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October 2, 2007 5:13 AM

What I Learned: NFL Edition

The problem with the Rams is their offensive line. The Rams defense has been bad for years, but this year it’s their offense that is out of sync and that’s due to the injuries on the offensive line. 7-time Pro Bowler, Orlando Pace is lost for the whole season in their opener with a torn right rotator cuff; Mark Setterstrom is also out for the year with a torn ACL; and Milford Brown and Richie Incognito have both been playing through high ankle sprains. The Rams have had four different combinations at offensive line in their four games played. Last year they averaged 112.8 rushing yards per game; this year they are averaging 83.8 yards per game and just 3.4 yards per carry. Does Steven Jackson want to change his prediction of 2,500 yards from scrimmage?

Tony Romo will get a bigger contract than Marc Bulger got this past offseason. Bulger signed a 6-year $65 million contract on July 27th, but it has been Romo that has played like a man deserving of that salary. Bulger has 3 games of 200 or less passing yards and one of over 300; for Romo, it’s the exact opposite. Romo has a QB rating of 112.8 and has led his team to their first 4-0 start since 1995 when they made it all the way to the Super Bowl. Romo has made Cowboys fans happy and has also made Terrell Owens happy too.

Michael Vick couldn’t have helped the Falcons this season and Joey Harrington is a decent quarterback. Unfortunately for Joey, the Falcons aren’t a decent team. The Falcons beat the Texans to get their first victory of the season and Harrington is putting up good numbers on a team with few offensive weapons. Harrington has done the best he can with the weapons at hand and has a QB rating near 100. But, the Falcons aren’t a playoff team with Harrington and they wouldn’t have been one with Vick. They might have been more exciting to watch, but they’re simply a mediocre team.

The Ravens defense isn’t as menacing as in years past. Many are blaming the Ravens offense for their lackluster start, but statistically it’s very similar to last season. The big difference from last season is the pass defense. The Ravens are 22nd in the league in pass defense and as a result are giving up nearly 10 more points per game to their opponents.

The Dolphins are now the worst team in the NFL. The Dolphins and Rams are the only 0-4 teams (Saints had a bye this week), but the Rams are battling through injuries. Marc Bulger has broken ribs and Steven Jackson will miss one more week. The Dolphins have little excuse. The Dolphins were embarrassed by the Raiders and Daunte Culpepper showed Miami fans that his knee is just fine. How long before fans are chanting for rookie QB John Beck?

Seahawks are still the team to beat in the NFC West. There was so much debate about who the team to beat out of the NFC West would be. It seemed like every team but the Seahawks was the trendy pick. The Rams offense would be unstoppable led by Steven Jackson. The Cardinals defense would improve with the hiring of Ken Whisenhunt. The 49ers would continue to increase their win total in Alex Smith’s third season. But, four weeks into the season and it’s the Seahawks that are in sole possession of first place in the NFC West. Never count out Matt Hasselbeck and Shaun Alexander.

Brian Westbrook should be mentioned along with Tom Brady and Peyton Manning as an MVP candidate. He’s averaging 171 total yards per game and the Eagles looked completely lost without him. Without having Westbrook as a safety valve, McNabb was sacked, a record, 12 times. Can Westbrook still be called underrated now that everyone is talking about him?

Norv Turner was a mistake. I know this is a complete turnaround from what I learned last week, but, hey at least I’m learning it now. Tomlinson finally had gotten back on track and had 116 rushing yards in the first half and the Chargers were up 16-6. So, you know what you do in the second half? You give it to LT. You give it to last year’s MVP and let him continue to make plays. But, instead LT had 6 carries in the second half and all but disappeared from the offense; that’s inexcusable.

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