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Monday, November 11, 2002
Updated: November 12, 1:02 PM ET
Starting job should be Warner's

By Joe Theismann
Special to

ESPN analyst Joe Theismann answers key questions about NFL Week 10:

1. If Kurt Warner is healthy enough, should the St. Louis Rams start him instead of Marc Bulger next week?
There is no question that Warner should be the Rams' starting quarterback because he has won two of the last three NFL MVP awards and a Super Bowl title.

If Warner's broken finger is well enough to allow him to play next Monday against Chicago, head coach Mike Martz should start him and give him the whole game. But if Warner struggles as he did before he was injured, I don't think Martz would shy away from pulling the trigger and inserting Marc Bulger as the quarterback the following week.

The Rams have won four in a row with Bulger as the starter, and Warner, with one TD pass and eight interceptions, was a big reason for their 0-5 start. Martz will do whatever he needs to do to win football games. I expect Warner to play better, but if he doesn't, Martz will have a big decision to make the following week.

2. How do you see the AFC East shaking out?
I like the New England Patriots to win the division -- for now. The Patriots' defense, while not at its best, found a way to win Sunday. Offensively, they seem to have found a rhythm. Overall, the Patriots are beginning to play good football again.

The Dolphins, however, have the best shot at a wild-card berth, but they have to go three more weeks without Jay Fiedler. They have to find a way to win without Fiedler in order to stay in the race. Once Fiedler comes back, they will feel a more comfortable and confident, but they have to get to 10-6 somehow.

3. At this point, are the Green Bay Packers the NFC team to beat?
The Packers are the best team in football, not just the NFC. When people talk about the league MVP, the names thrown into the mix are Priest Holmes, Brett Favre, Marshall Faulk and Drew Bledsoe. But I would add Packers' Donald Driver to the list. He has been phenomenal for the Packers, making big plays the last three weeks.

In addition, Terry Glenn has done what the Packers hoped he would do, Bubba Franks has been tough, and Favre is -- well -- Favre. Although the defense has lost players to injury, the Packers have proven they have the depth to sustain and win games.

The Philadelphia Eagles were once considered the NFC's best, but the Indianapolis Colts exposed the Eagles' defense against the run. The Colts, with a less than star-studded defense, were also able to put pressure on Donovan McNabb. While Peyton Manning made some great throws, the Eagles needed to double-team Marvin Harrison. They didn't, and he scored two big touchdowns.

When the Eagles win, they seem to win ugly. The Packers don't win ugly. They may have ugly moments, but they have far more good ones each game.

4. Should we be concerned with the Eagles' struggles against seemingly inferior teams?
I think the Eagles took the Colts too lightly and weren't as mentally prepared as they would have been if they had been playing the Rams or the Giants.

The Eagles feel like they are one of the best teams in football, and the Colts looked bad against Washington the previous week. But no team can be taken lightly in today's NFL. There is no longer a case one team being too good and the other being too bad.

Every good team hits a bad stretch that lasts one, two or three games during a season. And despite the loss to Indianapolis, the Eagles are still one of the NFC's top three teams.

A game analyst for ESPN's Sunday Night Football, former NFL QB Joe Theismann won a Super Bowl and a league MVP award. He reviews the NFL each week for in Cup o' Joe.