Giants can’t let up in Arizona
N.Y. Giants at Arizona, 4:05 p.m. ET
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Coming off the big win in Philadelphia, this could be a big trap game for the Giants. The good news is that coach Tom Coughlin has been reminding his players of just that all week. He knows that the Cardinals are a tough red-zone defense and that RB Beanie Wells is also back in the lineup. Arizona has actually gained more yards per game than the Giants, who must continue to get Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs equally involved in the offense as runners and receivers. Eli Manning is coming off a four TD game and also gets back some healthy receivers in Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nicks. He got Victor Cruz untracked against the Eagles, but a quad injury may keep veteran Brandon Stokley on the sidelines. Look for the Giants to double-cover Larry Fitzgerald, who has 24 receptions in his last three games against New York. Kevin Kolb could be in for a long day with the expected return of Osi Umenyiora. Both Osi and Justin Tuck are expected to play, giving the G-men a solid pass rush.
CZAR’S SCOOP: New Giants center David Baas is excited about playing the Cardinals because he played them twice a year while with the 49ers. Baas was in San Francisco for six seasons. “It’s kind of my own personal deal,” Baas said. “Certain guys in certain divisions don’t like each other.” Baas has spent time this week telling in new teammates how to deal with Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell. Second-year Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul has started for Umenyiora, who is just now recovering from preseason knee surgery to repair cartilage. Pierre-Paul, who has 4-1/2 sacks, says he’s fine with being a reserve if Osi starts today. The Cardinals are dropping the ball everywhere. They have fumbled seven times and lost two. Kolb has also thrown three interceptions.
Atlanta at Seattle, 4:05 p.m. ET
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Both teams are expected to use some no-huddle on offense in order to help their quarterbacks. Atlanta’s Matt Ryan has taken a beating this season, sacked 14 times and hit another 21 times, on pace to give up almost 70 sacks. With the exception of the Philadelphia win, Atlanta has been unable to get Michael Turner going. The Falcons have attempted 122 passes to 58 runs. It’s almost like Mike Martz is calling the plays, not Mike Mularkey. They want more explosive plays down the field, that’s why they drafted Julio Jones. But Ryan hasn’t had much time. WR Roddy White is expected to play for the Falcons. Seattle scored its only touchdown last week while operating out of the no-huddle and that’s why Tarvaris Jackson figures to try it again. He did complete 8 of his 18 passes to high-priced Sidney Rice last week. The Falcons better be ready for more of the same, plus they better hold their lanes against KR Leon Washington. Seattle safety Atari Bigby starts for injured Kam Chancellor.
CZAR’S SCOOP: The Falcons were the-least penalized team in the league last season with just 58. Through three games this season, they have 21 penalties. The Seahawks replaced LB Aaron Curry, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2009 draft, with rookie K.J. Wright last week against Arizona. Because Pete Carroll didn’t draft Curry, he has no allegiance to him and will trade him for the right price. Wright did not have a tackle against the Cardinals, but he didn’t give up any big plays. Curry landed in the doghouse when he dropped a sure interception two weeks ago against Pittsburgh and then repeatedly allowed the Steelers to run wide against him. The Falcons used three turnovers to score 17 unanswered points in the second half to win here last December, 34-18. “I was looking at the summary that I write up after the games, I looked back at our notes after we played them and we talked about what a dogfight that it was, especially inside,” Mularkey said. “They were pretty stout up front. The score was not indicative of how much of a battle it was to move the ball on them.”
Other Sunday games
Buffalo at Cincinnati: These are two teams going in the opposite direction. Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has been on fire during a 3-0 start and Fred Jackson is the NFL’s fourth-leading rusher, trailing only Darren McFadden in total scrimmage yards (477 to 418) among running backs. The Bills, who are averaging a NFL-high 37.7 points a game, have beaten the Bengals 10 straight times and will put a lot of pressure on rookie QB Andy Dalton, who does get WR Jerome Simpson back in the starting lineup.
Tennessee at Cleveland: This is a big game between two rookie head coaches in Tennessee’s Mike Munchak and Cleveland’s Pat Shurmur. Both teams need to get their running backs untracked. Chris Johnson still hasn’t cracked 100 yards — total — for the season! Meanwhile, the Browns’ Peyton Hillis, who is one of the toughest players in the NFL, has taken some crap for not playing with a strep throat last Sunday. Matt Hasselbeck will have to make do with WR Nate Washington after losing Kenny Britt for the season.
Pittsburgh at Houston: The Texans allowed 23 points in the fourth quarter to the high-powered Saints last Sunday and with Pittsburgh’s offensive line a juggled mess, it makes sense for Big Ben and Co. to come out throwing, maybe even with a no-huddle approach. The Texans don’t have good secondary depth. The Steelers can’t run a lick (85.7 yards a game) right now while the Texans will have Arian Foster in full gear. This could be a high-scoring affair.
Denver at Green Bay: The last time the Packers started a season 3-0 was 1996 and guess what happened? Brett Favre won his only Super Bowl, beating the Patriots in New Orleans. There is a huge talent-level gap between these two franchises because former Denver coach Josh McDaniels was a horrible draft picker. There’s a good chance that RB Knowshon Moreno and LB D.J. Williams return for the Broncos, who have their fingers crossed about pass rusher Elvis Dumervil.
New England at Oakland: Patriots coach Bill Belichick talked at length this week about his head-coaching interview with Raiders owner Al Davis back in 1998, a job that ultimately went to Jon Gruden. Davis has never hired a defensive-minded head coach, but it’s interesting to speculate what might have happened had he hired Belichick. The Raiders can run all day while the Patriots’ offense leads the NFL with 540 yards a game. Jason Campbell is 9-6 as a starter in Oakland.
Miami at San Diego: The Dolphins just lost to the Browns, but they are catching the Chargers minus TE Antonio Gates and CB Quentin Jammer, and also while Philip Rivers has been struggling. San Diego’s offensive line hasn’t been playing very well and Miami’s best chance is to bring the house against Rivers, who has been intercepted six times and sacked six more times already. Miami’s Cameron Wake needs to have a dominating game.
N.Y. Jets at Baltimore: These two teams met in one of the ugliest games of last season, which the Ravens won 10-9 thanks to a few pass interference penalties. Jets coach Rex Ryan coached for 10 years in Baltimore, so this game is very important to him since he was passed over for the job that ultimately went to John Harbaugh. Ryan’s first job is to figure out his defense, which was run over by the Raiders last Sunday. Ray Rice doesn’t pound you like McFadden, but the Ravens are more balanced this season, which should continue tonight despite the continued absence of WR Lee Evans.