As I've been eluding to for several weeks now, the conclusion of the fantasy regular season has been creeping up and now it is here for most of us. Since we started doing full-time coverage of Fantasy Football in September, it's been all preparation, preparation, preparation for this very moment. To get us to a point where week 14 mattered.
For some of us next week does matter and it's time to really buckle down and concentrate for the next three weeks. If you've made it to the playoffs, then congratulations. If you haven't, then you clearly weren't listening!
Seriously though, my condolences if meaningful football is over for you now. It's been another season full of injuries and surprises and sometimes we just have the worst luck. All the more reason to be prepared, much like the Houston Texans, we can overcome injuries if we're ready for them. Handcuffing Darren McFadden and Adrian Peterson and Fred Jackson for example.
Or nabbing Marion Barber yesterday if you had the chance to.
If you've got everything on the line for tonight's game between the Chargers and Jags, then good luck. I would be interested to hear you situation in the comments. Let's get on with the most comprehensive weekly football review on the web.
Broncos Win Fifth Straight. In Heaven, Jesus is Nicknamed "Tebow"
Go back to week one in the NFL. It's Monday night and the Raiders take on the Broncos at a time where we didn't know the true identity of either team. They seemed like they were fighting to play second fiddle to either San Diego or Kansas City, and Tim Tebow was considered the number three QB on the depth chart after having a terrible preseason.
I mean, John Fox had invested nothing in Tebow so there was no reason to think he would ever have to go to him in Denver, even if the fans were chanting his name on that Monday night. Most people called the fans idiots for doing so. I was one of those people calling them idiots. I guess we've all been "Tebowed."
The Raiders won that game 23-20 and Kyle Orton did not look very good. Denver would lose 4 of their first 5 and it seemed like they were very much in the running for getting the top pick in the draft and being able to get rid of Tebow and add Andrew Luck. Just seven games later, they are tied with the Raiders for first in the AFC West and whether it's Tebow, the defense, or Willis McGahee, the Broncos continue to defy expectations and make a serious playoff push. Denver beat Minnesota on the road yesterday and play three of their final four at home, with a road game at the reeling Buffalo Bills. Ten wins is within reach.
I pegged Tebow as a sleeper this week as a "passer" and he had a season-high 202 yards passing on a career-best 66% completions (10 of 15) with 2 TDs and 0 INTs. He might not have the ability to ever throw for as many yards as a player like Kyle Orton, and maybe not throw for as many touchdowns, and he forces the offense to change their entire game plan into a college-style running attack but... he has one interception and two fumbles in seven games.
Tebow might be the least prototypical QB in the NFL, he might be one of the worst passers, he might be extremely limited, but you can't say he's part of the problem. And right now, Denver has few problems.
His favorite target on this day was Demaryius Thomas, and he caught 4 of 7 targets for 144 yards and 2 TDs. Thomas looked very good out there and the Broncos play the Patriots in two weeks in what could be another big day in the passing game for Denver. It's hard to make much out of it as Thomas has done nothing this year, but he's shown talent and ability in the past.
Eric Decker was targeted 4 times and caught 2 for 25.
Willis McGahee gained 111 yards on 20 carries with a TD. Lance Ball carried it 7 times for 25 yards.
Christian Ponder may have lost the game (almost literally) but had the best game of his fantasy career. Ponder completed 29 of 47 passes for 381 yards, 3 TD/2 INT but threw an interception near the end of regulation of a tie game that led to a Matt Prater game-winning field goal. It was his first 3 TD game and first 300 yard game as a pro.
Toby Gerhart filled in for Adrian Peterson again and gained 91 yards on 21 carries and caught all 8 of his targets for 42 yards. Gerhart is an admirable start in fantasy leagues when AP is out.
Percy Harvin finally exploded for a big game, putting all of his talent on display and scoring two very long touchdowns to keep the Vikings ahead in this game. He caught 8 of 9 targets for 156 yards and 2 scores with 19 yards rushing. If he continues to play like this, we already know he has the talent to be a true number one. He has four TDs in his last three games.
Devin Aromashadu was targeted a crazy 17 times and caught 6 for 90. Kyle Rudolph caught a TD pass as well.
Chris Johnson Continues to Frustrate Fantasy Owners.. Now Its the Ones that Gave Up On Him
A few weeks ago the first-place team in my league traded Anquan Boldin for Chris Johnson. I felt not good about it, but at the same time Johnson had one touchdown and only a single 100-yard game in his first eight games. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad afterall.
Nope. After all.. it looks bad.
Johnson had 153 yards and 2 TDs as the Titans beat the Bills 23-17.
Matt Hasselbeck completed 16 of 25 for 140 yards, 0 TD/0 INT. He has thrown for less than 2 TDs in 7 of his last 8 games. He's playing well, but this still seems like the last year as a starter for Matt in Tennessee.
The Titans remain two games back of Houston with four games left and a week 17 game left against them. The wild card race in the AFC is crowded, so the Titans will want to gain a game on Houston over the next three. They play: New Orleans, Indianapolis, and Jacksonville.
The Bills continue to show that their early season success was just a mirage. That the rest of the NFL was stuck in the middle of the desert without water, and thinking that maybe the Bills were good or that Ryan Fitzpatrick had a turkey leg for a head.
Nope, that's just Ryan Fitzpatrick.
He was 29 of 46 for 288 yards, 1 TD/0 INT. He also lost a fumble.
C.J. Spiller looked very good however and ran for 83 yards on 14 carries with a TD and 19 yards receiving. He's a very good flex play for the playoffs.
Former QB Brad Smith caught 7 of 10 targets for 72 yards. Stevie Johnson caught 5 of 8 targets for 52 yards and a TD. David Nelson only caught 3 of 8 targets for 34 yards, and TE Scott Chandler caught 3 of 4 for 48.
Tyler Palko and Caleb Hanie Pretty Much Give Us a Game We Would Expect if Tyler Palko and Caleb Hanie Were the Starters
Who would have ever guessed that these two players would be facing off against one another this or any other season? Both of these teams made the playoffs last year and both have looked good at some point this season, but with their incumbent starters out for the year, neither of them looks very good at the moment.
It has to especially hurt the Bears, a team that has now lost two straight after losing 10-3 yesterday. The Bears looked like a team to me that would give the Packers the best run for their money in the playoffs with Jay Cutler. Now, there best playoff hopes are going to probably be in the hands of the other teams fighting for a wild card berth. If those other teams win, the Bears are toast. If they don't and a wild card goes to a couple of 9-7 teams, they might have a shot.
Hanie was 11 of 24 for 133 yards, 0 TD/3 INT. If you're desperate, you'd be better off starting Cutler in your league than Hanie. Literally.
The bigger story is the injury to Matt Forte after only 5 carries that could keep him out for significant time. Forte only had a chance to gain 12 yards before going out, proving that anything can screw you over during critical fantasy games. Marion Barber came in to carry it 14 times for 44 yards. Barber has never fared too well as a number one back in the league, doing better as a goal-line, situational back. Still, the opportunity is now there and you have to pick a guy like that up when opportunity knocks. (Confirmed: Forte has an MCL Sprain, but no damage to the ACL. This will still likely keep him out for games that matter in fantasy.)
Khalil Bell had 34 yards on 4 carries, but he hadn't had a carry since he had 1 in week two. He might have a surprise factor for the rest of season, but it would be a big surprise. Barber should be the majority ball carrier.
Johnny Knox caught 5 of 8 targets for 53 yards. Devin Hester caught 3 of 4 for 35. Kellen Davis caught 2 of 2 for 40. And Earl Bennett caught 1 of 4 for 5. Bennett has been hurt the most since his buddy Cutler went down.
Tyler Palko was 17 of 30 for 157 yards, 1 TD/0 INT and at one point was benched for new guy Kyle Orton. However, Orton hurt his thumb immediately and Palko was forced back in. That had to be an awkward conversation.
Todd Haley: Palko! Come here!
Palko: Yes coach?
Haley: We can't keep putting you out there. You're killing us. You just aren't made for the NFL, at least not now.
Palko: Oh. Okay coach.
Haley: I know he hasn't been here long, but no way Orton can do worse than you. Take a seat.
Palko: Yes coach.
Palko: Yes coach?
Haley: I liked how you took your benching earlier. You passed the test! Get in there and lead us to victory!
Palko's only TD pass, and the only TD of the game, came on a desperation 38-yard heave at the end of the first half to Dexter McCluster.
McCluster also ran for 61 yards on 9 carries. Thomas Jones had 36 yards on 16 carries. Jackie Battle had 15 yards on 11 carries. Dexter was the only back that was very killer on Sunday and I hope that means he gets more action because McCluster is by far the most exciting back the Chiefs have.
Dwayne Bowe was targeted 10 times but only caught 4 for 49. Steve Breaston was targeted 8 times and caught 5 for 41. The excitement on the debut of Jonathan Baldwin has been a major disappointment, and he caught a single pass for 7 yards.
The Bears Lost to Tyler Palko and the Falcons Lost to T.J. Yates; the NFC Wild Card Battle Everyone!
So moving on from Palko beating the Bears, the Falcons also lost to a no-name AFC QB and every team in the NFC at 5-7 continues to see their opening as no team can pull away outside of the division-leading teams in Green Bay, New Orleans, and San Francisco.
The rest is a total scrum.
To be fair, the Texans have many strengths and were at home. I still say that T.J. Yates is going could surprise a lot of people by being the QB nobody heard of that wins a playoff game this year.
Yates was 12 of 25 for 188 yards, 1 TD/0 INT. It's not an eye-popping line, but this guy was the third-string QB a couple of weeks ago going against one of the best defenses in the NFL. Unfortunately for him and us, Andre Johnson might miss some time again.
Johnson caught 4 of 9 targets for 97 yards, but his hamstring (his other hamstring this time) went limp and Johnson left the game. It would be surprising if he played in week 14. It would be interesting to see how different things would be if Andre hadn't been hurt this year. He had 21 catches in the first three games of the year.
(Still, isn't it amazing that the Texans are 9-3 when they've lost Mario Williams and Matt Schaub for the year, Arian Foster missed the beginning of the season, and Andre Johnson has missed half the season?)
Owen Daniels caught 3 of 5 targets for 35 yards. I thought this would be a great year for Daniels if he stayed healthy, but he hasn't topped 40 yards in the last four games. He had three TDs in the first four weeks, but none since. Joel Dreessen caught his fifth TD of the season.
Matt Ryan was one of the hottest QBs in the league and the Texans proved why they're defense is for real. Ryan threw 2 INTs early and finished 20 of 47 for 267 yards, 1 TD/2 INT.
Michael Turner had 44 yards on 14 carries.
Roddy White was targeted 15 times but only caught 4 of those for 51 yards, but with a TD. Tony Gonzalez caught 7 of 10 for 100 yards. It was the first 100 yard game of the season for the ageless Gonzalez. Julio Jones caught 4 of 12 targets for 68 yards.
The Falcons receivers need to catch their passes more frequently and get on the same page with Ryan if the Falcons are going to have any success.
Dolphins Blowout Raiders in Battle of the Bushes'
Of all the Bush battles a person can experience in their life, this is the most family friendly.
It wasn't pretty though and the Dolphins blew out the Raiders to go up 34-0 and win 34-14. It's a good thing for the rest of the AFC that the Dolphins lost all those games earlier in the year, because they're one of the best defenses in the league right now with a capable running game and a competent QB.
The Dolphins as they are right now are one of the toughest teams in the NFL to beat and it will be interesting to see how the rest of their season goes and what they do in the offseason. They will probably still target a QB early in the draft, but Matt Moore hasn't been bad at all.
Moore was 13 of 25 for 162 yards, 1 TD/0 INT. Moore is 4-5 as a starter this season and the Dolphins have won 4 of their last 5. During that time, Moore has 8 TD/1 INT, but he's never going to get the publicity of a Tebow even if he's been nearly as successful lately.
Reggie Bush had 100 yards rushing on 22 carries with a TD. It was his second 100-yard game of the season and he's eclipsed 600 yards on the ground for the first time in his career. They play the Eagles next week and the Bills the following week which makes Bush a nice playoff play.
Daniel Thomas ran it 13 times for 73 yards.
I benched Michael Bush, as much as I like him, because the Dolphins defense is so tough. He did not disappoint. Well, he did not disappoint me because I benched him. He disappointed those that did not.
Bush had 18 yards on 10 carries and 27 yards receiving.
Carson Palmer was only 20 of 41 with 273 yards, 2 TD/1 INT.
Randomly, Chaz Schilens led the way with 6 catches on 7 targets for 89 yards. He had 4 catches for 58 yards last week and will have to be watched as a sleeper play in the playoffs. Darrius Heyward-Bey caught 3 of 11 targets for 23 yards and a TD. T.J. Houshmandzadeh caught a 40 yard TD pass, his only catch of the game.
Bengals Can Be Happy That They Played One Meaningful Game in December. Only One.
Hard to believe that this late in the year the Bengals played a game against the Steelers that, if they won, would have tied them with Pittsburgh. Especially hard to believe since the final score was Steelers 35, Bengals 7. These teams aren't nearly as close in talent as their two-game difference in the standings would tell you.
Early in the 2nd quarter the score was 0-0. In the middle of the 2nd quarter, the Steelers led by 21.
Ben Roethlisberger was 15 of 23 for 176 yards, 2 TD/0 INT. Big Ben was a beast in October, but was not so exciting in November with only 3 TD passes in 3 games and he's thrown for under 200 yards in each of the last two after never going below 200 in his first 10 games.
Andy Dalton threw for a career-low (as a starter) 135 yards on 11 of 24 passing with 1 TD/0 INT. Dalton was removed from the game after it got out of hand so the Bengals could protect a major part of their future. Bruce Gradkowski was 3 out of 6 for 17 yards.
A.J. Green caught 6 of 12 targets for 87 yards and a TD. The rookie has 832 yards in 11 games with 7 TDs. He could be a top 10 WR next year and move into the elite category.
Okay Indianapolis, You've Basically Locked Up the Top Pick So Win a Game Already
Dan Orlovsky got 7 starts with the 0-16 Detroit Lions and unless the Colts win one of their last four games, he'll have made a start for the only two teams in history to lose sixteen games in a season.
Indy actually outscored the Pats 21-0 in the fourth quarter, which might just be more ammunition for Bill Belicheck to later explain why he runs up the score of every game he gets the chance to. Or it could just be that the Pats are that bad on defense sometimes.
Still, their offense is pretty unstoppable and that's why they're within reach of the top seed in the AFC again.
Tom Brady was 29 of 38 for 289 yards, 2 TD/0 INT. He has 10 TD/0 INT in his last four games. Brady and the Pats face Washington, Denver, and Miami during the fantasy playoffs. Earlier this year, that looked soft but right now that looks like a tough stretch for the Pats offense.
It could be tough to start any New England RBs during the playoffs as the ball is being shared quite a bit right now. Even Rob Gronkowski had a 2 yard TD run. Stevan Ridley had 33 yards on 8 carries, BenJarvus Green-Ellis had 6 carries for 14 yards and a TD. Danny Woodhead had 12 yards on 4 carries.
The ridiculous Gronkowski continues to be ridiculous and he caught 5 of 7 targets for 67 yards and 2 TDs. He has four games to catch one TD to break the all-time record for touchdowns for a tight end in a season. (His 2 yard TD run was originally ruled a catch and then determined to be a lateral.) He has 931 yards and 13 TDs on the year, with 8 TDs in his last five games.
Strangely, Orlovsky just posted the most successful game of any Colts QB this season. Of course, it came against New England, so it's hard to make too much out of it. He was 30 of 37 for 353 yards, 2 TD/1 INT. If he can continue to post decent numbers the whole Colts offense will benefit in the fantasy playoffs. Especially Pierre Garcon.
Garcon was a hot commodity early in the year when he posted almost 300 yards and 4 TDs in weeks four and five, but he's done very little since and hasn't caught another score until now. He grabbed 9 catches for 150 yards and 2 TDs (very late in the game mind you) on 12 targets.
The bad news for Orlovsky and the rest is the remaining games against Baltimore, Tennessee, and Houston during the fantasy playoffs.
Mediocre Cam Newton Waits a Whole Twelve Games to Break QB TD Record as Panthers Catch Up to Bucs in the Standings
Remember when Carolina was winless and the Bucs were "in the playoff picture"? Well, just like that both teams sit at 4-8 and after a 38-19 Panthers victory, Carolina looks like they're a lot more advanced than Tampa Bay. The Bucs have lost six straight games and the Cam and the Panthers have won their last two.
Newton also took 3/4 of the season to score 13 TDs on the ground, the most any QB has ever scored. He could pass for 4,000 yards and who knows how many touchdowns this season and to think that two years ago he wasn't even starting for Auburn yet. Just like that he's a Heisman winner, a national champion, an NFL record holder, and it is inevitable that he will win Rookie of the Year. Not to mention the fact that he's already one of the most valuable fantasy players in the league.
Newton was 12 of 21 for 204 yards, 1 TD/0 INT and 3 rushing TDs. He also caught a 27 yard pass from Legedu Naanee.
Jonathan Stewart ran for 80 yards on 14 carries with a TD. DeAngelo Williams only gained 29 yards on 11 carries. The pecking order for goal-line carries definitely goes: Newton then Stewart and Williams last.
Brandon LeFell caught 3 of 4 targets for 64 yards. Steve Smith caught 2 of 6 for 32 yards. He only has 174 yards over his last four games, this after he had over 150 yards in three of his first four games.
LeGarrette Blount was supposed to have a good game but he was terrible, running for 19 yards on 11 carries and when the Bucs fell behind he was left out of the game plan again. Which means we had to learn the name Mossis Madu for the first time. He had 25 yards on 8 carries, but can't be seen as a waiver wire add.
Mike Williams caught 5 of 9 targets for 93 yards. It was his third straight good game. Dezmon Briscoe caught a TD.
Shonn Greene Scores as Many TDs in Two Minutes as He Had All Season in Jets Win
Crazy but true. Just as crazy as the fact that the Redskins led this game by three points in the middle of the fourth quarter and then lost 34-19. Washington isn't good this season because Washington decided not to play with a quarterback, but they're not all bad.
The lost twice to Dallas by a total of five points. They lost by eight to San Francisco and by eleven to the red-hot Dolphins. They aren't a good team but they've got a good defense and now a good running back if Mike Shanahan actually commits to him for the rest of the season. If he does, then fantasy owners who have been waiting on Roy Helu will be handsomly rewarded.
It was the Jets running back that got the best of the Skins on this day however.
Greene ran for 88 yards on 22 carries with 3 TDs. With less than four minutes left, Greene punched it in and then a couple of minutes later he took the ball 25 yards for the final nail in the coffin. He added 26 yards in the air.
Mark Sanchez was 19 of 32 for 165 yards, 1 TD/0 INT.
For Washington, Rex Grossman was 19 of 46 for 221 yards, 0 TD/1 INT. He does play New England next week.
Roy Helu got all of the carries for Washington. Like... every single one. He finished with 23 for 100 yards and a TD with 4 catches for 42 yards. He did fumble however. Helu has two straight 100 yard games now as the starter.
Former Cleveland Browns Beat Current Cleveland Browns Because Former Cleveland Browns Are Much Better
It's always got to sting a little bit for Cleveland fans when they see the Ravens come into town and whoop their butts. "THAT USED TO BE OUR TEAM!" Well, this is how it is now unfortunately.
Joe Flacco was only 10 of 23 for 158 yards, 0 TD/0 INT and a lost fumble but the Ravens won 24-10. Flacco's streak of four straight games with a TD pass was snapped which means he'll have to start all over in his pursuit of Drew Brees and Johnny Unitas.
Ray Rice was the big story for Baltimore and he ran for 204 yards on 29 carries with a TD. Ricky Williams had 76 yards and a score of his own. By now you should know you can run on the Browns all day long.
Colt McCoy was 17 of 35 for 192 yards, 1 TD/1 INT.
In his second game back, Peyton Hillis had 45 yards on 12 carries. He also caught a 52 yard pass.
So the Chargers can't buy a win, the Bears look finished, the Lions are falling apart, and the Giants stink. Meanwhile, the Dolphins look great, the Broncos can't lose, the Seahawks have won three of four, and don't look know but the Arizona Cardinals have won four of five after beating the Cowboys 19-13 in OT.
Oh yeah, this is the NFL. I suppose the Colts will finish 4-12 afterall.
The Cowboys came in as one of the league's hottest teams but I guess Arizona is hotter. Kevin Kolb came back for the first time since week eight and was 16 of 25 for 247 yards, 1 TD/0 INT. It was the first time since week one that he didn't throw an interception.
Tony Romo was 28 of 42 for 299 yards, 1 TD/0 INT.
With the Giants, Bucs, and Eagles on tap, the Cowboys have good fantasy playoff matchups.
Packers Tease Giants, Let Them Get Close, Then Tear Their Hearts Out
It seemed like it could all be setting up for the Giants to finally be the ones to beat the Packers this season and the game was tied with :58 left in regulation. Then Aaron Rodgers laughed it off, drove the Packers to the Giants twelve on three completions, and Mason Crosby kicked an easy game-winner. 38-35 Packers.
It's just too easy for Rodgers right now.
Rodgers was 28 of 46 for 369 yards, 4 TD/1 INT. It was his fourth 4 TD game of the season. He led the team in rushing (32 yards) for good measure.
Ryan Grant ran it 13 times for 29 yards.
Greg Jennings was targeted 15 times and caught 7 passes for 94 yards and a TD. Jermichael Finley was targeted 11 times and caught 6 for 87 and a TD. Donald Driver caught all 4 of his targets for 34 yards and 2 TDs. Jordy Nelson also caught all 4 of his targets, but for 94 yards.
The Giants lost their fourth straight game and still sit one game back of Dallas. However, they play the Cowboys twice over the final four.
Eli Manning was good again, throwing for 347 yards, 3 TD/1 INT on 23 of 40.
Hakeem Nicks was targeted 12 times and caught 7 for 88 yards and 2 TDs. Victor Cruz was targeted 11 times and caught 7 for 119. It was his third straight 100 yard game and Cruz has had just one bad game since week two.
The Rams Prepare to Play on Monday Night by Showing They Have the Worst Offense in the NFL
That's right. In case you didn't know, the St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks play on the NFL's biggest week-to-week stage on Monday night of week 14. I suppose before the year this looked like a potential division-deciding game, but instead it's going to feature the 2-10 St. Louis Rams. A team that has scored 7 or less five times this season. They've scored over 20 just once.
Against the tough San Fran defense, they stood no chance and lost 26-0.
A.J. Feeley was back in at starter and went 12 of 22 for 156 yards, 0 TD/1 INT. With the low cost of a first round pick after the new CBA, will the Rams consider drafting Matt Barkley if they pick 2nd?
Steven Jackson ran for 19 yards on 10 carries and Jerious Norwood had 19 yards on 11 carries. You might want to find other options for any RB facing the 49ers. The next three are Beanie Wells, Rashard Mendenhall, and Marshawn Lynch.
Alex Smith had one of his best games of the season completing 17 of 23 for 274 yards, 2 TD/0 INT. He plays Arizona next week, a team he put up 267 yards and 2 TDs on two weeks ago. Colin Kaepernick got garbage work and was 0 for 2.
Frank Gore ran for 73 yards on 21 carries.
Michael Crabtree was targeted 5 times and he caught 4 of those for 96 yards and a TD. Its not spectacular, but Crabtree is averaging 64 yards per game over his last nine games. Maybe it's the start of something.
Kyle Williams caught 2 passes for 66 yards and a TD. Ted Ginn caught 4 for 56 and Vernon Davis caught 5 for 32.
I Already Miss the Days When the Lions Were Good.
From 5-0 to 7-5, Detroit was the league's best story and now they're in danger of missing the playoffs. It certainly looks like they're falling apart but upon further inspection this looks like a team that's young and inexperienced. And lookie-lookie, this team is young and inexperienced.
We forget that Matthew Stafford is 23 or that Calvin Johnson has to assume the role of "League's Best Wide Receiver" at the age of 26. That they've played most of the season without Nick Fairley or that they've lost Jahvid Best for most of the season and tried to get by with spurts of a healthy Kevin Smith.
Above all that they've lost to the Niners, Falcons, Bears (When they were good,) Packers, and Saints.
If they don't destroy the Vikings next week, then let's talk. I'm already salivating over the idea of starting Stafford-Johnson next week against Minnesota. They get Oakland and San Diego after that.
They looked inconsistent against the Saints in a 31-17 loss last night but there was some good for fantasy owners.
Matthew Stafford 31 of 44 for 408 yards, 1 TD/1 INT. It was his first 400-yard game of the year.
Kevin Smith returned from an ankle injury and then re-injured the ankle. He ran for 34 yards on 6 carries with a TD and caught 6 passes for 46 yards. Maurice Morris carried it 12 times and had 28 yards and caught a TD pass with 47 yards through the air.
Calvin Johnson was targeted 9 times and caught 6 passes for 69 yards. Nate Burleson was targeted 12 times and caught 5 for 93 yards. Titus Young caught 2 passes for 60 yards and Brandon Pettigrew caught 2 for 13.
Drew Brees continues to do whatever he wants out there. He was 26 of 36 for 342 yards, 3 TD/0 INT. It was his ninth 300 yard game of the season. He has 9 TD/0 INT over the last three games. He faces the Vikings terrible pass D in two weeks.
Mark Ingram ran it 16 times for 54 yards and a TD. It will be interesting to see if they stick to this plan because Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas combined for only six carries. Sproles did catch 5 for 46 and a TD.
Jimmy Graham was targeted 10 times and caught 8 for 89. Robert Meachem was targeted 6 times and caught 3 for 119 yards and a TD. Marques Colston was targeted 8 times and caught 6 for 54 yards. Lance Moore had 23 yards and a TD. Graham has officially topped 1,000 yards on the season.
As always, follow me on twitter @casetines where I'll be on suicide watch for every week of the playoffs.
- Jason Garrett decided not to make an effort to get Dan Bailey closer than the 31-yard line when the Cowboys had 26 seconds and 2 timeouts left against the Cardinals. Bailey missed and Dallas lost in OT. Everything is easier in hindsight but it certainly seems like no matter how confident in your kicker you are, a 40 yard field goal is more of a sure thing than a 49 yard field goal. He had made it on the kick seconds earlier, but Garrett got confused on the "freeze the kicker" strategy, thinking you are supposed to freeze your own and not the opponents. Bailey missed and that's how close the Cowboys are to a two game lead in the NFC East going into their game against the Giants. And you thought Romo was always supposed to be the scapegoat.
- My sleepers in my preview were Tebow, Matt Moore, Ricky Williams, Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams, Marion Barber, all the Patriots running backs, Mike Thomas, Reggie Wayne, Jared Cook, and the Miami Defense. Miami had a good day and put up 11 points for me. Too bad they had 20 points before giving up two meaningless scores to the Raiders.
- I did not like: Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Michael Turner, Cedric Benson, Arian Foster, Steven Jackson, Julio Jones, Greg Little, Johnny Knox, Vincent Jackson, Jimmy Graham. Foster was great, and Graham was his usual self. The rest was pretty good, and I didn't recommend you bench Foster or Graham. Just that they might not have their best days, but you can't stop a moving freight train.
- I really liked: Aaron Rodgers, Ray Rice, LeGarrette Blount, Frank Gore, Calvin Johnson, Mike Wallace, and Jermichael Finley. I think as the season goes on and I get more information, we're getting more spot on with these predictions. Perfect timing.
- And with that being said, I think I'm going 0-4 this week. Still will make the playoffs in every league but just came up short. Stafford and Johnson did not do enough and I faced some of the league's best performances. It's all about winning in the playoffs when it matters anyway. Would look forward to a healthy Darren McFadden and Adrian Peterson.
- On a personal note, I was playing poker on Friday night/early Saturday morning. I was playing at a limit table, as I usually do, and I just got very bored. I've played poker for 10 years and I feel comfortable playing on any table but with my financial situation I just know I'm more responsible at the limit tables and I am stressed out enough with my writing duties, my fantasy leagues, and my work that I don't need more stress by getting a bad beat and losing too much money. Anyway, I was playing with $200 and I decided it would just be better to lose it in no-limit than waste time on a 4-8 limit game. I head over to a NL table for the first time in a couple of years and quickly lose my first $100. I put my other $100 on the table and decide to give it one more go and slowly work my way up to about $500. There's only two other stacks at the table that are above mine. I look down and see a 8-9 offsuit, one of my favorite kind of hands. I prefer suited connectors, but I'm fine with this if the price is right. I call the big blind thinking "What the heck" and to my surprise it was a family pot. (For those who are unfamiliar, that just means that everybody called the big blind and nobody folded.) The flop came down 10-J-Something. I don't remember what the other card was, something like an insignificant 2. Everybody checked. I know I need either a 7 or a Q to complete my straight. Even though I know its unlikely that anyone had an AK because there was no raise, I just want to see a 7 so I know for sure I have the best hand. The next card comes out and its the 7 of diamonds. No flush, no pair the board, just the absolute best possible hand. Checked to me and I bet $20. Two folds and then one of the stacks bigger than mine makes it $40. There are two callers and when it comes back to me I just want to win the hand now so I make it $140. I expect everyone to fold but to my surprise the big stack pushes all-in. There's one call of a smaller stack and then I tell him "Either we have the same hand or one of us is going to be really sad." He gave me a look like "Oh @#$!" because he thought there was no way I had the straight. I showed him my best possible hand and he has pocket jacks for a set. The river is a blank and I take down a $1200 pot. Funny enough, somebody did have an AK, so the Q would have meant I would have lost all my chips to that guy. Instead, I grab one of my biggest pots in years and feel a great sense of relief. I have been wanting a MacBook Pro for awhile now and I saw my opportunity. I wait about 15 minutes to let everything get calm after the biggest pot of the night had been taken by me and then leave. Later that day I'm the owner of a MacBook. This is going to make me writing a whole lot more convenient and has already changed how I can follow football and fantasy. It's pretty awesome. Even if I don't win my fantasy leagues, at least I have what I was planning on buying with my fantasy winnings anyway. Sometimes things work out like you don't expect them to.
- Again, what do you need tonight? What's your playoff outlook? I really wish I had bye weeks in my money leagues so I could take a week off, but if we just make it past week one it won't really matter anyway.