King's Corner

October 09, 2005

HOT READ

The most stunning stat through Week 4? Even after a 31-10 rout of the Titans on Sunday, the Colts ranked 17th in the NFL in offense, 15th in passing. Last year the Peyton Manning Express finished second and first, respectively, in those departments. "Defenses are lining up deep, keeping two safeties back," Tennessee defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said last week. "They're playing the slot aggressively so Brandon Stokley can't make the plays he made all last year. And they're saying, 'Go ahead and run.'" On Sunday the Titans often dropped five or six defenders back to try to confuse Manning (above), but it didn't work. He completed 74% of his passes for 264 yards and four touchdowns, and he wasn't sacked. "I told the [Titans] before the game," Schwartz said on Monday, "teams that succeed against the Colts give up yards but come up with big turnovers or big stops. We didn't force a turnover, and [the Colts] were seven of 10 on third down. That's fatal."

NUMBERS GAME

Averaging 34 points, the surprisingly prolific Giants lead the NFL in scoring through Week 4 of 2005. The last time the club finished the season No. 1 in that category? That would be 1963, when Y.A. Tittle was handing off and throwing to Frank Gifford.

HEAD TO HEAD

Cincinnati at Jacksonville

While every NFL team wants at least one prime-time telecast per season, the Bengals and the Jaguars got few favors from this year's schedule makers. They are two of the nine teams that will appear only once in prime time in 2005. But is there a better Sunday-night game on the slate than this week's matchup that has Cincinnati's ascendant offense (with running back Rudi Johnson, left) testing Jacksonville's tough, no-name defense? The game also features two of the league's best young quarterbacks in Carson Palmer of Cincinnati and the Jaguars' Byron Leftwich.

THREE POINTS

1 Think USC's Matt Leinart is a lock to be the top pick in the '06 draft? Not so fast. I'm hearing sentiment in the scouting community for Trojans back Reggie Bush, if he chooses to go pro.

2 J.P. Losman, who has completed 47.9% of his passes for 108.2 yards per game, isn't ready to play in this league. If Buffalo coach Mike Mularkey wants to save the 1-3 Bills' season, he has to make Kelly Holcomb the starter.

3 Considering the magic they're making on the field, Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens--who have hooked up 32 times for 506 yards already--must remain teammates in 2006 and beyond. Owens makes McNabb much better, and vice versa.

> Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback, every week at SI.com/football.

PHOTOBOB ROSATO (MANNING) PHOTOAL TIELEMANS (JOHNSON)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)