The next couple weeks are going to be hectic for your friendly neighborhood blogger, what with Thanksgiving and moving to the big city (provided you're not from NYC). Therefore, you'll have to give me a bit of slack with both the timing and depth of posts until towards the end of the month. But, come on, you're not even reading this, so I'm not really concerned. In fact, I'm so confident in this assertion that I'm going to write my first game review without any of the structure I normally do -- and I'm sure you can't imagine why.
COWBOYS 38, EAGLES 23
So Eagles fans got what they wanted -- sorta. Amidst a chorus of boos and calls for Michael Vick's demotion, the only way that Andy Reid was going to put Nick Foles in a game would be if he had to -- and in this game he had to. Vick left with an eye injury and concussion, and was replaced by the latest and greatest in Philly backup heroes (think Hoying, Feeley, Garcia, Kolb, and even Kafka to a lesser extent). Foles looked poised at times, throwing a 40-yard touchdown on a broken play and getting the ball out quickly on some plays, but also had accuracy and awareness issues that caused him to produce two defensive touchdowns. Oh, and there was that punt return TD for which Mat McBriar should be cut due to his terrible effort to even touch the returner as he sprinted down the sideline. On a positive note, I would have bet a large sum of money that Bobby April's "special" teams unit would have allowed a return TD at some point in the 4+ seasons prior, but in fact they had not.
If Vick is healthy next week, you know Reid is going to start him. He's been adamant about that fact all season, and there really is nothing that Andy owes the team such that he would "build for the future" when he is most certainly going to be unemployed after the season. Vick was a personal reclamation project of Reid's, and especially with the $100 million contract, there's far too much invested both emotionally and financially in him to break ties now and play Foles. However, the team is going nowhere with Vick this year, and after the last two seasons, I would find it very hard to believe that the Eagles' brass would bring back Vick next year, so could there be a point at which the front office would step in and force Foles into the lineup? I think if Vick plays and they lose to the Redskins next week, it might be that time.
VIKINGS 34, LIONS 24
TRIUMPH: After getting the Vigderseal of Approval (yeah, that was a bit of a stretch) over the first few weeks of the season (4 of his first 5 games with at least a 64 Total QBR), Christian Ponder promptly tanked, not even getting to a 20 Total QBR in any of Weeks 7-9. So naturally, with Percy Harvin out with an injury and facing a hot Lions team, Ponder has his best game of the year, going 24-for-32 (75%) for 221 yards, 2 TD, and 0 INT. However, I wouldn't expect much from him in the coming weeks -- the Vikes play four of their final six games against teams in the top half of the league against the pass, and the other two are in the top 20.
TRAGEDY: Percy Harvin -- where you at? Easily a top-five receiver going into last week, he now has just two receptions for 10 yards in the past two games. He's still on pace for a career high in receptions and yards, and is right in line with his previous touchdown and rushing output, so it's not really so bad. But like I said about Ponder, that schedule worries me, as it's pretty hard to get any catches when your quarterback isn't even throwing for 100 yards in a game (see last week). Oh, and I'm clearly kidding about that first part. Get well Perce.
TREND: I reckon that this Adrian Peterson guy has a little something going for him. After shocking the world and coming back in Week 1 from a devastating knee injury late last season with 17 carries for 84 yards and two touchdowns, Peterson has kept on rolling. In the past four weeks, All Day has averaged 157 yards per game, scoring 5 total touchdowns, and that includes two games against the stingy Seahawks and Buccaneers run defenses. He's the top running back in fantasy right now, but was drafted outside the top 10 at the position in most drafts... oops.
TRAIL MIX: Matthew Stafford has been quite the roller coaster ride this year, but in a more predictable way than you might think. Since Week 3, in even-numbered weeks Stafford has averaged 50 passing yards and more than a touchdown per game more than in odd-numbered weeks, despite completing 8 percent fewer passes in those games. If you constrain the sample to the last five games, the passing touchdown discrepancy increases to just under 2 per game.
BENGALS 31, GIANTS 13
TRIUMPH: It's fairly impressive that the Bengals so easily beat the G-Men despite being outgained offensively and having no non-offensive touchdowns, and it's just as impressive that Andy Dalton managed to throw 4 touchdowns on under 200 yards passing. How'd they pull all that off? Well, getting 4 turnovers after having just 11 in their first 8 games might help a bit.
TRAGEDY: Victor Cruz was on pace to exceed his incredible performance from last season (82 rec, 1536 yds, 9 TD), with 50 receptions for 627 yards and 7 touchdowns through just the first seven games of the year. In the last three weeks, Cruz has declined along with Eli Manning's performance, but even in the previous two weeks (7 rec, 90 yds total) he was targeted a total of 19 times. In this game, Leon Hall shut Cruz down, as he grabbed just three passes on four targets for 26 yards. I would just hope December is better if I were his fantasy owner.
TREND: Speaking of months, did you know that Eli Manning is 43-16 in September and October, but 29-38 in November and December? His completion percentage, QB rating, and YPA all decline from month to month over his career, and he throws an average of 1/3 of an interception more per game this month. Just last year, the Giants went 5-2 in September and October with Eli posting 13 TD, 5 INT, a 100+ QB rating, and 8.8 YPA. In November, the Giants went 1-3, with Eli posting 7 TD, 5 INT, an 86 QB rating, and 7.7 YPA. Oh, and they won the Super Bowl. Color me concerned that they might do it again. Only slightly kidding.
TRAIL MIX: With all of the hoopla that surrounded Calvin Johnson's 2011, I feel like AJ Green's 2012 is going pretty far under the radar. He has a touchdown in each of his last 8 (!) games, and has at least five receptions and 58 yards in all but one game (and at least 7 receptions or 70 yards in 6 of them). He's on pace for 103 receptions for 1458 yards and 16 TD, which would be almost exactly the stats that Megatron posted last season (at least if you're in a PPR league). And Green's doing it in an offense that's on pace to throw 100 fewer times.