Welcome to Tuesday Morning Buzz! As the dust settles on Week 16, all but one NFC and two AFC playoff spots are decided. In the NFC, the Giants and Cowboys will decide the division winner next Sunday; in the AFC, the West is still open and there is room for one more wild card. In addition, this week was a fantastic display of why the NFL is the most entertaining league in the world.
Dan Orlovsky for MVP! Alright, it could be pride that has fueled the past couple of wins for the Colts, but what an interesting situation the world’s greatest competition for the No. 1 draft pick has become. St. Louis and Indianapolis both have two wins at the end of Week 16, and Minnesota is only one behind. Ironically, all three of these teams already have quarterbacks with a lot of promise. It should be an interesting Week 17 at the bottom of the totem pole this year… For the Texans, it was the Arian Foster show, as it should have been. Foster should easily be the No. 1 fantasy pick again next year, and consider yourself in good shape if you get him.
The 49ers have a fantastic record in the regular season and have played some outstanding defense all year. This team reminds me of the Jets of the past few years and the Titans in their final year with Haynesworth. While the defense is outstanding, the offense is underwhelming. I’m curious whether this defense can keep an offense like New Orleans or Green Bay under 30 points so that the offense can ride its coattails. Four field goals and one touchdown will not keep the Niners alive in the playoffs. For the Hawks, the only bit of information you need to know is that Marshawn Lynch has come into his own in Seattle. He was a hard runner in Buffalo, but he has gone full-on Beast Mode in Seattle. With that said, look forward to paying way too high a price for Lynch next year. Yours truly will not be buying the hype for a third-round pick.
This was the game I thought Dallas would play last week against Tampa, but the Buccaneers are so painfully awful that the Cowboys could have shot themselves in both feet and still come away with a win. Now, Romo did go down this week with only two passes and no completions, but this Eagles defense has been far from stout all season. If you lose in a shootout without your star quarterback, then that’s the breaks. If you lose 20-7 against an underachieving defense, even without your star quarterback, then that’s on you. That being said, I’m starting all the Dallas starters I can get my hands on in Week 17, as that will likely be the most meaningful game next week. For the Eagles, McCoy was an utter disappointment because of an ankle injury. I sure hope all you McCoy owners didn’t get eliminated due to one stinker!
P.S. Speaking of McCoy, he is likely to be in competition with Arian Foster for No. 1 next year. He’ll be good, but I think the game plan may change with a fresh season; I’d go with Foster with the first overall.
Well, just when the sportscasters were starting to believe, Tebow has hit a two- game slide. I can’t believe he allowed the Bills to score 40 points. After all, he was responsible for 100 percent of the points scored by Denver (extra points excluded), but it turns out that one man can’t win a game alone. Seems as though conventional wisdom and Tebow are the only things that played out for Denver on Saturday. Tebow is likely to be a high draft pick next year if his status doesn’t change as starter, but I’m way too worried about injury in this option offense to take a chance on him. Unless he drops into the eighth or ninth round, I’m probably finding someone else. For the Bills, C.J. Spiller is proving he was worth the first-round pick. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, this means that a timeshare is likely to evolve in Buffalo next year. This will likely result in a situation similar to Carolina’s backfield, where the great play-making ability of each running back will be either neutralized or minimized. Looks for Jackson to go too high; but Spiller may be a steal, especially in leagues where he can play as either a wide receiver or a running back.
The best thing in this game was Jerome Simpson’s awesome front-flip touchdown. Seriously, did you see that thing? Better than Reggie Bush’s 5-yard leap into the end zone from a year ago. If you haven’t seen it, YouTube it. Dalton also left a present for daring fantasy owners by rushing for 48 yards on top of his usually stellar passing numbers. For the Cards, Larry Fitzgerald also stuffed your stocking with 105 yards and touchdown. I hope that was enough to keep you going, as this Cardinals offense hasn’t generated all the points we had hoped for in the offseason. Look for Fitzgerald to be a quiet (and smart) second-round pick next year.
The Titans decided to put Hasselbeck back in at quarterback in hopes of passing the Bengals for a playoff spot, and, at least against the Jaguars, it worked. At this point, I would have been looking to see what the talented Jake Locker could do with the playoffs on the line. I can see the value of a veteran quarterback in the playoff crunch, but the chances were so slim that I would have let the draft pick pay for itself. For the Jags, MJD got his weekly touchdown and also pulled out 100 yards. He is has been a draft day mystery, as his injury and concerns over the dismal offense weigh against elite talent. If MJD falls to the late second or third round next year, I’m picking him up, starting him, and never watching him play.
P.S. Jags games are usually blacked out anyway, so you may not have to worry about seeing too many MJD performances.
Despite all the hype over Carson Palmer, Darren McFadden, Michael Bush, the speed of their receivers, et cetera, the two most important players on the Raiders’ roster both play on special teams. Shane Lechler is an absolute weapon in the field position game, and Sebastian Janikowski is MVP of the team. I would be letting Janikowski kick every time he’s within 65 (and maybe even 70) yards of the goal post, especially if I’m down in the fourth quarter. For the Chiefs, I don’t know how much fantasy advice there is, but the Kansas City defense has really turned their season around. Look for Romeo Crennel to be the head coach next season and for Jamaal Charles to be the centerpiece of a conservative run-first offense. Charles will likely be a draft day steal, as concern over his knee injury will be front page.
As has been rehashed multiple times this year, the Dolphins haven’t really had a quarterback since Dan Marino. As far as this season is concerned, the quarterback position has been especially vexing. In the Christmas spirit, I’ll let my main man Charles Dickens describe it to you:
“ Henne was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the head coach, the athletic director, the physical therapist, and the chief fanbase. Bill Parcells signed it: and Moore’s name was good upon ‘Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Henne was dead as a door-nail.”
After Henne’s loss of the reins, Matt Moore came in and the awfulness of the Dolphins could only be out-stunk by the Colts’ lackluster play. However, when the Dolphins saw that they might be able to get a premier first-round quarterback, they promptly went out and played the most dominant football they have played since Marino was breaking records. Now they are not only miles away from the first pick, they’re one win away from not even finishing last in their division! Can you imagine if the Bills get Matt Barkley or another great quarterback and Miami has to stick with Matt Moore?
P.S. You don’t need my help with the Patkowskis. Start Gost and Gron, Brady and Welker always.
Hopefully now the inane “Eli Manning for MVP” talk can officially die. I don’t know how many sportscasters I’ve heard drone on about how Tebow’s play is unsustainable and all of the comebacks are luck, and in the next breath say that Eli deserves MVP due to his fourth-quarter comebacks. Just because Peyton is out doesn’t mean we need to over-glorify someone else with Manning as their last name. Eli has been phenomenal, but frankly his brother has proven to be far more important to his team without even taking a snap. If Victor Cruz had not turned a short pass into a 99-yard touchdown, Manning’s day could’ve turned out truly awful. That being said, the same logic that applies to the Cowboys applies to the Giants next week: Get all of the starters out there. For the Jets, I wouldn’t start any of them if I could help it. They are in the thick of it for a wild-card spot, but they’re playing in Miami where the passion to be mediocre next year is in full force.
If you are a Steelers opponent, the last thing you want to do is play their style of football. Clemens and Batch are almost washes at quarterback, and their general ineffectiveness prevents any wide receiver talent from outshining the other. This leaves it up to running backs and the defense to win the game. When that happens, the Steelers will beat you 27-0. The Rams need an offense in a bad, bad, way. Yours truly is a Sam Bradford believer, but he’s got to be drooling over even the Seattle and Denver receiving corps at this point. For the Steelers, I don’t want anybody but Mendenhall and their DST next week. Without Roethlisberger, I don’t want any part of the passing game, especially in Cleveland where the atmosphere kills offenses.
Adrian Peterson will not be ready for the beginning of next season and the quality of the Minnesota offense will be called into question. If Peterson drops, you have to pick him up and stash him for the second half. All Day could be the steal of next year’s draft. Minnesota brings a Bears team to the Metrodome in Week 17, and Toby Gerhart and Percy Harvin should have mildly successful days. For the Skins, Graham Gano did his best David Akers impression and tried to carry the team on his back. Unfortunately for him, he doesn’t have the San Francisco defense backing him up.
P.S. Do you remember earlier this year when Shanahan offered a glowing review of Ryan Torain? In fact, remember when he drafted Ryan Torain? Well, after being a healthy scratch last week, Torain got four carries to the 19 of the immortal Evan Royster. Yikes.
In Week 16, the Panthers scored 48 points against a Buccaneers defense that allowed the hot-as-soft-serve San Francisco offense an equal amount in Week 5. In Week 17, the Panthers are headed to New Orleans and the Superdome. Needless to say, the Saints will likely score more points and will thus provide fewer chances for Williams and Stewart to repeat their Week 16 performances. Look for these two to lose a lot of championship rounds for a lot of fantasy owners. For the Buccaneers, it’s best to just hope your influential coach makes it through this sophomore slump and is allowed to come back next year. Tampa is another team that I would not trust Week 17 to.
Just when every last fantasy owner dropped Peyton Hillis with only Baltimore and Pittsburgh remaining, he showed up against a tough run defense for 112 yards. I wouldn’t count on that continuing next week, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Hillis gets started and loses a lot of championship matchups as well. Stay away from him if you can help it. For the Ravens, this was not a game to remember. If Ray Rice hadn’t taken a pass 42 yards to the house, Seneca Wallace may have bested Joe Flacco in the all-important passer rating stat. If the Browns prove to be more efficient than you in any facet of the game, especially in passing, you have serious issues. Look for the Ravens to try to swing back and prove themselves next week against the Bengals.
My preseason favorite San Diego Chargers ended their season with a whimper as they got unceremoniously blown out by Detroit at Ford Field. Look for an angry Chargers team to be at their best and put up a lot of points in the final weeks of the season as they first head to Oakland. There is no one the Chargers hate more than the Raiders. They will try their best to wreak havoc on Oakland’s postseason hopes. For the Lions, they head to Green Bay and try to get the No. 5 seed to play the winner of the NFC East rather than the Saints or 49ers. Look for the suddenly reignited Detroit offense to put up a metric ton of points against a leaky Green Bay defense, even in Green Bay. Start Kevin Smith in all formats.
As the MVP race between Rodgers and Brees comes to a close, Rodgers made a fantastic statement for his case. This season, 283 yards seems almost disappointing, but five touchdowns is still more than impressive. Rodgers’play has been truly dominant this year, and I don’t believe it has been stated as firmly as it was on Saturday. When James Jones—who is not Greg Jennings—comes in for 50 yards and two touchdowns against a good defense, you know it’s the quarterback making it happen. However, look for the Packers to rest their starters after a quarter or two next week, as the game is meaningless for their seed or advantage. As for the Bears, their season was likely done weeks ago when Cutler went down, was nearly sealed when Forte followed, and is now over mathematically. Kahlil Bell is the only Bear, including their defense, that you want next week, and I’m not too excited about him.
$#^% Chris Collinsworth Says
Betty White on her excitement for Monday Night Football:
“I’ve been screaming “Who Dat!” at my cats since breakfast!”
This was a fantastic game. All the talk of stats, records, and playoff seeding was a godsend for a fantasy/statistics lover such as myself. On top of that, two quarterbacks put on elite displays, and a mess of offensive stars put on a show. Best MNF game of the year!
As stated above, what an amazing game! There was a lull for a majority of the third and fourth quarters, but it all turned around as Brees broke Dan Marino’s single-season yardage record. A great comparison made during the game was that Marino broke the record at 90 yards more per game than his competitors, but in a year where quarterbacks are breaking yardage records all over, Brees was 98 yards better than the average of his competitors. Start all your Saints next week as they will try to add on to their individual records and, more importantly, try to get a first-round bye. For the Falcons, it was 61 pass attempts versus 14 rush attempts (two of which were scrambles by Ryan). They were down by two or more scores for the majority of the game, but it just goes to prove that this passing game cannot do it alone.
P.S. Sadly, I think Turner has reached the end of his dominant days. The Falcons have made liberal use of the mighty running back and he may be prematurely wearing down. I’m not certain he will make it back to a starter’s role once his current contract is up.
Brees for MVP!
Just a quick update on the stats for the MVP race. Rodgers certainly has the edge on touchdowns and interceptions (though I wouldn’t blame either quarterback for a single one of the INTs on their stat sheet). I urge you to look deeper into the stats if you’re interested (total first downs, third down conversion percentage, etc) and find that if you balance it all, the stats are dead even or barely in Rodgers’ favor (see Total QBR). And with the benefit of the Dan Marino record and the lovefest on Monday Night Football, the hype battle may also be even. I will not be surprised if Rodgers wins the MVP, but unless something drastic happens in Week 17, I will always argue that Brees deserved the honor. Even if Brees doesn’t get it, I still believe the playoffs will tip the scales in his favor, post Super Bowl, which has always been my contention.
And that’s it! Week 16 was another action-packed display of amazing talent, fire, and passion that proved why we all stuck through the annoying lockout media circus mumbo jumbo all summer. Next week, look for playoff contending teams to be the staples of your lineups, and leave players from teams like the Patriots and Packers on your bench if you have the option. Let me know how you’re doing in your fantasy leagues with one week left… I’d love to hear about it!