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Tag:Cowboys
Posted on: October 21, 2010 8:35 am
 

Week 7 probabilities

One of the more intriguing matchups this weekend, and possibly the most puzzling prediction of the efficiency model all season, is the Patriots at Chargers. The Patriots come into Week 7 at 4-1, fresh off a dramatic win over the contending Ravens. The Chargers enter the weekend at 2-4, fresh off a loss to the rebuilding Rams. But somehow the model makes the Chargers heavy favorites over the Patriots  at 0.85 to 0.15.

In fact, the Chargers sit atop all other teams in the weekly rankings produced by the game probability model thanks to their passing efficiency on both sides of the ball. Philip Rivers and the rest of the offense are in a class by themselves, averaging 7.9 net yards per pass attempt. San Diego’s pass defense is also best in the league at 4.9 net yards per attempt. The Chargers’ running efficiencies on offense and defense are both better than average, as are their turnover rates.

So what is going on? How can a team that leads the league in efficiency (and in total yards) on both sides of the ball have only a 2-4 record to show for it? A big part of the answer is very clear: special-teams play. The Chargers have given up  three touchdowns on kicks and punts, and have had further difficulties on special teams.

But things still don’t add up, so let’s look at turnover differential. Although the Chargers are better than average in interception rate, they pass so often that they actually have a turnover differential of -3. This certainly isn’t good, but even combined with their special-teams failures, it still doesn’t fully explain four losses for such a statistically dominant team. Something else is going on.

I think a big part of the Chargers’ 2-4 record is bad luck. Statisticians might call it sample error or randomness, but whatever you call it, it’s not going well for San Diego. I’m not talking about leprechauns or superstitions or the random bouncing of footballs. (Although the Chargers have lost 9 of 11 fumbles, and the league-wide rate is about 50 percent. Fumble recovery is a notoriously random event in football — just look at the shape of the ball.)

Rather, I’m talking about a concept I call “bunching.”

Let’s say there are two baseball teams, completely equal in ability, playing one game at a neutral site. Each team performs perfectly equally, both hitting exactly nine singles over nine innings. But let’s say one team gets all its singles in one inning, and the other has its singles spread out one per inning. The first team might win, 7-0. It’s an extreme example, but it illustrates an overlooked point about many sports. Successful plays are not enough. Consecutive successes are required to win.

In football, two equal teams could each have 12 first downs in a game. One team could have three drives of four consecutive first downs, each leading to a touchdown, and the rest of its drives could be three-and-outs. The other team could have 12 drives consisting of one first down followed by a punt. Both teams could have equal yards, first downs and efficiency stats, and yet one team could win, 21-0. It’s easy to imagine a game in which one team has many more first downs and yards, but still loses. Could something like this bunching effect be cursing the Chargers?

It’s a given that N.F.L. offenses tend to score in proportion to their yards gained. It’s actually an extremely tight correlation, and the best–fit estimate of a team’s points per game is to take just under 10 percent of its yards per game and subtract 10. For the Chargers, who lead the N.F.L. with 433 yards gained per game, we’d expect the offense to score about 32 points per game, but they’ve actually scored only 26.

A similar analysis for the Chargers’ defense, with the special-teams scores set aside, shows that it has  allowed almost 2 points more per game more than the yardage total implies. That’s a total difference of 8 points per game.

If we could magically add those 8 points onto the scoreboard for each game this season, the Chargers would have five wins, no losses and a tie. Of course, things aren’t that simple, and we can’t just add points after the fact. But it’s an exercise that illustrates just how random game outcomes can be, even in the N.F.L.

Here are your Week 7 game probabilities:

Win ChanceGAMEWin Chance0.45Cincinnati at Atlanta0.550.37Washington at Chicago0.630.40St. Louis at Tampa Bay0.600.49San Francisco at Carolina0.510.19Buffalo at Baltimore0.810.45Philadelphia at Tennessee0.550.14Jacksonville at Kansas City0.860.52Pittsburgh at Miami0.480.28Cleveland at New Orleans0.720.13Arizona at Seattle0.870.15New England at San Diego0.850.19Oakland at Denver0.810.26Minnesota at Green Bay0.740.53Giants at Dallas0.47
Posted on: September 24, 2010 9:14 am
 

Week 3 in the NFL

Can you believe that it's already week 3 in the NFL? If I told you that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would be 2 - 0 and the Cowboys were going to be 0 - 2, you would have said that I'm crazy. The unpredictable season is always exciting.

Fans can be a fickle bunch, myself included. The collective mood varies week to week, quarter to quarter, possession to possession. This sentiment is amplified following a team's season opening performance. A win correlates into a franchise's followers booking their Super Bowl accommodations; a loss spirals supporters into panic. This is especially the case in Philadelphia. Another example: the New York Jets, who arrived with unparalleled hype and hoopla thanks to HBO's Hardknocks and proclamations from coach Rex Ryan. Yet after suffering a defeat to the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night, seemingly the entire football world wrote off Gang Green's title aspirations. Pigskin pundits blasted New York management for cutting ties with running back Thomas Jones, signing washed-up veterans, and welcoming the distraction of a reality series into training camp. Former star Joe Namath took issue with the team, stating the current Jets needed to "shut up and play." Ryan was crucified for his game plan, whose conservative nature seemed to contradict the coach's brash attitude and assertions. Keep in mind, New York lost by just ONE POINT. But in the NFL, there's a thin line between bliss and bitterness.

On to the game of the week:
The Atlanta Falcons were the recipients of similar vitriol after a Week 1 defeat to Dennis Dixon and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Falcons were expected to bounce back from a disappointing and injury plagued 2009, and competing against Dixon, a 3rd string quarterback, appeared to be just what the doctor ordered. Unfortunately for the Falcons, Troy Pomamalu and the Steeler defense had a different itinerary in mind, as Pittsburgh came out victorious in a 15-9 overtime slugfest. Soon after, Mike Smith's squad was showered with criticisms and condemnations. Would Matt Ryan fall short of his projected potential? Was Michael Turner's 2008 an aberration? After Roddy White, were there any viable weapons in the aerial arsenal? So on and so on...

A 41-7 drubbing of defending NFC West champion Arizona seemed to lay to rest doubts among the Dirty-Bird backers, if only for a week. Ryan threw for 225 yards and 3 touchdowns, with a QB rating of 117.3. The Burner rushed for 75 yards on just 9 carries before succumbing to an injury (although not feared to be serious). Receivers not named White accounted for 14 receptions on Sunday. In short, Atlanta looked like the playoff-contending team that many had forecasted.

In reality, the Falcons fate is somewhere between their two performances. The Pittsburgh D, after shutting down Chris Johnson and Vince Young in Week 2, looks to have reclaimed their tenacious tendencies that led them to a Super Bowl in 2008. Meanwhile, the Cardinals are doing their best Little Giants impersonation. Atlanta travels to the Big Easy this week to play the Saints, off to a 2-0 start in their title defense. I give the edge to New Orleans; prediction: 28-19.

But rest assured, no matter what the outcome, one fan base will be making January playoff plans while the other will willow in its own misery. At least until next week's game.

These are my picks for the rest of the NFL:
Vikings over the Lions
Ravens over the Browns
Patriots over the Bills, aka the worst team in the NFL
Raiders over the Cardinals
Texans over the Cowboys...how bout dem cowboys? 0-3
Dolphins over the Jets
Steelers over the Buccaneers
Titans over the Giants
Bengals over the Panthers
Colts over the Broncos
49ers over the Chiefs
Eagles over the Jaguars
Redskins over the Rams
Packers over the Bears
Chargers over the Seahawks

Posted on: September 15, 2010 6:13 pm
 

What are the rules of trash talk?

Wilfred Winkenbach created fantasy football. He set the rules for engagement. Check out this funny video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NX1ncpOXoDw
Posted on: December 11, 2009 5:25 pm
 

Eagle view of Cowboys and Giants - week 14

There are a lot of good games in week 14, but frankly, I don’t care. The two games that I’m focusing on are Philly vs New York, and Dallas vs San Diego.

Let’s start with my birds:

Passing Attack: Donovan McNabb has played well this season (2,427-16-6), but the offense did not skip a beat (in fact on some levels it was more productive) when highly drafted backup Kevin Kolb took over for the injured McNabb in the early season. McNabb is still an upper tier QB, but age and injuries have taken away his running game which was a dangerous part of his skill-set in the past and he has been inconsistent at times. When he is on his game this offense flows as well as any unit in the game, but some weeks the passing game just seems out of synch. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are two young emerging stars at WR, and perhaps a move to Kolb will allow them all to grow together. Jackson missed last week’s game after suffering a concussion the week prior, but is expected to return this week –keep an eye on his status. Also note the Giants tendency to allow opposing TEs to have big games.

The Giants beat their rival Cowboys last week but the depleted Giant secondary did not contribute much to that victory. Tony Romo threw for over 300 yards and 3 TDs against the Giants who at one point had the top ranked passing defense but have fallen down the rankings steadily for the last several weeks. They are still ranked seventh in passing yards allowed (199.0 ypg), but their 21 TDs allowed in 12 games says that they are easily beaten through the air. They will be best served by trying to keep Desean Jackson in front of them in New Jersey this weekend in order to try and limit big plays or that TD total could grow. I’m not expecting the Gmen to shut down DJack. He was at home last week, and he is ready to explode.

Running Attack: Brian Westbrook may return this week from his post-concussion syndrome, but if he does he will likely be very limited. LeSean McCoy and Leonard Weaver have been very effective in Westbrook’s absence and should get the bulk of the carries even if Westbrook does play. Like the Cowboys, the Eagles tend to abandon the run early so it may be the second week in a row that the Giants run defense looks good merely because it wasn’t really tested.

New York is ranked 15th in the league in run defense, allowing 102.6 ypg. They have allowed 15 TDs in 12 weeks including long TD runs to both McCoy and Weaver in the Week 8 matchup. Under-rated tackle Barry Coefield doesn’t get much recognition in a defense loaded with bigger names but with fellow “up the middle” players like Antonio Pierce and Kenny Phillips lost for the season, Coefield will be a key to the run defense going forward.

Predictions:
Donovan McNabb: 245 yds passing 2 TDs, 1 Int. / 5 yds rushing
Jeremy Maclin: 50 yds receiving, 1 TD
Desean Jackson: 65 yds receiving
Brent Celek: 55 yds receiving, 1 TD
LeSean McCoy: 65 yds rushing, 1 TD / 35 yds receiving

On to the GMen:

Passing Attack: Eli Manning peaked during the first five weeks of 2009, but also played well against the Falcons and the Cowboys sandwiched around a stinker against Denver during the last three weeks. Manning is playing with pain in his foot – and it’s well known that December has not been kind to him – but to his credit he has emerged as the leader of this offense. He is largely responsible for making the Giants biggest question mark heading into this season – their WRs – into a true strength of the team. Third year WR Steve Smith is only a handful of catches away from breaking the Giants record for receptions in a season and has been a steady presence for Eli to rely on all year. TE Kevin Boss wasn’t used much earlier this season but has really stepped up his game and has been a factor in recent weeks. Like the Giants the Eagles also have a tough time stopping opposing TEs so consider Boss if your options are limited.

The Eagle defense harassed Eli during the last meeting between these two teams, and have generally fared well against the younger Manning in past years. The Eagles are allowing 205.3 ypg and 18 TDs on the season. While they can be susceptible to big plays at times, this is a team that loves to blitz (33 sacks) and force opposing QBs into mistakes (20 interceptions). Eli will need to be sharp and smart if the Giants wish to beat their second consecutive division rival.

Running Attack: Brandon Jacobs turned short swing pass into a 70+ yard TD catch and run last week against Dallas. In other strange news, it snowed in Dallas last week. Not sure which occurrence is more unbelievable. Ahmad Bradshaw has struggled since injuring his foot but ran hard last week in the Meadowlands and will be needed down the stretch for the Giants playoff run. This offense works best when they can hit opposing defenses with a one two punch in the running game.

On the season the Eagles are allowing only 98.8 ypg on the ground and only 8 TDs, so it’s not an easy matchup for the Giants. Will Witherspoon acquired from the Rams at the trade deadline has helped shore up the middle of the run defense and Trent Cole, known more for his pass rushing ability, has developed into a pretty good run stopper as well.

Predictions:
Eli Manning: 275 yds passing, 3 TDs, 2 Ints.
Steve Smith: 70 yds receiving, 1 TD
Mario Manningham: 50 yds receiving
Hakeem Nicks: 80 yds receiving, 1 TD
Kevin Boss: 45 yds receiving, 1 TD
Brandon Jacobs: 60 yds rushing / 5 yds receiving
Ahmad Bradshaw: 55 yds rushing / 20 yds receiving

My crystal ball says: Giants 24 Eagles 27 (fly eagles fly)

Now, on to dem boys vs the Chargers

 

Passing Attack: Vincent Jackson presents a difficult match up for any defensive back as he has elite deep speed in a 6’5”, 230 pound frame, but has disappeared the last few weeks much to the dismay of his fantasy owners. TE Antonio Gates has picked up Jackson’s slack during that time much to the joy of his fantasy owners. Jackson has improved each season and is a gifted player. One would have to think that he’ll turn his season back around. Although it’s risky during this important part of the fantasy season to start players that have not been producing recently Jackson seems due for a big game and I’d recommend starting him. Unfortunately I will be facing him in my opening round playoff matchup this week, further cementing his chances for a big game from him.

The Dallas defense ranks 20th in passing yards allowed, allowing 225.9 yards per game this season with 17 TDs. Teams have been able to move the ball through the air against this team despite a talented pass rush and secondary. Expect the Chargers to attempt to exploit this weakness as Vincent Jackson, Malcolm Floyd and Antonio Gates are all big fast targets that should pose problems for even the physical Dallas secondary.

Running Attack: After a slow return following his ankle injury that caused him to miss a few weeks, LaDainian Tomlinson was buried by many fantasy pundits. However, he has scored 8 TDs over the last 6 weeks. He’s obviously not the same back he once was, but is still effective and his numbers improved once the Charger offensive line returned back to health. Tomlinson is no longer elusive and his burst is not what it was in years past but he still has that nose for the endzone and the Chargers know it. As long as expectations are lowered he’s still a fantasy asset.

Dallas has been a solid run defense this season, allowing 102.5 ypg, and has managed to keep opposing backs from scoring (only 5 rushing TDs allowed). Former Falcon Keith Brooking and veteran line backer Bradie James lead the team in tackles with their relentless pursuit of the football. Don’t expect LT2 to post big numbers against the Cowboys, but perhaps he can take a plunge into the endzone.

Predictions:
Philip Rivers: 285 yds passing 2 TDs
Malcolm Floyd: 40 yds receiving
Vincent Jackson: 105 yds receiving, 1 TD
Antonio Gates: 85 yds receiving, 1 TD
Darren Sproles: 35 yds rushing / 20 yds receiving
LT: 45 yds rushing, 1 TD / 10 yds receiving

Everyone knows that the Cowboys play their best football in December…lets break it down.


Passing Attack: Miles Austin has over 900 yards and 9 TDs on the season, with most of those stats coming in his 8 starts. I hate to admit it, but it’s pretty impressive. Miles is big and fast and has been just what the Cowboys needed (and more) to replace Terrell Owens production. People expect Tony Romo to falter in December but last week’s loss cannot be pinned on him. He’s been pretty consistent over the course of the season, so we’ll see if he can maintain that consistency or be subject to yet another late season swoon…I sure hope he fails.

San Diego’s pass defense is allowing 204.4 ypg and has given up 14 passing TDs on the season. Shawn Merriman’s return to health has helped the pass rush become more effective which has improved the defense as a whole. Romo’s tendency to make mistakes has not been as prevalent this season, but strange things happen in December in Dallas.

Running Attack: The Cowboys seem to have something against running the ball despite having 3 capable backs and an obese o-line. They inexplicably abandon the run almost every week. Barber fumbled early last week and was more or less placed on the shelf while the Boys tried to run Felix Jones on outside sweeps, when they ran at all, despite the Giant injuries to the middle of their defense. San Diego does not have a strong run defense and if the Cowboys once again do not attempt to exploit that weakness, the coaching staff should come under major scrutiny.

San Diego was stunned by the loss of NT Jamal Williams before the season got under way, and their early season run defense suffered. They are still not a great run defense, but have bounced back a little since mid-season. They are currently the 21st ranked run defense, allowing 117.8 ypg and 8 TDs on the season, but have only allowed 1 rushing TD since Week 9.

Projections:
Tony Romo: 225 yds passing 1 TD, 2 Ints. / 15 yds rushing
Roy Williams: 45 yds receiving, 1 TD
Miles Austin: 70 yds receiving
Jason Witten: 45 yds receiving
Felix Jones: 60 yds rushing, 1 TD / 20 yds receiving
Marion Barber: 65 yds rushing, 1 TD / 5 yds receiving

Prediction: Chargers 28 Cowboys 24 (yes…another Cowboys loss in December…no surprise here)

Posted on: December 4, 2009 4:52 pm
 

An Eagle view of the Giants vs Cowboys

As an Eagles fan, I will be watching the Cowboys and Giants game very closely. It should be a classic NFC East battle. This is the way I see the game breaking down:

Passing Attack: Tony Romo got back on track against Oakland. Oakland does have a tough pass defense despite being a poor overall team, so Romo’s performance was impressive (even though I hate to admit it…just keeping it real). When the passing offense is clicking this is a unit that can move the ball quickly. Romo has one of the quickest releases in the NFL and his mobility allows him to buy some time and make plays down field where Miles Austin and Jason Witten’s size and speed combinations make them extremely difficult matchups. Roy Williams of course has first round talent, but just does not seem able to put it all together and has quickly fell down the ranks of the Cowboys pass game pecking order. I bet Jerry Jones is pissed that he gave up all those draft picks on a BUST. The Lions are still laughing.

The injury depleted Giants secondary got a major piece back with the return of Aaron Ross but the results just weren’t there against Atlanta and Denver the last two weeks. Whether it’s because of the departure of Steve Spagnola or just because they’ve been banged up a little, the D-line just isn’t putting as much pressure on opposing QBs as they used to, allowing teams to take advantage of the banged up secondary. Statistically the Giants still rank 4th in pass defense from a yardage allowed perspective (185.0 ypg), so they appear to be a sound pass defense but the 18 passing TDs they have allowed speaks otherwise. I can’t wait until Donovan McNabb gets to torch them.  

Running Attack: The Dallas running game was also able to get back on track on Thanksgiving Day, but the Raiders run defense is as piss-poor as their overall team. Felix Jones had his most explosive game since returning from his knee injury and could be ready for a very nice stretch run...if he doesn’t get injured. Marion Barber also had a big day and should be healed up from his earlier quadriceps pull. This could be one scary offense in December (if Romo doesn’t go back to his ways of old).

New York is ranked 11th in the league in run defense, allowing 107.8 ypg. However, just as their pass defense looks deceivingly good when only looking at the yards allowed, the team has allowed 15 rushing TDs, so it hasn’t been all that effective either. Marion Barber had his best game of the season against the Giants in Week 2 and now that Antonio Pierce has been lost for the season there isn’t much hope that they will shut him down this time either.

Looking into my crystal ball:
Tony Romo: 275 yds passing 2 TDs, 1 Int. / 20 yds rushing

On to the GMen:

Passing Attack: Eli Manning’s performance generally “fades” when the December winds blow into dirty Jersey, and this year he may have a built in excuse. His foot that has been hampered by plantar fasciitis is now further burdened by a potential stress fracture. This offseason all the talk was the inexperience at the wide out position, but Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nicks bring hope for an explosive duo at the wide receiver position going forward, and Steve Smith continues to be rock solid; the guy is a catching machine. This unit did very well in Dallas against the Cowboys and will need to do so once again if the Giant season is to be saved.

Dallas is allowing 224.9 ypg and has given up 15 passing TDs in 11 games so it’s been a vulnerable unit. Like the Giants, the Cowboys have been hit by injuries in the secondary and the team has not generated as consistent a pass rush as it did last season. This pass defense may be the Achilles heel to the Cowboys Super Bowl hopes if they end up facing Brett Favre or Drew Brees in January.

Running Attack: The Giants could be hurting at RB this week. Ahmad Bradshaw missed last week’s game in Denver with an ankle injury and his availability for this week’s game is not a certainty. Danny Ware who was being worked in as a 3rd down back and took Bradshaw’s reps last week was knocked out of that game with a concussion and will miss this week’s game. Brandon Jacobs has not been as effective this season as the last couple of seasons and no one really seems to know the reason why. Maybe his body is finally feeling the beatings that he took over the last few years. Jacobs seems to genuinely dislike the Cowboys (can you blame him?) so he should be fired up for this game and see almost every carry, but will he run with the power he’s shown in the past?

Dallas has been playing the run very well this season, allowing 102.7 ypg, and only 4 rushing TDs so it will not get any easier for Jacobs this week to turn his season back around.

Looking into my crystal ball:
Eli Manning: 295 yds passing, 3 TDs, 1 Int.

And the verdict is….Cowboys 20 Giants 27

If you think I’m wrong, you need your head examined, but let’s hear your argument…bring the noise.

Posted on: December 2, 2009 8:49 am
 

Don't take McNabb for granted

Statement from one "expert"

"Every industry has experts; those sages that dispense wisdom and truth from atop the mountain. In philosophy these learned men wear long, flowing robes and an equally lengthy beard is required. In fantasy football, a backwards ball cap, clipboard of notes, and half empty bottle of Coors Light is more likely. But are these guys truly experts? Do they know any better than the rest of us schmucks? Each week Analyzing the Experts will take aim at one or more of these so-called oracles and find out…"


Many people have been talking about the shortcomings of Donovan McNabb, but look at the bright side: he is not JaMarcus Russell. Lets take a look at the tragically shortened career of JaMarcus Russell, who made a living for three years with his ludicrous impersonation of an NFL quarterback. Seldom has a professional football player made me laugh as much as JaMarcus. It is a gift few athletes learn to embrace so fully. This weekend was a bit drearier, not having the Oakland QB’s antics to watch. Its easy to watch Peyton Manning light up a secondary or grab some wings while Chris Johnson rolled over another team’s front seven. But I’ve seen all that and something a little bit different both breaks the monotony and makes one appreciate the skill of the NFL’s superstars.

Which brings us back to JaMarcus. This was his third season of entertaining us and he did an amazing job. Who can’t laugh at his fourteen turnovers with only two touchdowns this year? There wasn’t another quarterback in the league that looked so hopelessly out of place and completely lost. And that was part of his charm. We all knew he was junk and the only reason he wasn’t serving Whoppers and fries in some small American town was the ingenuity of Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis. There aren’t many teams willing to drive their fan base even deeper into the depths of suicidal depression just for entertainment value, but how else can their league-worst starting receivers and curious head coaching decisions be explained?

Will there ever be another third-year QB who can only run a fraction of the playbook since he can only read a portion of the field? There have certainly been numerous first overall draft pick busts, especially at the quarterback position. However, the Russell debacle has to rank pretty high on the disaster scale. Oakland did not exactly set him up to succeed considering the lack of talent around him; but he did nothing to help his case either. My favorite JaMarcus memories have to be his postgame interviews earlier this year. After a 38-0 Week Seven spanking by the Jets in which he went 6-11 for 61 yards and turned the ball over three times, JaMarcus said, “I don’t think it’s me personally. I really don’t. Do you?” After another loss to San Diego the following week, in which the Oakland signal caller went 14-22 for 109 yards with one interception, five sacks, and no scores, JaMarcus set the record straight. “I did a pretty good job.” How can the genius of Tom Brady or Drew Brees compete with that?

Even though the JaMarcus era seems to have ended in Oakland, there is still hope. Al Davis loves him and a new coaching regime will likely be installed next season. Will the Russell comedy act be renewed? I certainly hope so. It has to be better television viewing that watching the Cowboys squeak by the Redskins in a 7-6 snooze-fest. Until then, I still have the Cleveland Browns to laugh at.

So all of the Donovan McNabb haters in Philly, count your blessings.

Posted on: November 25, 2009 10:54 am
 

NFL trash pickers on Thanksgiving

Week 12 has quickly appeared. This is a week where the gluttons will prosper and the weak teams will go home starving. Let’s take a look at the matchups.

 

The Packers to Detroit to face the Lions. The city of Detroit has been facing hard times, so this weekend they shouldn’t be upset when their team loses; they are used to the feeling of dejection. Aaron Rodgers and Greg Jennings should be able to light up the Lions secondary. Calvin Johnson is beat up and will probably be a non-factor.

 

The Raiders go to Dallas to do battle with the Cowboys. The Dallas offense has been weak for the last couple of weeks. They almost got beat by the Redskins last week, so this game could be closer than the experts in Vegas would suggest. The Raiders have a good pass defense, so dem boys will have to get the running game going. If the game was on the west coast, the Raiders might be able to win, but the Cowboys should take care of business.

 

The Giants go to mile high to face the Broncos. After a great start, the Broncs have been struggling. The Giants had their own losing streak, but the win last week might have been the confidence boost that they needed. If Brandon Jacobs can get loose, Eli Manning should be able to pick apart the Denver secondary. I have a feeling that the Broncos loosing streak is going to continue.

 

Redskins go to Philly to face the Eagles. If Washington had an offense, they might be a formidable team. Donovan McNabb, DeSean Jackson, and Jeremy Maclin have been in synch. It is a horrible time to be a Redskins fan. The Eagles are going to crush them on Sunday.

 

Buccaneers go to Atlanta to play the Falcons. ATL has been somewhat disappointing this year, but they will beat the Bucs. Josh Freeman might turn out to be a great QB, but he isn’t going to make a difference in this game. Matt Ryan is improving and this game should boost his confidence.

 

Panthers go to New York to face the Jets. This is a really tough game to predict. Both teams have shown a hint of potential, but there are still a lot of voids. If the Jets can stop the run, they will win. Carolina has a good passing D, so Mark Sanchez might struggle. Thomas Jones needs to have a big day if the Jets are going to win.

 

Seahawks go to St. Louis to “play” the Rams, and by Rams I’m referring to Stephen Jackson. He is the only player doing anything on that team. If the Seahawks don’t win by 2 scores then the Rams should consider that a win.

 

Dolphins head to NY to play the Bills. Last week Terrell Owens emerged from his coma. The Dolphins should be able to lock down the Bills offense this week. Even without Ronnie Brown, the Fins can win games. Ricky Williams has proved that he can still carry the load.

 

Browns go to Cincinnati to lose to the Bengals. The Browns are horrible…enough said

 

Colts go to Houston to play the Texans. The Texans need a win in a big way, but the Colts are damn good. This would be a major statement game, if the Texans can pull out a win, but conventional wisdom tells me that the Colts will win.

 

Chiefs head to San Diego to play the Chargers. Jamaal Charles has been playing well, but I expect the Chargers to shut him down this week. The Chargers should be able to jump up big and take away the running game from KC. Look, the Chiefs aren’t a good team; the Chargers are.

 

Bears go to Minnesota to try to beat the Vikings. Jay Cutler has been killing the Bears. If I was the coach, I would run Matt Forte 35 times in this game…no matter what. Cutler needs to cool off, before he kills his confidence (the little bit that he has left).

 

Cardinals go to Tennessee to face off against the Titans. This game should be a great one. Chris Johnson is unstoppable, but the Cardinals strength is their running defense. If the Titans can get pressure of Kurt Warner, they will win this game. Larry Fitzgerald vs Chris Johnson…talk about playmakers.

 

Steelers go to Baltimore to play the Ravens. The Steelers might have too many injuries (Troy) to beat the Ravens. Both teams need the win, so this should be a great fight. A coin flip should be used to predict this winner…my coin toss said Ravens win.

 

Patriots go to the Big Easy to play the Saints. This might be the game of the year: Tom Brady vs Drew Brees. I think a coin toss is the best way to predict this game as well…my Lincoln said Saints win!

 

I don’t know about you guys, but this is going to be a great week of games! The hungry teams will feast, while the pretenders will be like the homeless guy on the corner, starving while others stuff their mouths with stuffing and turkey.

These are the Thanksgiving day trash pickers:
Lions
Raiders
Broncos
Redskins
Bucs
Panthers?
Rams
Bills
Browns!
Texans?
49ers
Chiefs
Bears
Cardinals?
Steelers
Patriots

Posted on: November 17, 2009 8:41 am
 

FFB week 10 review

49ers 10 – Bears 6

The 49ers rode the legs of Frank Gore to stop a four-game losing streak. Gore had 125 total yards (104 rushing) and scored his seventh TD of the season. After saying prior to the game that Chicago’s defense doesn’t impress him, Vernon Davis was held to 3 catches for 16 yards. However, he remains one of the best options at tight end this year. Michael Crabtree has been solid but unspectacular since joining the team, and he picked up a solid 48 receiving yards against the Bears. Alex Smith picked up his first win since September 2007 though he only had 118 yards on the day, with no touchdowns and an interception. But I’m sure he’s just glad he got a win.

Last year Kyle Orton threw 5 INTs while wearing a Bears uniform; Jay Cutler did the same on Thursday night. Those picks took away nearly all the fantasy points Cutler earned by throwing for 307 yards. Matt Forte also had a tough game on the ground at least. Forte ran for just 41 yards on 20 carries but made up for it by catching 8 passes for 120 yards. Devin Hester was targeted a game-high 14 times but only came down with half of those passes for 48 yards.

Titans 41 – Bills 17

If the Titans were 6-3 instead of 3-6, Chris Johnson would be right up there with Peyton Manning for MVP honors. Johnson was once again magnificent with 132 yards rushing, 100 yards receiving, and 2 touchdowns. Vince Young had his most passing yards (210) since December 2007 and also threw for a TD and ran for 29 yards. With Justin Gage out, Nate Washington became the #1 receiver, compiling 33 receiving yards and a score.

When Terrell Owens has a season-high of 85 receiving yards in Week 10, you know things are rough in Buffalo. Lee Evans had a nice game as well, as he caught 2 TD passes to go along with 50 receiving yards. Marshawn Lynch had 55 total yards and was outperformed by Fred Jackson who had 71 total yards and also threw a TD pass to Evans. For those of you who have Trent Edwards, it may be time to start looking elsewhere for a QB. Edwards was pulled in the fourth quarter after throwing a pick-six. He finished with 185 passing yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT, and Coach Jauron was noncommittal on who would be his starting QB next week.

Saints 28 - Rams 23

It wasn’t pretty, but the Saints got the job done. Drew Brees threw for 223 yards and 2 TDs but also threw 2 INTs and has thrown 7 INTs in the last four games. Reggie Bush had his best game of the season, by far, with 98 total yards (83 rushing) and 2 TDs. His versatility combined with his inconsistency make him a flex play each week, especially in PPR leagues. Pierre Thomas took a backseat to Bush in this game as Thomas only had 37 rushing yards. Marques Colston had another quiet game as he had only 17 receiving yards and also lost a fumble. On the other hand, Robert Meachem had his second straight good game with 68 total yards (27 receiving) and a touchdown. Coincidentally, both of these games have come with Lance Moore sitting out. If Moore, Colston, or Devery Henderson miss any time, Meachem is worth serious consideration in your starting lineup.

Steven Jackson continues to be options A, B, and C for the Rams as he had another great game. Jackson had 131 yards and a touchdown on the ground and also had 9 receptions for 45 yards through the air. It was his fifth straight game with over 100 yards from scrimmage. Marc Bulger turned back the clock and looked like the Bulger of 2006. He threw for 298 yards and 2 TDs while displaying his customary accuracy. Even though the bye weeks are over, Bulger is still worth a roster spot as insurance for your starting QB. Donnie Avery had 67 yards and 2 TDs as he remains Bulger’s favorite target. That alone gives him value as a WR3.

Dolphins 25 – Buccaneers 23

The Dolphins got the win but they may have lost their starting running back--at least for one week. Ronnie Brown left the game after hurting his ankle. With a game scheduled this Thursday, Brown may have to sit one out. Before leaving, he did have 82 rushing yards and a score. Ricky Williams led Miami with 102 rushing yards and, if you have him, he should be in your lineup regardless of whether Brown plays or not. Davone Bess appears to be Chad Henne’s favorite receiver but Bess has yet to get into the end zone this year. He had 4 receptions for 72 yards but should only be considered if you are in a PPR league.

Expect more games like this from Josh Freeman (196 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 1 lost fumble), rather than the 3 TD performance last week. Kellen Winslow continued to build on a good season, catching 7 balls for 102 yards on Sunday. Cadillac Williams has been inconsistent throughout the season but he did score a rushing touchdown to go along with 52 yards. He seems destined to be an RB3 for the remainder of the year.

Vikings 27 – Lions 10

This game played out pretty much as expected. Brett Favre threw for 344 yards and one touchdown and Adrian Peterson ran for 133 yards and 2 TDs. However, the star of the day was Sidney Rice who caught 7 passes for 201 yards. Though he only has two scores on the year, Rice is a legit WR2 and is on pace for nearly 1,400 receiving yards. Bernard Berrian continues to be a disappointment as he only had 22 receiving yards. Over the past three seasons, Berrian averaged about 900 receiving yards and 6 TDs. He may reach that TD average but is on pace for fewer than 600 receiving yards. Keep him on your roster, but don’t start him until he can gain some rapport with Favre.

For just the second time this season, Matt Stafford went a full game without throwing a pick. He also threw for 224 yards and a TD. Still, Stafford is only a QB2. Kevin Smith continued his sophomore slump with only 65 total yards this week. He is averaging only 3.4 yards per carry after putting up 4.1 last season. Even so, he is still an RB2/RB3. Calvin Johnson rebounded from last week’s poor game with 8 receptions for 84 yards.

Jaguars 24 – Jets 22

Maurice Jones-Drew continues to prove that he can be an every-down back as he gained 145 total yards and scored a touchdown. MJD became the first RB this year to gain 100 rushing yards against the Jets. His QB, David Garrard, showed his versatility with 221 passing yards and one passing TD along with one rushing touchdown. Mike Sims-Walker found the end zone for the fifth time in his past seven games. He is the Jags’ #1 WR and a fantasy WR2. Not bad for a guy who went undrafted in most fantasy leagues.

Mark Sanchez’s up-and-down rookie season hit another down against the Jaguars. He did throw for 212 yards and a touchdown, but also threw 2 INTs. Since he is fringe fantasy material at this point, he shouldn’t be on your roster. Someone who definitely should be on your roster is Thomas Jones who took another drink from the fountain of youth Sunday before running for 77 yards and a score. I thought the loss of Favre would hurt him but he’s actually outperforming his 2008 numbers. Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery had 79 and 68 receiving yards, respectively. Cotchery also scored a TD. You never know which one is going to be Sanchez’s favorite target for a particular game so neither has more value than a WR3 at this point.

Bengals 18 – Steelers 12

Surprisingly, this game featured no offensive TDs. Carson Palmer had 178 yards passing while Chad Ochocinco had only 29 receiving yards. Cedric Benson only had 7 carries for 22 yards before leaving with a hip injury, which he doesn’t believe is serious. With Chris Henry done for the season, Laveranues Coles will get more looks, and he led the team this week with 5 receptions for 67 yards.

Ben Roethlisberger only completed 50% of his passes and threw an INT along with only 174 yards. Santonio Holmes, with 88 receiving yards, garnered more fantasy points than any other player. Heath Miller (26) and Hines Ward (24) combined for only 50 receiving yards as Roethlisberger struggled under constant pressure from the Bengals. Rashard Mendenhall couldn’t repeat last Monday night’s performance as he had only 36 rushing yards on just 13 carries.

Redskins 27 – Broncos 17

For the first time this year, the Redskins managed to break the 17-point threshold to pick up their third win of the year. Jason Campbell was serviceable, throwing for 193 yards and one touchdown while not turning the ball over. Ladell Betts, subbing for the concussed Clinton Portis, had 114 rushing yards and a touchdown. The Redskins are likely not in a rush to get Portis back on the field with such a serious injury as a concussion. If Betts is still available in your league for some reason, jump on him. He could make for a nice flex play in the coming weeks. Santana Moss had a measly 2 catches for 8 yards and should be benched until he can show some consistency. He’s in a similar situation to Carolina’s Steve Smith; they are great players, but the people around them are hurting their fantasy value.

Not only did the Broncos lose their third game in a row, but they may have also lost their QB for a couple of weeks. Kyle Orton threw for 193 yards and 2 TDs before leaving with an ankle injury that could keep him out of next week’s pivotal matchup with San Diego. His backup, Chris Simms, has barely played since 2006 and should not be picked up in free agency. Brandon Marshall caught two long TD passes and finished with 134 receiving yards. Eddie Royal’s (21 receiving yards) disappearing act extended another week and, unless you get points for return yards, he has virtually no value. Knowshon Moreno had 97 rushing yards to lead the Broncos and, maybe an even better sign for his owners, had 18 carries compared to Buckhalter’s 2 carries.

Panthers 28 - Falcons 19

Jake Delhomme actually looked like a pro QB against Atlanta as he threw for 2 TDs and 195 yards without turning the ball over. Steve Smith, who is managing to salvage this season despite his QB’s play, caught both Delhomme’s TD passes. DeAngelo Williams appears to have regained his 2008 form as he had 122 total yards, while backfield mate Jonathan Stewart had 82 rushing yards and 2 scores. Williams is a bona-fide RB1 and Stewart is a safe flex option.

If he wasn’t there before this game, Matt Ryan is officially in a sophomore slump. Actually, slump may be too nice a word, as he has thrown 11 INTs in his last six games. He did throw for 224 yards, but the points he got from his TD were negated by the turnovers. With a tough upcoming schedule (NYG, PHI, NO, NYJ), things are not going to get any easier. You may want to hit up the trade market to see what kind of value you can get for Ryan. To make matters worse for Atlanta, Michael Turner injured his ankle and will undergo additional tests on Monday. He had rushed for 111 yards before leaving and all Turner owners should immediately grab Jason Snelling (93 total yards, 1 TD) if he’s still available in free agency. Roddy White had 7 grabs for 98 yards and Tony Gonzalez had 6 for 67, but neither player was able to get into the end zone.

Chargers 31 - Eagles 23

With his 2 TDs on Sunday, LT jumped ahead of Marcus Allen to take third place in the record books for career TDs. He also ran for 96 yards which was his most in a home game since 2007. Philip Rivers tossed two scores of his own, along with 231 passing yards. Vincent Jackson was held to a single reception for 10 yards, but you shouldn’t even think about taking him out of your lineup. Antonio Gates had 7 catches for 78 yards and Malcolm Floyd had 3 catches for 45 yards. Floyd is worth a spot in deeper leagues as well as keeper leagues since it is clear that the Chargers are now a passing team, with Philip Rivers as their leader rather than LT.

The most telling stat from this game is Donovan McNabb’s 450 passing yards compared to his team’s 29 total rushing yards. Brian Westbrook suffered another concussion and, in my humble opinion, he should sit the rest of the year. If you have Westbrook, make contingency plans as you may not see him for the remainder of the season. Jason Avant, of all people, led the Eagles in receiving with 156 yards while DeSean Jackson had 8 catches for 91 yards. Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek each had 6 catches and a TD reception.

Packers 17 – Cowboys 7

When the Packers defense plays the way it did against Dallas, you can expect pedestrian offensive efforts as well. Aaron Rodgers threw for only 189 yards and 1 TD, though he did rush for a score. Ryan Grant ran for 79 yards but doesn’t appear to have the explosiveness that he displayed two years ago. Donald Driver and Greg Jennings had 50 and 45 receiving yards, respectively. The Packers are having trouble with the pass rush, so Driver’s intermediate routes are a much more viable option for Rodgers than Jennings’ deep routes. Driver should be rated higher than Jennings until the Packers O-line improves.

The Cowboys O was dominated by the Packers D in this game as both the running game and Miles Austin were shut down. None of the three Dallas running backs gained more than 26 yards, and Austin had only 20 yards on the day. Tony Romo threw for 251 yards and a late TD, but he also threw a pick and lost a fumble. The lone TD was scored by Roy Williams, who also managed 105 receiving yards on 5 receptions. From the looks of things over the past month, it appears that Austin and Williams can’t each have a big game in the same game. It’s either one or the other. I have more confidence in Austin than in Williams. Austin is still a WR1 while Williams is only a WR3. I really don’t know what to make of Jason Witten. It seems as though every week he’s catching 4-5 passes for around 45 yards. I still have faith in him--and you should, too--as he is still Romo’s favorite target in the red zone…even though he hasn’t scored a TD since Week 2.

Cardinals 31 – Seahawks 20

With his 2 TD passes on Sunday, Kurt Warner has now thrown for 200 TDs in his Hall-of-Fame career. He also threw for 340 yards as all three of his top receivers got into the action. Anquan Boldin had 8 for 105, Steve Breaston had 4 for 76, and Larry Fitzgerald had 7 for 73. Breaston and Fitzgerald also got into the end zone. Everyone knows Fitz is a WR1, but Breaston and even Boldin are WR3s. Boldin’s injuries are starting to catch up with him and he has almost no deep speed. Rookie Beanie Wells had the best game of his young career with 85 rushing yards and 2 TDs. Tim Hightower had 58 total yards, which included 5 receptions. Despite Wells’ two scores, Hightower still has a little more value due to the huge disparity in receptions between the two of them (Hightower has 45 on the season, Wells has 6).

The good news for Seattle this week is that they may have found their future running back. After Julius Jones left with an injury, Justin Forsett took over and ran for 123 yards and one score while catching five passes for 26 yards. It appears Jones will be out for some time, so grab Forsett while you can. Even when Jones returns, Forsett will still have value, especially in PPR leagues. Matt Hasselbeck threw for 315 yards and 1 TD with most of the yardage going to T.J. Houshmandzadeh (9 for 165). Housh hasn’t been quite what we expected him to be in Seattle, but this week’s game was a good sign that he and Hasselbeck are developing more of a rapport. The Seahawks’ leading receiver, Nate Burleson, went catchless for the first time this season. He was targeted five times, so Hasselbeck was definitely looking for him. Burleson remains a safe WR2 for next week.

Chiefs 16 – Raiders 10

As the score indicates, this was not an aesthetically-pleasing game. Jamaal Charles said, “Larry Who?” by rushing for 103 yards and a score. Todd Haley doesn’t like to run the ball all that much so don’t expect this type of performance too often, but Charles can be a serviceable RB3 for the remainder of the season. Matt Cassel did not throw a TD pass, but he did throw an INT and lost a fumble. The Dwayne Bowe and Chris Chambers tandem had 91 and 60 yards receiving, respectively.

The return of Darren McFadden (11 rushing yards) and Chaz Schilens (27 receiving yards) did not play out quite as anticipated. However, Michael Bush (119 rushing yards) and Justin Fargas (41 rushing yards, 1 TD) were able to provide some much-needed offensive punch. The RBBC all but eliminates any value for the Oakland backs, but Schilens is someone to keep an eye on. He is a big target and can actually catch--unlike Oakland’s other receivers. If you have an open roster spot it may be wise to take a chance on Schilens, who some see as a Vincent Jackson-clone.

Colts 35 - Patriots 34

Wow! That’s all I can say. I’m sure most of the people reading this saw the game last night so you pretty much know what happened. Peyton Manning did his thing with another 300+ yard, multi-TD game. Reggie Wayne caught 10 passes for 126 yards and 2 TDs, including the game winner. The Patriots held Dallas Clark in check as he “only” had 65 receiving yards. Despite a finger injury, Joseph Addai still managed to score 2 TDs and gain 68 total yards. The Colts are really struggling to run the ball, but Addai is a big factor in the passing game and receives lots of goal line carries. He can still be used as an RB2.

Tom Brady was Tom Terrific in throwing for 3 TDs and 375 yards (though I’m sure all of Boston thinks it should have been 376 yards). Randy Moss and Wes Welker each had 9 receptions. Welker went for 94 yards and Moss showed he still has 4.4 speed by going for 179 yards and 2 TDs. Laurence Maroney scored a rushing TD but also lost a fumble on the Colts’ one-yard line. Kevin Faulk had 79 rushing yards and caught 2 passes for 7 yards (though, again, Boston thinks it should have been 8 yards).

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com