With Jeff George slinging the ball,
just about any Washington WR will become a viable target against the St.
Louis secondary. In George's first game as a starter, the timing wasn't
there with most of his receivers, yet Thrash had a 100-yard game.
Against Bly, who has been a constant target while filling in for an injured
Todd Lyght, Thrash should have no problem getting separation downfield.
Lyght might return from a hamstring injury this week, but he won't be 100
percent and may have trouble with the speedy Thrash if he sees extensive
playing time. Most likely, Bly will draw the assignment and have trouble
with it. Deion Sanders is still good, but a WR like Isaac Bruce
might beat him on long routes down the middle of the field. Champ Bailey
has the speed to stay with Torry Holt and may be able to nuetralize
him. If Darrell Green doesn't play because of a calf injury, Az-Zahir
Hakim might face Tyronne Drakeford in passing sets and could
have a big game. Justin Watson will have trouble with the stiff Washington
run defense, but Stephen Davis should be able to control the ball
for Washington. If OT Chris Samuels can contain DE Grant Wistrom
and the 'Skins can keep Kevin Carter and Leonard Little from
crushing the pocket as DTs on passing downs, George should have a relatively
The Eagles should be able to execute some
offense here, as Torrance Small gets open against CB Tom Knight.
If McNabb doesn't locate any open receivers, he should be able to scramble
for a lot of yards. LBs Carlos Emmons and Jeremiah Trotter
will keep Michael Pittman from being effective as a runner or receiver.
David Boston and Frank Sanders have been hurting and won't
do much against CBs Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor.
Buffalo LBs Sam Cowart and John
Holecek will stifle RB Kimble Anders, but WR Derrick Alexander
will eventually burn CB Ken Irvin and TE Tony Gonzalez will
overpower Bills SS Henry Jones in the open field. The Buffalo defensive
line is banged-up, and Elvis Grbac will have time to throw. Bills
QB Rob Johnson might falter against a defense geared to stop the
pass. Kansas City will shut down the inept Buffalo RBs early and will sit
back and wait for Johnson to go deep.
Robert Smith is certain to have another
big day, as rookie MLB Lester Towns unsuccessfully tries to contain
him. Daunte Culpepper will have full use of the play-action pass
and will pick on CB Eric Davis, who is no match for the physically
superior Randy Moss. The tattered Carolina offensive line will probably
face a lot of blitzes in an effort to disrupt Steve Beuerlein's timing,
and the Panthers won't be able to do much on the ground with the unproven
Brad Hoover likely seeing a lot of action.
With LBs Ted Johnson and Chris Slade
and DE Willie McGinest listed as questionable, the Bengals might
be able to score some points. But without LT John Jackson, QB Scott
Mitchell might feel some heat and will have to make quick throws to
TE Tony McGee and drop some screens to Corey Dillon, who should
have a big day. If Drew Bledsoe can throw downfield, WR Troy Brown
should be able to shed CB Rodney Heath for some long gains.
As long as the Titans contain DE Courtney
Brown, QB Steve McNair should be able to spread the ball around,
and WR Chris Sanders should be able to beat CB Dayton McCutcheon
on more than one occasion. RB Eddie George should see a lot of running
room on the left side behind T Brad Hopkins and G Bruce Matthews.
DEs Jevon Kearse and Kenny Holmes will crush the Cleveland
pocket and force Doug Pederson into some turnovers. OLBs Greg
Favors and Eddie Robinson will keep RBs Travis Prentice
and Jamel White from doing much of anything.
New York Giants
The Giants have been good against the run,
and DTs Jason Peter and Keith Hamilton have the strength to
contain and combat James Stewart. New York might try to protect its
vulnerable secondary with extra pressure on Charlie Batch. The Lions
have a knack for forcing turnovers and good cover men, so QB Kerry Collins
might take some coverage sacks or get picked off. The Detroit OLBs, Allen
Aldridge and Chris Claiborne, have been getting burned by the
run lately and will be suspect to outside sweeps featuring Tiki Barber.
Brett Favre might not last long here,
as extra pressure from the Colts' front seven drives him from the game.
He might be able to alleviate pressure early with draw plays to Ahman
Green, who can surprise the overaggressive Indianapolis defense. WRs
Antonio Freeman and Bill Schroeder might be able to complete
some big plays against the weak Indy pass defense. Start all your usual
Colts against the banged-up Green Bay defense. Terrence Wilkins,
however, won't be able to do much against equally speedy CB Mike McKenzie.
New York Jets at
If there's one team that doesn't respect the
reputation of the Miami defense, it's the Jets. RB Curtis Martin
will exploit another missed game by MLB Zach Thomas. OT Jason
Fabini can certainly handle DE Jason Taylor, and Vinny Testaverde
will dilute extra pressure with dumpoffs to Martin and Richie Anderson.
WR Wayne Chrebet is actually one of the few wideouts who can get
free from CB Sam Madison. The Jets LBs have the speed to corral RB
Lamar Smith, and Oronde Gadsden is questionable with a knee
injury, possibly robbing Jay Fiedler of his best matchup against
the Jets' CBs. O.J. McDuffie, however, is rounding back into good
health and could be a factor on passing downs.
Tampa Bay at
WR Jacquez Green always gives the Bears
fits, and will continue to do so against CB Walt Harris. QB Shaun
King won't get much pass pressure and will continue to spread the ball
around. Warrick Dunn will have limited success running the ball outside
against LB Sean Harris. The Bucs will work quickly to neutralize
James Allen, and will double-cover Marcus Robinson. The best
target for Shane Matthews might be TE Kaseem Sinceno, because
the QB will need a regular safety valve.
San Diego at
Gus Frerotte can't maximize Rod
Smith's deep-ball quickness like Brian Griese can, so he will
look for Ed McCaffrey against fading CB Darryl Lewis. The
Chargers might put the clamps on Terrell Davis with their superb
run defense. Davis might be less than 100 percent with leg problems. Ryan
Leaf should get good protection from OTs Vaughn Parker and Ben
Coleman, and should be able to conenct with WR Jeff Graham and
TE Freddie Jones. RB Terrell Fletcher will be more successful
as a pass-catcher than as a runner.
Jamal Anderson will get a lot of carries
and should get in the end zone at least once as the Falcons try to distill
an improved San Francisco pass rush. Play-action passing should open up
a Chris Chandler-to-Shawn Jefferson connection. The Niners
should have a lot of success in the air, as Jeff Garcia gets lots
of time to throw. Charlie Garner will see a lot of open cutback lanes
against the mediocre Falcons' front seven.
It might be another tough week for Emmitt
Smith against the ultra-tough Baltimore run defense. The Ravens' front
four will batter and bruise Troy Aikman, giving him no time to locate
James McKnight. Baltimore should have success throwing the ball,
as Qadry Ismail burns CB Ryan McNeil downfield. RB Jamal
Lewis might also prove to be too much for the Dallas LBs to handle.
Fred Taylor has played well recently,
but might get shut down by ILBs Earl Holmes and Levon Kirkland.
The Jaguars may have more success throwing the ball, as Mark Brunell
hooks up with Keenan McCardell, who will beat CB DeWayne Washington
for some big gains. The Jags have been soft against the run lately, so expect
another good game from Jerome Bettis, but the anemic Pittsburgh passing
game won't even scare a vulnerable Jacksonville secondary.
The Oakland offensive line should be able
to makesco some holes for Tyrone Wheatley, and without Ricky Williams,
the Saints' defense will be on the field too long and won't be able to depend
on MLB Darrin Smith to stop the run in the fourth quarter. Eventually,
Rich Gannon will find Tim Brown for a score. The Raiders will
snuff out the run quickly, and will sit back and frustrate Jeff Blake
with effective deep ball coverages.