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CZAR: Storylines from Week 7

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coach Andy Reid is now 4-0 in games following a bye week. Ask Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden, and he'll whisper that it's a huge advantage. The whipped the Bucs last Sunday, making Gruden's offense resemble the ineffective one that cost Tony Dungy his job in Tampa. Reid has Tampa's number, having whipped them twice in the playoffs and again last Sunday. Jim Johnson's defense did most of the damage, finally knocking from the game with a left rib fracture. will start Sunday against Carolina, ending Brad's streak of 23 consecutive starts. Brad was sacked five times, knocked down 10 times and hit on nine other pass attempts. He took a thorough beating. But the key to the ' victory was Reid's decision to overload on the run. In the previous five games, Reid elected to pass 76 percent of the time in the first half. Against Tampa Bay, he ran 66 percent of the time. came out of mothballs to have his finest game of the season, gaining 152 yards on 24 carries. Still, for the season, the ' passing game holds a 61-play advantage over called runs.

Quincy takes a seat

We knew in August this would eventually happen. offensive coordinator Bruce Coslet preferred to . The only drawback was that owner Jerry Jones, who writes the checks, preferred Carter. Jones has been dreaming of Carter being another , and thus far the kid from Georgia has failed in the comparison test. The big drawback to Hutchinson is that he hasn't started a meaningful game since 1997 at Stanford. Granted, he played in preseason, but even Steve Spurrier can tell us now how much those games really mean. Despite his last-minute heroics against the and the , Carter has been playing himself out of the position with costly interceptions and poor decisions. He had four interceptions in Arizona, two of them in the red zone. It was a pretty ugly offensive game all-around. The , who face the this Sunday in a battle for first place in the NFC West, would have lost if punter had caught the conversion snap after 's touchdown. The best thing for Hutchinson in his start against Seattle is that the focus will be on . The have been pretty much a sieve on defense, ranking last against the run, meaning Smith has an excellent shot of getting 93 yards, the magic number to pass Walter Payton's all-time rushing number of 16,726.

Favre OK for now

The good news in Green Bay is that won't need surgery for a sprained lateral collateral ligament in his left knee. Favre won't practice this week and insiders say he has a reasonable chance of starting against the Miami on Monday night, Nov. 4. The are off this week. We'll know more about Favre next week, but if he remains sore I'd sit him against the ' excellent pass rush. Remember, because of injuries, the are playing with old-timer at right tackle and center at left tackle. Favre is hurt because Dotson couldn't decide whether to block or last Sunday. Instead, he blocked neither and Favre got drilled by both. In Pittsburgh, running has a knee sprain that could keep him out of Sunday's showdown with the Baltimore . Baltimore believes linebacker has a chance of returning. And in Oakland, it looks like rookie cornerback could miss the rest of the season with a broken wrist. Buchanon is a huge loss because he was such an excellent punt returner, too.

Spurrier fiddling

coach Steve Spurrier seems to be tinkering with his offense, trying to win games while attempting to weed out personnel for next season. Considering how competitive he is, Spurrier might be right that gives him the best chance to win this Sunday against Indianapolis. Green Bay's defense shook up rookie QB , who lost three of his five fumbles last Sunday. Big ol' dominated the ' interior offensive line while wreaked havoc on the outside. Granted, the have a non-aggressive defense, one that is scarce of top-notch secondary personnel. But the aren't losing because of Ramsey. Their defense has been below average and the offensive line has played horribly lately.

Vick wasn't the answer

San Diego GM John Butler took a lot of abuse for trading away the rights to quarterback Mike Vick last year, but he's been proven right this season as the are 6-1 and looks like a younger . Butler traded down in the 2001 draft to select Tomlinson, whom he compares to . Butler, you may remember, worked for the Buffalo for years before landing the San Diego job. "We didn't know Thurman had such great hands, either, until he started catching everything in sight," Butler said. "LaDainian has soft hands, too, but we took him because he was such a tough runner at TCU." Butler believes Vick will be a great player for the Atlanta . "I just knew that we needed a lot of players here," Butler said. "What's the sense of taking a great young quarterback if you can't surround him with enough good players?" The trade gave the receivers and rookie , plus cornerback . Butler was also fortunate to snag Purdue quarterback at the top of the second round last year. Add Marty Schottenheimer to the mix, and San Diego has a legitimate playoff shot if the youngsters keep progressing.

Notes and thoughts

  • Our Fox cameras wouldn't show the incident last Sunday in New Orleans when a drunken fan left his seat in the Superdome and ran into the ' offensive huddle. Before security guards tackled him, the fan tried to write on center 's jersey before the player pushed him away. "The dumb thing about it is that one of their players yelled, 'Don't touch our fan.'" Newberry said, referring to .
  • The are again talking with holdout No. 1 pick , who must sign by Nov. 12 in order to play this season. If owner Red McCombs is serious about selling, it makes sense to get McKinnie signed to improve the quality of his horrible football team.
  • Hustle award last Sunday goes to rookie CB , who caught Seattle WR at the 2-yard line at the end of an 83-yard play. Fisher could have quit on the play. The tackle proved to be a big turnaround because two plays later threw an interception in the end zone.
  • The 2-5 have fed the ball the past two games and believe they have a shot of turning around their season after this Sunday's bye when they face San Diego, Chicago, Washington, Philadelphia and Kansas City on consecutive weekends. They're hoping to be 6-6 after those games.
  • Tagged: Bills, Cowboys, Packers, Colts, Raiders, Rams, Dolphins, Vikings, Saints, Eagles, 49ers, Seahawks, Buccaneers, Redskins, Ravens, Steelers, Chargers, Shane Matthews, Joey Galloway, Brett Favre, Marshall Faulk, Norman Hand, Donovan McNabb, Jeremiah Trotter, Duce Staley, Jerome Bettis, LaDainian Tomlinson, Drew Brees, LaVar Arrington, Ray Lewis, Phillip Buchanon, Bryant McKinnie, Travis Fisher, Patrick Ramsey, Chad Hutchinson

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