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!
The Steelers vs. the Jaguars started off like it was going to be a butt-kicking, but ended up a close game. The Jaguars defense slowed down the Steelers in the second half, but MJD was the key cog for the offense. Jones-Drew had 24 touches for 104 total yards and almost willed the Jags back into the game. Early on the Steelers were very effective blending the run and passing games. Rashard Mendenhall looked to be healthy and he had over 100 yards on the ground in the first 19 minutes of the game. Mendenhall finished with 23 carries for 146 yards and a TD. Mike Wallace was targeted 6 times and only caught 2 of them for 76 yards and a TD. Ben Roethlisberger did a good job spreading the ball around, not so good for fantasy, and finished with12-23 attempts for 200 yards and the TD to Wallace. Steelers LB LaMarr Woodley and DE Brett Keisel both finished with 2 sacks each. Blaine Gabbert is not a good #2 QB now and has very little help other than MJD.
The Patriots game against the Cowboys was a very up and down game to watch. Tony Romo started with an early interception, then began to use play action effectively to help set up the defense. Romo finished with 27-41 attempts with 317 yards with a TD and an interception. Neither team’s running games were effective, and both defenses played a very physical, knockout game. Both teams had a sack specialist as Dallas’ LB Demarcus Ware had 2 sacks as did Patriot’s DE Andre Carter. Dez Bryant (4-78) made plays while trying to deal with a wardrobe malfunction and Miles Austin also pitched in with 7 catches for 74 yards. For Wes Welker, he had a quiet day with 4 catches for 45 yards and a TD on 10 targets. Tom Brady used his tight ends well, hitting Aaron Hernandez with 22 seconds left in the end zone. Hernandez had 8 receptions for 68 yards and Rob Gronkowski had 7-74 yards receiving on as many targets. Brady had the same completions and attempts as Romo, 27-41, but had 289 yards passing with 2 TD passes, and 2 interceptions.
The Bears vs. the Vikings is usually a low scoring affair with a lot of defense. The Bears defense dominated, but exceeded scoring expectations with 39 points. The Vikings offense could not get into a rhythm until the end of the game. Donovan McNabb was not effective as he continued to skip passes off the ground and got caught in the end zone for an early safety. This strangled the Viking offense as Adrian Peterson only finished with 13 touches for 39 yards and a TD. McNabb gave way to briefly to Joe Webb, who ended up giving way to rookie Christian Ponder. Ponder finished with 9-17 attempts for 99 yards all in the 4th quarter. He was very mobile and at least 3 of those attempts were drops by the Vikings receivers. Ponder seemed to bond with Percy Harvin (7-78 yards on 9 targets). DE Jared Allen continued the terror of Jay Cutler, by strip sacking him and recovering the fumble himself. Julius Peppers decided that even though injured, he needed to sack McNabb 2 times. Devin Hester was the fantasy star of the Bears. He had a 90 yard kickoff return for a TD, caught a 48 yard TD bomb from Jay Cutler, and ended the day with 5 catches for 91 yards. Matt Forte had 123 yards combined on 23 touches. Cutler had a good gunslinger day completing 67% of his passes for 267 yards and 2 TDs. Slot guy Dane Sanzenbacher, spun around to catch the second Cutler TD pass and bobbled away another TD catch.
The intense New York rivalry of the Buffalo Bills and New York City Giants had a great showing on Sunday. Once again, Fred Jackson was amazing, as he showed on his 80 yards TD run! He finished with 168 yards on 21 touches with that TD. My Week 6 Young Gun, Naaman Roosevelt, had two targets, one of which he turned into a 60 yard TD reception. CJ Spiller was targeted 5 times and caught all five for 39 yards. Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 70% of his passes for 244 yards, threw 2 TDs, and had 2 interceptions. One of those picks was in the red zone with 4 minutes left that sealed the Bills fate. NYG Ahmad Bradshaw kept on battling the entire game through early struggles. He finished with 28 touches for 130 yards and 3 TDs. Bradshaw had great body control as he extended the ball underneath the pile for a TD and he jumped over the pile for another TD. Eli Manning had a decent day throwing for 292 yards and had a 66% completion rate. Mario Manningham had a TD pass go in and out of his hands; however, he finished with 5 receptions for 56 yards on 8 targets. Jake Ballard, another one of my Young Guns, continues to grow in the starting TE role as he finished with 5 catches for 81 yards on as many targets. Hakeem Nicks caught 4 passes for 96 yards and barely missed out on a 33 yard TD reception.
When the schedule first came out, Cincinnati vs.Indianapolis looked like a cakewalk for the Colts. Times have changed for the better for the Bengals, but not so good for the Colts offense. Delone Carter’s stat line of 12 carries for 45 yards does not look impressive, at all. Carter did run hard early on, but veteran Donald Brown ran with more wiggle to score a rushing TD. Dallas Clark had a better game than last week as he caught 6 out of his 7 targets for 53 yards and a TD. Clark did have a critical fumble that led to the Bengals scoring their first TD. Pierre Garcon had a good game in PPR leagues with 8 receptions for 52 yards on 11 targets. Andy Dalton looked impressive against the Colts as he had a 78% completion rate, 264 passing yards, and a TD to AJ Green. The Green-Dalton connection could be a dynasty staple for years as Green finished with 5 catches for 51 yards on 7 targets. Jerome Simpson was productive by catching 6 passes for 101, but got the ire of his head coach for the 3 he should have caught. DE Carlos Dunlap helped seal the game by ending the Colts comeback with a 35 yard TD fumble return.
Bitter NFC East rivals squared off as the Eagles travelled to the Redskins. It looks like it is the beginning of the end for Rex Grossman. To say Grossman was erratic, doesn’t express how bad he was. He was fortunate that the 2 other interceptions were dropped or he would have finished with 6 picks. I would guess that “Sexy Rex” will get a fruit basket from Kurt Coleman as he caught 3 of his 4 interceptions. The Washington running backs didn’t help as they finished with 12 carries for 28 yards. The best run for the ‘Skins came from John Beck who had a short TD run. Beck sparked the offense and threw for 117 yards in relief. The brightest spot came from Fred Davis (6-95 yards)and he was partly responsible for two of Grossman’s picks. Michael Vick got knocked around in this game, giving way to Vince Young for a few snaps. Vick had an ok day for his standards with 54 yards on the ground, 237 yards in the air, a TD, and an interception. Brent Celek was more involved catching 4 for 42 yards and a TD. Celek missed a few that he should have caught, but also made an amazing catch falling away from the ball. Jeremy Maclin was a great downfield force catching 5 for 101 and LeSean McCoy kept the chains moving with 139 total yards on 30 touches, including a goal line TD.
The matchup that would end in head coaches being separated was one of Sunday’s best games. The Lions struggled to run the ball against the 49ers defense. Jahvid Best had a decent yardage day with 110 combined yards on 18 touches. Matt Stafford attempted to will the Lions to a win by throwing 50 times for 293 yards and 2 TDs. Stafford spread the ball around as Nate Burleson had 10 targets, only catching 3 for 34 and a TD. Brandon Pettigrew caught 8 for 42 and a TD with Patrick Willis draped over him most of the day. Calvin Johnson failed to score having only 7-113 yards. On the 49ers side, Frank Gore was the engine that could as he roared down the tracks for 141 yards on 15 carries with a TD. Kendall Hunter added another 33 yards as the change of pace back. Michael Crabtree had a 15 target enriched day and chipped in 9-77 yards. The TEs seemed to be missing for most of the game as Vernon Davis had 2 catches for 8 yards, but Delaine Walker was the hero on a gutsy 4th down call when he caught a TD to go ahead of the Lions.
Could Cam Newton get some magic going against the Falcons? Unfortunately for Cam, the answer was no. Newton had a rough day as he threw 3 interceptions, but he did manage to have 237 passing yards, and gain 50 yards on the ground with a rushing TD. The guessing game of which Carolina RB to start ended up on Jonathan Stewart who finished with 1 TD and 72 yards on 10 touches. Old men Steve Smith (5-66 yards) and Jeremy Shockey (4-60 yards) helped out the rookie in the air. The Falcons brought back the ground and pound with Michael Turner. Turner finished with 27 carries for 139 yards and 2 TDs. Matt Ryan threw for a lowly 163 yards and added a TD pass and a TD run. This affected Roddy White who had 2 catches for 21 yards on 5 targets; however, two of those targets were pass interference plays in the end zone which set up two goal line TDs.
The World Champions vs. the Rams could have been a slug-fest a year ago, not this time. Sam Bradford had a good game as he finished with 28-44 attempts for 321 yards and 1 pick. Rookie pass catchers finally showed up for Bradford as Lance Kendricks had 4 receptions for 71 yards and Greg Salas did a Danny Amendola impression finishing with 8-77 yards on 10 targets. I guess the bye helped the rookies and Steven Jackson, who had 125 combined yards on 22 touches. Even Danario Alexander had 6 receptions for 91, but it was not enough for the Rams to score more than 3 points. The Packers only had to rely on the arm of Aaron Rodgers (61% completion rate, 310 yards, 3 TDs, and 1 interception) and a few big passing plays. The big plays were a 93 yard TD catch by Jordy Nelson (2-104 yards on the day) and James Jones’ single catch of 35 yards for a TD. Greg Jennings was the constant receiver with 6 for 82 yards on 10 targets.
The Bucs upset the Saints in a hard-fought game. Marques Colston got a clean release down the sideline for a 38 yard TD to start the scoring and finished with 7 catches for 118 yards. Jimmy Graham (7-124 yards) once again was Brees’ favorite target and he never ceases to amaze me with his physical play fighting for the ball. The Bucs defense was very effective against the run as the Saints ran for 70 yards total and forced Drew Brees into 3 interceptions. Brees threw for 383 yards, but only got 1 TD to show for his efforts. Mark Ingram had 10 touches for 28 combined yards and a 12 yard TD. Darren Sproles did his damage in the air by receiving 8 for 46 yards. For the Bucs, Josh Freeman was adequate with the ball throwing for 56%, 303 yards, and 2 TDs. One fo those TD went to Arrelious Benn, who had the 65 yard score, and had a total of 3 receptions for 83 yards. Mike Williams looked more poised as he hauled in 6 for 59 yards and was Freeman’s favorite receiver as he got 13 targets. Tampa set the winning tone early by going to Ernest Graham early and often. Graham finished with 19 touches for 131 combined yards.
The Texans went to the Ravens for a matchup of division leaders. The combo of Houston’s Ben Tate (9-41 yards) and Arian Foster (21 touches for 101 yards) reminded me of the way Carolina once used Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams before Cam came to town. A touch of power then the speed were not so effective versus the Ravens. Matt Schaub had an ok day throwing for 220 yards and a TD to Jacoby Jones. Jones was a bit of a surprise considering his letdown last week, but he finished with 4 receptions for 76 yards. The Ravens did a good job taking Owen Daniels out of the game as he finished with 2 catches for 13 yards. Schaub was harassed by the Ravens defense as they sacked him 4 times. The Ravens offense begins and ends with Ray Rice, who finished with 161 combined yards on 28 touches. He reminded me of Priest Holmes in this game as no one seemed to get a good hit on him. Anquan Boldin looked like the Boldin I remember from Arizona as he finished with 8 receptions for 132 yards on 9 targets. Rookie Torrey Smith helped stretch the field and had 3 catches for 84 yards while just missing out on a TD in the back of the end zone. Joe Flacco had a decent day with 305 passing yards, 1 rushing TD, and 1 interception.
The Jets and the Dolphins gave us another Monday night game with little excitement outside of Darrelle Revis’ 100 yard interception touchdown return. Matt Moore had a rough day coming out of the bye. He finished with less than 50% completions, 204 yards passing, and 2 interceptions. The Jets defense harrassed Moore by hitting him 11 times and sacking him 4 times. Big time talker Brandon Marshall did what he could by catching 6 passes for 109 yards on 13 targets. He did much of his damage against Revis and Cromartie. Marshall almost had a great catch over Cromartie in the end zone. Reggie Bush looked good in his limited touches (12) for 78 yards, but the offense couldn’t gel with Moore at the helm. Mark Sanchez didn’t have a great night statistically, but he was solid with a rushing TD, 56% completion rate, 201 yards passing, and a TD toss. Santonio Holmes weaved in and out of the defenders’ grasps to make a 38 yard TD catch. He finished with 3 catches for 63 yards. Shonn Greene was just a guy with 74 yards on 21 carries.