I can feel the late-Sunday-afternoon tap on the shoulder coming again from David Neal, my NBC Football Night in America boss. "Peter," he'll say, after Larry Johnson registers his 43rd carry of the game, breaking the Chiefs' single-game rush-attempt record for the second week in a row, "get Larry Johnson on the phone after the game. Ask him if he'll still be standing in a month."
Sometimes a feeling just comes over me about a football game. I can't give you any science about this one, other than to say that if Jon Kitna has a little bit of time, he's got a chance to riddle a defense. And without good health on the Atlanta defensive front, Kitna will have that time. By the way, Kitna has more passing yards (1,883) than Carson Palmer, Tom Brady, Brett Favre and Eli Manning.
Bill Parcells did last week what Joe Gibbs should have done two weeks ago -- play the kid quarterback. Unless Jason Campbell is an absolute dunderhead, I don't understand why the coach of a 2-5 team with a plodding old quarterback (and I love Mark Brunell, the person and warrior) would not have the gumption to make the switch this franchise very much needs to make.
Sixth-round Toledo Rocket Bruce Gradkowski runs his starting record to 3-2. Got a Man Law for you, Burt Reynolds: Jon Gruden is the best in the business at getting lightly regarded passers to play competently in the NFL.
Tennessee's surrendering a very uncharacteristic 4.9 yards per rush. I know Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz pretty well. Smart guy. Glib guy. Econ major from Georgetown. Really, really competitive guy ... and it's going to drive him out of his tree Sunday to see that lightning bug, Maurice Jones-Drew, break off runs of 24 and 46 yards.
I've heard the same two words about this Giants game all week, coming on the heels of a four-game winning streak and before the biggie with Chicago next week: trap game. "Coach Coughlin won't let us look ahead," Tiki Barber said the other day. "He's really good at making every game a one-game season. We won't be looking ahead." We'll hold you to that, Tiki.
Chad Johnson's on the war path over getting fined $5,000 by the NFL for wearing "OCHO CINCO" velcroed over "C. JOHNSON" during pregame warmups last Sunday. "I would never do anything to embarrass the league," he railed over the phone Wednesday. "It's ridiculous. Of course I'm appealing the fine. I'm not paying." As if all that will have anything to do with the Billick Steamroller.
A lot of e-mailers are asking me this question, and I don't have a definitive answer: When is Bill Cowher going to spray some nationally televised spit on a referee/quarterback/linebacker/waterboy? And if he doesn't, does that mean he's lost some of his Mr. Intenso edge?
I don't know how football can get better than this. The Colts put up 34 points and 437 yards on Denver's top-ranked scoring defense; the Pats were almost the same -- 31 points and 430 yards -- against a good Minnesota team. Football's best two quarterbacks, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, were a combined 61 of 82 (74 percent) for 717 yards and seven touchdowns over the weekend. I don't think we can talk enough about this game. Remember last year, when ABC hyped this game to the moon? This year it's a better game. Last year New England was struggling mightily at 4-3, with ugly losses to San Diego and Denver in their previous three games. Now the Patriots have just gone 4-0 (at Cincinnati, Miami, at Buffalo, at Minnesota), winning the four by an average of 20 points. Why am I in New England's corner? Because, unlike last year, the Pats' defense is capable of holding the Colts scoreless on four or five possessions.