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 Falcons game against the Colts was hardly a game. Atlanta jumped to a 14-0 advantage early on and never looked back. The Colts only score was a short interception return by CB Jerraud Powers. Delone Carter had the first 2 carries of the game, the second which he fumbled and then he didn’t come back until the 4th quarter. Donald Brown took advantage of the rookie as he had 16 carries for 70 yards of which most were on draws and designed to get the ball carrier in space. Austin Collie had a team high 4 catches for 32 yards which isn’t saying much. Curtis Painter had a miserable day with just under a 50% completion rate, 98 yards, and 1 pick. The Falcons established the run game early with Michael Turner running for 71 yards and a short TD. Rookie Jaquizz Rodgers also added 60 yards on 11 touches. Fellow rookie Julio Jones had his best game as a pro finishing with 3 receptions for 131 yards on 4 targets. The first catch was a contested 50 yard TD catch that was originally ruled a trap and Jones hauled in another 80 yard TD (this one he took a short pass and ran away from everyone). Jones was solid in the reverse game as well with 2 carries for 33 yards. Matt Ryan threw for a 58% completion rate with 275 yards and 3 TDs and the interception previously mentioned. This was the first game that the Falcons offense could do whatever they wished and made the Colts problems extremely clear.
The Patriots appeared to poised to take advantage of the Giants injuries (Ahmad Bradshaw, Hakeem Nicks, etc.). The first half was a defensive, sloppy slug fest as the score, 0-0, demonstrated. Tom Brady had a very up and down game as he completed 56% of his passes, threw for 334 yards, threw 2 TDs, and had 3 turnovers (2 interceptions, 1 fumble). The Giants front 7 got to Brady with pressure, but only sacked him twice. BJGE (12 carries for 52 yards) was used early in the game to slow down the pass rush. Brady only had eyes for Wes Welker (9-136 yards), Rob Gronkowski (8-101 yards-1 TD), and Aaron Hernandez (4-35 yards-1 TD). The offense did enough to win, but the Pats defense couldn’t stop Eli Manning or Brandon Jacobs. Manning had a 51% completion rate, 250 yards passing, 2 TD passes, and 1 interception. Jacobs grinded out 22 touches for 100 yards and a short TD. Victor Cruz lead the Giants receivers with 6 catches for 91 on 11 targets, but the hero of the game was TE Jake Ballard (4-67 yards) who caught the winning TD with less than a minute left. The Giants played with more passion for the win.
The Seahawks 10 point loss to the Cowboys is much closer than the game actually was. Marshawn Lynch did go into “Beast Mode” by running straight at the heart of the Dallas “D” for 135 yards on 23 carries, including a short TD. Lynch was the only part of the Seattle offense that was working. Tavaris Jackson looked rushed most of the game and had serious judgement issues as he threw for 17 for 30, 221 yards, and 3 interceptions. On one pass, Jackson threw the ball down towards the ground around 4 Dallas d-linemen which resulted in an interception. He kept on forcing the ball to Sidney Rice, who only caught 3 balls for 69 yards, on 8 targets. Dallas after a quiet first half used a good blend of the run/pass game to keep the Seahawks guessing what they would do. DeMarco Murray gouged Seattle with his quick smooth running and finished with 186 yards on 26 touches. I don’t think any defender hit him head on. Tony Romo completed 61% of his passes, threw for 279 yards, and a TD each to Laurent Robinson (5-32) and Jason Witten (4-71). Dez Bryant caught less than half of his targets to finish with 4 catches for 76 yards and made an unwise fair catch.
The Browns trip to the Texans was a test of their stoutness against the run. After two 100 yard Texans runners, the Cleveland defense was out gunned in Houston. The Browns running game took 21 carries to get 44 yards, not exactly a homecoming for Chris Ogbonnaya. Colt McCoy completed 64% of his passes; however, they only went for 146 yards. Josh Cribbs was the only productive fantasy starter for the Browns with 5 catches for 50 yards and a TD on 5 targets, but is hardly a guy you were starting. It was all about the Texans running game as Matt Schaub had a junk day throwing for worse than McCoy, 119 yards and an interception. Schaub did score a TD run. Arian Foster had a workhorse 24 touches for 150 yards and a TD. Ben Tate ran especially hard on a 27 yard TD scamper and ended his day with 12 carries for 115 yards. Rookie OLB Brooks Reed continued his sack streak to 3 games by getting 2 sacks on McCoy and added another 2 tackles.
The Steelers/Ravens game went back to its usual slugfest, but then a passfest broke out? Both teams did not run the ball well. The Steelers lost the game due to poor clock management. Ben Roethlisberger was kept relatively clean for most of the game, completed 54% of his passes, 330 yards, a TD to Mike Wallace, and an interception right to Terrell Suggs. Rashard Mendenhall had 13 carries for 52 yards and a TD, but it was Heath Miller, once again acting as a running game, with 5 catches for 73 yards on 6 targets that moved the chains. With Hines Ward knocked loopy again, Jerricho Cotchery took his spot by adding 3 catches for 44 yards. The primary downfield targets, Antonio Brown (5 receptions for 109 yards) and Mike Wallace (4-68 yards with the above mentioned TD with 5 minutes to go), had solid yet unspectacular games. James Harrison applied pressure to Joe Flacco by sacking him 3 times and forcing a fumble. The Terrell Suggs interception near the beginning of the 3rd quarter could have cost the Steelers the game as it stopped the Steelers in the red zone. Ray Rice was held to 86 total yards on 23 touches, but did find pay dirt on a short yardage carry. Joe Flacco completed almost 60% of his passes, passed for 300 yards, and had 1 TD to Torrey Smith. Smith was targeted 9 times and caught 5 for 71 yards including the winning TD with 10 seconds left in the game. The 4 missed targets were drops that Smith should have caught. Anquan Boldin had 7 receptions for 88 yards with 3 of those catches on the last drive.
The NFC South battle between the Saints and the Bucs wasn’t as close as the score indicated. LaGarrette Blount ran with power and well early on (13 carries for 72 yards). When the field shortened, Blount was bottled up by the Saints. Josh Freeman had a good statistical day by completing 73% of his passes for 281 yards and 1 TD. Freeman found Mike Williams 6 times for 46 yards, but failed to get a rhythm with any of his receivers. The Bucs defense could not stop the Saints running and short passing games. Drew Brees completed 75% of his passes for 258 yards, 2 TDs, and an interception that was a nose hair from being returned the other way by Ronde Barber. Jimmy Graham (6-78 yards) and Marques Colston (5-52 yards) had solid days for Brees. The running backs did the heavy lifting. Lighting bug, Darren Sproles, had 42 yards rushing on 4 carries and added 5 receptions for 57 yards and a TD, while Pierre Thomas did his impression of Sproles rushing for 66 yards for a TD on 8 carries and added 4 catches for 25 yards.
What did we find out when the Jets played the Bills? The Jets offense might be a bit better than what I thought and the Bills are not as good. Fred Jackson is starting to break down. Yes, I understand that 120 yards on 21 touches is a good day; however, he fumbled for the 1st time and dropped a couple of easy passes. Jackson is not the second coming of Marshall Faulk or Priest Holmes, but has played that way. Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t doing him any favors by throwing for under 50%, 191 yards, and 2 interceptions vs. a TD pass caught by David Nelson. Steve Johnson had a big catch to inflate his 84 yard total on 3 receptions. The Jets rushing offense looked good going thru Shonn Greene, who ran with authority, for 76 yards after a couple of holding calls stopped him from having more. Plaxico Burress got downfield for 79 yards and caught a perfect 5 passes in as many targets. Dustin Keller took a hard hit and looked out of it on the sidelines, but added 64 yards. Mark Sánchez won’t win you a fantasy championship with 71% completion rate, 230 yards, and a single TD to Santonio Holmes, but he can give you solid QB2 depth for the playoffs.
The next time Raider Nation wants to chant “Tebow sucks, Tebow sucks” wait until he is out of the building. New Raider QB Carson Palmer doubled his interception total with 6 for the year in 2 games. Good thing, Palmer managed to add 332 yards and 3 TDs to that total as well. Michael Bush had control of the game early with 129 total yards on 21 touches with a TD catch. Jacoby Ford had a fantastic grab in the end zone and caught 5 total for 105 yards on 6 targets. Denarius Moore had 3 times as many targets (12) as he had catches (4). The four receptions for 61 yards was better than what we have seen for weeks, but 2 of Palmer’s 3 interceptions came while throwing to Moore. The Broncos defense became stronger against the run as the game wore on. The Broncos offense decided to give Tim Tebow some more college plays to run and that was the shot in the arm he needed. Tebow had more designed runs (12 for 118 yards) and completed just below 50% of his passes for 124 yards and 2 TDs. Eric Decker caught a pass in stride for a TD (3-47) as did Eddie Royal (2-25). Royal also added a 85 yard punt return for a TD. As the 4th quarter arrived, the Raiders front seven wore down and this is when Willis McGahee thrived. McGahee finished with 163 yards on 20 carries with TD runs of 60 yards and 24 yards which were enough for the Christians to beat the Raiders.
The Bengals/Titans game was a defensive battle with a touch of offense sprinkled in. Chris Johnson had a decent fantasy day with 110 combo yards on 18 touches. Matthew Hasselbeck threw the ball 41 times and completed 28 of them for 272 yards including 2 TDs. The surprise receiver for the Titans was Lavelle Hawkins who had 5 receptions for 63 yards and 1 of Hasselbeck’s TDs. Jared Cook finally showed up with 4 catches for 47 yards on 8 targets. This was a physical game for both squads. The Bengals might have won on the arm of Andy Dalton, but I think it was more about his mind. He threw a pedestrian 56% completion rate with 217 yards. His 2 of his 3 TDs went to unlikely recipients in Andre Caldwell and backup TE Colin Cochart. Cedric Benson kept on running towards his almost 4 yards per carry and a cloud of dust while AJ Green moved the ball with ease (7 catches for 83 yards) on as many targets.
The firepower certainly came out when the Packers visited the Chargers. Now I don’t make this comparison lightly, but Mike Tolbert looked like the X-Men’s Juggernaut. He kept himself very low moving forward and bounced off many defenders which worked for 142 yards, and a TD on 23 touches. Antonio Gates (8 catches for 96 yards and a TD) looked healthy and strong while running routes. As a result of being behind most of the game, Phillip Rivers completed 56% of his passes for 385 yards, 4 TDs, and 3 interceptions. Two of those picks were returned by Packers defensive backs for TDs on back to back drives. Rivers was very careless with the ball, but he did find Vincent Jackson 7 times for 141 yards including 3 of his 4 TDs. Jackson was finding great separation and got behind the defense for easy end zone work. Rookie Vincent Brown was quiet for the first three-quarters with no catches, but in the 4th quarter he caught 4 for 79 yards. The Packers were always in control of the game until the last 7 minutes. Jordy Nelson paced the Packers receivers this week with 5 receptions for 105 yards and a TD catch that would make most firemen happy (drop, tuck, and roll). James Starks kept the defense honest with 75 yards on 14 touches. Both Greg Jennings (6-46-1 TD) and Jermichael Finley (5-44-1 TD) had decent fantasy days to help out their QB. Aaron Rodgers had a great day with limited opportunites as he completed 81% of his passes for 247 yards, threw for 4 TDs, and ran for another 52 yards.
The Monday night game between the Bears and the Eagles had a few less offensive fireworks than originally thought. Michael Vick had an off-Vick night as he only threw for 213 yards, 1 interception, and had 34 yards rushing. He didn’t look sharp and the Bears didn’t give him a lot of plays down the field. Brent Celek was very active again as he caught 7 passes for 60 yards. Jeremy Maclin added 4 receptions for 63 yards, but caught less than 50% of his targets. LeSean McCoy did all he could as he chipped in 71 yards on the ground with a 33 yard TD and 5 receptions for 46 yards. The Eagles defense got a 22 yard fumble return that gave them new life early on. The Bears offense led by Matt Forte, who had 150 combined yards, but also had 2 fumbles. Forte ran directly at the Eagles soft middle. Earl Bennett, coming off injury, had a great night with 5 catches for 95 yards and a great end zone reception. Jay Cutler had a decent night going 18 for 32 for 208 yards and 2 TDs.
I wrote this article in remembrance of my grandfather, Herbert Rink. He loved sports almost as much as his family. Grandpa passed that passion onto me. One of my biggest joys at age 7 was watching his beloved Lions play on Thanksgiving Day in his room and hearing his excitement for the game. I’ll miss you Grandpa