When Marvin Lewisbecame the Bengals' coach in 2003, the former defensive coordinator had in mindthe ideal middle linebacker for Cincinnati: a defensive quarterback who lookedand played a lot like Ray Lewis, the Ravens' 6'1", 250-poundsideline-to-sideline playmaker. He's tried six players at the position overfour seasons and still hasn't found a guy who fits that profile. But while6'3", 220 pound Caleb Miller doesn't measure up to Ray Lewis physically,he's playing like his Baltimore counterpart. Since being inserted into thestarting lineup after the Bengals gave up 49 points to the Chargers on Nov. 12,the rangy Miller (above) has keyed a three-game Cincy winning streak in whichthe Bengals (7--5) held the Saints, Browns and Ravens to a combined 23 points;Miller had 30 tackles, one sack and a fumble recovery in those games."There's more than one way to play middle linebacker," said Millerafter last Thursday's 13--7 win over Baltimore. "At my weight, I've got tobe quick to the hole and play with perfect technique."
In the Packers'four wins, Brett Favre has thrown eight touchdown passes and no interceptions.In the team's eight losses, he has seven touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
"I did have alot of doubts in the off-season," Bills coach Dick Jauron said last week ofmistake-prone quarterback J.P. Losman, "but every game this year he hastaken a step forward. He's going to be a really good player." Losman (left)has completed 63.0% of his passes, up from 49.6% in 2005, and he impressedJauron with the way he directed last-minute, game-winning drives against theTexans and the Jaguars in consecutive late-November games. Such performanceshave mostly answered questions about Losman's long-term viability, and Jauronsays Buffalo will not be in the market for a quarterback to compete for thestarter's job next year.
1 The bigquestion on early NFL draft boards: Where does Ohio State quarterback andHeisman Trophy lock Troy Smith fall? Some teams have him in the top 15, othersin the second round. Considering that Smith is an inch taller than Mike Vick,nearly as athletic and a more accurate college passer, why isn't he certain togo in the top three or four?
2 Lions presidentand CEO Matt Millen may be overseeing the NFL's biggest disaster, but he won'tresign unless his patron, owner William Clay Ford, asks him. Ford isn'tplanning to.
3 It's crazy thatcoaches are so afraid to make a quarterback change. Lovie Smith should give RexGrossman one more week to get on track. Smith can't afford to drag the Bearsdown by sticking with his ill-performing passer any longer than that.
Peter King'sMonday Morning Quarterback, every week at SI.com/football.
DAN BEINEKE/WIREIMAGE.COM (MILLER)
ALAN H. SCHWARTZ/WIREIMAGE.COM (LOSMAN)