Rex Grossman, Chicago Bears:Grossman has been one of the most efficient and productive passers in the league thus far. His biggest concern with the Cards defense this week will be SS Adrian Wilson. Grossman will have to account for him and know where he is at all times. Wilson leads the Cards in sacks and will blitz often, but Grossman's mobility in the pocket, and ability to find multiple receivers will help him evade the pressure. And with the emergence of WR Bernard Berrian and TE Desmond Clark, he has plenty of weapons to choose from. He's a certain starter this week.
Larry Johnson, Kansas City Chiefs:Johnson will run behind the interior of the KC line, making yards after contact. The key will be the play of C Casey Wiegmann, who will get help from the guards in blocking down on NT Casey Hampton. By double teaming Hampton and chipping out on the LB, Johnson gets a free ride to the second level where he will be a load to bring down with a full head of steam.
Terrell Owens, Dallas Cowboys:If Owens can keep his mouth shut long enough, he might actually be in line for the breakout game he's been hoping for. The Texans will roll coverage to Terry Glenn to account for his deep speed, leaving Owens in single coverage on the opposite side of the field. Look for Dallas to isolate Owens in those instances and let him beat coverage down the seam or on the perimeter. Start him up this week. He's due for a big game, and against a secondary that gives up big plays, this could be the one.
LJ Smith, Philadelphia Eagles:When the Saints go into Cover Two, the middle of the field will be open and Smith will be guarded by a LB, Mark Simoneau. The safeties will help in deep coverage and their youth and inexperience will hurt them against the veteran Smith. He's a starter.
Chicago Bears (@ Arizona):The Bears are allowing just one TD per game. They have 15 takeaways and 18 sacks, and nobody can run on them. It doesn't even matter who they are playing anymore. They are the class of the NFL.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers:Roethlisberger continues to make mistakes with the ball and his confidence is shaken as a result. The passing game has been reduced to a dink and dunk attack that forces him to make short, high percentage throws that will hopefully result in fewer turnovers. Against a defense that thrives on takeaways, Roethlisberger must take care of the ball. Look for the Steelers to play it close to the vest this week and give Big Ben little reason to chime. He's only a backup.
LaMont Jordan, Oakland Raiders:During the bye week, the Raiders made a commitment to the running game and it has shown in two strong performances. Jordan has 199 yards in two games and is averaging 5.4 yards per carry. Look for the Raiders to continue in that vein, but expect the Broncos to load up the box and force QB Andrew Walter to win the game with his arm. Denver has one of the best run defenses in the league and Jordan will struggle accordingly on the road. He is a #2 back at best this week despite his recent success.
Anquan Boldin, Arizona Cardinals:Boldin's ability to run the quick slant and use his size to get free on hitch routes or stop routes in the short area of the field will be a big benefit to Matt Leinart this week. Look for him on the receiving end of shorter, high percentage throws where he gets the ball on the move and can make plays in the middle of the field. If Fitzgerald is out, he becomes the first read for Leinart, but will also draw double teams all over the field, limiting his production.
Jeremy Shockey, New York Giants:Shockey could be limited this week because he will be needed as a blocker in max protect schemes against an aggressive Atlanta pass rush. If the Giants take Barber off the field, and go with two TE, Shockey may be able to release and run the vertical seam, but he won't see his usual number of balls this week.
Seattle Seahawks (@ St. Louis):Seattle puts pressure on the passer but it hasn't resulted in sacks. They have done a solid job against the run, but have been suspect in coverage and given up some big plays. Without more pressure, they will struggle to create turnovers, which is what they need to do to win this game. They are on the bubble and probably not a starting unit this week against a very good offensive team.
Sleeper of the Week
Leon Washington, RB, New York Jets:Washington turned in his first 100-yard rushing day as a pro last week and added a reception. Look for all those skills to be on display this week. Washington will run left behind Pete Kendall at the pass rushing right side of the Dolphins defense, and look for he and Kevan Barlow as receivers out of the backfield on obvious passing downs when the Dolphins send the LB blitz.
Friday Injury Report Jets
Questionable: FB B.J. Askew (foot), CB David Barrett (hip), WR Laveranues Coles (calf), RW Tim Dwight (thigh), RB Cedric Houston (knee), OL Pete Kendall (thigh) & OL Trey Teague (ankle)
Probable:*DL Dave Ball (hand), *RB Kevan Barlow (calf), *LB Matt Chatham (foot), *OL Anthony Clement (shin), *DL Bobby Hamilton (knee), *FB James Hodgins (knee), *OL Adrian Jones (thigh), *CB Justin Miller (hip), *QB Chad Pennington (calf), *S Kerry Rhodes (thigh), *TE Sean Ryan (Chest), WR Brad Smith (thigh), *S Eric Smith (knee), & *DL Kimo von Oelhoffen (knee) & *RB Leon Washington (hip)
Dolphins Doubtful:WR Marty Booker (chest) & QB Daunte Culpepper (knee)
Questionable:CB Travis Daniels (knee), TE Justin Peelle (knee), & LB Derrick Pope (hamstring)
Probable:*TE Randy McMichael (ribs)
- Denotes players who participated in practice