Following Alex Smith's four-turnover performance that led directly to a Titans win in Week Nine, coach Mike Singletary did nothing but praise his starting quarterback. "Alex had only one play that was really on him," Singletary said Monday, pointing out that the other miscues were a result of the ball just taking "an unlucky bounce." Needless to say, Smith enjoys plenty of job security at the moment.
In another encouraging sign, the heretofore conservative 49ers rolled out 358 yards of offense while skewing toward the pass for the second straight week. "It was, unfortunately, one of the better offensive performances that I've seen since I've been here," Singletary said. "Take away the turnovers, and we have a chance to really have a good offensive game and have some excitement and momentum going forward." Since Smith and Michael Crabtree entered the starting lineup simultaneously, the Niners have shockingly morphed into a pass-first offense. With Vernon Davis emerging as a legit go-to receiver and Jason Hill now playing well in the slot, expect that trend to continue.
The Steelers took note of Arizona's pass-happy run through the playoffs last year, turning to their own uptempo attack early this season. Other teams besides San Francisco have taken notice. Matt Hasselbeck's 39 completions against the Lions were a team record, and coach Jim Mora indicated that he won't be stubborn about pushing the running game going forward. Seattle's best offensive players are in the passing game, and the injury-ravaged offensive line isn't opening any holes on the ground. Hasselbeck's gaudy pass attempt numbers could become the norm rather than the exception over the second half of the season.
The Chiefs showed their most successful passing attack of the season after moving to the no-huddle formation against the Jags in Week Nine. Just like in Seattle, the offensive line is getting dominated on the ground. With Larry Johnson out of the picture, the team can put its best aerial weapons on the field and attempt to stretch the defense. Chris Chambers' two-touchdown performance will help draw attention away from Dwayne Bowe, and Lance Long is emerging as a destitute man's Wes Welker in the slot. Throw in Jamaal Charles as a backfield playmaker, and Matt Cassel finally has a chance to succeed in Kansas City.