Every week during the season, I will throw out some quick observations of the previous NFL week. With the invention of the DVR and Directv’s ”Quick Bits”, I am able to watch almost every snap of every game and give you a lightning “blitz” war “krieg” to bring to your fantasy league for domination. Bring on the games!
In the battle of the AFC North, the Steelers took on the Bengals. The Steelers jumped to a quick 14 point advantage and held on to win 24 to 17. Super rookie AJ Green had a single catch, a 36 yard TD, before leaving due to a lower leg injury. It was another amazing catch as he caught it in between the Steelers starting safeties. Andy Dalton looked efficient throwing the short passes, but only completed 50% of his passes for 170 yards with 2 TDs and 2 interceptions. Andrew Hawkins filled in for Green by hauling in 5 balls out of 6 targets. The Bengals defensive line got to Ben Roethlisberger as he was sacked 5 times. Ben’s numbers look worse than what they were mostly due to an interception caused by Heath Miller (3-31 yards) bumbling the ball. Roethlisberger completed 21 out of 33 for 245 yards with a TD and the previously mentioned interception. Antonio Brown was his safety valve by catching 5 for 86 out of 6 targets. Mike Wallace had an up and down day with 5 receptions for 47 yards and 2 reverses for 31 yards. Wallace did have several drops. Rashard Mendenhall had a productive day with 2 short yardage TDs and 70 total yards. CB William Gay sealed the game for the Steelers with a steal of a Dalton pass with 2:30 to play.
It was Seattle’s “12th man” and Marshawn Lynch that made the difference for the Seahawks at home. Tavaris Jackson was an adequate QB completing 63% of his passes for 217 yards and when I write adequate, I mean he didn’t lose the game with turnovers or bad decisions. Lynch was the workhorse as he touched the ball 37 times for 167 yards combined and had a short TD run. It wasn’t pretty, but effective as the vaunted Ravens defense looked old and played back on their heals. Ravens WR David Reed had 2 fumbles and a penalty that helped keep Baltimore in a hole they couldn’t get out. As the Ravens found themselves down 10-0 early on, their running game was only used for quick draws and was barely used. Ray Rice had a light day with 13 touches for 81 yards (5 on the ground with 8 in the air) and threw a TD pass to Ed Dickson. Dickson had his best day as a pro, catching 10 for 79 yards and 2 TDs (the other TD was from Joe Flacco) by getting good separation from the linebackers and safeties. Flacco threw 52 times, completing 29 of those for 255 yards with the above mentioned TD and an interception.
The Jets and Patriots played a hard-fought game that started off as an ugly 6-2 game with less than 5 minutes left in the first half. Mark Sánchez completed just over 50% of his passes for 306 yards with a TD to Plaxico Burress and 2 interceptions (one was returned for a TD by LB Rob Ninkovich). Sánchez added a rushing TD and found Santonio Holmes 6 times for 93 yards. Shonn Greene had 15 touches for 75 yards, but shared time with LaDanian Tomlinson and wasn’t getting in rhythm. Rookie Jeremy Kerley only caught 50% of the passes thrown to him for 79 yards on 8 targets. The Pats had issues running the ball too (60 yards total). Ocho Cinco had 2 big catches in the 1st quarter for 65 yards and was not heard from again. Rob Gronkowski had a monster game (8 catches for 113 yards for 2 TDs) and stepped out-of-bounds in the back of the end zone or he could have had a 3rd TD. Deon Branch produced with 5 receptions for 58 yards and a TD, while Wes Welker chipped in 6 for 46 yards on 8 targets. Tom Brady completed 67% of his passes for 329 yards and DE Andre Carter had a huge defensive game with 4.5 sacks as the Jets o-line could not stop him.
The Cowboys delivered a beat down to the Bills. Fred Jackson ran well with 114 yards on 13 carries, but produced 1 yard in the passing game on 4 receptions. Donald Jones was the most productive Bills receiver with 6 catches for 51 yards on 10 targets. Ryan Fitzpatrick had a rough day with 3 interceptions, but did manage to complete 64% of his passes for 146 yards. His TD pass was to David Nelson (4-31 yards) who then handed the football to his girlfriend who is a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader..hubba hubba. DeMarco Murray continued his impressive play with 171 yards on 26 touches and a TD. Murray was almost stuffed on one play and reversed his field with ease for a 15 yard gain. He is the real deal and a great complement to Tony Romo. Romo had a fantastic day looking calm and poised by throwing for 88% completion rate, 270 yards, and 3 TD passes. The first TD pass went to Dez Bryant (6-74 yards) who high pointed the ball and out muscled the DB. The next 2 TDs went to Laurent Robinson who caught all three of his targets for 73 yards including the beautiful 58 yard TD strike.
The southern matchup of Tennessee against Carolina was more lopsided than it was thought to be. Cam Newton had a difficult day throwing 40 times, completing only 23 for 212 yards with an interception; however, he did manage to run 55 yards. Newton struggled to play from behind and had issues finding his favorite WR Steve Smith (5-33 yards on 8 targets). Newton was also sacked 5 times which seemed to rattle him. Greg Olsen only caught 36% of the pass thrown to him (4-45 yards). The Panthers ran the ball well, but 12 total carries was not enough for Jonathan Stewart (4-23 yards) and DeAngelo Williams (8-35 yards) to be effective. Legedu Naanee had 8-75 yards on 9 targets. The Titans were all about their defense and the combo of Damian Williams and Chris Johnson. Williams had a few impressive catches, one of which he broke a tackle and screamed down the sideline for a TD. He finished with 5 receptions for 107 yards. Johnson on the other hand, started off the first half slow, but ended the game running hard. He had 174 combined yards and a TD on 31 touches which was his best game this season.
In one of the ugliest games of the weekend, the Jags defeated the Colts 17-3. Donald Brown had 2 explosive carries at the beginning of the game, but soon faded with 18 touches for 65 combined yards. Delone Carter appeared to have 20 lb weights on each of his ankles as he could not get it going (6 carries for 14 yards). Jacob Tamme was the bright spot for the Colts by catching 6 passes for 75 yards on 8 targets and may continue to start for the rest of the year with the Dallas Clark injury rumors. The Jaguars defense stepped up and harassed the Indy quarterbacks by sacking them 4 times. Blaine Gabbert had another underwhelming day with 118 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception, but managed to complete 66% of his passes. MJD was once again the heart and soul of the Jags offense as he had 137 combined yards and a touchdown on 28 touches. He would not be stopped.
Speaking of ugly games, this one might have been worse. The Broncos defeated the Chiefs 17-10. The only fantasy threat for the Chiefs was Dexter McCluster who had 8 carries for 45 yards and added 6 catches for 48 yards. Jackie Battle ran straight to the hole for 61 yards on 9 carries, but adds no other dimension or wiggle. Dwayne Bowe had 9 targets, but only caught 2 for 17 yards. Steve Breaston had 6 targets and caught 4 for 33 yards. It looks like Matt Cassel may be going to the IR and Tyler Palko will be taking over. The Broncos front seven swarmed both QBs for 4 sacks on the day. When Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno (who placed on IR on Monday) went down, Lance Ball stepped up and became a volume runner with 96 yards on 30 carries. Tim Tebow (9-43 yards and a TD) continued his holy ride as he completed 2 passes out of 8 for 69 yards including a 56 yard TD to Eric Decker. Decker only had the one catch, but should have caught the other 2 passes from Tebow which would have added 80 yards and another TD to his totals.
The Texans came out swinging against the Bucs and never let up. Jacoby Jones caught a 80 yard TD bomb from Matt Schaub and only had one other catch for 7 yards. Schaub didn’t need to do much as he completed 11 of 15 passes for 242 yards with 2 TDs. Arian Foster was a monster on the ground (17 carries for 84 yards and a TD) and in the air (4 receptions for 102 yards and a TD). Ben Tate helped relieve him with 13 carries for 63 yards and a TD. LB Brian Cushing had a nice IDP day with 8 tackles, an interception, a sack, and a pass defended. The Bucs offense had a bad day led by Josh Freeman’s performance. Freeman completed 45% of his passes for 170 yards, threw a TD pass to Preston Parker (2-17 yards), and completed 3 passes to the Texans. LeGarrette Blount (10 carries for 34 yards) could not get anything going.
The Bears defense dominated their game against the high-powered Lions with 4 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries, 2 sacks, 3 defensive/special team scores (an 82 yard punt return by Devin Hester and 2 interception returns). Jay Cutler didn’t do much as he threw for 123 yards on 9 completions with no TDs or picks. Matt Forte had a relatively quiet day with 67 yards and a TD on 19 touches. The Bears leading receiver was Earl Bennett who finished with 81 yards on 6 catches. Matt Stafford had a career high 63 attempts with 33 completions. He did throw for 329 yards, 1 TD to Tony Scheffler (3-37 yards) and completed the 4 passes to the Bears defenders. Calvin Johnson was targeted 19 times, but only came down with 7 for 81 yards. Rookie Titus Young had 7-74 yards on 9 targets; Nate Burleson came out of hiding (8-83 yards), but that may have been a result of the 63 passing attempts.
The Falcons vs. the Saints was a pretty boring game in the first half, but they both turned on the heat especially in the 4th quarter and overtime. Michael Turner had a typical day with 22 carries for 96 yards by running hard and lowering his shoulders. Jaquizz Rodgers had 38 yards on 8 touches in relief. Harry Douglas stepped up for an injured Julio Jones (2-9 yards on 5 targets) by catching 8 for 133 yards on 14 targets on a lot of downfield throws. Matt Ryan threw the ball overall 52 times, completing 29 of them for 351 yards, 2 TDs, and an interception. Tony Gonzalez added 6 receptions for 71 yards and a TD, while a noticeably slower Roddy White hauled in 4 for 62 yards. Drew Brees put the Saints on his back and willed them to victory by throwing 70% completion rate, 322 yards, and 2 TDs. Marques Colston had a strong day with 8 for 113 on 9 targets and was a true physical force out there. Jimmy Graham had a good fantasy day with 7 catches for 82 yards and a wide-open TD grab, but he outright dropped at least 2 of his 5 missed targets. Robert Meachem made the most of his 2 targets as he caught both for 69 yards including a 33 yard TD reception.
The San Francisco 49ers outlasted the New York Giants. Eli Manning had another big passing day by completing 26 of 40 attempts for 311 yards, 2 TDs, and 2 interceptions. One of those TDs went to Hakeem Nicks who had a relatively quiet day with 2 catches for 41 yards and that TD catch was an awesome over the shoulder reception. Victor Cruz had 6 catches for 84 yards, but had some concentration issues as he dropped several passes. Mario Manningham caught 6 for 77 yards with a TD and couldn’t come up with a long TD catch that would have tied the game with 3 minutes left. Brandon Jacobs was not very effective on his 20 touches with 72 yards. Frank Gore was not a factor for the 49ers as the G-men were getting good penetration, but rookie Kendall Hunter made the most of his 7 touches for 44 yards including an explosive 17 yard TD run. TEs Delanie Walker (6-69 yards) and Vernon Davis (3-40 yards-1 TD) acted as the defacto running game. Alex Smith looked poised completing 63% and 242 yards passing. He threw for the TD to Davis, a 2 point conversion, an interception, and ran for 27 yards.
An old-fashioned butt-whopping is what happened on Monday Night Football! The Vikings played a sloppy game on both fronts. Christian Ponder had a rookie day completing 47% of his passes and throwing for 190 yards and a pick. He was sacked 3 times and hit another 6 times. Adrian Peterson only got 14 caries which he turned into 51 yards and a short yardage TD. Kyle Rudolph caught all three targets for 37 yards and had a spectacular one-handed grab in the 4th quarter. Percy Harvin was used well as a receiver (6 for 52 yards) and as a rusher out of the backfield (3 carries for 18 yards). Green Bay rookie Randall Cobb made a big splash with a 79 yard punt return TD and added 3 catches for 36 yards. Greg Jennings had a quiet night after he caught a 24 yard TD finishing with 3 for 32 yards. Jordy Nelson gave everything he could to score on his 17 yard TD catch and followed it up with another short TD, finishing with 5 receptions for 63 yards. Aaron Rodgers continued to prove why he is everyone’s fantasy and NFL MVP with 4 TD passes, 250 yards passing, a 76% completion rate, and 21 yards rushing.