49ers vs. Rams
If you've got him, now's the time to break open the seal and give this
mini-- Antonio Gates a whirl. Quarterback Alex Smith will have room to work
against a revamped St. Louis D. But he may have to get his passes off quickly
against the blitz-happy Rams, which is where short-range option Davis (who had
five catches and a TD in Week 1) comes in.
CHRIS BAKER Jets
Until a goal line threat emerges from the Kevin Barlow/ Derrick Blaylock/Cedric
Houston (five total TDs in 2005) running back troika, Baker may be the Man in
the red zone. Last year he and Chad Pennington hooked up 10 times in the first
three weeks. Baker had a TD grab on Sunday and now faces a shaky Pats
RB COLTS vs.
Can Rhodes, who
was held to 29 yards on 16 carries against the Giants in Week 1, replicate
Edgerrin James's 2005 season of 1,506 yards and 13 TDs rushing? Only time will
tell. But James's past romps--seemingly unimpeded--through the Houston defense
bode well for Rhodes. When the Texans opted for DE Mario Williams with the top
pick in the '06 draft, owner Bob McNair said, "[We] need a defense that can
put pressure on the passer. That's the only way [we're] going to beat
Indianapolis." Indeed, as long as Peyton Manning keeps Houston's
linebackers and safeties on their heels (which he's done to the tune of 273.5
yards per game since '03) he'll have the Texans D's full attention. With the
focus on Manning, James ran for 261 yards and three scores in two games last
year against Houston. Until the Texans' revamped unit solves its Manning
problem, expect Rhodes to roll up the stats.
ROD SMITH Broncos
Smith has more catches (117) and yards (1,734) against Kansas City than against
any other team in his illustrious career. In fact, among active players no one
has more catches or yards against an opponent than Smith does against the
Chiefs. Look for Javon Walker to get the most attention in coverage, leaving
Smith open for a couple of big plays.
Seahawks vs. Cardinals
You'd like to believe that Mike Holmgren will have something up his sleeve
after watching his high-octane passing game get throttled by the Lions. Jackson
won't repeat last Sunday's pedestrian statistics (five catches, 47 yards),
especially against a secondary he's shredded for 107 yards per game.