The Shot Caller spent most of the week chasing around a prematurely
ambulatory Baby Shot Caller. That means he's tired, grumpy, and
desperately in need of a Packers victory this Sunday…not to mention
a nice, long nap. Assume it's OK if we skip the chitchat and get
right to the recommendations? As always, I appreciate your understanding.
Here's the Week 4 rundown:
Must Start: The Top 10
1. Peyton Manning @ JAX - He
bested his Week 2 numbers with 256 yards and three scoring strikes
then proceeded to go out and play three more quarters!!! Ugh.
Needless to say, the mood was a tad subdued in the Shot Caller
household on Sunday. You shouldn't expect similar numbers in Jacksonville
(better scheme, healthier secondary) but the lack of a consistent
pass rush will hurt the Jags' chances of slowing down the Colts'
2. Donovan McNabb @ CHI - It
was only Detroit but he certainly looked like an early favorite
for MVP, didn't he? He's maintaining his poise in the pocket,
making great decisions, and throwing the ball on the money (69.8%
so far), something he's struggled with in the past. The cupcake
schedule continues in Chicago this week where the role of icing
will be played by a severely short-handed Bears secondary. Bon
3. Michael Vick @ CAR - The
Cards decided to go unorthodox against Vick, using a five-man
line and assigning a "spy" to the fleet-footed one all
game long. It worked. Although he ran for 68 yards, he managed
only 115 yards through the air and turned it over a whopping three
times. In this "monkey see, monkey do" league, you can
expect others to mimic the plan
and Michael to adjust accordingly.
4. Chad Pennington @ MIA - You'd
need an advanced degree to figure out the NFL's QB rating formula
but for my money, he's the most efficient signal-caller in the
league (actually 2nd behind Culpepper). He's completing 75% of
his passes, doesn't throw picks, and rarely gets sacked. In other
words, he's all reward and very little risk. Make sure there isn't
(yet) another hurricane in the forecast for South Florida and
then start him.
5. Marc Bulger @ SF - He's completing
a ton of passes (69.3%) for a ton of yards (915) but only has
three touchdowns. In Mike Martz's way-too-pass-happy attack, that's
not good enough. Expect him to make up for lost time and go bonkers
against a Niners team that hasn't been this bad since the pre-Walsh
6. Tom Brady @ Buffalo - He's
had a week off to prepare for a trip to Buffalo and a meeting
with the tough Bills defense. Other than Manning, I can't think
of another quarterback I'd least wanna face coming off two weeks
of rest and preparation. Unless New England gets up big early
(a distinct possibility), he should be good for 200+ and a couple
7. Aaron Brooks @ ARI - I promised
the showdown in St. Louie would be a track meet and it was. Brooks
did his part (316 yards and a TD toss) and, more importantly,
avoided the turnovers he's been prone to in the past. This week,
he gets a Cardinals squad that totally shut down Mr. Vick and
the Falcons in Week 2. I don't know about you but it sure smells
like the kind of game New Orleans historically coughs up. Just
something to kick around when you're setting your lineup.
8. Brett Favre vs. NYG - Guess
the Ol' Gunslinger still has something left, huh? He got drawn
into a high noon duel with Peyton and responded by throwing for
358 yards and four touchdowns. Vintage Favre. You won't get that
out of him this week (and maybe never again) but the G-men field
just the 22nd-ranked defense despite having faced Brunell/Ramsey
and Jeff Garcia. Draw your own conclusions.
9. Kurt Warner @ GB - His protégé
took his job and inherited all his weapons but after three weeks,
the cagey vet is the one sitting at 2-1. He has some pretty solid
weapons to work with himself and he'll likely be licking his chops
after watching game film of the Pack this week. If McKenzie and
Carroll sit again, move him up a few spots.
10. David Carr vs. OAK - He
wasn't spectacular against KC but, as usual, made the most of
the passes he did complete. He's now behind only Culpepper in
yards per attempt (9.23). Oakland is much improved but still ranks
in the middle of the pack against the pass despite having faced
three below-average passing attacks (Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and
Grab A Helmet:
Kerry Collins @ HOU - Collins
seems to be a perfect fit for Norv Turner's vertical passing attack
and he did nothing on Sunday night to dispute that notion. He
draws a Houston team in his first start that's allowing opposing
QBs to complete 70% of their passes, bad enough for a league-worst
116.5 rating. That's a pretty tasty matchup for a historically
inaccurate quarterback. Give him a go if you're short-handed.
Byron Leftwich vs. IND - When
it comes to the '04 Jags, there are believers and non-believers.
Count me among the latter. Nevertheless, we all saw how atrocious
the Colts are on defense and it's hard not to think Leftwich will
emerge from a season-long slump. He's not gonna go Favre on Indy
but he could throw for two bills and a couple touchdowns. He'll
have to or Jacksonville's unblemished record will most certainly
be blemished after Week 4.
Jake Delhomme vs. ATL - Like
the Eagles, the Falcons are giving up a ton of yards through the
air (269.7/game). Of course, like the Eagles, they're also 3-0.
What's the common denominator? Pressure. The two squads share
the league lead for sacks (14). Provided DeShaun Foster can take
some of the heat off (he should) and Delhomme doesn't perform
his whirling dervish routine again (he better not), the Ragin'
Cajun will post some good numbers.
Steve McNair or Billy Volek @ SD
- It's time to be officially worried about Air McNair, I fear.
He's battered and bruised and hasn't looked all that sharp even
when he's been healthy. If he sits this week, you could do a lot
worse than prized backup, Volek, facing the Bolts. If he plays
DID mention he's facing San Diego, right? Go ahead and start either
guy depending on who gets the nod.
Grab A Clipboard:
Kyle Boller vs. KC - If you
think I'm taking him off this list because he accounted for two
touchdowns last week (stop the presses!), you're crazy. Even a
blind squirrel finds paydirt every once in a while. Don't forget
he threw for just 126 yards and fumbled the ball twice, once without
even being touched. He's a train wreck you should only be watching
from a distance.
Jay Fiedler vs. NYJ - Speaking
of train wrecks! I honestly thought A.J. Feeley would be an upgrade
over Fiedler this year. Turns out I was wrong. Dead wrong. He's
a turnover machine and doesn't have anyone in the backfield to
take the pressure off. Fiedler will probably protect the ball
better but faces many of the same obstacles (bad line, CFL-caliber
running backs) and has many of the same deficiencies. Avoid him.
Carson Palmer @ PIT - The folks
in Cincy should probably give him a break since he's faced arguably
the two toughest defenses in the league the past two weeks. Still,
he hasn't put the Bengals in the end zone since Week 1. That's
gotta concern you heading into Week 4 since the Steel Curtain
is beginning to look a little bit like
Jonathan Quinn vs. PHI - I watch
a LOT of football but I can honestly say I've never seen him play.
Not even in preseason. It's probably unfair to assess his chances
sight unseen but I'm going to anyway. He faces an extremely sophisticated
Philly blitz package and is (rumored to be) fairly immobile. That's
a recipe for disaster in the NFL. Best of luck if you take a flyer
Drew Brees vs. TEN - The good
news: he ran one in for six last week and was also the second
leading receiver with 38 yards. The bad news: he was the SECOND
LEADING RECEIVER!!! Phillip Rivers is nipping at his heels and
I have a strong suspicion this will be his last or second-to-last
start as a Charger. Could be wrong but do you really wanna rely
on a guy who has such a tenuous hold on his job?