Arizona Cardinals: First round pick, WR Michael Floyd, is finally moving up the depth chart, he will now be used in three WR sets in place of Early Doucet…..Hopefully the Cardinals used their bye week to fix their offensive line problems…..Have to wonder if the Cards will be looking for a franchise quarterback either by trade, free agent signing, or in the draft next year. John Skelton and Kevin Kolb just aren’t getting the job done. Now we know why they wanted Peyton Manning so much.
Atlanta Falcons: A loss is never a good thing, but the Falcons may have needed a reality check. They’re a good, not great team. For WR Roddy White and some other players to start to mouth off before the New Orleans game about having an undefeated season and how much they hate the town of NO is just uncalled for. Disrupting the Saints pre-game activities to talk trash to former Falcon LB Curtis Lofton doesn’t sit to well with me either…..If this team can’t find a consistent running game with Michael Turner or Jacquizz Rodgers, they could be headed for another early knockout anyway.
Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens still aren’t using RB Ray Rice as much as they should, perhaps they are saving him for the stretch run, but it was still an extremely good sign to see QB Joe Flacco come out and light up the Raiders. Baltimore needs teams to respect the passing game and not load up to stop Rice…..Have to question why the Ravens decided to go for a fake field goal late in the game when the outcome was all but decided? Was there bad blood between the teams? If not, why would coach Harbaugh show one of his tricks? Did he want to practice the play or does he know he would never call the play during a close game but still wanted to give opposing teams something to think about.
Buffalo Bills: Now you never want to see a player get hurt, but the concussion suffered by RB Fred Jackson on Sunday once again opens the door for CJ Spiller to be the main ball carrier this week against Miami. Jackson is a really good back, but Spiller is a home run threat every time he touches the ball…..If you’re looking for a running back in a deep league, Tashard Choice could be your guy this week, he will backup Spiller on Thursday.
Carolina Panthers: Wide receiver Steve Smith was benched for a bit Sunday as coach Ron Rivera wanted to see what some of his younger WRs could do in a bigger role…..The Panthers have only attempted nine field goals this season, the last two of which he has missed, could Justin Medlock’s job be in jeopardy…..Once again the carry distribution between Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams was pretty even with Stewart leading, 8-6, but you really don’t want either one on your fantasy team right now.
Chicago Bears: The Bears will be without their starting QB for the big game versus San Francisco on Monday. We all remember what happened to the Bears last season when Cutler went down, it wasn’t pretty. The team did upgrade the backup position with Jason Campbell, but he looked extremely rusty in the rain versus Houston. Now it likely won’t rain in SF, but the defense is one of the best which won’t make life easy for Campbell…..As good as WR Brandon Marshall has played this season, it might have been nice if he could’ve caught that TD pass. Never seen a player drop so many passes in the end zone.
Cincinnati Bengals: That was quite a beating the Bengals put on the Giants last week. Guess WR A.J. Green wasn’t kidding when he said the Giants have flaws in their secondary…..Although the Bengals have little to no chance of catching the Ravens in the AFC North, the injury to the Steelers Ben Roethlisberger could open up some room for a run a the wildcard, but Cincinnati will need to play much more consistent. Beating up the Chiefs this week should be a given, but we know it won’t be.
Cleveland Browns: Running back Trent Richardson will start against the Cowboys on Sunday, not that there was any doubt, but he admits that he is still not close to 100%…..New Browns ownership plans to use the remainder of the season to figure out if Brandon Weeden is their quarterback of the future.
Dallas Cowboys: Don’t look now but the Cowboys could very well be back in the thick of things in the NFC East race. A win over the Browns on Sunday would find the Cowboys only a game behind the Giants. A look at both teams remaining schedules (Dallas: Cleveland, Washington, Philadelphia, @Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, @Washington Giants: Green Bay, @Washington, New Orleans, @Atlanta, @Baltimore, Philadelphia) shows that if the Cowboys can play consistent football, 9-10 wins should not be out of the question and with the Giants struggling right now and with their schedule considerably tougher than the Cowboys, 9-10 wins could be enough to win the east.
Denver Broncos: Remember when we were all worried that QB Peyton Manning may never again be the same player he was, apparently not. He’s certainly an MVP candidate right now…..The Broncos are concerned with the recent fumbling problem being suffered by RB Willis Magahee. Ronnie Hillman could a bigger factor than first thought in the second half of the season…..LB D.J. Williams is back from suspension figures to get back into a regular rotation……If the season ended today LB Von Miller could be a top three candidate for defensive MVP, right there with the Texans J.J. Watt and the Bears Charles Tillman.
Detroit Lions: Just when you thought the Lions were climbing back into the playoff race they lose to the Vikings, a game most thought they should win when Vikings WR Percy Harvin couldn’t play…..QB Matthew Stafford is still inconsistent, but he did seem to rediscover his chemistry with WR Calvin Johnson. Johnson went for over 200 yards in the loss…..To all those RB Mikel Leshoure owners out there, Joique Bell is taking more and more touches from him.
Green Bay Packers: The Packers were really hoping to use their bye week to get healthy as they a boatload of injuries to deal with. LB Clay Matthews won’t be ready to play Sunday, same with WR Greg Jennings. Jordy Nelson however will be ready to play. Matthews is a loss however as this figures to be a shootout and Matthews was the Packs best bet to get to Lions QB Matthew Stafford.
Houston Texans: The Texans proved Sunday night that they can play in adverse conditions on the road, beating a good Bears team in a driving rain storm. Still think the Texans would’ve gone to the Super Bowl last year had QB Matt Schaub remained healthy. Really believe right now that they are the best overall team in the AFC right now once again…..TE Owen Daniels who missed the game Sunday with a hip injury is back at practice and will play this week, RB Ben Tate also has a chance of returning.
Indianapolis Colts: Linebacker Robert Mathis should be ready to play this Sunday but CB Vontae Davis and TE Coby Fleener will not be back until Week 12 at the earliest…..This game should be a good test for the Colts. We know New England is going to score points, but the Pats also give up a ton of long plays, something the Colts excel at. Quarterback Andrew luck likes to throw the deep ball and should have ample opportunities to do so in this game. Don’t expect the Colts to win this game, but it’s a litmus test to see how good they really are, playing a good team on the road.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Jaguars need to go into a complete rebuilding mode. Trade RB Maurice Jones-Drew in the off-season, get what you can for him, figure out what you’re going to do at quarterback. It certainly doesn’t look like Blaine Gabbert is a franchise QB, more of a career backup, and Chad Henne is definitely not the answer…..WR Cecil Shorts is putting together a nice little streak for fantasy players, might want to go out and grab him off the waiver wire.
Kansas City Chiefs: What were the Chiefs thinking Monday night versus Pittsburgh? You’re a one win team playing on the road in one of the toughest venues in the NFL and you’re in the game. Play to win. When you get a turnover in the red zone, don’t just run the ball three times and then kick a field goal, that’s going to come back and bite you. Where is the discipline on this team? They acted like a team heading to the Super Bowl. After a sack two on their defensive linemen did a jig behind the QB, lucky not to get a penalty there. Then you did get a penalty for doing what was pretty much a team celebration after what you thought was a fumble recovery for a TD. That fumble ended up being ruled an incomplete pass. That penalty then gave the Steelers a first down, way to go team. Then there is WR Dwayne Bowe taunting the Steelers secondary as he’s going into the end zone for a score. Sticking the ball out to tease the CB, was a great moment when the TD was called back.
Miami Dolphins: Last week was a wakeup call for QB Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins as they were destroyed at home 37-3 by the Titans. Tennessee isn’t the best of teams, perhaps the Dolphins assumed an easy win here, or perhaps they were still licking their wounds over a loss to the Colts the week before…..Pretty big hoopla is being made of the benching of RB Reggie Bush by rookie head coach Joe Philbin after a Bush fumble. Two things to remember. First, Philbin has a policy, you fumble, you sit, and second, with the Dolphins down by multiple touchdowns and Bush not being the best pass blocker out of the running backs, he might not have played much in the game anyway as the running game had to be abandoned in order to tray and catch up in the game.
Minnesota Vikings: Running back Adrian Peterson is having a remarkable season. He leads the NFL in rushing with over 1000 yards, just incredible after having reconstructive knee surgery less than a year ago, he ran all over the Lions last week even though the Vikings didn’t have their main weapon (possibly their only weapon) in the passing game when WR Percy Harvin missed the game with an ankle sprained in three places. Harvin should be good to go after the bye week. More good news for AP, charges were dropped against him in Texas for resisting arrest.
New England Patriots: Starting to see a ton of questions about what to do with WR Brandon Lloyd in fantasy leagues. He has certainly been a disappointment in his first season in NE, not Chad Johnson bad, but not what we expected. Perhaps he just needs time to completely learn the offense and get in tune with Tom Brady. He’s had the targets, just not the results yet…..Tight end Aaron Hernandez is limited once again in practice this week which is going to give fantasy owners ulcers as the Pats don’t play until 4pm Sunday, tough decisions will have to be made.
New Orleans Saints: The running game for the Saints is turning into a fantasy nightmare. Pierre Thomas was thought to be the lead back but has been outperformed of late by Marc Ingram and Chris Ivory. Ivory has had a couple of highlight runs but there has to be a reason he was on the shelf for half the season, doesn’t there. Ingram could be a good back but is probably in the wrong offense, and what are they going to do once Darren Sproles is ready to play again? Does Ivory go back to being inactive or do they bench Ingram or Thomas? Would want to stay far away if I could.
New York Giants: Is there ever a team that needed a bye week more than the Giants? They played last week in Cincinnati like they thought the bye had already started…..The team and QB Eli Manning continue to deny that there is anything wrong with his arm but he certainly doesn’t look right. Hopefully the week off will rejuvenate both him and the team…..RB Ahmad Bradshaw also could use the time off as he is not only dealing with continuing foot problems but a neck injury as well…..The Giants could’ve had a cake walk to the division title, but life is about to be more difficult for the team now.
New York Jets: As soon as the team traded for QB Tim Tebow you knew problems were going to arise eventually. The team hasn’t played well. Is it because of QB Mark Sanchez? Not fully, he doesn’t have much of a supporting cast. His best playmaker, WR Santonio Holmes, is out for the season and there just isn’t much depth behind him. Would they be better with Tebow? Maybe, but you would lose Sanchez who you signed to a mega extension in the off-season and several unnamed teammates came out in the New York papers Wednesday and stated that Tebow is “terrible”. He may be, but does seem to win games somehow.
Oakland Raiders: No shock here that RB Darren McFadden is out again this week. Did anyone really believe that with a high ankle sprain and with his injury history that he would come back quickly from this injury? The running back the Raiders seem to be relying on is Marcel Reece. He is really more of a pass threat out of the backfield than a threat to run the ball, but the team does not trust Taiwan Jones with the ball, thinking he’s a fumble waiting to happen. This begs the question of course, if you don’t trust him, why is he on the team?
Philadelphia Eagles: Has the Nick Foles era finally begun at QB for Philadelphia? Michael Vick suffered a concussion last week against the Cowboys and at the very least will miss this game. With the Eagles at 3-6 and having the slimmest chance at winning the division or making the playoffs it would seem to be the right time to let Foles play and see what they have, but perhaps head coach Andy Reid will want to stick with Reid for as long as the Eagles are mathematically alive, not like Reid is coming back next season if they don’t make the playoffs, so it won’t really matter all that much to him to get Foles playing experience.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was also injured Monday night. He suffered rib and shoulder injuries that could threaten his availability for the remainder of the season. This is a crushing blow for the Steelers and comes at the worst possible time. Pittsburgh is only a game behind Baltimore and plays the Ravens two out of the next three weeks. Hard to see Pitt winning either game with Big Ben. Forget the division, Pitt may have to scramble now just to get a wildcard spot…..The good news this week is that RB Rashard Mendenhall is practicing in full and should be good to go Sunday night.
San Diego Chargers: What has happened to QB Phillip Rivers? His play has decreased quite a bit over the past two seasons. Way to many turnovers and bad decisions. His mechanics have always been a little bit wonky, and perhaps that is finally catching up with him…..If the Chargers don’t make the playoffs, the team will almost certainly clean house and find a new coaching staff and general manager…..Wide receiver Robert Meacham who signed a big free agent deal in the off-season is looking like a bigger bust than Laurent Robinson in Jacksonville. Danario Alexander has passed him on the depth chart.
San Francisco 49ers: Alex Smith was yet another QB who suffered a concussion last week. He has however passed his concussion test and will play Monday night versus Chicago. In this day and age, it’s nice to have a mobile quarterback, but they have to be taught to either get down quicker or throw the ball away. Don’t take any unnecessary hits…..Hate to talk about kickers, but as good as David Akers was last year is as bad as he has been lately. That 41-yard missed FG in overtime Sunday may be forcing the 49ers to keep a list of available kickers handy.
Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks get a much deserved bye week. They have had a very good season so far as everything is breaking their way. Quarterback Russell Wilson has developed into a solid starter. Sidney Rice and Golden Tate have played better and better as the season moves along, the defense has been great, and Marshawn Lynch is running as hard as ever. Give coach Pete Carroll another off-season or two and Seattle could be a scary team in the NFC.
St. Louis Rams: Tough tie (don’t get to say that all that much) for the Rams last week. They thought they had the game won when WR Danny Amendola took a bomb to the SF 5-yard line in OT, only to see it brought back by an illegal formation penalty, then also thought they had a game winning 53-yard FG erased with a delay of game penalty. What is even more concerning on the field goal attempt is the team still have a timeout left, isn’t anyone watching the clock. Coaching fail.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Rookie head coach Greg Schiano may have taken quite a bit of grief for how he coaches at the end of games, but he has turned this team around in a big hurry. They may not make the playoffs this season, but they are competitive once again. When you think of where QB Josh Freeman and WR Mike Williams were last season in their play, it really is amazing. Both players are now must plays in fantasy leagues, and rookie RB Doug Martin looks like a future star.
Tennessee Titans: Running back Chris Johnson is finally looking like the Johnson of old. Perhaps it just took time for the offensive line to gel and open up some holes…..WR Kenny Britt however has not looked good. Rarely does he seem to be open. Wonder if the knee is still bothering him. The Titans did state however that they will look for a way to get Britt more involved in the offense during the bye week.
Washington Redskins: The Skins might be receiving good news on WR Pierre Garcon. He is practicing this week and actually has a chance to start this week. Problem is the injury is not healed and he will have to play in pain. Still think it’s just a matter of time until Garcon needs to undergo surgery…..WR Santana Moss who suffered a concussion in Week 9 has been cleared to play…..Safety Brendan Merriweather could also return to this game, any help the Skins need all the help they can get in the secondary.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter, @georgekurtz