Player You Need To Know This Weekend
Matt Schaub, QB, Houston (No. 8). Nothing is wrong with Schaub—physically. But mentally is another story. Four straight games with a pick-6, and looking like he’s totally lost his confidence out there. The MMQB has a good story with former Schaub teammate and quarterback Sage Rosenfels talking about the importance of confidence at the position, and the torment Schaub may well be going through right now.
Sound Bite of the Week
“We are asking for prayers and for respect for our family as we deal with this tragic situation.”
—Nelson Peterson, father of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, whose 2-year-old son is in critical condition in a Sioux Falls, S.D., hospital after reportedly being beaten by the boyfriend of the boy’s mother. Nelson Peterson made the comments this morning to Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Ten Things I’ll Be Watching For This Weekend
1. The head of Tony Romo. “Anybody who’s played in the NFL long enough knows you’ve got to get on to the next one really quick,’’ Romo said this week, after throwing the interception that led to the Broncos’ 51-48 win at Dallas last Sunday … after already throwing for 506 yards and five touchdowns. No mercy from Washington this week. Look for a heavy blitz from Jim Haslett.
2. The Bucs and the developing MRSA story. Tampa Bay has enough problems without dealing with a lingering staph infection that has already sidelined two of its players—starting guard Carl Nicks and kicker Lawrence Tynes. Now there’s more: The team has confirmed that a third player has contracted the infection, with reports pointing to rookie cornerback Johnthan Banks. Based on the report they get about the infection’s containment, the NFLPA might recommend the Bucs-Eagles game Sunday not be played.
3. The Bengals and, surprisingly, a must-win. Let’s say the Bengals go to Buffalo this weekend, underperform, and lose to the Bills. That means in the span of four games, the great wins over Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady would be counter-balanced by losses to Brian Hoyer and Thad Lewis. So don’t go telling me about the great Bengals talent pool if they lose in Orchard Park.
4. The condition of Calvin Johnson. Detroit saw what a Johnson-less life was like in the feeble loss to Green Bay last week. The Lions will lose at Cleveland without him—that’s how good the Browns’ defense has been. Looks like Johnson takes the field Sunday, after practicing two straight days this week, and the matchup of the weekend could be Johnson versus rising star cornerback Joe Haden of the Browns.
5. The Cleveland defense. I saw it in training camp: This group had the makings of a top-10 defense, and through five weeks the Browns are fourth in the NFL. You can bet Matthew Stafford and the Lions have noticed. This is going to be a much better game than people think.
6. Super Bowl QB matchups. Drew Brees at Tom Brady. Joe Flacco at Aaron Rodgers. Ben Roethlisberger at Geno Smith. Oops. Missed one there.
7. The Gronk. WEEI in Boston reports the Gronkowski family has doubts about the efficacy of Rob’s forearm surgery, and the team has brought in the famed Dr. James Andrews to consult and decide if the star tight end should be active for Sunday’s game against the Saints. The drumbeat looks negative as of this writing. Stay tuned as Sunday approaches. And for all those who took a fourth-round fantasy flier on Gronkle, my apologies.
8. The horror in Sioux Falls. I don’t know if Adrian Peterson plays against Carolina Sunday, and frankly, I don’t care. I can’t get over some monster beating up Peterson’s 2-year-old son in Sioux Falls—apparently the abuser is a boyfriend of the child’s mother—and I have no idea how Peterson could cope with this and think about football this weekend.
9. The return of Champ Bailey, though I don’t know why. Not trying to be a wiseguy, but if I were someone in Broncos management, I’d sidle up to John Fox today and say, “Hey John, let’s save our brittle 35-year-old corner for T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne next weekend.” Apparently Bailey will make his season debut after long rehab on his foot against the Jaguars Sunday.
10. The fate of Tom Coughlin. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport was right Thursday night: The decision whether to return in 2014 will be up to Coughlin. That’s what it looks like now. But if the Giants go 1-15 (they look more like a 4-12 team to me), there’s going to be immense pressure for Coughlin to step aside.