Bills' Dareus changes positions and dominates

Buffalo Bills defensive lineman and first-round selection Marcell Dareus was asked to kick inside to the nose tackle position this past Sunday against the Washington Redskins and responded in a big way.

The third-overall pick out of Alabama notched four tackles and a career-high 2.5 sacks in Buffalo's 23-0 shutout win that took place in Toronto.

“He played unbelievable,” said Bills outside linebacker Chris Kelsay.

Dareus was asked to fill-in at nose tackle for the injured Kyle Williams, who is not expected to play in Week 9 against the New York Jets.

Follow Dion on Twitter: @NFLDraftUpdate

Browns lose Hardesty to calf injury

The Cleveland Browns already had running back issues with Peyton Hillis' hamstring. Now, they are even thinner at the position, losing Montario Hardesty to a calf injury Sunday in San Francisco.

Browns coach Pat Shurmur said he is not sure how many games Hardesty will miss, and added “it's going to take some time to heal,' according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.'

That means the Browns will spend Tuesday's off day working out street free agents in an attempt to bolster their running back depth, having both their top two guys on the shelf now.

Cleveland finished Sunday's loss with Chris Ogbannaya at running back and also had fullback Owen Marecic available, as well as utility man/kick returner Josh Cribbs, who has some experience in the backfield as well.

Follow me on Twitter @TitanInsider247 and @terrymc13

Terry McCormick covers the Titans for

Browns lose Hardesty to calf injury

The Cleveland Browns already had running back issues with Peyton Hillis' hamstring. Now, they are even thinner at the position, losing Montario Hardesty to a calf injury Sunday in San Francisco.

Browns coach Pat Shurmur said he is not sure how many games Hardesty will miss, and added “it's going to take some time to heal,' according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.'

That means the Browns will spend Tuesday's off day working out street free agents in an attempt to bolster their running back depth, having both their top two guys on the shelf now.

Cleveland finished Sunday's loss with Chris Ogbannaya at running back and also had fullback Owen Marecic available, as well as utility man/kick returner Josh Cribbs, who has some experience in the backfield as well.

Follow me on Twitter @TitanInsider247 and @terrymc13

Terry McCormick covers the Titans for

Updated BCS National Championship odds from

Five more days until the big one.

The anticipation has been building for over a month, but game week has finally arrived as the top-ranked LSU Tigers travel to Tuscaloosa on Saturday to take on the No. 2-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide.

The Tide opened up as a 6-point favorite for Saturday’s SEC showdown, but most shops around Vegas—as well as those offshore—have the game currently listed at Alabama -5.

Which brings us to our weekly BCS Championship odds update, courtesy of Dave Mason and our friends at Take note that Alabama and LSU currently have the lowest odds of any college football team to win the title.

And take special note of the fact that Stanford is now listed at 6-1 to win the championship after Saturday’s overtime thriller against the Trojans from USC.

I’m not going to lie…I still like Oregon at 22-1.

CLICK HERE for this week’s college football lines.

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

odds chart

Packers place Green on IR, promote Saine

According to Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Green Bay Packers have placed rookie running back Alex Green on injured reserve and promoted running back Brandon Saine off their practice squad.

Green–a third-round draft choice out of Hawaii–is dealing with a knee injury and is expected to undergo surgery.

Saine–an undrafted free agent signing out of Ohio State–is expected to assume a special teams role.

The Packers also released center Cecil Newton, the older brother of Panthers rookie quarterback Cam Newton, from the practice squad and have signed offensive lineman Paul Fenaroli and safety Anthony Levine to the same unit.

Follow Dion on Twitter: @NFLDraftUpdate

Week 8 Revelations

Week 8 Revelations
1. Ray Rice picked the perfect time to break new ground. What's the more impressive statistical occurrence from Sunday: Rice collecting a career-high three rushing TDs (and 99 total yards) after the Ravens fell into a 24-3 hole … or WR Anquan Boldin (7 catches, 145 yards) tallying large numbers, in between drawing crucial pass-interference penalties against the Cards? Since we're partial to high-end tailbacks, we'll side with Rice (and his realistic pursuit of 2,000 total yards), although we also feel comfortable saying that Boldin should be a top-10 receiver for Weeks 10 (@ Seattle), 13 (@ Cleveland), 14 (vs. Baltimore), 15 (@ San Diego) and 16 (the Browns again) — presumably boosting QB Joe Flacco's stock for the fantasy playoffs, as well. Flacco is quite the enigma, racking up 351 total yards (and zero TDs) just six days after the Jacksonville debacle — his seventh straight extreme performance of the young season. It's almost like Flacco revels in being the Sybil of fantasy QBs.

2. Perhaps Cam Newton should be the holder for Olindo Mare kicks, too. We can apologize for underestimating Newton's preseason potential and over-publicizing his in-season greatness only so many times, and yet it bears repeating: With the rare exception of playing in monsoon conditions, Newton (343 total yards, 3 TDs vs. Minnesota) is a lead-pipe cinch for the minimum star threshold of 275 total yards and/or three TDs every week, regardless of the opponent. He's also a rubber-stamp starter every Sunday — minus next week's bye. That bankability trickles down to WR Steve Smith (7 catches, 100 yards, 1 TD), TE Greg Olsen (4 catches, 73 yards, 1 TD) and running backs Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams, all of whom should be very productive in the season's latter half. It even bodes well for Panthers kicker Olindo Mare … whose blown chip-shot field goal to force overtime was hopefully a one-time exercise in futility. Speaking of one-timers, did you see Jeremy Shockey's one catch for one yard and one touchdown against the Vikings? It was a fine cameo for fantasy owners who sought bye-week relief … unless they chose Shockey over Brent Celek.

LeSean McCoyLeSean McCoy and Fred Jackson have been destroying opposing defenses this season.

3. Fred Jackson and LeSean McCoy owners should ask for the moon — and expect it back — when conducting trade trade talks. Outside of Aaron Rodgers or Calvin Johnson, no one can match the respective statistical powers of Jackson (194 total yards vs. Washington) and McCoy (200 total yards, 2 TDs vs. Dallas), so much that it would be a fantasy travesty to part with either tailback in a 1-for-1 swap before the trade deadline (typically Week 12). And at this point, even the 2-for-1 megadeals (top-5 receiver/top-10 rusher) should be heavily slanted in favor of Jackson and McCoy owners. That rationale only applies to struggling clubs in need of a quick and dramatic talent infusion to make the playoffs; GMs who already have a postseason spot (and high seed) locked up are prepared to ride Jackson (San Diego, Miami, Denver for Weeks 14-16) and McCoy (Dolphins, Jets, Cowboys for Weeks 14-16) all the way — come hell or high water. Of course, it also helps that both superstars play in East Coast markets, where running the ball in December is paramount to success. It also helps that both Ryan Fitzpatrick (262 yards passing, 2 TDs on Sunday) and Michael Vick (329 total yards, 2 TDs) love targeting their backs … presumably more than making household names of tight ends Scott Chandler (2 TDs vs. Washington) and Brent Celek (7 catches, 94 yards, 1 TD; team-high 9 targets).

4. Let's not overreact to Steven Jackson's monster performance against the Saints. Prior to Sunday, Jackson hadn't registered a 100-yard rushing day since last December (Week 13); and he's now gone 13 consecutive games without hitting the 50-yard mark in receiving. Those figures can easily be ignored on a day when Jackson (191 total yards, 2 TDs) dismantled one of the NFL's pre-eminent teams — while eliminating chatter of St. Louis going 0-16 on the year — but it'll play a significant role in determining Jackson's true value for the stretch run. And we'll probably be singing the same tune after Jackson (532 total yards, 5 TDs) crushes the Cardinals next week. Simply put, one amazing upset isn't enough to alter the Rams' current standing as a bottom-feeder club — and one that will likely be on the business end of a few more blowouts this year, minimizing the running game. The key to Jackson's fantasy greatness lies with QB Sam Bradford rallying from an ankle injury and fighting to keep the Rams respectable for November/December … which seems plausible when Brandon Lloyd (6 catches, 53 yards, 1 TD; 14 targets) and Greg Salas (5 catches, 47 yards) are progressing at an accelerated rate.

5. Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson are the best QB/WR combo in fantasyland — duh! We've seen this stat sheet before: Stafford (288 total yards vs. Denver) tosses three touchdowns against an inferior defense — one to a secondary receiver (Titus Young), one to a tight end (Tony Scheffler) and one to Calvin (6 catches, 125 yards, 1 TD) … who is now on pace for 22 receiving TDs (one short of Randy Moss's seasonal NFL record). And with that bankable consistency, fantasy owners are encouraged to move heaven and earth to complete the Stafford-Johnson handcuff before their respective trade deadlines, even if Maurice Morris (65 total yards, 1 TD) remains Detroit's RB1 or TE Brandon Pettigrew (3 catches, 8 yards) can't shake the pre-bye blues. From Weeks 11-16, the Lions will play five games indoors (Detroit or New Orleans) and one in sunny California. How's that for a favorable slate?

Revelations, Book II
6. Eli Manning can carry teams to the Week 16 Fantasy Bowl; but after that, who knows? The Giants may have the real-world Schedule From Hell for Weeks 9-17 (@ NE, @ SF, vs. PHI, @ NO, vs. GB, @ DAL, vs. WSH, @ NYJ, vs. DAL) … but from a fantasy perspective, it's a golden opportunity for Manning (349 yards passing, 2 TDs vs. Miami) to finish as a top-6 quarterback, while establishing a new baseline standard of seasonal excellence. But we're a little concerned as to how Week 16 — Christmas Eve Day — will shake out against the Jets. Let's pretend Manning vaults your club to the fantasy title game then: Would you ride the hot hand, regardless o
f Darrelle Revis/Antonio Cromartie … or would you start someone like Matt Ryan (@ New Orleans), Josh Freeman (@ Carolina) or rookie Andy Dalton (vs. Arizona) on the ultimate fantasy weekend?
Without a doubt, Manning has a generous allotment of big-name playmakers like Ahmad Bradshaw (88 total yards in limited action), Hakeem Nicks (6 catches, 67 yards; 10 targets), Victor Cruz (7 catches, 99 yards, 1 TD) and Mario Manningham (6 catches, 63 yards, 1 TD) … but all bets are still off for Dec. 24. And that's before the first weather forecast hits the wires.

Ben RoethlisbergerICONBig Ben ripped apart the Patriots…while targeting Antonio Brown 15 times.

7. Antonio Brown's breakout against the Pats shouldn't have been a surprise to anyone. While it's true that Brown (9 catches, 67 yards, 1 TD; team-high 15 targets) had the good fortune of facing the NFL's worst pass defense, the seeds of his Week 8 content were sown a long time ago. The guy possesses amazing speed, off-the-charts athleticism, soft hands and never has to worry about double-team coverage — at least when fellow Steeler Mike Wallace (7 catches, 70 yards) is on the field. Throw in the fact that QB Ben Roethlisberger (365 yards passing, 2 TDs) loves targeting him … and it's easy to see why we've been trumpeting his eventual success all season. But ay, there's the rub: Prior to Sunday's showdown, Brown hadn't found the end zone, indicating that he was nothing more than a mere bench stud in roughly 70-80 percent of fantasy leagues. But that's OK. Even if the Steelers morph into a conservative operation for the winter months, with Rashard Mendenhall (92 total yards) and TE Heath Miller (7 catches, 85 yards) flourishing around the goal line, Brown shall remain a weekly starting consideration in PPR leagues (and standards during bye weeks). He's too good, too fast and too accessible to be ignored at this stage.

8. Adrian Peterson raised his stock in Points Per Reception leagues. We could attribute Peterson's career day in receiving yards (76) and first TD catch since Week 1 of his rookie season (2007) to poor tackling from Carolina or the Blind Squirrel Syndrome; but it's more fun to credit Vikings QB Christian Ponder with AP's versatile transformation. As if being the No. 1 tailback during the August drafts on rushing prowess alone wasn't enough, Peterson (923 total yards, 10 TDs in 2011) may be Minnesota's second-most reliable receiving threat from this point forward — behind Percy Harvin (4 catches, 58 yards) and ahead of boom-but-more-bust talents like Michael Jenkins (2 catches, 30 yards), Devin Aromashodu (2 catches, 20 yards), Kyle Rudolph (2 catches, 15 yards) and Visanthe Shiancoe (3 catches, 37 yards). Regarding Ponder (240 total yards, 1 TD), Sunday's stats might not have reflected the following gush … but I love the kid's fearlessness when making downfield throws, a trait that could lead to fantasy viability for Weeks 14-16 (Detroit, New Orleans, Washington).

9. Michael Crabtree can be a difference-maker during Weeks 14-16. Seriously. Wouldn't it be something if Crabtree (5 catches, 54 yards, 1 TD) and Raiders WR Darrius Heyward-Beyforever linked by the 2009 NFL Draft — both made quantum leaps in November/December? At this point, it's hard to minimize the progress Crabtree and Heyward-Bey have shown in recent weeks, leading their respective teams in catches and targets. Sure, Crabtree (16 catches/29 targets in his last three games) enjoys the luxury of single coverage with RB Frank Gore (134 yards, 1 TD vs. Cleveland) and TE Vernon Davis garnering the defense's full attention; but he's still an emerging force on an offense that looks good when QB Alex Smith (199 total yards, 1 TD) stays within himself and Braylon Edwards keeps his head. Factoring in the 49ers' slate for Weeks 14 (@ Arizona), 15 (vs. Pittsburgh) and 16 (@ Seattle), a combined 17 catches, 250 yards and two TDs are well within Crabtree's range of production.

10. The Texans are about as subtle as a punch in the face … and that's a good thing. The Don Shula reference aside (circa 1970), Houston deserves plenty of love for not messing around with an inferior team, like Jacksonville, and feeding Arian Foster (123 total yards, 1 TD on 34 touches) as much as possible. Foster right. Foster left. Foster up the middle. Repeat … it was the perfect game plan for an offense that's essentially killing time before Andre Johnson returns from a hamstring injury (Week 9?). It was also a good showcase for WR Kevin Walter (5 catches, 70 yards; 9 targets) and Owen Daniels (4 catches, 60 yards), whose fantasy values may actually increase once Johnson returns … and instantly draws double and triple coverages for the stretch run. Speaking of which, fantasy owners would be wise to trade for QB Matt Schaub (225 passing yards, 2 total TDs) in the coming weeks, on the strength of his undeniable talent … and great fortune for drawing the Colts in Week 16.

Andrew LuckICONIs Andrew Luck headed for Indianapolis?

11. Let's accentuate the PPR positives with the winless Colts. I realize things look bleak in Indy right now — 'bleak' being a relative term since the club has Peyton Manning in its past and (maybe) Andrew Luck in its future; but for PPR owners, it's hard to be disgusted with a club that targets its four main pass-catchers (Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie) 45 times in a three-hour window. It's also difficult to characterize QB Curtis Painter (329 total yards, zero TDs, 2 INTs) as a colossal failure in fantasyland. Yes, he should never be a starting consideration during non-bye weeks; and yes, he should be flogged for missing Wayne (5 catches, 61 yards; 13 targets) eight times on a crisp, sunny day. But at least he's trying to feature Clark (6 catches, 77 yards; 10 targets), Garcon (7 catches, 66 yards; 15 targets) and Collie (5 catches, 44 yards) with admirable frequency. After all, it's not like the Colts rushers are bringing much to the party these days … as evidenced by Painter's team-high 79 rushing yards against the Titans.

Revelations, B
ook III

12. It's too early to formulate any long-lasting opinions of Tim Tebow. Echoing the theme from last week's Revelations, Tebow (235 total yards, 1 TD vs. Detroit) will neither be celebrated nor disparaged as a fantasy quarterback this season — regardless of the extreme highs and lows of real-world play. After all, what's the point of overreacting to someone who will consistently finish between 215 and 240 total yards and 1.5 TDs per game? In the fantasy realm, Tebow has value as a bye-week starter in 12-teamers and backup QB the rest of the time; but he's also an eminently replaceable asset … meaning that most fantasy owners could find a similarly skilled, yet equally flawed talent on waivers at any point. Unfortunately, the same holds true for receivers Eric Decker (6 catches, 72 yards, 1 garbage-time TD), Eddie Royal (6 catches, 41 yards; 13 targets) and Demaryius Thomas (1 catch, 10 yards), all of whom might garner more fantasy cred if Kyle Orton or even Brady Quinn were flinging the ball in Denver. Bottom line: The most appealing aspect of the Broncos lies with their three-headed rushing attack of Willis McGahee (hand injury), Knowshon Moreno (74 total yards) and of course, Tebow.

13. A certain fantasy guru might have misjudged Beanie Wells as a home-only starting option. Wells (83 yards, 1 TD vs. Baltimore) has racked up at least 93 total yards or one touchdown five times this season; so obviously, the kid has talents that extend past the cushy lair of University of Phoenix Stadium. But until Sunday's sneaky-good outing — amid lingering questions of a sprained knee — I had never viewed Wells (518 total yards, 1 TD) as a coveted trade-deadline prospect. His schedule for Weeks 13-16 (Dallas, San Francisco, Cleveland, Cincinnati) is reasonable, and the Cardinals desperately need a diversion away from the mediocre adventures of QB Kevin Kolb (153 yards passing, 1 TD) or any pass-catcher not named Larry Fitzgerald … although Fitz (3 catches, 98 yards) is hardly setting the numbers world ablaze in 2011. Verdict: It's rare to suggest a teammate-on-teammate trade in fantasy, but if you have the means to swap Fitzgerald with Wells in a 1-for-1 switcheroo … pull the trigger. As stated last week, the Kolb-Fitzgerald dynamic is probably best viewed from a dispassionate standpoint, with neither anchoring your lineups in December.

Chris JohnsonChris Johnson (right) is no longer in the same class as Minnesota's Adrian Peterson.

14. Chris Johnson has been downgraded from his AAA+ fantasy rating. We have jumped through countless hoops to defend Johnson at every turn this season — from his post-lockout lethargy to recent concerns about conditioning or a lack of chemistry with the offensive line. But with only 51 total yards against the embattled Colts, there's nothing more to say, really. If fantasy owners want to trade Johnson (411 total yards, 1 TD) right now … by all means, do it. If they want to ignore Johnson's seemingly easy schedule for Weeks 9-16 … that's fine, too. And if the Titans should feel emboldened to start Javon Ringer (102 total yards) next week against Cincinnati … perhaps that's not a bad idea. While few doubt Johnson's 2012-and-beyond viability, he's no longer an automatic starter in 10-, 12- or even 14-team leagues. The same holds true for QB Matt Hasselbeck (224 passing yards, 1 TD) and WR Nate Washington (2 TDs). In Nate's case, we're not going overboard about a fantasy day that yielded only four catches and 34 yards. Call it the Plaxico Burress Rule.

15. The Redskins and Browns may soon get the fantasy-roadkill treatment. What's the point of rostering Cleveland QB Colt McCoy (271 total yards, 1 TD vs. San Fran) in 12-team leagues, if he has no one to throw to? And what's the use in keeping Washington TE Fred Davis (8 catches, 94 yards) past the fantasy trade deadline … with John Beck (208 yards passing, zero INTs vs. Buffalo) and/or Rex Grossman as his quarterback options? It's disheartening to see the Redskins' season disintegrate so quickly. No more Tim Hightower (year-ending knee injury). No Santana Moss (broken hand). It's equally disappointing to see zero consistency from Browns pass-catchers like Greg Little (4 catches, 28 yards; 11 targets), Jordan Norwood (5 catches, 32 yards), Mohammed Massaquoi (DNP – injury) and even TE Ben Watson (only two TDs in 2011). Put it all together … and fantasy owners are left with two teams that offer little hope at the receiver or running back slots. Even kicker Graham Gano has been rendered moot.

16. Tarvaris Jackson knows how to make an entrance — and exit. Can you imagine the damage Jackson (323 yards passing) might have inflicted if he hadn't been holding a clipboard until midway through the second quarter? Or if the Seahawks hadn't botched a slam-dunk opportunity for a gimme field goal or air-assisted TD at the end of the first half? That aside, Jackson was a welcome sight for Seattle's playmakers and fantasy owners everywhere, hurling 40 passes in 37 minutes and reinvigorating the modest values of WR Sidney Rice (7 catches, 102 yards; 14 targets), WR Ben Obomanu (4 catches, 107 yards), Doug Baldwin (5 catches, 73 yards) and maybe RB Marshawn Lynch (24 yards, 1 TD). He also boosted the Bengals' fantasy cred with a last-minute pick-six to Reggie Nelson (75 yards) -- even though Cincy already registered a punt-return TD just three minutes prior (courtesy of Brandon Tate). Verdict: When healthy (and playing at home), Jackson is a sneaky-good starting consideration in 14- and 16-team leagues.

17. Don't read too much into Reggie Bush's 100-yard outing. If only Bush could play against the Giants every week … perhaps he'd be viewed as more than a RB4 in PPR leagues (and free agent in standards); instead, fantasy owners can only bask in the short-term glow of Reggie's second 100-yard rushing effort of his career (both against New York) — assuming they got the pregame memo that Daniel Thomas (hamstring) was an injury scratch. Otherwise, they likely missed out on Bush's signature performance of 2011 — from a total yards perspective (120). Looking at the schedule, Bush could post solid numbers Week 10 against the suddenly wretched Redskins … conveniently before most trade deadlines. You know who wouldn't make an exorbitant pre-deadline pickup? Brandon Marshall. Not because he struggled against Corey Webster (4 catches, 55 yards) or that Matt Moore (169 total yards, 1 TD) is the Fins' QB for the foreseeable future; his schedule for Weeks 14 (vs. Philly), 15 (@ Buffalo) and 16 (@ New England) is simply plagued by high-end cornerbacks or the (very likely) thre
at of brutal East Coast weather in December — not unlike the classic Nor'easter that attacked many states this weekend.

An award-winning fantasy writer with Sports Illustrated (2008-2010) before joining the National Football Post, Jay Clemons' Fantasy Philanthropist Blog can be found here every Monday and Thursday during the regular season. Clemons can be reached, day or night, via Twitter.

Cowboys CB Jenkins to undergo MRI on hamstring

Dallas Cowboys defensive back Mike Jenkins is scheduled to undergo an MRI on his injured right hamstring Monday, but believes he will participate in next week's game against the Seahawks, according to Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas. Jenkins suffered the injury in the third quarter of Sunday's loss at Philadelphia and exited the game in the fourth quarter.

“I think we caught it before it got worse,” said Jenkins.

The former first-round pick out of South Florida has recorded 18 tackles, one interception and seven passes defensed through seven games this season.

Follow Dion on Twitter: @NFLDraftUpdate

'Hormonal' Pete Carroll takes rap for bonehead decision

Talk about an interesting way to take the rap.

There was plenty of blame to go around Sunday afternoon after the Seattle Seahawks were roughed up at home 34-12 by the Cincinnati Bengals.

But none of mistakes was more glaring than the decision by coach Pete Carroll to go for it on fourth-and-2 from the Bengals’ 3-yard line with 14 seconds remaining in the first half. Seattle was trailing 17-3 at the time and was out of timeouts. They needed points, and a touchdown would have pulled them within one score.

So, Carroll called for running back Marshawn Lynch to slam it up the middle. That’s what he did but while he got the first down, he was stopped short of the goalline. The Seahawks were not able to line up and snap the ball for another playing, sending them to the locker room down two touchdowns.

We learned about what happens when a coach gets hormonal and tries to freakin’ jam it down their throat for the touchdown there right at the half,” Carroll said, according to Eric Williams of the Tacoma Tribune. “That was a mistake. It would have been a good call if we made it. But we didn’t.

“It’s a bit little tough, because I have an attitude and a personality about how I want to do it. But as we’re developing as a team, we’re not quite capable to take advantage of that yet. I have a lot of times where I’ve been in that situation, and it’s worked out. And it hasn’t a couple times here. And I don’t mind the scrutiny. It is what it is. I’m not worried about it.”

When teams stack losses, the scrutiny will follow. This decision didn’t lead to the loss on its own, not by a longshot, but people will want to see signs of growth by the end of Carroll’s second season at the helm in Seattle. He’s got a half-season or so to work on that.

Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

Handing out the Week 8 Sunday game balls

Let’s hand out some game balls from the Week 8 Sunday schedule in the NFL. Four players (and one defense) that stood out from my perspective…

Steven JacksonJackson finished with 159-yards and 2 TDs in the Rams 31-21 win over the Saints.

Steven Jackson, Rams: We will get to the Rams’ pass rush, but let’s start with Jackson. The St. Louis RB posted 159-yards, ran for two scores and consistently worked over the Saints’ front seven. Impressive day from the veteran in the Rams' first win of the season.

LeSean McCoy, Eagles: Did anyone expect the Eagles to lead with the run game vs. the Cowboys’ defense? Give credit here to the Philly game plan (and the play calling), but the game ball goes to McCoy after he rushes for 185- yards and 2 TDs on 30 carries. That's a big number.

Chris Long, Rams: I talked about it on Sunday, because there is no question the front four of the Rams impacted the Saints’ game plan by getting to QB Drew Brees. Long totaled three sacks and St. Louis recorded six as a defense in the 31-21 upset win over New Orleans at home. Hard to work the ball down the field when the QB is on the ground.

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers: I could throw Dick LeBeau’s defense (and LaMarr Woodley) into the mix here, but let’s stick with Roethlisberger. The Steelers’ QB had complete control of the game plan, worked the short to intermediate route tree and moved the sticks on third downs. Completes 36 of 50 passes for 365-yards and 2 TDs in the win over the Patriots that wasn't as close as the final score.

The Bills' defense: George Edwards' unit racked up nine sacks, forced two interceptions and shutout the 'Skins 23-0 up in Toronto. John Beck and the Washington offense had no answer for the Bills' pressure and finished the day with only 178-yards of total offense. Solid win for a club that sits in first place in the AFC East.

Follow me on Twitter: @MattBowen41

Sean Lee hoping for good news on his wrist injury

Emerging Dallas Cowboys defensive leader Sean Lee will have an MRI on his left wrist today to determine the seriousness of his injury.

Lee left Sunday night’s loss at Philadelphia at the end of the first quarter and did not return. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said the initial diagnosis was a dislocated wrist, according to ESPN Dallas. Lee was injured trying to tackle Eagles quarterback Michael Vick in the 34-7 setback.

I'm hoping I could play next week,” Lee said afterward. “I couldn't return tonight. The doctors would not let me out there. Hopefully I can get it re-evaluated and it'll be all right.”

Lee was replaced by veterans Keith Brooking and Bradie James. The former Penn State standout leads the defense in tackles.

Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune