You can argue the best receiver in the NFL into the night and make strong cases for Jimmy Smith, Marvin Harrison, Isaac Bruce and Randy Moss.
But if you base the argument strictly on production and not reputation, it'd be hard to argue against Torry Holt of the St. Louis Rams. He has rung up 100 yards in four of his last five games, dating to the Super Bowl. In that five-game stretch, he has caught 26 passes for 596 yards and three touchdowns. That's an average of 22.9 yards per catch. He leads the NFL this season with an average of 25.6 yards per catch.
In the pocket: The San Diego Chargers will start their third different quarterback in three weeks when Jim Harbaugh takes the snaps Sunday against the St. Louis Rams. Ryan Leaf started last week against Seattle, and Moses Moreno the week before against Kansas City. The last team to start three different quarterbacks in three weeks was Jacksonville in December 1998. The Jaguars went 1-2 in that stretch. They beat Detroit with Mark Brunell, then lost to Tennessee with Jamie Martin and Minnesota with Jonathan Quinn. The Chargers are 0-2 with Moreno and Leaf and a 17-point underdog at St. Louis with Harbaugh.
Observation deck: 1. No wonder Mike Shanahan was so upset after Denver's home loss to Kansas City last week. He called it the second-worst defeat of his career, after the Jacksonville playoff loss in 1996. Had the Broncos won, they'd have moved into first place in the AFC West and put themselves in a position to run away with the division in the next four weeks. In order, the Broncos play New England at home, San Diego away, Cleveland at home and Cincinnati away teams that are a combined 2-13. With a victory over the Chiefs, the Broncos would have been looking at a 7-1 start.
With that loss to the Chiefs, the 2-2 Broncos are in third place. They trail 3-1 Oakland in the standings and also 2-2 Kansas City because the Chiefs now hold the head-to-head tie-breaker.
2. Speaking of the Chiefs, keep an eye on running back Frank Moreau. He could soon become the fourth member of their draft Class of 2000 to start.
3. Don't be surprised if San Francisco tries to trade wide receiver Terrell Owens at the end of the season.
Draft watch: Adam Archuleta is an All-Pac-10 outside linebacker who projects as a safety in the NFL because of his size. History is on his side. Darren Woodson and Pat Tillman also played outside linebacker for the Sun Devils and now start in the NFC East at safety, Woodson for the Cowboys and Tillman the Cardinals. The top prospects at safety for the 2001 draft: Derek Gibson, Florida State; Jarrod Cooper, Kansas State and Terrence Carroll, Oregon.
Bye week: New Orleans has the NFL's third leading receiver, sixth-leading rusher and a Top 5 defense.
Yet the Saints flounder at the bottom of the NFL's worst division with a 1-3 record. Blame special teams and Saints coach Jim Haslett used the bye week to try to fix the problem.
The Saints have allowed three touchdowns on kick returns this season and had a fourth nullified by penalty.
"We've tried new faces," Haslett said, "and we're going to try more new faces."