December 18, 2017

All Out Blitz

Arizona Cardinals: It’s looking more and more likely that QB Kevin Kolb will miss this week’s game versus the Rams due to that toe injury he suffered against the Ravens, that would leave the Cardinals passing offense in the hands of John Skelton, ouch…..RB Beanie Wells impressed last week by having a good game against that stout Ravens defense even though he was questionable coming into the game with a knee injury.

Atlanta Falcons: Hopefully the Falcons bye win Week 8 would have allowed WR Julio Jones time to heal from his hamstring injury, also it may allow WR Roddy White to get back on track after a disappointing first half of the season…..The NFC South is shaping up to be as big a dog fight as we expected, the Falcons can’t afford any slip ups, this week’s game versus Indy has to be a layup.

Baltimore Ravens: QB Joe Flacco finally played some solid football during the second half of last week’s game versus Arizona, but his last two prime time games (Jets, Jaguars) have been pretty pathetic performances and he has another prime time game this week in the Ravens rematch versus Pittsburgh. The games between Pittsburgh and Baltimore are generally hard hitting affairs as neither team shares much love for the other.  The Ravens won the first game between these two, a second win could make life awfully tough on the Steelers.

Buffalo Bills: QB Brad Smith gets his chance to enact some revenge against his former employers when the Bills play the Jets on Sunday, think there might be a wildcat play or two designed to go Smith’s way?…..Now that the Bills have taken care of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick with a long term deal, how long before they do the same with RB Fred Jackson?

Carolina Panthers: If you’re wondering why NFL teams are wary of giving big contracts to running backs once their entry level deal expire, you need to look no further than DeAngelo Williams and Chris Johnson, both have been borderline terrible this season after signing huge deals in the off-season, do they not possess the desire to play as hard, is the offensive line not blocking as well, or did their talent leave them overnight?

Chicago Bears: The bye week has done the Bears good as the only player listed on their injury report is OL Gabe Carimi and he was a full participant in practice Thursday…..The contract situation between the Bears and RB Matt Forte could
get ugly next season, it seems the Bears do not want to give him a long term deal as they are afraid of Forte hitting the wall, so they will franchise him for the next two seasons, Forte for obvious reasons is not a fan of this and could plan on holding out next season until he gets what he wants.

Cincinnati Bengals: RB Cedric Benson returns this week for the Bengals after serving his one game suspension, team is going to need him this week when they play the Titans this week, a game that could come down to which team can run the ball more effectively…..TE Jermaine Gresham is dealing with a hamstring injury and seems unlikely to play this Sunday…..Speaking of hamstrings, Adam, formerly known as Pac Man, finally made his presence known in the NFL again with a 63 yard punt return last week, but in true Pac Man fashion, he injured his hamstring, and is also unlikely to play Sunday.

Cleveland Browns: The Browns are getting pretty thin at RB, first Peyton Hillis misses time with a hamstring, and then Montario Hardesty tears a calf muscle during the 1st quarter of last week’s game, Hillis is questionable at best to play this week which could leave the Cleveland running game in the hands of Chris Ogbonnaya, they already don’t have much of a passing offense, somehow I’m not seeing them scoring to many points this weekend.

Dallas Cowboys: Not only did the Cowboys get blown out by the Eagles last Sunday but they also suffered a trio of significant injuries, ILB Sean Lee suffered a dislocated wrist and could be out the remainder of the season if he elects to have surgery, there is a chance he could play with a cast, but his effectiveness may be limited, CB Mike Jenkins is out for November with a hamstring injury, stretching an already thin secondary, and P Mat McBriar has a foot injury that kept him out of the 2nd half against the Eagles, good thing Dallas has the soft part of their schedule coming up.

Denver Broncos: I’m getting tired of dissecting QB Tim Tebow’s job performance week in and week out, listen he’s not a true NFL QB right now, might he be in the future, yes, but he would’ve benefitted sitting behind a veteran for a couple of seasons and learning the job, he’s just not ready yet…..RB Willis McGahee is practicing, but may not play this week if he can’t grip the ball in his surgically repaired hand.

Detroit Lions: For what it’s worth RB Javhid Best did not practice this week, but that was to be expected as the Lions are on a bye, so they can give him another week get over those post concussion symptoms…..1st round pick DT Nick Fairley was inactive last week after re-injuring his surgically repaired foot, this could be a bust of a season for Fairley.

Green Bay Packers: The undefeated Pack is back this week, kind of missed all those players in fantasy land last week…..FS Nick Collins may not be able to play again after undergoing cervical fusion surgery and QB Matt Flynn will almost certainly find a new home play next season, so much for that safety cushion behind Aaron Rodgers…..OT Chad Clifton is still weeks away from protecting Rodgers blind side.

Houston Texans: WR Andre Johnson is still far from a lock to play this week as his hamstring injury is not healing as quickly as the team and Johnson had hoped, seeing as though they play the Browns this week, it would seem prudent to let him rest another week anyway, not like they should need him to beat the offensively challenged.

Indianapolis Colts: It seems the Colts and QB Peyton Manning are both on the same page in that both are hoping Manning can play the last couple of games this season, not sure that makes any sense, the team is not going anywhere this season except possibly getting the 1st overall draft pick next season, it’s not like Manning has anything to prove, I know there is an out clause in Manning’s new contract that would allow the Colts to get away from the deal, but is there anyone who believes they would exercise that clause if Manning can still play?

Jacksonville Jaguars: WR Mike Sims-Walker lasted all of two games with the Jags before being placed on IR, guess you can’t come home…..DL Aaron Kampman is having a hard time becoming the pass rusher the Jags need as major surgeries on each knee the past two years have really taken away his explosiveness, he might get it back in time, but right now he is nothing more than a situational pass rusher only playing about 25 snaps a game.

Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs were left for dead after losing their first three games, the first two by almost 100 points combined, losing their best offensive weapon in RB Jamaal Charles for the season, but after defeating the Chargers on Monday they are now technically in 1st place, guess coach Todd Haley won’t be fired after all…..WR Jonathan Baldwin looks like he finally got out of Haley’s doghouse last week and made a huge play for at TD, Steve Breaston is still the number two guy there, but Baldwin may eat into more and more of his playing time.

Miami Dolphins: RB Reggie Bush ran for over 100 yards in the loss to the Giants last week, only the 2nd time in his career that he has accomplished that feat, don’t look for it to happen again this week as Daniel Thomas should be able to play which will eat into his carries…..OL Mike Pouncey suffered a scare last week after a neck injury when he couldn’t feel anything in his arms or legs, feeling returned fairly quickly however and an MRI didn’t reveal any kind of damage so
he will play this week, which is good news for the Dolphins offense.

Minnesota Vikings:  Team owner Ziggy Wolf is in contentious negotiations with the state over a new stadium for the team, but nothing seems close at the moment, the Vikings are the one team in the NFL that can pretty much pick up and leave in a moment’s notice as they don’t have any clauses in their lease that would force them to stay, the Los Angeles Vikings just doesn’t have a good ring to it however.

New England Patriots: Have teams finally figured out the Patriots offense?, its back to back games now against the Cowboys and Steelers where the Pats offense has been bogged down, QB Tom Brady can pick apart a zone defense but man to man seems to slow him down, it’s also my belief that the lack of a true deep threat is keeping the safeties closer to the line of scrimmage making life tougher for the short passing game…..The Pats had no problems getting RB Kevin Faulk back in the mix of things as he led the team in carries last week and also caught five passes, just muddling the backfield even further.

New Orleans Saints: RB Mark Ingram seems unlikely to play once again this week as he is still suffering from a heel injury, Darren Sproles is still going to be the main guy but don’t forget about Pierre Thomas, he didn’t rush for all that much yardage last week, but did poach a TD…..TE Jimmy Graham is dealing with an ankle injury which seems to be slowing him down of late, Saints still have their bye week upcoming so he will have time to heal.

New York Giants: RB Ahmad Bradshaw has a cracked bone in his foot, apparently he can play through it, but one has to wonder if this will hinder his performance as the season rolls on or if the injury could get worse, either way Brandon Jacobs is going to be much more valuable to the Giants during the second half of the season than they may have thought…..The Giants, like it seems most NFL teams, have become more of a passing team, but top WR Hakeem Nicks is once again not at full strength as he is dealing with a hamstring injury that forced him out late in the game last Sunday, he is supposed to play this week however.

New York Jets: Who would’ve thought the Jets-Bills game in Week 9 would be a big game, but it is, as both team are fighting for either a division title or a wildcard berth, it’s unlikely that both wildcards will come out of the AFC East, so these divisional games between the Jets, Bill, and Pats are even more important than usual…..Saw a crazy stat today, opposing QB have a quarterback rating of 2.9 when throwing against CB Darrelle Revis, fantasy players may want to take note and sit Steve Johnson this week if you have another alternative.

Oakland Raiders: RB Darren McFadden apparently could’ve used another week off to recover from his foot injury because he has still been spotted in a walking boot and is unlikely to play Sunday, what may be complicating matters is that Oakland plays next Thursday versus San Diego and my want to make sure he is as healthy as he can be for that game…..QB Carson Palmer states that he now knows the entire offensive playbook, we will find out for sure this week, although he doesn’t face the toughest of defenses in the Broncos.

Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles looked like they are back to being the dream team after wiping out the Cowboys on Sunday, what’s more impressive is that the Eagles went away from their bread and butter, the deep ball, and took what the defense gave them, which in this case was the middle of the field as WR Jason Avant and TE Brent Celek had big days, even better was that the Eagles seem committed to giving RB LeSean McCoy the ball, and he is having an Pro Bowl type season.

Pittsburgh Steelers: I know WR Hines Ward is a possible Hall of Famer but his absence from the lineup allows Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders to be a bigger part of the offense, and at this point in their careers, Brown and Sanders are bigger threats to defenses than Ward…..LB LaMarr Woodley won’t play this week due to a hamstring injury, the Steelers are running out of LBs as James Harrison is still out with his orbital injury.

San Diego Chargers: Once again the Chargers snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in their game versus the Chiefs, QB Phillip Rivers not only threw two more picks, but also fumbled a snap from center when all he had to do was take a knee and the Chargers would’ve kicked the game winning FG, yikes…..RB Ryan Matthews is likely out this week as he has yet to practice with a groin injury which will leave the running games in the hands of Mike Tolbert who missed the game Monday with injury concerns of his own.

San Francisco 49ers: Still can’t believe the 49ers may be well on their way towards a bye and home field advantage in the playoffs, just don’t really think they are that good…..WR Braylon Edwards is still not fully recovered from knee surgery, he is still playing, but it may be a few weeks yet before he is at full strength.

Seattle Seahawks: QB Tarvaris Jackson seems to have no trouble taking the Hawks up and down the field between the 20s as he continues to throw the ball for over 300 yards, problem is he can’t get the team into the end zone and turning the ball over way to frequently…..QB Charlie Whitehurst has been so ineffective under center for Seattle when called upon that one has to wonder if he will even have an NFL job next season.

St. Louis Rams: It looks like Sam Bradford will once again be back at the helm for the Rams as he has been able to do just about anything in practice, the Rams schedule gets much easier coming up and Bradford has a new toy to play with in WR Brandon Lloyd, he could look more like the QB he was last season, than the one he was earlier this season for the rest of the year.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: LeGarrette Blount may now be the full-time RB for the Bucs, he may not be a great pass catcher or blocker, but the season ending injury to Earnest Graham may force him to be out there on 3rd downs…..Fantasy owners are certainly hoping that QB Josh Freeman and WR Mike Williams get back on track after their bye week, they looked like the next lethal QB/WR duo last season, but so far this season defenses have found the cure.

Tennessee Titans: I said last week that if RB Chris Johnson couldn’t get it done against the Colts that it may be time for fantasy owners to give up on him, well he didn’t get it done and that time now has come, you can’t trade him because you won’t get any value, it’s just time to reserve him, the Titans have the same problem, do they start Javon Ringer over him, or do they keep waiting for Johnson to be who he has been.

Washington Redskins: TE Fred Davis, the last offensive threat that the Skins have, may not be at full strength Sunday due to an ankle injury, it’s going to be very ugly offensively for the Skins…..RB Tashard Choice who Washington claimed off waivers from Dallas is still not ready to play after suffering a shoulder injury in Week 7, should be so much fun watching that RB carousel once he is ready to go.

All Out Blitz

Arizona Cardinals: Hopefully the bye week will allow the Cardinals passing game to figure things out. Teams are bracketing WR Larry Fitzgerald which forces QB Kevin Kolb to search for other options, and as nice an early season surprise as Early Doucet has been, he’s just not the answer…..There are whispers in the desert that Ken Whisenhunt’s job could be in jeopardy if the team doesn’t turn this season around. How far that Super Bowl appearance must seem now.

Atlanta Falcons: With the team having a bye in Week 8 and WR Julio Jones still dealing with a hamstring injury, look for the Falcons to play it safe and keep Jones on the bench once again…..WR  Roddy White has knee and thigh issues.  Although neither one is considered a serious injury, they must be the reason for his subpar start to the season.

Baltimore Ravens: WR Lee Evans is still dealing with an ankle injury and is once again unlikely to play this week–not that it matters much since rookie Torrey Smith has filled the void quite well so far…..Rookie CB Jimmy Smith is expected to return this week. He won’t start, but he’ll fortify the secondary…..Ravens play the Jaguars on Monday Night Football. When did the schedule makers think this would be a good prime time game?

Buffalo Bills: As good as QB Ryan Fitzpatrick as been this season, those pair of interceptions he threw to the Giants Corey Webster lost the game for Buffalo last week, but that hasn’t stopped the team and Fitz from coming close on a new contract that will pay Fitzpatrick quite a few more dollars than he is making now…..With the Bills depth at WR being tested due to injuries, C.J. Spiller will remain on the outside for the time being–not like he was going to get many carries over Fred Jackson anyway.

Carolina Panthers: TE Greg Olsen has a toe injury, but it won’t keep him from the game this week…..There were some rumors that QB Cam Newton would be told to not take off and run as much as he has been, but apparently that is not the case. Still one has to wonder if that demand will be coming in the future…..I’m really starting to regret trading Newton in a dynasty fantasy league before the season began.

Chicago Bears: QB Jay Cutler and offensive coordinator Mike Martz seem to be at odds over how the offense is run. Funny timing as Cutler had his best game of the week last Sunday, and that may have been partly due to Martz keeping more blockers in than usual to stop Cutler from taking a beating each and every week…..WR Devin Hester left the game early Sunday with a chest injury, but is expected to play in London this week.

Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals seemed to have done pretty well in trading QB Carson Palmer to the Raiders before the trade deadline, getting a 1st round pick next year, and a 2nd round pick in 2013 (could upgrade to another 1st rounder if the Raiders make the championship game in one of the next two seasons). Seems GM Mike Brown was able to extract a small fortune from Oakland due to good timing (Jason Campbell’s injury) and Brown’s stance that Palmer would never be traded. Good move for Cincinnati, they have their QB of the future in Andy Dalton, and now they get extra draft picks to build around him.

Cleveland Browns: There were plenty of rumors floating around at the trade deadline that RB Peyton Hillis could be on the block. It appears the team and Hillis just haven’t been on the same page this season and with Hillis due a new contract after the season, there was some thought they would ship him out…..CB Joe Haden is still dealing with a knee issue but it looks like he may be able to give it a go this week…..GM Mike Holmgren has stated that Colt McCoy will be the starting QB for the Browns for this season and beyond.

Dallas Cowboys: Is there anyone else that has noticed how badly outcoached Dallas seems to get every game? After throwing three picks in that loss to Detroit, it was almost like Patriots coach Bill Belichick knew that Dallas would look to play it conservative and take the ball out of QB Tony Romo’s hands and run the ball more than usual. Belichick had a strong run game plan and Dallas couldn’t get anywhere on the ground. Someone has to explain to me why Dallas coach Jason Garrett thought Dallas would be able to run the ball for a first down on that final drive. They couldn’t run the ball when NE didn’t know it was coming, more or less when they did.

Denver Broncos: Broncos fans will get what they wanted this week when the Tim Tebow era begins. You have to like the Broncos giving Tebow all the help they can by trading his best receiver, Brandon Lloyd. Hopefully the Broncos will design the offense around Tebow’s strengths, putting him in the shotgun as much as possible and letting him throw on the run. I have a feeling coach John Fox is not going to tell Tebow to curtail his running, that may be the only way they gain yardage.

Detroit Lions: RB Javhid Best won’t play this week due to suffering yet another concussion last week. There are also rumors that some believe Best should sit out the remainder of the season. While that may be the correct choice for his health, it looks like Best will play as soon as he is cleared…..The Lions tried to beef up the running game with the acquisition of Ronnie Brown, but that trade was voided due to health concerns with Jerome Harrison. Maurice Morris will handle the running load for Detroit for now.

Green Bay Packers: TE JerMichael Finley only had one reception for 20 yards last week. If you take away his three TD performance against Chicago, Finley has really had a disappointing season so far…..Green Bay is a good team, but you have to wonder if their lack of a running game and injuries to the offensive line will eventually catch up to them.

Houston Texans: WR Andre Johnson is getting closer to a return, but it won’t be this week. The Texans are hurting without their best offensive player in Johnson and best defensive player in DE Mario Williams…..WR Jacoby Jones is also dealing with a groin injury, but should be good to go this Sunday…..The Texans really need to win this week. A loss to the Titans would put them a game and a half behind Tennessee, and with Indianapolis self-destructing without Peyton Manning, this has to be the season Houston wins the division and makes the playoffs.

Indianapolis Colts: If I had an MVP vote, I would have to give serious consideration to placing Peyton Manning on the ballot. NFL experts have thought for years that the successful Colts weren’t the most talented of teams but rather a product of Manning’s greatness. That theory seems to have been proven this season. I might not place him atop the ballot, but he’d be on it…..RB Joseph Addai is battling a hamstring injury and is listed as questionable to play Sunday night, but most expect him to go.

Jacksonville Jaguars: How desperate were the Jaguars at WR to re-sign Mike Sims-Walker, a player they had no interest in re-signing this off-season…..Former Jaguars QB David Garrard will need to undergo surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back, bad timing as he may have been the choice for the Raiders had he been healthy. His season is pretty much done. I’m sure he will want to compete for a starting job next season but seems ticketed for a backup job.

Kansas City Chiefs: Rookie WR Jon Baldwin has recovered from his broken thumb but will still be a game-time decision Sunday…..Fantasy owners have probably flocked to RB Jackie Battle after his big Week 5 performance, but that game may be the highlight of his season rather than a sign of more things to come…..Any kind of running game however would help out Matt Cassel and the passing game. WR Steve Breaston has been impressive of late with defenses paying more attention to Dwayne Bowe.

Miami Dolphins: If you look at WR Brandon Marshall’s numbers, it looks like he is having a solid season but it could be much better if he would stop dropping touchdown passes. By most accounts, he has dropped four this season and that doesn’t even count last week where after catching a pass and not having a defender within 10 yards, he ran out of bounds. I still haven’t heard an explanation as to why that happened.

Minnesota Vikings:  Let the Christian Ponder era begin! Good luck kid, you get to face the defending Super Bowl Champion Packers, and yeah, they are undefeated…..One has to wonder if this is the end of the line for Donovan McNabb. Sure, some team would probably take him as a backup next season, but would this possible Hall of Famer want to go in that direction…..RB Adrian Peterson is going to be facing eight man fronts constantly until Ponder proves he can beat defenses with the pass.

New England Patriots: RB Kevin Faulk, remember him, could be taken off the IR after the Pats bye. He has recovered from his ACL tear. Just what fantasy owners need, more confusion in the Patriots backfield…..I am kind of surprised New England didn’t make a stronger play for WR Brandon Lloyd. He would seem to be the kind of player coach Bill Belichick likes, a veteran who is playing for a new contract–plus he could’ve used the bye week to learn the offense.

New Orleans Saints: TE Jimmy Graham, who may be the best tight end in the NFL this season, is dealing with an ankle injury and is iffy to play Sunday night. Not good for those fantasy owners who need to set their lineup before the early games…..The return of WR Marques Colston and the continued emergence of Graham have made WR Robert Meacham more of an afterthought in the offense. He’ll still have some big games here and there, but he is rarely the go to receiver on any given play.

New York Giants: Living in New York, it’s sort of amusing to hear the Giants players feuding with former teammates Antonio Pierce and Michael Strahan. It seems the current Giants don’t appreciate their former teammates being critical of several players not playing through injury…..With the return of one of those players, DE Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul could see his snaps reduced. This would be a shame as Pierre-Paul has been playing well and is second in the NFL with 7.5 sacks.

New York Jets: The Jets are going to have RB LaDainian Tomlinson start versus his former team this week. It is safe to say LT and CB Antonio Cromartie may have a little extra motivation to beat their former mates…..With the Jets ground game being somewhat lethargic this season, there are some that believe Joe McKnight should be given a bigger role. While it’s true he is not built to take a pounding, we have all seen what he has done on special teams, might as well find out if he can add that same spark to the offense.

Oakland Raiders: Not a big fan of the Raiders trade for QB Carson Palmer. I understand you are 4-2, have a shot to win the division, lost Jason Campbell for most of the season, probably can’t win with Kyle Boller, but was it really worth a 1st round choice next season, and a conditional 1st round pick in 2013 for a QB that could have an elbow problem? If Palmer is healthy and can make all the throws, than the price is not all that exorbitant as Palmer is only 31 years old and could be your franchise QB for the next five years or so, but if he’s not, this could bury the Raiders for quite a while.

Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles changed up their offense last week versus Washington, using quite a few more three-step drops than usual to avoid QB Michael Vick taking all those hits. It should be interesting to see if coach Andy Reid will continue with that change in the weeks to come…..You think Lions RB Jerome Harrison owes the Eagles doctors a Christmas card. After he was traded to the team, during his physical he told the doctors that he had been experiencing headaches. The doctors then discovered a benign tumor in his head. The trade may have been voided, but without it, this tumor may have never been found. Harrison is out for the year, but his continued health is all that’s important.

Pittsburgh Steelers: S Troy Polamalu was caught making a cell phone call on the sidelines during last week’s game and was fined $10K for doing so. Polamalu said he was calling his wife–feel free to insert your own joke here…..There has been some worry that WR Mike Wallace might miss this week’s game with a hamstring injury, but he is listed as probable and should be good to go.

San Diego Chargers: TE Antonio Gates is still struggling with his foot injury but still might give it a shot this week. The Chargers need his presence in the offense to take away some of the defensive focus off of WR Vincent Jackson, not to mention he’s a pretty good TE…..RB Mike Tolbert hasn’t had any post concussion  symptoms during the bye week and has been cleared to play Sunday…..Tolbert’s partner Ryan Matthews is also completely healthy, but as we all know with him that can change after one carry Sunday.

San Francisco 49ers: Bye week comes at a pretty good time for the 49ers as they need to get their WR corps back in gear. Hopefully Braylon Edwards can return in Week 8…..Tell me you weren’t wishing that Jim Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz wouldn’t have slugged it out after last week’s game. You have to love when the coaches act worse than the players. I’m not sure why the league insists on the coaches exchanging handshakes after the game anyway–this is bound to happen again–the teams just battled each other for three hours and there is so much pressure to win, a cooling off period would seem to be a must.

Seattle Seahawks: It’s looking more and more likely that QB Tarvaris Jackson will miss the game with his chest injury, meaning Charlie Whitehurst will make the start. It would seem that no matter how well Whitehurst plays, it’s still Jackson’s job when he returns…..K Steven Hauschka has only attempted six FGs so far this season. The offense just doesn’t move the ball, even into FG range.

St. Louis Rams: I know the Rams need WR help and Brandon Lloyd had the best season of his career in a Josh McDaniels’ offense, but the Rams are 0-5, this certainly looks like a lost season, and Lloyd is a free agent after the season who will be looking for a big pay day. Why give up any draft pick for such a player at this point in time? Perhaps they will make a big run at re-signing him…..QB Sam Bradford is doubtful to play this week with a high ankle sprain. It might be a good idea to sit out a game rather than being a statue for LBs DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs are once again playing in England and you have to wonder if they would like to make this an annual occurrence as the Glazer family owns Manchester United as well as the Buccaneers…..RB LeGarrette Blount will once again miss the game in jolly old England with his knee injury, but Earnest Graham was more than a capable fill-in last week and should be once again…..TE Kellen Winslow is not on the injury report but still admits that his knee isn’t 100% and most likely won’t be for the remainder of the season.

Tennessee Titans: Some are wondering if the Titans are the most likely landing spot for WR Terrell Owens once he is declared healthy enough to play…..Look for the Titans to increase the role of WR Donnie Avery now that he has had two weeks to learn the offensive system…..A win by the Titans this week and they will be in the driver’s seat in the AFC South.

Washington Redskins: Not exactly a big shock that the Skins changed QBs. The Shanahans seemed to prefer John Beck in the off-season but when he was outplayed by Rex Grossman, they gave Rex first crack. Does anyone really believe Beck will be the starter for the remainder of the season? I know I don’t…..TE Chris Cooley is going to miss a considerable amount of time with a finger injury, and this might be the best thing for Washington as Fred Davis is a much better player and now won’t have to worry about Cooley stealing his reps.

Raiders 24, Browns 17

The Cleveland Browns made the trip out to Oakland to take on the Oakland Raiders.  The Browns were coming off a bye week and the Raiders were coming off an emotional 25-20 win over the Houston Texans.  Emotions were running high again as this was the first game played in Oakland without Al Davis watching his team.  He was honored before the game and at halftime.  The highlight for me was seeing John Madden lighting a torch in memory of Mr. Davis.

The Raiders won the toss and deferred to the second half.  Unlike most kickoffs, kicker Sebastian Janikowski didn’t send this one through the end zone.  It was taken at the nine and returned 30 yards by Mike Adams.  There’s not much to say about the first possession for the Browns.  Running back Peyton Hillis was stopped for a gain of one on first down, that was followed by an incomplete pass and on third and long, Raider safety Matt Giordano sacked Brown’s quarterback Colt McCoy for a loss of ten yards.  Punter Brad Maynard punted the ball 54 yards and Raider return man Denarius Moore was brought down for a loss of four on the return.

The Raiders went to work form their own 12 and running back Darren McFadden quickly ran off the left side for a gain of 24.  He then added gains of three and six yards.  Running back Michael Bush got the third down conversion and the Raiders were near midfield.  On second and ten, Raider quarterback Jason Campbell found wide receiver Jacoby Ford for a gain of nine.  On third and one, backup fullback Manase Tonga got his first career carry and rumbled up the middle for a gain of twelve.  That gave the Raiders the ball at the Cleveland 32.  McFadden got four yards on first down and on third and six, the Raiders converted another third down as Campbell connected with Ford for a gain of seven.  On the next two plays, Bush and McFadden both had four-yard gains which set up a third and two at the 13.  From there, Campbell found rookie tight end David Ausberry for a gain of four and another third down conversion.  That put the ball at the Cleveland nine.  After McFadden rushed for five yards on first down, he finished off the drive with a four-yard touchdown run.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 7-0 with just under six minutes to go in the first quarter.

The Browns took over at their own 20 and three straight runs by Hillis got them a first down at the 30.  From there, they went no farther and were forced to punt again.  Maynard got off another good punt and the ball was downed at the Raider 14.  Campbell hooked up with wide receiver receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey for gains of nine and 21 to move the Raiders to their own 41.  On first down, a reverse to Moore was quickly snuffed out by the Browns for a loss of three.  On second down, Campbell scrambled across midfield, but lost the ball as he was diving forward.  The ball was recovered by defensive back Mike Adams.  That gave the Browns the ball at their own 43.  McCoy wasted no time going to the air and hit tight end Evan Moore for a gain of 11.  On third and 11, McCoy went deep for wide receiver Josh Cribbs, but the pass was overthrown.  However, defensive tackle Tommy Kelly jumped offside and that gave the Browns another chance.  On third and six from the Raider 42, McCoy found Cribbs for a gain of 23.  On second and seven, McCoy hit wide receiver Greg Little for a gain of 15 down to the one.  On the next play, McCoy found tight end Alex Smith wide open for a one-yard touchdown pass.  Kicker Phil Dawson made the point after and the game was tied at seven.

Dawson kicked off and return man Jacoby Ford proved that his hamstring is healed as he ran back the kick 101 yards for a touchdown.  On the return, Ford ran down the right sideline and it appeared that he may have stepped out of bounds.  The play was reviewed and showed that he did not step out and it was indeed a touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after and that made the score 14-7 with just under 12 minutes to go in the second quarter.

Cleveland took over at their own 13 and on third and ten, McCoy connected with Little for a gain of 12.  On first down, McCoy scrambled for four yards and running back Montario Hardesty added five more.  On third and one, McCoy found wide receiver Brian Robiskie for another third down conversion.  Then on second and ten, Smith caught another pass for a gain of 13.  Hardesty ran off right tackle for six more and the Browns found themselves in Raider territory.  But, a holding call was followed by two more incomplete passes and the Browns were forced to punt.

The Raiders took over at their own 19.  After a short gain by McFadden, a pass interference call on the Browns gave the Raiders a first down at the 25.  An incomplete pass to wide receiver Louis Murphy and a short completion to McFadden gave the Raiders a third and eight at the 27.  On third down, Campbell scrambled for seven yards and was hit hard as he was going to the ground.  Campbell stayed down and was helped off the field.  I have learned that he has a broken collarbone and is likely out for the year.  On fourth and one, quarterback Kyle Boller took over at quarterback and dove into the pile for a gain of two and a first down.  But the drive stalled and punter Shane Lechler booted a 49-yard punt that was returned by Cribbs for a loss of one.  The Browns took over at their own nine with 1:48 remaining in the first half.  They quickly went three and out and the Raiders followed suit.  The score remained 14-7 at halftime.

The Raiders got the ball first in the third quarter as Taiwan Jones returned the kick to the Raider 19.  Some quick gains by McFadden and a short completion to Heyward-Bey moved the ball to the 42.  On third and four, Boller scrambled for a gain of five to get the Raiders a first down in Cleveland territory.  On first down, Boller fumbled and the ball was recovered by McFadden.  On second and 15, Boller went deep for wide receiver Chaz Schilens.  The play was ruled incomplete, but it appeared Schilens had both feet in bounds.  It didn’t matter as center Samson Satele was flagged for illegal use of the hands.  That moved the ball back to the 38.  Nine yard completions to Moore and Bush weren’t enough to get a first down and the Raiders punted the ball away.  The punt was fair caught at the ten and once again, the Raider defense was all over McCoy.  The Browns were forced to punt and the Raiders took over at their own 35.

On third and seven, Boller hooked up with Jacoby Ford for a gain of 27.  That gave them a first down at the Cleveland 35.  On first down, Boller badly missed a wide open Heyward-Bey that would have likely been a touchdown.  I think a cheerleader ended up catching that pass.    McFadden ran up the middle for two on second down and Boller came up short on his scramble on third down.  That made it fourth and five at the 30.  Janikowski trotted on to the field and nailed a 48-yard field goal.  That made it 17-7 with three minutes to go in the third quarter.

Cribbs fielded the kickoff at the eight and brought it out to the 25.  On second and ten, McCoy fumbled and Tommy Kelly pounced on it to give the Raiders a golden opportunity.  On first down, a reverse to Ausberry was quickly stopped for a loss of three.  With speedy guys like Ford, Heyward-Bey, Murphy and Moore, why would you try a reverse to a tight end?  That play made no sense.  Boller missed Moore badly on second down and on third down, he was sacked and the ball was jarred loose by Jabal Sheard for a loss of ten.  Fortunately for the Raiders, Boller was able to recover the fumble.  That made it fourth and ten from the 35.  Janikowski came on to try another long field goal.  Shane Lechler took the snap and instead of another cannonball from the Polish Cannon, Lechler tossed the ball to a wide open Kevin Boss.  Boss took it in for a 35-yard touchdown to put the Raiders on top, 24-7.  That was definitely the play of the game.

With just under a minute and a half to go, the Browns started their next drive from their own 21.  But, it wasn’t much of a drive.  The Raiders continued to harass McCoy and forced three straight incomplete passes.  Maynard’s punt was fair caught by Moore at the Raider 14.  The Raiders could do absolutely nothing with the ball and punted again.  Cribbs fielded the punt at his own 27 and returned it to the Raider 42  for a 31-yard return.

A short run by Hardesty and short completions to Little and tight end Ben Watson gave the Browns a first down at the Raider 29.  That was as far as they would go and kicker Phil Dawson made a 47-yard field goal to make it 24-10 with just under 12 and a half minutes to go in the game.

Jacoby Ford took the kickoff two yards deep in the end zone and headed straight up the middle.  He  almost got loose again, but he was tackled at the Raider 35.  On second and seven, Boller hit Heyward-Bey for a gain of 16 to move the ball into Cleveland territory.  On first down, a holding call on Satele moved the ball back ten yards.  But, a 14-yard pass to Heyward-Bey and three straight runs by Bush put the ball at the Cleveland 30.  On third and five, Boller found Heyward-Bey again for 15 more yards.  Three straight runs by McFadden put the ball at the five and set up a fourth and one. Everyone in the stadium thought that Janikowski would be brought in to put the Raiders up by three scores.  Instead, Bush ran up the left side and was stuffed for no gain.  The drive took almost eight minutes off the clock, but it didn’t result in a score.  What was Hue Jackson thinking?  With 4:44 to go in the game, there was no way the Browns would score three times!  I can understand wanting to go for the kill and go up 31-10, but a field goal should have been the obvious choice.  Not a smart move, Hue.

The Browns got the ball at their own five and McCoy went right to work.  All of a sudden, he had time to throw and he also started finding open receivers.  He spread the ball around to four different receivers and quickly moved the ball to the Cleveland 45.  Finally, the Raiders got some pressure on him and he was sacked by defensive end Lamarr Houston.  But, McCoy would not be denied as he hit wide receiver Mohammed Massaquoi and Little for ten-yard completions.  That put the ball at the 37.  On the next play, the ball was tipped and appeared to be intercepted by safety Tyvon Branch.  But instant replay showed that the ball hit the ground.  On second and ten from the 25, McCoy found Little again for 13 more yards.  Two plays later, Massaquoi caught another pass.  This one was good for a 12-yard touchdown.  Dawson made the point after and the score was now 24-17 with 1:06 to go in the game.

All the Raiders had to do was recover the onside kick and the game was theirs.  But, like I said last week, this is the Raiders we’re talking about.  There’s never a dull moment when it comes to this team.  Dawson’s kick was recovered by defensive back James Dockery and the Browns got the ball at the Raider 49.  The play was reviewed as it looked like Cribbs may have illegally touched the ball before it went ten yards, but the call on the field stood.  The Raiders really started to come after McCoy on this drive, but he hit Cribbs for seven yards on first down to move the ball to the 42.  That would be his last completion of the day.  After two incomplete passes and facing a fourth and three from the 42, his pass intended for Massaquoi fell incomplete and that gave the Raiders a 24-17 win.

Well, it wasn’t pretty and the loss of Campbell definitely hurts.  The question now is what do the Raiders do?  They definitely have to sign another quarterback.  The quarterback depth chart now reads: Kyle Boller, Terrelle Pryor and Shane Lechler.  Maybe sign David Garrard?  Turn the whole thing over to Boller?  During his five game suspension, Pryor was given time to learn the offense, but my personal opinion is that he isn’t ready.  Boller said he felt comfortable out there, but he missed wide open receivers and even his completions were low.  It will be interesting to see what happens in Oakland this week when it comes to the quarterback situation.  I have just learned that the Raiders have contacted David Garrard and former Raider, Josh McCown.  Given the choice, I’ll take Garrard.

Darren McFadden led the Raiders in rushing with 91 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown.  Michael Bush added 28 more and the Raiders rushed for a total of 151 yards.  Before Campbell left the game, he was six for nine for 54 yards with no touchdowns and no picks.  Boller went eight for 14 for 100 yards and also had no touchdowns or picks.  Heyward-Bey led all receivers with six catches for 82 yards.  Another good statistic from this game is that the Raiders were only flagged five times for 35 yards.  Very impressive.

For the most part, I liked what I saw from the Raider defense.  Although they registered only two sacks, they were all over McCoy and held the Browns to 65 yards on 21 carries.  McCoy completed 21 of 45 for 218 yards, two touchdowns and no picks.

The Kansas City Chiefs will be heading out to Oakland next week and just like Cleveland, they’ll be coming off a bye week.  Very interesting.  You don’t often see a team face two opponents in a row coming off byes.  After starting out the year with losses to Buffalo, Detroit and San Diego, the Chiefs have had two straight wins over Minnesota and Indianapolis.  They should be rested and ready for the Raiders.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy