What was the story of week 6 in the NFL?
Christian Ponder making his NFL debut, looking better than Donovan McNabb, and potentially grabbing the starting spot for the rest of the year?
The Eagles going on the road to win in Washington and saving their season, for now?
The 49ers going on the road and beating undefeated Detroit to move to 5-1 and locking up the NFC West before the midway point? Well, it can't be that alone, because as we all know that was overshadowed by the most aggressive Lion of the day being head coach Jim Schwartz.
What I think the most important thing to take away from the week was pounding home just how hard it is to win and score away from home. Road teams went 2-10 yesterday, with Philadelphia and San Francisco being the only exceptions. Only the Niners and the Bills scored more than 20 points, with San Fran's 25 being the highest score of any road team.
It didn't matter if the Saints are better than the Bucs. It didn't matter if Kyle Boller had to step in and attempt 14 passes for the Raiders. Eight home teams scored more than 20 points, and I think an underrated aspect of fantasy when you're trying to decide who to start and who to sit, is taking note of where they're playing.
Why does that make any sense? Well, aren't we all more comfortable at home? Would you do the same thing at your friend's house that you would at your own? If you answer yes, then you are one sick individual and you aren't allowed to use my bathroom or sleep on my couch. Please don't walk around naked in my living room either.
Whether it's psychological, the crowd noise, or the comfortability of playing in familiar surroundings, home-field advantage is the mother of all energy boosters for a team and a player. Here's a game-by-game look at how there's no place like home.
Niners Shockingly Beat Lions As If It Were Every Other Year in NFL History; San Francisco Plans to Ask NFL to Move the Bay Area to East Coast
This was an interesting, if albeit disappointing, game for both Detroit and San Francisco. As improved as the Niners are this year, I was not expecting them to win this game. Early on, it seemed like Detroit was destined to win just based on the amount of false start penalties caused by the crowd. It was eerily reminiscent of my own Seahawks 12th Man fanbase that is notorious for not shutting the hell up when the oppositions offense is on the field.
What it came down to was that the Lions could not stop Frank Gore and Matthew Stafford failed to lead a comeback as he had in previous weeks. I have a lot of love and faith in Stafford but I admit I came away with questions about him and the Lions Super Bowl chances this season.
Detroit needed big comebacks to beat the Cowboys and Vikings. Yes, they trailed the Vikings by 20. With enough time, Stafford led the Lions to wins in those games, but yesterday he had two chances a 2-minute offense at the end of regulation to tie or win the game, and the Lions went four-and-out both times in very uninspiring fashion.
Stafford still finished with 293 yards and 2 TDs/0 INTs, but he was only 28 of 50 and failed to capitalize on several trips inside the 10-yard line. Calvin Johnson failed to catch a TD for the first time this season, but caught 7 balls for 113 yards. Jahvid Best had 37 yards on the ground but added 6 catches for 73 yards. Maurice Morris seemed to play the whole fourth quarter, and nothing about a serious injury with Best was reported. He took a hard hit to the head earlier in the game.
Alex Smith was obviously "blah" this week with 125 yards, 1 TD/1INT, but the Niners won their third game in the Eastern Time Zone this season, which is as many as they had won in the previous eight years. Frank Gore had 141 yards on only 15 carries and a score. Michael Crabtree actually had a good game with 9 catches for 77 yards. The Niners rush defense is for real and still hasn't allowed a touchdown on the ground. They have a bye next week.
The argument between the two leading candidates for Coach of the Year was pretty awesome, but not surprising. As the Lions popularity grew this year and Jim Schwartz was shown on more on TV, it became very evident that this is one firey individual. It seems like I've already seen him taunt the other side several times this season, and maybe Harbaugh noticed that too. It was like the argument was destined to happen, just like Lions and Niners is now destined to be a first round playoff game.
Cam Newton posted his second 3 INT game of the season and failed to throw a TD for the first time all year. He now sits at 7 TD/9 INT, but he did score his sixth rushing TD of the season and the Panthers fell to 1-5.
DeAngelo Williams had a breakout game last week with 115 yards and a score, so of course he had 44 yards and 0 scores yesterday. The danger of owning either Williams or Jonathan Stewart is that they don't only share with each other, they share with Cam. They are risky picks every week no matter what. Stewart had 48 yards and a score.
Steve Smith had 5 catches for 66 yards.
The Falcons have now alternated games between scoring less than 15 points or scoring 30 or more all season long. They put up 31 points on the Panthers in week 6, with most of the dirty work being done by Michael Turner. He had 139 yards and 2 TDs.
Matt Ryan threw for a TD and ran for a TD, but was only 14 of 22 for 163 yards. The inability to throw the ball on Carolina meant bad days for Tony Gonzalez (29 yards) and Roddy White (21 yards) even though Julio Jones was out. The Falcons travel to Detroit next week, and I fully expect for the Falcons to be up 14 at half and then blowing the lead to the Lions in the 2nd.
Colts Complete Phase 6 of "Two Star Quarterbacks" Offense for Next Season
As true as it may be that football is a team sport, and the "most team sport" of any popular American sports, the collapse of the Colts this season sure looks like a great example of the value that one man can bring to the table. It's not unlike the difference in Scranton when Michael Scott moved to Boulder... things just aren't the same this year.
Curtis Painter continues to do decently in the absence of Peyton Manning and threw for 181 yards, 1 TD/1 INT. Pierre Garcon caught 8 passes, but for only 52 yards. My swing and miss on Austin Collie continues this season and he only caught a single pass for 8 yards. Reggie Wayne added 5 for 58.
With Joseph Addai out, the door was open for Delone Carter to step up and make a name for himself. Instead he just walked up to the door, peaked inside, and closed it himself without walking through: 14 carries for 45 yards. Donald Brown had 35 yards and a TD.
Carson Palmer Will Definitely Not Unretire this Season.... Unless the Bengals Actually Continue to Win
At this point, Palmer couldn't even win the job back from Andy Dalton unless something unexpected happened anyway. Dalton has led the team to a 4-2 record, and their 5-point loss to San Francisco doesn't look too bad right now.
He was 25-of-32 for 264 yards, 1 TD/0 INT. He's now completing greater than 60% of his passes (Mark Sanchez can't do that) with 7 TD/5 INT on the year. Jerome Simpson had 6 catches for 101 yards and AJ Green added 5 for 51 and a TD.
The Bengals defense has only allowed over 100 yards rushing one time in their six games, so be careful when planning against them. They are on a bye next week and maybe if we are lucky the NFL will make a decision on Cedric Benson this season.
In this case, think of it like this: "Rams are really upset after they get blown out by Packers like they should have been."
The Rams go to 0-5 now and St Louis has a real chance of winding up with the number one pick next year. Even in the NFC West, they are giving themselves the inside track with every game they lose, and doing it with the so-far-uninspiring 2011 play of Sam Bradford. The second-year QB was 28 of 44 for 321 yards, but he was without a TD pass and threw 1 pick.
Now, I'm not saying that it's all Bradford's fault, or that the Rams would even consider replacing him with Andrew Luck so soon if they were given the chance. Just that this was not the follow-up we were hoping for. Bradford has not gotten help from his offensive line, and the Rams are desperate for a number one wide receiver.
Danario Alexander had 6 catches for 91 yards, Greg Salas added 6 for 77. Steven Jackson had 96 yards rushing but the Rams only scored 3 points, so you must know he didn't get a TD.
For the Packers, they continue to look like the best team in football. That doesn't mean they will win the Super Bowl again, but as of today, they're playing the best and they've got the best quarterback.
Aaron Rodgers threw 3 TD/1 INT with 310 yards. That's now 17 TD/3 INT in six games for Rodgers. Jordy Nelson had 2 catches for 104 yards, including a 93-yard catch. I like Nelson, but he scares the hell out of me. That's now the 2nd time this season that he saved himself with one huge catch. Greg Jennings had 6 catches for 82, and Jermichael Finley had another disappointing day with only 20 yards.
The Packers did not score a TD on the ground, and James Starks and Ryan Grant are still bad plays every week until something changes, like an unfortunate injury.
Giants Find Relief in Playing 4-Win Bills Instead of Those 1-Win Seahawks
A week after losing to a Seattle team that was being talked about as one of the worst teams in the NFL, the Giants held off Buffalo and took sole possession of first place in the NFC East.
Ahmad Bradshaw gets some sort of "Fantasy Player of the Week" award, but my awards and a quarter will get you a party favor in a public restroom. He rushed for 104 yards and the absence of Brandon Jacobs allowed him to get 3 1-yard TD runs.
Eli Manning had 292 yards but didn't throw a TD. So that means no TD for Hakeem Nicks (4 catches for 96 yards) or Mario Manningham (5 for 56) or TE breakout boy Jake Ballard (5 for 81.) Victor Cruz did not have his third straight big game and finished with 12 yards.
The Bills may have lost the game, but by hanging with the Giants on the road and only losing 27-24, I came away feeling more sure that Buffalo is a legitimate playoff contender than I did before. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw 2 more TD passes and 244 yards, but with 2 INTs. Fun Fact: Fitzpatrick turns 30 next season.
Fred Jackson had an 80-yard TD run and finished with 121 yards. That's his fourth 100-yard game of the year, and he has 601 yards total. Fun fact: Fred Jackson is already 30.
David Nelson had 4 catches for 62 yards, Naaman Roosevelt had a 60-yard TD catch, and Stevie Johnson had 39 yards and a TD. Fun fact: Steve Johnson is 62-years-old and played for Bear Bryant in college.
Steelers Beat Jags 17-13, More Importantly Steelers Beat Jags by Only 4 Points
I have just got this crazy gut-feeling that the Jags will finish with the worst record in the NFL this season. Despite the fact that they beat the Titans in week one, I just don't have a really good feeling that they'll win many (or any) more games behind Blaine Gabbert. Nothing against Gabbert, but he didn't look ready in the preseason and he doesn't look ready now. He's completed less than half of his 123 pass attempts this year and the Jags have scored just 56 points in five games with Gabbert.
Gabbert threw for 109 yards against Pittsburgh, with 1 TD and 0 INT. Maurice Jones-Drew rushed for 96 yards and Mike Thomas had 4 catches for 36 yards. The touchdown pass went to Jason Hill.
All that being said, the Steelers were outscored in the 2nd half 10-0. Pittsburgh might be 4-2, but their wins don't look spectacular and neither do their losses. They travel to Arizona next week, but then New England, Baltimore, and at Cincinnati. I could potentially see them being 5-5, more likely 6-4, going into their bye week.
Ben Roethlisberger had 200 yards and 1 TD but didn't throw an interception for just the second time this year. Rashard Mendenhall had 146 yards and a TD, nearly doubling his season totals. Mike Wallace had 2 catches for 76 yards and his 4th TD of the season. He's been one of the most consistent wide receivers in the NFL this season, and his 76 yards is a season-low.
Charitable Rex Grossman Gives Victory to Philadelphia
After earning the starting quarterback job in the preseason and finally getting his second shot in the NFL, the 31-year-old Grossman has found a way to throw it all away and give back any praise he's gotten this season.
In helping the Redskins to a 3-1 record and throwing more touchdowns than interceptions, Grossmans job seemed pretty safe. Especially because his backup was John Beck, not some hotshot rookie or experienced veteran. John Beck.
That's all a thing of the past now after Grossman threw four interceptions against the Eagles in a 20-13 loss at home. The Redskins defense held the Eagles scoreless in the 2nd half to keep the game close, but not even John Beck could do enough to get the Redskins to 4-1 instead of 3-2. Beck was 8 of 15 for 117 yards and he ran for a score. He didn't throw a touchdown, but the most important thing about his game was that he didn't throw four interceptions.
Popular waiver pickup Ryan Torain responded with 22 yards against one of the league's worst run defenses.
For Philadelphia, this was a make or break game. If they had fallen 3 games back of the Giants, and 2.5 back of Washington, with Dallas also ahead of them, then we would be able to avoid "Comeback?" stories for Philly until they were finally mathematically eliminated. Instead they find themselves two games back of New York and right behind the other two teams.
Michael Vick had 237 yards passing, 1 TD/1 INT, and 54 yards rushing. LeSean McCoy had 126 yards and a TD. Jeremy Maclin had 5 catches for 101 yards, DeSean Jackson had 46 yards, and Brent Celek caught a score.
The Eagle now take a week off to think about things.
No team has been as banged up as the Texans this season. They lost the "Peyton Manning" of their defense in the form of Mario Williams, and Mr. Texan Andre Johnson, in the middle of Houston's greatest chance in the history of the franchise to win a division title.
It just wasn't a good time to face the Ravens on the road and of course they did not win.
Matt Schaub threw for 220 yards and a TD. That score went to Jacoby Jones, who also had 4 catches for 76 yards. Kevin Walter had 6 catches for 52 yards, and immediately after joining the team veteran Derrick Mason had 3 catches for 27. Owen Daniels had only 13 yards.
Arian Foster rushed for only 49 yards but he had 6 catches for 52. Ben Tate is still involved in the offense and had 9 carries for 41 yards. Its a touchy situation going forward for Foster to be in that big of a time share.
The Ravens are now 4-1, and Baltimore has won all four of those games by a pretty substantial margin. I'm still not a believer in Joe Flacco, and even though he had 305 yards passing and rushed for a TD, he didn't throw for one and he had one interception.
Ray Rice had 161 total yards and Anquan Boldin had 8 catches for 132 yards. Ricky Williams stole a red zone touchdown for his first as a Raven. Torrey Smith had his 2nd good performance in three games with three catches for 83 yards. He can't be counted on right now as anything more than a bye week spot start but you can take a flier on him if you've got bench space.
Not Even Kyle Boller Can Undercome Homefield Advantage
The two stories coming out of the Raiders 24-17 victory over Cleveland that overshadow the actual win will be the season-ending injury of Jason Campbell and the fact that Peyton Hillis potentially suffered a hamstring injury, or he sucks, or Madden Curse or something.
Montario Hardesty is a must-own right now.
Hardesty had 35 yards on 11 carries after Hillis left. He had 18 yards in the air. Colt McCoy had 215 yards and 2 TD/0 INT. He doesn't have a great completion percentage, and I'm sure he's mad at the fact that the Browns are 2-3, but McCoy now has 8 TD/3 INT in five games with a decent amount of yards.
Greg Little had a career-high 72 yards on 6 catches. Mohamed Massaquoi had 30 yards and a TD. The non-QB Alex Smith caught the other.
Jason Campbell will miss the year and are we really going to see Kyle Boller for an extended period of time? For a Raiders team that is now 4-2? Scary stuff, even as we approach Halloween.
Boller was 8 of 14 for 100 yards and 0 TD/0 INT. Darrius Heyward-Bey had his third straight solid game with 82 yards on six catches. Boller throws a wrench in the mix, or however the phrase goes, but DHB should be owned.
Darren McFadden was solid again with 91 yards and a TD. Kevin Boss caught the only TD of the day for the Raiders, and it came from Shane Lechler on a fake, which means that Lechler has more TD passes than Boller.
At Their Healthiest All Season, Cowboys-Patriots Game Severely Disappoints
There should have been a whole lot of good in this game for fantasy owners, with a lot of passing and a lot of scoring, especially since the Cowboys and Patriots came in as healthy on offense as they've been all season. Instead the Patriots won 20-16 and once again Tony Romo is the scapegoat. So at least we can always rely on that.
Romo threw for 317 yards and 1 TD/1INT. Dez Bryant had 4 for 78, Miles Austin had 7 for 74, Jason Witten had 4 for 48 and caught a 1-yard TD pass.
Felix Jones got hurt again and sprained his ankle. He's expected to miss at least one game, probably more. DeMarco Murray is a must-own and the Cowboys draw the really bad Rams next week. Murray had 32 yards on 10 carries.
The Cowboys were able to keep BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Stevan Ridley, and Danny Woodhead in check and out of the end zone, but Tom Brady is just too good in the red zone and he was able to connect on touchdowns with Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez. He also had 289 yards and 2 INTs.
Welker had only 45 yards. Rob Gronkowski led the Patriots with 74. Hernandez also had 8 catches. I still don't mind playing either Hernandez or Gronkowski. They'll both get plenty of opportunities.
Bucs Beat Saints One Week After Being Ex-Communicated from the NFL
I could have sworn that we kicked Tampa Bay out of the league after being embarrassed by the Niners last week 48-3, but it turns out that not only are they still in the NFL, but they went out and beat New Orleans to put themselves in first place in the NFC South.
The Bucs did not have a signature win this year until now and I guess we will have to take them seriously again.
You responded on this website that Josh Freeman was the most disappointing QB of 2011, and he responded with 303 yards, 2 TD/0 INT. I knew he read my articles!
In the first game post-LeGarrette Blount, Earnest Graham rushed for 109 yards on 17 carries. Arrelious Benn had 83 yards and a TD on three catches. Mike Williams had 6 catches for 59 yards.
The Saints were looking pretty good after four straight wins since a week one loss to Green Bay, but certainly there will be some way over-reactionary comments after this loss to Tampa Bay.
Drew Brees had 383 yards and a TD, but he also threw 3 INTs. That makes eight picks in the last four games for Brees.
Marques Colston had 7 catches for 118 yards and a TD. More interesting than that, Jimmy Graham had 7 catches for 124 yards, becoming the 2nd TE in NFL history to post four straight 100-yard games. Thats 620 yards this season for Graham.
Mark Ingram had only 22 yards, but he scored a TD for the third time in the last four games. He's not getting a lot of yards or a great YAC, but I'm more and more interested in Ingram. At least as a flex play, not someone you have to rely on.
Vikings Put Christian Ponder into Game, Ponder Begs Coaches to Take Him Out
Donovan McNabb never stood a chance.
He went to Minnesota, perhaps with the belief that with a star running back, a good offensive line, and a stout run defense, that he wouldn't be asked to do too much. For the Vikings, it wouldn't be about McNabb, it would be about Adrian Peterson and Kevin Williams and wins wouldn't be relied on because of or in spite of McNabb.
Instead, it turns out the Vikings are just pretty terrible and now at 1-5, McNabb wasn't going to be able to stand in the shadows. Alex Smith hasn't been amazing for San Francisco this season, but at 5-1, nobody is questioning whether or not he's the right person for the job.
McNabb isn't spectacular, and yes he's been pretty bad at times, and so with a young hotshot rookie waiting behind him, there's no reason for McNabb to play again this year unless Christian Ponder either gets hurt or is absolutely abysmal. If the game against the Bears was any indication, then Ponder is going to need to get hurt for McNabb to see a snap again.
Donovan McNabb was 19 of 24 for 177 yards and he didn't throw an interception, but the Vikings were still getting dominated by Chicago, they were unable to move the ball down the field, and they still couldn't score. McNabb was constantly under pressure and unable to escape the sacks.
Ponder wasn't sacked, but he had to have escaped at least five sure sacks in limited action. He proved to be more agile than the aging McNabb and he also completed 9 of 17 passes for 99 yards. I don't know if Ponder is ready, or if he'll be better than Blaine Gabbert, but I know that McNabb no longer makes sense for Minnesota.
If the Vikings finish at 2-14 or 3-13, then they need to find out if they already have their quarterback of the future. It was a nice debut and honestly things are already looking up for Percy Harvin because of the change. He finished with 7 catches for 78 yards, and things really picked up for him after Ponder entered the game.
Adrian Peterson only had 39 yards because the Vikings played from behind for the whole game, but he did score a touchdown.
Jay Cutler may have had his best all-around game of the season with 267 yards and 2 TD/0 INT. Devin Hester had 91 yards on 5 catches and connected on a 48-yard TD pass early in the game with Cutler. Roy Williams had 50 yards, Johnny Knox had 41, and Dane Sanzenbacher caught a TD.
Matt Forte had 87 yards rushing, 36 yards receiving, but Marion Barber vultured a TD score and took over running back duties once the blowout was established.
Follow me on twitter @casetines
- In my week six preview, I had Percy Harvin, Starks/Grant, and the Redskins offense as sleepers. Rex Grossman foiled my plans for Washington and ignoring my own advice on Green Bay running backs just because of matchups proved to be my undoing. However, not only am I happy with my Percy pick, but I forecasted that Christian Ponder might make his debut and be good for Harvin so hit me up on twitter for this weeks lottery numbers.
- My other sleepers were Mark Sanchez and Reggie Bush, with results coming tonight.
- The five guys I did not like were: Joe Flacco, Patriots RBs, Arian Foster, Brandon Marshall and Jahvid Best. Best saved himself with catches and receiving yards, and Marshall has yet to play, but I'm happy with my other picks. Foster had over 100 total yards too, but his split with Ben Tate is even more disappointing and the #1 pick is still miles behind where expectations were.
- The five guys I loved were: Cedric Benson, Dez Bryant, Drew Brees, Michael Turner, and Ahmad Bradshaw. Benson scored and Bryant had a nice game. Brees had a bad game. But Turner and Bradshaw were perhaps the two best players of the day.
- Again, you need Montario Hardesty and DeMarco Murray yesterday. If you had Felix Jones and/or Peyton Hillis, then you may need to sacrifice if you didn't properly handcuff them by now.
- Through five weeks, fewer starting quarterbacks were injured or replaced in the history of the NFL after that amount of time. Next week Oakland, Minnesota and Washington will have new starters.
- Shane Lechler threw one pass and had a touchdown. Vince Young threw one pass and had an interception.
- This season the bottom of the standings is just as interesting as the top because of Andrew Luck and I'm becoming somewhat obsessed with trying to decide not only who will be the worst but what they'll do with the pick. Like I said, my gut tells me that Jacksonville will lose to the Colts twice and find their way to the top, but that's just my gut. If the Jags get the pick, then they could either take Luck and consider trading Gabbert for a pick or trade the pick and fill their many needs. I personally think they should take Luck.
- The Vikings looked interesting with Ponder tonight to the point that they may want to concentrate on drafting a wide receiver and offensive line or defensive help. But if Ponder is that good, they may win enough games to not have to decide.
- The Colts are so bad without Manning that of course they have a lot of holes to fill. On the other hand, Manning could come back healthy and have four or more years left. Then again, he might not. There's the case of Aaron Rodgers and that worked out great for Minnesota. There's Steve Young backing up Joe Montana and that worked out great for the Niners. There's not a lot of risk in the Colts taking Luck, and that's probably what they should do.
- The Broncos and Dolphins absolutely would and should take Luck. They play each other next week, and depending on how Miami does against the Jets, it could eliminate one of them from the Suck for Luck sweepstakes. If the Dolphins lose both games, they'll be primed to potentially go winless.
- The Rams and Cardinals still have two games remaining against each other. The Rams will probably stick with Bradford and get him some help. The Cardinals invested heavily in Kolb, but nobody would blame them for cutting bait if they had a chance to get Luck. You keep Kolb around for one more year and then maybe if you're really lucky you have a Brees/Rivers situation after 2012. Worst case scenario, you are ready to move forward with a franchise QB.
- In my own leagues, I made the biggest mistake by picking up and playing the Saints defense against Tampa Bay and them giving me 0 points. I now own a 19-point lead with the Jets defense and Dustin Keller to worry about on Monday Night.
- In my $200 league, I just need to make sure Yeremiah Bell doesn't put up over 13 points.
- Why are there so many players of consequence in a game between Miami and New York? Seems like foul play to me.
- I think this is a good time to start throwing trade offers around to teams with 0 or 1 wins on the year. Not necessarily because you can rip them off, only because they're most likely to want to make a deal.
- I'm watching Scream 4 right now. How come parking garages are always empty just during the three minutes when a killer is there?
- How'd you do? How are you feeling? Questions or comments?