The Saints are alive—and scoring, averaging 30.5 points while winning fourstraight behind QB Drew Brees (above). The best part for the 4--4 team: an easysecond-half schedule. "We've got a long ways to go," cautioned coachSean Payton. That's also true of the Hornets, an SI playoff pick, but going3--0 is a nice way to start.
The Russian-born Thrashers forward, in the middle of a five-year, $32 millioncontract, scored back-to-back hat tricks to tie for the NHL lead with 12 goals.Teammate Pascal Dupuis to Atlanta's Journal-Constitution: "The guy isdominating the sport."
His shoulder's hurting and so's his hip, but the Browns' tight end snagged 11balls for 125 yards to help beat Seattle. "I'm just proud of us, man,"he said later, tearing up.
The former CART champ, who lost his legs in a 2001 crash, not only competed inthe NYC marathon's handcycle division—he came in fourth. Not shabby for afirst-time marathoner who started training last month. Said Zanardi afterward,"Nothing hurts."
Oh, those Eagles. They were routed by Dallas, Donovan McNabb (above) can't gethis groove on, and there's the unhappy matter of coach Andy Reid'sprison-sentenced sons. "We'll be fine," Reid said of the 3--5 team.That may not be true of the 76ers, SI's pick for last in the East; a 1--2 startkept coach Mo Cheeks's hot seat from cooling.
The Sudan-born Bulls forward turned down a five-year, $57.5 million extension,he keeps hearing those Kobe Bryant trade rumors, and he shot just 42.5% inthree Bulls losses. Deng to the Chicago Tribune: "I just need to take more[practice] shots."
Like Winslow, the Bengals' back had 11—in his case, yards rushing, on ninecarries, in a loss to Buffalo. Coach Marvin Lewis, redefining fine: "Rudiplayed fine."
The 49ers QB says he feels "100%" after a separated throwing shouldersidelined him for four weeks. O.K., but 100% of what? Smith was the NFL's 34thranked passer—yes, there are only 32 teams—after a three-pick game onSunday.
SI PLAYERS NFL POLL
Who is the friendliest player in the NFL?
LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers RB....7%
Troy Polamalu, Steelers S.....7%
Peyton Manning, Colts QB.....4%
Drew Brees, Saints QB.....4%
Shaun Alexander, Seahawks RB.....3%
Players could not vote for a teammate.... Nice guys finish where? The teams ofthese top five vote-getters were a combined 24--15 through Sunday.... Five ofthe top 12 vote-getters are quarterbacks, with Tom Brady, Matt Hasselbeck andDonovan McNabb joining Manning and Brees.
[Based on a survey of 278 NFL players] • For more onthe poll, and to comment on it, go to SI.com/players.
DOUG BENC/GETTY IMAGES (BREES)
TOM MIHALEK/AP (MCNABB)
NAM Y. HUH/AP (DENG)
KATHY WILLENS/AP (ZANARDI)
TAMI CHAPPELL/REUTERS (KOVALCHUK)
JOHN BIEVER (POLAMALU)
ROBERT BECK (TOMLINSON)