Early Sunday Morning News and Notes

* One reason why I think tonight will be different from last year for the New Eng;land Patriots is running back Laurence Maroney. Last season when the Pats met the Colts, they had to rely soley on Corey Dillon, and once the Colts got an early lead, Dillon was ineffective and not able to get many yards, forcing Tom Brady to pass, thus allowing Peyton and the Colts plenty of chances to get on the field to score points. The Pats game plan tonight will be simple – use the combo of Maroney and Dillon and keep Peyton off the field. If the Pats can win the time of possession battle, they will win tonight. Maroney is the key reason I went with the win here for New England.

* Another back that needs a big week for his team to get a win is Ravens bruiser Jamal Lewis. Last week Lewis cracked 100 yards for the first time all season against the Saints, and today at home vs the weak Bengals run defense, Baltimore will look to get him over that mark again. If the Ravens can open some holes, and then make sure to keep Steve McNair upright, I think they have an excellent shot against the Bengals. For Cincy, they will try and get Chris Henry more involved with the passing attack to open up routes for Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Henry is a big play guy that can get you 15-20 yards everytime he touches the ball. His presence on the field can only help the struggling Bengals.

* It’s short leash week for Texans QB David Carr, who last week was benched for a pick and two fumbles. All backup Sage Rosenfels did was throw three TD’s and give the Texans a shot in Tennessee at a win. Despite that, Carr starts today as the Texans are in a tough spot in New York vs the Giants. Carr deserves to get a shot at starting here. He has been on his back too many times in his career, and yes, the mistakes that were made Sunday were on him, but otherwise he was having a very solid year behind center. No doubt that Carr deserves another chance against the Giants Sunday. Remember, the Texans were the worst team in the league last year, at least this year they already have two wins.

* How the Chiefs can even toy with the idea of putting Trent Green back in the lineup when healthy is beyond me. Damon Huard has done an outstanding job since replacing Green in week one, and deserves to finish the year as the Chiefs signal caller. Kansas City is right in the thick of it in the AFC West, and they can’t afford Green a week or two to get back to game speed while the rest of the team suffers. Herm Edwards has got to look at the season where it stands and make the right move – which would be to keep Huard the starter for the rest of the season.

* Today could very well be the last meeting between two Hall of Fame coaches – Joe Gibbs and Bill Parcells. The Redskins are having an awful season, and Gibbs may walk away at the end of the year. It’s no secret that Parcells may do the same, despite the Cowboys looking like a team that could possibly make the playoffs. Whatever happens today it could go down as a historic battle between two coaching legends matching wits for the final time.

* I know I am getting ahead of myself, but looking ahead to week 10 – how could you not like the Sunday nighter between the Bears and Giants at the Meadowlands? The Bears will alomst for sure be undefeated, while the Giants, with what appears to be an easy game today vs the Texans, will be 6-2 and winners of five straight. It could very well be the toughest test left for the Bears, as they look for the vaunted 16-0 mark.


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