Monday, December 12, 2011

Week 14 Deserves Another T for Tebow

This week in the NFL gave you all you want as a fan: late-game comebacks and near-comebacks in 7 games, and blowouts in another 6.  Oh, and Tim Tebow.  If it weren't for the Christian Ponderer (nickname not mine, sadly), the Texans' ridiculously unlikely 10-3 record would be a big story this year.  Alas, I'm left adding Tebow to everything.


TRIUMPH: Although this really has been more the norm than an anomaly of late, Laurent Robinson overcame being replaced in the starting lineup by Miles Austin by grabbing 4 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown, capping a 7-game stretch (4 of those as the starter) in which he totaled 530 yards and 8 touchdowns.  However, with Austin getting back into the swing of things, I don’t anticipate this continuing to the extent that the last couple weeks would indicate.

TRAGEDY: Could have been Jason Witten getting 3 receptions for 12 yards, but I’m going to go with Ahmad Bradshaw breaking a team rule and missing the first half of this game without telling any of his fantasy owners, and then coming back just in time to get 8 carries for 12 yards, while Brandon Jacobs put up 101 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Dude…

TREND: Victor Cruz has been Cruzing of late, averaging 7 receptions for just under 110 yards over his past 7 games.  Despite being “just” the slot receiver when Mario Manningham plays, Cruz has made big play after big play and is now third in the league in receiving yards and fourth among fantasy wide receivers.

TRAIL MIX: This game worked out just like you would expect an NFC East battle to: high-scoring despite name-brand defenses, lots of passing, botched snaps and fumbles by both teams, Eli Manning making a late scoring drive, and the Cowboys bungling it at the end.  All of that adds up to the Eagles still not being eliminated!

TEBOW: Speaking of prolific passers, did you know that Tim Tebow went 18-of-24 for 191 yards AFTER THE THIRD QUARTER this week?


TRIUMPH: Backup quarterbacks Tyler Thigpen and Billy Volek combined to go 2-for-3 for 19 yards and an interception, as well as having 3 carries for 12 yards.  They had combined to go 1-5 for 6 yards prior to this game.  Yes, this is a sad, sad triumph, but this was a pretty sad game for a blowout.

TRAGEDY: Vincent Jackson follows up a solid game with another “meh” performance (5 receptions, 55 yards).  He is the most consistently inconsistent player in the league, having 21 receptions for 279 yards and 0 touchdowns in games 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 13, and 32 receptions for 673 yards and 8 touchdowns in games 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 this season (and that includes one fewer game AND a 1-for-15 game in the even-numbered set).  

TREND: Antonio Gates, when healthy, is the anti-Vincent-Jackson: money in the bank.  He has had between 4 and 8 receptions and between 49 and 96 receiving yards in every game he’s played (there’s 9 of them), as well as scoring 6 touchdowns.

TRAIL MIX: The Bills have had a Tale of Two Seasons in 2011, going 5-2 and scoring 30 points per game through Week 8, and going 0-6 and scoring 13 points per game afterward.  Also, remember that post I wrote about Ryan Fitzpatrick being a fair-weather flinger? Yahtzee. 

TEBOW: The Denver Fighting Tebows have won 8 of Tebow’s 10 starts since last year, and have won 7 of those with drives in the 4th quarter or overtime, while the Denver Broncos (the pre-Tebow Denver football team) have gone 4-14 in the last two seasons.


TRIUMPH: Big day for former Patriots receivers on the Redskins!  Donte Stallworth and Jabar Gaffney combined for 10 receptions for 188 yards and a touchdown in this contest.  While Gaffney has had at least 50 receiving yards in 9 games this year, Stallworth had 111 yards all season coming into this game.

TRAGEDY: Deion Branch is an old-time Patriot, so he should be used to totally disappearing from time to time as Tom Brady sees fit.  Branch was thrown to twice and caught no passes, which looks awfully similar to his 2-19, 3-37, 2-21, and 1-4 games earlier this season.

TREND: Duh, Rex Grossman.  I think we should motion the NFL to rename the strip-sack the Grossman, as he had 2 more fumbles (one lost) yesterday, bringing his total to 7 in 10 games to go with his 16 interceptions.

TRAIL MIX: Rob Gronkowski is just unreal. He is 7th in the league in receiving yards, first in touchdowns (thanks to having 10 TD in his last 6 games), and is doing all of this while being second-fiddle to Wes Welker, who leads the league in receptions and yards and has 9 touchdowns of his own.

TEBOW: Broncos-Patriots this week.  Nuff said.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Seder Slate, Week 14

Not that any of you are hanging on any of the words that I put here, but I’m sure you will understand that I skipped this past week of posts due to some busy times at the old university.  But fear not; I still have some entrees left to serve.  Can’t slow down just because there’s only four weeks left and the fantasy regular season is over, right?

Seder Slate, Week 14

WHAT? Philadelphia Eagles at Miami Dolphins

WHY? Michael Vick returns after a three-week injury hiatus in which the team went 1-2 (the two losses being of the sickening and embarrassing variety), only to face a Dolphins team that started off Sucking for Luck (0-7) but has won 4 of their last 5, outscoring opponents 140-53 in that span.  After all the acquisitions that both of these teams made in the offseason, I don’t think anyone thought before the season that this game would be utterly meaningless.  Hm, that doesn’t seem like a good reason to watch the game, does it?

WHO? Generally-considered-a-bust Reggie Bush has had a bit of a renaissance in the last six games, averaging six more carries and nearly twice as many rushing yards as he did in the first six, and scoring all of his season’s five rushing touchdowns during Miami’s recent surge.  After having just two 90-yard games in his 5 previous seasons, Bush has 3 in the past six contests.  Too bad Vince Young isn’t starting, or this would be a nice little 2006 Rose Bowl reunion.

HOW? Watch it while continually checking live news feeds for the next Miami Marlins signing, because God knows nobody’s actually going to the game.

WHAT? New England Patriots at Washington Redskins

WHY? It’s always interesting to watch matchups with teams that are opposites in some sense: one of the best quarterbacks ever (Brady) versus one of the worst (Grossman), one of the best-run organizations in football versus one of the worst, and colonial Americans versus Native Americans.

WHO? Rex Grossman has thrown for some decent yardage totals this season, and facing one of the worst defenses in the league in the Patriots (who, by the way, allowed Dan Orlovsky to put up a 30-37, 353, 2 TD, 1 INT line against them in a game where they were favored by 20), he might actually look decent.  Just remember to take the context into consideration, people.

HOW? Pats fans: check it out by lamplight; one if by radio and two if by TV.  ‘Skins fans: start up a fire in that old tipi that’s been collecting dust.

WHAT? Chicago Bears at Denver Broncos

WHY? This game would be interesting for the whole Cutler-Orton-trade thing, except for the fact that Orton was cut and Cutler is hurt.  As it stands, it’s two teams right on the fringe of playoff contention duking it out, and with both teams having certain losses left on the schedule (Bears-Packers, Broncos-Patriots), this is a big week for both.

WHO? Dude.  Tebow.  After completing more than half his passes and throwing for 200 yards for the first time all season last week (despite being just 4-for-6 for 29 yards in the first half), can he keep it up against a Bears defense that’s top ten against the run but bottom five against the pass?

HOW? The only way to do it: on one knee, fist supporting your bowed head.  Tebow.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My 101st Post: The WD4T for Week 12

My intro this week centers on the sad, sad state of the NFC Wild Card race.  Think about it: 

At 7-4, the Bears are in a good position, but with Caleb Hanie at quarterback, they're not finishing any better than 9-7.
Also at 7-4, the Lions have lost 4 of their last 6 and still have tough matchups with the Saints, Raiders, and Packers remaining.
After three straight losses, the Giants are crumbling earlier than usual, and face the Packers this week.  Sounds like four in a row.
With the Packers undefeated, the Saints destroying the Giants, the Cowboys winning four straight, and the 49ers having the opportunity to clinch this week, the contrast is stark.
And yet, with all that, the Eagles are 4-7 and not at all poised to make a run at this wide-open Wild Card spot.  Sigh...


TRIUMPH: Chris Johnson had his second 100-yard game in the past three weeks, rushing 23 times for 190 yards in the Titans win.  However, a note: Johnson’s three 100-yard performances have come against defenses currently ranked 28, 29, and 30 in terms of run defense.  He has averaged just 35 yards per game in the other 8 games.

TRAGEDY:  Aside from last week in which he left the game with an injury, Titans QB Matt Hasselbeck had averaged 250 yards and just under 2 touchdowns per game prior to this week’s 160-yard, 1-TD, 3-turnover game.  If CJ2K returns to mediocrity in the coming weeks, we can expect Hasselbeck to continue chucking the ball effectively.

TREND: I don’t really have a stat for this, but LeGarrette Blount leapt over a defender again!.  The closest thing I have to a stat here is that if you Google Legarrette Blount jumps, three different occasions show up as YouTube results, and none of those is the one above.

TRAIL MIX: The Bucs have lost 6 of their last 7 games, dropping to 4-7, but they may be the best 4-7 or worse team in the league: each of those last 7 games was against a team with a winning record (49ers, Saints twice, Bears, Texans, Packers, Titans).


TRIUMPH: Roy Helu had 23 carries for 108 yards and 7 receptions for 54 yards in this contest.  He had not had more than 10 carries or 74 yards this season, and both of those numbers came in Week 2.  Mike Shanahan is a tricksy hobbit when it comes to running back touches (no Redskins running back has led the team in rushing more than 4 times this season), and Washington’s leading rushers had combined for 131 yards in the previous four games, so I wouldn’t expect much going forward.

TRAGEDY: The Seahawks entered this game with a top 10 rush defense and the ‘Skins had a bottom-five rush offense, and yet Washington managed 110 yards and over 4 yards per carry from its running backs (I’m choosing to disregard Rex Grossman’s 5 rushes for -1 yard).

TREND: Unless you play fantasy football, I bet you didn’t know that Marshawn Lynch has a touchdown (rushing or receiving) in each of the last seven games in which he’s played.  Not only that, but he has averaged over 110 yards per game since Week 9 after averaging 44 yards per game prior.  But wait, there’s more!  Seattle’s next two games are against the improved-but-phoning-it-in Eagles and a Rams defense that has allowed two 200-yard rushing games in the past month.

TRAIL MIX: It’s a Redskins game, so there’s gotta be a Sexy Rexy update in here somewhere.  The bad: Grossman has turned the ball over at least twice in 7 of the 8 games he has started this year.  The good: he still has scored more fantasy points than Sam Bradford, last year’s rookie of the year and many pundits’ pick for a breakout player this season.


TRIUMPH: Mark Ingram led the Saints in carries, yards, and touchdowns with 13, 80, and 1.  This was mostly due to the Saints having the luxury of running the clock out at the end of the game, as Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles are normally more involved in competitive games.

TRAGEDY: Fantasy-wise, every prominent Saints skill player had at least 6 fantasy points in this game – except Robert Meachem, who wasn’t even thrown to.  Dude!

TREND: Including this game, the Saints are 3-0 against the Giants since Drew Brees arrived in 2006, winning by an average score of 42-19.

TRAIL MIX: Eli Manning completed 21 consecutive passes in the second half en route to a 400-yard day.  Two notes on this: bet you either didn’t know or forgot that Donovan McNabb holds the record for most consecutive completions, with 24 over the span of two games.  Another note: in the 2006 matchup between these teams, Drew Brees and Eli Manning combined for 206 passing yards, with 55 of them coming on a Manning-to-Burress touchdown that represented the only time the Giants got into Saints territory.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner Plate, Week 12

I feel like I keep undermining the integrity of the fledgling Seder Slate franchise, but this concept is just too timely to pass up.  Given the whole Thanksgiving thing, it seems appropriate to give a Turkey-Day-themed post, much like I did last year at this time.

Therefore, without further ado…

Five Things I'm Thankful for in the upcoming NFL Week 12

1. The Eagles’ defense dominating against the Giants (as I described earlier this week), which makes this week’s game against the Patriots at least marginally important.

2. The Giants (6-4) and Saints (7-3) playing on Monday night, ending a stint of terrible primetime ESPN matchups (New England – Kansas City, Packers – Vikings).

3. The Colts (0-10) getting a prime opportunity to get their first win of the season against the 2-8 Panthers who have lost 3 in a row and are coming off a 49-35 loss against the Lions in which they were winning 24-7.

4. Adrian Peterson, Darren McFadden, and Ahmad Bradshaw still being injured.  Pouring on the sarcasm here.

5. What else?  Tim Tebow!  He’s getting a second shot at the Chargers, who he almost came back to beat in his first real action of the season.

I tried this part last year and really enjoyed it, so let’s go for it again.  What’s Thanksgiving without a whole mess of food?  Let’s see what we have on our plate…

White meat: The classic crowd favorite.  This year, it’s gotta be those undefeated Green Bay Packers.  A team with a lot of tradition to fall back on, this iteration of the Packers is coming off a Super Bowl victory and has kept on rolling, winning their last 17 games (including the playoffs).  Not to mention, they don’t have the “dirty” stigma that the division-rival Lions do.

Dark meat: Harder to find, but when you do, it packs a punch of flavor.  I like to think of this as an under-the-radar team that could pop a team in the mouth.  And, while this may come as a surprise, I think that the Steelers qualify this year.  Although they’re 7-3, the Ravens, Texans, and Patriots have gotten more attention in the AFC, mostly because Pittsburgh’s defense hasn’t been its usual dominant self.  However, their passing offense is explosive enough that they can score with almost anyone, and if you have to win one game, the Steel Curtain could show up and dominate.

Cranberry Sauce: Not the prettiest, but a sweet accompaniment to your feast.  It’s gotta be the Denver Broncos.  They’ve won games against the Jets, Chiefs, and Dolphins in the fourth quarter or overtime, all the while with a quarterback in Tim Tebow whose ESPN Total QBR ranks 30th among qualifying quarterbacks this season – and QBR rewards quarterbacks for rushing contributions!

Stuffing: A mish-mash of foods that can be hit-or-miss, and is definitely best served warm.  Just like the Buffalo Bills, whose scoring offense declined from 38 ppg in September to 25 ppg in October and now 9 ppg in November.  Seems as if a team based in Snow City, USA should probably be better prepared for the weather to turn.  Unfortunately for Buffalo, Fred Jackson (second in yards-from-scrimmage this season) is out for the rest of the year, so I’m not seeing their conundrum getting much better.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Week 11's Trap Games and Transvestite Dames

Full disclosure: there will be no further mention of women dressing as men in this post, unless you count Rex Grossman.  As it stands, we're just looking at a review of three games from the Week 11 slate, including full representation of the NFC East.


TRIUMPH: We’re going to give this one to the whole Broncos team.  Let’s be honest, how many people thought that they would be remotely competitive this season, let alone one game back of the division lead by themselves?  Not to mention that their two prior wins came against division rivals Kansas City and Oakland.

TRAGEDY: The Broncos had run all over people since they introduced their new-look college offense, but they were only able to net 125 yards on 34 carries in this game, which was close the whole time.  What remains to be decided is whether this was more the Jets defensive personnel or the decline of the scheme’s advantage.

TREND: This discussion is best made vis-a-vis fantasy football, as Tim Tebow’s skillset is probably best conveyed through fantasy points.  In the first three quarters of games he’s played this year (five starts and 1 relief appearance), Tebow has completed 36% of his passes and thrown for 310 yards TOTAL, accounting for 3 TD.  In just the fourth quarter, he has completed 56% of his passes and thrown for 399 yards, accounting for 7 TD.  Maybe he should play a simulated game for 45 minutes before kickoff?

TRAIL MIX: This is the fourth straight week in which I’ve discussed Tim Tebow in this post.  I have no idea how this happened; he’s just raw fascination.


TRIUMPH: Donte’ Stallworth is a picture of persistence, overcoming marijuana and manslaughter charges to have 4 catches for 51 yards and a touchdown in this game.  In case you were wondering, Stallworth came in with 24 receptions, 298 yards, and 1 TD since 2008.

TRAGEDY: If you watch the highlights of this game, pretty much every big play for the Cowboys offense involved the Redskins getting pressure on Tony Romo and Romo spinning or sliding out to his left and slinging it to Laurent Robinson, Dez Bryant, or Jason Witten.  You’d think they’d figure that out eventually, just like that silly draw play where Romo fakes a wide-receiver screen that they always run.

TREND: Dez Bryant needs to do some jogging between games or something.  The man has no conditioning.  He has 24 receptions for 413 yards and 5 touchdowns in the first half, and 10 receptions for 146 yards and 1 touchdown in the second half.  Maybe he should have a nice talk with God Tebow…

TRAIL MIX: The ‘Skins have lost six straight games and 7 of 8.  This is why you don’t go into a season with John Beck and Rex Grossman as your quarterback options. 
NFC East rankings after Week 5: Redskins, Giants, Cowboys, Eagles. 
NFC East rankings after Week 11: Cowboys, Giants, Eagles, Redskins. 


TRIUMPH: Everyone’s getting hyped about the Eagles’ Dream Team defense again, but keep this in mind:
They have allowed 292 total yards (65 rushing) and 15 points per game in their four NFC East games, going 3-1.
They have allowed 361 total yards (142 rushing) and 26 points per game in their other 6 games, going 1-5.

TRAGEDY: Until he caught a pass late in the game, Jake Ballard may have had the worst game ever for a pass-catcher.  He dropped several passes, including one in which he was wide-open and would have had an easy 30 yard gain, and also injured himself.  As a guy who started him in two fantasy leagues, it’s pretty disappointing from a player who had at least 55 yards receiving in weeks 5-9.

TREND: Victor Cruz loves him some Eagles secondary.  Two of his three 100-yard games and three of his five touchdowns this season have come against Philadelphia.

TRAIL MIX: I don’t have any historical data to make this more compelling, but prior to this game, Vince Young had not completed a pass, Riley Cooper had no receptions, and I was convinced Steve Smith was still playing for the Giants, having been responsible for multiple tipped interceptions this season.  Young led what was possibly the BEST DRIVE I’VE EVER SEEN BY THE EAGLES (18 plays, 80 yards, 9 minutes), Cooper went 5-75-TD, and Smith caught a key touchdown pass in this improbable win.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Seder Slate, Week 11

I hope nobody minds that this post is a little bit later than normal, but I assure you the stats will be worth the wait.  Besides, it’s not like you get football info from anywhere else, right? 


WHAT? Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Green Bay Packers

WHY? Because you want to see if Aaron Rodgers can post his fourth straight game completing more than 75 percent of his passes, throwing 3 touchdowns, and having a 140+ quarterback rating.  He hasn’t thrown for more than 250 yards in the last two, but Tampa Bay is in the bottom 10 in pass defense this year. 
Also, a fun fact:  Rodgers is two months younger than Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden, who has thrown for an average of 460 yards and 4 TD in the last three weeks.  He had a foray into minor league baseball before going to college.

WHO? I don’t know about you, but I want to see what all the hoopla about Legarrette Blount not getting the ball when the Bucs are losing is about.  Of his 100 carries this season (nice round number, thanks Tampa Bay!), 54 of them have come when the team was losing, and he’s averaging a solid 4.5 ypc on those carries.  By comparison, Lesean McCoy (who most everyone considers to be an all-purpose back) has had just 52 of his 165 carries when the Eagles are losing.

HOW? Check this game out from either Indianapolis or Hawaii, and just wait for Rodgers to show up.

WHAT? Tennessee Titans at Atlanta Falcons

WHY? The Falcons have gone 22-6 at home since Mike Smith, Matt Ryan, and Michael Turner arrived in 2008, while the Titans are 18-3 against NFC teams since 2006.  Something’s gotta give.

WHO? Both of the running backs in this game are worth watching.  Chris Johnson was abysmal for the first half of the season, but has had his two best yards-per-carry efforts of the season in the last two weeks, and faces a top-five run defense in the Falcons.  The Falcons are 5-2 in games in which Michael Turner has a rushing touchdown or rushes for 100 yards and 0-2 otherwise.  Additionally, Turner averaged 130 yards and a touchdown in the two games Julio Jones missed earlier in the season, and Jones is likely to miss this week’s game.  Just saying.

HOW? I’m not sure how you’re going to finagle this, but try to watch this game from a World War I battlefield, as this one will probably be won in the trenches.  BAM!

WHAT? Carolina Panthers at Detroit Lions

WHY? These teams have two of the most prolific quarterback-receiver connections in Newton-to-Smith (51 rec, 951 yds, 4 TD) and Stafford-to-Johnson (54 rec, 885 yds, 11 TD), with both quarterbacks being #1 overall picks. 

WHO? OK, you’re probably not going to see much of them, but I find it interesting that DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart averaged over 1100 yards each in 2008 and 2009 but will likely combine for 1100 yards in both 2010 and 2011.  My, the volatility of the running back position…

HOW? Call up Jamarcus Russell and watch the game with him, so you can show him what a first overall pick quarterback should look like.