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The Football Fanatic

By O.B. Usmen

COLUMNIST

Week four was a rough one for four of the undefeated programs in the NFL. Miami took their perfect record and tough defense to Kansas City, only to lose 48-30. The Chiefs’ offense proved too much even for Miami’s defense, scoring more points than Miami’s three previous opponents combined.

Carolina kept with Green Bay until the last play of the game, a missed field goal by newly-signed kicker, Shayne Graham. With the Panthers trailing 17-14 and on their own five-yard line, Graham, Carolina’s third kicker in as many weeks, missed a 24-yard attempt to give Carolina their first loss.

Denver didn’t look like a 3-0 team Monday night, losing to the lowly Ravens 34-23. Baltimore scored 31 points in the second quarter, the last touchdown coming on the longest play in NFL history. In the final seconds of the first half, Denver kicker, Jason Elam, came up short on a 57-yard field goal. Raven’s CB, Chris McAlister, fielded the ball and returned it 108 yards for a touchdown, sprung by a devastating block by Ray Lewis.

The Patriots were the fourth team to fall from the ranks of the undefeated. San Diego’s Chargers defeated New England 21-14 to maintain their own perfect record, and looked like they might actually be as good as their record suggests.

Chargers are the team to beat

Just two years ago San Diego was the worst team in the NFL, with a 1-15 record. They needed so much help, they traded away the first pick in the draft. Well, that move sparked a turnaround that has San Diego looking like a playoff-caliber team. In that draft, San Diego passed on Michael Vick to get RB LaDainian Tomlinson and QB Drew Brees.

Last year, the focus was on building a strong defense with free agent pickups DE Marcellus Wiley and CB Ryan McNeil. As the pieces start to come together this year, the Chargers look like a force to be reckoned with.

With Marty Schottenheimer at the reins, the team’s dedication to defense was to be expected. Junior Seau is still the heart of the defense which leads the AFC in points allowed (9.5 per game), and yards allowed (264 per game). In addition to Seau and Wiley, Ben Leber, their third round pick this year, has looked solid leading the team with four sacks and two forced fumbles.

While the defense dictates the tempo of the game, Brees and Tomlinson do their part fitting in perfectly with Schottenheimer’s ball control system. Tomlinson has emerged as an elite running back this year, leading the NFL in rushing yards, and Brees is a heady quarterback that makes few mistakes and has found his favorite target in Curtis Conway. Still, with two rookies starting on the offensive line, a second year quarterback, and a schedule that includes two games against Oakland and Denver, San Diego might struggle to make the playoffs. Beating New England was impressive, but can do they do it again against Denver this week?

The Greatest Show in Missouri?

Kansas City looks like what St. Louis was supposed to be. They have an offense that scores at will, a running back that leads the league in scoring and is a threat both running and catching the ball, and a defense that can’t stop anyone. Now, St. Louis looks washed up at 0-4 and Kansas City is developing into an extremely dangerous team.

No one knows the old Rams system better than Chiefs head coach, Dick Vermeil, who retired from football after winning the Super Bowl with the Rams, only to return a year later to coach the Chiefs. With him, he brought an explosive offensive scheme. In four games Kansas City has scored more points than any other team in the NFL (142) and is second in total offense. Trent Green is heating up, throwing for 328 yards and five touchdowns in the win over Miami. Tony Gonzales is hands-down the best TE in the league, and Priest Holmes continues to dominate ranking third in the NFL in rushing and first in touchdowns, with eight. There’s no question the Chiefs have a potent offense, but their weak defense will keep them from getting to the playoffs, especially since they play in the AFC West with San Diego, Denver, and Oakland.

Fantasy Pick of the Week: Donald Driver, WR for Green Bay Packers. With Terry Glenn battling post-concussion syndrome, Driver has been Brett Favre’s go-to receiver.