January 18, 2018

All Out Blitz: NFL News & Notes

Arizona Cardinals:  The running game for the Cardinals has been dicey this season to say the least.  Beanie Wells had a solid 2011 season but his injury history sort of opened the door Ryan Williams to take over the starting job, but Williams himself was coming off rehab of his Achilles injury from last season.  Neither Williams nor Wells did much when handed the keys to the car, but that may be on the offensive line more than their talents and when both went out with injury it’s been Lerod Stephens-Howling who has taken over the starting role.  LSH has done well but could lose that job by Week 12 when Wells is eligible to be activated off of the IR.

Atlanta Falcons:  Atlanta does seem to be the most under publicized 8-0 team in recent memory.  I’m not sure why that is, perhaps not having an electric personality on the team contributes to this, but you just know they are going to play the lack of respect card…..The biggest question remaining for Atlanta will be winning a playoff game.  It is pretty much a foregone conclusion that they will win their division, but in the past two seasons they have been taken apart like a clock in the playoff by the eventual Super Bowl champion, first by Green Bay in 2010 and then the Giants last season.  All this work is for naught if they can’t get to at least the NFC Championship game this year.

Baltimore Ravens:  I’m not really impressed with any team in the AFC North.  The Ravens defense is a shell of its former self.  They should’ve lost to Dallas and almost found way to lose to Cleveland last week.  They play well at home but not so much on the road.  Starting to think Pittsburgh may take this division, looking forward to those two head to head meetings.

Buffalo Bills:  When are the Bills going to realize that they don’t have an over abundance of playmakers on their roster?  It’s time to give the ball to RB C.J. Spiller full-time and let him do his thing.  I feel bad for Fred Jackson, but he’s just not the player Spiller is…..WR Steve Johnson suffered a thigh injury during the game against Houston that definitely slowed his progress, he is however expected to play this week versus the Patriots.

Carolina Panthers:  The Panthers swore to everyone that they were going to make Jonathan Stewart the number one running back, well I guess that depends on what your definition of number one is.  Sure he is getting more carries than either DeAngelo Williams or Mike Tolbert, but is far from the overwhelming ball carrier in Sunday’s win versus Washington…..WR Steve Smith finally caught a touchdown pass last week…..On that touchdown run that Williams had last week, the officials actually blew the whistle when they thought he stepped out at the 17-yard line, yet still awarded him a TD.  Good to see the replacement referees weren’t the only ones making up rules as they went along.

Chicago Bears:  The Bears defense is scary.  Most opposing teams are generally worried about how to stop the opposing offense from scoring, but with the Bears you better figure out how to stop their defense and/or their special teams from scoring, just incredible so far this season…..Cornerback Charles Tillman may be in line for defensive player of the year, when was the last time we could say that about a CB…..Linebacker Brian Uhrlacher is looking better and better each and every week, another scary though for opposing offenses.

Cincinnati Bengals:  Tight end Jermaine Gresham had his biggest game of the season last Sunday, eclipsing 100 receiving yards.  Quarterback Andy Dalton could certainly use another big target to throw to…..Speaking of top targets for Dalton to throw to, WR AJ Green has caught at least one TD pass in seven straight games.

Cleveland Browns:  I know moral victories don’t mean very much in the NFL, but the Browns did show some heart in coming from back from a 14-0 early deficit against the Ravens to take the lead before falling late.  Still think the Browns are heading in the right direction, and give them a couple more drafts and/or free agent signings, and they could be ready to compete in the AFC North by 2014.

Dallas Cowboys:  The Cowboys managed to lose another close game last week.  This team seems to do just enough to lose each week.  Dallas committed no turnovers during the game but also didn’t cause any on defense.  They continue to drop passes, three of them actually, all on third down which would’ve extended drives.  On defense, they seem to come up small when it matters most, at the end of halves, just not a recipe for success.

Denver Broncos:  Peyton Manning has proven to everyone that he has fully recovered from his neck surgeries.  He is having another MVP like season.  What is even scarier is that he should get better and stronger as the season rolls along…..Everyone thinks about the Broncos offense, but that defense is also playing better now that LB Von Miller and  DE Elvis Dumervil are back up to speed.  This is a team that should be awfully dangerous come playoff time.

Detroit Lions:  I know everyone is panicking over WR Calvin Johnson only having one TD so far this season but remember, he has been tackled four times at the one-yard line, including last week, just bad luck so far…..Titus Young is really maddening for the Lions and his fantasy owners, just a week after it looked like he would finally be a big part of the offense he throws up a stinker versus Jacksonville, just so frustrating.

Green Bay Packers:  The Packers bye really couldn’t have come at a better time.  This team is turning into a MASH unit to say the least.  WR Greg Jennings is still out for a couple of weeks after undergoing surgery for a torn abdominal muscle.  The other starting wideout, Jordy Nelson, returned last week after being out with a groin injury, only to leave the game in the 1st quarter after twisting his ankle.  LB Clay Matthews is supposedly going to be out a couple of weeks with a hamstring injury and CB/S Charles Woodson is still out after breaking his collarbone.  That’s quite a few All-Pro players who are out of the lineup for Green Bay.

Houston Texans:  Game of the week has to be the Texans playing at the Bears on Sunday night.  DE J.J. Watt could have a big game against that Bears secondary.  Looking forward to that one…..TE Owen Daniels may not gather the headlines of the Patriots Rob Gronkowski or the Saints Jimmy Graham, but he’s putting up a nice comeback year.  He did have knee surgery a couple of years ago and it seems it took him a full season to recover, and right now he looks as good as he ever has.

Indianapolis Colts:  If the season ended today, boy would I be disappointed, the Colts would be in the playoffs, just incredible.  If Peyton Manning were to win the Super Bowl and be the MVP of the league the Colts wouldn’t be disappointed, they are that happy with Andrew Luck.  This organization is terribly fortunate to be able to have a franchise QB for 25-30 years…..The Colts are dealing with some injury issues as DE Dwight Freeney has an ankle problem and LB Robert Mathis a back injury, both look like they will play Thursday night versus Jacksonville however.

Jacksonville Jaguars:  Ugh, what can we say about the Jaguars.  Well, they are the only team in the NFL to be score on 100% of their trips in the red zone.  Of course there haven’t been all that many trips.  Good with the bad I guess.  RB Maurice Jones-Drew will not play Thursday versus the Colts, but could return for the Jags game in Week 11.

Kansas  City Chiefs:  What a mess the Chiefs are right now.  Funny thing is there were quite a few pundits who thought prior to the season that the Chiefs might have the best overall talent in the division, apparently now.  They do not seem to know how to use RB Jamaal Charles.  I know you want to protect your franchise player but not letting him touch the ball a minimum of 15 times a game just seems criminal to me…..Playing musical chairs at quarterback hasn’t helped any either.  Not that head coach Romeo Crennel has had much of a choice as it seems Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn have had a different injury each and every week.

Miami Dolphins:  Tough loss for the Dolphins last week, one that could come back to haunt them as they now lose a tiebreaker to Indianapolis.  Can’t believe I just wrote that.  Never would’ve believed coming into the season that Miami and Indy could be battling for a playoff spot, never…..One thing to keep any eye on, the last two weeks, RB Daniel Thomas has touched the ball more than Reggie Bush.  This could be something to keep an eye on in the future.  Bush is a free agent after the season and this could be the organizations way of finding out if Thomas can handle the full-time role.

Minnesota Vikings:   RB Adrian Peterson is having a fantastic season.  To comeback this strong and this quickly from reconstructive knee surgery is quite impressive.  He looks just as good as he always has, very impressed…..WR Percy Harvin considers himself doubtful to play Sunday after twisting his ankle in several places.  Harvin is a very good player but the way he is built, injuries are always going to be a concern, especially if the Vikings keep lining him up in the backfield.

New England Patriots:  The Patriots are coming off a bye and the most important question for them to answer is, have you fixed the defense, specifically the long pass plays.  If the Pats can just be respectable on defense, not great, just average, this team is going to be really tough to beat when it matters.  We all know Tom Brady and the passing game is great, but they also have a legitimate running game for the first time in many a year.

New Orleans Saints:  Could the Saints possibly get back into the playoff hunt?  They are certainly playing better but even though their defense looked like it dominated the Eagles on Monday night it still gave up over 400 yards.  Sure they battered Mike Vick, but in the end, not sure they can get the job done.  We’ll find out this week when Atlanta comes to town…..RB Darren Sproles missed the game last week with a broken hand and his timetable to return has gone anywhere from this weekend to out at least a month.  The good news is that in his absence, Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram, and Chris Ivory all looked capable of filling in.

New York Giants:  There’s a decent amount of panic here in Giants country concerning the offense.  QB Eli Manning is taking some heat for playing some subpar football over the past few weeks, some even believing he looks tired out there and needs the bye week to recuperate…..Safety Kenny Phillips is getting closer to returning, some even believing he could’ve played last week.  How the team gets his replacement, Steve Brown, on the field should be interesting.  Brown has been a huge playmaker for the team on defense.

New York Jets:  How long will the Jets wait until they give QB Tim Tebow a chance to start?  Isn’t this the reason they signed him, to help with the offense when it’s struggling.  Instead it seems other than fake punts they don’t know how to use his talents…..I think it’s safe to wonder if head coach Rex Ryan is living on borrowed time…..Back to Sanchez, also have to wonder if the Jets are regretting handing him that contract extension in the off-season.

Oakland Raiders:  This will come as shocking news, I know, but RB Darren McFadden is once again dealing with an injury.  This time he has a high ankle sprain that will keep him out of action.  Problem for Oakland is his backup, Mike Goodson, is also dealing with the same injury and both are unlikely to play this Sunday.  This will leave the running game in the hands of Taiwan Jones and Marcel Reece.  If I’m a fantasy owner, Reece is the player I’d want to run with.

Philadelphia Eagles:  For those of you calling for the benching of QB Michael Vick, stop it, it’s not going to happen, for several reasons.  First, coach Andy Reid is fighting for his job.  Putting in a rookie QB at this point in the season is certainly not going to save it.  He won’t make that move until Vick is either hurt or the Eagles are mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.  The other reason.  Vick is getting hammered behind an inferior offensive line.  If Vick can’t avoid the rush, what makes anyone think a less mobile QB can?  I know Troy Aikman got pounded when he was a rookie but I’m not sure the Eagles want to take the same path with Nick Foles.

Pittsburgh Steelers:  Starting to look like it doesn’t matter who the Steelers start at running back, Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman, or Jonathan Dwyer can all get the job done.  That being said in a fantasy league I wouldn’t want to start any of them this week, no telling who will be the main ball carrier come Monday night…..It’s not all rosy for Pittsburgh, WR Antonio Brown is almost certain to miss the game which means Emmanuel Sanders could be a sneaky play in fantasy leagues.

San Diego Chargers:  Like Andy Reid in Philadelphia, one has to believe it’s playoffs or bust for head coach Norv Turner.  Norv might help his cause if he would actually play RB Ryan Matthews a little more often.  Why they remove him on 3rd downs for Ronnie Brown is a huge question mark.  Matthews is by far the better player and it’s not like he can’t catch the ball…..WR Robert Meachem missed the last game with a hamstring injury but looks like he will suit up Sunday versus Tampa.  On paper this looks like a good matchup, but since QB Phillip Rivers doesn’t seem to trust him, you shouldn’t either.

San Francisco 49ers:  WR Mario Manningham used the bye week to recover from his shoulder injury and should be good to go Sunday…..Not that there was really any doubt, but QB Alex Smith is good to go this week as well.

Seattle Seahawks:  RB Marshawn Lynch didn’t practice Wednesday as he is dealing with back and wrist injuries, wouldn’t worry to much though as it would be a pretty big upset if he didn’t play Sunday versus the Jets….Speaking of the game, you just know that head coach Pete Carroll would love to stick it to his former team, not to mention his former QB in Mark Sanchez…..Just because WR Golden Tate had a big game last week doesn’t mean you should trust him going forward in fantasy leagues.

St. Louis Rams:  WR Danny Amendola looks to return this week versus the 49ers.  Not the best team to face in your first game back, but those who play in PPR leagues will have to think about activating him this week…..Still think not trading RB Steven Jackson at the trade deadline was a mistake.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:  That was a fantastic game by RB Doug Martin last week.   If there were any doubts about how good he can be, he pretty much laid those to rest.  With his emergence the passing game could become even more dangerous.  Already QB Josh Freeman and WR Mike Williams are starting to look like it’s 2010 all over again.  This is turning out to be a dangerous team…..Back to Martin once again, so much for the loss of G Carl Nicks having a negative impact on the running game.

Tennessee Titans:  After what can only be described as a less than optimum performance by the Titans against the Bears last week owner Bud Adams came down hard on the team and organization.  If the team’s play doesn’t pick up, one has a feeling there will be some massive changes in the off-season…..Jake Locker is supposed to take over the starting QB job once again.  Whether or not Locker can be a franchise QB should be atop the owner’s to do list.

Washington Redskins:  Head coach Mike Shanahan took quite a bit of heat for his comments after the loss to Carolina last week.  The gist of the comments were that Shanahan knows the season is over and will use the rest of it to determine who will be on the team in the future.  That is actually the truth, just doesn’t go over well with the fan base…..It’s looking more and more like WR Pierre Garcon’s first season in Washington will be a bust.  Have to think he will undergo season ending surgery pretty much any day now.


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