Reading the Defense: Eagles' Asomugha hoping to catch up

Pittsburgh's mighty Steel Curtain defense has been looking a little rusty so far this year and whether you believe it's because they're old or just underperforming, the near future isn't looking so bright. They were already giving up nearly five yards a carry to opposing running backs and now outside linebacker and all-around intimidator James Harrison is out for the next few weeks after surgery on a broken eye socket. That has forced defensive coordinator Dick LeBeauto do some shuffling. With Rex Ryan promising a return to "ground and pound," Guyton can expect to see plenty of runs headed his direction, meaning he will have plenty of chances to make tackles on Sunday.

Surprisingly, there isn't much IDP value in Pittsburgh beyond Troy Polamalu -- not something one would have imagined before the season began. With the surprisingly balanced offense of the Tennessee Titans next on the schedule, this is hardly the week to believe things will turn around for the Steelers.

But with the Sunday slate of games rapidly approaching, it's time to check out some of the impact IDP stories from Week 5.

Four Downs

First down: If any team knows how the Steelers feel, it's the New England Patriots. Statistically the worst defense in the NFL, the Pats might have to live without Jerod Mayo for the next six weeks. Veteran Gary Guyton will take over in his place, but is stepping into a defense that has given up the seventh-most fantasy points to running backs this season. With Chris Johnson rounding into form, Guyton can expect to see plenty of runs headed his direction, meaning he will have plenty of chances to make tackles on Sunday.

IDP rankings

Top five scoring IDPs (according to NFL.com):

  1. Morgan Burnett
  2. Pat Angerer
  3. D'Qwell Jackson

Second down: The vaunted Eagles defense has been licking its wounds recently (seems like a common theme this week), with free-agent signing Nnamdi Asomugha being a target of much fan ire. This week, defensive coordinator Juan Castillo fell on the sword, telling reporters that he has thrown too much at Asomugha too soon. With Philadelphia visiting Buffalo and the Bills' wide open offense, this would be a good week to try and simplify things. Asomugha will likely be facing off against Steve Johnson, so he can expect to see plenty of balls thrown his way.

Third down: Last week, the Broncos were hoping to have Champ Bailey back to slow down Packers receiver Greg Jennings. After Jennings' seven catches for 103 yards and a touchdown, it's apparent they could have used him. This week, Denver's more optimistic about having Bailey on the field and just in time too, with Philip Rivers and the Chargers coming to town. San Diego is concerned about how effective Vincent Jackson may be this weekend, which should be a help for Bailey.

Fourth down: The Giants look closer to getting their best defensive ends on the field at the same time. Last week, Osi Umenyiora made his return to the field and Big Blue was hoping Justin Tuck would join him soon, but that hope is likely on hold for another few weeks. New York's defense has performed well despite a host of injuries suffered in the preseason and adding a healthy Tuck can only help. With a slew of pass-happy teams remaining on New York's schedule, there will be ample opportunity for him to get to the quarterback.

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