Week 12 NFL & Fantasy Preview

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On the 12th Week of Football, My True Love Gave To Me….

Another weekend of football has come and gone, and so has another week’s worth of (insert player coming off of a great victory) for MVP discussions. I’ll never understand why the media insists on attempting to give out end-of-season awards well before the season has ended. Remember back in September when we started engraving the offensive rookie of the year award with Jahvid Best’s name? He hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 2 and his average YPC for the season is worse than all 45 qualified running backs not named Chester Taylor. With an extra two months of watching games under our belts, I’m still not sure whether the Offensive ROY award should go to Sam Bradford, Mike Williams, or Dez Bryant; but I do know it shouldn’t go to Jahvid Best.

If there’s anything that the BCS does right, it’s that it doesn’t come out until the season is more than 50% complete, giving it a theoretically large enough sample size to pass accurate judgment. The NFL coverage certainly didn’t wait that long to begin its revolving door of well-publicized MVP candidates. After Week 7, the talking heads started worshipping Eli Manning and the 5-2 New York Football Giants. The following week, the Giants had a bye, and everyone shifted their love and adoration to Darren McFadden. In Week 9, the Packers crushed the Cowboys on Sunday night and Aaron Rodgers was thrust into the MVP discussions. Heaven forbid we forget about last week’s bid by Michael Vick to apparently become the greatest player in the history of the world. And now today, I go to espn.com to see a front page story advertising Philip Rivers as the new MVP candidate. I think it’s about time the NFL comes up with some sort of committee or computer system to rank the candidates for the end of season awards, because this is getting out of hand.

Rather than writing ad nauseum about why I don’t think Rivers deserves it, I’ll simply state my major grievance: too many losses. I hate to admit it, but I like Philip Rivers, and if you want to argue that he should be the offensive player of the year, I would at least put him in consideration at this point with Arian Foster and Roddy White. But I simply can’t support Rivers for MVP, especially since they would have fewer losses if he would have played like an MVP candidate at the end of games against Kansas City, Seattle, and Oakland. You can blame the special teams all you want, but if Rivers were really an MVP, he wins at least one of those games, if not all three. You can have the passing figures that come from playing from behind, but I’ll take the game winning drives by Josh Freeman or Mark Sanchez over the back-breaking 4th quarter debacles by Rivers.

The last time the NFL MVP’s team suffered more than 4 losses was in 2002. The Chargers lost 5 of their first 7 games and still have a couple of difficult games on their schedule. However, If they win out to get to 11-5, and he continues to put up Marino-like numbers, there’s at least a viable possibility he gets the award; but as was my case last week with Vick, let’s reserve judgment until the end of the season to see if things play out the way they almost need to in order for him to be a real candidate.

Lest you think I simply hate on anyone who plays well, I’ll give you my list of players on the teams with 3 or fewer losses who are legitimate MVP candidates.

Off the board: Chicago (7-3): Julius Peppers or Brian Urlacher?

Their MVP sure as hell isn’t Jay Cutler or Matt Forte. It probably isn’t worth thinking about because even if the Bears inexplicably win out, the award would almost certainly go to a representative from another team, but it’s worth noting for the 3rd consecutive week that the Bears haven’t allowed an opposing team to score more than 23 points in a game yet this season, and now stand as the only team which can make that claim. The irony is that they allowed an average of 23.4 ppg last season, so you almost have to give the credit to either the big defensive end free agent acquisition or the face-of-the-franchise linebacker who missed 98% of last season with an injury.

#10. Baltimore Ravens (7-3): Joe Flacco – 206/330, 2433 yards, 16 TD, 7 INT.
#9. Tampa Bay (7-3): Josh Freeman – 177/290, 2099 yards, 14 TD, 5 INT. 236 rushing yards.
#8. New York Jets (8-2): Mark Sanchez – 185/336, 2306 yards, 15 TD, 7 INT.

One of these teams is bound to finish with 12 wins, which means one of these quarterbacks is bound to be an MVP candidate. Let’s deal with Tampa Bay first. They still have games against Baltimore, Atlanta, and New Orleans, so multiple losses are likely. Unlike Chicago, however, if Tampa Bay were to win out against a very difficult schedule or even win the NFC South with a 12-4 record, I think you absolutely have to consider Freeman. I doubt many people even expected the Buccaneers to win 4 games, yet Freeman has already orchestrated 4 game-winning 4th quarter drives and came up just short of a 5th on the road against the Falcons. I still don’t really believe in Tampa Bay, because only one of their 7 wins has come against a team that currently has more than 3 wins, and that was a miracle win against the 4-6 Rams, but if they do the unthinkable down the stretch, Bill Simmons and I will be chanting “Jaaaash Freeman for MVP!”

Everyone was expecting the Ravens and Jets to do well this season, so Flacco and Sanchez don’t have the underdog appeal that Freeman has, but they have similar stats and have similarly been leading their teams well in the 4th quarter of close games. Playing in New York and coming from USC, Sanchez obviously gets much more publicity than the other two guys, but I lump these three guys together as one under rated quarterback who is probably going to finish top 4 in the MVP voting despite not making the Pro Bowl.

#7. Philadelphia (7-3): Michael Vick – 120/191, 1608 yards, 11 TD, 0 INT. 375 rushing yards, 5 TD.

If he plays well against the Bears this week…
If he tears up the Texans next week…
If he stays healthy…
If he doesn’t start throwing interceptions…
If the Eagles win at least 4 of their final 6 games…

He’s like the bizarro Boise State Broncos in that he’s significantly behind other people in the “standings,” but he really controls his own destiny. There are a lot of ifs, but that game against the Redskins last week apparently put him in such good favors with everyone in the league that as long as he doesn’t crap the bed one week and plays well in the games that he should, he’s got a good shot. I just don’t think there’s any way that happens.

#6. Pittsburgh (7-3): James Harrison – 69 tackles, 9 sacks, 2 INT, 5 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery
#5. Green Bay (7-3): Clay Matthews – 36 tackles, 11.5 sacks, 1 INT (TD), 1 forced fumble

A defensive player hasn’t been given the MVP award in 24 years, but neither of these teams is 7-3 if not for these game-changing linebackers. Harrison’s numbers are a little better, but since the refs are out to get him and because he has Polamalu also wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks, I like Matthews better. There are a handful of guys on defense who single-handedly command your attention whether you’re a player, coach, or spectator, and these are two of them.

#4. New Orleans (7-3): Drew Brees – 290/417, 2969 yards, 22 TD, 14 INT.

If it weren’t for all the interceptions, he’d be higher on the list, and the Saints would be at least 9-1. Unfortunately, he isn’t, and neither are they.

#3. Atlanta (8-2): Matt Ryan – 212/338, 2265 yards, 16 TD, 5 INT.

Another Flacco/Freeman type of guy whose numbers won’t blow you away, yet he simply carries his team to victory. This is what we all expected from him last year with the addition of Tony Gonzalez, but with Turner banged up for much of the season, opposing defenses were able to focus on stopping the passing game. With Turner staying healthy thus far, the entire offense has looked healthy enough to mix it up and move the ball at will. I’d rather have Flacco or Freeman, but Matty Ice is the one who will most likely finish the season on a 12-4 team.

#2. Indianapolis (6-4): Peyton Manning – Stats don’t matter (286/438, 3059 yards, 20 TD, 7 INT.)

He’s the only person in NFL history with 4 or more MVP awards, so he’s automatically a top 5 candidate, even if the team already has 4 losses, and the whole “He’s never done more with less!” argument is really gaining steam. If the Colts can overcome the heartbreakers they’ve already suffered and finish the season 5-1, I think it’s infinitely more likely that an 11-5 Peyton Manning wins the MVP than an 11-5 Philip Rivers.

#1. New England (8-2): Tom Brady – 215/329, 2362 yards, 19 TD, 4 INT.

The ideal description of an MVP: Best player on the best team in the league; a team that would probably be out of the playoff picture without him.

One last thing before I jump into Eliminator picks: I apologize if you played Randy Moss this past weekend, but I still think he’s a buy-low candidate for the rest of the season. Rusty Smith is going to be starting this weekend against the worst pass defense in the NFL, and he threw it in Moss’ direction on 3 of his first 4 attempts on Sunday. Bad QBs continuously throw balls to good wide receivers; it’s why Owens, Fitzgerald, Marshall, Ochocinco, and Calvin Johnson are each in the top 10 in the league in targets. I’m pretty sure he’ll keep trying to force the ball to Moss, and while he might get picked off in the process, if you force something long enough, you’ll eventually score. Just ask Roethlisberger.

Eliminator Suggestions:

Dincher lost his bid for perfection last week by blatantly refusing to read my post and picking the Bengals over the Bills, even though Buffalo was my upset pick and he still had the Chargers available to use. Very disappointing. At least my roommate is still one of the 7,850 people still alive in the ESPN Eliminator Challenge. I hope he keeps it up so I have an excuse to keep making suggestions. I lost my #4 pick last week in the form of the Tennessee Titans and fell to 35-9 on the season. It’s going to be a tough week…

This week’s picks brought to you by Paul Rudd:

#4. New England @ Detroit

“You nicknamed me Pistol, and I just called you…’Joben’…it means nothing…I don’t…I’m drunk…I’m gonna call a cab.” – Peter Klaven. I can feel myself wavering on this pick, but I can’t stop myself from going with it. According to my power rankings, it’s the best team in the league against the 29th best team in the league. That should be the easiest pick ever. So why am I worried about picking the road team in a short week game? I’m just going to lock this in and run away.

#3. New York Jets vs. Cincinnati

“Of course it’s horrible. It’s suffering and it’s pain and it’s…You know, you lose weight and then you put back on weight…but that’s just love.” – David in 40 Year Old Virgin. I think that pretty much sums up how every die hard Jets fan has felt by the end of each of their past 6 games, but Mark Sanchez has found ways to win most of those games. Meanwhile, I would imagine most Bengals fans are thinking: “I dated this woman…wait. Let me rephrase that. I dated this whore for like two years…and then she stomped all over my heart.” It’s been a long, long time since 2005 and 2006 Carson Palmer was in town. I’ll take the most clutch QB of the season over the least clutch QB of the past 4 seasons every time.

#2. Indianapolis vs. San Diego

“They’ve done studies you know. 60% of the time it works every time.” – Brian Fantana. Peyton Manning after a loss + home + night game = a Colts win.

#1. Cleveland vs. Carolina

“Why did you put ‘presence’ in quotes? Are you implying that we aren’t here?” – Danny in Role Models. I legitimately think Oregon could beat the Panthers right now. I can’t wait to see what Peyton Hillis does in this game.

The Commish’s NFL Upset of the Week:

Buffalo +6 vs. Pittsburgh

I can’t decide if this line is deceptively high or deceptively low, but either way, I feel pretty good about Buffalo for the 2nd consecutive week. In their past 5 games, the Bills have won twice, lost twice in overtime to potential playoff teams, and somehow lost a game in which both teams had 3 touchdowns, no safeties, and no field goals. They haven’t lost by more than 3 points since Week 5, and Fitzpatrick and Johnson have connected for at least 8 receptions and 137 yards in 3 of their past 5 games. Are you really going to bet against a team on a hot streak at home? Not to mention I’ve nailed 6 consecutive upset picks. If I had actually bet those games on the money line, I would be buying much nicer Christmas gifts this year.

Fantasy League Standings:

#1. Miller’s Chiefs (8-3) 1317 points
#2. Montgomery’s Rams (7-4) 1185 points
#3. Meyers’ Cowboys (7-4) 1169 points
#4. Garland’s Giants (7-4) 1166 points
#5. Duncan’s Packers (6-5) 1248 points
#6. Nelson’s Steelers (6-5) 1184 points

~~~~~~~~~~Playoff Cut Line~~~~~~~~~~

#7. Harshbarger’s Chargers (6-5) 1056 points
#8. A’s Bengals (5-6) 1258 points
#9. Gideon’s Bears (5-6) 1138 points
#10. Yelen’s Texans (5-6) 961 points
#11. Dincher’s Dolphins (4-7) 1221 points
#12. O’Neill’s Buccaneers (4-7) 1175 points
#13. Travelpiece’s 49ers (4-7) 1119 points
#14. Damn’s Bills (3-8) 902 points

Don’t look now, but Mr. Yelen has taken 3 straight weeks against the lowest scoring team in the league and turned them into an accidental late-season playoff push. Realistically, I think Damn, Travelpiece, O’Neill, and Yelen are finished. I’m not giving up on Dincher’s team yet, though. Of his remaining games, 2 of them are against teams standing directly in between him and 6th place in the standings. If he’s able to beat me this week he’s still got a shot (and let’s face it, I owe him one…ever since I beat him by 0.3 points, I’ve been undefeated and he hadn’t won a game until this past week.) He doesn’t quite control his own destiny, but he’s 4th in the league in scoring and would probably be 2nd or 3rd after 3 straight wins, which would almost assure him the edge in a tie-breaker. There are several games in our league this week that will go a long way to determine whether or not 7-7 is a viable playoff record.

********Games of the Week********

~~~~~~~~Blowout of the Week~~~~~~~~

Montgomery’s Rams (7-4) over Harshbarger’s Chargers (6-5)

Suggested Line-Ups:

StL: Orton, Gore, Rice, Hightower, Megatron, Ward, Keller, Bears D, Crosby

Vs.

SD: Freeman, Blount, Jacobs, St. Johnson, Jennings, Holmes, H. Miller, Raiders D, Scobee

Harshbarger put up serious numbers last week, but they came almost entirely from his wide receivers (100.5 of his 137.4 points). You can’t count on that kind of production from wide receivers. If you don’t believe me, go ask Dincher: his wide receivers looked great at the beginning of the season, but nowadays he can barely buy a receiving touchdown. And it’s not as if Harshbarger can expect much production out of Freeman or Blount against the Ravens this week, so he’s going to have to rely on Steve Johnson to bail him out and keep his playoff hopes alive again. That isn’t exactly promising. Still, I’d like this pick a lot better if Montgomery could upgrade from Hightower to anything, but at the moment, that’s his best option. Final: StL 129-89.

~~~~~~~~Upset of the Week~~~~~~~~

I don’t like to write about the same team in back to back weeks. You would think this severely limits my options, but until this week, it wasn’t a problem. Last week I said my team would be upset (I was wrong) and I said O’Neill’s team would beat Dincher’s team in the game of the week (also wrong), so even though I definitely think Dincher will upset me and that O’Neill will upset Meyers, I’m going to have to talk myself into another game altogether. Being that I’ve already picked my Blowout and have my Game of the Week in mind, I’ve only got 3 options left, and I’m not convinced there’s an upset in any of them. In light of this fact, I will do 2 games of the week, with one in the traditional breakdown style, and the other in the 5 reasons & an X-Factor Upset style.

~~~~~~~~Game(s) of the Week~~~~~~~~

Duncan’s Packers (6-5) vs. Garland’s Giants (7-4)

Suggested Line-Ups:

GB: Cassel, Mendenhall, Benson, TB Williams, Boldin, Rice, Gates, Titans D, Rackers

Vs.

NYG: Eli Manning, CJ2K, S. Jackson, Bryant, Maclin, Crabtree, Hernandez, Rams D, Akers

The loser certainly isn’t out of it, but I think this is a Win And You’re In type of game between the 2 teams I predicted to finish atop the NFC in the preseason.

Breakdown:

QB: If you’re Garland, I don’t care what the projections say, you have to go with Eli. I’m sure the experts are afraid he’ll be less effective with Manningham and Hagan as his top options, but playing against the 29th ranked defense should help significantly. Regardless of who he’s throwing to, he’s still going to throw it 30+ times like he has in 9 of his 10 games thus far this season. Regardless of what my upset pick says, you have to realistically assume the Bills will struggle against one of the best teams in the NFL. At least for Duncan there’s no dilemma. With the way Cassel has been playing the past 3 weeks and the way the Seahawks have been defending the pass all season, he’s a borderline must-start even if your second option wasn’t on the IR. My gut says Cassel has a better day than Manning, but it won’t be by much. Slight edge: Duncan.

RB: This is no contest. Mendenhall should do well against the Bills, but Benson is going to be eaten alive on Thursday night by the Jets D. For Garland, if Steven Jackson is ever going to have a top tier running back type of game, this is the week against the hapless Broncos. And if the Titans are going to try to control the ball in any way, shape, or form, Chris Johnson is going to get at least 25 touches…unless he cuts a few drives short by breaking them for long scores. I imagine Jackson outscores Mendenhall and Benson by himself, so Duncan is basically going to have to make up elsewhere for what Chris Johnson does here. That’s no small task. Huge edge: Garland.

WR: In my suggested line-ups, I omitted Miles Austin from Duncan’s squad and Brandon Marshall from Garland’s, and this wasn’t a mistake. As far as Austin is concerned, the Cowboys are playing against New Orleans, which is easily the worst thing you want to see as a fantasy wide receiver. Put it this way: the Seahawks wide receivers scored 44.6 fantasy points against them last week and they’ll STILL the #1 defense; that’s how good they’ve been against the deep ball to this point in the season. Combine that with the fact that Kitna just hasn’t been looking Austin’s way as much as you would hope, and I think Duncan would be better off without him in the line-up. Some people would kill for Austin right about now, but when you can start Mike Williams, Sidney Rice, and Anquan Boldin and still have Johnny Knox on the bench, who needs to play a struggling wide receiver against the best fantasy secondary? For Garland, I like benching Marshall for two reasons: the obvious being that he’s been pitiful lately and is questionable to even play, the not so obvious reason being that it gives him the opportunity to play Michael Crabtree…on Monday night. Duncan keeps finding ways to lose on Monday night, so if you’re capable of playing someone in the last game of the week against him, you have to do it. Oh by the way, Duncan’s wide receivers should outscore Garland’s by about a dozen.

TE/Def: Duncan has 2 injured Charger tight ends and a Titans D that is likely to get blown out by Houston this week. Ick. I’ll lean towards the Ravens. Edge: Garland.

Final: It’ll come down to how much Chris Johnson can do, but seeing as how I think he’ll have a great game, I think Garland ekes this one out and takes over 1st place in the NFC. NYG 117-112.

Nelson’s Steelers (6-5) over Yelen’s Texans (5-6)

Suggested Line-Ups:

PIT: Vick, McFadden, Wells, Washington, Colston, Wallace, Witten, Steelers D, Vinatieri

Vs.

HOU: Roethlisberger, Bradshaw, Woodhead, Thomas, White, Massaquoi, Z. Miller, Eagles D, Feely

I think more than any other game this week, this game dictates whether 8-6 or 7-7 will be good enough to advance to the playoffs. If Nelson wins, there will be at least 5 and possibly even 7 teams in our league with at least 7 wins, which makes it incredibly unlikely that a .500 record will cut the mustard. If Yelen wins and a few other games fall into the right places, we could conceivably be heading into next week with 4 teams at 8-4, 6 teams at 6-6, and Dincher lurking at 5-7, and from there it’s anybody’s ball game…except for Damn…his ball game is long gone. Come to the draft next year. Douche.

Allow me to give you 5 reasons why I think 8-6 is our playoff cut line once again:

#1. Mike Wallace nullifies Roethlisberger’s scoring.

Ben has 12 touchdown passes this season: 6 of them have gone to Mike Wallace. Your hopes of winning are significantly diminished when you can’t really count on your quarterback to outscore one of your opponent’s wide receivers.

#2. Yelen’s token white receiver won’t do anything.

Rumor has it Collie is out again this weekend, so Blair White is probably a sexier option than Brian Hartline, but neither guy can be counted on for more than 6 points this weekend.

#3. Darren McFadden will bounce back.

He struggled in his past two games against Pittsburgh and Kansas City, but he will be heavily relied upon to carry them to victory against the Dolphins.

#4. Mohamed Massaquoi isn’t going to play that well.

If a guy like Calvin Johnson or Roddy White goes down with an injury, it’s safe to assume that some other receiver on the team will see a significant increase in targets. When a guy like Josh Cribbs who was 5th on his team in targets goes down with an injury, it’s silly to assume the guy who was 4th on the team in targets is going to put up significantly better numbers than he has all season. Cleveland is going to win, but it’s going to be because of Peyton Hillis.

#5. Marques Colston will terrorize Dallas.

The Cowboys may be winning games now, but they still aren’t doing much to slow down opposing wide receivers. Big turkey day for Marques.

X-Factor: Michael Vick. Duh.

Final: Yelen’s streak of only needing 80 points to win will come to an abrupt halt. Pit: 111-87.

 

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Week 11 NFL & Fantasy Preview

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Ron Mexico for MVP? Really?

Everybody needs to calm down about Michael Vick. He is a special talent and a unique quarterback who is playing his type of game better than anyone since Randall Cunningham, so I’m not going to sit here and tell you he didn’t have a great game or that he hasn’t been having a much better season than anyone could have possibly expected. However, there are a few things we need to think about before everyone hands him the NFL MVP, if it isn’t already too late: 

#1. The Redskins secondary is terrible.

Matt Stafford threw for 4 TDs against them. Matt Schaub threw for 500 yards and 3 TDs against them. The only reason opposing quarterbacks aren’t averaging a QB rating of 100+ against them is because of the time Jay Cutler threw the ball to DeAngelo Hall 4 times. Even if the Redskins had a remotely respectable defense, it was raining all night which makes it even more difficult for the defense to find the footing to react to quick moves by guys like Vick and Jackson. Even Jerome Harrison ran for 10 yards per carry and over 100 yards against them. They just weren’t keeping up with anyone in green and white.

#2. Look at who he’s played against.

I don’t particularly like to play the “look at who they’ve played against” card when trying to determine power rankings and whether or not an entire team is better than another entire team, but with individual offensive players, it’s a little more legitimate to take a look at the defenses they’ve competed against. When looking at the Eagles’ schedule, make sure you look at who Michael Vick actually played against, because his ribs injury got him out of playing against the likes of Atlanta and Tennessee. The best team he’s played an entire game against was the Colts in Week 9, they aren’t even in the top 50% of the NFL against the pass, and he had a relatively mediocre game. If he can put up respectable numbers against the Giants and the Bears in the next 2 weeks, I will do a complete 360 and at least say he’s probably worth the hype this year, but let’s wait until he plays more than a couple of full games and plays them against decent teams before we name him Top Dog (abuser) in the NFL.

#3. It was just the capstone to a statistically crazy week.

Prior to this weekend, there were a total of 13 performances by quarterbacks in which they scored 30 or more fantasy points (based on my league’s scoring system), which averages out to 1.44 per week. This weekend there were 9 such games. Every team scored at least 12 points, which hadn’t happened in a week yet this season. In Week 1, there were 585 points scored. Even though there were 4 teams on a bye this week, there were 727 points scored. That’s insane. Last year the average amount of points scored in a game was just over 42, whereas this past week the average was just under 52. I mean, come on: Troy Smith threw for 356 yards and Matt effing Cassel threw for 469 yards and 4 TDs. It was just one of those crazy stat-padding weeks across the board where all the right strengths matched up with all the right weaknesses, culminating in one of the top 5 QBs in the NFC going up against the worst secondary in the NFC on Monday night.

In light of all the hoopla over the Sunday and Monday night games, here are a few things I realized on Sunday afternoon which really flew under the radar:

The Cleveland Browns are possibly the best 3-6 team in the history of the league.

8 of their 9 games have come against potential playoff teams, and they’ve played all of them tough except for one game where they just came out flat and never really had a shot on the road in Colt McCoy’s first career game against a Steelers team coming off a bye and celebrating the triumphant return of their persuasive messiah. The Vikings and 49ers are sitting at 3-6 as well, but they have just been absolutely disappointing, whereas the Browns have played more competitively than any of us expected. If they continue to play with the vigor that we’ve seen thus far, they might be sitting at 8-6 after a 5 game stretch against some very average opponents.

Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman continue to find ways to win games.

The Jets have not looked good since Week 4, but they’ve managed to go 4-1 since then. Josh Freeman hasn’t thrown for more than 280 yards in a game yet this season, but the Bucs are somehow 6-3. If you’re starting a new franchise today, these guys are going somewhere in the top 6 with Rivers, Rodgers, Matt Ryan, and Joe Flacco, and yet they’re both behind Kyle Orton and Carson Palmer in fantasy point production? If there are 2 changes that need to be made to the quarterback position in fantasy football, it’s that you need to be credited points for wins and that throwing a pick six needs to count against you big time. I say a win is worth 7 points and that the yardage and touchdowns coming from interceptions should count against you just as much as passing yardage and touchdowns count for you. I can’t be the only one who feels this way. Sanchez and Freeman each have 6+ wins and half a dozen or less interceptions, and there is no way they should be ranked behind Carson Palmer’s 2 wins and 11 interceptions, 3 of which have been returned for a TD.

Randy Moss had 1 catch for 26 yards.

In a week where virtually every team had an amazing offensive game, I just wanted to point out what a pathetic game he had in his first affair with the Titans. If you need help in a fantasy league, see if you can’t buy low on Moss, because 4 of his next 5 games are against Jacksonville (29th against the pass), Washington (31st against the pass), and 2 games against the Texans (last in the NFL against the pass). He’s going to have multiple games with multiple touchdowns and 125+ yards in the next few weeks. Having him on your team may be the difference between winning your league and finishing in 8th place.

Power Rankings

It’s been several weeks since I posted my power rankings, so here they are without any commentary. If you’d like to argue my rankings, that’s why you’re allowed to comment, and I encourage it.

Hopelessly out of it:
32. Carolina
31. Cincinnati
30. Buffalo
29. Detroit
28. Denver
27. Dallas

Would be hopelessly out of it if they were in the AFC:
26. Arizona
25. Washington
24. Seattle
23. San Francisco

Definitely going to win a few more games:
22. Cleveland
21. Houston
20. St. Louis
19. Minnesota

Surprisingly still contending:
18. Chicago
17. Kansas City
16. Tampa Bay
15. Jacksonville
14. Miami
13. Tennessee
12. Oakland

They always find a way:
11. San Diego
10. New York Giants
9. Indianapolis

One of them has to make the Super Bowl:
8. New Orleans
7. Green Bay
6. Atlanta
5. Philadelphia

One of them has to win the Super Bowl:
4. Pittsburgh
3. New York Jets
2. Baltimore
1. New England

Eliminator Suggestions:

With those power rankings in mind, let’s see if I can’t recommend some good ones this week. I missed the Cowboys/Giants game last week, but who didn’t? At least I had them at #3 and was able to sell most of you on Tampa and Indy. After last week’s performance, I’m now 32-8. Not half bad. I’ll try to get it up to 36-8, though.

#4. Tennessee vs. Washington

As I said 3 weeks ago: ”I’m late to this party, but Jeff Fisher owns the NFC, and should destroy Washington when they play his Titans in week 11.” It helps that Washington played like a JV squad on Monday night and will also be playing on short rest for this game. This is definitely one of Moss’s aforementioned huge games.

#3. Pittsburgh vs. Oakland

This is me still not buying into Oakland. This is the start of their slide into a 7-9 season. This is a West Coast team playing a 1:00 game. This is Rashard Mendenhall against a pathetic rush defense. This is Pittsburgh wanting to prove they’re a dominant defense regardless of Sunday night’s performance. This is Nnamdi Asomugha playing through pain and trailing Mike Wallace by a step on a couple of deep balls. This is Roethlisberger’s return to excellence. This is not Sparta.

#2. San Diego vs. Denver

I could try to continue to sell you on the fact that home teams following a bye week are now 12-3 this season, but instead I’ll just tell you that as a fan of an AFC West team who’s been forced to watch San Diego win the division for what feels like 67 consecutive seasons, I know that this is a game they will not lose. Everybody else in the gambling world has been struggling immensely with the AFC West, but I’ve been absolutely nailing it since Week 4, including 3 of my 5 upset picks, and not only will San Diego win this game, but they’ll cover the 9.5 spread. Seriously, they’re going to win this thing like 42-17.

#1. New Orleans vs. Seattle

I cannot make heads or tails of this Seahawks team because their performance from week to week is the flip of a coin. What I do know is that they run the ball poorly and they are terrible against the pass. If they have a strength, it’s either when Hasselbeck decides to play well or when Leon Washington returns multiple kickoffs for touchdowns. Unfortunately for Seattle and fortunately for anyone who still has New Orleans available to choose this week, those special teams plays are completely unpredictable and the Saints are one of the best teams in the league against the pass. They are also one of the most proficient passing teams in the league, so they should be able to stop Hasselbeck; the Seahawks run game should stop itself; and Brees should be able to pick apart the defense at will. Did I mention New Orleans is a home team following a bye week?! I won’t get to use that line for another 46 weeks, so enjoy it while it lasts. FYI: New Orleans eliminated me several weeks ago and is more than likely responsible for the eliminator deaths of more people than any other team in the NFL, but if you can ignore the fact that they inexplicably lost to Arizona and Cleveland and damn near lost at home to Carolina, you have to go with them. They’re getting hot and they’re well rested and I wish I had saved them until now.

The Commish’s NFL Upset of the Week:

Buffalo +5.5 @ Cincinnati

Bill Simmons has taken credit for the “Law of Gus” as of late, but I actually tweeted him about it back before Week 2: “A word to the wise, including @sportsguy33 and @MatthewBerryTMR, Gus Johnson is announcing the Jax/SD game. +7.5 sounds pretty good.” Now, I was wrong, and San Diego beat the pants off of Jacksonville, but the games he’s been announcing the past several weeks have all come right down to the wire. I remember turning on the Bills/Chiefs game maybe 2 minutes into the first quarter and realizing that not only was Dexter McCluster not playing, but Gus Johnson was announcing the game. Had I known those 2 things 10 minutes earlier, I would’ve bet many many dollars on Buffalo +7.5. Oh well. If you don’t know who Gus Johnson is, you should be ashamed of yourself, and you should watch at least these 3 clips, if not every single Gus Johnson clip on youtube:

If that shit doesn’t get you pumped about college basketball, especially the 3rd one when Crawford hit the 3 at the end of the 1st overtime, you just don’t have a pulse and probably shouldn’t read anything that I have to write between January and April.

Well guess what? Gus Johnson is announcing this game, so it’s all but guaranteed to be a nail biter. Even before I knew that, I was strongly considering making this my upset pick just because of how much I hate Carson Palmer. But then I was thinking this might be a classic game for Carson Palmer to pad his stats against a bad team to somehow end the season as a top 6 QB in the AFC. But I gotta go with Gus. I can already hear it: 15 seconds to play…Fitzpatrick’s going to have to hurry…he drops back…fires…for the end ZONE…AND STEVE JOHNSON MAKES THE LEAPING GRAB!!!…The Bills take a 3 point lead with 7 seconds to play!…*insert Gus Johnson cackle*

Fantasy League Standings:

#1. Miller’s Chiefs (7-3) 1173.2 points
#2. Montgomery’s Rams (7-3) 1081 points
#3. Duncan’s Packers (6-4) 1144.6 points
#4. Nelson’s Steelers (6-4) 1057.1 points
#5. Garland’s Giants (6-4) 1050.6 points
#6. Meyers’ Cowboys (6-4) 1047.4 points

~~~~~~~~~~Playoff Cut Line~~~~~~~~~~

#7. A’s Bengals (5-5) 1136.5 points
#8. Gideon’s Bears (5-5) 1037.2 points
#9. Harshbarger’s Chargers (5-5) 919 points
#10. O’Neill’s Buccaneers (4-6) 1062.5 points
#11. Yelen’s Texans (4-6) 841.9 points
#12. Dincher’s Dolphins (3-7) 1089.2 points
#13. Travelpiece’s 49ers (3-7) 1013.5 points
#14. Damn’s Bills (3-7) 823.2 points

Four games left in the regular season, and the last place team could still technically finish in first place. As is usually the case for us at this point in the season, it’s looking like 8 may be the magic number to get into the playoffs, so even if you’re sitting at .500, you’re still in pretty decent shape. Since we’ve reached the point in the season where every game is critical for everyone, I thought about doing the same thing as I did last year by adding 1 game to each category, but I’m going to wait 1 more week.

********Games of the Week********

~~~~~~~~Blowout of the Week~~~~~~~~

Duncan’s Packers (6-4) over Travelpiece’s 49ers (3-7)

Projected Line-ups:

GB: Young, Benson, Mendenhall, M. Williams, Austin, Boldin, Gates, Titans D, Rackers

Vs.

SF: Kitna, Best, Green-Ellis, Mason, Ochocinco, Lloyd, Boss, 49ers D, Gould

He’s not going to be happy with me for picking him to win the blowout, especially since the person I predicted to win the blowout last week ended up scoring 21 less points than anyone else in the league, and also since I decided to pick him here only because I have to pick a blowout game and this is the one I hated the least, but this pick is all about the match-ups. Each of Travelpiece’s 3 wide receivers are going up against a top 7 defense while Duncan’s quarterback and 2 running backs are going up against defenses that can’t stop anyone. If Gates is able to go this week, I’ll feel an awful lot better about this pick, but either way, I’m fairly confident Duncan’s team should win comfortably.

Final score: GB 129-102.

~~~~~~~~Upset of the Week~~~~~~~~

A’s Bengals (5-5) over Miller’s Chiefs (7-3)

Projected Line-ups:

Cin: Brees, Tomlinson, Addai, Wayne, Harvin, R. White, V. Davis, Packers D, Longwell

Vs.

KC: Flacco, Foster, Moreno, Garcon, Bowe, Fitzgerald, Gresham, Jets D, Bryant

It’s not just in the NFL that my Upset picks have been incredible this year; my upset picks in our league are 8-1 thus far, so either my 6 game winning streak or my recent roll with upset picks is going to come to end. Here’s why I think it’ll be the former of the two…

5 Reasons:

#1. Drew Brees vs. Seattle.

I’ll even leave Jay Cutler’s below average performance in this statistic, but if you take out the games against Alex Smith and Derek Anderson/Max Hall, because counting them as quarterbacks is like counting fruit by the foot as a daily serving of fruit, Seattle is allowing opposing quarterbacks to throw for 323.5 yards, 1.83 TD, and 0.5 INT per game. Brees still hasn’t had one of those amazing fantasy games we came to expect from him once in a while last season and I’m starting to wonder if we’ll see any games like that this season, but I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see him go for 330 yards and 4 TDs this weekend.

#2. Dwayne Bowe can’t possibly keep this up.

He’s averaging 90.8 yards and 1.8 TDs per game for the past 5 weeks, but I really don’t think he’s THAT good. Last week’s game against Denver was an anomaly, and as a Chiefs fan, I sincerely hope we never see Matt Cassel’s number of passing attempts more than double the team’s rushing attempts again, though I’ll certainly be thankful if last week’s garbage time performance causes teams to actually respect the passing game and open up the rushing game. I realize Arizona has been pretty pathetic against the pass, but considering KC only has one legitimate wide receiver, I suspect the Cards will have Rodgers-Cromartie blanket Bowe while Antrel Rolle provides support over the top. If my boys are going to win, they’re going to have to take advantage of a Cardinals rush defense that’s 28th in the league in rushing yards allowed and tied for 30th in the league in rushing touchdowns allowed. If there’s any passing attack at all, I assume it will come in the form of Tony Moeaki and screen/short passes to Charles and Jones. Long story short, Bowe will have a mediocre game at best.

#3. Reggie Wayne vs. New England…and Austin Collie?

Wayne hasn’t missed a game since 2003, so I’m not too concerned/hopeful about his questionable designation at this point in the week. Similar to what I wrote about Tom Brady last week, reports of Reggie Wayne’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. He’s 2nd in the league in receptions, 4th in targets, and 5th in yards. The main thing that determines whether or not he plays well is whether or not Austin Collie is on the field. Jeremy Maclin plays much better when Desean Jackson is on the field, and the same is the case for Reggie Wayne when Austin Collie is on the field. He hasn’t exactly had a fruitful career against the Patriots, but if Collie is back in action, I expect big things from Wayne this weekend.

#4. Joe Flacco vs. the Panthers.

Believe it or not, Carolina has not allowed an opposing QB to register 25 fantasy points in a game yet this season, and I just don’t feel good about this match up. Flacco has been very Freeman-ish in that he doesn’t lose games for his team (except for that 4 interception game against the Bengals), and he doesn’t win games for your fantasy team so much as he consistently puts up slightly above average numbers to at least give you a chance to win. Well, Freeman didn’t exactly light up the Panthers in his 2 games against them, and the Ravens are much more of a run first team than the Buccaneers, so I expect Flacco’s numbers will be even less stellar than Freeman’s 22 point games against the Panthers have been.

#5. Roddy White.

Do I really need to say anything else? Dude’s been amazing.

X-Factor: Can Joseph Addai “shoulder” the load?

With the exception of Addai, everyone in Kauffman’s starting line-up is ranked in the top 9 at their respective position, including the #1 defense, #1 kicker, and #2 tight end; a trio which is a much bigger deal than most would give it credit for since it virtually handicaps him 10-15 points in any given week in the QB/RB/WR match-ups. The last time Kauffman and I faced each other, Addai and Tomlinson each had what still stands as their best performance of the season, and the Addai performance really came out of nowhere considering he didn’t even score 5 points the previous week. Well, it’s now been over a month since Joseph Addai was even on the field, so it would really be a surprise if he plays and has a great game. If he gets on the field, Addai has averaged 57 rushing yards, 31 receiving yards, and 1 TD in 5 career games against the Patriots, and in most of those games, the Patriots rushing defense was much more formidable. If Addai misses his 4th consecutive game with a shoulder injury, Kauffman will either have to play Jerome Harrison or try to pick up and play Keiland Williams, neither of which could possibly perform as well as they did this past Monday.

Final score: With expected poor performances from Flacco and Bowe and with my best running back playing against my only defense, there’s almost no chance I have another type of week that has led me to the top of our standings and the top of the points scored category. Meanwhile, Kauffman’s team should score in bunches whether or not Addai plays. Score: Cin 141-106.

~~~~~~~~Game of the Week~~~~~~~~

Dincher’s Dolphins (3-7) vs. O’Neill’s Buccaneers (4-6)

Projected Line-ups:

Mia: Manning, Peterson, Jones-Drew, M. Williams, Floyd, Gaffney, Heap, Browns D, Carpenter

Vs.

TB: Rivers, Charles, Hillis, Edwards, R. Moss, S. Moss, Tamme, Falcons D, Tynes

Two teams in the Bottom 5 in the standings? Why the hell is this the game of the week? I’m glad you asked. These guys are at the bottom of the standings, but they’re #4 and #6 in points scored, respectively. One of these 2 teams is going to win out and make the playoffs. It happens every season in our league, and I would strongly prefer not to face any of them in a one and done format. Not only do I suspect the winner will make a run to the playoffs, but it’s pretty apparent that the loser is all but eliminated from contention, so this is a huge game (as opposed to the other battle between 3-7 and 4-6 teams, which is basically a battle for last place).

Breakdown:

QB: How am I supposed to choose between Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers? You might as well be asking whether I’d rather have a million dollars or a million dollars. I’ll take Rivers because he’s the guy at home in a prime-time must-win game, but it’s possible that both quarterbacks put up 35 points this week. Slight edge: O’Neill.

RB: (I’ll start out with a tangent. Thomas Jones is terrible. As Chiefs fans, O’Neill and I got whiff of this fact several weeks before most people, including Todd Haley and Charlie Weis. He continues to play because he’s loved in the locker room for his work ethic and his leadership skills, but it’s become apparent at this point that Jamaal Charles is the significantly better running back, and would probably be a top 3 fantasy guy if he were getting more than 45% of the touches, kind of like Beanie Wells vs. Tim Hightower last season. But until it becomes more obvious to more people that Charles is in charge, O’Neill feels an obligation to begrudgingly keep both guys in his line-up for fear that Jones gets the goal line touches (and inevitably gets stuffed 4 times in a row). Personally, I would start the Moss posse at WR and Braylon Edwards at the flex and put Thomas Jones on the bench. I understand it’s safer to play both running backs because you know that Jones is going to get his touches and there’s no guarantee that Edwards even gets a target. Here’s my view though: if Thomas Jones has a terrible game and you start him, it kills your fantasy team and probably your favorite team as well. If you bench him and he has a great game, at least you can take solace in the fact that the Chiefs should win the game. Back to the breakdown.) I love Jamaal Charles against the worst fantasy rushing defense in the league, and Peyton Hillis is a fucking monster. He’s the only back in the league to score 12 or more fantasy points in every game this season. Meanwhile, Dincher has two of the three running backs who were most coveted going into the season and are still among the best running backs in the league, but they’re going against a pair of tough rush defenses. Peterson and MJD have each had 3 really solid performances in their past 4 games, and they are arguably the most consistent fantasy running backs of the past few seasons, so I suspect they’ll more than hold their own against the tough defenses, but in this particular week, I’d rather have the guys who aren’t necessarily household names. Edge: O’Neill.

WR: Dincher has three no-name guys playing against really good pass defenses, while if he takes my advice, O’Neill would be playing a couple of Mosses and a Braylon Edwards, 2 of which are going against awful pass defenses. I’m going to argue that since I think Washington, Denver, and Seattle will be playing from behind all game, their receivers should get a lot of looks and will at least put up numbers that are comparable to Randy Moss’s and Braylon Edwards’s huge games. Edge: O’Neill.

TE/Def: Jacob Tamme is the best tight end in the league since taking over for Dallas Clark, and I expect the Bears and Dolphins to score under 40 on Thursday night which bodes well for the Dolphins D. Todd Heap has been one of the best tight ends in the league in the past 5 weeks, but I think the Browns/Jaguars game is going to be one of those weird slugfests that we see every now and then between two teams who aren’t considered offensive juggernauts, so I can’t feel too good about Dincher’s defense. Edge: O’Neill

Outcome: Looks like I have O’Neill winning in every category, and considering he’s a game ahead of Dincher in the standings, he was already the favorite to make a late season run to the playoffs, so look out NFC: between Garland and O’Neill making late season runs, the top 6 teams in that conference are going to really be beating each other up to the point that a third AFC team might be able to sneak into the playoffs, even though it is clearly the inferior conference. Final score: TB 137-108.

Week 10 NFL Preview

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Dear Carson Palmer, I’m Sorry…Sort Of…

I’ve never gotten the impression that a girlfriend was cheating on me, but if I had such a hunch, there are a number of steps I would take to confirm the suspicion before making such a claim. I suppose I would decide to approach her with an accusation if I felt I had a laundry list of evidence against her after having observed and interpreted her actions and mannerisms and asking friends and family to do the same. If she denied any wrongdoing, I would apologize, but I would also stay on my toes and remain wary until she re-proves herself trustworthy to me over an extended period of time. 

It is with that same skepticism that I offer an apology to Carson Palmer. Since the pre-season, I feel like I’ve been crouched in a closet waiting to jump out with a pointed finger and an “I knew it!” exclamation after catching Carson in an act of indiscretion. I almost made my leap after the Tampa Bay game in which he threw a pick six and two costly late-in-the-4th-quarter interceptions to lose on a last second field goal, but I wanted to wait until I had indisputable evidence of worthlessness. After his pathetic performance against Miami, I brought some friends into the closet with me so I could have multiple eyewitnesses to confirm my suspicions against Pittsburgh. But it didn’t happen. And now I have no case. I could point out that 44% of his yards and 50% of his TDs came in the 4th quarter while Pittsburgh was blatantly playing the Cover 2 defense, which anyone who’s ever played a game of Madden could tell you leaves gaping holes 7-15 yards down the field along the sidelines, but I’ll just admit that he played better than I expected. But you listen here, Carson: you might be able to eke your way through this next week against Indianapolis before torching a Buffalo team that has 1 interception this whole season, but after that – after you play three straight games against the Jets, Saints, and Steelers – I’ll be waiting with an “I told you so” grin from ear to ear.

Aside from the fact that Palmer didn’t throw 4 interceptions in the first half, I had a really solid week’s worth of predictions in Week 9. I was 4 for 4 in my eliminator suggestions, crushed my Browns upset pick, correctly predicted the Chiefs would lose in Oakland followed by people jumping off their bandwagon, nailed all 4 of my fantasy league predictions, and even all of my predictions within the fantasy league picks were good. I don’t usually do anywhere near that well, so I had to brag there for a second.

Since I’m not allowed to rant about Carson Palmer for a little while, I need a new topic. Did anyone actually watch the Cowboys/Packers game? Better question: Did anyone other than me actually think the game would be competitive? The Cowboys are atrocious. I’m sick of seeing them. I’m sick of hearing about them. But we’ve only just begun to watch their demise, because they still have 3 prime time games on their schedule, and those of us without the NFL package know we’ll be stuck watching them on Fox in the afternoon at least 2 or 3 other times as well. I realize they were supposed to be the cream of the crop in the NFC this year, but they clearly aren’t, and I really wish we didn’t still have to be subjected to watching them get destroyed by New Orleans and Philadelphia on national television. The real issue is that they’re getting 6 prime time games this season while there are 6 teams (Tampa Bay, Seattle, St. Louis, Oakland, Cleveland, and Buffalo) who don’t even get 1, and all of them are playing significantly better football than Dallas.

Now that we’re more than half way through the regular season, we have a pretty good idea which teams are good or are at least worth watching, and consequently we should be able to decide which games we want to see in prime time. Why can’t the NFL nominate 3 games for the Sunday night game, 3 games for the Monday night game, and let the public decide what they want to watch? How does this not maximize ratings? (Note: No need to conduct a vote for the Thursday night game since each team needs more than a week’s notice to prepare for the short week a Thursday night game necessitates. Not to mention only 8% of the nation has the NFL network anyway. I would actually argue they should get rid of the Thursday night game altogether and play a late Monday night game featuring West Coast teams if you insist on an additional prime time game, but that’s an argument for another day.) With New England/Pittsburgh and Philadelphia/Washington on the prime time slate this week, I’ll start my complaining with Week 11. Denver @ San Diego on Monday night? Who is voting for that game if it’s going up against some combination of Green Bay/Minnesota, Washington/Tennessee, Oakland/Pittsburgh, Houston/New York Jets, and Indianapolis/New England? The week after that we’re stuck with San Francisco @ Arizona when we could have Minnesota/Washington, Tampa Bay/Baltimore, Tennessee/Houston, Green Bay/Atlanta, or Miami/Oakland. Maybe this voting system results in Peyton Manning or Brett Favre on Monday night 12+ times per season, but I would rather watch the greatest quarterbacks of our generation a dozen times than watch the Dallas Cowboys not even pretend to care half a dozen times.

Moving forward to Week 10, my “teams playing at home following a bye week” theory is back with a vengeance after Atlanta, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Cleveland won at home after a Week 8 bye. Teams in those situations are now 9-2, with the 2 losses coming in the form of a horrible Cowboys team against a formidable Titans team, and a Jets team that can’t move the ball in cold weather playing against my pre-season Super Bowl pick. I think this is more than just coincidence. So, which teams fit the bill this week, you ask? Denver vs. Kansas City, San Francisco vs. St. Louis, Washington vs. Philadelphia, and Jacksonville vs. Houston. The Chiefs will absolutely lose that game (yet still finish the season 10-6 which will hopefully be enough to hold off the Chargers who will hopefully suffer their 6th loss of the season in Week 12 against Indianapolis), and we’re 2 wins away from the part of the season where I predicted that the 49ers suddenly become the most media-loved 4-6 team in NFL history. So, in my eyes 2 of those 4 games are all but locks, and I see no reason why a bi-polar Jacksonville squad can’t win at home against a bi-polar Houston squad; nor do I see any reason why a theoretically motivated Redskins team can’t beat an Eagles team in the middle of a Colts/Giants sandwich. And then next week, San Diego and New Orleans come off of byes to face Denver and Seattle at home, respectively. By season’s end, we may end up with teams playing at home following a bye recording a 15-2 record, and I hope I still remember that by Week 5 of next season. Unfortunately, none of the 4 teams from this week are underdogs by 4 or more points, so I can’t make any of them my Upset Pick of the Week.

If for some reason you’re only able to dedicate attention to 1 of the 14 games this weekend, might I suggest Minnesota @ Chicago? Trivia time: 3 teams in the NFL have yet to allow an opponent to score 24 or more points in a game this season. Can you name them? The New York Jets, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Chicago Bears. It might be tempting to think the Vikings should easily handle the Bears, who can’t move the ball at all, but both of those teams have been playing in close low-scoring games every single week, so it should be a nail biter. The Bears have the most difficult remaining schedule in the NFL (so difficult that this game at home against the Vikings is the one I think they’re most likely to win, and I don’t even think they’ll win it), so if Chicago wins, it almost eliminates both of these teams’ playoff hopes. However, if the Vikings pull off the road victory, they move to 4-5 and have a chance in the following week to pull within a game of the Packers in the NFC North, and then finish the season with a fairly easy schedule. Considering I bet $25 on Minnesota +700 to win the NFC Championship, this game is by far the most intriguing of the week in my opinion. (Honorable mention for New York Jets @ Cleveland as the Browns have looked like more of a Super Bowl contender than the Jets in the past 3 weeks.)

Eliminator Suggestions:

My 4 weekly Eliminator recommendations are now 29-7 after this past week’s perfect record, however, it’s going to be pretty tough to make 4 picks this week. Of the 11 lines that have been announced thus far, 9 of them feature spreads of a field goal or less, which would seem to indicate a lot of really close games. It never actually plays out that way, but it does mean that it’s tough to make outright predictions. Of the 7 teams I have at the top of my power rankings, 2 are on byes, 4 play each other, and the other might lose in Cleveland. Nevertheless, I think I’ve still got a good quartet for you…

#4 San Francisco vs. St. Louis

I like the Rams. I really do. Steven Jackson and Sam Bradford haven’t been the best fantasy options by any means, but they’ve been perfectly serviceable guys that have kept the Rams relevant beyond Week 9 for the first time in 5 seasons, unless you count ‘They might finish 0-16’ chatter as relevant. But they’re winless on the road thus far this season, and I suspect that won’t change in San Francisco following the 49ers bye. And considering their remaining schedule, I also suspect they won’t win again this season unless they pull a fast one on my Chiefs in Week 15.

#3 New York Giants vs. Dallas

When your team is one of the worst in the league at stopping the run or rushing the passer and you promote your DL coach to Defensive Coordinator, you aren’t even polishing shit, you’re just shitting on shit. In other news, for the 6th consecutive week, the Giants face a team that can’t pass block or defend the pass. Good thing 5 of their last 7 games are against teams that are at least remotely competent in those categories or else they might have gone 14-2 and made a deep run into the playoffs based solely on the self-belief that they’re a great team.

#2 Tampa Bay vs. Carolina

The Bucs at least competed last week against the Falcons, and they’ve been playing well against bad teams this season. Do you even realize who the Panthers will be starting on offense this weekend? Matt Moore’s season is over and DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are both banged up. Even with those 3 guys in the line-up, they were averaging 10.1 points per game. No one else is average less than 16. The Colts scored the fewest points in a 16 game season with a grand total of 143 in 1991, and I think the Panthers are a few shutouts away from making a run at that trophy.

#1 Indianapolis vs. Cincinnati

Speaking of the Colts, they have recorded 3 sacks in each of their last 3 games, and they’ve held the last 3 quarterbacks they’ve faced to an average of 225 yards, 1 TD, and 1 Int. Those figures for Carson Palmer, combined with the pedestrian numbers we’ve come to expect from Cedric Benson this season won’t be enough to keep the Bungles within 10 points of a Colts team that’s 44-7 at home since 2004 and hasn’t lost 2 straight regular season games in over 2 seasons (unless you count the end of last season when they weren’t playing their starters…which I don’t).

The Commish’s NFL Upset Pick of the Week:

New England +4.5 @ Pittsburgh

It’s the only game aside from my 4 eliminator picks that even meets the +4 requirement unless the Browns or Redskins slip from 3 to 4 by kickoff, both of which I believe will win their games. Belichick’s teams always bounce back well from losses, having lost consecutive games only once in the past 4 years, and the Steelers will be playing on short rest while New England never even showed up to play this past weekend. The strange thing about these teams is that neither of them have particularly impressive stats aside from a good turnover ratio and a very solid Steelers rush defense. My thought on this one is that the teams are so closely matched (#1 and #3 in my power rankings) that it should come down to the wire, and Roethlisberger has yet to show me that he’s back to his old self enough to finish out a game against a tough team. Hell, against a pathetic Bengals team, he was only responsible for 22 yards and an interception in the entire 2nd half, and they completely took the ball out of his hand after the interception when they needed another score to put the game away. Brady hasn’t been great this year, but I’d rather have him in the clutch right now.

Fantasy League Standings:

#1. Montgomery’s Rams (7-2) 967.4 points
#2. Miller’s Chiefs (6-3) 1027.3 points
#3. Duncan’s Packers (6-3) 1040.2 points
#4. Meyers’ Cowboys (6-3) 935.7 points
#5. Nelson’s Steelers (6-3) 935.6 points
#6. A’s Bengals (5-4) 1028.5 points
#7. Garland’s Giants (5-4) 919.2 points
#8. Harshbarger’s Chargers (5-4) 835.6 points
#9. Gideon’s Bears (4-5) 915.2 points
#10. Dincher’s Dolphins (3-6) 970.3 points
#11. O’Neill’s Buccaneers (3-6) 954.9 points
#12. Yelen’s Texans (3-6) 736.7 points
#13. Travelpiece’s 49ers (2-7) 882.9 points
#14. Damn’s Bills (2-7) 696.5 points

With 5 weeks left to play, there still isn’t anything clear in our standings, although we do finally have 3 teams to top the 1,000 point mark. I predicted that my team and Duncan’s team would win the respective conferences, so I’m not overwhelmingly surprised to see us near the top of the points category. A’s Bengals, on the other hand, have been an unexpectedly consistent point scorer. I think everyone had the Packers D pegged as a fantasy killer considering the Packers were expected to be a run and gun kind of team, consistently winning games by scores of 38-34, but somehow they’re the #1 defense, and Brandon Lloyd is randomly the #4 WR. I guess good things happen when you have Drew Brees on your fantasy team. The only other thing in the standings worth noting is that Dincher lost again, dropping his 6th consecutive game, and 5th straight since the Maurice Jones-Drew trade. Since he stole MJD from me in the 11th hour of trade talks with Damn, I’ve gone 5-0. If nothing else, that’s ironic. It’s not as if Dincher’s team hasn’t been scoring points (this past week’s 60 point effort notwithstanding), he’s just been unlucky with his opponents lately. I think there’s still time for him to turn it around and crack the top 6, but he better start turning soon.

Fantasy Match-ups of the Week

~~~~~~~Blowout of the Week~~~~~~~

Harshbarger’s Chargers (5-4) over Yelen’s Texans (3-6)

Suggested Line-Ups:

SD: Freeman, Blount, Jacobs, Holmes, St. Johnson, Welker, Moeaki, Buccaneers D, C. Barth

Vs.

Hou: Roethlisberger, Bradshaw, Stewart?, Smith 2.0, M. Thomas, B. White, Celek, Eagles D, Feely

Without a #2 RB and with a couple of afterthought wide receiving options, Yelen serves as another sacrificial lamb in Harshbarger’s quest for the playoffs. Whether you view it as an opportunity to control your own destiny or as a bummer of a way to end a fantasy season, Harshbarger’s final 4 games are against 4 of the top 6 teams in our league, and he hasn’t done himself many favors in the point scoring department in order to win any playoff tiebreakers. Nevertheless, by Week 2, I certainly wasn’t expecting to see him sitting at 6-4, but by the time Freeman and Blount have had their way with Carolina, that’s exactly where he’ll be.

Final score: 108-81.

~~~~~~~Upset of the Week~~~~~~~

Garland’s Giants (5-4) over Meyers’ Cowboys (6-3)

Suggested Line-Ups:

NYG: E. Manning, CJ2K, St. Jackson, D. Bryant, J. Maclin, B. Marshall, Hernandez, Ravens D, Akers

Vs.

Dal: Garrard, Turner, F. Jackson, D. Jackson, D. Bess, T.O., Shiancoe, Lions D, Folk

This could have been the game of the week if I was more confident that the winner of the game of the week could serve as the upset of the week. But I’m not. So let’s find 5 reasons why I think Garland starts making his run towards the top of the NFC standings.

#1. Eli Manning strikes again.

He’s had 6 pretty good games and 2 really bad games, and I’m not sure how this one would fall into the bad category. In the last game against Dallas (which was literally 1 game ago for the Giants?), he threw for 306 yards and 4 touchdowns, and it’s not as if the Cowboys have gotten any better since then.

#2. No Aaron Rodgers.

Some crucial piece of Meyers’ team has been on a bye for what feels like each of the past 37 weeks, and now it’s Rodgers’ turn. Coming off a bye at home against the worst secondary in the NFL, David Garrard could potentially be a top 10 fantasy QB this week, but I’m not buying it. I think the Jags win, but I think it’s the MJD show.

#3. Brandon Marshall is due.

He’s 4th in the NFL in targets and only has 1 touchdown. Only one other player in the top 25 in targets is lacking multiple touchdowns, and I have a feeling Miami will be playing from behind. Translation: Marshall will get a dozen targets, 6-10 receptions, and will break one of them for a score.

#4. Chris Johnson is due.

If I believe in Brandon Marshall, then I sure as hell believe in the best running back in the NFL coming off of a bye week.

#5. Bad week for Turner.

It’s my theory that running backs don’t do very well on short weeks. I have no evidence to support this theory, but I do have evidence that Turner has had his share of poor performances already this season, and I feel as though he’s going to struggle against the Ravens.

X-Factor: Eagles wide receivers

If Maclin outplays Jackson or if they virtually break even, this should end favorably for Garland. My only fear is that Meyers could squeak out a win if D Jax outscores Maclin by 20.

Final: It should be another high scoring affair for both of these teams, but with Garland at full strength and Meyers without Rodgers and the Saints D combining for 60 points, I have to assume Garland pulls it off. Score: NYG 119-107.

~~~~~~~Game of the Week~~~~~~~

Gideon’s Bears (4-5) @ Montgomery’s Rams (7-2)

Suggested Line-Ups:

Chi: Brady, McCoy, F. Jones, Nicks, Smith 1.0, Jac. Jones, Winslow, Chiefs D, Bironas

Vs.

StL: Orton, Gore, Rice, Megatron, Thomas, Ward, Keller, Giants D, Reed

If Montgomery wins, he remains at least 2 games on the good side of the playoff cut line with 4 weeks left to play and nearly assures himself a spot in the playoffs while Gideon would move into a situation in which winning all of his remaining games might not even be enough to get him to the playoffs. (Speaking of playoffs, I still need a good nickname for the 6 guys that get to compete in our postseason. Maybe someday my blog will get enough attention that I could get sponsors, because I like the sounds of the Yuengling 6-Pack.) However, if Gideon pulls off the upset, the NFC standings get all muddied up with 5 teams sitting somewhere between 7-3 and 5-5. At least it should be a good game to decide which of those scenarios is in play.

Breakdown:

QB: I think the Patriots and Broncos both win this week, and both teams are going up against good rush defenses, which means if they’re going to win, it’s going to have to be the quarterbacks. I do think Orton will have a slightly better day because Denver throws the ball without ceasing, so he’s bound to rack up more yardage than Brady. Slight edge: Montgomery.

(Sidebar: Did you know Brady is ranked 9th among fantasy quarterbacks and 6th in QB rating? Does that seem high to anyone else based on the lack of love he’s getting this year? Reports of his death have been greatly exaggerated. True, he hasn’t thrown for 300 yards in a game yet this season, but he has thrown for a TD in every game, and has 0 turnovers in 6 of his 8 games. When guys like Bill Simmons overreact to Patriot losses by saying that Colt McCoy (176 yards, 0 passing TDs) outplayed Tom Brady (224 yards, 2 passing TDs), I have to wonder why they don’t put the blame on the lack of a competent defense or running game. New England is the 2nd highest scoring team in the NFL, and yet everyone hates Brady. New England is the bizarro San Diego Chargers where the team is under .500 and people are seriously talking about Philip Rivers for MVP. I don’t understand it. Is it because of Brady’s hair? It has to be, because he’s still a great quarterback.)

RB: For Montgomery, Rice and Gore are both going up against respectable rushing defenses. With the added rest of a bye week and playing in a game I’m pretty sure they should win, I think Gore will have a really solid game. Because he’s facing the better foe on short rest and because McGahee has gotten double digit looks in his last four games, I’m going to assume Ray Rice has a fairly average day. 36 points is my rough estimate for the combo (23 and 13 if I must be specific.) For Gideon, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if McCoy matches or surpasses Gore’s production, but Felix Jones is a fantasy liability. Much like Roy Williams, he showed signs of life for 2 weeks, and has been completely unserviceable since then. But with the last of the bye weeks upon us, Gideon has no other choice but to play Felix in lieu of Brandon Jackson. This could be his death knell. Edge: Montgomery.

WR: With Stafford likely out for the remainder of the season, it should be interesting to see if Megatron is able to still produce at all with Drew Stanton at the helm. Stanton has thrown all of 1 TD in the past 2 years…but it was an 87 yard pass to Calvin Johnson in Week 6. I’m not sure what to make of that, but I think it was an anomaly, and that the entire Lions passing game is going to struggle mightily against a statistically solid Bills secondary.

With Austin Collie out with a concussion and Roy Williams effectively out due to worthlessness, Montgomery is forced to start Demaryius Thomas, who hasn’t done anything since his Week 2 surprise. This basically leaves him to put all his chickens in Hines Ward’s basket, which is a basket that has only contained 6 receptions for 25 yards and a TD in the past 2 weeks. Yikes. This is where Gideon should definitely make up for having to play Felix Jones, because Hakeem Nicks is going to destroy the Cowboys again, and I’m pretty sure the only way Carolina will move the ball on Sunday is by having their third string QB just chuck the ball downfield to Steve Smith, which is bound to work at least once. Anything Jacoby Jones does is just gravy. Big edge: Gideon.

TE: Despite making 3 more receptions than Dustin Keller to date, Kellen Winslow has been pretty worthless this season. I guess that’s what happens when you’re the only tight end in the league with more than 31 targets without a touchdown. He DID have his 2nd best game of the season against the Panthers earlier this season, and the Panthers DO give up a lot of points to opposing tight ends, but Keller is facing an even more tight end friendly defense, so until Winslow actually catches a ball in the end zone, I really can’t credit him too many points. Edge: Montgomery.

D/K: I don’t like the defense or kickers on either of these teams. Play the waiver wire. End of story.

Final: I’m rooting for Gideon and I don’t care who knows it, but it should be a really close game, and Montgomery finds ways to win these tight affairs while Gideon finds way to lose them. Score: StL 112-109.

2010 Week 9 Preview

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Week 9 Analysis that mercifully has nothing to do with Randy Moss!

Everyone who’s anyone in the football world is talking about one of three topics right now: Shanahan’s shenanigans, Dallas’s completely unexpected 1-6 record, or Randy Moss’s pink slip from Minnesota. No one’s even talking about Brett Favre’s penis/chin/ankle anymore, that’s how badly people have tunnel vision for those other three topics. The thing is: no one cares about any of those topics anymore. Already this season we’ve heard about Shanahan in a power struggle with Haynesworth, we’ve heard about Randy Moss surprisingly being shown the door by a team in the middle of a season, and we’ve heard about how the Cowboys are horribly underperforming and that Wade Phillips should be fired. All this news is nothing new, so I won’t bore you with those topics any further than you’ve already been bored. If you really want to hear about any of that, just go turn on ESPN. You might have to wait up to 45 seconds for them to breeze through the segment where they almost pretend to care about the World Series, but you’ll definitely hear about one of those three topics within two minutes. In lieu of and because of those non-issues, I’ll be hitting on some of the topics that are flying under the radar in this week’s intro.

Kansas City and Oakland play in a meaningful game for both teams for the first time since the 5-3 Chiefs lost to the 7-1 Raiders on November 5, 2000, yet 90% of America will either be stuck with Indianapolis/Philadelphia or no game at all on CBS during that 4:00 time slot.
I can’t blame CBS for airing Manning vs. Vick, because it will absolutely get higher ratings than Cassel vs. Campbell, but this is clearly a once in a decade opportunity to see my favorite team play their arch rivals in a season in which both teams might finish .500 or better. I find it difficult to swallow that unless it comes down to the wire or a controversy, this game will get no national publicity before, during, or after it’s played aside from the obligatory “Maybe the (insert losing team) weren’t quite as good as we thought they were which leaves the (insert winning team) as the slight favorite to win a horrible AFC West” comment. I can already hear people trying to creep towards the back of the Kansas City bandwagon so they can abandon ship when my boys inevitably drop this game in Oakland.

There are an awful lot of overrated teams in the NFL right now.
Having just mentioned them, I feel Oakland has been catching the right teams at the right time, but their 4-4 record is nowhere near as hideously inflated as a couple of other teams. Look, I understand that 6 teams from each conference are required to compete in the playoffs, but that doesn’t mean we have to pretend their records haven’t been a result of dumb luck, or that we have to pretend they have what it takes to win a Super Bowl. The biggest offenders are the New York Giants. Let’s flash back to the end of Week 3. People were calling for Tom Coughlin’s head after they started out the season with an unconvincing win over the Panthers and 2 beat downs courtesy of the Colts and Titans. They didn’t suddenly become the best team in the NFC over the course of the following 4 weeks, but rather got lucky enough to face 3 teams with the worst secondaries and pass blocking offensive lines in the NFL. As such, their wins over the Bears and the Texans were predictable, and I’m not so sure they beat Dallas if they don’t break Tony Romo’s clavicle, which leaves Detroit as the most impressive win on their resume. No disrespect to the Lions, because they’ve been in every game this season, and in an alternate universe where calls go their way, they’re sitting at 5-2 right now, but when a 1 possession win over a team led by Drew Stanton is the best thing on your resume, I refuse to believe you’re the best team in the NFC. This is precisely why I have them behind Atlanta, Green Bay, New Orleans, and Philadelphia in my power rankings, and I would even entertain arguments that they should be behind the Rams as well. 5-2 is nothing to sneeze at, and despite the fact that Seattle has a reputation for playing well at home, I fully expect the Giants to improve to 6-2 against Seattle’s 29th ranked pass defense and the offensive line that gives up more sacks than any team aside from Chicago, but I still think they’re a fraud. I also give an honorable mention for most overrated team to Tampa Bay, which has a 5-2 record despite a point differential of -27 and a resume which would have “most impressive win” as a 1 point last second win at home against the Rams. They get smacked by good teams, and they will get smacked @ Atlanta this weekend.

Carson Palmer sucks
One more quick point before I jump into the usual parts of my post, because it’s not a full weekend of NFL action if I haven’t spewed any hatred upon Carson Palmer. Did you see his stat line this week? Yes, he somehow got more fantasy points than Tom Brady, which I nauseatingly predicted, but look at his actual stats: 17 of 38 for 156 yards, 2 TD, and an Interception against a decent-to-average Dolphins secondary. It’s not THAT horrible, but it’s not good either. But, if you watch this clip you’ll see that he should have actually had 1 less completion, 1 less touchdown, 37 less yards, and 1 more interception:

Do the math and those are JaMarcus Russell numbers at best. The guy is terrible, but rumor has it he’s been playing with a horseshoe up his ass all season. People don’t get lucky against the Pittsburgh Steelers. As much as I hate them, I have to admit that they’re a solid team, and that when they lose games, they get out-performed, not out-lucked. I’ve been saying it all season, and now it’s time for my prediction to come true:Carson Palmer will set the record for most interceptions thrown in one half on Monday night against the Steelers. I can’t find the actual number anywhere. I know the record in an entire game is 8, but no coach in today’s league would leave a quarterback in there long enough to throw 6. However, I’ve never seen a veteran quarterback benched in the first half of a game for poor performance, and I’m saying he throws 4 picks in the first half. Write it down.

Speaking of picks, that conveniently segues into my Eliminator picks. Despite the season not even being 50% complete, our pool has been drained all the way down to one team. Mr. Dincher will be the proud recipient of $100 and possibly $115 if he ends up with the longest streak of the entire season (as opposed to the longest streak to start the season). That $15 “second place” prize along with my desire to finally see someone survive the entire season is more than enough reason for me to continue making weekly suggestions. This past weekend, I had my worst record of the season thus far by going 2-2. I honestly don’t know why I recommended Dallas, because I ended up actually gambling against them, so obviously I didn’t think they were that great of an option. Still, my top 4 picks on the season are 25-7 and have to at least be worth something considering that on average only 0.875 of my 4 picks are losers. I think this is going to be a pretty easy week, but there’s always one game that doesn’t go according to plan. Try to avoid it.

#4. Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati

Unless I’m unable to fight the urge to gamble for the sake of gambling, I’m only betting on one game this week and you’re looking at it. I’ve got $30 on Pittsburgh -4. If that isn’t enough to convince you, my power rankings have Pittsburgh at #4 and Cincinnati at #30, which is the biggest spread between two teams in a single game since the Ravens needed overtime to beat the Bills. Wait…that isn’t reassuring. Damn. There goes $30. At least I can count on Carson Palmer to play worse than Ryan Fitzpatrick did. I was worried there for a second. Plus, it’s a good thing you aren’t allowed to pick this one anyway since it’s a road team in a divisional game and I would have to kill you for breaking 2 of the 3 eliminator commandments on this game.

#3. New Orleans @ Carolina

What did I just say about road teams in divisional games? Whoops. Hey, did you know the Saints have scored twice as many points as the Panthers so far this season, that the Panthers have arguably the worst rushing attack in the NFL, and that the Saints have arguably the best pass defense in the NFL? That has to be enough for the Saints to come out and stomp the Panthers for giving them a scare earlier this year, right?

#2. Minnesota vs. Arizona

Remember what I said last week about the Bears and Cardinals? No? I’ll remind you:

Chicago and Arizona might be the worst teams in the NFC, even though they are 4-3 and 3-3, respectively. At the very least, they have the most anemic offensive attacks aside from Carolina, and if they’re playing against a team that can even remotely stop the run, you can count on them to lose, and should pick up their opponent’s defense in your fantasy league. Too bad Chicago’s on a bye and Arizona is playing against the 2nd worst rush defense in the NFL, so this won’t be applicable information until Week 9.

FYI, it’s Week 9, the Vikings have allowed 47 less rushing yards per game than the Bucs, and the Bean Man was only able to run for 50 yards against them last week. If I’m unable to fight the gambling bug, I might end up taking the under in this game, because I think Minnesota wins by a score of 24-7.

#1. Atlanta vs. Tampa Bay

The Bucs are an unsuccessful 2 point conversion against the Rams away from me being 7-0 picking their games against the spread. This week it’s Atlanta -8, and while I won’t actually bet on it because I probably need to take a Sunday off for the sake of my blood pressure, I don’t see how Atlanta doesn’t win this game by at least 2 scores. They’re better in virtually every aspect of the game except for a slightly worse pass defense than Tampa, which won’t much matter when Michael Turner is running for 150 yards and 2 scores and LeGarrette Blount is throwing right hooks on the sidelines.

The Commish’s NFL Upset Pick of the Week:

Cleveland +4 vs. New England

This line opened at 5.5 and has steadily been crawling in a manner that suggests the Patriots might crap the bed in this game. By putting up a goose egg for 4 quarters, the Jets ruined my theory about teams having their best game of the season after their bye week, but a bye week doesn’t change the fact that Sanchez doesn’t throw the ball as well in cold or windy conditions. Detroit looked good at home after their bye, and I expect similar results from Cleveland. Peyton Hillis has had an extra week to rest a nagging thigh injury, and Colt McCoy has had an extra week of working with the first team offense and should have a decent game now that he won’t be facing one of the top five passing defenses in the NFL, as he had in his first two games. However, all bets are off if Mangini is a giant sack of douche and ends up starting Seneca Wallace or Jake Delhomme. At that point, I would have to pick Miami +5 @ Baltimore simply based on the weird fact that they’re 4-0 on the road while playing winless football at home. I really don’t like that pick though, so hopefully McCoy gets the nod against the Patriots, who are playing in a classic sandwich game after facing Randy Moss and before going up against the Steelers.

League Standings:

#1. Montgomery’s Rams (7-1) 891.1 points
#2. A’s Bengals (5-3) 933.6 points
#3. Duncan’s Packers (5-3) 951.1 points
#4. Miller’s Chiefs (5-3) 904 points
#5. Nelson’s Steelers (5-3) 833.8 points
#6. Garland’s Giants (5-3) 808.2 points
#7. Meyers’ Cowboys (5-3) 760.4 points
#8. Gideon’s Bears (4-4) 811.7 points
#9. Harshbarger’s Chargers (4-4) 725 points
#10. Dincher’s Dolphins (3-5) 910.4 points
#11. O’Neill’s Buccaneers (2-6) 814.2 points
#12. Travelpiece’s 49ers (2-6) 811.5 points
#13. Yelen’s Texans (2-6) 666.4 points
#14. Damn’s Bills (2-6) 618.5 points

Not a whole lot of change since last week aside from the fact that Montgomery continues to win and Dincher continues to lose. I feel like I should change Dincher’s team to be the San Diego Chargers, because much like the Chargers in the NFL, they might be 3-5 right now, but I wouldn’t ever want to play against them in a must-win situation.

Before I dive into the games of the week, I have to quickly recap my league picks from last week. I had Montgomery winning 114-81 and he actually won 115.8-80.9. I had Duncan winning 106-92 and he actually won 107.2-89.1. I also had Nelson winning by a score of 112-101 and he ended up winning much more convincingly than that, but 3-0 with 2 of the games being almost exactly right is pretty awesome.

*******Games of the Week*******

~~~~~~~Blowout of the Week~~~~~~~

Harshbarger’s Chargers (4-4) over Damn’s Bills (2-6)

Suggested Line-ups:

SD: Freeman, Jacobs, Blount, S. Johnson, Jennings, Welker, Moeaki, Raiders D, Janikowski

Vs.

Buf: Sanchez, Lynch, R. Brown, Evans, Walter, A. Johnson, Olsen, Seahawks D, Kasay

Andre Johnson is hurting and San Diego has a solid defense anyway. Each of the past 2 weeks, there’s been one wide receiver on Damn’s roster who unexpectedly scored multiple touchdowns…and in each of the past 2 weeks, that guy was on his bench. Andre and Chris Cooley are the only semblance of consistent production on this team, and in this particular week, one of those guys is on a bye, and the other one may be playing at less than 90% health. In match-ups like that, I have to support the guy who’s been playing Josh Freeman and Steve Johnson for weeks without fear.

Final: SD 107-72.

~~~~~~~Upset of the Week~~~~~~~

Duncan’s Packers (5-3) over Montgomery’s Rams (7-1)

Suggested Line-ups:

GB: Cassel, Benson, Mendenhall, Boldin, Austin, M. Williams, Gates, Vikings D, Gostkowski

Vs.

StL: Campbell, Rice, Ivory, Megatron, Ward, R. Williams, Keller, Bears D, Crosby

I feel as if I’ve written about Duncan’s team in just about every week. I suppose I’ve grown attached to this team since I predicted him to win the league. That being the case, I like his chances this weekend of moving within one game of the NFC lead, and here are 5 reasons why:

#1. The absence of Fryle Gorton

If you can figure out a better way to Brangelina their names, power to you, but Montgomery’s top two performers, Frank Gore and Kyle Orton, are both on a bye this week. That duo has been responsible for 36.25% of his team’s fantasy production thus far this season, and as such, they will be dearly missed.

#2. Rashard Mendenhall vs. Cincinnati

This is an analysis John Madden or Jon Gruden could make, but Mendenhall is a much better fantasy option when he scores a touchdown. When rushing for a TD, Mendenhall has scored at least 15.5 fantasy points. When failing to rush for a TD, Mendenhall has failed to score more than 7.7 fantasy points. Fortunately for his owners, he has carried the ball to pay dirt in 5 of Pittsburgh’s 7 games. Fortunately for his owners this week, the Bengals have allowed at least one rushing touchdown in each of their past 5 games. Not to mention, it’s about time the Steelers get back to Steelers football and start pounding the ball with their 225 pounder. Methinks he scores at least one TD, probably two.

#3. Roy E. Williams is In E. Ffective

A lot of people started committing to him again after his 2 TD performance against the Texans, and he had a couple more solid games after that, but the honeymoon is over, the clavicle is broken, and the replacement isn’t looking his way. Roy Williams has 6 targets in the last 8 quarters of football. That’s downright pathetic. In last week’s game against the Jaguars, a game in which the Cowboys were behind from the beginning and were throwing the ball all day, Roy Williams only had 3 targets, good for 8th on Kitna’s hit list behind Austin (12), Witten (12), Bryant (9), Felix Jones (4), Tashard Choice (4), Sam Hurd (4), and the Jaguars defense (4). The latter 4 of those 7 just make it comical to see how much Kitna isn’t interested in throwing to Roy, but the first 3 are indicative of the fact that he feels he has much more reliable targets.

#4. Vikings D vs. Arizona

The Vikings have forced the fewest number of turnovers in the NFC, but the Cardinals have given it away more than anyone in the NFC. The Vikings have the fewest sacks in the NFL, but the Cardinals give out sacks better than Santa Claus. Something has to bend, and I presume it will be Derek Anderson’s neck under the weight of Jared Allen’s body.

#5. Dustin Keller vs. Detroit

If I were Matthew Berry, he would be on my hate list this week. 95% of the time, I love me the Keller, but this isn’t a good match-up for him. You’re probably thinking: “Really? When was the last time that anyone facing Detroit wasn’t a phenomenal match-up? The commish has gone crazy.” No I haven’t, and don’t call me Shirley. Wait, what? The Lions have yet to allow a opposing tight end to haul in 6 catches or 60 yards, and that includes such tight ends as Greg Olsen, Brent Celek, Visanthe Shiancoe, Jermichael Finley, Kevin Boss, and Chris Cooley. And in fact, only 2 of those 6 caught a TD in their otherwise disappointing afternoons.

X-Factor: Will Antonio Gates play?

A projection of 26.8 points? I realize he’s been the #1 tight end by an extremely considerable margin and that his opponent this week is one of the worst passing defenses in the NFL, but the dude is having serious pain in both of his feet/ankles and might not even play this week. Considering he’s only scored more than 21 points in a week once this season, I think the projections should really be scaled back about a dozen points until we actually know for sure he’s going to play. A potential 30 point swing depending on whether or not a guy is going to start is the definition of an X-Factor, and Duncan doesn’t even have a back-up option on his roster in the event that he’s a last minute scratch. Whether or not he plays will determine not only if San Diego wins (I think they don’t) but also if Duncan can win this match-up (I think he does).

Final score: GB 102-90. Add 15 to Duncan’s score if Gates plays at least ¾ of his game.

~~~~~~~Game of the Week (in which someone is going to get screwed)~~~~~~~

Meyers’ Cowboys (5-3) vs. Gideon’s Bears (4-4)

The projected estimates for these teams are way too conservative. Each owner has 5 amazing matchups. First to 130 wins; and whoever loses will probably be pissed that they scored the 4th most points this week and managed to lose. Without having done much more than a quick surface analysis on this one, I think Gideon comes out on top because a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and Fred and DeSean Jackson might be weak links this week for Meyers.

~~~~~~~Game of the Week~~~~~~~

Miller’s Chiefs (5-3) vs. Garland’s Giants (5-3)

Suggested Line-ups:

KC: Flacco, Forte, Foster, Garcon, Bowe, Fitzgerald, T. Gonzalez, Jets D, Bryant

Vs.

NYG: E. Manning, D. Sproles, R. Williams, Maclin, D. Bryant, Marshall, Hernandez, Ravens D, Dawson

I would like to start off by pointing out that I made these schedules before the 2009 season and haven’t altered them since. That being said, I can’t even pretend to deny the fact that I’m extremely lucky to be facing Garland in Week 9. He’s got 6 guys on a bye, and he’s still going to give me a run for my money. Could you imagine if we were both 6-3 and faced each other next week with both of our rosters at full strength, save for a pair of back-up running backs for the Chargers? It would have to be one of the most intriguing regular season match-ups our league has ever witnessed. As it stands, we’ve still got 2 of the 3 teams I predicted to be at the top of the standings in the pre-season going head to head in an inter-conference game at a point in the season where the winning team takes a giant step towards a playoff spot.

That was an amazing run-on sentence. I think I’m just going to do my entire breakdown in run-on sentences.

Breakdown:

QB: Against a pathetic Seahawks secondary, Eli should have a slightly better day than Flacco will have against a frisky Dolphins team that never fails to impress on the road. Edge: Garland.

RB: Two of the top ten fantasy running backs in the league, one of which is facing the worst rush defense in the NFL, should easily beat two guys ranked in the 30s which are only starting because CJ2K and Steven Jackson are on byes. Big edge: Miller.

WR: Though all six receivers involved are facing difficult secondaries, Fitzgerald, Bowe, and Garcon all appear to be hitting their peaks at the same time and should outscore the trio of an underperforming Brandon Marshall, an unpredictable Dez Bryant, and a decent Jeremy Maclin who becomes a lot better if DeSean Jackson is back on the field. Edge: Miller.

TE: It would appear that Aaron Hernandez has been one of the biggest benefactors from the absence of Randy Moss in New England, but he has yet to score a touchdown, so I’m going to have to give the advantage to the aging Tony Gonzalez who has 3 TDs thus far, despite not having done much in terms of yardage. Slight edge: Miller.

Def: If you didn’t previously know that the Lions are the 6th highest scoring team in the NFL, you do now, and I am concerned enough about the fact that Revis Island has yet to make an appearance this season that I think the Jets defense will play even more poorly than a Ravens defense which hasn’t even remotely been the defense it once was. Slight edge: Garland.

End result: Considering half of his regular starting line-up is on a bye, it terrifies me that this match-up will end up being as close as it will, because it indicates how impressive Garland’s team will be at full strength throughout the rest of the season, meaning that even though he probably loses this weekend, I fear Garland’s Giants are now the team to beat in our league, but I assume that it would only be fair if he won the league after the way he got nothing to show for an amazing year last season. That was definitely the best run-on sentence. 94 words. Guess I’ll give Garland 94 points in this game. Final score: KC 117-94.

 

2010 Week 8 Preview

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7 Down, 7 To Go

I had my most successful gambling week of the season in the most incredibly unpredictable week of the season. I think that pretty much confirms that no matter how much you watch, research, and analyze, you still have absolutely no idea what to expect and sometimes you just get luckier than other days. Buffalo pushing Baltimore to overtime? New Orleans losing by double digits at home against Colt McCoy? Oakland scoring 59 points? Roddy White and Kenny Britt both recording over 200 receiving yards? How do you predict this stuff?! 

(Quick observation while I’m talking about Kenny Britt. The guy was benched for the first quarter of the game for disciplinary reasons and he still had an incredible day. Sound familiar? In Week 3, Braylon Edwards had 87 receiving yards and a touchdown after being punished by sitting out the first quarter. In Week 4, Arian Foster had 131 rushing yards, 56 receiving yards, and 2 touchdowns after being benched for most of the first half. I don’t understand it, but henceforth, if someone on your team is being “grounded” for the first 15 minutes of a game, you play him no matter what.)

The most important question to ask in the aftermath of a weekend like we just witnessed is “what did we learn?” Here are a few of my observations…

I’m late to this party, but Jeff Fisher owns the NFC, and should destroy Washington when they play his Titans in week 11. With the Titans roughing up the Eagles this week, we’re down to a handful of teams who have yet to suffer a loss in which they just straight up didn’t play well. In my opinion, this list consists of the Jets, Steelers, Patriots, Titans, and Chiefs. At the very least, we’ve thus far been able to count on those 5 teams to limit catastrophic mistakes and stay in games. Incidentally, they are the 5 top AFC teams in turnover differential. If it weren’t for Flacco’s 4 interception game against the Bengals, the Ravens would be on that list too, and you could easily argue that those are your 6 AFC playoff teams at the end of the season.

Switching conferences, Chicago and Arizona might be the worst teams in the NFC, even though they are 4-3 and 3-3, respectively. At the very least, they have the most anemic offensive attacks aside from Carolina, and if they’re playing against a team that can even remotely stop the run, you can count on them to lose, and should pick up their opponent’s defense in your fantasy league. Too bad Chicago’s on a bye and Arizona is playing against the 2nd worst rush defense in the NFL, so this won’t be applicable information until Week 9.

With the exception of the Cardinals who never play well, and the Cowboys who are impossible to predict, teams coming off a bye thus far this season have played arguably their best games of the season thus far. Not sure what this means in terms of Houston @ Indianapolis, both of which are coming off of a bye, but I’m pretty sure it means the Lions will beat the Redskins and that the Jets will just smother the Packers.

I’ve determined the NFL schedule makers hate San Francisco. When it’s all said and done, the 49ers will have played 5 road games at 10 am PST, 1 “home” game in London at 10 am PST, 2 Monday night games, a Sunday night game, and a Thursday night game. How is this team ever supposed to get in some sort of a rhythm? They might beat Denver on Sunday, and then following a bye week should win 2 straight home games at their normal West Coast time against weak teams at which point they would be 4-6 in a pathetic NFC West and all the talk radio shows will start claiming “The Niners aren’t dead yet!” But they never had a chance to go the 12-4 that everyone thought they would, and they’ve still got at least another 3 or 4 games this season in which they are predestined to come out flat because of their ridiculous schedule. As such, even though Carolina was able to pick up the win in that game, I still have them last in my power ranking.

Speaking of power rankings, I have this week’s biggest risers as Tampa Bay, jumping from 25 to 19, and Oakland, Seattle, Kansas City, Green Bay, and Tennessee each jumping 5 spots from last week’s poll. The biggest fallers were Philadelphia, New Orleans, and San Diego each dropping 4 spots. I’ll probably actually post my rankings again after Week 9 or 10, and if you want to see them at any time, feel free to text or shoot me an e-mail (kerry.miller@geneva.edu).

I also learned a few things this weekend about my predictions…

My upset picks within our league have been pretty solid at 5-1. I maintain this is because I spend the most time on those picks. Same with the “Game of the Week” picks, in which I’m 4-2. But my blowout picks are inconceivably 1-5, with that one win being an impressive one in which I correctly predicted the final score. I don’t know how to explain it. I just apparently curse guys who are supposed to be heavy favorites. Guess I better start picking Montgomery to blow people out so he slides back to the pack a little bit. Also, thanks to Damn upsetting Duncan, I no longer get to write about the NFC’s dominance over the AFC in our league. Bummer.

And with my NFL predictions, I’ve determined that I need to stop picking 5 teams for the eliminator. I was looking through my overall record in those predictions and determined that I’m sitting at 24-11, which is pretty bad. However, I also determined that I’m 1-6 in my 5th most confident picks, so I’ve been 23-5 in my 4 most confident games, which is much more respectable. Therefore, in light of the fact that I’ve been eliminated anyway (damn Drew Brees…) I’m only doing 4 picks per week.

Also, I’ve nailed 3 straight NFL upset picks, all of which have involved the AFC West. You may want to listen up, because even in an unpredictable league, my picks have been pretty good, and I at least kept Kauffman from going down with me last week by telling him to take Kansas City.

Eliminator Picks:

#4. St. Louis over Carolina.

Everyone talks about Kansas City being the surprise story of the league this year, but in my opinion, it has to be St. Louis, and more specifically, Sam Bradford. Sure, he was the #1 draft pick, but he lost his #1 wide receiver in the pre-season, and then his replacement #1 wide receiver during Week 5, and he’s still been putting up better than solid numbers for a rookie. The Rams have been winning games at home, and the Panthers have been giving the ball away better than any other team in the league.

#3. Dallas over Jacksonville.

The Jaguars have allowed opponents to score 26+ points in 6 consecutive games and consequently have the worst point differential in the NFL. That can’t possibly be a recipe for success. And who cares if David Garrard plays; wake me up when Maurice Jones-Drew starts actually playing this season.

#2. New York Jets over Green Bay.

In the past 5 weeks, Green Bay has played 2 overtime games, 2 games in which their opponent salted away a lead to the point where they had to sweat out a last second drive, and a game in which they lost on a last second field goal. And now they have all of 5.5 days to prepare to face the best team in the NFL which will be playing on 14 days rest? Puh-lease.

#1. Kansas City over Buffalo.

NFL’s best rush offense against the NFL’s worst rush defense. ‘Nuff said. Hopefully.

The Commish’s NFL Upset of the Week:

NONE!

The single most unpredictable sporting event in the history of mankind is March Madness. Stick with me, because I promise there’s a point beside the fact that college basketball season starts in less than 2 weeks and I’m giddier about it than a 12 year old girl at a Justin Bieber concert. Every March, we know there will be some crazy upsets. We never know where they’re going to come from, but we know that in the first 2 orgasmic days of that tournament, there will be 9 or 10 underdogs who win. However, by the end of the 2nd weekend, things start to settle in and make a little more sense. Maybe the teams who should win in the Sweet 16 aren’t the same teams we expected to win before the tournament started, but after seeing how every team has handled the pressure thus far, we start to get a better grasp on who should advance.

Well, the only thing about the NFL season that has been predictable so far is that it has been unpredictable. However, I think we’re into the metaphorical second weekend of March Madness and the insanity is going to start to settle down a little bit. We’ve reached the point in the season where Vegas is practically begging us to bet on teams like Washington, Tennessee, Tampa Bay, Seattle, and Miami by putting them as slight underdogs on the road despite the fact that they have a better record and would be heavily favored if it were a neutral site game. Vegas is always two weeks behind the pro gamblers and two weeks ahead of the common fan. By no means am I implying that I’m a pro gambler, but I’m definitely implying that the common fan has reached the point where they’ll just pick 50% underdogs every week because of how the first 7 weeks have played out. What this tells me is that it’s time to start actually expecting the favorites to win games.

All that being said, and considering there are only 5 games in which a team is an underdog by 4 or more points (Buf +7.5 @ KC, Jax +6.5 @ Dal, GB +6 @ NYJ, Hou +5.5 @ Ind, and Min @ NE which doesn’t currently have a line thanks to the Favre injury, but they will definitely be a heavy underdog) I’m not predicting an upset this week. The first 3 games I have in my eliminator “locks,” I will never, ever, ever predict Peyton Manning to lose in a prime time game and/or at home, and I certainly don’t expect to see Tarvaris Jackson go win a game in New England. If any of those 5 are going to pull off an upset, it’s Jacksonville over Dallas, but even without Romo, I don’t see it happening.

League Standings:

With our season now half way complete (a thought which brings a tear to my eye), it’s about that time to start posting our league standings in each of these posts. Keep in mind that the winner of each conference gets a first round bye, and that playoff spots #3-6 are up for grabs regardless of division. As it stands today, the NFC would get 3 of the 4 “wild card” spots, and considering they’re currently 6-1 in the inter-conference games, that’s exactly the way it should be. Also keep in mind that our tiebreaker is points scored over the course of the season, so I’ve also included that figure in the standings.

#1. Montgomery’s Rams (6-1) 775.3 points
#2. A’s Bengals (4-3) 819.1 points
#3. Meyers’ Cowboys (5-2) 671.3 points
#4. Duncan’s Packers (4-3) 843.9 points
#5. Miller’s Chiefs (4-3) 791.7 points
#6. Gideon’s Bears (4-3) 731.9 points
#7. Nelson’s Steelers (4-3) 715.7 points
#8. Garland’s Giants (4-3) 697 points
#9. Dincher’s Dolphins (3-4) 801.2 points
#10. Harshbarger’s Chargers (3-4) 601.4 points
#11. Travelpiece’s 49ers (2-5) 730.6 points
#12. O’Neill’s Buccaneers (2-5) 704.6 points
#13. Yelen’s Texans (2-5) 614.6 points
#14. Damn’s Bills (2-5) 557.3 points

Every year, there’s one team who ends up scoring in the top 4 in the league but fails to reach the top 6 in the standings, and consequently, there’s usually one team whose point total ranks in the bottom half of the league, yet somehow makes the playoffs courtesy of facing the right opponent at the right time. It may not always be fair, but it’s also not going to be fair when the Seattle Seahawks make the playoffs and the Houston Texans are watching from home. Thus far this year, or at least in the past 4 weeks, Dincher has been the unlucky one in the standings and Meyers has been the one benefitting from not having many points scored against him. That could easily change if Duncan loses another game or two, as he’s sitting at 4-3 despite leading the league in scoring.

*******Games of the Week*******

~~~~~~~Blowout of the Week~~~~~~~

Montgomery’s Rams (6-1) over Travelpiece’s 49ers (2-5)

Despite my earlier claim that I’m going to start putting Montgomery here just because it’s a cursed spot and he needs to lose some games, I swear this pick has nothing to do with an attempted Commish Hex and has everything to do with the fact that Travelpiece has 3 starters on a bye and half a dozen other guys who are questionable to even play this week. Seriously, I couldn’t even make a “Projected line-ups” comparison because I have no idea who Travelpiece is going to play this week.

Final score: StL 114-81.

~~~~~~~Upset of the Week~~~~~~~

Duncan’s Packers (4-3) over Meyers’ Cowboys (5-2)

Projected Line-ups:

Dal: Rodgers, F. Jackson, T. Choice, D. Bess, T.O., B. Tate, V. Shiancoe, Saints D, Prater

Vs.

GB: Hasselbeck, Benson, Mendenhall, C. Williams, M. Austin, M. Williams (TB), Gates, Titans D, Gostkowski

5 Reasons:

#1. Cedric Benson vs. Miami.

I can’t justify it, but I have this really strong gut feeling that the Bengals are going to trounce the Dolphins.

#2. Another patchwork line-up for Meyers.

Meyers was lucky enough to play against someone who only scored 70 some points the last time he had to start Tashard Choice. But without Michael Turner in there, and with Brandon Tate who hasn’t done a damn thing since Moss was traded, I sincerely doubt Aaron Rodgers and Terrell Owens will be enough to carry him to victory.

#3. (Insert starting quarterback) vs. Oakland.

200 yards and 2 TDs. Every week. Good QB. Bad QB. Doesn’t matter; it’s what happens. So, it would appear Matt Hasselbeck will have his best week of the season thus far. We’ll have to wait another week to find out how badly Duncan’s team will miss Romo.

#4. Fred Jackson vs. Kansas City.

With the exception of the week against Arian Foster, the Chiefs have been pretty solid against the run. They’re giving up 23 fantasy points per game against opposing rush attacks, but a significant portion of those points have been the result of running backs catching balls out of the backfield, and Jackson has all of 4 receptions for negative 3 yards so far this season. And I certainly don’t expect or hope to see the Bills running the ball in the last 20 minutes of the game.

#5. I have to keep picking him.

Every year, someone accuses my predictions of being the reason they lose, and every year I continue to pick that person to win almost entirely because of their desire to not be picked to win. This year, that person is Duncan. I only wish my weekly rants had as much appeal for someone with some sway at ESPN as they apparently have voodoo for someone in our league every year.

X-Factor: Cadillac Williams vs. Arizona.

If he’s ever going to have a big game, it’s against the 29th ranked rush defense, but I certainly don’t expect that to happen. His production should really only affect the margin of victory though.

Final score: GB 106-92.

~~~~~~~Game of the Week~~~~~~~

Nelson’s Steelers (4-3) @ Gideon’s Bears (4-3)

Projected Line-ups

Pit: Palmer, McFadden, B. Wells, Greene, Colston, M. Wallace, Witten, Steelers D, Vinatieri

Vs.

Chi: Brady, B. Jackson, F. Jones, J. Shipley, S. Smith (1.0), P. Crayton, K. Winslow, Chiefs D, Bironas

Consider this an extremely abridged version of the post I was expecting to write this week, but this game is really a microcosm of the difference in talent and urgency between the NFC and AFC in our league. If Nelson wins this game, he remains at least in a tie for 1st place, and could potentially be sitting alone atop the AFC leaderboard. If he loses this game, he could still be tied for 1st place in the AFC, but his worst case scenario is a tie for 3rd place with Dincher, just one game behind Kauffman and myself. There are definitely worse situations you could be in with 6 weeks left to go in the regular season. If Gideon wins, his best case scenario is a 3 way tie for 2nd place in the NFC with Meyers and Duncan, 1 game behind Montgomery. He could also win and end up in a tie for 3rd place with Garland. If Gideon loses, however, he could be alone in 5th place in the NFC. Yikes.

Breakdown:

QB: As I said before, I have this strange feeling that the Bengals are going to trounce the Dolphins which, unless their points are going to come from the defense or special teams, will almost entirely come through the air, making Palmer a solid play this week in my book. Meanwhile, Tom Brady has been a terrible fantasy quarterback in his past 3 games. Both guys are facing a secondary which is right in that 10-15th best range, but I would rather have Carson Palmer then Tom Brady this week. And now I think I’m going to go throw up. I really hope Palmer throws 4 interceptions this week so I don’t ever have to talk myself into him again. Edge: Nelson.

RB: I would argue that McFadden’s performance this past week wasn’t entirely an anomaly as much as a breakout performance. He’s been solid when healthy this year, and has always been a significant part of the passing attack. It just so happens that he found the end zone 4 times against the Broncos. I think he’ll have another productive 100+ rushing yards, couple receptions, 1 TD kind of day against the Seahawks. Incidentally, I expect a similar kind of game out of Beanie Wells, except without the receptions. I don’t think either Shonn Greene or Brandon Jackson will do anything worth noting against each other, so they cancel out in my ledger. That leaves Felix Jones to basically single-handedly put up 200+ yards and a few touchdowns against the Jaguars in order to counterbalance Nelson’s production. Not going to happen, but he should at least be good for about 10 points. Significant edge: Nelson.

WR: My bold prediction for this match up (aside from my theory that Beanie Wells is going to run for 100 yards) is that neither Colston nor Wallace makes a TD reception for Nelson on Sunday night, which means he doesn’t get more than 8 points out of either of them. I’ll also boldly predict that if the Panthers score at all, Steve Smith is responsible for more than 50% of those points. My guess is that they score 3 touchdowns and he catches 2 of them. I also think Patrick Crayton continues to play well in the absence of Malcom Floyd, and that if Palmer is in fact going to outplay Tom Brady, Jordan Shipley will get at least a few of those points. In this matchup, this is where Gideon makes his move, if he makes one at all. Significant edge: Gideon.

TE: Jon Kitna will look Jason Witten’s way early and often against a less than mediocre pass defense in Jacksonville. That should be plenty to carry him beyond Kellen Winslow’s production, who has yet to catch a touchdown this season. Edge: Nelson.

Def: Unless they’re scoring a defensive touchdown, the Chiefs haven’t been a favorable fantasy defense, so despite playing this week against the only remaining winless team in the NFL, I have to assume they’ll give up more points than the Steelers, who are likely to also cause more turnovers. Edge: Nelson.

Final score: I just hope Gideon doesn’t end up in 5th place in the NFC, because I fear my favorite Call of Duty buddy is going to come up short this week. Whammy. Pit: 112-101.

2010 Week 7 Preview

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I thought about writing about Harshbarger’s poor luck this past week, in that he scored 122 points and lost while Meyers scored 81 points and won…but I did my intro last week about tough luck games, and frankly I don’t feel bad for Harshbarger because before this week he had the least points scored against him of any team in the league.

 

I thought about writing about how my team had an awesome week, that I won another week in the eliminator challenge, and that despite losing these past 2 weeks in the toughest part of their schedule, the Chiefs are looking like a playoff team…but I’ve written about that one before as well.

 

I thought about writing about how the NFC is absolutely dominating the AFC in our league, how I predicted it multiple times, and how it’s ironic because the AFC is clearly the better conference in the NFL…but I figure I should wait until Damn gets destroyed this week and the NFC improves to 7-0 in interleague play before I write about that one, so assuming all goes according to plan, you can consider this paragraph a preview of next week’s post.

 

So, in the spirit of the recently released BCS poll, I’m left with doing a power ranking. Now, I rarely actually look at ESPN’s power rankings anymore because, more often than not, I find them laughable. The one that I did look at was between week 3 and 4 when Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Kansas City were the only remaining undefeated teams. The experts somehow had the audacity to rank the Bears in the top 5. What a joke. So I’ve decided to do my own, and maybe when I’m done I’ll compare them to the majority opinion, but I really need to do a power ranking because I’ve heard it’s the best way to prepare for bets, and I’ve been getting absolutely crushed in my bets. Had I made a power ranking before last weekend, I never would have bet on the 3 teams that I did…and wouldn’t you know it, I lost all 3 bets. I am just hemorrhaging $60 per Sunday like it’s my job.

 

So without further ado, here are your Commish’s Power Rankings heading into Week 7:

 

<b>Winless, and not by accident:</b>

 

32. Carolina (0-5)

31. Buffalo (0-5)

 

Buffalo has at least made a couple of their games interesting, although it’s never looked like they were actually going to win any of their games.  But with the exception of the game against New Orleans in which the Saints just looked absolutely pathetic, the Panthers haven’t even been within 12.5 points of an opponent yet this season.  They are so unbelievably bad that I would actually be perfectly okay with you taking the 49ers against them in eliminator this weekend, even though the 49ers are a West Coast team going on the road to play a 1:00 game, and if you don’t know how I feel about those West Coast teams in those games, then you clearly haven’t been reading my musings in the past.

 

<b>Frisky, but not making the playoffs:</b>

 

30. Cleveland (1-5)

29. Detroit (1-5)

 

The Browns and Lions are basically the same team: they will both come out and punch you in the mouth for 4 quarters no matter who you are, but 9 times out of 10 (well, 10 times out of 12) they will find a way to lose the game.

 

28. Oakland (2-4)

27. Cincinnati (2-3)

26. Denver (2-4)

 

The Broncos and Raiders are basically the same team as well: they will randomly win a game they had no business being in, and then follow it up by losing a game they should have won easily. I would have to imagine that rooting for Denver or Oakland is about as frustrating as playing a golf tournament as an amateur, because a good day early on will keep you optimistic that you’ll finish atop the leaderboard, but then you miss 3 out of 6 makeable putts against teams like the Arizona Cardinals, and at the end of the day, you’re near the back of the pack looking up at people you know you have more talent than.  In other news, if you think the Bengals should be higher than this, come talk to me on December 13th if they somehow have 5 wins. I think the only game in the next 8 weeks that they have a legitimate opportunity to win is Week 11 against Buffalo, and if they’re 2-7 at that point, don’t be surprised if they drop that game as well.

 

<b>Capable of losing in any given week:</b>

 

25. Tampa Bay (3-2)

24. San Francisco (1-5)

23. Dallas (1-4)

22. Seattle (3-2)

21. St. Louis (3-3)

20. Arizona (3-2)

19. Chicago (4-2)

 

That’s right, all 4 teams in the NFC West are among the 13 worst teams in the NFL (which might even be generous) and one of them is inexcusably going to make the playoffs. Say what you want about the lack of fairness intrinsic to the BCS, but I’m going to say that it’s ridiculous that there’s a slightly better than remote possibility that Max Hall and Matt Cassel will each be starting a home game in the playoffs. Yikes.

 

For the record, this section is the reason that I’ve hated power rankings in the past: I’ve always felt the “experts” give too much love to teams that were supposed to be better than they are, i.e. Dallas and San Francisco. But having constructed one of these things now, where else am I supposed to put these underachievers? You can’t possibly tell me that if the Buccaneers went head to head with either the Cowboys or the 49ers you think Tampa Bay would win that game. I mean, my word, the Cowboys are a 3 point favorite this weekend against the Giants, who are probably the 3rd or 4th best team in the NFC, and I can’t even argue with that line.

 

<b>Impressively average:</b>

 

18. Jacksonville (3-3)

17. Washington (3-3)

16. Kansas City (3-2)

15. Green Bay (3-3)

14. San Diego (2-4)

 

You could pretty easily argue that the Jaguars should be lower than this considering they’ve lost each of their 3 games by 25 or more points, but I would argue that they’ve won a couple of impressive games, and that I made these rankings before the Monday night game.

 

In regard to the Chargers being this high in my poll, I think they’re much better than their record. I would say they’re easily a 5-1 team with even the slightest bit of good luck on their side. They’ve got 3 more tough games before their bye week. If they can win 2 of them and get to 4-5, they’ll probably end the season with a 10-6 record.

 

<b>Playoff hopefuls with definite flaws:</b>

 

13. Minnesota (2-3)

12. Miami (3-2)

11. Tennessee (4-2)

10. Houston (4-2)

9. New Orleans (4-2)

8. Indianapolis (4-2)

 

Obviously not all of these teams can make the playoffs, since at least 2 of the 12 playoff spots are going to go to teams ranked lower than this, but each of these teams has about 80% of what it takes to make the playoffs and contend once there.  The Colts and Saints are both lacking a running game. The Texans can’t stop anyone from moving the ball. The Titans and Dolphins have pretty solid defenses but can’t score with any regularity or rely on their quarterbacks for anything. And the biggest flaw with the Vikings is their record. They’ve played the toughest schedule of the season and have either won or been within one possession with 2 minutes left in each game…and most of those games were before they got Randy Moss. They’re only going to get better, and in an NFC without any real cream of the crop, they could easily represent the NFC in the Super Bowl before it’s all said and done.

 

<b>Someone from the NFC has to make the Super Bowl:</b>

 

7. New York Giants (4-2)

6. Atlanta (4-2)

5. Philadelphia (4-2)

 

Hard to deny that these are currently the 3 best teams in the NFC, and also hard to imagine this won’t change 7 days from now, because either one of them is bound to lose or New Orleans is bound to destroy Cleveland and jump back into the discussion.

 

<b>The Favorites:</b>

 

4. Baltimore (4-2)

3. New England (4-1)

2. Pittsburgh (4-1)

1. New York Jets (5-1)

 

With each passing week, I become more frustrated that I didn’t put $2,000 on the Jets to win the Super Bowl back in April when they were getting 25-1 odds. Want to know what they are now? 6.5-1. As long as they don’t win it all, I’ll be happy…unless it means Pittsburgh ends up winning again. Ugh. Either way, barring something catastrophic, I can’t imagine any of these 4 teams misses out on the playoffs, which means the AFC East, AFC North, and both wild card spots have already been spoken for. Tough luck for Miami, and whichever 3 teams end up not winning the AFC South.

 

 

So now that we know (more or less) who stands where in the league’s hierarchy of talent, let’s dive into the best Eliminator options of the week.

 

#5. Kansas City vs. Jacksonville

 

Jaguars are playing a 1:00 game following a Monday night shellacking, and the Chiefs might not lose at home this season.

 

#4. San Francisco @ Carolina

 

Yes, I do believe the Panthers are that bad, and that the 49ers are going to start turning their season around.

 

#3. Atlanta vs. Cincinnati

 

In case you hadn’t noticed, I think the Bengals suck. I have absolutely no idea how they beat the Ravens, aside from the fact that Flacco threw 4 interceptions in that game.

 

#2. New Orleans vs. Cleveland

#1. Baltimore vs. Buffalo

 

There’s no excuse not to pick one of these teams, unless you’ve already used them both, which isn’t the case for any of our remaining survivors. Both of these games should be blowouts, but if either of those is going to be even remotely close, I think Cleveland has a slightly better chance of making a game out of it.

 

The Commish’s NFL Upset of the Week:

 

 

 

*******Games of the Week*******

 

 

~~~~~~~Blowout of the Week~~~~~~~

 

Duncan’s Packers (4-2) over Damn’s Bill (1-5)

 

<i>Projected Line-ups:

 

GB: Romo, Mendenhall, Benson, Knox, M. Austin, Boldin, Gates?, Titans, K?

 

Vs.

 

Buf: Cutler, Lynch, R. Brown, L. Evans, Britt, Sims-Walker, Cooley?, Seahawks, K?</i>

 

I have absolutely no idea how Damn won last week, but there’s no way he’ll do it this week with 2 of his 3 most valuable players on a bye, and the 3rd possibly missing a game with a concussion. I know Garland set the record last season for most points in a week, but I think Damn may set the record for least points in a week.

 

Final: GB 121-56.

 

 

~~~~~~~Upset of the Week~~~~~~~

 

Harshbarger’s Chargers (2-4) over A’s Bengals (4-2)

 

<i>Projected Line-ups:

 

SD: Freeman, Jacobs, Torain, Welker, Jennings, S. Johnson, H. Miller, Raiders, Janikowski

 

Vs.

 

Cin: Brees, RB1?, RB2?, Harvin, R. White, B. Lloyd, Quarless, Packers, Longwell</i>

 

5 Reasons:

 

#1. Holy lack of running backs.

 

This situation is why in one of my leagues this year I completely loaded up on guys with Week 8 byes. Kauffman is going to be in trouble this week because of a lack of running backs and again in Week 10 when Brees and 5 other members of his roster are on a bye. Why not just punt 1 week away rather than trying to put together a half-assed line-up 2 or 3 times during the middle of the season? Eventually this strategy will catch on.  As for this week though, I don’t think Kauffman has any option but to play Jerome Harrison and make a bid on Chris Ivory or Tim Hightower. That’s downright disgusting. I have 3 running backs on my bench who will probably have a better week than any of those options, but it’s not as if Kauffman has anything enticing on his roster to offer me aside from LaDanian Tomlinson, or as if I particularly want to help out the only guy ahead of me in the AFC standings. It looks like for the first time this season, Harshbarger is going to have the edge in the running back department, and a significant one at that.

 

#2. Josh Freeman is better than you realize.

 

He’s not going to blow you away, but he’s not going to kill you either, and if your starting quarterback is on a bye, you can do worse than a back-up who will likely score in the 15-20 point range.

 

#3. Brees hasn’t been the breeze he once was.

 

Aside from a “rough” game against the Cardinals, he’s been nothing short of solid, but he has yet to have one of those “I’m going to single-handedly carry you to a fantasy victory” types of weeks that he had three or four of last year and that you had to spend 25% of your draft budget for. You have to think he’ll have one of those games against the Browns, but you also have to keep in mind that the Saints really haven’t yet begun to look like a Super Bowl caliber team.

 

#4. Wes Welker vs. San Diego.

 

It may seem strange that I’m putting this down as an advantage for Harshbarger since the Chargers statistically have the best pass defense in the NFL, but more often than not, the numbers don’t tell the whole story. The best quarterback the Chargers have faced thus far is either David Garrard or Sam Bradford, your choice, and the wide receiving group in those 2 games averaged 12.5 receptions for 146.5 yards and a TD. Now they have to deal with Tom Brady, and even though I think they’re desperate team that’s bound to win at home, I also think they’ll give up more than a few yards through the air, which bodes well for double W.

 

#5. The Packers defense will not get a dozen points.

 

Even if the Vikings don’t pull off the win, they should put up at least 3 touchdowns, and I think Favre might potentially avoid the dreaded pick six.

 

X-Factor: Steve Johnson.

 

Who? Dude’s only owned in 11% of leagues, as compared to his teammate Lee Evans who’s owned in over 70% of leagues, but he’s the most productive/reliable wide receiver on the Bills roster. That may or may not be a compliment, especially considering they’re facing a decent pass defense this week, but he was able to score against the Patriots and the Jets, so he just might be able to do it again this week.

 

Final score: SD 100-92.

 

 

~~~~~~~Game of the Week~~~~~~~

 

Garland’s Giants (4-2) @ Montgomery’s Rams (5-1)

 

<i>Projected Line-ups:

 

NYG: E. Manning, C. Johnson, S. Jackson, Maclin, Marshall, Crabtree, A. Hernandez, Rams, Barth

 

Vs.

 

StL: Orton, Gore, Rice, D. Thomas, R. Williams, Ward, M. Lewis, Ravens, Crosby</i>

 

Week after week I’m amazed to see Montgomery in first place in our league. The only good thing this team was supposed to have was two really solid running backs, and neither of them have even been playing up to their potential yet, and he’s still leading the league with draft day steals like Orton, Collie, and Keller. Totally unpredictable. And even with three wide receivers on a bye, he’ll still be in a good position to win this week, which he better do, because I can’t imagine he’ll win in either of the following two weeks on Rice and Gore’s bye weeks.

 

Breakdown:

 

QB:  Eli Manning hasn’t exactly been stellar and the Cowboys defense hasn’t exactly been porous, except for the game in which they refused to blitz Jay Cutler. I can’t foresee Manning scoring more than 20, and even that might be a stretch. For Montgomery, Orton is averaging over 300 yards and 1.5 TDs per game and is facing a secondary that has allowed opposing quarterbacks to threw for 2 TDs each week and has given up significant yardage to solid quarterbacks. Rivers had 28 points against the Raiders two weeks ago, and I expect the same from Orton. Edge: Montgomery.

 

RB: Can you say score fest? Steven Jackson, Chris Johnson, Frank Gore, and Ray Rice against the 20th, 26th, 27th, and 28th best rushing defenses, respectively? Holy guacamole. I think Gore and Rice have just slightly better days, but only because they’re playing against the 0-5 teams and should be salting away games in the 4th quarter while Jackson and Johnson might be pass protecting in the 4th quarter of games that they’re trailing. Slight edge: Montgomery.

 

WR: With DeSean Jackson likely out this weekend, Jeremy Maclin should get a few more looks from both Kevin Kolb and the Titans defense. Not sure he’ll have a very solid game. Same goes for Brandon Marshall against the Steelers. That leaves Michael Crabtree against the Panthers, who have surprisingly been pretty good against the pass since getting torched in Week 1 by the Giants. I’m not exactly drooling over any of Garland’s options. And frankly, I don’t like any of Montgomery’s options either. Demaryius Thomas has only had 1 good game, so it’s tough to predict a big day from him. Hines Ward immediately benefitted from getting Roethlisberger back last week and should continue to get a lot of looks this week, even if it is against a pretty defense pass defense in Miami. Unbelievably, Roy Williams is the most promising wide receiver in this matchup, which means I’m going to have to give an edge to Montgomery again, although I will say that Maclin could easily swing this thing in Garland’s favor if he isn’t being double teamed all day.

 

TE: Aaron Hernandez gets a lot of looks from Brady, but after how many drops he had last week, that may change real quick. Marcedes Lewis on the other hand is going to continue to get looks regardless of whether Garrard or Edwards is in the game, and the Chiefs aren’t exactly amazing against opposing tight ends. Edge: Montgomery.

 

Def: I like the Rams against the Bucs…but I also liked the Rams against the Lions until they went out and gave up 44 points to Shaun Hill and company, so my optimism is limited. Montgomery currently has the Bears as his defense, probably because ESPN somehow has the Bears getting more points than the Ravens defense against the Bills, but whether or not he swaps in the Ravens, I think he could run a clean sweep through this matchup. Slight edge: Montgomery.

 

Final: StL 138-107.

 

2010 Week 6 Preview

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I listen to Mike & Mike in the Morning every day at work.  If it weren’t for Greeny, Golic, and fantasy football, I’m not quite sure how I would get through the week.  Well, the day after Brooks Conrad committed 3 errors for the Braves which led to 2 unearned runs and effectively the end of Bobby Cox’s career, Greeny made the argument that you have to feel bad for the 30 year old journeyman who toiled away in the minors for years and wouldn’t have even been in that position if Chipper and Prado hadn’t been injured.  Golic made the argument that he never feels bad for professional athletes because they’re exactly that: professional athletes.  But even Golic deviated from the norm a little bit and almost felt bad for the guy.

 

Normally, in fantasy football, especially when money is on the line, I don’t feel bad for anyone.  I’ll generally root for some guys in our league more than others, but even if a good friend like Gideon loses a heartbreaker, I’m not going to lose any sleep over it, and I know it’s a two way street. However, in light of the Jets/Vikings game I feel bad for Duncan.  All he needed was 3 points from what really should be one of the better defenses in the NFL, and up until the end of the game, he had those points.  The Jets scored a touchdown with 4:30 left which left Duncan with a 0.2 point advantage. The ensuing kick return gave Duncan a 1.2 point lead.  Then with 1:30 to go, Brett Favre throws a pick six, which counts against the Vikings defense and puts Duncan behind for good.  Brutal.

 

Hard to believe that “pick six” swung two games in our league, though. Even though he totally effed me over in trades on Thursday and Friday, and even though his 0.3 point loss ended up being a 0.3 point win for me, and even though I know he wasn’t even watching the Monday night game to sweat it out like I was, I feel bad for Dincher as well.  I could do a Simmons-esque retroactive diary of the weekend and point out the times I was on cloud nine and the times I was in the seventh circle of hell, but I’ll narrow it down to the 2nd half of the Monday night game.

 

<i>Going into the game, I was down by about 8 points. I had the Jets defense. Dincher had Adrian Peterson.</i>

 

Halftime: You know what? The Vikings can’t do anything against this defense. I’ve got a 7 point lead, and as long as Peterson doesn’t end up breaking one for a touchdown and immediately swinging this thing 20 points in Dincher’s favor, I might somehow be able to pull this off.

 

27:45 to go: Favre fumble! Just keep raining! Just keep raining! Just keep raining, raining, raining!

 

20:00 to go: 3rd down and 15 for the Vikings on their own 34. Jon Gruden just declared this an impossible conversion for the Vikings. Thanks Jon. Your prediction that the Jets would come out and march down the field to start the second half was oh so prophetic. I mean, they only lost 12 yards on the drive. So much for hoping for a punt.

 

19:00 to go: 3rd down and 12 for the Vikings on their own 48. Well, they can’t convert 2 consecutive 3rd and double digits to go against the best defense in the NFL. Oh wait…

 

17:17 to go: 3rd down and 17 for the Vikings on the Jets 37. Okay, there’s no chance they do this 3 straight times; it’s just a matter of whether or not Longwell can hit a 55 yarder…

 

17:14 to go: Sack him!!!

 

17:12 to go: Uh-oh.

 

17:11 to go: Uh-oh.

 

17:10 to go: Dammit. Well, at least I’m still up by a couple points.  I could really use a kickoff return for a touchdown right about now.

 

17:08 to go: Wait a minute…

 

17:07 to go: He’s got a seam!

 

17:06 to go: Ahh! Tackled inside the 20. So close.

 

15:30 to go: Peterson for 30 yards. I’m in disbelief.  I was up by ten just two football minutes ago, and now I’m losing. I’m never playing fantasy football again.

 

12:47 to go: Percy Harvin just scored one of the easiest touchdowns I’ve ever seen.  The entire middle of the field was vacant of any Jet defenders. Unbelievable. There is now a distinct possibility I won’t be able to work in the morning because my computer will be in a million pieces against the wall.

 

7:00 to go: Peterson just picked up another 1.3 points on that drive. I need some sort of turnover pretty much as soon as Minnesota gets the ball back, because I’m down by 1.7 points now.

 

4:30 to go: Brett Favre sack! I’m back in this thing! Less than a point to make up now!

 

4:00 to go: Peterson 20 yard completion. Down by 3. This isn’t looking good.

 

3:10 to go: I. Hate. Percy. Harvin. I’m down by more than 8 points now. Not even a pick six saves me. I basically need a sack/fumble/TD in order to get 9 points, and the Jets are just going

to run out the clock anyway. I have to be up in less than 6 hours. I might as well just go to bed.

 

2:04 to go: Did the Jets seriously just throw the ball? Why does any coach ever do that? Hey Rex Ryan! You just wasted an opportunity to waste 40 seconds! That’s 33% of the rest of the game! On behalf of those of us who still need points from the Jets defense, thank you.

 

1:30 to go: Whoa…whoa…whoa…pick six. I’m down by 0.7 points again. Someone get the AED ready; my heart’s about to stop. All I need is for Favre to get sacked while he’s scrambling around the pocket trying to make something happen.  It’s like rooting for the sun to come up in the morning…just a matter of time.

 

:54 to go: There it is! The sack! I’m up by less than half a point. Tick! Tick tick! Tick tick!

 

:15 to go: They’re less than 40 yards from the end zone now. Favre may be 40, but he can throw the ball 40 yards…if I end up losing on a hail mary…

 

:05 to go: Or a checkdown to Peterson?!?! NO!!!!

 

:03 to go: Fumble! Grab it! @&!%*@!!!!!!

 

:03 to go: Incomplete pass? What? Seriously? Where’s the AED?! There’s no way he didn’t have possession and take two steps with the ball. That was a gift from the referee. He is now on my Christmas card list.

 

:02 to go: Knock it down!

 

:00 to go: Knock it down!

 

Game Over.  Final score: KC 112.6 – 112.3.

 

I swear that ball hung in the air in the end zone for 28 seconds, or maybe I just died for half a minute.  Now I just have to spend the next 3 days refreshing the league scoreboard to make sure ESPN doesn’t screw me over by retroactively changing some stats.  Dincher, I somewhat feel bad for the way you lost, but I need that win way more than you do, and you’ll probably end up getting the $10 bad beat bonus now.  The best part about that news?  It transitions perfectly into the Eliminator picks, because that bad beat bonus would go directly towards Dincher’s buy-in for the eliminator pool since I know I won’t get it any other way.  To the rest of you, only one person responded to my text on Friday regarding the $10 buy-in.  I’m going to hope that the majority of you decided to just say nothing and put $10 (or $30 if your name is O’Neill) in the mail, because I still need the buy-in from well over half the guys in the pool.  I’m keeping track of who has paid.  At this point, if I don’t win the Eliminator Challenge within our group (which we all know is going to be the case since I’ve never made it past week 8), I’m just going to pass along the “hit list” to whoever wins and it’ll be up to that person to get their money.

 

My picks were absolutely horrible last week, but I said several times that I wasn’t feeling good about any of them, so I offer no apologies to anyone who relied on my picks in choosing the Saints, since I basically apologized before I wrote them.  I ended up going off the board and picking the Colts to beat my Chiefs which worked out great.  Now there are 5 people left in our pool (my roommate, J. Troutman, doesn’t count towards our prize pool because he didn’t do the buy-in).  I highly doubt this week will shake anything up in our standings, because there are a lot of good options this time around.  If I go 2-3 again this week, I might have to get rid of this segment altogether.

 

#5. Toss-up between San Francisco (0-5) over Oakland (2-3) and New Orleans (3-2) over Tampa Bay (3-1)

 

Every week in this spot I end up picking a team that I think just absolutely has to win, and for 3 consecutive weeks I’ve been wrong, but one if not both of these teams is bound to win.  We’ve been waiting on the Saints’ offense to wake up, and losing to the worst defense in the NFL is either going to kick start that team or finally make us really question whether or not they’re a good team this year. And in the other game, San Fran eventually has to win a game, and Oakland has to lose because they haven’t won back to back games in several years.  In other words, this #5 pick will continue to be my gut call.  But let’s face it, if you’ve waited this long to use the 49ers or the Saints, you’re not about to use them now until they’ve proved THEY ARE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE!

 

#4. Houston (3-2) over Kansas City (3-1)

 

Despite what I’m about to say about Houston in my next pick, and despite the fact that I believe in the Chiefs as the potential AFC West Division Champions, I really don’t think my boys can win this game, and it’s more than just a gut feeling.  Both teams are among the best in the league at rushing the ball, among the best of the league at stopping the run, and both teams pretty much suck against the pass.  The difference maker in this game will either be Schaub and Andre Johnson or Dexter McCluster and Javier Arenas.  I’m leaning towards the former.  Schaub has had 4 poor games and 1 great game.  The great game came against the defense that’s 31st in the NFL in passing yards per game.  The 4 poor games came against teams that are all in the top 50% against the pass, including the teams ranked 2 and 3 in yards allowed per game.  The Chiefs are ranked 25th, and I’m pretty sure that Andre Johnson will be close to full health by kickoff.  I love Brandon Flowers, but I don’t even think Darrelle Revis could contain Andre when healthy.  And it’s not like Matt Cassel is going to throw the ball well, or that Dwayne Bowe will even catch the ball if he does. Good thing we’ll probably be favored in 10 of our remaining 11 games because we’re going to be 3-2.

 

#3. New York Giants (3-2) over Detroit (1-4)

 

The key to the Giants’ success thus far has been playing against teams that can’t move the ball and can’t pass protect.  Two of their three wins came against Carolina and Chicago who definitely fit that bill. Their two losses came against the Colts and Titans, who can both score in bunches and protect their quarterback unless they’re playing against the Steelers.  And then they have the win this past week against the Texans who actually aren’t a very good team if you can jump out to an early lead against them and effectively shut down Foster.  I’m sure Harshbarger can confirm that Matt Schaub hasn’t been the Matt Schaub we expect him to be.  He threw the ball well against Washington (who hasn’t?) but has failed to put up 250 yards in any of his other 4 games.  And the Texans give up a lot of sacks.  What’s my point?  This will easily be the #1 pick among Eliminator competitors, and I think the Giants will pull it off, but I’m not insanely confident in it because the Lions pass protect pretty well and inexplicably lead the NFC in scoring right now.  Also, the Lions aren’t horrible against the pass and might be able to contain Eli Manning.  In conclusion, this game scares me a little more than it really should.

 

#2. Chicago (4-1) over Seattle (2-2)

 

Obviously, I am operating under the assumption that Jay Cutler plays a complete game.  If Todd Collins is at quarterback again, I begin to question this pick a little bit, and it may drop out of my top five altogether.  But Seattle is horrible on the road, horrible against the pass, and more importantly than anything, they’re a West Coast team playing a 1:00 game.  I’ve been preaching this stuff all season, and for the record, the West coast team playing a 1:00 game is now 1-7 this season, including the Seahawks losing by 3 possessions at St. Louis 2 weeks ago.  If Cutler plays, I think the Bears could win this game by 30, but I might bail if he’s out again, because Todd Collins makes Derek Anderson look like a hall of famer.

 

#1. Pittsburgh (3-1) over Cleveland (1-4)

 

No way I’m betting on the Steelers giving 14 points since these games somehow always end up being close right down to the wire, but there’s also no way the Steelers lose at home against Colt McCoy and the Browns in Big Ben’s return.

 

The Commish’s NFL Upset of the Week:

 

St. Louis Rams (+8.5) over San Diego Chargers

 

I finally got one of these right last week, so now I’m 1-2 picking significant upsets (underdogs by 4 or more points), and I’m going to ride the Chargers again. For whatever reason, San Diego just finds ways to lose on the road.  Figure this out: the Chargers are first in the league in yards per game (450.8) and 2nd in the league in yards allowed per game (246.2), and they’re a 2-3 team?  How do you move the ball an average of 2 complete football fields further than your opponent and end up with a record below .500?!  I’m certainly not complaining, because I hate the Chargers, but I don’t think their special teams could possibly let them down more than they already have.  In the first loss it was a punt return for a TD.  In the second loss it was two kick returns for touchdowns.  In last week’s loss it was 2 blocked punts resulting in 9 points, and 3 lost fumbles, one of which resulted directly in a touchdown.  And now they have to be a West Coast team in a 1:00 game.  I just don’t see how they pull it off, you know, aside from the fact that the Rams are still the Rams and are getting injured left and right.

 

No more three team teasers. I’ve already lost too much money and this post is already too long.

 

*******Games of the Week*******

 

~~~~~~~Blowout of the Week~~~~~~~

Nelson’s Steelers (3-2) over Damn’s Bills (0-5)

 

<i> Projected Lineups:

 

Nelson: V. Young, S. Greene, D. McFadden, M. Wallace, M. Colston, N. Washington, Witten, Steelers, M. Bryant

 

Vs.

 

Damn: Cutler, Lynch, R. Brown, A. Johnson, Sims-Walker, K. Walter, C. Cooley, Seahawks, ? </i>

 

Damn may have just pushed me over the edge on a policy I’ve been tempted to initiate for awhile now, in which the person who wins the league has the option to kick out one owner from the league who finished the previous season with 9 or more losses so long as they are able to find a replacement for said owner. Obviously, it wouldn’t be fair for me to put that into effect mid-season, but that MJD trade wasn’t exactly fair either.  Maybe next year.  But for the rest of this year, now that Damn only has one or two players on his team that anyone in a 10 team league would ever even consider starting, I’m probably just going to pick against him in this spot by default.  Has anyone ever been luckier with their defense than Nelson?  Dude is averaging 21.5 points per game from that roster spot, and now this week he has the Steelers against the Browns.  Chalk up another 25 points there on the way to another convincing win.  The only way this ends up being close is if McFadden ends up not playing and then Nelson is forced to scramble to fill his roster, but I doubt that will even matter since Damn has 2 terrible running backs going against 2 great rushing defenses.

 

Final Score: 124-81.

 

 

~~~~~~~Upset of the Week~~~~~~~

 

O’Neill’s Buccaneers (2-3) over Meyers’ Cowboys (3-2)

 

<i> Projected Lineups:

 

O’Neill: Rivers, Charles, T. Jones?, Amendola, R. Moss, B. Edwards, Da. Clark, Falcons, K?

 

Vs.

 

Meyers: A. Smith, M. Turner, D. Brown?, D. Bess, D. Jackson, B. Tate, Shiancoe, Saints, Prater </i>

 

I think I’m 4 for 4 with my upset picks, and probably because I spend the most time on it, so let’s keep up the good work.

 

5 reasons:

 

#1. Philip Rivers vs. St. Louis.

 

The Chargers aren’t winning many games, but it isn’t Phil’s fault.  He’s quietly the #2 fantasy quarterback right now, and based on how many fantasy points they just allowed to Shaun Hill, I find it hard believe that the Rams won’t let Rivers put up 30 points.

 

#2. The #2 running back on Meyers’ team.

 

Who’s it going to be?  Third string Tashard Choice or banged up back up Donald Brown?  I presume Meyers will make a claim on some combination of guys on free agency, but there’s nothing out there that strikes me as someone you want to start this week, let alone again in Week 8 when Turner is on his bye.  I fully expect to either be offered Owens in a trade, or to process a trade involving Owens at some point in the next couple of days.  I do like me the TO.  If I may reiterate one of my bold predictions from back when TO got traded to the Bengals: “Bold prediction #2: Terrell Owens makes the Pro Bowl, causing Matthew Berry to suffer a stroke due to utter disbelief.”  All I’m saying is that I like Owens, and if he wants to continue to compete in a competitive NFC conference, Meyers can ill afford to have two weeks in which he basically punts one of his running back positions.

 

#3. Randy Moss vs. Dallas.

 

We caught a glimpse of it with Dallas putting up 24 points in the last 32 minutes against Tennessee and Minnesota putting up 20 points in the last 18 minutes against the Jets, but these teams are starting to click, and I have a hunch that this is one of those fantasy wet dream types of games in which both teams score in the 30s or 40s.  Obviously, Moss would greatly benefit from that.

 

#4. Kick Returners aren’t Wide Receivers

 

I loved Dante Hall, but he was never a viable fantasy option. I love Joshua Cribbs, but he’s very rarely a viable fantasy option. I would gladly have Dexter McClusterf**k on my team, but I would never start him.  Meyers is stuck deciding whether to play Devin Hester or to play Devin Hester lite in the form of Brandon Tate.  I don’t think you can count on either guy for more than a handful of points, but you almost have to play Tate and just hope he has a lot of “Randy Moss is gone and I’m taking the reins” potential.

 

#5. Braylon Edwards vs. Denver.

 

I love the drunk bastard and I’m not ashamed of it.  Flacco didn’t do much against the Broncos, but he didn’t have to.  I feel the same way as Colin Cowherd does, meaning I think the Jets are going to struggle and potentially suffer a loss in Denver this weekend.  This means I think the Sanchise has to throw the ball a bit, and I don’t even remember seeing Santonio Holmes on Monday night, so I think that still means Edwards profits.

 

X-Factor: Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Hillis.

 

The NFL is obsessed with concussion safety right now, and I really don’t think Rodgers will be allowed to go.  And Hillis has a history with the injury he has and that he reaggravated during the second half of Sunday’s game.  I don’t think either guy plays, which hurts both owners, but it would obviously be more detrimental to Meyers’ cause.  If Rodgers plays, if Hillis doesn’t play, and if Meyers is able to figure out something solid for that #2 running back spot, I don’t see why he can’t improve to 4-2.  But that’s a lot of ifs.

 

Final score: TB 112-97.

 

 

~~~~~~~Game of the Week~~~~~~~

 

Gideon’s Bears (3-2) vs. Duncan’s Packers (3-2)

 

<i> Projected Lineups:

 

Gideon: Brady, B. Jackson, L. McCoy, F/J Jones, Nicks, Houshmanzadeh, Winslow, Chargers, Bironas

 

Vs.

 

Duncan: Romo, Mendenhall, Thomas/Ivory, M. Williams, Austin, Boldin, Gates, Titans, Rackers </i>

 

Gideon’s suffered a lot of injuries this season, but with a win, he still has a chance to grab a share of the NFC lead nearly half way through the season. Meanwhile, Duncan hasn’t scored less than 100 points in a week yet this season, but he’s also sitting at 3-2.  At first glance, it looks like Duncan should win with ease, but I’ll see if I can’t talk myself into this being a pretty good matchup.

 

Breakdown:

 

QB: I’ve already made the point that I think the Cowboys game ends up being a scoring slugfest, and given the running back options in Dallas, it seems pretty obvious that Romo would have to be the one to do all the scoring.  Meanwhile, Gideon has Brady going up against the Ravens defense, who I still don’t believe in.  ESPN is ultimately going to give Duncan a significant edge, but I think it’ll be pretty close.  Slight edge: Duncan.

 

RB: Cleveland still somehow hasn’t allowed a rushing touchdown this season, so maybe Mendenhall doesn’t have a typical Mendenhall kind of day.  If he’s even remotely average and is paired with either an injured Pierre Thomas or a piss poor Chris Ivory, I think Duncan has a miserable day with his backfield.  On the other side of the fence, I like McCoy this week, though apparently not as much as ESPN’s experts do, and I think McCoy’s production along with whatever Jackson is able to scrap together should be more than enough to beat out Duncan’s running backs.  Edge: Gideon.

 

WR: This is the part where I instantly thought Duncan would have a huge advantage in this match-up, but now I’m not so sure.  Austin will no doubt have a great day, and when Flacco is actually throwing the ball, Boldin is usually the primary benefactor in Baltimore, which is facing a miserable secondary in New England. But Mike Williams is facing the best defensive secondary in the NFL and should consequently have a horrible day.  So Duncan should have 2 solid days from great guys and a sub-par day from an average guy, amounting to around 50 points.  Gideon should have one great day from a great guy and 2 solid days from 2 average guys, which could theoretically amount to around 50 points as well.  Hakeem Nicks is disgusting, which just amplifies the lack of foresight in my pre-season opinion that Keith’s best keeper choice was Ryan Grant while Nicks may very well struggle.  Glad I used up all of my stupidity in one statement, because most of the other things I predicted were pretty solid.  There’s no reason to ever assume Nicks will get less than 20 points on any given Sunday.  Housh is gradually working his way into the mix in Baltimore, and if Jacoby Jones goes, I think he makes for a solid play…but I’ve also been a hopeless believer in Jacoby Jones from day one.  If Jacoby doesn’t go, Felix Jones is all of a sudden looking like a valid flex option, and could just as easily put up good numbers in what I’ve said multiple times should be a score-gasm of a game.  Slight edge: Duncan.

 

TE/Def: The Saints are great against wide receivers, but they are terrible against tight ends for some reason, and considering Winslow is oftentimes the #1 receiving option in Tampa Bay, he should have a good day.  And despite my upset prediction, the Chargers defense should put up numbers against the Rams. However, Antonio Gates is averaging nearly 21 fantasy points per game, and is showing no signs of slowing. I think the Titans D is going to struggle against a Jaguars team that is all of a sudden scoring left and right even though MJD isn’t doing much of anything compared to usual, but Gates should carry Duncan’s extracurriculars to victory.  Significant edge: Duncan.

 

Final result: ESPN has the spread on this one at GB -41.5.  I’ll take the points, but I still think Duncan wins.  Score: GB 120-105.

 

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