Sure, Peyton Manning(notes) may have lost his head coach, his all-time favorite receiver and the guy who was supposed to replace his favorite receiver, but those things haven't really inconvenienced him yet.
On Sunday, Manning threw for 353 yards and two touchdowns against the Seahawks. He's topped 300 passing yards in every game this season – and with a pair of winless teams up next on the schedule (TEN, STL), the streak might not be threatened until November.
The main beneficiaries of Manning's binge have of course been the universally owned Reggie Wayne(notes) (6-74-1 vs. SEA) and Dallas Clark(notes) (8-80). But widely available rookie Austin Collie(notes) caught six passes for 65 yards and a high-quality touchdown against Seattle, and Pierre Garcon(notes) has delivered at least one highlight per game.
It doesn't matter what you take away from the Indianapolis attack, because that team backfills as well as any franchise in the NFL. The Colts are 4-0 and the schedule doesn't really get scary until Weeks 10 and 11 (vs. NE, at BAL). Prepare for at least another month of unchecked Manning dominance.
Oh, and Eli is 4-0, too. He's thrown eight TD passes and he's averaging 259.8 passing yards per game. And he gets Oakland next. If you're in a two-quarterback league, this would be a fine year to use the double-Manning formation.
• If the Saints are going to have a serious defense this year, that's just not fair. They forced Mark Sanchez(notes) into four turnovers on Sunday, two of which became touchdowns. New Orleans is undefeated after four weeks and they haven't yet trailed in any game. Facing the Jets' exceptional defense, Pierre Thomas(notes) demonstrated that he's an every-week play. PT carried 19 times for 86 yards and a 1-yard TD, and he led the Saints in receiving with four catches for 46 yards. Mike Bell(notes), you're dismissed. Thanks for Weeks 1 and 2.
• The winless Rams were shutout on Sunday for the second time this season, and they allowed three defensive scores against them. This might not be rock bottom, either. They'll get Minnesota, Jacksonville, Indianapolis and Detroit in the weeks ahead, in case you're wondering which DEFs to stream.
• Glen Coffee(notes) had a double-digit fantasy day for the Niners (74 rush, 32 receiving), although he didn't quite justify the rank. He was battling not just the Rams, but also the Freak Show Curse. Forgive him. Keep him in the rotation next week against Atlanta. The Falcons have allowed 4.7 yards per carry and 136.0 per game.
• In Jim Schwartz's postgame comments, after detailing all the things his team didn't do over the final 30 minutes, he offered this: "Their trainer was probably even better than ours in the second half." And it could be true. Early word from NFL Network is that Devin Hester(notes) (neck/shoulder) is "expected to be fine after the team's bye," but that Matthew Stafford(notes) may have dislocated his right kneecap.
• Dallas receivers are excellent at demanding pass-interference calls after incompletions and drops, but they don't seem to be skilled in many other areas. Tony Romo(notes) will need to be deadly accurate with that group, and he certainly wasn't today. Marion Barber's(notes) bulldozing short-yardage score (pictured below, video here at 1:01) apparently finished him. Tashard Choice(notes) had the fourth quarter closer's role…but if anyone blew the save, it was Terence Newman(notes). Check the clip of Brandon Marshall's(notes) 51-yard fourth quarter TD. Newman missed the ball, then missed the tackle (though he was not alone in missing tackles).
• Ronnie Brown(notes) and Ricky Williams(notes) combined for 200 rushing yards and three TDs against the Bills, who apparently didn't see a run-heavy attack coming with Chad Henne(notes) at QB for Miami.
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• If you doubted Marion Barber heading into Week 4, it's understandable. Weekend reports suggested that Tashard Choice was going to take the featured role against Denver, as MBIII was slowed by an injured quad.
But nothing appeared to be wrong with Barber on his 1-yard TD in the first quarter, as he plowed through a pile of Broncos. He had 66 total yards on 12 touches at halftime. That short-yardage score may have been the toughest yard anyone gained all day.
• Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez accounted for two touchdowns in the second quarter, but they both belonged to the Saints. Darren Sharper(notes) picked off a thoroughly telegraphed pass and returned 99 yards for a score. (Highlight here. Note the cheap, unnecessary shot that Sanchez delivered to Jonathan Vilma's(notes) knee on the return). Soon after, Sanchez found himself drifting aimlessly in his own end zone, where he was stripped by Will Smith(notes). Multiple Saints fell on the ball; Remi Ayodele(notes) gets credit for the TD.
• It's almost funny that there was a time when we thought Terrell Owens vs. Roy Williams was an interesting debate. There's a battle that had no winner. Those two may not find themselves ranked near Steve Smith or Mike Sims-Walker(notes) ever again.
• If you started the Niners defense this week, congratulations. Early in the fourth quarter, they're at three TDs and counting. Everyone's preseason sleeper, Josh Morgan(notes), has a 24-yard touchdown catch, but he whiffed on another. In his short career, Morgan has dropped at least as many TDs as he's caught.
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Forte began his day with a 61-yard carry and ended it with a 37-yard touchdown run. Those two plays accounted for most of his fantasy scoring as Forte gained 140 total yards on just 14 touches. He can't help you next week, though, because the Bears have a bye. The Lions offer their services to the Steelers.
• Matthew Stafford injured his right knee in Detroit's loss to Chicago, twisting it unnaturally on a sack by Adewale Ogunleye(notes). He seemed cheerful enough on the sidelines, but he was clearly in pain on the field, and the knee was heavily wrapped. Stay tuned. The rookie had an imperfect yet useful day, throwing for 296 yards and one TD.
• Eli Manning(notes) suffered a non-contact injury to his right heel in the Giants' 27-16 win over the Chiefs. He remained in the game just long enough to throw a short wide receiver screen to Hakeem Nicks(notes), then he watched the rookie take it 54 yards to the end zone. (Video here. That was a well-blocked play, featuring at least two crafty moves by Nicks). Human tackling sled David Carr(notes) took over for Manning, though the game's outcome was already decided.
• Browns rookie Mohamed Massaquoi(notes) caught eight passes for 148 yards from Derek Anderson(notes), Jerome Harrison(notes) gained 121 yards on the ground and Shaun Rogers(notes) somehow blocked two kicks…and still Cleveland lost to Cincinnati, 23-20. Cleveland's offense scored more touchdowns on Sunday (two) than they'd scored in their previous nine games (one).
• Oakland managed only 45 total rushing yards against Houston's defense. Throughout the early weeks, the Texans have made good running backs look like superstars, and they've made superstar running backs look like Jim Brown. Today, they made Darren McFadden(notes) look like Garo Yepremian. DMC finished with six carries for -3 yards.
• Kerry Collins(notes) picked up a few fantasy points during garbage time (also known as Jim Everett time), throwing for one TD and rushing for another in the second half. Nate Washington(notes) has now caught touchdown passes in three straight. David Garrard(notes) had an outstanding day against Tennessee's easily manipulated pass defense, finishing with 323 yards and three TDs on 37 attempts. Mike Sims-Walker caught seven balls for 91 yards and two scores. (One of the TDs was a replay gift, oddly explained by the ref. See below).
• On Friday's Freak Show, we described Bears receiver Johnny Knox(notes) as "DeSean Jackson Lite." His feet are crazy-quick and he can do plenty of damage on short, unthreatening routes. Knox borrowed from the D-Jax playbook against the Lions, taking the second half kickoff 102 yards for a score. (Video).
• That Baltimore-New England game really deserved a better ending. Mark Clayton(notes) dropped a perfect strike from Joe Flacco(notes) on fourth down in the red zone, finishing off the Ravens. Per their usual, both Ray Rice(notes) (152 total yards) and Willis McGahee(notes) (24 yards, TD) had useful fantasy days. Randy Moss(notes) finally crossed the goal line for New England, but it was an otherwise quiet day for him (3-50-1).
If New England would have lost – and that was a clear possibility, pre-Clayton – punter Chris Hanson(notes) would have deserved a share of the blame. No excuse for putting that kick in the end zone from the 39 with 3:32 remaining.
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• Welcome to the 2009 season, Steve Slaton(notes). You're a few weeks late. Slaton outraced the user-friendly Oakland defense on a pair of long second quarter TDs. He has 72 total yards on 13 touches at half. After an early fumble – Slaton's fourth of the year – the fantasy community had every reason to be concerned, but No. 20 has rebounded nicely.
As for the Raiders running game, well…all is not OK.
Darren McFadden has carried three times for -5 yards against the league's most generous run defense. Houston entered the week allowing 205.0 rushing yards per game; they'll exit the week looking much better.
• Cleveland's defense opened in sell-out-to-stop-the-run formation, hoping to inconvenience Cedric Benson(notes) and the Cincinnati ground game. The Bengals countered with play-action for an easy 19-yard strike to Daniel Coats(notes). Carson Palmer(notes) led a nice drive (4-for-5, 68 yards), but it stalled in the red zone, then Shaun Rogers blocked a field goal for the millionth time. (OK, ninth time).
• Jay Cutler(notes) went airborne for the Bears first touchdown against Detroit, pinwheeling over the goal line at the conclusion of a 5-yard rushing TD. Matt Forte has carried five times for 71 yards, but Chicago has looked elsewhere in the red zone so far. Tight ends Kellen Davis(notes) and Greg Olsen(notes) each have short-yardage TD catches. Troubling news for the Bears: Devin Hester is out with a shoulder injury.
• Until this season, we've referred to Carolina's Steve Smith as, simply, "Steve Smith." When discussing the Giants receiver with the same name, we typically write "Steve Smith (NYG)." But it's time to flip the switch. There's a new Alpha Steve, and he has a pair of first half touchdowns against the Chiefs. So from now on: "Steve Smith (CAR)."
• Colts receiver Pierre Garcon made a degree-of-difficulty grab on a sideline route early in the first quarter, picking up 25 yards against respectable Seattle coverage. He took a shot from Jordan Babineaux(notes) immediately after the catch, too. Indy's first drive ended with a Donald Brown(notes) TD plunge.
• Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Johnson(notes) got himself on the board early, firing an 8-yard strike to Antonio Bryant(notes) off play-action. The Bucs' early TD was set-up by a Jason Campbell(notes) fumble, following a sack. Campbell has three first half turnovers…and it could actually be worse.
• Chad Ochocinco(notes) made a brilliant one-handed catch for the Bengals only offensive touchdown in the first half. Highlight here, via NFL.com. Cincinnati's defense added a 75-yard fumble return TD.
• If you enjoy watching the opposing team convert on third-and-10 – or you enjoy brutal penalties that keep drives alive – then it's a great day to be a Bears fan. Fortunately for Chicago, Matthew Stafford had a rookie moment early in the second quarter, firing a ball into the arms of DT Tommie Harris(notes) while under pressure deep in his own territory. The pick set up the Bears' third TD. With the exception of that play, however, Stafford has been plenty impressive (14-for-23, 221 yards, TD, 20 rush). His touchdown pass to Will Heller(notes) was a dart.
• Upon further review, Jacksonville receiver Mike Sims-Walker picked up a second touchdown. While explaining that Sims-Walker possessed the football in the end zone on his 15-yard score, the official told us that the receiver had "three feet down." A third foot seems like an unfair advantage, something for the rules committee to review.
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Last call on Kerry Collins (24 percent-owned, at JAC), Mewelde Moore(notes) (10 percent, vs. SD), Nate Washington (29 percent, at JAC) and the Cincinnati defense (43 percent, at CLE). In all likelihood, it's too late for Tashard Choice (48 percent, at DEN) and Glen Coffee (65 percent, vs. STL).
Please check back with Sunday Scene for updates and recommendations throughout the day. And use caution applying face paint. Maybe wear a smock. Protect the Okoye throwback.
Photos via Getty Images (Chiefs fans), US Presswire (Slaton, Manning) and AP Images (Forte, Barber)