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Scout's Notebook


• The calls for A.J. Feeley to take over the starting role will subside in Philly after watching his performance against the Seahawks. Feeley set up the Seahawks' initial two scores on interceptions to Lofa Tatupu, and a third interception to Tatupu thwarted a potential game-winning rally in the closing moments. Though Feeley piled up impressive overall statistics during the outing, his penchant for turnovers and questionable decision making in the clutch makes him a viable option only in spots. While DonovanMcNabb's play this season hasn't been up to his standard, he is unquestionably the best option at quarterback for the Eagles now and in the future.

• Defenses are finding it increasingly more difficult to defend the Vikings' offense because of Tarvaris Jackson's improved play. The second year signal caller is finding his groove as a passer and benefitting from defenses focusing on stopping their top-ranked rush attack. Jackson has completed 45 of 58 passes for 504 yards in the past three games after only completing 46 percent of his passes during his first five starts. The key has been improved accuracy and better chemistry with his receivers on play-action passes.

• The Colts featured their tight ends to handle the multiple looks presented by the Jags' defense. Ben Utecht and DallasClark combined for 10 receptions for 107 yards with two touchdowns. More importantly, their emergence has given Indy's offense enough versatility to play a ball-control style against a physical opponent. With the Colts potentially playing a road game in inclement weather during the playoffs, the ability to switch up their offensive style will be critical.

• It is amazing how quickly the Titans' defense regained its form with AlbertHaynesworth in the lineup. With Haynesworth occupying double and triple teams, Antwan Odom and others rediscovered their pass rushing ways as Tennessee consistently harassed Houston quarterbacks Matt Schaub and Sage Rosenfels in the pocket. The two sack performance was the Titans' first multi-sack game since Haynesworth left the line up three weeks ago.

• With the Chargers in the middle of a tightly contested AFC West race, NorvTurner has finally decided to feed the ball to LaDainian Tomlinson. After averaging only 17.5 carries a game in the four games after their by week, Tomlinson has carried the ball 47 times during their two-game winning streak. And the increased workload has resulted in 254 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Maybe Turner's reluctance to use Tomlinson during the middle part of the season was part of a plan to keep his superstar fresh down the stretch. But you have to wonder if the Chargers would be in a better position had LT shouldered more of the load early in the season.

• The Bears' once-vaunted run defense looks like a shell of the unit that dominated opponents over the past two seasons. DerrickWard's 154-yard outing is the fourth 100-yard rushing performance allowed by the Bears this season. And their inability to stop the run is preventing them from forcing offenses to throw against their ball-hawking two-deep coverage.

• Even though he won on Sunday, EliManning's poor decision making continues to plague the Giants' offense. His mistakes cost the New York points and field position, and his ineffectiveness is limiting KevinGilbride's options as a play caller. Unable to trust his young signal-caller, Gilbride opted to use a conservative game plan for most of Sunday's game against Chicago. To Manning's credit, he bounced back from the poor showing with a solid fourth quarter (7-of-9 for 95 yards with one touchdown). But he will need to take better care of the ball for the Giants to make a serious run at a playoff berth down the stretch.

• New Orleans coach Sean Payton showed poor judgment attempting to run an end-around to Devery Henderson with the Saints clinging to a three-point lead with less than three minutes remaining in the game. Though the play appeared to have big play potential, the trick play backfired when Reggie Bush failed to execute the pitch on the reverse. Payton received lots of praise last season for being a creative and aggressive play-caller, but his decision to gamble in the waning moments cost his team a chance at the division title and a playoff berth.

• JaMarcusRussell's had a solid debut for the Raiders. The top overall pick completed 4 of 7 passes for 56 yards, but also had two fumbles on his initial drive. Despite those fumbles, Russell's arm strength and accuracy complement the Raiders' power running game. His completions to Jerry Porter and RonaldCurry on deep out-breaking routes showcased the big arm. Though Russell only received limited playing time, his solid performance will likely lead to more snaps as Oakland prepards Russell to be next season's starting quarterback.

• Arizona's final drive signifies the renewed emphasis of the running game under Ken Whisnenhunt. With the game hanging in the balance, the Cardinals handed Edgerrin James the ball on nine of their final 11 plays. The steady pounding of James on powers and off-tackle plays allowed thme to chew up the clock on their way to a game-clinching field goal. Arizona has shown signs of becoming a blue-collar team throughout the season.

• The toll of dealing with the tragic loss of a teammate caught up with the Redskins in the second half of their loss to the Bills. After riding that emotion during the first half, Washington ran out of gas on both sides of the ball in the latter stages of the game. With a memorial service to attend and a short work week ahead, the Redskins will continue to ride an emotional roller coaster through next week's game against the Bears.

• Dallas offensive coordinator Jason Garrett cleverly crafted a game plan that featured Terrell Owens motioning into the slot out of bunch formations to attack the Packers' aggressive defense on Thursday night. With Owens positioned in the slot, Garrett was able to take advantage of the Packers' linebackers, particularly A.J. Hawk, in space. T.O.'s 48-yard reception on a deep crossing route from the slot exploited the MIKE linebacker's role as the deep middle player in two-deep coverage. But the move of Owens into the slot also gave the Cowboys an effective counter to the Packers' press-man coverage as well. By using Owens as part of a mini-cluster formation, Garrett freed his superstar from tight coverage by using rubs or picks to get free releases at the line while forcing Green bay to switch assigned defenders. Though Owens wasn't the intended target on PatrickCrayton's second touchdown, the play illustrated the effectiveness of the rub and switch concept.