Sunday Morning Under the Helmet: What To Watch for in NFL Week Four
Four. What is four?
In baseball, four is Lou Gehrig. In basketball, it's the final four. In football—it's Brett Favre.
Matchup of the Week: Green Bay Packers (2-1) at Vikings (3-0)
Brett Favre wore No. 4 for 16 seasons in Green Bay. He wore four in 2008 as a New York Jet. Now, he wears four as a Minnesota Viking and in this week four divisional matchup, Favre and his new team will go up against his old team—the Packers.
This is the game everyone has been looking forward to since the rumors began in February that Favre would be joining his old rivals.
So far in '09 Favre has played virtually mistake-free football, but has to make sure he doesn't try too hard to get back at his former team or it could be a long day for the team in purple.
Last week, the Vikings won on a miracle finish when Favre connected with Greg Lewis in the back of the end zone with two seconds remaining to beat the 49ers and advance to 3-0. Watching that game, many people said or thought the same thing: that is why the Vikings signed Brett Favre.
But enough with No. 4. For the Vikings the key to this game is going to be wearing No. 28.
Through three games Adrian Peterson is averaging an impressive 6.1 yards per carry and he shouldn't miss a step against Green Bay's 23rd-ranked rush defense.
On the Packers side, quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be looking to show his former mentor that he is the better quarterback. Rodgers backed up Favre for three seasons, but is now making a name for himself in his second year as the Packers' starter. So far this year he's tallied 714 yards passing, four touchdowns, and no interceptions on his way to leading the Pack to a 2-1 start.
Green Bay is going to need Rodgers to be at his best Monday night if they plan to come out with a win. This is because the Vikings' stout run defense (although they're currently ranked 12th) will likely make it tough for Ryan Grant to run the ball.
In order for Rodgers to have the success he needs, the offensive line is going to have to protect him and give him time to unload passes to his talented wideouts.
Rodgers has been sacked 12 times this season (an average of three per game), the most in the NFL.
Prediction: Vikings win 24-17
Small Names, Big Games
Here we'll take a look at three non-superstars who will post big numbers in Week Four.
Glen Coffee (RB, San Francisco)
With Frank Gore out two to three weeks with an ankle injury, Glenn Coffee will see the majority of the carries for the 49ers offense.
Coffee, a rookie, has struggled a bit in his first three games. He's averaging a mere 1.8 yards per carry on 35 carries and has caught just two balls for 16 yards.
But that could all change this week when he makes his first career start against the Rams' 27th-ranked rush defense. They've allowed an average of 148 yards on the ground per game.
Look for Coffee to tote the rock an upwards of 25 times and have great success in week four.
Johnny Knox (WR, Chicago)
Johnny Knox, another rookie, has quickly emerged as one of Jay Cutler's top targets in Chicago.
Knox has nine receptions for 159 yards and two touchdowns so far.
His best performance came in Chicago's Week Two upset of the defending champs in which he snagged six catches for 70 yards and a touchdown.
Last week against Seattle, Knox caught just one pass but it resulted in a seven yard score.
Today, Knox will face Detroit's 30th-ranked receiving defense so he could certainly post some impressive numbers. The Lions also have given up a league-high 10 touchdowns through the air, so don't be too surprised to see Knox in the end zone for a third straight weekend.
Mike Sims-Walker (WR, Jacksonville)
Who is Jackonville's leading receiver? Torry Holt, right? Wrong!
The answer is Mike Sims-Walker, a third year receiver out of Central Florida.
Sims-Walker has tallied 12 catches for 187 yards and one touchdown thus far in a young 2009 season.
He's caught six passes in each of the last two weeks, racking up 106 yards and 81 yards respectively with his one score coming in week two at home against Arizona.
In week four the Jags play host to the Tennessee Titans. The Titans rank 29th in pass defense and have given up a 31st-ranked seven touchdowns through the air.
Expect quarterback David Garrard to call Sims-Walker's number a lot this afternoon.
Others To Watch: Mewelde Moore, Tashard Choice, Kenny Britt
Upset Alert!: Seattle (1-2) over Indianapolis (3-0)???
The high-powered Indianapolis offense is a 10.5-point favorite over the banged-up Seahawks for today's 1 p.m. ET matchup.
However, the 'Hawks, believe it or not, do have a chance to win today.
To do that, though, they're going to have to do a lot of things right.
First off, Seattle cannot afford to turn the ball over. Seneca Wallace will make his second consecutive start in relief of injured Matt Hasselbeck (ribs) and he has to protect the ball and make smart throws. Wallace set career highs in completions (26), pass attempts (44), and yards (261 yards) in last week's 25-19 loss to Chicago.
In order for Wallace to have success, he needs time to make those good decisions. Left tackle Walter Jones will not take the field Sunday and his backup Brandon Frye was limited in practice all week. Tackle Kyle Williams was signed from the practice squad to help out up front.
Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney was originally believed to be out for a few weeks (quadriceps), but ESPN's John Clayton is reporting this morning that Freeney may play as early as today. If he does play it will be on a limited basis, but he is still a threat to get to the quarterback.
On the right side of the 'Hawks line, tackle Ray Willis will need to control explosive pass rusher Robert Mathis and not let him get to the quarterback.
Seattle will likely be able to have success running the ball. Julius Jones, Edgerrin James, and Justin Forsett will run through the Colts' 21st-ranked, Bob Sanders-less run defense.
Jones has carried the ball 46 times for 126 yards and one touchdown thus far in '09. He's averaging 4.9 yards per carry coming into today.
As much as the running game, and offensive line play is important if Seattle plans to pull the upset, the biggest key will be the play of the defense.
Seattle's banged-up defense has a tough challenge against Peyton Manning and the Indy offense.
Manning is off to maybe his best start of any season in his lustrous career. He's already thrown for 983 yards, seven touchdowns and has an impressive quarterback rating of 117.7.
Patrick Kerney, Lawrence Jackson and the rest of Seattle's front seven will need to get pressure on Manning if they plan to throw him off his game.
But it's not just Manning they have to stop; it's his talented targets, too.
Reggie Wayne leads the league in receiving yards and Dallas Clark leads all tight ends in that category. Pierre Garcon has also been impressive.
Seattle's secondary definitely has its work cut out for it.
It doesn't sound good for Jim Mora's Seahawks, but if all the ducks fall in a row, they will take down the Colts.
Prediction: Seahawks win, 30-29.
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