Week seven’s five least valuable players

22 Oct
by in Fantasy Football, General

5. Chad Henne, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars. I guess you could view Henne as an MVP if you're concerned much about Blaine Gabbert's feelings. Because after watching a half of Henne, the people of Jacksonville may better appreciate Gabbert's special brand of mediocrity, or at least prefer it to Henne's brand of awful. When Gabbert left the game with a shoulder injury in the second quarter, he left Henne a 17-3 lead. Two and a half quarters later, the Jags had only managed two first downs and the Oakland Raiders went on a little 23-6 run to win 26-23. Henne went 9-of-20 for 71 yards and was sacked three times.

4. Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers. Cam Newton's post-game press conferences are about as uplifting as watching "Old Yeller" in a Malaysian prison cell. Newton's Panthers had every chance to beat the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, and probably would have, had Newton had a better game. Being hit as he chucked the ball, Newton threw a first-half interception in the endzone. The Cowboys won 19-14 and Newton had a QB rating under 80 for the third time in the last four games.

3. Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns. I suppose it was nice that Josh Gordon had a 33-yard touchdown catch, but it also would've been nice if he hadn't dropped this one. I can't safely say that Gordon's drop cost the Browns the game, but they could've had a fourth quarter lead. It's not like the Browns get a lot of chances at that. Also on Josh Gordon's resume today: He caught just two balls despite being targeted 10 times. No other Cleveland Brown failed to catch at least half of the balls with which he was targeted. Browns lose a squeaker to the Indianapolis Colts, 17-13.

2. Cecil Shorts, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars. I hate to send anything but love to someone with a name as adorable as Cecil Shorts, but it was a Cecil Shorts fumble that set up the Oakland Raiders for a game-winning field goal. Cecil's day started so promisingly, too ‒ he caught a 42-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter and then shhhhh'd "The Black Hole," which has to be great fun. I can't let him have a pass, though. These are the Jaguars, and they had a chance for a win. They don't get to play the Raiders every week.

1. Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens. It was supposed to be the heavyweight main event between the AFC's two behemoths, and the Ravens came into it with a defense that's been slipping, and is now ailing. That left the task of competing with the Houston Texans primarily on the shoulders of the elite one, Joe Flacco, and he just couldn't deliver. Not that it would've been easy against the swarming Houston defense, but Flacco never gave the impression that he was going to rise above anything. The final numbers: 21-of-42, 147 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions, sacked four times, and a 43-13 loss.

No Comments Share Read More

Week seven’s five most valuable players

22 Oct
by in Fantasy Football, General

5. Jonathan Dwyer, Pittsburgh Steelers. He's a round-ish running back in a Steelers uniform, so it's easy to compare him to Jerome Bettis, but I don't know that it can be avoided. It wasn't just that he looked like Bettis, either. The Steelers got to hand the ball to a mauler with nifty feet and let him salt away a game, while the opposition stood there helpless. If that doesn't evoke Bettis, nothing will.

4. Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants. The opposing secondary was awfully accommodating on the play, but someone still had to run the route, catch the ball and take it to the painted grass. It seems like Victor Cruz comes up with at least one game-changer a week, and this one gave the Giants a 27-23 win over the Washington Redskins.

Not only that, it put the Giants in first place in the NFC East and had to wound the Redskins emotionally. The underdogs played well, and Robert Griffin III was brilliant, and just before the buzzer, Eli Manning and Victor Cruz did what they do and snatched a crucial win out of the Redskins' hungry mouths.

3. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers. The two best weeks of Aaron Rodgers' season have been the last two. He followed up his six-touchdown slash-and-burn job against the Texans with a 30-of-37, 342-yard, three touchdown performance against the St. Louis Rams, leading the Pack to a 30-20 win. None of that sticks out like six touchdowns, but Rodgers actually had a better yards-per-attempt average in this one, and nearly equaled the quarterback rating.

2. Malcolm Jenkins, S, New Orleans Saints. Jenkins gave a brilliant example of the value of hustle in the Saints' 25-28 win over the Bucs. Vincent Jackson caught a pass at about his own 25-yard-line and had nothing but green grass in front of him. Behind him, on the other side of the field, was Malcolm Jenkins. Whoever had the controller hit the turbo button and Jenkins was able to run Jackson down and stop him at the one-yard-line, and guess what? The Bucs couldn't score on the next series of downs. Seven points was turned into zero points by one man's hustle. Then the Saints won by a touchdown, 35-28.

1. Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans. Had Malcolm Jenkins been chasing Chris Johnson, though, he might as well have just curled himself up at the 30-yard-line and taken a little nap. No one was catching Chris Johnson on this one.

Look at the speed as soon as Johnson gets through the initial wave. There are a lot of theories as to why Chris Johnson has struggled, but after this one, I think we can rule out "straight line speed." That's still there.

No Comments Share Read More

Tim Tebow at running back is something Rex Ryan would consider

18 Oct
by in Fantasy Football, General

The Jets continue to try to find new ways to use backup quarterback Tim Tebow, either despite or because everything else they've tried with him has failed.

Tebow's only real success so far this season came on the gorgeously thrown textbook pass he made to Nick Bellore on a fake punt this past Sunday (see video above). Aside from that, the Tebow in New York experiment has been pretty much a bust. He's only attempted three passes, and on 18 rushing attempts is averaging just 3.6 yards a carry, despite one of those attempts going for 22 yards.

But he can always expand his horizons. Up next: Running back. And why not? The young man still doesn't have a handle on the position he practiced for four years in college, so why not assume he can play a different position at an NFL level immediately?

Head coach Rex Ryan talked about Tebow the running back on Thursday.

"That's a possibility," Ryan said. "The thing about Tim, with him being a football player like we've always talked about, by playing quarterback he knows all the positions and so, can you plug him in at running back? Can you plug him in at tight end, whatever? I think the answer is yes."

Well sure, they can. If they want to, they can sign Kerri Strug and start her at middle linebacker, but that doesn't make it a good idea.

And I'm not trying to insult Tebow here or belittle his abilities, but to think he'll be able to step in at the running back position and play as well as elite athletes who have been practicing their craft for years and years … well, that seems unlikely to me. It doesn't mean he can't contribute or fill in temporarily, but the notion that Tebow at running back or Tebow at tight end is going to have any major impact on the Jets is a little nutty.

The Jets are having some injury and depth problems at running back at the moment, but starter Shonn Greene is coming off his best game of the season. He ran for 161 yards and three touchdowns against the Colts. Maybe we should see if Greene can keep his momentum going before we let Tebowmania infect another spot on the depth chart.

Tags: bust, , , , punt, , textbook
No Comments Share Read More

Jets linebacker complains that Patriots offense is ‘borderline illegal’

18 Oct
by in Fantasy Football, General

The New England Patriots are accustomed to accusations of illegal behavior. This one, though, they won't lose any sleep over.

Calvin Pace, linebacker for the rival New York Jets, complained about the tempo at which the Patriots run their offense, calling it "borderline illegal." I believe he meant it as flattery more than an accusation, but you can decide how to interpret it. Here's the quote, via ESPN's Rich Cimini:

"It's borderline illegal because sometimes the guys aren't always set when they snap the ball," Pace said Wednesday. "But it's smart. Why not hurry a team up? I wish we would do it. For a defense, it just puts pressure on you."

The Patriots like to snap the ball as quickly as they can ‒ when the official spots the ball and the next play can begin. The idea is that the defense has less time to get substitutions on the field and get themselves into the alignment they want. It's nothing new or revolutionary ‒ it's a fairly common practice in college football and is becoming more widely used in the NFL, too.

Pace even said he wishes the Jets would do it, which is a nice thought, but maybe the Jets should first get to a point where they can successfully execute plays at a normal pace. There's no reason to rush all those three-and-outs.

As for the legality of the practice, I guess Pace is technically correct in calling the practice "borderline illegal." Snapping the ball right after it's spotted is legal, but snapping it just before would be illegal. It's borderline illegal in the same way that driving 54 mph in a 55 mph hour zone is borderline illegal. Borderline illegal, but also perfectly legal.

The Jets and Patriots are tied for the lead in the AFC East, both with records of 3-3. They will meet at 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday.

Tags: , behavior, , mph, , ,
No Comments Share Read More

Absurdly premature 2012 playoff picture: Week 6

17 Oct
by in Fantasy Football, General

Top AFC seeds: Houston Texans, Baltimore Ravens
Other AFC division champs: New England Patriots, Denver Broncos
AFC Wild Cards: Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins

Top NFC seeds: Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants
Other NFC division champs: San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers
NFC Wild Cards: Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles

• Your eyes do not deceive you, and no one mixed LSD into your cereal this morning. That is indeed the Miami Dolphins in the Absurdly Premature Playoff Picture. I'll do my best to explain.

• It pretty much boils down to the AFC being an indistinguishable jumble of teams that will finish between 7-9 and 9-7. There are precisely two teams with winning records, and they occupy the top two spots ‒ the Ravens and Texans. After that, if you eliminate the Browns, Titans, Jaguars, Raiders and Chiefs on the ground of being at two games or more under .500 already, you're left with the Chargers, Steelers, Bengals, and the scrap heap that is the AFC East. It's not an attractive list of options. I'll take you through how I landed on Miami.

• Of the eligible teams listed above, the Chargers have the best point differential on the season at +11 (only Pittsburgh at +1 and Miami at +3 are also on the positive side of the ledger). That works in their favor, as does the number of "should win" games left on their schedule: @Cleveland, KC, @Tampa Bay, Cincy, Carolina, @NYJ and Oakland.

• But with a great big Stephen A. Smith However … the unspeakable evens of Monday night happened. That was real. It was not some devastating football night terror. The Chargers are about as emotionally healthy right now as Ellen Burstyn character in "Requiem for a Dream." Losses like that are how people end up with the demeanor and mannerisms for Norv Turner. I don't know if they can recover emotionally, and even if they do, I don't know if Philip Rivers can right that thing. I'm going to need to see the Chargers come back after the bye week and do something against Cleveland other than ball themselves up in the fetal position and suck their thumbs. It'll be two weeks before I will even consider considering them again.

• Which means, if we give the Patriots the AFC East, that two teams from this group get Wild Card spots: Pittsburgh, who just lost to Tennessee, Cincinnati, who just lost to Cleveland, Buffalo, who has the worst rushing defense in the league, Miami, who is leaning on Ryan Tannehill and a bad secondary, and the Jets, who are the Jets. And I actually considered the Jets. I'm not kidding. I thought about putting the Jets in the Absurdly Premature Playoff Picture. I did this with full lucidity (maybe) and no firearm pointed at my temple.

• Pittsburgh got one spot, because even with its injuries, and even with its disgusting road collapses against bad teams, it still 1) has the best quarterback of the group, and 2) has the league's fifth-best defense in yards allowed per game. I'm not saying this makes Pittsburgh a good choice. I'm saying it makes Pittsburgh one of the least terrible choices.

• The other of whom is the Miami Dolphins. They're on a two-game win streak. Their remaining schedule is not overwhelmingly difficult. They get the Titans, Seahawks (who have been way less impressive on the road), Jaguars and Bills at home. They play the Jets, Colts and Bills on the road. They should be at least competitive in those games. It's not crazy to think the Dolphins can do this. I am not crazy, I tell you.

• Over in the refreshingly competent NFC, the Giants take the second seed away from the 49ers, just like they took their pride, manhood and dignity on Sunday. I like the 49ers' remaining schedule a little bit better, and it's not inconceivable that they'll switch back in a week or two, but that Giants' performance just can't be ignored. If their defense gives that kind of an effort consistently, they'll beat pretty much anyone.

• Green Bay will reclaim the NFC North, despite being a game and a half back of the Bears. Kind of like the Giants, if the Green Bay offense gives that kind of an effort consistently, they'll also beat pretty much anyone. We've seen the best of the Packers now, and if they can maintain it, they'll eclipse both the Bears and the Vikings, because they're simply better.

• Speaking of the Vikings … I'm sorry, guys. I liked having you here, and you earned your one-week appearance, but the Redskins clubbed you pretty well. I'm not writing you off Arizona-style. You're still in the mix. If you handle your business over the next two weeks, with Arizona and Tampa Bay at home, you'll be 6-2 and once again impossible to exclude.

• Chicago takes Minnesota's place. It's time. I'm not saying I'm sold long-term, and I'm not saying I believe in Jay Cutler, but with Minnesota having to drop out, Chicago's the obvious and more-than-worthy replacement. Before the bye, they'd won three straight by 16 points or more, and they've got the best rushing defense in the league.

• Philadelphia, Washington and Seattle were the contenders for that last Wild Card spot. I've been impressed with Washington, and they're a team that's improving, but I need to see a little bit more. Compete against New York and Pittsburgh, and then we'll revisit the issue. I'm closer to believing in Seattle, but I also want to see more ‒ specifically, an impressive road win or two. Fortunately, they'll get their chance as they're on the road the next two weeks against San Francisco and Detroit. That defense has me thinking that they're not far from challenging San Fran for the NFC West top spot, either.

No Comments Share Read More

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks and Packers rising, Steelers and Bengals falling

16 Oct
by in Fantasy Football, General

It's going to be a rough week for the "We just beat them, so now we should be ranked ahead of them" crowd. Just about everyone in the league refused to comply with their spot in the power rankings, as the teams slotted 19th, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 27th, 28th, 30th and 31st won, while the teams ranked 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 8th and 9th all lost.

What's a power ranker supposed to do with that? Give up on the concept of power rankings as fruitless and indicative of nothing? I refuse. I will revise, adjust and adapt to the ever-shifting climate of the league. Just probably not as quickly as you would like.

We've got a lot of big movers this week. All told, nine teams move five or more spots, but the most significant movement came from one game ‒ the Jets leapt up by a staggering 10 spots, and the Colts dropped by nine. Read on to see where your team ranks, and be sure to complain about it in the comments below.

1. Atlanta Falcons (6-0)
Last week: 1

There are those who point to the Falcons' record of 6-0 and believe they're the best team in football. There are also those who think they're overrated and point to their struggles against Carolina and Washington, and now this week's slopfest against Oakland. Which group is right? The former. Power rankings do not lie.

2. New York Giants (4-2)
Last week: 4

It seems like it took that big win against the 49ers to remind everyone that the Giants are pretty good. Noted ‒ the Giants are pretty good. And they didn't even call on the aerial assault of Eli Manning, Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. They basically won without them. Manning was under 200 yards passing and Cruz and Nicks combined for 104. When that pass rush is on, they really don't need much else.

3. Houston Texans (5-1)
Last week: 2

So they got clobbered on Sunday night against the Packers ‒ what's the takeaway? That Aaron Rodgers might still be a really good quarterback, and that the Texans are not a perfect football team? Neither of these items need be accompanied by a "Breaking News" graphic. They hacked up a furball against a desperate team that played their best football of the season. It happens.

4. Baltimore Ravens (5-1)
Last week: 7

I feel like there should've been a massive gap after the third team ‒ Falcons first, Giants second, Texans third, and then a whole lot of bank space and we'll resume around 10 or so. The Ravens probably didn't deserve to win this week (not my words, they're Joe Flacco's), but that's how the NFL carousel rotates. It just happened to be the Ravens this week who were the recipient of the Cowboys' weekly gift of football ineptitude.

5. Chicago Bears (4-1)
Last week: 10

Off this week, and that's a pretty big jump for a team that didn't play. Maybe the Bears ought to keep sitting games out and just see how far they'll rise.

6. San Francisco 49ers (4-2)
Last week: 3

I hate to get too carried away with one result, but the 49ers weren't just beaten ‒ their strengths were beaten. The Giants ran between the tackles with impunity, and defensively, turned the 49ers into a passing team and buried them with pressure on Alex Smith, who was sacked six time. A week ago, the 49ers seemed like the easy choice to win the NFC West and a likely choice for a first-round bye in the playoffs. Now I wonder if the Giants exposed something and if the Seahawks can do the same on Thursday night, and take control of the division.

7. New England Patriots (3-3)
Last week: 5

Losing in Seattle is about the most forgivable thing in the league right now ‒ the defense and the crowd there are ferocious (as was the rain Sunday), and it seemed to affect even the usually unflappable Patriots. I've got concerns about the secondary there, but as far as New England's general outlook going forward, they'll be fine. They're not going to play defenses like Seattle's every week, and they'll tuck the ball back into the belly of Brandon Bolden and Stevan Ridley, and all will be well. Except the secondary.

8. Green Bay Packers (3-3)
Last week: 13

If we can consider the Aaron Rodgers touchdown orgy against the Texans an official resurrection, we can then look ahead for the Pack. The next four are against St. Louis, Jacksonville, Arizona and Detroit, with a bye week mixed in there. A record of 7-3 seems, if not probable, certainly possible. And if that did come to pass, I'd be very surprised if they weren't at least tied for the lead in the NFC North at that point.

9. Denver Broncos (3-3)
Last week: 11

Peyton Manning went 13 of 14 for 167 yards in the second half on Monday night, and that's really, really good. And the Broncos are good, and still getting better. All that is worth mentioning, but I find it difficult to grade Denver's Monday night performance, since it happened against an all-encompassing cataclysm from the Chargers.

10. Philadelphia Eagles (3-3)
Last week: 6

I'm not concerned that Michael Vick owns a dog again. What does concern me, though, is Vick's apparent tendency to slather that dog in butter, WD-40, Crisco, and petroleum jelly, pet that dog for a half hour, and then refuse to wash his hands before playing a football game. Not only is it disgusting and unsanitary, but it automatically puts the Eagles in about a 14-point hole every time they play. It's remarkable that this keeps happening. I can't recall a quarterback having such a turnover-laden season who wasn't also a truly awful quarterback. Which Vick is not.

11. Seattle Seahawks (4-2)
Last week: 16

The Seahawks continue to quietly climb, and they seem to keep getting big power ranking boosts after games they play at home. At home this year, they've squashed Dallas, "beat" Green Bay, and beat New England, and on the road, they've lost to Arizona, lost to St. Louis, and eked out an uggo over Carolina. Their next two are on the road.

12. Minnesota Vikings (4-2)
Last week: 8

It's strange how kicking four field goals is a pretty reliable way to lose a game. Kicker Blair Walsh accounted for all of the Vikings points through three quarters with four field goals, all of which came from offensive drives that stalled in the red zone. The comeback attempt was nice, but much like the 49ers, this isn't a team that will make a living playing from behind.

13. Miami Dolphins (3-3)
Last week: 15

The Dolphins are all over the place. They've been blown out, and blew somebody out. Then they lost two straight close games, and now they've won two straight close games. This is good, but only because the Dolphins were supposed to be absolutely terrible. Ryan Tannehill has been better than advertised, and third-round rookie Olivier Vernon made plays chasing Sam Bradford, too.

14. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-3)
Last week: 9

The Steelers are way past the point of forgivable losses. I could've brushed off the collapse against Oakland as a fluke, but the Titans, too? Sorry, that's asking a bit much. The Steelers are either playing down to the level of their competition, they've turned into fourth-quarter gag artists, or they just aren't very good, at least away from home. The best thing going for them right now is that the Ravens defensive injuries are piling up so quickly.

15. San Diego Chargers (3-3)
Last week: 12

At halftime of the Monday night game, I was feeling pretty silly about having the Broncos ranked higher than the Chargers for all these weeks. Then the second half happened, and I don't feel silly anymore. I just feel sadness and concern, because I'm pretty sure Philip Rivers is going to hang himself with an extension cord. What a mess of a game and a mess of a team. The Chargers are like the AFC's version of the Cowboys, except without all the discipline and mental toughness.

16. Washington Redskins (3-3)
Last week: 19

Look who's only a game back in the NFC East ‒ it's Bob Griffin and his Redskins. It's hard to get a handle on just how good the Redskins are, but they are going to be a fun watch every week. RGIII is going to do things like run for 76-yard touchdowns, and defensively, everyone's going to light them up through the air. The jolly good-time Redskins have a chance to actually take the division lead this week against the Giants.

17. New York Jets (3-3)
Last week: 27

I feel a high level of internal discomfort even typing this, but the Jets can take the lead in the AFC East with a win next week. This fact is almost as confusing as looking at Shonn Greene's name in a box score and seeing the number "161" next to it, because as far as I know, the NFL has not added "number of times Shonn Greene has been called unspeakable things by each of his fantasy owners" to the official box score. I trust that he'll return to about 40 yards next week so the world can resume spinning on its axis.

18. Buffalo Bills (3-3)
Last week: 22

You feed a cold. You starve a fever. And you fix a leaky pass defense by playing a game against Kevin Kolb and John Skelton. For the Bills, the simple act of not being blown out would've been a step in the right direction, but they went above and beyond. They held Arizona to just 150 passing yards after giving up 643 over the last two weeks. True, Arizona ran for 182 yards and got 6.1 yards a carry, but we can only fix one thing at a time.

19. Arizona Cardinals (4-2)
Last week: 14

Consecutive losses to the Rams and Bills significantly dampen a 4-0 start, but I don't want to get too down on the Cards. They still have an excellent defense that's going to keep them in most games; but they also have a quarterback situation that's going to prevent them from winning a whole lot of them. The Cardinals are going to have a lot of games like that ‒ low scoring and decided on the feet of kickers. Having a 38-yarder to win is something they'll take most weeks.

20. St. Louis Rams (3-3)
Last week: 21

A couple of times this season the Rams have been the team finding a way to win. This week, despite outgaining the Dolphins 462-192, they found a way to lose. The 12 penalties certainly helped, as did an off day from Young GZ. And even though he only went 2 of 5 on the day, Greg Zuerlein was still worth the price of admission. The 66-yarder he attempted as time ran out had plenty of leg. Leg for days. I don't think I've ever seen a field-goal attempt hit that hard.

21. Detroit Lions (2-3)
Last week: 23

They knew they needed a win, and when it came down to it in the fourth quarter, they fought like hell for it. Why Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson were so ineffective for the first three quarters, though, I couldn't tell you. But now that we've eliminated, at least temporarily, special teams meltdowns, that's now the crucial issue with this team. They've got to pull Matthew Stafford's passer rating out of the gutter and get Calvin Johnson in the end zone.

22. Dallas Cowboys (2-3)
Last week: 21

I'd like to thank the Cowboys for going ahead and finishing that game in traditional Cowboy fashion, so no one has to continue to be confused about who they are. They might be the offense that tuned up the Ravens defense for 481 yards, and they might be the defense that held Ray Rice to under 4 yards a carry. But they're also the team that had 13 penalties and had to settle for a 51-yard field-goal attempt to win because they couldn't get off more than one play in 34 seconds. With a timeout.

23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3)
Last week: 24

Bizarre stat, via ESPN Stats and Information: Josh Freeman is completing 55.6 percent of throws longer than 15 yards downfield, and just 55.0 percent of his throws of 15 yards or shorter. It's kind of hard to interpret a stat so backwards, but my best guess is that it means that the best strategy for Josh Freeman is to chuck the ball deep and hope Vincent Jackson or Mike Williams come down with it.

24. Cincinnati Bengals (3-3)
Last week: 18

I guess 3-3 isn't the worst record in the world if you're the Bengals, but I don't know how you can hold on to your playoff hopes when you're losing back-to-back games to Miami and Cleveland.  Fortunately, few other teams in the AFC appear to like winning football games, either, so if they beat Pittsburgh at home this week, they're still in pretty good position. At least, as good a position as they can be for a team that lost to the Browns.

25. New Orleans Saints (1-4)
Last week: 26

Off this week.

26. Tennessee Titans (2-4)
Last week: 31

The Titans claimed to be better than their record, and while I don't know if they proved that with the win over the Steelers, it does create some separation, at least temporarily, between them and the unsightly dregs of the power rankings. Chris Johnson has had better than 90 yards and more than 4.8 yards per carry in two of his last three outings, for those of you holding on to some hope there.

27. Cleveland Browns (1-5)
Last week: 30

I don't know if I've ever heard a player's birthday mentioned so much in one day. Did you know that Sunday was Brandon Weeden's birthday? It was. He turned 29 years old, because it was his birthday, and that's what happens on birthdays. Also perhaps of interest: Weeden made some pretty big throws in the last 20 minutes of that game. What a great birthday present for him. Birthday.

28. Oakland Raiders (1-4)
Last week: 29

Just about all game predictions pointed to the Raiders pass defense getting shredded like a bucket of cole slaw against the Falcons, but that never happened. Matt Ryan was picked off three times, held under 250 yards and had a quarterback rating of 59.4. If the Raiders can maintain any of that, there's no reason they shouldn't be able to inch up the rankings a bit over the next few weeks. They get the Jaguars, Chiefs and Bucs in their next three. Oh, and if you happen to work with CBS Sports, and you can tell me who gets to call the Raiders/Jags game this week, please let me know. I'd like to send them a fruit basket.

29. Indianapolis Colts (2-3)
Last week: 20

It wasn't difficult to see a letdown coming after last week's #CHUCKSTRONG triumph ‒ getting absolutely throttled by the Jets, though, is indicative of more than a letdown. It's a letdown from a team that's young, growing and maybe not very good yet. Andrew Luck in particular had a rough game, but in his defense, it was against a defense that, even without Darrelle Revis, is still pretty tough on opposing quarterbacks.

30. Carolina Panthers (1-4)
Last week: 25

Off this week.

31. Kansas City Chiefs (1-5)
Last week: 28

The banner people got their wish, and you're not going to believe this, but Brady Quinn playing in place of Matt Cassel did not magically solve all the Chiefs problems. I know, I was surprised, too. The Chiefs are off this coming week, and then come back to the face the Raiders, renewing a rivalry every bit as exciting as the one between Jacksonville and Tennessee.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-4)
Last week: 32

Off this week.

More news from the Yahoo! Sports Minute:

Other popular content on the Yahoo! network:
• Michael Silver: Andy Reid should resist benching Michel Vick
• NCAA's response to New Jersey's gambling plan laughable
• Justin Verlander 'got away with some pitches'
• omg!: Model unveils $2.5 million 'fantasy bra'

No Comments Share Read More

Monday night preview: Who owns the AFC West, the Chargers or Broncos?

15 Oct
by in Fantasy Football, General

It's early, of course, but the AFC West already looks like a two-team race. The San Diego Chargers lead the division, with the Denver Broncos one game back and nipping at the lightning bolt. The Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs aren't far behind, but with two wins between them, they're excluded from the conversation for now.

Peyton Manning's arrival in Denver promised to alter the structure of the division, but it didn't happen immediately. Manning's played nearly as big as his reputation, and between commercial appearances, he's found time to amass a quarterback rating of 101.0 ‒ second best in the league.

Wins haven't accompanied the numbers, though. The Broncos, having played a tough schedule, are under .500. As long as the Broncos get this one Monday night, though, they're not out anything ‒ they'd be 3-3 and tied for the division lead, with their top adversaries owing them a return trip to Denver.

[More NFL: Tom Brady's trash talk backfires after game vs. Seattle Seahawks]

But the Chargers have made some changes, too. The defense is stronger this year than it was last year, and it will have to be if they want to keep Manning in check. After early injuries and struggles, talented running back Ryan Mathews had the best game of his career last week against the Saints. If he can keep contributing at that level, it completely transforms the Chargers offense.

Another big factor Monday night will be the absence of Jared Gaither, San Diego's starting left tackle. He hasn't practiced, and likely won't play. When he's been out of the lineup, it's been bad news for Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers ‒ they have no experienced backup, and Denver will look to exploit that with beastly pass rushers Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil. It's a matchup that favors the Broncos.

Vegas sees the game pretty evenly, with the Chargers being just one-point favorites at home. The prediction here is that Denver pulls away in the second half and evens up the race at the top of the AFC West.

More news from the Yahoo! Sports Minute:

Other popular content on the Yahoo! network:
• Tigers pitching making quick work of impotent Yankees
• Michael Jordan's McDonald's-brand BBQ sauce can be yours for $10K
• Mark Wiebe records the best hole-in-one of the season (video)
• Y! Finance: Investment banker turns Olympic cyclist

Tags: , AFC West, Bolt, , , , , , , , structure,
No Comments Share Read More

Before his death, Junior Seau seemed to be two different people

14 Oct
by in Fantasy Football, General

Cheerful and full of light one minute, and racked with depression, memory loss and confusion the next. That was Junior Seau in the months leading up to his suicide, according to a haunting portrait of Seau painted by Jill Leiber Steeg in Sunday's San Diego Union Tribune.

Seau never lost his compassion, sensitivity, or his zeal for helping other people, but in his retirement, Seau's darker side took a stronger hold. They were things out of his control. His brain, for reasons related to football or not, let him down. The farther away he got from football, the worse things became. Here's how Leiber Steeg described the darker side of Seau:

He once had a photographic memory, and never had a documented concussion in his 13 seasons with the Chargers. But he began showing signs of short-term memory loss, diminished concentration, a lack of impulse control and an inability to process numbers. He could snap without warning, becoming verbally and physically abusive to friends, family and loved ones. While some of those symptoms are associated with depression, insomnia and anxiety, they also are associated with traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurring through concussions.

Obviously, it's hard to separate that from football. Seau's family donated their father's brain to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke for further research. Seau's son Tyler anticipates getting the results of that study back in three to six months.

I don't think too many people will be surprised if the report comes back with the conclusion that Seau had suffered major damage to his brain through years of repetitive blows to his head. Tyler says now that he's aware of the symptoms for traumatic brain injuries, he knows that his dad "had every single one of them."

Seau's business partner Ted Davenport, talked about how it became harder and harder to communicate with Seau.

"It was very hard to have a phone conversation with him. You'd talk about something, and he'd drift off, or he'd just get up and walk away from the phone. In person, he just didn't seem focused. He'd lost his focus. He was forgetful. He'd say, 'I'll call you right back,' and hang up the phone, then two days later, I'd call him and say, 'You were supposed to call me back,' and he didn't remember having had the conversation with me."

When Seau's body was found, there was a note with it that contained the lyrics of a favorite song of Seau's, called "Who I Ain't."

I never made a deal with the devil, but I broke promises to the Lord
I've tried to be the man I should, but sometimes I fall short
I'm not a man of anger; I never meant to hurt no one
But there are things in my life, I'm sad to say I've done
Cuz I broke the hearts of angels, cursed my fellow man
Turned from the Bible with a bottle in my hand
My only hope for forgiveness, when the good Lord calls my name
Is that He knows who I am and who I ain't

If you interested at all in Junior Seau, what his life was like in retirement, the effects of brain injuries on football players, or why retirement is so difficult for even the healthiest of players, it's a fascinating read and highly recommended.

Other popular content on the Yahoo! network:
• College football's Week 7 winners and losers
• North Carolina fans give Roy Williams heartwarming ovation
• Y! Travel: Ten great 'trip of a lifetime' ideas
• Buccaneers' Aqib Talib suspended four games for Adderall use

Tags: , , depression, Jill Leiber Steeg, junior, Junior Seau, , , phone, San Diego Union Tribune, traumatic brain injuries, traumatic brain injury
No Comments Share Read More

Adam Carriker loses bet, dresses up like pro wrestler Goldberg

11 Oct
by in Fantasy Football, General

Redskins defensive end Adam Carriker made a bet with former pro wrestler Bill Goldberg. If the Washington Redskins had beaten the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday, Goldberg, a former Atlanta Falcon, would've had to wear a Washington Redskins jersey. If the Falcons beat the Redskins, which is what ended up happening, Carriker had to dress up like Goldberg.

So Carriker willingly made a bet in which he faced long odds, and if he lost, his punishment was way worse than the other guy's. In other words, Adam Carriker really wanted to dress up like Goldberg. So he did. Via TMZ (Carriker on the left, Goldberg on the right, for comparison's sake):

TMZ's headline says Carriker lost an "embarrassing" bet, and yes ‒ just look at how embarrassed he is. I wouldn't be surprised to learn Carriker was at home rooting for the Falcons. The man was just dying to dress up like Goldberg. He even oiled himself up! I bet it's not the first time he's had that outfit on, either.

Carriker, who has time for these things because he's on injured reserve, hosts a wrestling podcast in his free time. I'm guessing he didn't have to do a lot of Internet research to know what Goldberg's costume looked like.

Tags: , , Bill Goldberg, Goldberg, Goldberg Redskins, , jersey, , punishment, , sake, ,
No Comments Share Read More

Carlos Rogers backs off promise to do Victor Cruz’s salsa dance

11 Oct
by in Fantasy Football, General

When the New York Giants lost to the San Francisco 49ers in the regular season last year, 49ers defensive back Carlos Rogers snared a pair of interceptions. He also broke out a mock version of Victor Cruz's salsa dance, which Cruz did not like.

A couple of months later, the two teams met in the NFC championship game, and Cruz got a measure of revenge, to the tune of 10 receptions for 142 yards ‒ most of them in front of Rogers.

The two of them will meet again on Sunday, and Rogers first said he was hoping to give Cruz another look at his imitation salsa dance.

"I like the dance, actually. If I make a play or an interception, in my mind, I'll say 'Just do his dance,' " Rogers said.

Cruz made it pretty clear that he doesn't want to see that.

"I obviously won't be OK with that," Cruz said. "But it is what it is — I'm not going to try to retaliate or go crazy. That's not me. But obviously it won't sit well with me as I've stated before."

The dance is a tribute to his grandmother, Lucy Molina, who passed away less than a month ago. He considers the dance to be "sacred" and said for anyone to mock it is a "slap in the face."

Rogers, given this information, then changed his plans.

Later, Cruz's words were passed along to Rogers in the 49ers' locker room. The Pro Bowl cornerback told the Bay Area News Group that he was unaware of the inspiration behind Cruz's celebration and that it "definitely" changed his plans to mimic Cruz's moves.

Hopefully these guys can also make time for some football, too.

When Cruz eventually got around to that subject, he mentioned he wouldn't mind seeing a lot of Rogers in coverage again.

"Hopefully I expect the same thing I got last year, a lot of Carlos Rogers on me and the usual things," Cruz said, "and hopefully I can do some of the same things I did last year."

I'm a little torn on this one. Not on the issue of who will get the better of the Cruz/Rogers matchup ‒ Rogers can't handle Cruz one-on-one ‒ but the issue of the end zone dance. It may be a tribute to his grandmother, and I respect that, but it's still an end zone dance. If I get beaten at something, be it Xbox, Monopoly, bar trivia or Go Fish, I'm not going to like it when someone dances in my face afterward. I don't think it's unreasonable to want to dance back if the opportunity presents itself.

I think that's probably enough today on the subject of dancing and football. The 49ers host the Giants at 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday in the most tantalizing game of the season thus far.

Tags: , , Hopefully, , , , promise
No Comments Share Read More
1 2 3 12 13 Next »

Recent Posts

  • Chargers send K Kaeding to injured reserve – Nate Kaeding | SD
    Chargers send K Kaeding to injured reser...
    October 22, 2012No Comments
  • Saints ‘feel good’ about Graham’s status – Jimmy Graham | NO
    Saints ‘feel good’ about Gra...
    October 22, 2012No Comments
  • Thunder waive guard Walker Russell (Yahoo! Sports)
    Thunder waive guard Walker Russell (Yaho...
    October 22, 2012No Comments
  • Pacers will keep Paul George through 2013-14 (Yahoo! Sports)
    Pacers will keep Paul George through 201...
    October 22, 2012No Comments
  • Jim Leyland costumes are all the rage in Detroit
    Jim Leyland costumes are all the rage in...
    October 22, 2012No Comments