December 16, 2017

All Out Blitz: NFL News & Notes

Arizona Cardinals:  How many more losses will it take before coach Ken Whisenhunt realizes that Ryan Lindley is not the answer at quarterback and goes back to John Skelton…..So much for that platoon at running back between Beanie Wells and LaRod Stephens-Howling as LSH only had two touches last week versus the Jets…..Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald may be a great player, but he is useless in that offense right now.

Atlanta Falcons:  It’s almost a foregone conclusion now that the Falcons will have home field advantage throughout the playoffs, question is can they do more with it this time than last…..Falcons are still winning even though they certainly aren’t playing their best ball at the moment.  Have to believe this is a good sign however as they have more than a month to get back in a groove, but more importantly, can use this time to get healthy, and figure out how best to use their running game.

Baltimore Ravens:  There is no shame in losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers, but losing to them when they are without QB Ben Roethlisberger and have Charlie Batch behind center is certainly a surprise…..Why does the Ravens offense continue to underutilize RB Ray Rice, he only had 13 touches in this game?  It’s not like QB Joe Flacco had a hot hand, he completed less than 50% of his passes….News doesn’t get any better for LB Terrell Suggs as he tore his triceps in the game.  No word yet on if or when he will be forced to miss any games.

Buffalo Bills:  One week after coach Chan Gailey told everyone that RB C.J. Spiller was going to get approximately 60-65% of the workload Fred Jackson had almost twice as many touches.  Good to see you still can’t trust anything a head coach states in public.  Gailey’s reasoning was that with all the rain during the game the field was better suited for Jackson’s style rather than Spiller’s .  Problem with that theory is that Jackson’s YPC was 4.4 while Spiller’s was 5.5.  In the end the field conditions don’t matter, the better player will have the better game.

Carolina Panthers:  Running back Jonathan Stewart’s ankle is getting better, but he is still questionable to play Sunday…..Wide receiver Brandon Lafell suffered a sprained foot during the game Sunday and is also questionable to play Sunday, best guess is neither player will go Sunday…..Steve Smith had 120 yards receiving against the Chiefs but let’s not forget that 53 of those yards came on a hail Mary to end the game.

Chicago Bears:  The Bears not only lost the game against the Seahawks last week but also lost a couple of key players.  Linebacker Brian Urhlacher suffered a hamstring strain that will likely keep him out at least 2-4 weeks and WR Earl Bennett a concussion and we all know how unpredictable they can be…..The good news is that RB Matt Forte did indeed return for the game, racking up 24 touches, 96 total yards, and a score.

Cincinnati Bengals:  Don’t look now but the Bengals are playing their best ball at the most important time.  They have won four straight games and are breathing down the back of the Steelers for the final playoff spot in the AFC…..Interesting game this week for the Bengals as they host the Cowboys.  Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer served the same position on the Dallas staff for many seasons.  Cornerback Terrance Newman was a first-round pick for the Cowboys and CB Adam “pacman” Jones also played in Big D for a little while.

Cleveland Browns:  Really do believe the Browns are headed in the right direction, but they play in one of the best  divisions in football and it’s not like Baltimore, Pittsburgh, or Cincinnati are going anywhere anytime soon.  Key to this team, besides needed a productive draft/free agency, is QB Brandon Weeden.  As we see over and over again, this is a quarterback league.  If you have one, you’re on the right track, if you don’t, you’re nowhere.

Dallas Cowboys:  Not really sure what to think about the Cowboys.  They seem to be outcoached in the first halves of games as their offense consistently waits until the second half before turning up the pressure.  Why does this keep happening game after game?  Why does defensive coordinator Rob Ryan keep refusing to send more than four rushers after the opposing quarterback?   Dallas has let just about every QB of late have enough time in the pocket to watch a pay per view movie more or less find an open receiver…..The good news is the return of RB DeMarco Murray.  A threat of a running game can only help the play action pass and the passing game.

Denver Broncos:  Time for fantasy owners to panic now on WR Eric Decker.  That’s now two straight games where he hasn’t done all that much.  You still have to start him as that offense is to good, but with the playoffs starting this week, quite a few owners will be biting their nails…..For those of you hoping that RB Ronnie Hillman will get more playing time, he only had five carries Sunday, it’s Knowshon Moreno or bust.

Detroit Lions:  The Lions are getting awfully thin at wide receiver.  Titus Young has been placed on IR with a convenient knee injury.  Let’s face it, it’s more of a sprained attitude than a sprained knee.  Have to believe Young may have played his last game for Detroit.  Ryan Broyles was also lost for the season with a torn ACL.  How much coverage do you figure Calvin Johnson will see the remainder of the season?  Mike Thomas will start opposite “Megatron” for the last four games.

Green Bay Packers:  The Packers get one receiver back, Greg Jennings, but lose another, Jordy Nelson.   Nelson injured a hamstring last Sunday and is expected to miss at least a game or two…..Another injured Packer, LB Clay Matthews, still isn’t practicing and is likely to miss yet another game Sunday versus Detroit…..Running back James Starks suffered a knee injury that could keep him out multiple weeks also, leading the team to sign former Packer James Starks.

Houston Texans:  We should find out this week if Houston has fixed their secondary problems as they go to New England to face Tom Brady and his band of receivers.  The Texans have been lit up by Green Bay, Jacksonville, and Detroit in the last few games, and won’t go far in the playoffs allowing opposing QBs to do whatever they want through the air.  Part of the problem has been injuries at the corner position, something that didn’t get any better Sunday when Brice McCain went down.

Indianapolis Colts:  What a performance last week by QB Andrew Luck.  Leading the team to a pair of touchdown drives in the final 2:39 of the game to beat the Lions shows maturity beyond his years…..This kid is going to be great for years to come…..Running back Donald Brown will miss the game Sunday with an ankle injury leaving the bulk of the carries in the hands of Vick Ballard…..Wide receiver Ty Hilton is looking like the light bulb has turned on for him as the season rolls along.  He is extremely dangerous when catching the ball in the open field.

Jacksonville Jaguars:  The Jaguars might as well put an ad in the newspaper to find a running back.  Maurice Jones-Drew is still questionable at best to play Sunday, Rashad Jennings has yet to pass his concussion test, and Jalen Palmalee is on IR, which leaves Montell Owens as the starting RB, yippee…..As if the offense wasn’t bad enough, WR Cecil Shorts suffered a concussion Sunday and although they say he passed his test, he is still experiencing symptoms.  Not sure how you can pass the test if you still have symptoms though.

Kansas  City Chiefs:  Is it just me or is anyone else having a problem with how the Chiefs handled the LB Jovan Belcher situation.  I understand he was a player on the team and his teammates may have loved him, but to pay tribute (hung his jersey in his locker) to a man who murdered his girlfriend and committed suicide thus leaving his three month old son without both parents seems way over the line to me.  If I’m a family member of Kasandra Perkins I’m pretty mortified right now.  Seems everyone has forgotten what he did.

Miami Dolphins:  Left tackle Jake Long was placed on IR Tuesday with a torn triceps.  Has Long played his last game for Miami?  Possibly, he will command a pretty big contract in the off-season.  Even though his play has slipped from his once Pro Bowl level, there will still be quite a few teams wanting his services.  Have a feeling he has played his last game in south Florida…..Quite a few of the Dolphin players are upset at how the team used DE Cameron Wake late in the game versus New England last week.  Seems Wake wasn’t on the field during the game clinching drive, not because he did anything wrong, but because it was just his turn to rest.  Seems you would pick a less important time in the game to rest your best defensive player.

Minnesota Vikings:   The Vikings may have some big decisions to make as far as whether or not Christian Ponder is the future at quarterback for the team.  They have the running back in Adrian Peterson and a wide receiver in Percy Harvin, but without a franchise QB, that is nothing more than window dressing…..Speaking of Harvin, he’s still not practicing, and there is more and more speculation that he may not play again this season.  This is good news for TE Kyle Rudolph however who has been the number one target of Ponder the past couple of weeks.

New England Patriots:  With the loss of WR Julian Edelman for the season and TE Rob Gronkowski for another couple of games one has to believe that WR Brandon Lloyd will become more involved in the game plan, only once catch last week for a meager 10 yards just isn’t getting it done…..RB Brandon Bolden is back after serving his four game suspension, but the Pats don’t need to activate him right away as they have a one week exemption.  Even when he is activated however, Shane Vereen seems to have taken his spot as the backup to Stevan Ridley.

New Orleans Saints:  Schedule maker hasn’t been kind to the Saints these past few weeks.  This will be third straight week they will play a division leader.  First the 49ers, than the Falcons, now the Giants.  Saints need to win out to have any chance at a wildcard spot, and even that may not be enough…..QB Drew Brees saw his touchdown pass streak end last week as well.  Oh he did throw two touchdowns, but unfortunately for Brees, one was dropped by WR Lance Moore and another TD pass to RB Darren Sproles was called back by a penalty on TE Jimmy Graham.

New York Giants:  If nothing else, the Giants are consistent year after year.  They get off to a hot start, than falter in the middle, before getting hot at the end.  At least they better hope they are consistent as their loss to the Redskins last Monday brought them and the Cowboys within a game of the Giants, and the G-men don’t hold to many tiebreakers against either team…..Giants play New Orleans this week, a team that has beaten them four straight times and outscored them on close to a 2-1 ratio.

New York Jets:  Coach Rex Ryan finally sat down QB Mark Sanchez last week after a dismal performance during the Cardinals game.  Greg McElroy came on in relief and won the game, albeit barely.  Now comes word this week that Ryan is going back to Sanchez.  Have to wonder what would have been the decision had Tim Tebow been healthy and practicing these past couple of weeks.  The schedule is set up however for Sanchez to be somewhat successful.  They play Jacksonville, Tennessee, San Diego, and Buffalo.  Not exactly the cream of the crop when it comes to defenses.

Oakland Raiders:  Finally it looks like we will have a Darren McFadden sighting in the Raiders backfield this week.  He should play Thursday night versus Denver.  How much he plays is another question.  Have to believe that Oakland will be careful with DMC and not overextend him…..Condolences to Raider’s coach Dennis Allen whose father passed away earlier this week.

Philadelphia Eagles:  Head coach Andy Reid announced earlier this week that Nick Foles will retain the starting job at QB regardless of whether or not Michael Vick is cleared to play.  Neither Reid nor Vick is expected
back with the team next season…..RB Bryce Brown looks like quite a find as he has been exceptional running the ball in place of LeSean McCoy, but this knack of putting the ball on the ground has to stop.   Doesn’t matter how many yards you get, if the team can’t trust you to hold onto the football, you will find yourself planted on the bench.

Pittsburgh Steelers:  What a win for Pittsburgh last week in Baltimore.  Did anyone really think they could beat the Ravens in Baltimore with Charlie Batch at quarterback?  I know I didn’t.  They actually should’ve won the game with ease if not for a couple of miscues by WR Emmanuel Sanders…..Batch won’t QB this week however as Ben Roethlisberger is expected to return behind center now that his shoulder and ribs have healed…..RB Jonathan Dwyer played well enough in the game to retain the starting role for at least another week…..WR Mike Wallace may not be at full strength however as he tweaked his knee during the game.

San Diego Chargers:  This has been a mess of a season for San Diego.  Quarterback Phillip Rivers has had a second straight subpar season.  Running back Ryan Matthews has not even come close to living up to his hype and TE Antonio Gates looks like he is feeling every bit of his 32 years of age.  The offensive line being as poor as it is only adds to the problem, and WR Robert Meacham has been the biggest bust of a free agent signing.  If I owned the Chargers, it’s time to clean house.

San Francisco 49ers:  Coach Jim Harbaugh’s experiment to go with Colin Kaepernick at quarterback last week didn’t go so well.  Kap made a couple of mistakes that ended up costing the 49ers the game in the end (fumble on an option, intentional grounding in the end zone, going out of bounds and stopping the clock late in the game), but even with all of these issues, the 49ers still would’ve won the game if David Akers would’ve naked a makeable kick…..Akers has been a huge disappointment this season but Harbaugh is sticking with him, this is yet another position that could come back to bite him in the end…..Wide receiver Mario Manningham is likely to miss the game this week.

Seattle Seahawks:  Cornerback Brandon Browner has dropped the appeal of his four game suspension for performance enhancing drug and will miss the remainder of the regular season.  Richard Sherman however is still appealing his suspension.  Have to think the Hawks may have talked Browner into dropping his appeal as they want to make sure they get at least one of their starting CBs back for the playoffs…..Wide receiver Sidney Rice passed his concussion test and should be able to play Sunday.

St. Louis Rams:  Wide receiver Danny Amendola is still not practicing and seems unlikely to play Sunday, in his absence Chris Givens has taken off and may prove to be the number one wideout the Rams offense is lacking…..Running back Steven Jackson is having a solid season in what may be his swan song in St. Louis.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:  Fantasy owners should be starting all of their Bucs this week.  They are playing Philly and that defense couldn’t stop a pee-wee team right now.  Wide receiver Vincent Jackson is dealing with a calf injury that has slowed him down the past two weeks though, even TE Dallas Clark is worth a look in this game…..I’m still starting RB Doug Martin no matter what, but it is fair to wonder if the long season is finally getting to him, perhaps he has hit the “wall”.

Tennessee Titans:  The Titans have plenty of off-season work to do, namely figuring out how to get WR Kenny Britt more involved in the offense, fixing the offensive line so there are more running lanes for RB Chris Johnson, not to mention figuring out if Jake Locker is indeed the QB of the future.

Washington Redskins:  It’s amazing what a dynamic franchise quarterback can do for a team.  Robert Griffin III has brought the Skins from an abomination to playoff contender in his rookie season.  This is a team with pretty much no secondary, an average receiving corps, and zero pass rush.  When coach Shanahan surrounds Griffin with additional talent, they are going to be scary.  Good luck to the Cowboys, Giants, and Eagles for the next decade…..Oh, RB Alfred Morris deserves some kudos as well.


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