NFL Mismatches: Week 5

Updated: October 4, 2002, 2:00 PM ET
By by Ryan Early
Each week we preview one matchup per game that is such a mismatch that it should make an impact on the game, either through its exploitation or by changing a team's plans to try to compensate. Week 4 in the NFL proved that old catchphrase "Any team can win on any given Sunday," with of course the Bengals being the exception that proves the rule. Injuries and benchings have drastically changed the make-up of some teams leading to this week's biggest mismatches.

Dolphins RB Ricky Williams vs. Patriots MLB Tedy Bruschi
and DT Steve Martin

Before last Sunday these two teams looked like the most dominating in the league. After this Sunday one of them will have lost two games in a row. The Dolphins have struggled against the pass but Patrick Surtain returns this week and will give them a major boost. The Patriots' defense has been exposed against the run and there's no way for the Pats 'brain trust to scheme their way out of it. New England's defensive line is just getting physically beat man to man, with DT Richard Seymour getting the majority of double-teams, and the Patriot linebackers have been left flat footed by elite running backs. Against LaDainian Tomlinson and the Chargers last week, the Pats gave up 238 rushing yards. The week before against Priest Holmes and the Chiefs, 221. Williams is certainly in Tomlinson and Holmes' class, especially after losing 15 pounds in the offseason to gain more explosiveness. In fact, his 5.6 yards per rush is higher than both Tomlinson and Holmes, and he hasn't had the benefit of playing the Pats' run defense yet.