and his completion percentage (49.1) are in the bottom two in the league.

New York's defense can rush the passer; they just can't cover anyone.

When the Giants have the ball - Tough to grade out the Giants last week. The weather conditions were so poor that it's difficult to fault players for slipping and sliding in the mud of New England.

New York QB Kerry Collins is firing so many interceptions that it was nearly impossible for the Giants offense to have any continuity. New York has 15 turnovers and is a -8 net turnover margin for the season. Collins has thrown seven interceptions the past two weeks. Pretty hard to get into a rhythm on the offensive line when you're walking off the field all the time.

If there's a bright spot on the Eagles right now, it's the defense. They've gotten through the worst of the injuries and are finally starting to get some players back. Pro Bowl DBs Brian Dawkins and Bobby Taylor might play this week. That would certainly help the Eagles secondary, which have played adequately without two Pro Bowl performers on the field.

The Eagles defensive strength is between the tackles. When opposing offenses are averaging less than three yards per carry you know the center of that defensive line is dominating up front. Philadelphia has the strongest interior defense in the league, and if the Giants are to mount any kind of rushing attack this week, it's going to have to be outside the tackles. New York's offensive line will not be able to move Philly's defenders out of the hole this week.

Dallas vs. Detroit
Dallas Offense
Sacked/G=2.2
Rush TDs/G=.80
Rush Avg.=3.9
Detroit Defense
Sacks/G=1.8
Rush TDs Against/G=.83
Rush Avg. Against=4.6
Dallas Defense
Sacks/G=2.0
Rush TDs Against/G=.60
Rush Avg. Against=3.0
Detroit Offense
Sacked/G=.80
Rush TDs/G=.40
Rush Avg.=3.9

When the Cowboys have the ball - A great match-up for the Dallas offensive line this week. One of the largest lines in the league, they have largely avoided the injury problems that plagued them in 2002.

Part of their success this year is by good design. Last Sunday, they new they were going to be blitzed by the Eagles and they survived despite starting their first four possessions on the 8, 15, 5 and 14-yard lines. Their victory can be attributed to keeping seven in for protection and to a commitment to running the football. The Eagles' blitz was continually thwarted by the Dallas blockers and the 35 rushing attempts, all-be-it not for big yardage, wore down the Philadelphia defenders and kept them off balance for most of the game. 

Now they travel to Detroit to play a Lions team that's giving up big yardage on the ground and in the air. Opposing QBs are completing 60 percent of their passes against Detroit's secondary. Injuries cost the Lions three of their top four CBs (Chris Cash, Andre' Goodman and Chris Watson). The replacements (Otis Smith, Jimmy Wyrick and Roderick Babers) have sucked.

When the Lions have the ball - It's half a loaf in Detroit. Their offensive line can't run block but, on the other hand, they don't let opposing defenses harass QB Joey Harrington either.

That would be well and good except the Lions have now lost their top receiver for two months. Rookie WR Charles Rodgers broke his collarbone and will miss 6-8 weeks. There's a huge drop off at the WR position without him in the line-up.

Without their best big play threat in the line-up, Dallas won't double Detroit's other WRs this week and will cut lose outstanding S Roy Williams. Detroit will struggle to run with eight defenders in the box. Harrington will have to get rid of the ball quickly if Detroit is going to stay in this football game.

San Diego vs. Cleveland
San Diego Offense
Sacked/G=1.6
Rush TDs/G=.60
Rush Avg.=5.2
Cleveland Defense
Sacks/G=1.83
Rush TDs Against/G=.50
Rush Avg. Against=4.8
San Diego Defense
Sacks/G=2.20
Rush TDs Against/G=1.20
Rush Avg. Against=4.6
Cleveland Offense
Sacked/G=1.83
Rush TDs/G=.33
Rush Avg.=3.6

When the Chargers have the ball - With all that talent on offense and a week to get things sorted out; you have to expect a better effort by the Chargers this week.

Fantasy owners, particularly RB LaDainian Tomlinson owners desperately need San Diego to be close through three-quarters so they can get some 4th quarter carries. The Chargers have found themselves behind by 20 points or more in at the start of the final period in each of their first three games this season.

Unfortunately, injuries on the Chargers offensive line point to more struggles ahead. G Bob Hallen is gone for the rest of the season with a torn chest muscle. He joins T Vaughn Parker and G Toniu Fonoti on the IR. T Solomon Page (ankle) may be back this week, but at best they will be starting at least one undrafted free agent on the offensive line this Sunday.

The Browns defense has been a huge surprise this season. Aside from the Ravens game were RB Jamal Lewis set a single game rushing record, they've played well despite a huge turnover in personnel.

In particular, their three new sophomore linebackers have played well. I confess- I took my shots at these guys before the season, but I'm happy to say they've proven me wrong so far. The Browns are 7th in total defense heading in to Week 7. In four of their six games they've limited the opposition to 13 points or less.

When the Browns have the ball - The change to QB Tim Couch has been a real spark to this Browns offense. Cleveland has gone back to the spread offense and as a result is running the ball much better and having some success in the air as well. They torched the Steelers secondary on a Sunday night and then took it to the Raiders last week.

Fantasy owners that had given up RB William Green for dead are happy that their patience has finally paid off. Green has had back-to-back 100 yard rushing games and 145 yards last Sunday. OK, it was against the pitiful Raiders and Steelers defenses, but this week's cupcake (San Diego) makes them look like the Oakland and Pittsburgh defenses of old. The Chargers are yielding 145 yards rushing per game and can't generate a pass rush to save themselves.

Baltimore vs. Cincinnati
Baltimore Offense
Sacked/G=2.20
Rush TDs/G=1.0
Rush Avg.=5.9
Cincinnati Defense
Sacks/G=1.6
Rush TDs Against/G=1.00
Rush Avg. Against=4.1
Baltimore Defense
Sacks/G=2.20
Rush TDs Against/G=.40
Rush Avg. Against=3.8
Cincinnati Offense
Sacked/G=2.20
Rush TDs/G=.40
Rush Avg.=2.9

When the Ravens have the ball - Not hard to game plan for the Ravens. You know RB Jamal Lewis is going to get the ball, what opponents can do about it remains to be seen. Nobody's stopped this running back yet. Baltimore's ground game is 75% of this offense and starting QB Kyle Boller is the League's only signal-caller with a passer rating under 50. Lewis had 131 yards rushing on 21 attempts last week.

Credit the Ravens offensive front for opening holes in the opposition despite facing eight and nine in the box. To compensate the opposing numbers along the line of scrimmage, Baltimore has gone to two back, two tight end formations.

On 50 of the Ravens' 57 offensive plays Sunday; the Cardinals placed at least eight of their 11 defenders near the line of scrimmage. That may be just a taste of what's to come this week as the Ravens face their former Defensive Coordinator now Bengals HC Marvin Lewis. Lewis led that amazing defense on the Ravens championship team.

Unfortunately, the Bengals defense isn't there yet. They are 22nd against the rush, giving up 121 yards per game. Considering that averaged dropped following games against the Bills and Browns (neither can run the ball) that 22nd ranking may be a wee bit inflated.

When the Bengals have the ball - The health of RB Corey Dillon will have a lot to do with any success Cincinnati has in this game. Without him on the field, the Bengals are one-dimensional. With him carrying the ball, there's at least a threat that Cincinnati can grind out a few first downs against one of the NFL's better defenses.

The local press is openly speculating that Dillon may be gone after the season. His hefty contract and two nagging injuries so far this season has the media speculating about his future. The Bengals, infamous for their locker room problems in the past, don't need this kind of speculation right now.

As for the offensive line, they've not had a lot of success. Cincinnati is averaging 2.9 yards rushing per carry (28th) and have only two rushing touchdowns all season. Not having Dillon available isn't helping matters. Unfortunately, there no guarantee he'll be on the field this week either.

Denver vs. Minnesota
Denver Offense
Sacked/G=1.50
Rush TDs/G=1.0
Rush Avg.=4.9
Minnesota Defense
Sacks/G=2.40
Rush TDs Against/G=.80
Rush Avg. Against=4.5
Denver Defense
Sacks/G=2.83
Rush TDs Against/G=.33
Rush Avg. Against=4.3
Minnesota Offense
Sacked/G=2.20
Rush TDs/G=1.20
Rush Avg.=4.6

When the Vikings have the ball - If you love smash-mouth football, this game's for you. The battle in the baggie-dome will feature two of the league's finest offensive lines. The Vikings and the Broncos may go about it in different ways, but both units are extremely effective.

The Vikings approach to offense is to line up five of the biggest offensive linemen in the league and pummel the opposing front seven. It's not subtle, but it is an effective approach no matter who Minnesota lines up at runningback. RB Moe Williams is tied for fifth in the NFC in rushing with 397 yards. The Vikings rank fourth in the league in rushing.

The Broncos are not patsies on defense. They will certainly test the Vikings offensive line this week, especially their pass protection. Denver is coming off a seven-sack performance against the Steelers and if the Vikings linemen have a weakness, it's pass protection. The Broncos are playing much more man-to-man coverage in the secondary and coming after the opposing QB. DE Trevor Pryce has two sacks last week, Mario Fatafehi also had two sacks, and Bertrand Berry added one to improve his team-leading total to 5 1/2, tied for second most in the AFC. Denver is the second ranked defense in the league.

When the Broncos have the ball - The Broncos take an entirely opposite approach to offensive line play. Instead of fielding five "Hulks", they have smaller, quicker blockers who emphasis techniques over brawn. Denver has the smallest offensive line in the NFL.

Rather than locking up with the opposing lineman and wrestling with him, Denver uses angles in technique. The premise behind "Cut" blocking is that opponents don't tackle or pursue to the ball very well if they're lying on the ground (and occasionally grabbing their knee in pain). By taking the opposing player off his feet, the line opens cutback lanes in the defense for Denver's ball carriers. This seems to work exceptionally well over the years as the Broncos have had a succession of great runners (usually low round draft picks) come through their system.

This technique may work well again this week as the Vikings field a smaller defense that runs to the football. In other words, pursuit is a big part of their game. The Vikings rank 10th in the NFL against the run and opponents are averaging 4.5 yards per carry.

Tennessee vs. Carolina
Tennessee Offense
Sacked/G=2.0
Rush TDs/G=.67
Rush Avg.=2.8
Carolina Defense
Sacks/G=2.20
Rush TDs Against/G=.40
Rush Avg. Against=4.0
Tennessee Defense
Sacks/G=2.50
Rush TDs Against/G= .83
Rush Avg. Against=4.0
Carolina Offense
Sacked/G=1.80
Rush TDs/G=.60
Rush Avg.=4.6

When the Titans have the ball - Once a huge rushing team, the Tennessee Titans have all but forsaken the running game this season. Then again, when you have the current favorite for MVP playing QB for your team, who needs a stinking running game anyway?

The Titans offensive line has done a phenomenal job considering how one-dimensional this team has become. I don't need to tell fantasy owners what's become of RB Eddie George, but lets just say Tennessee's former stud runningback's 60 yards rushing was one of his better performances of the year.

With no mystery on offense, the Titans line has all but stoned opposing rushers. After having an incompletion on his first pass, McNair took advantage of all the time he was getting and completed 12 straight passes. By his next incompletion, the Titans were ahead 21-3.

If the Panther's have a weakness on defense, it's their secondary. Last week, Colts QB Payton Manning completed 23 of 34 passes for 293 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Part of the problem in the secondary has been the Panthers' surprising lack of a pass rush. They had zero sacks last week against Indy. This is the second straight game Carolina has been shout out by the opposing offensive line. DE Julius Peppers needs to start getting it done this season. He has just one sack almost halfway into the season.

When the Panthers have the ball - Run, run, run, run, and run. What a luxury it has to be to have two good runningbacks and a powerful offensive line.

Not that the Panthers have been fooling anyone-they intend to run the ball every game, and yet opposing defenses have yet to slow them down. After RB Stephen Davis went out of the game with a bruised right forearm, RB DeShaun Foster ran for 85 yards on 16 carries, a 5.3-yard average. Foster is the perfect complement to Davis (Davis has the power and Foster has the speed and power). Davis had 76 yards on 15 carries. The Panthers finished with 189 yards on 41 carries, a 4.6-yard average.

If the Panthers offensive line has a weakness, it's pass blocking. They gave up three sacks last week against the Colts. On the other hand, how much of a weakness is it when you have an inexperienced QB and the line didn't give up a single sack in either of it's previous two games.

That Carolina offensive line will get a challenge this week. End to end, the Titans have the best defensive line in the business right now. DE Kevin Carter has been huge, harassing opposing QBs into errors and the Titans DTs have shut down opposing running games when it's mattered.

New Orleans vs. Atlanta
New Orleans Offense
Sacked/G=1.50
Rush TDs/G=.33
Rush Avg.=4.3
Atlanta Defense
Sacks/G=2.40
Rush TDs Against/G=1.6
Rush Avg. Against=4.5
New Orleans Defense
Sacks/G=2.33
Rush TDs Against/G=.67
Rush Avg. Against=3.9
Atlanta Offense
Sacked/G=3.6
Rush TDs/G=1.0
Rush Avg.=4.3

When the Saints have the ball - New Orleans finally got a much needed victory last week to break a three game losing streak. OK, it was hardly impressive (a seven point win over Chicago), but Oakland would have killed to beat the Bears earlier this year.

The offense stumbled and sputtered in the first half, getting just six points out of five trips into Bears' territory. They reached the 20, 32, 35, 43 and 2, but got only field goals of 50 and 30 yards from K John Carney for a 6-3 half-time lead.

Why are the Saints struggling on offense? Look no further than penalties. Deuce McAllister rushed for 116 yards on 29 carries to post his third straight 100-yard game, but dumb penalties put the Saints in too many passing downs. The pass protection was good again. QB Aaron Brooks went 14 of 29 for 153 yards and had no interceptions and for the second straight week was not sacked.

What can you say about a Falcons defense that's worst in the league and coming off a game in which they surrendered nearly 500 yards? Bad? Certainly, if you're being kind.

When the Falcons have the ball - Zero points. Nada, nothing, zip. Just when you thought the Falcons couldn't fall any further; they laid a Mothra-sized egg on Monday night. After being outgained 496 yards to 209 after netting only 38 yards in the second half, after allowing a franchise-record fourth safety of the season, there isn't much to say. There's no part of this team that's any good right now, including Atlanta's offensive line.

As they say, there are consequences and repercussions to such a horrible performance. Someone had to pay after that embarrassment, and the ax has already come down. QB Doug Johnson was the first casualty-he's out at QB. LG Travis Claridge did not play in the second half of the Falcons' game Monday at St. Louis, and will lose his starting job this week to Roberto Garza. Claridge has been battling an injury, but has not played any worse than some other Atlanta linemen. QB Kurt Kittner (and his 9.8 passer rating) will start at QB this week. Kittner has completed just 7 of 17 passes for 53 yards and two interceptions.

The Saints may finally be getting a little healthy on defense. After playing without 6-8 regular starters this past month, some of the preseason starters on defense are beginning to trickle back onto the practice field. Frankly, it doesn't mater who they play this week; the Falcons aren't going to be competitive.

New England vs. Miami
New England Offense
Sacked/G=2.50
Rush TDs/G=.83
Rush Avg.=4.1
Miami Defense
Sacks/G=2.0
Rush TDs Against/G=.40
Rush Avg. Against=3.2
New England Defense
Sacks/G=2.67
Rush TDs Against/G=1.17
Rush Avg. Against=3.7
Miami Offense
Sacked/G=1.40
Rush TDs/G=1.20
Rush Avg.=4.0

When the Patriots have the ball - The Patriots have this eerie aurora around them, one very similar to the one the had a few years ago during that championship season. They're winning ball games, but you just can't figure out how they're doing it. Their offensive line is a mess, they have no running game, and their quarterback's a disaster, but New England's winning. Go figure.

Despite missing eight starters for all of the game and a ninth, CB Ty Law, for much of the second half, the Patriots won again last Sunday. They were victorious despite only gaining 29 yards in the first half of their game against New York. They didn't even convert a single third down until the 3rd quarter.

RT Tom Ashworth, making his third career start, struggled against Giants DE Michael Strahan. Ashworth was filing in because the starting right tackle and starting left guard were on the sidelines injured. He gave up two sacks, but not a bad performance considering a Pro Bowl defensive end was schooling him.

School will be back in session this week as New England goes on the road to Miami, a place where they haven't had any luck recently. The Patriots seem to melt in the heat of South Florida every year. The last two years they've lost by an aggregate score of 56-23 and over a five-year period have been manhandled, 105-52.

When the Dolphins have the ball - Miami has won four straight after losing on Opening Day to the Houston Texans. The Dolphins have done it by pounding Ricky Williams at the opposing defense and beating up the opposing offense with the team's ill-tempered defense. In combination they have ground down the last four teams they faced, allowing an average of only 9.25 points in the four victories, with three of those games on the road.

LT Wade Smith got thrown to the wolves this year after the Dolphins lost their starting LT during training camp. Actually, that seems to happen every year. Smith has had his ups and downs (and last week's performance was definitely a down) but has played reasonable well considering how little experience the 3rd round pick has. It remains to be seen if he will hit that rookie wall (counting preseason, he's played a college season's worth of games) but all signs are positive right now.

Green Bay vs. St. Louis
Green Bay Offense
Sacked/G=.83
Rush TDs/G=1.67
Rush Avg.=5.0
St. Louis Defense
Sacks/G=2.20
Rush TDs Against/G=.60
Rush Avg. Against=4.8
Green Bay Defense
Sacks/G=1.67
Rush TDs Against/G=.83
Rush Avg. Against=4.2
St. Louis Offense
Sacked/G=2.40
Rush TDs/G=.80
Rush Avg.=3.2

When the Packers have the ball - The Packers had 440 yards of offense, but still lost a heart-wrenching game to the Chiefs on their home field. Green Bay's offense is clearly clicking, having produced 107 points in their past three games for a 35.6 average. Favre has played superbly in all three and stayed sharp Sunday, completing 25 of 36 passes for a season-high 272 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. The balanced Packers also had a strong performance on the ground, hammering out 183 rushing yards on 35 carries for a 5.2 per-carry average.

The Packers offensive line just keeps humming along, despite some injury problems. Looking at the offensive numbers, you can't fault the offensive line for this loss.

When the Rams have the ball - St. Louis can out in the second half of Monday night's game and just smoked Atlanta's defense. The offensive line was solid; but then again, who isn't when you're facing the Falcons? The Rams offensive line has yielded just one sack in the last three games.

The Packers have big problems on their defensive line. DE Joe Johnson suffered a right thigh injury and is done for he season. To make matters worse, DE Chukie Nwokorie suffered an A/C joint injury against Chicago and is on crutches. He probably won't play any time soon. DE Aaron Kampman has missed the last four games with ankle ligament damage. Injured or not, he has to start this week, as Green Bay is fresh out of defensive ends.

New York Jets vs. Houston
New York Jets Offense
Sacked/G=.80
Rush TDs/G=.20
Rush Avg.=3.0
Houston Defense
Sacks/G=1.20
Rush TDs Against/G=1.20
Rush Avg. Against=4.0
New York Jets Defense
Sacks/G= 3.80
Rush TDs Against/G=.80
Rush Avg. Against=3.9
Houston Offense
Sacked/G=1.60
Rush TDs/G=.60
Rush Avg.=3.7

When the Jets have the ball - What a difference a bye week can make. The Jets are a stunning 3-0 coming off a bye including last week's 30-0 stomping of the Bills.

The Jets used the time of to once again simplify their offense. Their website claims New York only used seven different running plays against the Bills. RB Curtis Martin had 77 yards on 20 carries, his best game so far this season and the best overall day for the Jets on the ground.

It wasn't a dominating performance by the Jets offensive line, but they did what they need to do to get a win. QB Vinny Testaverde had all day to throw the football and the Jets even managed the smallest of running games this week.

This week the Jets face the leagues worst pass defense. Move over Falcons and Cardinals, the Texans are the new kings of inept defense after they gave up more than 500 yards to the Titans. Injuries across the defense have contributed to their problems, but his defense still has too little talent to compete with the better offenses in the NFL.

When the Texans have the ball - The Texans had a franchise record day on offense last week against the Titans.and lost. Early this week, the Texans made some significant changes on offense.

RB Stacey Mack is headed to the bench. After averaging just 2.9 yards per carry, it seems he's lost his starting job to Domanick Davis. Davis, Mack and Tony Hollings

have rotated at the runningback position for much of the season. However, Davis has been practicing with the first team-a role that Mack had filled up until this week.

No changes announce (yet) on the offensive line and I don't anticipate any soon. QB David Carr has had enough protection to develop a vertical passing game and the Texans have run the ball well enough to keep opposing defenses honest.

The Jets had their best defensive performance, by far, last Sunday. They got to Bills QB Drew Bledsoe seven times and completely shut down Buffalo's running game. OK, it's not like every other team hasn't done he same to the Bills since Week 3, but don't let me rain on New York's parade.

Chicago vs. Seattle
Chicago Offense
Sacked/G=3.60
Rush TDs/G=.60
Rush Avg.=5.0
Seattle Defense
Sacks/G=1.80
Rush TDs Against/G=1.20
Rush Avg. Against=3.8
Chicago Defense
Sacks/G=.80
Rush TDs Against/G=1.20
Rush Avg. Against=4.8
Seattle Offense
Sacked/G=2.80
Rush TDs/G=1.00
Rush Avg.=4.6

When the Bears have the ball - The Kordell Stewart experiment seems to have come to and end. The team announced this week that Stewart has suffered a previously unreported and unspecified "leg" injury and would be out indefinitely. QB Chris Chandler, he of the glass jaw and statuesque mobility, will get the starting nod this week. In other news, RB Anthony Thomas will likely miss this week's game as well.

This comes at a poor moment for the Bears. Their offensive line was playing better and Thomas had been much more impressive as of late, averaging over five yards per carry in his last few games. But the Bears coaches are desperate, knowing that unless they can generate some points and victories, they'll be out of jobs in the very near future. Now that beat-up offensive line will have to protect Chandler, who isn't going to avoid any hits. Chandler was knocked out of three games last season.

When the Seahawks have the ball - Seattle's offensive line looks great, they can grind out first downs on the ground and protect QB Matt Hasselbeck, until you begin to blitz, and then they can't do anything right.

In the first half of Sunday night's game, the San Francisco 49ers defense rushed four and the Seahawks dominated the game on offense. After the break, all that changed around as the 49ers began to blitz every down and San Francisco had the momentum going their way. Hasselbeck got sacked four times and was under pressure for the entire second half. The interior of the Seahawks offensive line struggled mightily with their assignments and had several glaring protection drops. The return of starting right tackle Chris Terry from a four-game NFL suspension seemed to help, but both guards struggled to hand-off stunting and blitzing defenders.

Fortunately for the Seahawks, the Bears are terrible on defense. Through Monday night, they are last in the league in sacking the quarterback. Expect Chicago to make a number of changes on defense before game time. The coaching staff's pulling out all the stops in hopes of saving their jobs.

Tampa Bay vs. San Francisco
Tampa Bay Offense
Sacked/G=.40
Rush TDs/G=.40
Rush Avg.=3.6
San Francisco Defense
Sacks/G=3.17
Rush TDs Against/G=.67
Rush Avg. Against=3.6
Tampa Bay Defense
Sacks/G=2.60
Rush TDs Against/G=.80
Rush Avg. Against=3.9
San Francisco Offense
Sacked/G=2.17
Rush TDs/G=1.0
Rush Avg.=4.2

When the Buc's have the ball - A lot of credit goes to Tampa's offensive line for the Buc's recent offensive explosion. Once a question mark, the Buc's big men have given up just two sacks all season long.

Last week, RB Michael Pittman had huge holes to run through the Redskins defense and QB Brad Johson had time to look down the field, pump fake, find another receiver and deliver the ball. In the end, it took the Buc's a half to recover from their loss the Colts on Monday night, but when they woke up, they were angry and took it out on the Redskins in the second half. The Buc's put up 379 yards and kept quarterback Brad Johnson from being sacked and the rest, as they say, is history.

When the 49ers have the ball - The 49ers vertical passing game has been completely absent from the offense this year. Part of the reason for the lack of big plays has been WR Terrell Owens dropping passes and QB Jeff Garcia not getting him the ball, but the most important reason has been injuries on the 49ers offensive line.

Just when it looked like San Francisco's offensive line was finally going to get a few players back, disaster struck in Seattle. In the opening minutes, the entire left side of the offensive line (Derrick Deese and Eric Heitmann) was back on the sidelines. Kwame Harris and second-year man Kyle Kosier had to fill in, and it wasn't a pretty sight. Down went Garcia again and again in the first half. LT Derrick Deese aggravated right ankle and probably will not play Sunday against the Buccaneers. LG Eric Heitmann might sit out another week.

If you had to pick a spot, you'd never want to be hurting on the offensive line with Tampa Bay coming to town. The Buc's had seven sacks last week against the Redskins. This game sets up to be a long and painful one for Garcia.

Kansas City vs. Oakland
Kansas City Offense
Sacked/G=1.33
Rush TDs/G=1.5
Rush Avg.=4.5
Oakland Defense
Sacks/G=1.50
Rush TDs Against/G=1.17
Rush Avg. Against=4.7
Kansas City Defense
Sacks/G=2.33
Rush TDs Against/G=.67
Rush Avg. Against=4.9
Oakland Offense
Sacked/G=2.33
Rush TDs/G=.67
Rush Avg.=4.6

When the Chiefs have the ball - Big write up for the Chiefs offensive line in USA Today this week. This squad has played 23 consecutive games together and the communications system and continuity they've build up over that period is one of the reasons they haven't had he errors that seem to plague other offensive lines. When you're playing next to the same guy game after game, an offensive linemen knows what the other guy is seeing and how he's going to react to that situation. There's no guessing going on. When offensive linemen start guessing at what's happening next to them, that's when assignments are blown and the quarterback gets taken down. When just one guy goes out of the line-up, the whole blocking system begins to break down. The Steelers lose T Marvel Smith and suddenly they're giving up seven sacks a game. That's how quickly an offensive line can break down.

When the Raiders have the ball - Stick a fork in them, they're finished. The Raiders desperately needed a victory over the Browns to get come kind of momentum going and to keep their failing playoff hopes alive, but failed to generate any offense against Cleveland. 19 penalties will do that to a team. Injuries and penalties have left the once powerful Raiders searching for answers. Apparently, Oakland's fans have seen enough. The Monday Night game will likely be blacked out in the Bay Area because the Raiders are nowhere near a sell out. They haven't sold out their last two home games as well.

Speaking of injuries, the Raiders have had a lot of them. LG Frank Middleton has a partial tear of the quadriceps but may not play against the Chiefs. Middleton's replacement, Matt Stinchcomb, has a shoulder injury for the past several weeks but will likely play. RT Lincoln Kennedy (calf) is back and barring a setback could start against the Chiefs. RG Mo Collins (knee) was inactive against the Browns but has returned to practice.