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Sunday at the Post

Rush Limbaugh, league news and a look at today’s games. Michael Lombardi

Print This October 18, 2009, 09:10 AM EST

QUOTE/STORY OF THE WEEK...

“We do not pre-approve prospective owners of NFL clubs and did not do so in Mr. Limbaugh’s case. At all times we have been clear with prospective purchasers of the Rams or any other club that approval of an owner could only be granted by a vote of the 32 clubs after complete financial and personal due diligence, which obviously has not taken place here.” — Greg Aiello, NFL spokesman

The thought of Rush Limbaugh being involved with an NFL team caused a firestorm last week. Here was his take on the situation:

“I said to [Dave Checketts] at this meeting, ‘Are you aware of the firestorm?’ He said, ‘Believe me, I wouldn’t have approached you if I hadn’t taken care of that, if I had not cleared your involvement with people at the highest levels of the National Football League.’ He gave me a couple of names, pretty high up. Led me to believe it was all handled. And he was fully prepared for what was going to happen.”

The NFL is very detailed and precise in its rules involving the sale of teams. Before interested persons can be considered as potential owners, they must first demonstrate that they have the ability to purchase a team within the framework of league rules. The NFL does not want its owners to have numerous partners; it wants one major investor who can show that he or she has the ability to pay the going rate for an NFL franchise. What Aiello said above is the procedure the NFL follows. Potential owners are not pre-approved until their finances are well known.

It does matter to the players who owns the team. But right now, the Rams need to sell their team. They need an owner who’s going to implement a plan that’s based on winning, not on preparing the team for sale.

“Character is a constant point of emphasis for the NFL and team officials when it comes to the players; potential owners should be held to the same level of scrutiny and accountability.” — Roman Oben

AROUND THE NFL…

“There are two kinds of men who never amount to much: those who cannot do what they are told and those who can do nothing else.” — Cyrus H. Curtis (1850 - 1933)

1. The Bucs’ trade of Gaines Adams is not a surprise. Since being drafted No. 4 overall in 2007, Adams hasn’t played well. What was interesting, though, was that he played the best game of his career two weeks ago against the Redskins. He flashed skills, and I’m sure the Bears feel they can maximize his talents with their defensive line coach, Rod Marinelli. The Bears will have the option to buy back the final year of his contract in 2012, allowing them to keep Adams for three years.

2. The Bears could not find a corner, so they found another defensive end to help them attack the pocket. If they can get Adams to reach his potential, it will help their defense more than any corner could. The Bears have gone all in this year. Now, without a second-round pick — or a first — expect them to take that money and extend Jay Cutler.

3. I’m hearing from my NFL sources that the Bucs’ front office is a house divided, which usually happens when a team takes the committee approach. Mark Dominik, the current general manager, and Doug Williams, the pro personnel director, don’t always agree on things, and there seems to be some dysfunction going on inside the organization.

4. The Bucs say they’ll start playing rookie QB Josh Freeman when center Jeff Faine comes back from his injury. They want someone who can help handle the line calls and allow Freeman to focus on just playing quarterback.

5. The Bears tried to trade tight end Michael Gaines before they released him Saturday, and I suspect he’ll be signed by one of the many teams in need of a blocking tight end. The Jets have been using Wayne Hunter to block, and I suspect they’ll give Gaines serious thought.

6. I believe Eric ‘The Secret” Mangini when he says he’s not trying to trade former starter Brady Quinn. Quinn doesn’t have much value around the NFL right now. At this point, I don’t think they could get much for the former first-rounder.

7. If the Browns decide to trade Josh Cribbs (I hear he’s not available), they might lose their team. Cribbs in one of the few good players the Browns have left.

8. The Chiefs are trying to move former 2005 first-round linebacker Derrick Johnson and 2008 third-round safety DeJuan Morgan. Todd Haley and Co. are making no secret about their unhappiness with the players they inherited from the previous regime. I’m hearing they don’t like anyone, including Branden Albert, who they feel is not a left tackle.

9. I don’t often agree with DeAngelo Hall, but he’s right when he says the Redskins lack talent to compete in the NFC East. After losing their starting left tackle, Chris Samuels, for an extended period, the team’s offensive line has gone from bad to worse. When they make a coaching change for next year, many of these offensive players will not be on the roster. With the lack of talent on their offensive line, you have to wonder why the ‘Skins passed on Michael Oher to select Brian Orakpo.

10. This is a big game for LaDainian Tomlinson to prove he’s back and healthy — and, more important, to prove he can still be an effective runner. He needs to show the Chargers and the rest of the league that he can still be the man.

11. Sam Bradford’s decision not to leave Oklahoma early last year for the draft keeps looking like a mistake. He re-injured his throwing shoulder Saturday in the Texas game but will need to have it strong and ready to throw by mid-April next year — or else he’ll drop in the draft.

MY VIEW OF TODAY’S GAMES, PLUS NOTES AND WEATHER…

“We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

There are currently five undefeated teams remaining — most in the history of the NFL through the first five weeks of a season: Denver (5-0), Indy (5-0), Minnesota (5-0), the New York Giants (5-0) and New Orleans (4-0).

Six of the eight divisions currently have new teams in first place compared to a year ago. If that holds, it will tie 2003 and 2008 for the most new division winners in a single season.

NFL FACTOID

Through the first five weeks of the season, teams with a 300-yard passer have a combined record of 23-8 (.742). The 23 combined wins for clubs with a 300-yard passer are the most in NFL history through the first five weeks of a season.

Key stats to watch:

2009 Rushes and Completions
Rank Team         G     Rushes   Completions   Total   Total per G

1 Mia                   5       183               96               279          55.8
2 NYG                  5       180              98               278          55.6
3 NO                    4       134              87               221          55.3
4 Sea                   5       144             127              271          54.2
5 NE                     5       139             127             266          53.2
6 Pit                     5       130             128             258          51.6
7 Den                   5       152            104              256          51.2
8 Bal                    5       136            119              255          51.0
9 Atl                     4       121              82              203          50.8
10 Ind                  5       118            133              251          50.2
11 Min                 5       143            107              250          50.0
12 Det                  5       141            108             249          49.8
13t Cin                 5       144              97             241          48.2
13t Hou               5       126            115              241          48.2
15 Phi                  4       102             89              191          47.8
16 NYJ                 5       161             75             236          47.2
17 Dal                  5       136             96              232          46.4
18 KC                   5       138             93             231          46.2
19 Ari                   4        73            111             184          46.0
20 Ten                 5       120           106             226           45.2
21t Car                4        103            77             180           45.0
21t Was               5       127           98              225           45.0
23 Jac                 5        123          101             224           44.8
24 Chi                 4         96            83             179           44.8
25 Cle                  5       138           84             222           44.4
26 StL                  5        130           91            221            44.2
27 Buf                  5        127           87            214           42.8
28 GB                   4          94           77           171            42.8
29 TB                    5        112          101          213           42.6
30 SD                   4           80           88           168           42.0
31 SF                   5         126           81           207           41.4
32 Oak                 5         126           53           179           35.8

Tot                      152       4103        3119       7222         47.5
Avg                       5         128           97           226          47.5

Houston Texans (2-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (4-1)

Sunny and cool, highs right around 50 degrees with winds relatively calm at 8 mph. No chance of rain.

Matt Schaub has 10 touchdown passes — more than any other player in the NFL not named Manning (Peyton has 12; Eli has 10).

Last season, Steve Slaton was sixth in the NFL with 1,282 rushing yards, 4.8 per rush. This year, Slaton is 24th in the NFL with 231 rushing yards, a 3.2 average.

The Texans are 30th in the NFL in rushing offense (75.4 YPG) and 31st with 3.0 yards per rush. Most of their problems come from opponents’ ability to defend their zone scheme and take advantage of their lack of power in their offensive line.

All five of the Bengals’ games have been decided by seven points or fewer, and four of the five were decided by a score in the final 22 seconds of regulation or overtime. The Bengals are very comfortable playing in close games and finding ways to win.

The Bengals are very physical and will be able to control the line of scrimmage in the game. They’ll need to pressure Schaub if they’re going to shut down the Texans’ passing game.

The kicking game will be huge. The team that wins that phase will win the game. The Texans can return and cover kicks and punts, but at times the Bengals have problems covering.

Jonathan Joseph has an interception in each of the past three games. The last Bengals player with an interception in four straight games was Deltha O’Neal in 2005. Joseph and Leon Hall have shut down their opponents’ top receivers this year.

Notable wide receivers against the Bengals
                                    Week   Rec   Yds
BAL Derrick Mason           5         0       0
CLE Braylon Edwards       4         0       0
PIT Santonio Holmes         3         1      18
GB Greg Jennings             2         0       0
DEN Brandon Marshall      1         4      27

The Bengals need to throw the ball effectively. With Carson Palmer’s bad thumb, it might be a challenge in the cold weather.

Detroit Lions (1-4) at Green Bay Packers (2-2)

Partly cloudy and cool, highs in the low 50s, with a 20-percent chance of rain. Winds are expected to reach 11 mph.

The Packers are 2-1 under Mike McCarthy in games following a bye week and have won nine of their past 13 coming off a bye.

Leading the NFL with 14.3 yards per reception, Green Bay is one of the best teams at gaining yards after the catch.

The Packers are tied for second in NFL with a plus-7 turnover differential but are just 2-2. They’ve been outscored by their opponents 27-0 in the third quarter. They need to make the right adjustments at the half or change their plan.

The Lions can coach their way to being competitive in the first half, but they don’t have enough talent to make the second adjustment, which is why they’ve been outscored 47-17 in the third quarter and 85-36 overall in the second half. They can only hide for so long.

The Packers have to find a way to get Aaron Kampman going. He has one sack this season. He had four sacks in the first four games last season. I bet they spent a good portion of the bye week working on ways to make this happen.

Scott Linehan, the Lions’ offensive coordinator, has done a good job creating a run and pass game. The Lions have been well balanced, but their lack of talent shows up on defense. They’re too slow, miss too many tackles and can’t get off the field when they play any of their base schemes. The 2010 draft will be all about defense.

St. Louis Rams (0-5) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-3)

Sunny and cool for Jacksonville with highs around 70 degrees. Wind could be critical. It’s forecast at 14 mph.

The Rams have been outscored by their opponents 26-0 in the first quarter. Even more distressing, St. Louis’ second half deficit is 79-10. The Rams have no strengths as a team; they are weak in every area.

In their last two games, the Rams have been outscored 73-10. They’re one of three teams without a rushing TD (the Bills and Chiefs are the others).

The Rams are 31st in turnover differential at minus-7. Also, they are 30th in red zone TD percentage (three TDs in 10 red zone trips, 30 percent) and last in red zone scoring percentage (three TDs and one FG in 10 red zone trips, 40 percent).

Marc Bulger is 4-26 in his last 30 starts. Over that time period, the Rams have passed on Matt Ryan and Mark Sanchez in the draft.

The Jaguars are 30th in the NFL in total defense and pass defense. Their four sacks this season are tied with Jets for fewest in the league.

Mike Sims-Walker had 19 receptions, 278 yards and three TDs in his previous three games before being inactive last week for violating team rules. He’s one of their best players on offense, and they need him to be effective.

David Garrard has one interception in 169 pass attempts, joining Aaron Rodgers and Kyle Orton for fewest among starting QBs.

Baltimore Ravens (3-2) at Minnesota Vikings (5-0)

Indoor game. Outside, partly cloudy and cool, highs in the mid 50s.

The Ravens must pressure Brett Favre on his throwing side from the defensive left, which is where the Vikings are weak. Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata will be tough for the Vikings to handle inside and will create problems for right guard Anthony Herrera.

The Baltimore defense must force the game to become one-dimensional and force Favre to prove he can make throws in a tight spot. They must keep him in the pocket and make him to throw in tight quarters.

The Ravens have scored just 35 points in their past two games after averaging 34.3 PPG in their first three games. They need to deal with the crowd noise and keep the Vikings off balance with their play calling. Expect the Ravens to move the ball both running and passing.

Ray Rice is seventh in the NFL with 364 rush yards and is averaging 5.8 yards per rush. He also leads the team with 23 receptions and is second in the NFL with 572 yards from scrimmage

The Ravens’ Jarret Johnson has four sacks, one shy of his career high set last season. He’s a true playmaker on defense.

The Ravens must have a game plan for Jared Allen in protection and for plays away. He’s creating problems, and they must run right at him and force him to not get off on the snap count. Teams must hard count the Vikings’ defensive line, especially at home. Allen is third in the NFL with 6½ sacks and tied for second with three forced fumbles. The Vikings lead the league with 18 sacks.

Minnesota has scored 27-plus points in five consecutive games and has not scored 27-plus in six straight since 1998 when they went 15-1.

The Vikings have won eight of their last nine home games dating to last season. Also, their defense has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 28 straight games — the longest active streak in NFL. They’re the only team that has not allowed a rushing TD this season.

Brad Childress’ team leads the NFL in red zone defense (four TDs allowed in 13 red zone trips, 30.8 TD percentage).

The Vikings lead the NFL with a plus-8 turnover differential and have outscored their opponents 45-3 in the third quarter, which is the most points by any team in the third quarter.

Favre has completed 42 of 55 pass attempts in his last two games (76.4 completion percentage), and his yards per pass attempt have increased each week:

Brett Favre
This season 
                   Pass Att.    Yards    Yds per Att.
Week 5            24          232           9.7
Week 4            31          271           8.7
Week 3            46          301           6.5
Week 2            27          155           5.7
Week 1            21          110           5.2

To beat the good NFL teams, Favre will need to keep these numbers up.

New York Giants (5-0) at New Orleans Saints (4-0)

Indoor game. Outside, sunny and mild, highs in the mid-60s.

The Giants have won their last three games by a combined score of 95-23 over the Buccaneers, Chiefs and Raiders. Their next eight opponents currently have records of .500 or above.

The Giants have won their last three road games and are 18-3 in their last 21 road games, including the playoffs.

Ahmad Bradshaw leads the team with 375 rushing yards (sixth in the NFL) and is second with 6.5 yards per rush. He’s a matchup problem for most defenses, especially on turf with perfect conditions.

Giants QB Eli Manning is 31-9 in his last 40 starts, including the playoffs, and is 6-1 in his career indoors, including a win in Super Bowl XLII. Eli is 16-2 career in October as starter. Also, he leads the NFL in passer rating in the fourth quarter (147.5) and third down (151.7). He’s being overshadowed by his brother, but this has been the best year of his career.

The Saints must tackle well to win the game. The Giants wideouts have been very good gaining yards after the catch. Eli has been incredible when he’s under pressure, ranking third in the NFL against the blitz.

The Giants lead the NFL in total defense (210.6 YPG), pass defense (104.8 YPG) and third down defense (24.1 percent). They’ll face their biggest challenge today and must find a way to handle New Orleans’ running game with eight in the box.

The Giants’ defensive line has to win the game. Expect the Saints to spread the ball around, attacking the weak spots in the secondary.

The Saints can match them physically and have to be willing to run the ball against a light box, The Giants will still defend the pass. Fifty-two percent of the time teams can gain four yards or more against the Giants, which is last in the NFL, but teams get behind, and it’s tough to run when you’re behind.

The Saints must get their best game out of their defensive line. A loud crowd should help them get off the ball.

Cleveland Browns (1-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2)

Rain-snow showers are possible — a 30-percent chance of precipitation — with highs around 40 degrees and winds about 9 mph.

In these teams’ last 11 games against each other, the Steelers have dominated the Browns in nearly every facet of the game. The following is a comparison of the teams’ statistics during Pittsburgh’s 11-game winning streak:

Team record .........................................11-0........................0-11
Home record .........................................5-0..........................0-6
100-Yard Rush Performances (Total)..........8...........................0
Total TDs Scored in Cleveland .................17..........................4
Total Yards/Game Avg. .......................362.7 ......................239.9
Rushing Yards/Game Avg. ..................169.5........................67.5
Time of Possession Avg. ......................33:46......................26:14
Shutouts..................................................2.............................0

The last time the Browns defeated the Steelers was 2003 under Butch Davis and starting QB Tim Couch. The Browns have scored three offensive TDs in their last 11 games dating to last season.

Longest Active Win Streak
By one team vs. an opponent

                           Opponent    Win Streak
Patriots                  Bills                12
Chargers                Raiders          12
Steelers                 Browns           11
Bills                        Bengals          9

The Steelers have held the Browns to 10 points or less in seven of the 11 games during the streak.

The Steelers have converted 15 of their 16 red zone attempts (11 touchdowns, four field goals) this season. Pittsburgh’s 68.8 touchdown percentage in the red zone ranks second in the AFC and third in the NFL.

Weather will be a factor. Expect the Steelers to run the ball on the Browns, who allow 170 yards per game rushing.

The Steelers have outscored their opponents 38-6 in the first quarter this season but have been outscored 55-13 in the fourth quarter. The team’s 55 points allowed are the most in the NFL.

Browns QB Derek Anderson will have to make at least three big plays down the field in the passing game because the Browns are never going to be able to consistently move the ball down. But Cleveland has only 10 big plays all year, ranking 30th in that area.

The Browns are one of only four teams that run the ball more in the first half than they throw it. They are 56.5 percent run, and the Steelers are 61.3 percent pass. The Steelers will come out throwing the ball to gain the lead and make the Browns play from behind.

                         Rushing No.    Yds      Avg    Long    TD
R.Mendenhall            51           287       5.6      39        3
W.Parker                   52           159       3.1      24        0

Mendenhall has the same number of carries as Parker, but the second-year back has clearly been more productive.

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger has 30 career games with a passer rating over 100, which is one shy of Terry Bradshaw’s franchise record.

Reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison is tied for fourth in the NFL with six sacks and leads the NFL with four forced fumbles.

The Steelers’ defense has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 23 straight games.

Carolina Panthers (1-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-5)

Partly cloudy and windy. Highs expected around 70 degrees with winds about 14 mph.

The Panthers are 23rd in rushing offense (97.3 YPG) after finishing third last season (152.3 YPG). This might be a game to get healthy in the run game. The Bucs will not be able to play a seven-man front and hold up in the running game.

The Panthers’ WRs don’t have any touchdown receptions. All three of the team’s touchdown receptions have been by TEs — two by Dante Rosario and one by Jeff King. The Bucs will double Steve Smith and force someone else to beat them.

The Buccaneers have been outscored by their opponents 37-7 in the first quarter and 33-0 in the third quarter. They must find a way to not play from behind so they can get their run game going. They have to be able to convert third downs in the first quarter.

Josh Johnson can move around and will make plays on the Panthers’ secondary. Don’t discount the Bucs’ skill players. They can block the front of the Panthers.

Kansas City Chiefs (0-5) at Washington Redskins (2-3)

Wet, cold and windy. A 40-percent chance of rain with highs in the mid-40s and winds at 19 mph.

Weather will be a factor. Gusting winds will make it hard for either team to move the ball. Special teams will be a treat, and both teams will need to catch punts well to be successful. More turnovers occur in windy games.

The Redskins will become the first team in NFL history to play six straight games against winless teams. The 1954 Giants are the only other team to face five straight winless teams.

Redskins’ first six games
This season

                       Opponent    W-L entering Game
Week 6                KC                     0-5
Week 5                at CAR              0-3
Week 4                TB                     0-3
Week 3                at DET               0-2
Week 2                STL                   0-1
Week 1                at NYG              0-0

The Redskins have lost nine of their last 13 games dating to last season. Also, they’re the only team this season to have each game decided by six points or fewer — and those came against bad teams.

Chiefs RB Larry Johnson has 2.4 yards per rush and looks like he doesn’t have any burst or an ability to accelerate.

Kansas City QB Matt Cassel is second on the team with 86 rush yards. Cassel has six TDs and zero INTs in his last three games, but he’s been sacked nine times in his last two contests.

Jamaal Charles has 15 rushes for 77 yards (5.1 yards per rush) and has not had more than six rushing attempts in any game this season. He needs to play more if the Chiefs want to get the run game going. Charles is averaging 5.3 yards per rush in career.

The Chiefs have been outscored by their opponents 31-6 in the first quarter this season. They cannot play from behind. The key to being in last week’s game against the Cowboys was that they were playing with the lead.

Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) at Oakland Raiders (1-4)

Mostly cloudy, highs in mid-60s, with winds calm at 7 mph.

The Raiders have lost three in a row and are an NFL-worst 25-76 since 2003 and 5-12 under head coach Tom Cable. Oakland has been outscored by its opponents 96-16 in its last three games.

The Eagles will come out throwing the ball, trying everything they can do to put the Raiders behind early in the game. They want to force the Raiders to throw the ball.

The Raiders are last in the NFL in completion percentage, completions, passing yards, yards per pass attempts, passing TDs and passer rating this season. The Raiders are last in total offense (191.6 YPG) and 31st in total defense (382.0 YPG). They are bad on both sides of the ball.
After being called out by the Giants’ Antonio Pierce this week, the Raiders will play hard early in the game. But they have a tendency to get demoralized early.

Eagles QB Donovan McNabb has a 66.7 completion percentage, five TDs, one INT and a 123.2 passer rating. He’s playing well, and each time they take him off the field to run the wildcat, they help the defense.

Besides Nnamdi Asomugha, the Raiders’ corners can’t match up with the Eagles’ wideouts. Look for the Birds to attack Stanford Routt in the slot. The Giants wore him out last week.

McNabb has 199 passing TDs and 27 rushing TDs in his career. He needs one more passing TD to become the eighth player in NFL history with 200-plus passing TDs and 25-plus rushing TDs. He would join Fran Tarkenton, John Elway, Steve Young, Terry Bradshaw, Y.A. Tittle, Randall Cunningham and Roman Gabriel.

Arizona Cardinals (2-2) at Seattle Seahawks (2-3)

Showers, highs in the upper-50s, winds calm at 6 mph.

The Cardinals have lost five of their last six trips to Seattle (they won 26-20 last year). Seattle is a different team at home, especially with Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback. Hasselbeck is 7-4 career against the Cardinals as a starter with 16 TDs and 10 INTs.

The Cardinals are 31st in rushing offense (56.5 YPG) and are one of four teams without a run of 20-plus yards (the Chargers, Packers and Patriots are the others). They need to forget the run and just keep throwing the ball.

Arizona is another team that needs to play with the lead. The Cards must set the tempo. They’re 29th in third-down offense (26.1 percent), which is why they get behind early.

The Cards will need to give Mike Gandy help at left tackle and must be able to chip on Pat Kearney. The Seattle rush is much better at home with all the noise. Kearney has 9½ sacks in his last five games against the Cardinals, including three sacks in his last game in 2007.

This game should be high scoring — both teams can throw the ball well, and both can score. Whoever has the ball last might win. The Cardinals are last in pass defense, allowing 303.0 YPG.

The Seahawks’ defense has 14 sacks, led by four from Lawrence Jackson, who had only two as a rookie last season.

The loser of this game might be out of the race for the NFC West. The 49ers have already beaten every team in the division once.

Tennessee Titans (0-5) at New England Patriots (3-2)

Showers are expected to hit the area just before kickoff — there’s a 50-percent chance of rain — with temperatures in the upper-40s and winds at 13 mph.

The Titans have a minus-5 turnover differential, tied for 28th in the NFL. They were second in the NFL last season at plus-14. They’ve committed 13 turnovers this season (second most in the NFL). Last year, they committed just 17 turnovers.

The Patriots must be able to execute their passing game as the Titans struggle to make plays in their secondary. They’ll force the Patriots to try and run the ball.

The Titans are 0-5 despite outrushing their opponents 638-377 and ranking eighth in rushing offense (127.6 YPG) and third in rushing defense (75.4 YPG). The Patriots have to eliminate the big play from the Titans’ offense.

They must contain Chris Johnson. Expect the Pats to force someone other than Johnson to beat them. Johnson is third in the NFL with 468 rush yards and fifth with 6.0 yards per rush.

The more third downs the Patriots can force, the more likely the Titans will make mistakes. The Patriots must force the Titans to execute consistently.

QB Kerry Collins is 13-11 as a starter with Titans, and Vince Young is 18-11 as a starter. Young has won his last four starts. Jeff Fisher is 1-4 career against the Patriots.

Tom Brady has won 18 in a row at home as starter, including playoffs (last home loss was Nov. 12, 2006 against the Jets). Brady is 3-1 in his career against the Titans as starter including the playoffs.

The Patriots have been held to 27 points or fewer in all five games this season. In 2007 with Brady, they were held to 27 points or fewer just three times.

2008 PEYTON MANNING AND 2009 BRADY AFTER FIVE GAMES (BOTH COMING OFF INJURY)Both were 3-2 after five games

BRADY
115/182  63.1  1,302  8 TD-5 INT  9 SACKS  8 +25 PLAYS

MANNING
127/207  61.3  1,344  6 TD-2 INT  5 SACKS  7 + 25 PLAYS

TOM BRADY ON PASS ATTEMPTS OF 21-PLUS YARDS — 2007 VS. 2009

                               2007       2009
Comp-Att.               26-60      2-19
Pass Yds                1,076        70
TD-INT                    13-3         1-1
Passer Rating         109.0       38.0

TOM BRADY BY PASS DISTANCE THIS SEASON

                                             Comp-Att.     Comp Pct.    Passer Rating
Behind Line of Scrimmage        19-28             67.9              66.7
1-10 Yards                               85-120           70.8              91.6
11-20 Yards                              21-40            52.5             112.8
21+ Yards                                  2-19             10.5               38.0

WES WELKER VS. RANDY MOSS LAST TWO GAMES

                       Welker      Moss
Thrown to            25           9
Rec                     14           4
Rec Yds             134         86
Yds per Rec       9.6        21.5
TD                        1            1

Since 2003, the Patriots have lost consecutive regular season games only once. New England had a streak of 57 games without consecutive losses from 2002-06. That was the second-longest streak since 1970. The Patriots are an NFL-best 29-12 in games following a loss under Bill Belichick.

Buffalo Bills (1-4) at New York Jets (3-2)

Rain — a 90-percent chance — and cold, with highs in the upper-40s and winds at 17 mph.

Weather is going to be a huge factor in the game, and the lack of arm strength from QB Trent Edwards will make it tough on the Bills. Edwards has been sacked 18 times this season (second most in NFL). He was sacked five times in his last game against the Jets in 2008.

Running the ball will be key, and the Jets are the better run team. The Jets will blitz the Bills from the first play to the last.

Nine of Mark Sanchez’s 24 pass attempts last week were thrown to Braylon Edwards. Edwards had five catches for 64 yards and a TD in his Jets debut just five days after being traded from the Browns. Don’t forget, a pass interference penalty set up another score. He’s going to be a huge factor.

Jets RB Leon Washington has zero TDs this season after having nine total TDs last season (six rushing, two receiving and one kick return). But with Edwards now on the field, I expect Washington will get more opportunities for big plays.

Facing two very good offenses the last two weeks has affected the Jets’ defense. They must force turnovers with pressure, not sacks.

The Jets’ Defense
This season

                                     1st 3 Games      Last 2 Games
PPG Allowed                       11.0                   27.5
Total YPG                           256.0                378.0
Rush YPG                           82.7                  152.0
Takeaways                           7                         1
Offensive TD Allowed             2                         5

Chicago Bears (3-1) at Atlanta Falcons (3-1)

The Bears have won three consecutive games and are looking to win four in a row for the first time since December 2006. The Bears are coming off a bye week and have won their last three games following a bye.

Jay Cutler has seven pass TDs and one INT in the last three games after his season-opening one-touchdown, four-interception performance against the Packers. He has a passer rating of over 100 in the last three games. He played well in Atlanta last year in a Broncos win.

The Bears’ offensive line must play well dealing with the crowd noise and John Abraham.

Chicago’s defense has two takeaways in each of its last three games. The Bears couldn’t care less about how many yards they allow; they want to create takeaways.

The Falcons are 2-0 at home and have won five straight at home dating to last season. Matt Ryan is 9-1 career at home with 11 TDs and six INTs. The one loss against was against the Jay Cutler and the Broncos last year.

Falcons RB Michael Turner has five rushes of 10-plus yards and one rush of 20-plus yards. He led the NFL with 45 rushes of 10-plus yards, adding 11 rushes of 20-plus yards last season. He looks much slower on tape this year and doesn’t have the same burst or explosive movement that he had last season.

The Falcons have outscored their opponents 76-36 in the first half and are 14-1 under Mike Smith when leading at halftime. They were the best team in the NFL in first-half scoring differential last year. They must play with the lead.

VIDEO OF THE WEEK…

“The worst sin -- perhaps the only sin -- passion can commit is to be joyless.” — Dorothy L. Sayers (1893 - 1957), “Gaudy Night”

Gary Vaynerchuk, Host of WineLibraryTV.com, tells you how to do what you love and get paid for it

LEADERSHIP IMPROVEMENT IDEA...

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” — Peter Drucker

You might want to find a Drucker Society near you. Click the link below.

Drucker Societies are at the forefront of a global movement to stimulate effective management and ethical leadership.

These all-volunteer organizations draw on Peter Drucker’s vast body of work for information and inspiration. They seek to have a positive impact on their local communities. By implementing a slate of programs developed in conjunction with the Drucker Institute, the Drucker Society Network has become a living, breathing embodiment of Peter Drucker’s ideas and ideals.

Their activities include book clubs in which members discuss Drucker’s teachings and how to apply them to their companies and communities; Drucker-based training programs for nonprofit organizations; presentations on Drucker and his principles for high school students; workshops on innovation for would-be entrepreneurs; and much more.

ARTICLES YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED THAT AREN’T WORTH MISSING...

“It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one's dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent.” — W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965), “Of Human Bondage,” 1915

Offensive Play: How different are dogfighting and football? Malcolm Gladwell of the New Yorker

Going for it on fourth down in the first quarter. Here’s a very interesting idea.

From the Blog Eagle Wonk, John Miller, and his take on the Born to Run theory.

COMMENT OF THE WEEK FROM THE POST...

“To avoid criticism do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.” — Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915)

STORIES TO SHARE...

“You must give some time to your fellow men. Even if it's a little thing, do something for others — something for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it.” — Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965)

Traveling Angels, author unknown

Two traveling angels stopped to spend the night in the home of a wealthy family. The family was rude and refused to let the angels stay in the mansion's guest room. Instead, the angels were given a space in the cold basement. As they made their bed on the hard floor, the older angel saw a hole in the wall and repaired it.

When the younger angel asked why, the older angel replied, "Things aren't always what they seem."

The next night, the pair came to rest at the house of a very poor, but very hospitable, farmer and his wife. After sharing what little food they had, the couple let the angels sleep in their bed where they could have a good night's rest.

When the sun came up the next morning, the angels found the farmer and his wife in tears. Their only cow, whose milk had been their sole income, lay dead in the field. The younger angel was infuriated and asked the older angel, "How could you have let this happen!? The first man had everything, yet you helped him," she accused. "The second family had little but was willing to share everything, and you let their cow die."

"Things aren't always what they seem," the older angel replied.

"When we stayed in the basement of the mansion, I noticed there was gold stored in that hole in the wall. Since the owner was so obsessed with greed and unwilling to share his good fortune, I sealed the wall so he wouldn't find it. Then last night as we slept in the farmer's bed, the angel of death came for his wife. I told him to take the cow instead. Things aren't alw

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