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Monday, October 6, 2008
AFC North stock watch

By James Walker

Posted by's James Walker

Five weeks into the 2008 regular season, let's take a look at who's hot and who's not in the AFC North division:


Who's hot

1. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Roethlisberger had his fifth career 300-yard game and it came at a time when the Steelers needed every yard in a 26-21 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. On the road and shorthanded, Roethlisberger stepped up big and took over the game by throwing for 309 yards and three touchdowns. After his interception on Pittsburgh's opening drive, he was masterful in making plays with both his legs and arm. The no-huddle option on offense also seems to have instilled new life into the Steelers' offense that hit a lull a few weeks ago.


2. LaMarr Woodley, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers seem to develop a stud linebacker nearly every year, and Woodley looks like the next up-and-coming talent in line. Woodley, in his second year, is proving that he can be an every-down linebacker. His six tackles and two sacks led Pittsburgh on Sunday. Last week, Woodley also recovered a fumble and scored his first career touchdown. He has a knack for making the big plays and has 5.5 sacks and an interception through five games.

3. Chris McAlister, CB, Baltimore Ravens

McAlister is quietly having a terrific season by making both the big plays and routine plays for the Ravens (2-2). He recorded his third interception in four games during a 13-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans. Not to put any unnecessary pressure on McAlister, but statistically he is on pace for 12 interceptions. But what has impressed us most with McAlister this season is how often he's been around the football. In addition to the three picks, he also had his hands on eight pass break-ups.

Who's not

1. Chris Perry, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

Perry has been a mainstay in the "not" category because he's not getting many yards and fumbling at the worst possible times. The Bengals tailback rushed for 31 yards and fumbled for the fifth time (third lost) this season during Cincinnati's 31-22 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. The Bengals had the momentum after 16 unanswered points and recovering an onside kick, but Perry coughed up the ball in the fourth quarter. Of course, Cowboys' receiver Terrell Owens scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive. Cincinnati's coaching staff needs to figure out if Perry's fumbling problem is correctable or if it's time to begin giving carries to someone else.


2. Ben Utecht, TE, Cincinnati Bengals

Utecht is expected to be a viable weapon in Cincinnati's passing game, but he's off to a slow start for the Bengals. The former Indianapolis Colts tight end had just one catch for three yards against Dallas. He had a chance to make a big two-point conversion that would have tied the game in the fourth quarter, but the pass attempt was knocked out of his hands. Utecht has just five receptions so far this season.

3. Matt Stover, K, Baltimore Ravens


The usually consistent Stover, one of the most accurate kickers in the league, has sputtered through three games. Stover has missed a field-goal attempt in three games this year, including Sunday's 45-yard attempt that was wide right in the second quarter. Because of the style Baltimore plays, the Ravens are going to be in a lot of close, low-scoring games this year. They need to be able to rely on Stover and the kicking game to maximize the opportunities and take some of the pressure off Baltimore's defense.