New England Patriots
Autumn is well under way, which means pumpkins, pullovers and the persistentPats, now 5--1 and atop the AFC East with hardly anyone among the leagueleaders. How do Belichick's boys swing it? Tight end Ben Watson (above)explains, "Just do your job and we'll win."
In Michigan: Underappreciated running back Mike Hart (right) topped 1,000 yardsand is a spark plug for the unbeaten Wolverines. (Teammate Lamarr Woodleyadvises opponents, "You better make sure the full team tackles him.")In San Jose: Last season's Hart Trophy winner, Joe Thornton, had a team-bestnine assists for the Sharks, 6-2 through Sunday.
It's only preseason, but Toronto (27-55 last year) was 5-0 after winning onSunday with Samuel L. Jackson courtside. The Raptors also rolled to a 118-84win over Maccabi Tel-Aviv--the team that, embarrassingly, beat them before lastseason.
Michael's big day (four TDs) was complemented by Marcus's big gain: He madeMiami's 53-man roster, and he could stick as a multipurpose threat.
What's worse: squandering a huge second-half lead to an unbeaten team (Bears)or getting rolled over by a winless one (Raiders)? Ask any Cardinal, includingMatt Leinart (above) or coach Denny Green, who a week after a post-Bears tiradewas in a post-Oakland funk. Said Green, "I've been soul-searching."
On the gridiron: Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (below) was knocked coldagainst Atlanta. En route to the gridiron: Colts tackle Montae Reagor suffereda head wound in a car accident and missed Sunday's game. In the city: Kenya'sRobert Cheruiyot won the Chicago Marathon but slipped and bonked his noggin atthe finish line.
It's only preseason, but Cleveland (50--32 last year) was 1--5 with four lossesto nonplayoff teams. The Cavs--and Eric Snow, left--got a scare when centerZydrunas Ilgauskas left Sunday's game with a bruised knee.
The Chargers lost, and two of their stars fell: Linebacker Shaun Phillips isout with a calf injury; linebacker Shawne (Lights Out) Merriman got a four-gameban for steroid use.
SI PLAYERS NFL POLL
Who is the most overrated player in the NFL?
Terrell Owens, Cowboys WR ... 10%
Brian Urlacher, Bears LB ... 8%
Ray Lewis, Ravens LB ... 7%
Michael Vick, Falcons QB ... 7%
FAST FACTS: Giants QB Eli Manning and Panthers WRKeyshawn Johnson tied for fifth (4.1%).... TO won the poll for best widereceiver in the NFL (SI PLAYERS, Oct. 16).... Urlacher is third in the NFC with54 tackles; Lewis is 11th in the AFC with 50.... Steelers QB Ben Roethlisbergergot only 3.4% of the overall vote but 10% within his own AFC North.... In anaccompanying SI PLAYERS poll that asked players to name the most underratedplayer in the NFL, voters picked Falcons RB Warrick Dunn (2.7%) and also citedSeahawks RB Shaun Alexander, Chiefs QB Trent Green, Colts WR Marvin Harrisonand Steelers WR Hines Ward (2.4% each).
[ Based on a survey of 361 NFL players ] • For anexpanded version of the poll, go to SI.com/players.
BOB ROSATO (WATSON); LEON HALIP/WIREIMAGE.COM (HART); DAMIAN STROHMEYER (OWENS); TOM DAHLIN (URLACHER); ELSA/GETTY IMAGES (SNOW); GARY BOGDON (ROETHLISBERGER); ROBERT B. STANTON/WIREIMAGE.COM (LEINART)