If you've been following the Cincinnati Bengals' offense during the first
three weeks, it shouldn't be much of a surprise to learn that T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Johnson have had more opportunities to catch passes than
the rest of the receivers in the NFL. The Bengals have been averaging 301 yards per game passing, second-best in the league this season.
Quarterback Carson Palmer has
tossed 46 passes to Houshmandzadeh while targeting Johnson 40 times during the
first three weeks. While Houshmandzadeh has pulled in a league-leading 29 receptions (4 TDs) versus 25 (3 TDs) by
Johnson, it's "Ocho Cinco" who is doing the most damage in yardage,
piling up a league-best 442 yards at a 17.7-yards-per-catch clip. And he's moving the chains
on an impressive 96 percent of his catches -- 24 total first-down receptions, tops in the league.
Next up for the Bengals' deadly duo are the New England Patriots on Monday
night. It's worth noting that Johnson's averaging
just three yards per catch after the reception putting him in a tie for 95th place in that category, so the Patriots should be more worried about him coming down with the ball than what he'd be doing with it afterwards.
Miami's Chris Chambers is currently third in the NFL as a targeted
receiver with 39 passes thrown his way. He's got a healthy 14.4 yards-per-catch average with just over 71 percent of his catches accounting for a new set of downs for the Dolphins. Despite the solid stats and establishing himself as
Trent Green's favorite receiver, Chambers hasn't pulled in a touchdown pass
yet. That could change this week as he faces the Oakland Raiders
Ravens WR Derrick Mason
In Baltimore, Derrick Mason is making his presence felt with 23
catches out of 37 passes that have been thrown his way. But Mason's modest
9.1-yards per catch is second-lowest (to Houshmandzadeh's 9.0) out of the top 25
targeted receivers after three weeks of action. He's caught one
touchdown, but has no receptions of at least 25 yards. When the Ravens show up
in Cleveland this weekend, the Browns should be more concerned about Mason as a
quick-release, underneath pass threat than as a long-ball threat. He's helped
move the chains 11 times over the first three weeks.
Detroit quarterback Jon Kitna has been airing out the ball nicely so far this
season and his target of choice is Roy Williams. He's tried to connect
with the 6-foot-3, 211-pound receiver 35 times -- fifth-most in the league. Williams has responded with a 16.8-yards-per-catch average, buoyed in part by his 192 yards that he's tacked on after the catch (second-best in the league), including a
91-yard touchdown. He has a total of three touchdown catches as he heads into
Week 4 action at home against the Chicago Bears.
Here are the other receivers who are leading the league as favorite targets
and the teams that they'll be facing this weekend:
6. Antonio Gates (Chargers) - He's second in the league
with an eye-popping 27 catches out of 33 opportunities. The Chargers host the
7t. Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald - With 32 targets each so
far, Boldin has made more of his opportunities, catching 22 balls (3 TDs)
compared to just 15 (0 TDs) by Fitzgerald. Boldin is tied with Chad Johnson for most receptions of 25 yards or more with five so far. The Cardinals host the undefeated
7t. Donald Driver - Targeted 32 times (20 catches) he's gained
129 of his 265 receiving yards after the catch. The Packers head to Minnesota
10t. Kevin Curtis - He's caught just 17 of 30 passes, but he's the only one on this list to make it into the top ten in yards-per-catch average (17.8). He's caught three passes for gains of 25 yards or more, including a 68-yard touchdown strike. The
Eagles make the short jaunt to Giants Stadium for a Sunday night matchup.
10t. Javon Walker - Despite 30 opportunities, he hasn't scored a
TD or caught a long pass out of his 19 receptions. The Broncos head to
Indianapolis for a late-afternoon matchup with the World Champs.
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