Romo vs. Bears 'D' highlights key matchups for Week 3

Here are some key matchups to follow when you're watching the Week 3 action in the NFL:

Bears defense/special teams vs. Cowboys offense

In their last three regular-season games played in Chicago, Dallas has scored a total of just 25 points. In the two games this season, however, Dallas leads the NFL with 82 points and ranks fourth in total offense. The Bears, meanwhile, have allowed 24 total points and rank fifth in total defense.

Dallas will have hard time running the ball here, so they have to beat the Bears through the air. To do so, they'll need to protect QB Tony Romo against the Bears' front four and blitzers -- Chicago blitzes more than you think. Romo will look to exploit the two safeties, Adam Archuleta and Danieal Manning - the latter is a second-year player and the former is in his first season with the Bears. Up front, the Cowboys need to block DE Tommie Harris on the inside. Harris is a native Texan who will probably have a little extra motivation here. DT Mark Anderson has 13 sacks in 18 games for the Bears.

Chicago ranks 30th in total offense and has scored just 23 points in two games -- the only offensive TD has come on a 2-yard pass to a backup offensive tackle.

To stop Devin Hester in the return game, Dallas can do any of these three things: punt out of bounds, kickoff to the sidelines (and hope ball doesn't go out of bounds), or sky the ball to force a fair catch and prevent a big return.

The Cowboys will most likely change the makeup of their roster for this game by going short on one position, maybe offensive or defensive line, in order to get the best special teams players active. Keep I mind that it's not just Hester they are facing here: Bears special teams coach Dave Toub is very good, and kicker Robbie Gould led the NFL in scoring last year with 143 points.

Packers QB Brett Favre vs. Chargers CBs Quentin Jammer and Drayton Florence

The last time these teams played was in December 2003, and Favre threw 4 TD passes -- if he does that here, he will surpass Dan Marino as the NFL's career leader in that category.

New England threw the ball early and often against San Diego last week, so you can bet Favre will attempt the same. He'll need help from tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher, because they have to block pass rushers Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips.

With the pressure those two will put on Favre, expect Green Bay to call more quick slants so Favre can release the ball in a hurry. For this reason, Jammer and Florence need to react quickly -- but also be wary of the occasional deep slant to Donald Driver.

Eagles QB Donovan McNabb vs. Lions QB Jon Kitna

Neither of these teams can run the ball very well, so whichever quarterback has the better day should be the winner. The Eagles don't give up a lot of passing TDs and Detroit leads the NFL with six INTs.

The last time they met, McNabb threw for 356 yards and 2 TDs. Kitna, as a member of the Bengals, beat the Eagles at the end of the '04 season.

Everyone wants to see what Anderson can do for an encore after his amazing game against Cincinnati. And he'll have to face last year's top-ranked pass defense. Oakland has not been as stingy this year, allowing an average of 272 passing yards in two games and yielding four total TD passes. Last year, however, they allowed just 163 passing yards per game and 17 TDs in 16 games. Don't be surprised if the Raiders win this battle.

Chiefs RB Larry Johnson vs. Vikings run defense

It goes without saying that Kansas City needs Johnson to get 20-plus carries and top100 yards if the Chiefs are to win this game. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, they are facing last year's top-ranked run defense -- the Vikings allowed less than 3 yards per carry in '06, just 9 rushing TDs all season and only one opposing back gained 100 yards on them.

They've continued at that pace this year -- Minnesota has not allowed a rushing touchdown yet and is yielding 76 rushing yards per game.

Colts RB Joseph Addai vs. Texans run defense

The Colts want to run the ball here and control the clock to help out their defense. In 2006, Indianapolis controlled the ball for 35 minutes in its first game against Houston (a victory) and for 24 minutes in the second meeting (a loss).

After two games this year, meanwhile, the Texans have not allowed a rushing TD and they are giving up 69 rushing yards per game. If they can hold down Addai -- and if WR Andre Johnson plays -- Houston has a chance to win. If Addai rushes for 100 yards, I don't see the Colts losing.

The matchup within the matchup that I will be watching here is Houston RT Eric Winston vs. Indy DE Robert Mathis.

Broncos RB Travis Henry vs. Jaguars run defense

Henry was an unrestricted free agent signed to make the run game go for Denver. After two games, you'd say it's working -- Henry leads the NFL in rushing. Denver leads the NFL in total yards, but has scored just 38 in two games. The run sets up the pass for the Broncos, so Henry needs to keep it up.

Jacksonville, led by DTs John Henderson and Marcus Stroud, ranked fourth overall in run defense last year. They rank dead last after two games this year -- but that's because of a Week 1 implosion when they allowed 282 rushing yards to Tennessee. They allowed just 82 last week against Atlanta, but Denver will provide a much tougher test.

49ers RB Frank Gore vs. Steelers defense

If the 49ers are to have a chance here, they need 20-plus carries and 100 yards from Gore. Pittsburgh's defense needs to control the running game and force QB Alex Smith to beat them.

Extra points

The state of Oregon last week had three starting QBs in the NFL -- Kellen Clemens and Joey Harrinton from Oregon, Derek Anderson from Oregon State. No other state in the nation produced more than two of last week's 32 starters. ... Favre threw the first two TD passes of his career on Sept. 20, 1992 -- 15 years ago this week -- and the second of those was his first career game-winning TD pass. Favre hit Kitrick Taylor with 13 seconds left that day. Amazingly, it was the only TD reception in Kitrick's six-year NFL career.

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