This week marks week 5 in the NFL regular season and that means 3 pro bowl talents have returned to their respective teams effective Monday. Like a kid who just got out of detention, they’re all eager to return and make an impact in the minimum 12 games remaining. Here’s a quick breakdown on how they should fair and how they will impact their current teams.
Santonio Holmes, WR, Jets: Surprisingly the Jets passing attack has been severely improved over the past few games and Mark Sanchez has definitely shown vast improvement despite a rough first week where the Jets offense looked static. Adding a pro bowler like Holmes will do nothing but improve that passing attack and gives Sanchez a much better vertical threat than Braylon Edwards (who’s not a serious deep threat at all). Holmes might get slowly worked into the rotation but it shouldn’t take long for him to assert himself as Sanchez’s go-to receiver. He’s easily the most talented and offers something that the rest of the Jets receivers seem to be lacking: speed.
Predicted Stats: 54 catches, 707 yards receiving, 3 TDs
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: Merry Christmas to everyone on Pittsburgh’s offense; your leader is back. While Charlie Batch did an admirable job getting Pittsburgh to a 3-1 record, their defense did a lot of the work and deserves a good amount of credit. The return of Big Ben immediately opens up the offense and makes it a more vertical attack. Rashad Mendenhall will immediately benefit from defenses not being able to stack 8 in the box and Mike Wallace will especially benefit now that he has a QB who likes to go for it all (no pun intended). Roethlisberger does tend to be turnover prone, but he’s much more akin to the big play which benefits the Steelers overall in the long run. Pittsburgh goes from a playoff team to a Super Bowl contender by getting Big Ben back.
Predicted Stats: 2,423 yards passing, 17 TDs, 7 INTs
Brian Cushing, LB, Texans: It’s crazy for most people to think Houston is 3-1 so far this season. It’s even crazier to think that they did this without their all pro linebacker. Cushing’s intensity has been missed and he will immediately start on the strong side moving Zach Diles back over to weak side. His biggest impact will be in the passing game where he can rush the pass and also drop back in coverage. Houston has given up a significant amount of passing yards, but surprisingly a high amount of those are to tight ends and running backs (about 46% of all yards allowed). His presence should help lower these numbers. Cushing is also the most effective linebacker Houston has when it comes to rushing the passer. Houston’s run defense is already 2nd in the NFL so his main benefit will come in the passing game.
Predicted Stats: 85 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 INT, 1 FF