Welcome to Tuesday Morning Buzz! Most fans should be pretty happy this week. Win or Loss, most teams had a pretty good showing and proved to be either contenders for the playoffs or thorns in the sides of contenders for the playoffs. Let’s get right into it:
Panthers – Bears
How about that Cam Newton? He did everything he could to upset the status quo here. He is burning down the opinions of those, like yours truly, who said that rookie quarterbacks shouldn’t be trusted and that that Newton hadn’t proven enough to warrant the first-round pick. He threw deep on a Bears secondary that makes its money on keeping the play in front of them. And he’s certainly statistically the most impressive rookie quarterback. In fact, I’d wager that if you count tangibles and intangibles he’s probably looking the best a rookie has ever looked, especially at a 1-3 record. There’s still plenty of time for this thing to come crashing down around their ankles, but right now my guess is that Panthers fans would rather be 1-3 with Cam than 4-0 with Clausen.
For the Bears, I don’t have much to say here. The special teams unit had a punt return, a kick return, and a blocked punt and still managed to come out with fewer points than they began the day with. The Chicago defense, special teams, and receivers, along with Jay Cutler, are who we thought they were. Forte is proving his worth and making owners who were brave enough to draft a running back on the Martz-led Bears feel good about their third-round pick.
Bills – Bengals
The league’s top comeback-win team fell to the hapless Bengals this weekend. I am a big fan of what the Bills have been able to accomplish this year. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Stevie Johnson are both starters on a great many of my fantasy teams this season. At halftime the score was 17-3, Fitzpatrick and Johnson had their typical first-half points, and I was ecstatic. These Bills just keep scoring like mad in the second half, and I was certain the minimal first-half offense was going to translate into huge gains in the late quarters. Unfortunately, it was all Bengals in the second half as the Bills were one field goal away from their final score. I still trust no Bengal, and I still love those Bills, but this is one the Buffalo fans and fantasy owners are going to need to forget quickly—the Bills come home to an angry Philadelphia Eagles team next week.
Titans – Browns
If the question “What do you think of the Dolphins and the Titans?” were posed to me at the beginning of the year, my answer would have been a single word: “Terrible.” Now, while the Dolphins have been doing their darnedest to prove me hypothetically correct, the Tennessee Titans are looking good. This is perfect for them because I could feel the anxiety coming from Houston that there just might be no teams to give the division to this year. Matt Hasselbeck has given just as much life to this franchise as this franchise has given to his career. He was dropped for the lowly Tarvaris Jackson in Seattle and now has the Titans on a three-game winning streak without their main playmakers (Kenny Britt is out; Chris Johnson might as well be.) I’m trading CJ2K this week for anything I can get and, beginning Week 7, after a matchup in Pittsburgh and the bye, I’m starting Hasselbeck for the rest of the year unless I find myself with one of the elite few at the top.
Lions – Cowboys
Oh my, was there a lot of silver in this game! In the first half, Dallas was rolling and Detroit couldn’t do a thing. Tony Romo and the Cowboys were looking like world beaters, and if you slowed the frame rate down you could see a halo just beginning to form around Romo’s helmeted countenance. Unfortunately for Dallas, after halftime you have to come back onto the field. It was as if the Cowboys said, “Wait a minute. Do you see the silver on our uniforms? We can’t be doing this well against a nationally acclaimed team!”
The Lions roared back in the second half, and I like to think it was just to prove me right. Last week, much to the chagrin of Lions fans, I warned that Detroit was looking like a “come-from-behind team” and cautioned that the true greats can build a lead and keep it. At that point, the Lions had won one game from behind and had soundly defeated only the awful Kansas City Chiefs and a young Buccaneers team that is still discovering who they are. Now, I wonder, how Lions fans feel as 50% of their total wins and 66% of their road wins are come-from-behind victories. I don’t mean to trash the team; they have great talent. I am just not sure that they yet know how to win. They are 4-0 and looking very impressive, but they are closer to being 2-2 or even 1-3 than most fans would probably like.
Steelers – Texans
The Texans, like the Lions, have great talent and a great record this year but, like the Lions, they make me extremely nervous. I have lost many a dollar the past few years picking Houston to win the AFC South. This year, however, they look poised to finally take that step and showed it in a solid victory over the Steelers. To contrast the big win over what may have been their most daunting opponent coming into the year, the Texans lost Andre Johnson for “some time.” In the same game that they regained Arian Foster from a nagging hamstring, they lost AJ to the same injury. Expect at least three to four weeks before Johnson is back to form. Because of that, Schaub is one of those QBs I would be sitting for Matt Hasselbeck—possibly for the rest of the year.
Saints – Jaguars
There really wasn’t much to see here. Blaine Gabbert looked like a fine rookie quarterback through the first half but went on a dreadful Jay Cutleresque 0-for-10 streak during the second. The Saints were the Saints, and the oft-injured Marques Colston came in only to block, though he did catch one check-down late in the game. Along with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Stevie Johnson, I’ve been soaking up the greatness of the young Jimmy Graham, who I drafted in the 12th round while some owners were drafting the Pittsburgh DST.
Vikings – Chiefs
I was sure that, against Kansas City, Minnesota would break my favorite hyper-specific stat of Week 3, when the Vikings were tagged “the first team to lose the first three games of the season after leading by double digits at halftime in each consecutive game.” Well, they broke that streak, but not quite in the way I expected.
Not only did they not build a double-digit lead, they barely scored double-digits against a Chiefs defense that had allowed 36.3 points per game coming in. For Chiefs fans, if you can forgive the first two weeks of the season, you have two close games and a 1-1 record, which shouldn’t be too far away from preseason rankings. However, I am thankful I am not in a league where I have to decide if I want to put my week in the hands of Dwayne Bowe. I’ve said it before, “Dwayne Bowe: Great for fantasy team names, terrible for fantasy teams.”
49ers – Eagles
Ah, the Eagles locker room must be in a worse mood than the city of Philadelphia is these days. When I watch the Eagles play with Vick under center, they seem to be doing well. Vick has a 61.2% completion percentage and is on pace for 4,000 yards passing, LeSean McCoy has been running with purpose, and the defense hasn’t allowed that many points. And yet, Vick has pedestrian fantasy numbers in two of his four games and has been sacked just as many times as he’s thrown a touchdown (6). On the other side of the ball, the Jim Harbaugh-led 49ers are very quietly 3-1 in an eight-win division. If the 49ers are playing for the division late in the season, look for some of these guys to be heroes of the fantasy playoffs.
P.S. Can we quit with the “nightmare” and “dream team” analogies? I bet Vince Young wants to punch Dan Patrick in the face. Or at least throw some batteries at him.
Redskins – Rams
In competition for one of the most boring football games of the season, the Redskins and the Rams slugged it out for four quarters, and Washington wound up with 17 points on the back of their running game. Now, despite having infinitely more touchdowns this game than Dallas had last week, this score still would not have defeated the Cowboys’ all-field-goal score of Week 3. This Rams defense has looked mediocre over four games but had allowed 32 points per game coming into Sunday. If you can’t go on the road and outscore Dan Bailey’s leg and a team allowing that many points per game, there is no way you can compete in your division. I know what the Redskins’ record looks like now, but if they can finish this season at .500 I will frankly be shocked. As for the Rams? Maybe next year, guys. Sam Bradford is a fantastic quarterback, but this team has a lot of holes to fill, especially on offense, before they become fantasy-relevant.
Giants – Cardinals
The much maligned Beanie Wells and Eli Manning both continued to cement their comebacks in this game. Wells, on what is considered a pass-first offense, ran for 138 yards and 3 TDs versus a normally tough and hardnosed Giants defense. Granted, Wells won’t get 27 carries each week, but he also won’t be playing the New York Giants each week, so I consider that a wash in the terrible NFC West. For Eli, the NFC East is also looking particularly vulnerable, and he’s quickly turning around a poor preseason and an awful start to the regular season. Eli has always started slow but gotten better by October (he was drafted by the San Diego Chargers after all…) and it seems as though that tradition will continue. Eli Manning, Matt Hasselbeck, and Ryan Fitzpatrick are a fantastic class of QBs no one likes. I’m counting on these gentlemen to continue to impress and put at least two of their teams in the playoffs this year.
Broncos – Packers
For as far out of this game as they were, the Broncos never really acted as if they were out of it until well into the fourth quarter. Lloyd looked good, Decker scored a ton of points from fantasy owners’ benches (mine included) all around the league, Orton continued to do just well enough to keep himself in the starter’s seat, and the D played better than the score shows. For the Packers, all was normal in fantasy land: Rodgers can’t be benched, any Green Bay WR is worth a shot, and no Green Bay RB is worth a shot. I like Grant and Starks, but neither of them are going to do well enough this season to ever justify starting them in standard leagues. I would take Randall Cobb in my flex position before either RB in any matchup this year.
This game contained the hyper-specific stat of the week, “Aaron Rodgers is the first Packers quarterback to pass for 400-plus yards and four TDs since Brett Favre.” Aaron Rodgers is a great quarterback, but in our incessant lovefest, we’re now looking for new ways to attribute greatness to him. Any quarterback doing anything is the “first” to do it since the previous quarterback. Credit this fantastic analysis to CBS.
Patkowskis – Raiders
Another third-round RB like Matt Forte, Darren McFadden, continued to shine in this game, though he did look somewhat human, emerging with 123 yards but no touchdowns. My money is on McFadden as this year’s leading rusher by season’s end. As for the Pats, they continue to let Tom Brady throw the ball, although he’s now on pace for a paltry 6,212-yard season. Breaking Marino’s all-time record by a mere 1,200 yards almost seems disappointing after all the swooning over Brady’s passing numbers this year.
Dolphins – Chargers
In a game where both offenses looked stale (1 rushing TD, 1 receiving TD for San Diego; 1 rushing TD for Miami), I’m not sure there is really much to glean from this game as far as fantasy goes. Philip Rivers still connected on the patented deep bomb to V-Jax for a touchdown, and Mike Tolbert still got in the end zone from the goal line. Ryan Mathews still had more carries, more yards, and a better yards-per-carry average.
For Miami, the injury to Chad Henne means no chance for a win as long as he is out. I know the fans in Miami don’t like him, but he’s a good quarterback who has shown flashes of greatness this year. As for the running game, Lex Hilliard inexplicably had a better day than Daniel Thomas (out), Reggie Bush (13 carries but only 50 yards), and Steve Slaton. Heck, Slaton had the same amount of carries as “backup” quarterback Chad Henne, but, hey, at least Slaton was able to double Henne’s rushing output by gaining two yards. It’s not all bad for Miami, though. In fact, you could say that Chad Henne is the first quarterback to rush for at least one yard since Chad Pennington!
Jets – Ravens
From a technical standpoint, this was one of the most interesting games of the weekend. Both QBs had abysmal outings (they combined for 282 yards, 0 TDs, and 2 INTs), and Sanchez alone fumbled four times and lost three. Every facet of both offenses stalled, Shonn Greene went 10 for 23, and Ray Rice went 25 for 66, though he did score a touchdown. This was all about the defenses and their record-setting five returns for scores. While the offense had an off night, that Ravens D is looming mighty large for the AFC North. Could this be their year? For the Jets, this is common of the Rex Ryan era. They’re flying low right now, but watch for them to be just good enough to get into the playoffs as a wild card and be a pain in everyone’s side.
It doesn’t get much easier for the Jets next week as they go to Foxborough to battle the much-hated Patkowskis. It has become an extremely rare occurrence for the home team to lose in Gillette Stadium, and I don’t see the upset after this loss. My bets are on the Jets looking uninspired in New England, despite how important this game really is, and I’m likely sitting any of the Jets I own.
$#^! Chris Collinsworth Says
On the defensive takeaway driven scoring of the game:
“If these teams played with no offense they’d have a better chance of winning!”
Chris Collinsworth, in the way only he can, called out these offenses for being woefully inept on Sunday night. In a very Mike Singletary “I’d rather play with ten players and get penalized all the way down the field” type of comment, Chris illustrated what we all saw and what we should have expected from a Ravens-Jets game.
Colts – Buccaneers
For the first time in eight years, MNF kicked off in Tampa. At first, the Bucs seemed to struggle and the Colts offense was somehow moving well. However, during the second quarter, the Bucs began to shake the sleep off and started to fire back. But by the end of the third quarter, Pierre Garcon had caught two long-bomb touchdowns and the Buccaneers were back in dreamland, despite tying the score. These Colts have been underestimated so thoroughly that teams just can’t believe they’re in trouble against them. The Buccaneers talent eventually won out against the attrition of the Colts, but this is not the Indianapolis Colts of Week 1. If Painter starts and the matchup is right, I would consider him as a bye-week fill in.
The Colts on the other hand are banding together and playing total team football (did you see that epic Reggie Wayne block?). I can’t imagine a scenario where Curtis Painter is not the starter next week, despite Kerry Collins’ health. If the Colts want to win some games this season, though, they’re going to have to get out of those classic, simple defensive looks. The only thing more antiquated in Raymond James Stadium Monday Night was Peyton Manning’s rotary telephone upstairs. Come on Tampa, I know they’re the away team, but you couldn’t even spring for a touch tone?
Next week starts the byes weeks, and with the bye weeks come the one-week, waiver-wire superstars. Who will you pick up when Aaron Rodgers takes a week off? Maybe Curtis Painter? We’ll talk about it next week on Tuesday Morning Buzz.