Best lesson of the 2006 season through Week 5: Running backs can have the quickest impact. Rookies Maurice Jones-Drew, Laurence Maroney and Jerious Norwood have brought added juice to the ground games of Jacksonville, New England and Atlanta, respectively, and consider these numbers: In the Colts' 5--0 start last year Edgerrin James rushed for 519 yards and two touchdowns; in the team's 5--0 start this year the combo of rookie Joseph Addai and career backup Dominic Rhodes (above) rushed for 542 yards and four touchdowns. The constant in Indy is the O-line. It's been coached by Howard Mudd for the last nine years, and 2005's starting five—from left tackle to right: Tarik Glenn, Ryan Lilja, Jeff Saturday, Jake Scott and Ryan Diem—returned intact. No surprise that the running game has held up.
"I don't know nothing about that Bears team. I was two then," Chicago defensive tackle Tommie Harris said on Sunday night, referring to the 1985 squad that won Super Bowl XX. O.K., Tommie, here's a primer on the '85 Bears: suffocating defense (12.4 points per game), underrated offense (28.5 points per game) and a large cast of colorful characters. This year's Bears (5--0) are more devastating: They're beating opponents by an average of 24.0 points, and they're doing it with unfamous players: Wideouts Bernard Berrian and Rashied Davis have a combined six touchdown catches, and defensive end Mark Anderson, a fifth-rounder out of Alabama, leads NFL rookies with 5 1/2 sacks.
From 2002 through '05 the Lions picked four first-rounders expected to form the core of the offense for years—quarterback Joey Harrington and wideouts Charles Rogers, Roy Williams and Mike Williams. But the strategy failed miserably. While Roy Williams is a solid starter, Harrington and Rogers have been released, and Mike Williams mostly rides the bench. Here's how the Lions have fared since 2002 compared with the previous four-year stretch.
|<p>YEARS</p>||<p>RECORD</p>||<p>PCT.</p>||<p>POINTS PER GAME</p>|
1 If suspended defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth gets so much as a parking ticket in the next month, the Titans won't bring him back. But if he stays out of trouble, my money is on Haynesworth's moving right back into the starting lineup.
2 Couldn't agree more with Brett Favre when he says about Chicago's Tommie Harris, 23, "He reminds me of Warren Sapp at the same age."
3 The QB who gives Miami's Nick Saban the best chance to win is Joey Harrington. Daunte Culpepper's immobility and the line's inability to protect him (21 sacks in four games) make the more nimble Harrington (sacked once on Sunday) the right choice.
Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback, every week at SI.com/football.
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