Five Players to Watch in Week Four of the NFL

Posted: October 1, 2010 in NFL
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

In this section last week, I actually ended up pretty close on what to expect from my five players.  Brandon Marshall did, in fact, have a breakout game, but the Dolphins defense collapsed, preventing the predicted win.  Jahvid Best and Josh Freeman both flopped against top line defenses.  Ray Rice had a very good game going before getting banged up or he might have hit the century mark.  And Tony Romo, contrary to my call, stayed away from the turnovers and pulled the upset.  Oh, well, you can’t get everything right.  Here are the five players I’ll be watching in this weekend’s games.

5.  Austin Collie, Indianapolis Colts

This is your current league leader in both receptions and receiving yards.  Not Larry Fitzgerald, not Andre Johnson, not Brandon Marshall, not Randy Moss.  Yes, it’s Austin Collie.  The Colts offense is humming right now, and Collie has taken Reggie Wayne’s place as Peyton Manning’s favorite target.  This week, they are on the road in Jacksonville.  The Jags have been torched in successive weeks by Phillip Rivers and Michael Vick.  Do you think Peyton’s mouth is watering at the thought of throwing into Jacksonville’s 29th ranked pass defense?  Collie’s nursing a heel injury, but I don’t expect that to keep him off the field.  Look for the young guy to have another big day and pad his league leading numbers.

4.  Arian Foster, Houston Texans

Just as surprising as Collie leading all receivers is this guy.  Foster, who no one had ever heard of before week one, is leading the league in rushing with 406 yards in three games.  He’s coming fresh off of his second hundred-yard game in the loss to Dallas last week when he averaged 6.2 yards per carry.  Houston needs a win to keep pace with the top teams in the deep AFC, and with Matt Schaub struggling a bit, a big dose of Foster may just be the answer.  The Texans will visit Oakland this week and a Raiders team sporting the 24th ranked run defense in the league, allowing about 133 yards per game on the ground.  Look for the Texans to control this game from start to finish and another triple digit day from Foster.

3.  Carson Palmer, Cincinnati Bengals

The former All Pro Palmer has been nothing short of below-average so far this year.  Actually, he’s been like that for a couple of years now, but for some reason, Bengals fans aren’t calling for his head just yet.  A few more games like last week, though, and the minor rumblings could turn into a major problem, particularly with such a volatile roster.  So far this year, Palmer is throwing at a chilly 71.3 passer rating with a 1/1 touchdown to interception ratio.  Their big gun receivers, Ochocinco and Owens have a combined one touchdown.  And what was supposed to be a Superbowl contender is eeking out ugly wins over horrid teams like the Panthers.  At least they’re not losing them.  Yet.  This week, Palmer and Cincy visit cross state rival Cleveland.  The Browns have been competitive thus far, and they have a respectable 12th ranked pass defense, but haven’t broken through for a win.  Well, now’s their chance.  Look for at least two bad picks, and probably a lost fumble from Palmer and for the Bengals to fall to the Browns.  And in case you’re wondering, Cincinnati’s back up quarterback is Jordan Palmer, Carson’s little brother.  Yikes!

2.  Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens

Speaking of struggling quarterbacks, here’s the Ravens’ signal caller.  Flacco was expected to take that step into elite territory this season with all the weapons he’s surrounded with in Baltimore.  Instead, he’s a few bad losses from a possible Marc Bulger sighting and a seat on the bench.  He’s thrown more interceptions than touchdowns, and has a lousy 66.3 passer rating.  And if it wasn’t for Anquan Boldin, things could be a lot worse.  This week, the Ravens visit Pittsburgh, just the place you want to take a struggling young quarterback to get healthy.  The undefeated Steelers, who also have the 3rd rated run defense, have been chewing up quartetbacks this year, leaving a trail of pieces of Matt Ryan, Vince Young and Josh Freeman behind them as they go.  So this looks like a bad game for Flacco and a Steeler win, right?  Not necessarily.  Don’t be fooled by the 38 points they scored last week, that was against the Bucs.  Baltimore’s defense is an entirely different animal. He may not have an eye-popping great game, but expect Flacco to stay away from the big mistakes, and make just enough big plays to eek out a win similar to their 10-9 season opener against the Jets.

1.  Donovan McNabb, Washington Redskins

Which brings me to the guy I most want to watch this weekend, Donovan McNabb.  Coming off a very disappointing loss to the Rams, Washington needs a win to keep this season from spiraling out of control.  And who do you expect they’re playing to try and earn that win?  It’s the Philadelphia Eagles and Andy Reid’s new quarterback crush, Michael Vick.  Philly fans’ heads are about to explode, I think.  Vick, for his part, has been playing fantastic, and he’ll get the benefit of facing Washington’s dead last in the league defense.  The question here is can McNabb keep up?   Philly’s D is a respectable 12th in the league, and you know they are going to be pumped playing their former QB.  Look for McNabb to have a big game, but come up just short at the end.  He might even throw a game-ending pick, which would send those Eagles fans into flashbacks of how many of their playoffs games with Donovan ended.

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