November 22, 2014

All Out Blitz: NFL News & Notes

Arizona Cardinals:  The Cardinals know by now that they may not have a starting quarterback on their roster, just a collection of backups.  John Skelton has proven that’s all he is and Ryan Lindley is nothing more than a project at this point in time.  That leaves us with Kevin Kolb.  Kolb can be somewhat of a caretaker, a dink and dunker who will have a good completion percentage, but not someone who is going to light up the scoreboard, not sure an Alex Smith type of QB would be all that much of an upgrade.

Atlanta Falcons:  The Falcons made quite a statement last week with their 34-0 destruction of the Giants.  Are they the best team in the NFC, possibly, but still don’t trust them in a big game against a team like the Packers…..Biggest flaw for the Falcons seems to be in the running game.  Michael Turner is really nothing more than a plodder now, a short yardage back that might break a decent run every now and again.  Jacquizz Rodgers is a more explosive back, but do they trust him in big time situations/games?

Baltimore Ravens:  The Ravens seem to be the definition of a dying team.  They don’t seem to have much of an identity right now.  They fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron because he doesn’t seem to know how to use RB Ray Rice, then new OC Jim Caldwell has the same exact problem.  The Ravens clinched a wildcard berth even though they lost last Sunday, but they look like a team that is one and done…..WR Torrey Smith suffered a concussion last week and had to leave the game, but it looks like he will return for the game this week.

Buffalo Bills:  The Bills have already gone on record as saying they will be in the market for another quarterback.  Now that’s not to say Ryan Fitzpatrick’s days as the number one QB in Buffalo are over, but they will certainly bring in some competition next season either in the form of a free agent or through the draft…..The Bills placed CB Leodis McKelvin on IR this week.  McKelvin had an average season at corner, but did return two punts for touchdowns this season.  Those in IDP leagues may want to remember his name next season if those leagues count return yardage.

Carolina Panthers:  Running back DeAngelo Williams has actually returned to prominence over the past couple of weeks.  With Jonathan Stewart still not practicing due to the ankle injury, Williams makes for an interesting start during your fantasy playoffs…..All in all this season has been a bust for Carolina, but the hierarchy has to be encouraged by the progress QB Cam Newton made after a rough start.  Future is still incredibly bright for Cam and the Panthers.

Chicago Bears:  What is happening to the Bears.  Jay Cutler looks like all the hits he has taken all season are adding up.  He’s getting jittery in the pocket and it doesn’t help that he only has one reliable receiver to throw to in Brandon Marshall, and teams are doing all they can to take him out of the game plan, thus forcing Cutler to throw somewhere else.  Problem is, there is no one else.  Alshon Jeffery had three catches last week versus Green Bay, yet all three were called back because of offensive pass interference.  Not what Cutler and the Bears had in mind.

Cincinnati Bengals:  Don’t look now but the Bengals actually control their own destiny as far as a wildcard spot and could actually win the division by winning out and if Baltimore loses to the Giants on Sunday.  Now the road is not all the easy for the Bengals.  They play Pittsburgh this week, a team they have had a tough time playing the past couple of years.  With the Bengals defensive line though, they will stop the running game, question is can they stop the big plays in the Steelers passing game.  Then can they make their own big plays in the passing game.  Quarterback Andy Dalton has had an up and down season, especially lately, he will need a big game this week and next to secure a playoff berth.

Cleveland Browns:  Seems a foregone conclusion that Pat Shurmur won’t be back as head coach next season.  Don’t really think that Shurmur has done a bad job, but a new owner has the right to choose the coach he wants.  Hear they are interested in Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.  If he were to take the job, could Jets QB Tim Tebow be far behind?  Running back Trent Richardson looks like he has hit the proverbial wall as his yards per carry have fallen off a cliff of late.

Dallas Cowboys:  How bout them Cowboys?  Once again they figured out a way to win a close game against the Steelers last week.  These past two wins on last second field goals versus Cincinnati and Pittsburgh have been impressive, not so much for the victory itself, but because these were games Dallas would usually find a way to lose, not pull out the victory…..Any chance of head coach Jason Garrett being fired have more than likely disappeared with the way the team has played of late and how he has handled the death of LB Jerry Brown.  Garrett still has some issues with his play calling and time management, but the team has bought into his system and is playing incredibly hard for him despite missing half of their starters on defense.

Denver Broncos:  Anyone who doesn’t think this is a quarterback league just needs to take a look at what a difference Peyton Manning has made to the Broncos.  Sure Tim Tebow took this team to the playoffs last season, and even won a playoff game, but on one thought they were a Super Bowl contender, now we are all wondering when the Broncos get to the big game, not if…..Speaking of Manning, is there anyone not wanting another match that pits Manning up against Tom Brady and the Patriots, bring it on.

Detroit Lions:  Now we all know about Vikings RB Adrian Peterson and his pursuit of the rushing record, well Calvin Johnson is also chasing the record for most receiving yardage in a season.  Now Megatron only needs 182 yard total in his last two games to achieve the record.  The good news, the Lions have nothing else to play for, so you know they will do everything they can to get him the ball.  The bad, teams know the same thing, the Lions have no other weapons on offense, and will do all they can to prevent Johnson from achieving that record versus them.

Green Bay Packers:  Remember that slow start the Packers got off to this season?  Forget about it.  They won the NFC North with their victory over the Bears last week and they could get a bye if they win out and the 49ers were to lose one of their final two games.  With CB Charles Woodson and WR Jordy Nelson due to return to the team before the conclusion of the regular season, am I crazy to think this may be the team to beat in the playoffs?  Unless they play the Giants of course, G-men seem to have their number right now.

Houston Texans:  Really can’t remember another season where the teams with the best record in either conference (Atlanta) are just so unimpressive.  I love the Texans running game with Arian Foster, who doesn’t, and WR Andre Johnson has had a really good season, but that defense has suffered since the loss of LB Brian Cushing.  Not sure they have a long playoff run in them.

Indianapolis Colts:  Well, so much for the Colts winning the division, Houston took care of those thoughts last week…..Head coach Chuck Pagano who has missed the entire season due to cancer has been medically cleared to resume his duties starting Monday.  Pretty good story there, but if you’re the Colts, do you automatically give Pagano back the reigns or ease him back in?  Vick Ballard has had a nice season at running back but probably drives fantasy owners crazy with his inability to get into the end zone.

Jacksonville Jaguars:  In case there was really any doubt, Chad Henne is not the answer at quarterback, the Dolphins could’ve told Jacksonville that…..Still don’t know why the Jags haven’t put RB Maurice Jones-Drew on IR.  They continue to list him as questionable even though he has yet to practice.  He has been running on the sideline, but it would be an upset to see him play in an actual game again this season…..Rashard Jennings still hasn’t been cleared from his concussion and is out this week as well.  It will be the Montell Owens show once again.

Kansas  City Chiefs:  I’m watching the fourth season of ‘Breaking Bad’ while writing this, and I’m trying to figure out what, if anything, broke right for Kansas City this season?  Well, RB Jamaal Charles did return from a serious knee injury to prove that he is the same breakaway player he used to be.  Eric Berry also returned from injury although he hasn’t had as many big plays this season as he did last, and hey, they Chiefs are in the running for the first overall pick in next year’s NFL draft.

Miami Dolphins:  Actually heard someone out of Miami state this week that if not for the won-loss record, QB Ryan Tannehill would be right there in the Rookie of the Year competition with Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, yeah, not so much.  Tannehill has looked good at times, terrible at others, but he is most certainly a work in progress.  Not every rookie QB hits the ground running, let’s give him some time.  Running back Daniel Thomas was placed on IR Thursday, ending his season.  Has he shown enough to prove to the Dolphins that he is ready to take over the starting role next season?

Minnesota Vikings:   Seems that one of the reasons that the Vikings may have put WR Percy Harvin on season ending IR was that because he had another heated exchange with head coach Percy Harvin, his third such confrontation. Harvin is an extremely talented player, but one with plenty of issues, mainly health wise.  One has to wonder if the Vikings will look to cut bait with him eventually rather than continue to put up with his antics…..Can RB Adrian Peterson break Eric Dickerson’s in season rushing record?  He would have to average close to 150 yards a game to do so.  One has to think this would be next to impossible with the Vikings still in the playoff race and with opposing teams stacking the box with eight and nine men to force QB Christian Ponder to beat them, but that’s been the case now for weeks, and it hasn’t slowed AP down yet…..The reason I bring up the playoff implications as bad for AP is since Minnesota needs to win out to make the playoffs, it’s not like they can just give the ball to AP 40 times to make sure he gets the record, they need to win first.

New England Patriots:  Even though the Pats lost to the 49ers on Sunday night, still think they are the best team in the NFL, but that being said, they can obviously be beat, and that loss could cost them a bye in the first round.  Now I’m not all that worried about them losing in the first round, although a date with Pittsburgh or Cincinnati won’t be day in the sun, but more importantly, in the divisional round of the playoffs, they now will have a date at Denver and Peyton Manning.  That’s a matchup that seemed to be one of destiny, but playing in Denver makes it a little tougher than having the Broncos at Foxboro.

New Orleans Saints:  Now we know why tight end Jimmy Graham isn’t having the type of season most of us expected from him, apparently his wrist has been bothering him so much that he will have off-season surgery on it…..All of this talk about suspended coach Sean Peyton and whether or not he will sign a  re-worked contract with New Orleans seems to be a little silly.  The Saints want him back, that’s his offense that isn’t going to slow down anytime soon, and with Jason Garrett doing a better job in Dallas (the only team I can see him leaving New Orleans for), be hard for me to see him going anyplace else.

New York Giants:  Giants are trying to do their little trick again of squeaking into the playoffs and going on a run.  Now they don’t control their own destiny as far as winning the NFC East, Washington and Dallas do, but they do control it as far as winning a wildcard spot.  Win their last two games versus Baltimore and Philadelphia, and they are in the tournament, and right now they will more than likely face one of the two teams they dispatched last season on the way to winning the Super Bowl, Green Bay or San Francisco…..RB Ahmad Bradshaw could return to the lineup this week but don’t look for him to get the full-time role back, David Wilson has earned at least a time share in the Giants backfield.

New York Jets:  Shocking that the Jets quarterback decision has come to a crash and burn scenario.  Who didn’t see this coming?  Mark Sanchez has regressed terribly this year and seems to have almost no confidence under center.  After his five turnover performance versus the Titans on Monday, coach Rex Ryan has finally decided to bench him, but not for Tim Tebow, apparently Ryan never had confidence in him, and Greg McElroy will start the next two games to see what kind of future he has.  I’m betting not one as a starting QB.  As for Tebow, he’s as good as gone next season, Sanchez might be also.  Time for a good old house cleaning.

Oakland Raiders:  For those of you in your fantasy championship game that are planning on using QB Carson Palmer this week, Terrelle Pryor could be in store for a descent amount of playing time.  Guess the Raiders figure they might as well figure out what they have in Pryor, if anything…..Running back Darren McFadden had a solid game last week, but he could easily be a boom or bust play this week, he did gain 110 yards, but that came on 30 carries, not exactly a great YPC.

Philadelphia Eagles:  LeSean McCoy returns to the lineup this week versus the Redskins.  Now technically he is the starter, but it really is anyone’s guess as to how many touches he will get.  The Eagles aren’t playing for anything and won’t want to risk McCoy, plus they aren’t just going to forget about Bryce Brown…..For those of you worried about the Eagles offense Sunday, WR Jeremy Maclin and TE Brent Celek both practiced and will play, so did QB Michael Vick, but he will backup Nick Foles.

Pittsburgh Steelers:  Not only did the Steelers lose a game in overtime to the Cowboys last Sunday but QB Ben Roethlisberger then came out and pretty much blamed offensive coordinator Todd Haley for the loss.  Haley and Ben are never going to have a harmonious relationship, Haley was brought on board to run the ball more, throw short passes, and keep Ben upright.  This goes against Ben’s playing style.  He likes to run around in the pocket and buy time to make the big play, especially now that the running game isn’t doing all that well…..Steelers still control their own destiny though, win their last two and they are in the dance.

San Diego Chargers:  Rumors are circulating now that head coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith have already been told that they won’t be back next season, another house cleaning…..Running back Ryan Matthews, perhaps the most disappointing player both in fantasy and reality this season broke his other collarbone, he’s officially done for the year, some might say, put out of his mercy…..WR Malcolm Floyd was also put on IR with an ankle injury.

San Francisco 49ers:  The game we all saw QB Colin Kaepernick play against the Patriots Sunday night is the reason I believe head coach Jim Harbaugh made the decision to bench Alex Smith even though he was having a good season.  Kaepernick has the ability to win a shootout, he may be inconsistent at times, he is still after all pretty much a rookie (first year starting games), but he’s not a check down type of QB, he’s someone that will only get better, and someone who may be able to keep up with high scoring offenses like the Patriots, or the Packers.

Seattle Seahawks:  Cornerback Richard Sherman’s suspension appeal will be heard Friday.  Assuming he loses, the Hawks will be without their top two CBs for the 1st round of the playoffs.  Certainly good news for the winner of the NFC East, be a shame if the Hawks season comes crashing to an end because of a pair of suspensions, makes you wonder if both players shouldn’t have appealed this way they would’ve been eligible once the playoffs begin.

St. Louis Rams:  Running back Steven Jackson, who can be a free agent after the season, stated that he wants to be back with St. Louis next season.  Not sure I see this happening, although Jackson has had a good season when rotated regularly with Daryl Richardson…..Rams still need to find a number one WR, can’t say that enough.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:  Quarterback Josh Freeman, who looked had looked like the player who showed a ton of promise in 2010 has looked awful the past two weeks, seemingly throwing more passes to the opposition than to his teammates.  What makes this even worse is that these games have come against the defenses of the Eagles and Saints, not exactly the Steel Curtain…..The Bucs have stated that they are worried that RB Doug Martin has hit the “rookie wall”, but they still plan to have him carry his normal work load the last two weeks.

Tennessee Titans:  The Jets Mark Sanchez wasn’t the only QB who looked terrible Monday night, Jake Locker has some issues as well, tough choices need to be made here as well…..Wide receiver Kendall Wright was originally thought to be gone for the season with cracked ribs, and won’t play this week, but could play in the season finale…..Running back Chris Johnson did run for over 100 yards against the Jets Monday, but a majority of those yards came on one carry.  Johnson has had an up and down season, broken some big runs, but been highly inconsistent.  Is he worth the $10 million coming to him next year?

Washington Redskins:  Should the Skins start QB Robert Griffin III this week if he’s not 100%?  If the Skins win the next two games, they win the NFC East.  They play Philly this week which should mean a win no matter who starts at QB, but they will need a healthy RGIII to beat the Cowboys in Week 17, assuming Dallas wins this week and the Giants don’t lose.  As long as Griffin can protect himself in the pocket, I’d play him, no football player is 100% at this point in the season.  If he can run around, he should be good to go.

 

Feel free to follow me on Twitter, @georgekurtz

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