Matchup Meter: Saints' defense a welcome sight for opposing QBs
Not much has gone right for New Orleans since the franchise was rocked by the bounty scandal in the offseason. The Saints' defense has allowed a league-worst 461.0 yards and 37.5 points in two games this season. It's fair to argue that the Saints were beaten by two of the league's most dynamic quarterbacks (Robert Griffin III and Cam Newton) but that hardly explains how bad the numbers look.
The secondary has yet to grab an interception and the front seven has just three sacks. This has helped opposing passers to operate with great efficiency, with a combined completion percentage of 71.7 and a rating of 135.5. And three wide receivers have gained 90 or more yards against the Saints in those two contests. This week the Saints secondary could experience more difficulty against a top-10-ranked Chiefs passing unit.
Number to know: 12.5 -- The number of yards the Saints allow per passing attempt. No other NFL defense allows more than 10.
Expect a big day from: It may finally be time to give Matt Cassel a shot. The Chiefs signal caller put up big numbers in his first two outings of 2012, and will probably extend his hot streak this week.
In two games the Bengals have given up 252 yards and three rushing scores. Browns rookie Trent Richardson looked unstoppable last week, gaining 109 yards on just 19 carries against a Bengals front seven riddled with injuries. The loss of Thomas Howard will only make life more miserable on Marvin Lewis' unit.
• Number to know: 5.47 -- The number of rushing yards the Bengals allow per carry. Only St. Louis allows more (5.51).
• Expect a big day from: Alfred Morris has kept Evan Royster and Roy Helu on the bench, gaining 185 yards on 44 carries. Fantasy owners can expect another busy week for the rookie back.
The Giants' secondary injuries are well documented. Prince Amukamara (probable) could rejoin the team, but his ankle is not 100 percent. So far New York has allowed 259.0 passing yards a game and five passing scores (second only to Washington).
• Number to know: 6 -- The number of receivers who have caught a pass of 20 or more yards against New York in two games this season.
• Expect a big day from: Cam Newton and Steve Smith are already "must plays" for fantasy owners, but Brandon LaFell and tight end Greg Olsen could also offer nice numbers in Week 3. Both should see plenty of targets in what's expected to be a passing frenzy.
Hey, it never hurts to remind fantasy owners just how good the 49ers are against the run. San Francisco has not allowed a rushing touchdown this season (no surprise) and has permitted just one carry of 10 or more yards (Matthew Stafford -- 11).
• Number to know: 1 -- The number of backs to gain 100 or more yards rushing against San Francisco dating back to the beginning of the 2010 season.
• Who to bench: We all love Adrian Peterson, but even he needs a rest now and then. This 49ers unit has shut down the likes of Steven Jackson, Ray Rice and LeSean McCoy -- you better believe it can shut down AP.
Here are a few numbers that should scare opposing offenses: The Eagles have allowed one passing score and have given up just 163 passing yards per contest (ranked fourth). Opposing passers have averaged just 4.5 yards per passing attempt (first), and Philadelphia is tied for the team lead in interceptions (five).
• Number to know: 44.2 -- The completion percentage for opposing passers this season. Consider this: Last year Houston led the league in the category with an opposing completion percentage more than seven points higher (51.9).
• Who to bench: It seems like sacrilege to sit Larry Fitzgerald, but fantasy owners need to make difficult decisions now and then. Kevin Kolb and Fitzgerald were not on the same page last week (one completion, four yards), and fantasy owners can't expect them to fix their chemistry issues in a week's worth of practice.
Even without James Harrison (expected to return in Week 5) the Steelers have held their own upfront, allowing 92.0 rushing yards per game. Last week they limited New York's Shonn Green and Bilal Powell to 56 yards on 20 carries, and in Week 1 they contained Willis McGahee for much of the night.
• Number to know: 39 -- The number of yards Darren McFadden has gained in two career games against Pittsburgh (19 carries).
• Who to bench: The Raiders need a spark from McFadden to snap out of their early-season funk. Meanwhile, the Steelers understand that stopping McFadden means stopping the Raiders. Fantasy owners frustrated by his 2.1 yards-per-carry average this season will only become more frustrated following Sunday afternoon's contest.