NFL Nation: 2013 Week 6 QB Watch NFC

QB Watch: Packers' Aaron Rodgers

October, 16, 2013
10/16/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly examination of the Green Bay Packers’ quarterback play.

Rodgers
Rewind: Aaron Rodgers lost two of his top-three receivers -- Randall Cobb and James Jones -- to first-half injuries on Sunday against the Ravens, leaving the Packers with only two available receivers. That put more pressure on Rodgers to feed the ball to Jordy Nelson. Rodgers completed 4 of 9 passes that he targeted to Nelson with one touchdown and one interception. It was only the second time since the start of the 2012 season that Rodgers failed to connect on at least half of his throws to Nelson in a game, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The result was Rodgers’ lowest completion percentage (53.1 percent on 17-of-32) since Week 9 of last season.

Fast-forward: It might not get any easier for Rodgers and Nelson on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. The Browns have a top-tier cornerback in Joe Haden, who likely will be matched against Nelson.

Force-feeding: Without Cobb and Jones in the second half against the Ravens, Rodgers relied heavily on Nelson and tight end Jermichael Finley. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the pair accounted for nine of Rodgers’ 11 second-half targets. In the first four games, those two accounted for 34 percent of Rodgers’ targets.

Prediction: The Browns have a solid pass defense, ranking eighth in yards allowed per game through the air, and they have allowed just six passing touchdowns in six games. Rodgers hasn’t thrown more than one touchdown in a game since Week 2. So odds are Rodgers will have trouble throwing more than one touchdown. But Rodgers loves when people doubt him, and that’s surely what some will do given that he won’t have his leading receiver, Cobb, and Jones’ status is uncertain. For that reason alone, Rodgers will throw multiple touchdowns this week against the Browns.

QB Watch: Falcons' Matt Ryan

October, 16, 2013
10/16/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly analysis of the Atlanta Falcons' quarterback play.

Ryan
Ryan
Rewind: Matt Ryan and his teammates got a much-needed bye this past weekend after coping with the loss of top receiver Julio Jones to season-ending foot surgery. Ryan remained optimistic about the offense moving forward even with receiver Roddy White (hamstring) banged up. He realizes the Falcons might have to scale back their high-powered attack while remaining effective and efficient. Ryan has thrown 10 touchdowns with three interceptions.

Fast-forward: If untested Philadelphia Eagles starter Nick Foles was able to throw three touchdowns and post a 133.3 passer rating against a shoddy Buccaneers defense, Ryan shouldn't have a problem at Tampa Bay on Sunday despite being short-handed. His best QB rating of 146.3 came against Tampa Bay on New Year's Day 2012.

Secret weapon: The expected return of Steven Jackson from a hamstring injury shouldn't make Ryan overlook what he has in the diminutive Jacquizz Rodgers. Maybe Rodgers won’t get that 1 yard up the middle on fourth-and-goal, but he can be dynamic in space against a linebacker. Keeping Rodgers involved in the game plan gives defenses something else to think about. Plus, Rodgers has been solid as a blocker in pass protection.

Prediction: Ryan has engineered two eight-game winning streaks since joining the Falcons in 2008. He might not duplicate the feat this season, but he’ll do enough to get the Falcons above .500. Will that be enough to make the playoffs?

QB Watch: Cowboys' Tony Romo

October, 16, 2013
10/16/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly analysis of the Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback play:

Romo
Rewind: There is something about the Washington Redskins that has affected the Cowboys’ passing game. Tony Romo completed only 60 percent of his passes (a season low) and threw for a season-low 170 yards against the Redskins. He was intercepted once but had a Romo-like touchdown, escaping trouble and finding Terrance Williams for a 15-yard score. Coming off a 506-yard effort against Denver when he was able to get the ball down the field, Romo’s longest completion against the Redskins was just 17 yards to Dez Bryant. Things started out well with Romo completing four of his first five passes for 50 yards on a 10-play, 80-yard touchdown drive to open the game, but the Redskins' pressure and tight coverage forced him to be slightly off for the first time this season.

Fast-forward: For most of his career, Romo could expect to see a wide variety of blitzes from the Eagles' defense with the influence of former defensive coordinator Jim Johnson still being felt after he stopped coaching. Romo has yet to go against a Bill Davis-led defense in his career, but he has gone against Davis’ influences in the past that have employed similar schemes. He has had some success but also struggled at times against the confusing looks. Philadelphia, however, is allowing 314.5 yards per game through the air, which is 31st in the NFL. Without DeMarco Murray, the Cowboys' running game figures to be limited at least a little, so Romo will have to make plays through the air.

Mixing it around: The Cowboys have had 12 different players catch at least one pass in the first six games. Rookie running back Joseph Randle became the 12th with two catches against Washington. While Jason Witten is the security blanket and Bryant is the big-play receiver, Romo is at his best when he mixes it around. He had six different receivers versus the Redskins. He had eight different receivers two weeks ago against the Denver Broncos. He’s not afraid to go to Williams or Cole Beasley in a tight spot if needed. Six different receivers have caught Romo’s 14 touchdown passes. The ability to spread the ball makes it that much harder for a defense to key in on one or two targets. By going to so many different players, Romo is making his job a little easier.

Prediction: Romo was held to only 130 yards fewer than what I predicted he would get against the Redskins. In his two road games so far -- losses to the Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers -- he has thrown for 544 yards. Let’s split it down the middle and say he throws for 272 yards against the Eagles and comes up with two touchdown passes as well. He has yet to throw an interception on the road this year, but that streak will end against Philadelphia. It doesn’t mean the Cowboys will lose though, does it?

QB Watch: Redskins' Robert Griffin III

October, 16, 2013
10/16/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly examination of the Redskins’ quarterback play.

Griffin
Rewind: Robert Griffin III continues to show more of his old self in the running game, carrying the ball nine times for 77 yards against Dallas. He did make one bad decision on the zone read, keeping the ball around the end and losing a couple of yards when a handoff looked like the stronger choice. But overall he looked spry. He even showed, as he has in other games this season, that he’ll keep his eyes downfield as he moves up in the pocket. He did not do this often enough last season; it’s leading to gains and fewer hits on Griffin. But his throwing was mostly bad versus Dallas. Griffin too often sailed his throws and missed open targets. He did not always throw with anticipation, so the Cowboys' tight man coverage had a better chance to win. There were missed opportunities in the passing game. And Griffin needs to be more careful with the ball when he starts scrambling in the pocket. The ball was poked free in one such case.

Fast-forward: Chicago’s pass defense ranks 23rd in the NFL and has had some problems, starting with the inability to pressure the passer. The Bears' defensive tackles have been banged up, and their defensive ends, Julius Peppers and Shea McClellin, have rarely made quarterbacks uncomfortable. Chicago has allowed 29 pass plays of 20 yards or more, second in the NFL.

First-half troubles: Griffin continues to have issues in the opening two quarters. In the first five games, he has thrown no touchdown passes and three interceptions in the first half. His passer rating in the first half of games is 58.86. Last season, his first-half passer rating was 113.4.

Prediction: Like everyone else, I keep waiting for Griffin to have “that game,” one that puts him back on track. I thought he was going to have that against Dallas, although I felt it would stem from the Redskins' ability to run, setting him up for play-action looks. Griffin’s running ability will help create more opportunities, but he remains an inconsistent passer. I do think he’ll have success with Jordan Reed. I also think the Bears will put up points, forcing Washington to keep pace. Griffin will throw for 250 yards and run for 50.

QB Watch: Saints' Drew Brees

October, 16, 2013
10/16/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly examination of the New Orleans Saints' quarterback play.

Rewind: Drew Brees had an up-and-down performance in the Saints’ 30-27 loss to the New England Patriots. He was frustrated early by how well the Patriots’ defensive backs blanketed his favorite targets. But he rallied with some strong drives in the second half and threw a clutch 34-yard touchdown pass to receiver Kenny Stills late in the fourth quarter that almost turned out to be the game winner (until Tom Brady one-upped him with five seconds left).

Brees
Brees completed only 17 of 36 passes for 236 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. It was the first time he failed to complete 20 passes in a game since 2009, snapping his NFL-record streak at 57 straight games.

No fear of copycats: Brees insisted he’s not worried that other teams will try to replicate what the Patriots did by shadowing his favorite target, tight end Jimmy Graham, with their top cornerback Aqib Talib. For one thing, not all teams have players talented enough to do that. For another, Brees said he’s happy to spread the ball around to the rest of his weapons if defenses sell out to stop Graham.

Normally, Brees thrives with that mentality. But he struggled to find those open receivers in the first half at New England before improving in the second half. Brees said the opportunities were there -- he just didn’t execute well enough to take advantage.

Fast-forward: The Saints have a bye this week before returning to host the Buffalo Bills in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in Week 8. Brees would love for the extra week to give his injured weapons Graham (foot) and Lance Moore (hand) a chance to heal as quickly as possible.

Prediction: Brees will still have a few more Offensive Player of the Week-worthy performances as this season goes on -- starting with a home date against the Bills in Week 8. An extra week of rest, plus some added motivation from his first loss this season, should serve Brees well.

QB Watch: Panthers' Cam Newton

October, 16, 2013
10/16/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly examination of the Panthers' quarterback play.

Newton
Newton
Rewind: Carolina coach Ron Rivera wouldn't call Cam Newton's performance against Minnesota the best of the quarterback's career, saying only it was top two or three. I'll go ahead and say it was No. 1. It goes beyond Newton's career-best passer rating of 143.4. It goes beyond that he passed for three touchdowns and ran for another. It has more to do with the little things. Like, on the 79-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter, Brandon LaFell was Newton's third read. Like, on third down, he was 5-for-5 for 119 yards. Like, on two undesigned scrambles, he made a first down, including one that went for a touchdown. He was 18-for-21 on passes of 10 or fewer yards, and had only six incompletions all day. He was nearly flawless, and he looked as comfortable in the pocket as I've seen him.

Fast-forward: I circled St. Louis' No. 31 rank against the run not because I believe Newton will run rampant against the Rams but because Carolina's running game will open up the passing game. When Newton has time, as he did Sunday at Minnesota, he's been able to pick apart defenses, particularly average to bad ones like the one he'll face this week. If the Rams don't find a way to slow the league's eighth-best running game, Newton could have another field day.

Consistent Cam: Newton hasn't put together consecutive passer ratings of more than 100.0 since games 12 and 13 last season. He has done it only four times in his career. He has never done it in the first six games of the season. The last stat is the most significant if the Panthers hope to win two in a row in the first six weeks for the first time since 2009.

Prediction: In Carolina's two wins against the Giants and Vikings, Newton has six touchdown passes and two touchdown runs. He has thrown only one interception. The stage is set for another of that type of performance against a Rams defense ranked 22nd in the league.

QB Watch: Seahawks' Russell Wilson

October, 16, 2013
10/16/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly analysis of the Seattle Seahawks' quarterback play.

Wilson
Rewind: On a day when the Seahawks made a bundle of crazy mistakes, <a href="http://espn.go.com/nfl/player/_/id/14881/russell-wilson">Russell Wilson</a> managed to right the ship and play another exceptional game in leading the team to a 20-13 victory over the overmatched Tennessee Titans. Wilson completed 23 of 31 passes for 257 yards and didn’t throw an interception. He also rushed for 61 yards on 10 carries.

Fast-forward: The Seahawks will play their third game in 11 days Thursday night, traveling to Phoenix to face the 3-3 Arizona Cardinals. Wilson is 0-1 in University of Phoenix Stadium (losing his first NFL start in the season opener last year) and 2-5 in his NFL career in domed stadiums. But he is 1-1 in domes this year, having led the Seahawks to a come-from-behind 23-20 victory at Houston before losing 34-28 one week later when he rushed for a career-best 102 yards at Indianapolis.

Shortstop play: The Seahawks had five fumbles Sunday, but lost only two, and Wilson was responsible for saving the day on one by Marshawn Lynch in the fourth quarter. Seattle had a first-and-goal at the Titans' 2-yard line when Lynch was caught in the backfield and coughed up the ball. It was rolling around and easily could have ended up in the hands of a Tennessee defender, who might have run it back for a touchdown. But the ball bounced up near Wilson and he quickly grabbed it and fell on it in what was a pretty impressive athletic move. “I felt like I was back in my baseball days playing shortstop,” he said. “I saw the big hop and I went for it.”

Prediction: Wilson’s play should continue to shine as more starters return to the offense. Max Unger was back at center against the Titans and tight end Zach Miller is expected to return against Arizona. So Wilson’s pass protection will continue to improve, which should be more than enough for him to lead the Seahawks to a victory over the Cardinals.

QB Watch: Buccaneers' Mike Glennon

October, 16, 2013
10/16/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly analysis of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' quarterback play.

Glennon
Rewind: Mike Glennon completed 26 of 43 passes for 273 yards and two touchdowns and an interception in a 31-20 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Overall, Glennon showed improvement from his first game.

Fast-forward: Like the Buccaneers, the Falcons are struggling. The good news for Glennon is that Atlanta’s pass defense ranks No. 25 in the league.

A new weapon: Glennon seems to be developing solid chemistry with rookie tight end Tim Wright, who had seven catches for 91 yards against Philadelphia. In the four games before that, the Bucs had completed only nine passes to their tight ends.

Prediction: This will be Glennon’s first road game, and the Georgia Dome isn’t a friendly place for visiting teams. But Glennon is improving, and the coaching staff seems to be opening things up for him. Against a struggling pass defense, he should be able to throw for at least 250 yards and a touchdown or two.

QB Watch: Bears' Jay Cutler

October, 16, 2013
10/16/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly analysis of the Bears' quarterback play:

Cutler
Rewind: With no protection issues to fret about, Jay Cutler came out precise, hitting 5-of-7 for 85 yards and a touchdown on Chicago’s first two drives. By halftime, the Bears had built a 24-14 lead with Cutler completing 13 of 18 passes for 179 yards, two touchdowns and a passer rating of 140.7. Chicago let off the gas somewhat in the second half to protect the lead, but Cutler finished with a passer rating of 106.5. Cutler ranks eighth in passer rating (95.2), sixth in completion percentage (65.9) and seventh in completions (143). He is tied for sixth in touchdown passes (12).

Fast-forward: Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall became the first player in NFL history to pick off four passes in a game thanks to Cutler the last time these teams met back in 2010. Cutler said he doesn’t plan to go after Hall on Sunday, but I find that a little difficult to believe. Cutler won’t blatantly go after Hall, but he’ll try his best to throw at the cornerback within the confines of the system. Cutler has become a much more disciplined passer, so he won’t throw away the game in a quest for revenge on Hall. But don’t think the 2010 matchup isn’t on Cutler’s mind going into this game.

Keep taking what they give you: Cutler needs to continue to focus on attacking vulnerabilities in coverage rather than force-feeding the ball to favorite targets such as Brandon Marshall. Cutler directed 11 attempts at Marshall against the Giants, but he didn’t do it in an effort to appease the receiver. He did it because of the way the Giants were playing on the back end. So if Alshon Jeffery happens to be the 10- or 11-target receiver Sunday at Washington, so be it.

Prediction: The Redskins held a high-powered Dallas offense to just 213 yards, which was the team’s lowest output in 45 games. So Cutler won’t light it up against the Redskins, but he’ll be efficient. The key is limiting turnovers.

QB Watch: 49ers' Colin Kaepernick

October, 16, 2013
10/16/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly examination of the San Francisco 49ers' quarterback play.

Rewind: Colin Kaepernick aired it out in Sunday's 32-20 win over the Arizona Cardinals compared to the past four weeks. He threw for 252 yards against the Cardinals. It was his highest passing yardage total since Week 1, when he threw for a career-high 412 against the Green Bay Packers.

Jones
Kaepernick
Fast-forward: Kaepernick will face a road test at Tennessee on Sunday. It will be his first game against the Titans. Seattle’s Russell Wilson completed 23 of 31 passes for 257 yards against the Titans. Kaepernick could have similar numbers.

Connecting with Davis: Expect the Titans to try to take tight end Vernon Davis out of the game. Arizona was unable to do that. Davis had eight catches for 180 yards. It was tied for the third-most receiving yards by a tight end in the NFL in the past 20 years. Kaepernick has been connecting with either Davis or receiver Anquan Boldin this season. Perhaps Sunday it will be Boldin’s turn to be Kaepernick’s favorite target.

Prediction: Kaepernick will continue to be efficient with less than eye-popping numbers. He will complete 17 of 28 passes for 262 yards and two touchdown passes with no interceptions against the Titans.

QB Watch: Lions' Matthew Stafford

October, 16, 2013
10/16/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly analysis of the Lions’ quarterback play.

Stafford
Stafford
Rewind: Matthew Stafford’s biggest play might not have been a pass Sunday against Cleveland, but rather a run that was capped off with a penalty. His scramble-and-spike on a first down during the first drive of the third quarter helped spark the Lions’ come-from-behind victory.

“I was just fired up and wanted to make a play,” Stafford said Tuesday. “It’s not very often that I rush for a first down and it was a big one, I felt, coming out of halftime and needing to make a play to get us started. It wasn’t preconceived. Just caught in the moment. Did something that, in turn, probably helped get us going a little bit.”

In all, Stafford completed 25 of 43 passes for 248 yards, four touchdowns and an interception.

Fast-forward: Another week, another tough pass defense for Stafford with Cincinnati. The Bengals are allowing opponents to throw for 216.33 yards a game (ninth in the NFL). The Bengals are also allowing 4.85 yards a play -- and more importantly, 6.42 yards a pass attempt, which ranks fifth in the league. In other words, Stafford could have some issues Sunday against Cincinnati.

Release back to normal: With Calvin Johnson still hobbled with his knee injury but playing, Stafford was back to normal with his quick release times out of the pocket. That’s critical because it took a major hit (essentially half a second) when Johnson didn’t play.

Prediction: Johnson’s health -- or lack of it -- will still be a factor for Detroit and Stafford this week, but the receiver drops are a bigger concern. That won’t change, and Stafford will be hurt by it, seeing his receivers drop five passes, taking him from a 300-yard day to a 250-yard one with two touchdowns.

QB Watch: Philadelphia Eagles

October, 16, 2013
10/16/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly analysis of the Eagles’ quarterback play.

Foles
Vick
Vick
Rewind: Setting aside the Nick Foles/Michael Vick comparisons for a second, let’s look at how Foles did against Tampa Bay’s defense compared to others who have faced it.

Foles: 22-for-31, 296 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INT, 31 points.

Drew Brees: 26-for-46, 322 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT, 16 points.

Tom Brady: 25-for-36, 225 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 23 points.

The point is not that Foles belongs in a conversation with those quarterbacks just yet -- merely that it’s worth holding either Eagles quarterback to the NFL standard for performance. Against the same defense, Foles was comparable or better than two of the best.

Fast-forward: The Dallas Cowboys have allowed more than 30 points and 400 passing yards to Eli Manning, Philip Rivers (OK, 394) and Peyton Manning. Clearly, their secondary is vulnerable to a smart, accurate quarterback. Foles has the added benefit of having faced a Tampa 2 defense. Monte Kiffin doesn’t run exactly the same style in Dallas, but he’s the trunk of that tree.

Uncertainty principle: For the second week in a row, there will be doubt and speculation about the status of Michael Vick’s hamstring and the identity of the Eagles’ starter. For the second week in a row, it appears likely that Foles will get the start as the Eagles and Vick avoid the risk of turning a two-week injury into a six-week injury.

Prediction: It is one thing to win a shootout against Mike Glennon in Tampa, quite another to win one against Tony Romo. Foles will be under more pressure to score points this week. It is also unlikely that he will continue to play mistake-free football. Still, expect Foles (or Vick, should he get the nod) to do enough to keep the Eagles in what figures to be another NFC East touchdown-fest.

QB Watch: Giants' Eli Manning

October, 16, 2013
10/16/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly analysis of the New York Giants' quarterback play.

Manning
Rewind: In his and his fans' worst nightmares, no one could have imagined Eli Manning would throw interceptions on each of the Giants' first two possessions Thursday night against the Bears in Chicago. But after throwing three in a span of nine fourth-quarter throws four days earlier in a loss to the Eagles, Manning did just that, and the second was returned for a touchdown that put the Giants in an early 7-0 hole. Manning settled down a fair bit after that, aided significantly by Brandon Jacobs, John Conner and the running game, and he finished with 239 yards and a touchdown on 14-of-26 passing. But his third interception of the game (and league-leading 15th of the season) came with the Giants driving for the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter, and sealed their sixth straight loss.

Fast-forward: Manning and the Giants face the Minnesota Vikings on "Monday Night Football" at MetLife Stadium. The Vikings are allowing 308 passing yards per game (only the Eagles and the Broncos allow more) and have just 10 sacks this season (only the Bears, Steelers and Giants have fewer). They have intercepted seven passes in five games, which isn't bad, but if there's a silver lining for Manning, it's that the Vikings haven't pressured quarterbacks consistently.

Chasing history: Manning's 15 interceptions through six games put him on pace for 40, which would challenge the league's single-season record of 42, set by George Blanda in 1962. The closest anyone's come to that figure in the last half-century is the 35 interceptions Vinny Testaverde threw for the 1988 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Prediction: I'm not going to go so far as to predict a Giants win, because that just feels silly at this point. But I do think Manning will throw for 300 yards and two touchdowns and only one interception in this game.

QB Watch: Cardinals' Carson Palmer

October, 16, 2013
10/16/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly analysis of the Arizona Cardinals' quarterback play.

Palmer
Rewind: For about the opening nine minutes Sunday, Carson Palmer looked like nothing had changed from prior weeks. He threw two interceptions before the clock ticked past six minutes, and the offense was again stagnant. But then, whether it was luck or skill, most likely a combination of both, Palmer threaded a pass to receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who took it 75 yards for a touchdown. Palmer came to life. He looked like a different quarterback the final 50 minutes despite the loss. It could be a one-hit wonder. No one will know if Palmer turned the corner in San Francisco until Thursday night against the Seahawks.

I went low and was OK with my prediction. I said Palmer would throw for 165 yards and a touchdown. He tossed for 298 and two scores while throwing 41 times.

Fast-forward: In the Seahawks, Palmer will go up against the toughest secondary he's faced this season. Seattle is allowing just 188 passing yards a game, second best in the NFL, and its 5.77 passing yards per play is fourth best. Palmer won’t be able to take chances like he did against San Francisco, especially against a secondary that’s tall. Corners Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner are 6-foot-3 and 6-4, respectively. Strong safety Kam Chancellor is 6-3, while free safety Earl Thomas is 5-10. All four players have a wing span of 6-2 or wider.

Not under duress: Besides making better decisions, one key to Palmer’s success is not getting pressured. He was 21-for-25 passing for 262 yards and a touchdown when he had time to throw, according to Pro Football Focus. The offensive line held up, not allowing a pressure on 25 of 42 dropbacks. That will be a determining factor Thursday night as the Seahawks come in with a tough defensive line that’s getting stronger.

Prediction: I don’t think Palmer has completely outrun the shadows of the proverbial corner. He’ll still make bad decisions, but finding a rhythm is all about confidence and Palmer showed some of his confidence returned Sunday. I’ll say 225 yards and two TDs.

QB Watch: Rams' Sam Bradford

October, 16, 2013
10/16/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly examination of the St. Louis Rams' quarterback play.

Rewind: Sam Bradford attempted 16 passes against Houston on Sunday, but he made them all count as he completed 12 for 117 yards and three touchdowns. The result was a career-high quarterback rating of 134.6.

Bradford
Bradford
Those numbers could have been even better had receiver Chris Givens held on to a deep pass that almost certainly would have gone for a touchdown.

Bradford has been in a good groove the past two weeks, throwing six touchdowns and continuing to take care of the ball with no interceptions. His 13 touchdown passes are tied for fourth in the NFL through the first six weeks.

Fast-forward: Bradford and the offense figure to have a difficult test on Sunday, but then the Houston matchup looked tough on paper as well, and the Rams moved the ball fairly easily against the Texans.

Carolina is particularly stout against the run, which could complicate things for Bradford and the Rams. The Rams’ recent surge in the run game has opened things up for Bradford and the pass game, but the onus to throw more could weigh more heavily because of the Panthers' ability to slow the run.

Handling pressure: Before Sunday's game, Bradford hadn’t exactly been productive when defenses brought extra pass-rushers. He turned that around against the Texans, completing all eight of his pass attempts in such scenarios, with all three of his touchdowns coming against the blitz.

Prediction: Bradford faces another tough test on the road this week, but he’s shown a consistent ability to take care of the ball and has taken advantage of teams having to respect the running game. His numbers aren’t likely to be eye-popping, but if he can protect the ball and deliver against pressure again, the Rams could be in position to add another tally to the most important stat of all: victories.

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