START: Cardinals QB Kevin Kolb, @ Seahawks. Even with Sidney Rice back, I think the Cardinals will get the ball in great position. I would love for Tarvaris Jackson to prove me wrong but – until he does – he hurts their defense, too.
SIT: Cowboys QB Tony Romo, vs. Redskins. I don’t think Romo – who should be in more pain than last week – will succeed throwing on this improving secondary with one of his top weapons out and two more – Jones and Bryant – hobbled. The caveat is that I’m only saying to sit Romo if you have another good option: i.e. Flacco, Fitzpatrick, Kolb, Grossman, Newton, etc.
START: Giants RB Brandon Jacobs, @ Eagles. This is one of those weeks where the top RB’s in the game – Adrian Peterson, Michael Turner, Maurice Jones-Drew, and Ray Rice – should each be in for huge games, but I like Jacobs more than any of them. The Eagles run defense – that may have allowed fewer yards if not for a Vick INT errant call – is the gift that keeps on giving. 292 rushing yards allowed the first two weeks and they are already shuffling their line-up: Jamar Chaney to MLB, Casey Matthews to WLB, and Moise Fokou to SLB. If Vince Young plays, Jacobs will have a 4-TD game.
SIT: Browns RB Peyton Hillis, vs. Dolphins. After the monolithic Patriots (622 yards, 38 points allowed) and Texans attacks (345 yards, 23 points allowed), the Dolphins must be happy to be rolling into town to play the Browns. I hope Mike Nolan is done with the dumb play-call that he had at the worst moment of the Patriots game and the Dolphins should be able to bottle up Hillis (last year, they held him to 18 attempts, 57 yards, 0 TDs).
BONUS! START: Cardinals RB Beanie Wells, @ Seahawks. The Seahawks (17 points, 3 turnovers, 15 punts), Chiefs (10, 9, 13), Jaguars (19, 5, 10) and Colts (26, 4, 10) have been the most inept offenses in the NFL and – as a result – have given their defenses short fields and scant rest. Seattle’s run defense has been good so far but it faced a struggling Steelers O-line last week. 3 of Chris’s 11 career touchdowns have been against the Seahawks.
START: Panthers WR Steve Smith, vs. Jaguars. Derek Cox is back but I’d play Steve Smith until he has back-to-back bad weeks. When the plays broke down, Newton looked for Steve Smith for the first two weeks. I’m going to tell you to ride this one out until he cools off for consecutive weeks. Heck, even if he slows down for three weeks, this kind of production could definitely happen again as long as Cam adjusts to defensive adjustments.
SIT: Bengals WR A.J. Green, vs. 49ers. He really has amazing ability but if he scores against the 49ers, he shall accomplish something Randy Moss, Anquan Boldin, and Tampa Bay Mike Williams weren’t able to do in their big rookie seasons: score in each of his first three games.
START: Saints WR Robert Meachum, vs. Texans. I don’t watch a lot of non-Ravens games. I have to work, I try to get in the Bible every day, and I exercise. From what all the games I’ve seen, the biggest facade is the Texans’ pass defense. Sure – at its core – it is about getting after the quarterback and it’s done a great job so far. However, I just don’t see much corner depth, only one of the safeties is really good right now , and this will be their first test. They’ve beaten up Kerry Collins and Chad Henne. They won’t do the same to Drew Brees.
SIT: 49ers WR Michael Crabtree, @ Bengals. You can never be certain how much a rust a player has coming back from injury. What I’m more counting on is him having Leon Hall or Nate Clements on him most of the game and him being set back by it being his first game in the Harbaugh offense. My column, as well as others, endorsed Evan Moore week 1 against this Bengals defense – he delivered – and many will justifiably do the same for Vernon Davis.
START: Buccaneers TE Kellen Winslow, vs. Falcons. The Falcons have given up TDs to his position in big quantities. Moreover, Mike Williams will get double-teamed in the red zone. This is a revenge game for Tampa Bay. Just watch.
SIT: Bengals TE Jermaine Gresham, vs. 49ers. The 49ers defense hasn’t let a tight end score since Brent Celek in the first quarter on October 10th.
START: Panthers D/ST, vs. Jaguars. Blaine Gabbert will one day be a great quarterback. That said, it’s troubling that this guy was essentially passed over for Luke McCown for the last two weeks. They are opening up the offense for him – and he is PERFECT for Dirk Koetter’s play-action offense – but some of the weapons are hurt and this is his debut. There may be an disadvantage to having virtually zero film on him, but the Panthers know this is one of their few opportunities to win a game early this year and reward Cam Newton for all he’s done so far. They will perform well at home this week.
SIT: Rams D/ST, vs. Ravens. Of all my criticisms of John Harbaugh and particularly Cam Cameron, I will admit that they come back strong after losses. Playing indoors – and I pray without an injured Lee Evans – will expose some unearthly mismatches. Boldin will use his frame to corral catches and the young WR’s will push the Rams safeties and create space for handfuls Rice and Dickson.