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Scouting Notebook: No Pat answer

Michael Salfino
Yahoo Sports

I take strong stances here, but I have to say I love to be wrong because that's when you learn things. And what fun would it be if we could sit back and know everything that happened? There's such a wide variance in performance from week to week and so many moving parts on both teams that at times we can't even deconstruct what happened after the fact.

The thing I really got wrong this week and especially when taking Twitter questions to @MichaelSalfino wasn't controversial or contrarian enough to make a big deal about. The Steelers defense just couldn't match up against the Patriots offense. That seemed written in the stars. Oops. I have to watch the short cuts on Tuesday to get at the bottom of it. But the Steelers controlled the game and the ball all day. Meanwhile, Tom Brady(notes) looked out of sorts, which we're not used to seeing. And their defense couldn't get off the field and will have their hands full with the Giants and Eli Manning(notes) next week though they get a big break if Hakeem Nicks(notes) (hamstring) can't play.

Ben Roethlisberger(notes) picked the Patriots apart with Peyton Manning(notes)-precision (remember him?). Pittsburgh sure didn't seem to miss Hines Ward(notes), did they? I really like Antonio Brown(notes), who finds the empty spaces from the slot. In fact the entire Steelers receiver corps is excellent (Ward is fourth best).

St. Louis beat the Saints? That's crazy. Steven Jackson looked vintage. But I do not believe at all and would be looking for a buyer, pronto. A.J. Feeley(notes) had a higher QB rating than Drew Brees(notes)? On any given Sunday, people. That's why we keep coming back for more of this great game. How does Chris Ivory get almost as many carries (six) as Pierre Thomas(notes)? We need to get to the bottom of Sean Payton's problem with Thomas.

For a 30-27 game, there's not much to talk about with Arizona-Baltimore. My opinion didn't change at all in this one. Still don't trust Joe Flacco(notes). Kevin Kolb(notes) doesn't even look average. The Cardinals can't defend the pass so buy into Anquan Boldin(notes) at your risk.

Cam Newton(notes) – I have no more words. He needs to win some games, but he showed real leadership and maturity in blaming the whole team instead of throwing the kicker under the bus. You really want to have drafted Steve Smith late in a keeper league because he has about two or three great years left with Newton.

I wouldn't bench/waive DeAngelo Williams(notes), but it's not crazy in most formats. The ingredients are here for him to play well. Newton should hurt the goal-line back more. His running threat should keep defensive ends wide as they worry about boot action and thus create bigger holes for Williams's explosive runs. Plus Stewart really messed up late in pass protection and almost got Newton killed, so maybe that swings the carries next week.

The Panthers play terrible defense, but we grade on a curve with rookie QBs, so Christian Ponder(notes) gets a hat tip here.

Nate Washington(notes) is probably a No. 2-level fantasy wideout now in 12-team leagues at least. Is he more valuable than Chris Johnson? Sorry that's a cheap shot, Johnson owners. I have no answers for you. If you can't bust out against the Colts, who are you going to bust out against?

I'm Tebowing a prayer that Tim Tebow's(notes) days as a NFL QB are numbered. Over, actually. He is an insult to the game and its standing as a meritocracy. Playing a guy because he's popular with people who share his faith and even because of what he did in college is simply un-American. When you think about it, Tebow stunk on Sunday for just a few minutes more than he normally does. So it should have surprised no one.

Put all the Bills except for Fred Jackson(notes) in the cupboard next week when Buffalo is at home against the Jets. Darrelle Revis(notes) has allowed a QB rating of 2.9 and if you want to tag him for that Wes Welker(notes) play, it goes all the way up to 11 on all of his 2011 targets. The other problem is that the Bills have an underneath passing game and you can't beat the Jets coverage that way.

Fred Davis(notes) has to be played every week, no matter how bad the rest of the Redskins are. Mike Shanahan didn't eve try to run Roy Helu(notes). This means nothing for next week. Ryan Torain(notes) was just a body out there.

The Bengals were 40-to-1 to win the North after their hot start. I know at least one sharp who put that into his 2011 portfolio. Alas, that ship has sailed. Cincy is a good team that has to play around the rookie quarterback a little but not entirely. And its defense is top notch, as we've been noting all year in Football by the Numbers.

Frank Gore(notes) is in the perfect environment – like Jamal Lewis(notes) first with the Ravens and now Ray Rice(notes). Everything on offense flows through him and the defense keeps the running game in play all game every week.

Michael Salfino writes and edits the SNYWhyGuys blog that projects player and team performance for New Yorkers. He's also a quantative sports analyst whose writing regularly appears in the Wall Street Journal.

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