His passer rating is 29 points higher than Peyton Manning's and he's got twice as many touchdown passes. Quick, which NFL quarterback am I talking about?
Washington's Jason Campbell is quickly turning into a polished leader instead of one of those middle- to late-round fantasy "settle for" pick-ups.
His average draft position in leagues run by ESPN.com was 122.2 and though all four starting QBs in the rugged NFC East rank among the top dozen in passer rating, it's Campbell leading the way at 102.2, ahead of his more high-profile opponents. Dallas' Tony Romo, with an average draft position of 17.5, is sixth in passer rating at 99.0; Philadelphia's Donovan McNabb, selected an average of 56.4, ranks eighth at 95.7; and Eli Manning of the New York Giants, picked at 80.1, ranks 12th with 91.1.
Campbell's owners can certainly tell you that the first quarter of the season has been mmmm, mmmm, good.
So why has the same guy who struggled with 22 TDs and 17 interceptions over the past two seasons suddenly emerged? Receiver Santana Moss is one big reason. With 27 catches for 421 yards and three scores, he's on pace to have the finest year of his eight-season NFL career.
"You can see [Campbell's] confidence increasing . . . from game to game," tight end Chris Cooley told ESPN. "And the confidence guys have in him."
Campbell has six TDs and no picks, and he's thrown for 745 of his 878 yards since an opening-night road loss to the Giants. He faces another big test Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, who rank 11th in passing defense, at Lincoln Financial Field, where he excelled in '07 (16 of 29, 209 yards and a score) in a 20-12 Redskins victory.
Sorting the Bills
After allowing just 23 points in their first two games, the Arizona Cardinals have surrendered 80 in their last two -- both on the road -- to drop to 27th in the NFL in scoring defense at 25.8 points per contest.
But the Cards are still a very respectable ninth in total defense (305.8 yards per game) and just two spots below the Bills (280.5), who have allowed 40 fewer points. Arizona is 16th against the pass (204.5) and tied for 14th versus the run (101.2).
Three of four opposing passers have failed to hit the 200-yard mark against Arizona, which hasn't allowed a back to reach the 100-yard plateau, either. Of course all that good work pales when balanced against the six touchdown passes allowed to the Jets' Brett Favre last Sunday.
The teams don't have much history but the Bills have won the last four and the Cardinals were still based in St. Louis when they last defeated Buffalo, by 37-7 in 1984. The Bills have averaged 38 points in the last three games against Arizona and have had two backs surpass the century mark -- Willis McGahee (102 yards in 2004) and Thurman Thomas (112 in '90).
Bills quarterback Trent Edwards and running back Marshawn Lynch had nice games in their last trips to Arizona, while playing in the Pacific-10 Conference. As a junior at Stanford, Edwards was 16 of 26 for 137 yards with two scores and no picks in 2005 and while a junior at California in '06, Lynch carried 16 times for 102 yards.
Since you asked
Q: Since I have [Pittsburgh's] Willie Parker as my second starting running back, I picked Rashard Mendenhall off the waiver wire and he got hurt last week. Is it worth dipping all the way down to Mewelde Moore this week or should I try to make a trade?
A: Jacksonville is middle of the road against the run (tied for 14th, allowing 101.2 yards per game) so it's possible Moore could be of help. Picking him up is a better option than pulling the trigger on a panic deal.
Week Four eye-popper
When I saw in the box score that Oakland's Sebastian Janikowski had missed a 76-yard field goal attempt against San Diego, my first thought was "typographical error." But then I saw the video of his try, which was way short, just before halftime.
The league's official records for field goal attempts are sketchy, but the only attempt I could find that was nearly as long was by Washington's Mark Moseley, the last full-time straight-on kicker in the NFL, against Houston in 1979 -- from 74 yards on a free kick following a fair catch.