By Ted Rossman
In this section, we examine five strong but unheralded performances from the previous week and determine whether these players are likely to remain hot.
- James Harrison (LB, PIT): Harrison turned in one of the most dominating defensive performances of the season Monday night. He recorded 10 tackles (nine solo), 3.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, one interception and one fumble recovery. Harrison possesses significant potential, but remember that he was only averaging six tackles per game prior to the contest and had three sacks and zero interceptions all year. Another reason to temper your enthusiasm is the fact that Monday's game was played in adverse weather conditions that favored defensive players, especially against a suspect Baltimore offense.
- Robert Mathis (DE, IND): He sacked New England quarterback Tom Brady twice in Week 9, a significant feat because the Patriots had only allowed eight sacks in their first eight games. Mathis has made at least 9.5 sacks in three straight seasons and needs a strong second half to reach that total in 2007. It's a good time to buy low, but his stock is already on the rise after Sunday's strong performance.
Here, we look at trends and matchups that savvy owners can exploit in the upcoming week.
- Teams that could be starting questionable backup quarterbacks this week are Miami (vs. Buffalo), Minnesota (at Green Bay), Jacksonville (at Tennessee), Carolina (vs. Atlanta) and Atlanta (at Carolina). All of these opposing defenses warrant an upgrade in Week 10.
- The league's worst offenses (in terms of points per game) are St. Louis, San Francisco and Atlanta. Those teams, respectively, play at New Orleans, at Seattle and at Carolina this week. The best offenses are New England (bye), Dallas (at New York Giants) and Indianapolis (at San Diego).
- Remember that many teams fare well following a bye week. This week, that includes Chicago (at Oakland), Miami (vs. Buffalo), St. Louis (at New Orleans) and the N.Y. Giants (vs. Dallas).
- Looking for sacks in Week 10? Try the Cardinals (vs. Detroit, which allows a league-high 4.5 sacks per game), the Redskins (vs. Philadelphia, which allows 3.8 sacks per game) and Seattle (vs. San Francisco, which allows 3.5 sacks per contest). Teams to avoid are St. Louis (at New Orleans, the toughest team to sack), San Diego (vs. Indianapolis, tied for the second-toughest team to sack) and Detroit (at Arizona, tied for the second-toughest squad to sack).
- Wondering who is toughest to intercept? Philadelphia, Indianapolis and Tampa Bay have only been intercepted three times each. Downgrade the Washington (vs. Philadelphia) and San Diego (vs. Indianapolis) secondaries this week. Tampa Bay has a bye week. The easiest teams to pick off? Chicago (at Oakland), St. Louis (at New Orleans) and Houston (bye).
WHITHER THE WEATHER
Because bad weather usually means fewer points and more turnovers, you need to know where IDPs should benefit from the elements. Here are some sites where the weather could be a significant factor. Keep in mind that the forecasts can change leading up to game day.
Rain has played a significant role in each of the past two weeks. In Week 8, the Dolphins-Giants game was slowed nearly to a halt in London, while a Week 9 downpour in Pittsburgh contributed to numerous turnovers. In Week 10, rain could affect several games. The best chance for precipitation is in the Emerald City for the Seahawks-49ers Monday nighter. Showers are also predicted in Miami (Bills at Dolphins), Pittsburgh (Browns at Steelers), Kansas City (Broncos at Chiefs) and Green Bay (Vikings at Packers).