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Observations from Week 4 in the NFL

We'll do one final preview of the Steelers-Ravens game at Heinz Field at bit later, but first a few thoughts about Sunday's happenings in the National Football League.

* The talk around water coolers today, of course, will be Brett Favre and his career record 6 TD passes against the Arizona Cardinals. The Jets scored 34 points in the second quarter!  What can you say about Favre other than that he's still a treat to watch at his age. The Packers, who received news that Aaron Rodgers is dealing with some soreness in his shoulder, might have to stave off a mob of rioting Cheeseheads if somehow, someway, the Jets are able to make the playoffs while the Packers hit the golf course in early January. Not likely though, as the Jets should have consistency issues, particularly on the road. As for the Cardinals? Well, we'll have to ask our man cgolden but I think most of us figured it was just a matter of time before we saw Kurt Warner turn in one of those forgettably poor road performances. He finished the day with 6 turnovers. Ouch.

* Is there anything to write about the Browns uninspiring victory over the Bengals, who were playing without Carson Palmer? By the way, how is it that a sore elbow keeps Carson Palmer out of the team's biggest game of the year, while a guy like Brett Favre, or even Ben Roethlisberger, finds a way to suit up each and every week no matter the circumstance? I don't know the extent of the injury, but seriously, would the greats take a seat with the team 0-3 and in desperate need of a win if there is ANY hope at salvaging the season? Absolutely not. And for that reason, it's time we stop talking about Carson Palmer as one of the 'greats' in this league. Period.

* The one game I'll be fortunate enough to see this year is the Skins-Steelers matchup, also on MNF, in early November. After seeing Jason Campbell lead his team to victory in Texas Stadium in a game that the Cowboys were double digit favorites, I'm more convinced than ever that our game with them will be one of our toughest outs of the year. The story for Washington is turnovers, or the lack thereof. Not a fumble, nor a Campbell interception through 4 games. Expect Campbell to get locked down with a mega-extension sometime very soon. Perhaps this summer, but my guess is long before then.

* Count me among the masses who thought Kansas City had little chance to beat Denver, even though they were playng at Arrowhead. If you look at just the two teams' records heading into the game, and nothing else, sure, it seems like a monumental upset.  Several things though. Firstly, Mike Shanahan doesn't win in Kansas City. Or at least not very often. He's just 4-12 lifetime  there. Secondly, Denver shouldn't be undefeated. Martin Gramatica missed a VERY easy FG (by NFL standards) last week that would have given New Orleans the win. Thirdly, and most importantly, the Broncos defense is terrible. Downright awful. The Broncos have given up 103 points in their last three ballgames. Let me give you some historical context of just how bad that is. The 1976 Steelers defense gave up 138 points in 14 games and the 2000 Ravens gave up just 165 points.  Giving up big numbers to San Diego and New Orleans is one thing, but allowing the Chiefs to drop 33 on you is embarassing, and very harrowing for the team's prospects to contend in the longrun. Heck, the Chiefs hadn't even scored 33 points in their first three games!  Denver next faces Tampa Bay, Jacksonville and New England. We'll see if they're legitimate or whether their shoddy defense will keep them in the 6-8 win range.

* We think it's frustrating watching our beloved Steelers play amazing one week and terrible the next? Well, we're spoiled. Imagine being a Bears fan. Sheesh is that team all over the place. After losing their previous two games, including a 24-27 home defeat to Tampa Bay that could have playoff implications down the road, the Bears responded in a critical game for them against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Bears preserved the 24-20 with a late game goal-line stand. The Andy Reid I remember used to LOVE to run play action around the goal line. Now, he could have been playing 'chess' with the Bears D-coordinator, expecting them to think they'd throw. But I think he over thought things there. With an accurate QB like McNabb and 8 or 9 guys stuffed along the goal line on D, you can't just plow ahead with a mediocre RB time after time. Anyway, the Bears held and improved to 2-2, while Philly fell to 2-2. Oh by the way, the Eagles pass rush is good. They recorded four more sacks last night against a Bears offensive line that is not really as poorly regarded as ours is.

* Ah, the poor 49ers. Just when they think they've emerged and are in the thick of things in the NFC, they lay an egg on the road and remind you that they've got a ways to go. JT O'Sullivan was sacked 6 times today, giving the 49ers 19 allowed sacks through just four games. New Orleans had their way with them today, pulling away in the 2nd quarter behind 3 Drew Brees TD passes.

* I thought Jacksonville might stomp all over Houston today at home, signaling to the league that they're still a force to be recoked with despite the 0-2 start. Last week's last second win over Indianapolis was impressive, and I thought they might follow up this week with a huge game. Well, they won. But it took overtime. And it was at home. AND they gave up 300+ yards through the air while not forcing a single turnover. I'll be writing about this Jaguars team more either later today briefly and then throughout the week, but it's hard to say whether they matchup as well with us as they have in previous matchups.

Thoughts from the Sunday games as we inch closer to kickoff between Baltimore and Pittsburgh?

Go Steelers!