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Raiders DE Derrick Burgess continues to put up great numbers. But what has been so interesting to me is the fact that Burgess, with 13 sacks for the season, has recorded sacks in only seven games. He's been an all or nothing player. In six games, he has recorded exactly two sacks. In the other seven games he has only one sack…

The Raiders DTs were given credit early on for Burgess' success, but it doesn't explain these kinds of numbers. It hasn't always been this easy for Burgess. Foot injuries and then a torn Achilles tendon forced him to miss almost all of the 2002 and 2003 seasons. The Raiders, who spent $17.5 million signing Burgess, hoped he'd be the player that was drafted in the third round in 2001 and had six sacks his rookie season. Or better yet, the Raiders hoped Burgess would be the player that sacked Michael Vick twice last year in the NFC Championship game, both sacks coming without the benefit of a blitz…

The Raiders sorely needed help getting to the passer and Burgess has provided that help. When he was signed, some thought that he would provide the kind of spark on defense that Moss would provide on offense. They were wrong, but only because Moss hasn't provided any spark on offense. Burgess had two more sacks Sunday in their loss to the Jets…

The Jets DE John Abraham had two sacks in the game, both of which forced fumbles. Sometimes Abraham looks like he isn't even in the game and sometimes he dominates like few others. I'd be frustrated by him if I were a Jets fan…

Browns LBs Andra Davis and Ben Taylor have had consistent and productive seasons. Taylor has 99 total tackles, although 32 of them have been assisted. And Davis is a top 20 LB in IDP leagues, with 124 total tackles in a year reminiscent of 2003…

While the Bengals CB Deltha O'Neal leads the NFL in interceptions with nine, it was his lack of an interception that almost cost his team Sunday. With Cleveland moving the ball down by three points, they had a third and ten at the Cincy 12 yard line. QB Charlie Frye threw towards Frisman Jackson but O'Neal was there for the sure INT and possible long return. O'Neal dropped the pass and the Browns tied up the game with a field goal. Luckily for O'Neal, the Bengals scored a FG on the next drive for the win…

Bengals DE Justin Smith started off this season very slowly. He's been a bit of a disappointment in his career, especially as it pertains to his sacks numbers. He was drafted as the fourth pick overall in the 2001 draft and had 8.5 sacks his rookie year. He has yet to match that number…

Smith started this season with only two sacks in the first nine games, but he has turned things around a bit, with three total sacks in the last four games. And he always gets a solid share of tackles for a defensive lineman…

Sunday's 26-18 win over Jacksonville was the first time all year long that the Colts did not record a single sack…

After getting 4.5 sacks in his team's first six games, Jaguars DE Reggie Hayward did not get to the quarterback again in the following six games. In fact, he rarely got to anybody. Prior to Sunday, Hayward had only one total tackle in each of the previous five games. On Sunday, he finally turned things around with 5-0 tackles and a pair of sacks…

Don't underestimate the impact of Jaguars LB Daryl Smith on his team's success. Although his tackle numbers are only 68-10 on the season, his consistent and cagey play has helped Jacksonville become a 9-4 team. The tackles flow to star MLB Mike Peterson in this defense, but Smith is an integral part of the unit nonetheless…

Rams DE Leonard Little missed two games in October after his brother was shot to death in an argument. Since his return, Little has not had a sack in five games, although his tackle numbers have been very consistent. Little has been battling bone spurs in his ankle which will require surgery after the season, and he hurt his knee Sunday, so stay tuned for more news there. No matter how you look at it, Little is not the dominant pass rusher he was from 2001 to 2003…

In three games since replacing injured DT Kevin Williams, rookie Vikings DT C.J. Mosley has 11-3 tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble. In the 11 games prior to that, Williams had 16-10 tackles, one sack and no forced fumbles…

The Bears look like they will really miss safety Mike Brown if he is down an extended time with a pulled calf muscle. Mike Green stepped in for Brown and failed miserably, but then the Bears brought in rookie Brandon McGowan, who came up big with 9-2 tackles. But Brown's absence was clearly felt as the Bears gave up 190 rushing yards against the Steelers. There are hints that Brown might be out a little longer and if so, McGowan could put up some impressive numbers, as Green and Todd Johnson did not impress…

With two more sacks Sunday, Titans DE Kyle Vanden Bosch should have a big payday in store in the offseason. His 12.5 sacks are just behind the 13 held by NFL leader Derrick Burgess. After only having four sacks in his first four seasons combined, the change has been impressive to say the least. He signed a one-year deal with Tennessee in the offseason and they'll have to pony up some big league cash in order to keep Vanden Bosch around next year…

Bills LB London Fletcher has 79 total tackles, three sacks and an interception in his last five games. Unreal…

With a sack Sunday, Bills DE Aaron Schobel has eight sacks in the last seven games…

After missing half of 2004 due to injury, I was one of those that thought Giants DE Michael Strahan had seen his better days and would be in the waning moments of his Hall of Fame career. The glory is not over, though, as Strahan has been playing superbly. He had two more sacks Sunday to give him 11.5 for the year…

While the Eagles may continue to flounder, safety Michael Lewis is putting up the best numbers of his career. He already has a career high in total tackles and is on pace for 110…

The best defensive player on a Seahawks team that is crushing opponents lately might be rookie LB Lofa Tatupu. He had 3-1 tackles Sunday, but added a sack and an interception. In his last five games he has 42 tackles, 2.5 sacks and two interceptions…

Redskins CB Carlos Rogers is really coming around and has 23 total tackles and a pair of interceptions in the last three games…

Many people believed that when Dolphins LB Zach Thomas missed time due to injury, rookie Channing Crowder would step in and put up huge numbers. Instead, he seemed to take a step backwards. Zach Thomas returned to the lineup Sunday and suddenly Crowder had a season high 9-1 tackles. I guess there's something to be said for having a star player take away the focus of the opposition. Of course, Thomas topped Crowder with 9-2 tackles. Clearly, Crowder is not quite ready to take over for Thomas…

Although Baltimore LB Adalius Thomas does not get the most tackles amongst LBs, his six sacks this year are only two behind the NFL leader amongst LBs in Clark Haggans. And Thomas' consistent tackle numbers are good enough for him to be a starter for most IDP leagues…

After getting 114 tackles his rookie season, it was hard not to think that Bronco's LB D.J. Williams would be a perennial All Pro in this league. With the return of Ian Gold to the team, and Gold moving to weak side linebacker, Williams went to the strong side and his numbers have suffered because of it. Williams will be lucky if he gets half the numbers he had last year…

I swear sometimes I think the NFL players read my article. Last week, I wrote about how Lions DE James Hall has not been the same as last year when he had 11.5 sacks, basically saying he had been a disappointment. Hall went off with 10-1 tackles and a sack Sunday. It's a rare game when a DE gets double digit tackles…

I like Saints DBs Dwight Smith and Josh Bullocks as much as anyone. Smith has been a proven NFL starter since the 2003 season with Tampa Bay and Bullocks is one of the more talented rookie DBs this year and should have a long career ahead of him. But they didn't look good in that play against Atlanta Monday night when RB Warrick Dunn took the snap and flipped it to QB Michael Vick who then preceded to toss it 50 yards in the air towards WR Roddy White. The attempt Bullocks and Smith made on the ball was strictly keystone cops…

Until next week…

Please e-mail me with any feedback or comments at baker@footballguys.com.

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