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NFL Week 6 2014-15 Recap and Week 7 Questions

October 15, 2014 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

  • Let’s be a little cautious with the Cleveland Brown hype train. Remember a few blogs ago I commented that due to a seemingly an easy early schedule the Houston Texans could have really set up their entire season for the rest of the year? The Texans have since faltered due to their own poor play and the fact that some of their opponents have been better than advertised. The Browns are now in a very similar situation that I showed the Texans to be in. After drubbing the Steelers on Sunday, Cleveland now faces the Jaguars, Raiders and Buccaneers in the next 3 games. I don’t expect them to win all of them but what if they did? These are by far the worst 3 teams in the NFL. That would put the Browns at 6-2. Then the Browns can be in a simple solution such as all they have to do for the rest of the year is win every other game and boom; 10-6 and potential playoffs. The Browns are not a pretty team. They currently rank 21st in the league in total offense and their passing stats are lower than all of that. There’s an old saying in the NFL that “winning is the best disguise for problems.” The world is in love with Brian Hoyer and this team and for many reasons they should be but the bottom line is that they are a mediocre offense, slightly above average defense and play in a division where none of the teams can make up their minds about how good they want to be.
  • As collective fans of the NFL we all need to take some deep breaths and slow down the hype trains that are all leaving the stations at once and will assuredly cause a pile up. Hype trains such as the above mentioned Browns, the Seahawks faltering and the Cowboys being the greatest team since the 85’ Bears. We just wrapped up Week 6 people. I know the Cowboys have looked better than they should and the last 4 games for the Seahawks are as pedestrian as they come but there is still so much out there to be answered. It’s fun and exciting to be caught up in the moment but that kind of excitement should be reserved for Weeks 14 or 15. We aren’t even halfway through the season yet and we have already crowned the Cowboys as Superbowl 49 champs.
  • Kudos to the NFL for an article I read this weekend from Sports Illustrated. The NFL plans on proposing potential loss of draft picks to teams whose players can’t seemingly stay out of trouble. For years, talent has always outweighed any off field issue in the league. Based off this I fully expect Ray Rice to be back in the league within the next year and barring any prolonged jail time, I expect Adrian Peterson back as well. Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for second chances but not the second chances that take place in the same week or season. Take for example a player with issues such as Santonio Holmes. He had multiple arrests over his career with the Steelers and the final straw had been an alleged night club incident where Holmes had thrown a glass at a woman. The Steelers were able to trade Holmes to the Jets for a 5th round pick (which in a roundabout way later became Antonio Brown) and cleansed themselves of the issues. The problem to me here was that Holmes had a mountain of off the field issues and the Jets (and most likely any other team) swept him up without fear and he was ready for the following season. So the Steelers chose to lose one of the best offensive players for morality purposes just so another team could have him? In the world of the NFL, everything is now right. Issues like this never get brought up again. “Yeah, this guy…this guy needed a change of scenery” is the most often used quote surrounding off the field issues leading to transactions with other teams. Rumors swirled about Desean Jackson’s abrupt departure after leading the Eagles in receiving last year. Rumors were that Chip Kelly and company feared Jackson had “gang involvements”. ……..So this didn’t deter the Redskins? Later more reports would come out about general attitude and comments that Jackson was “just not a good locker-room guy” that lead to the dismissal. How weird was that whole situation when it happened? How about Adam “never call me Pacman again” Jones. He was the 6th overall pick for the Tennessee Titans in 2005 and played that way at times. His mountain of off the field issues would be that of Mount Everest from 2005 – 2008. Jones was suspended for the entire 2007 season and then the Titans traded him to the Dallas Cowboys the following season where the issues continued. So the Titans got a clear conscience and pass from media and fans but the Cowboys didn’t care about Jones’ never ending rap sheet? I remember almost little to no criticism to the Cowboys for that move. It was just met with the typical “Ha-Ha-Ha, well that’s the Cowboy’s for ya” remarks. After the failed experiment with Jones in Dallas (shocker!) he was then out of the league for 2 years and resurfaced with the Bengals in 2010. Finally holding NFL teams accountable for off the field issues where teams would be hit financially and/or with draft picks can finally send a message to the teams that multiple issues can no longer be ignored just because of overwhelming talent. Once again, I am all for second chances but a TRUE second chance is maybe after your first moronic DUI the team lets you back, not the 345 chances Adam Jones or many others have had. This would stop the idiotic process of forcing a team to get rid of a player that inevitably gets scooped up by another team in the same breath and will now make teams honestly think about their future with a player if it will do more harm than good.

Questions and Predictions for Week 7:

Cincinnati’s season is potentially on the line this week. The NFL is funny at times. The Bengals were once 3-0 and seemingly on top of the NFL. Now having lost 2 straight and rolling into Indianapolis to face the Colts (it appears without AJ Green), the odds don’t look good for the Bengals. The Bengals find themselves now falling with the Steelers and being passed by the Ravens and Browns in the AFC North.

My Guess: Colts go over on the Bengals.

Bold Prediction for Week 7: Chiefs over the Chargers. The Chiefs seemingly are putting things together this season on the field at last. This is a must win game for them. They are at the bottom staring up at the Broncos (4-1) and their Sunday opponents (5-1). Dropping to 2-4 is not an option in this division. I don’t think San Diego learns from the scare they got from the Raiders last week and officially falter this week against the Chiefs.

Guaranteed Lock for Week 7: Pittsburgh over Houston. You almost never bet against the Steelers in a home primetime game (defined as Thursday Night, Sunday Night and Monday night). Not counting playoffs the Steelers have had 36 primetime games since Mike Tomlin became head coach. The Steelers are 11-6 at home during these games (but just 10-9 on the road). Although Arian Foster will do damage to the defense, I fully expect the Steelers to win.

Recap from Questions and Predictions from last week:

Does Rex Ryan become the first mid-season termination in the NFL?

My Guess: Jets are destroyed and Rex Ryan is termed middle of the week. –RIGHT/UNDETERMINED –The Jets were more competitive than I thought they were going to be, even as close as being down by one score late. Then the wheels fell off, they became the Jets again and are now have lost 5 straight to be 1-5. The loss was probably not embarrassing enough to cost Ryan his job midweek (I was expecting Tampa Bay Buccaneers performances for that to happen).

Bold Prediction from Week 6: The Carolina Panthers take down the Cincinnati Bengals. –PUSH- Oh joy, the ever loving moment when a tie occurs in sports. I hate ties. I hated it in hockey, hate it in soccer, hate, hate—hate ties. This was your typical slugfest where each team exchanged the lead throughout the game. I was surprised how effective the Bengals were on offense without Mega Star Wide Receiver AJ Green. I can’t ignore that the Bengals did have a field goal chance late in overtime to win it but a team like Cincinnati shouldn’t take until 3 seconds left in overtime to decide on trying to beating a team.

Guaranteed Lock from Week 6: The Eagles defeat the Giants on Sunday Night Football. – RIGHT- I am surprised the Giants laid a huge goose egg in this game, specifically the offense. Eli was sacked 8 times and the Giants lost Victor Cruz to a season ending injury. It doesn’t get any easier for the Giants as they face the red hot Cowboys next week.

NFL 2014 Graveyard (now accepting applicants)

*In my opinion these teams are officially done and need to start thinking about 2015 sooner rather than later. Probably the most surprising to me to be done this early would probably have to go to the Jets. I didn’t expect a Superbowl or even playoffs but to be 1-5 and just an utter complete mess of a team was a real let down for them this year. I fully expect Rex Ryan to be out in New York even before seasons end. Especially if the Jets have an eye on a top collegiate coach that they would need to move fast on.

New York Jets – (1-5)

Oakland Raiders – (0-5)

Washington Redskins – (1-5)

Jacksonville Jaguars – (0-6)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-5)

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NFL Week 17 Thoughts & Recap – Inside The Wheelhouse

December 31, 2012 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Let’s take a look back at some of the things that stood out from Week 17 in the National Football League!

– Tampa Bay closes out the 2012 regular season with a nice win against a not-so-competitive Atlanta Falcons team in Week 17. I’ve said it all season long and it’s only fitting that I say it again, Tampa is a good team and one that people should look out for in 2013. Really like what they accomplished this season, would’ve loved to seen them compete for a playoff spot in the final weeks.

- Not the way Atlanta wanted to end the regular season I’m sure but now they can look towards the playoffs and hope that the defensive injuries they suffered on Sunday aren’t that bad. Not sure what to think of this Falcons team heading into the playoffs but I’ll tell you this much, they don’t look like a #1 seed team.

– Buffalo has the right pieces as we saw in their win against the Jets in Week 17 but they need to fix some of their weaknesses (quarterback & head coach) before they can be competitive in the AFC East next season. Tough year for a team many people liked as a “sneaky pick” in the AFC.

– Perfect way to end the Jets regular season and if you thought their regular season was a circus act, wait till the offseason takes place. I believe it was Terrell Owens who once said: “get your popcorn ready.” I know I will.

– Sure Baltimore “mailed it in” during the Week 17 game but I really liked what I saw from the Bengals. Cincinnati kept their momentum going for the playoffs and I hope it helps them in postseason play this season. Amazing that a 6th seed could be the favorite over the 3rd seed in the playoffs but it may be possible for the Bengals.

– While I understand you want to rest your starters and save them for the playoffs, not sure if I agree with treating it like a preseason game in Week 17 especially for the Ravens. Baltimore has been so inconsistent lately that they needed to keep that good momentum going from their big win against the Giants in Week 16 and they didn’t, could hurt them versus Indianapolis next week.

– All season long I said the Bears were the best “smoke and mirrors” team in the NFL. Their record showed they were an “elite” team but when they played against “elite” teams they would be outclassed. Sure they got 10 wins and sure they won games when it counted at the end but they won’t be seeing any games past Week 17. I really wonder how this team will look in 2013.

– The Detroit Lions should’ve never been a 4 win team this season and a top 5 draft pick franchise going into the 2013 NFL Draft. Detroit is a better caliber team then they possessed all season long and if Jim Schwartz can’t get it done with this talent then it’s time to let him go. It will be a very interesting offseason for this franchise heading into 2013.

– Tennessee beat Jacksonville in Week 17 and there defense scored 4 times on Sunday. Good way to end this horrible season for the Titans and I wonder what there direction will be heading into 2013. Will CJ2K be back? I think he should.

– Congrats Jacksonville, prepare yourselves for “TebowMania!”

– The best story of the 2012 NFL season was Chuck Pagano beating cancer and the Indianapolis Colts making it into the playoffs. This team clearly got motivated by their cancer battling head coach and rallied behind his spirit to play another game past Week 17. Indianapolis can be that “very dangerous Football team” starting next week.

– This is not the way you should be entering the playoffs. Houston entered Week 17 with the #1 seed and walked out as the #3 seed. Instead of having home-field advantage and having a week off, they now will be stumbling against the Bengals in the Wild Card round (again). I wonder if this team will ever be able to put it together when it matters the most.

– Extremely strong way for the Panthers to finish their season as they won 5 of their last 6 games, including 4 straight games and finished the season 7-9. It appeared that Cam Newton was a “late bloomer” this season as it took him some time to get back to the way he played his rookie season. Carolina is once again a team to look out for in 2013.

– Overall this is a very disappointing season for the New Orleans Saints. They entered the year with a ton of controversy due in-part to “bountygate,” but were still considered by many as a NFC “elite” team. Instead New Orleans struggled all season long, finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs. It was a very tough season for the NOLA.

– The most disappointing team in the 2012 NFL season may be the defending Super Bowl Champion, New York Football Giants. New York gets huge victories over San Francisco & Green Bay, was at one point 6-2 on the season and then finished the year 3-5 to miss the playoffs. The Giants looked like an “elite” team at multiple points in the season even to the extent that they were considered the best team in the NFL and now they will be watching the playoffs from home. They should be very thankful they share the same city with the New York Jets!

– What is there to say about the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles season that hasn’t already been said before? Tough year and it’s time to move on from this current era. How this franchise handles this offseason could be very telling for seasons to come in Philadelphia. Since the “dream team” moniker was self-given to them, the Eagles have gone 12-20 in both seasons, pretty sure that’s a nightmare Vince Young.

– Steelers get the win in Week 17 and mercifully end their 2012 regular season. This isn’t what Pittsburgh was hoping for and now there will be many offseason questions to deal with. Similar to their in-state rival Philadelphia Eagles, there will be a lot of changes this offseason that will dictate the future of this franchise for years to come.

– Cleveland has a lot to work on for sometime and I hope the next person to run this franchise can get them onto some winning ways. There is definitely talent to build on in Cleveland; it just comes down to what this franchise does to put around some potentially young franchise players.

– If you’ve read this blog throughout the season then you know I’ve been very leery of the Denver Broncos. Their lack of schedule strength bothered me when it comes to them playing in the playoffs but I’m starting to turn the corner on it not affecting them after all. The Broncos could very well be the AFC representation in Super Bowl 47 right now. A lot is “clicking” at the right time for Denver.

– Congrats to Kansas City on winning the #1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Now the real question is whether or not they draft Geno Smith to be their quarterback. Personally I think that could be a huge mistake but they have plenty of time to think that over now.

– At one point it looked like the Patriots would have to play in the Wild Card round as the three seed but now they can sit at home next week and rest up for the Divisional Round. A well rested Patriots team is of course, a very dangerous playoff team. It almost seems like it’s too good to be true that we could get Denver (Peyton) vs. New England (Brady) in the AFC Championship Game again.

– I’m sure this isn’t the way Miami wanted to end their season but I do think this team is headed into the right direction right now. A couple moves in the offseason could have them competing for Wild Card playoff spots next year.

– Thanks for the memories Norv Turner. I will miss writing about you and wondering if you will be fired…every…regular…season. I have been doing these blogs for Camel Clutch Blog now for (I believe to be) 4 seasons, so that tells you how I long I’ve speculated Norv would be let go.

– The Raiders have taken steps forward the last couple years and now they have taken, yet again, dramatic steps back. I don’t know when this franchise can be turned around because right now it really looks bleak.

– Congrats to the San Francisco 49ers on winning the NFC West and getting the #2 seed in the NFC. In my opinion this team is the #1 seed in the NFC and I really like their chances to make Super Bowl 47 this season. When you have a really good defense and an offense that keeps getting better, good things will happen.

– Dear Arizona Cardinals, you know what to do during the offseason. Go get yourself a quarterback, you know, a real quarterback or you will have a very upset franchise wide receiver named Larry Fitzgerald. Sincerely yours, common sense.

– The Seahawks get the victory but I’m not sure it’s the way they wanted to head into the playoffs. Seattle struggled for most of this game and didn’t look as dominant as they have been in recent weeks. The Seahawks will still be a tough team to beat come playoff time but I wonder if they are losing their “luster” a bit, it’s something to definitely keep an eye on next week versus Washington in the Wild Card round.

– The St. Louis Rams really ended this 2012 regular season very strong. They were competitive against really good teams in their division, San Francisco & Seattle (even getting a big win against the 49ers this year) and they are improving heading into 2013. The defense is young and very talented but their offense seems to be lacking at the moment. I really hope Sam Bradford can be “the guy” for this St. Louis team in 2013 because I really like what I am seeing from the Rams right now.

– What a miracle season for the Minnesota Vikings in 2012. Nobody and I mean NOBODY saw this team as a playoff team, let alone a playoff contender this year. If you were like me you probably saw them as the last-place team in the NFC North. Well now they take on Green Bay in the Wild Card round and have nothing to lose because they weren’t “supposed to be there.” Oh and dear NFL, don’t forget to give Adrian Peterson the NFL MVP award this season!

– I’m sure this isn’t the way Green Bay wanted to end their season but not getting a first-round bye may be what this team needs. In 2010 they had no first-round bye and won the Super Bowl. In 2011 they had a first-round bye and got crushed in the divisional round. The Packers will be healthy against the Vikings, know what they need to do to stop Minnesota and will thankfully be home in a playoff game. I still like the Packers as a “quiet” pick right now in the NFC.

– Add Washington to the list of Indianapolis and Minnesota as surprise teams making the playoffs in 2012. Weeks ago this team was “left for dead” by their own head coach and now they are the 2012 NFC East division champions. No telling what this team can do come playoff time because like the Vikings, they “weren’t supposed to be here.” It’s the playoffs and as we have learned the last two seasons, anyone can win the Super Bowl.

- It almost seems fitting that Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys end their season like this. I really wonder how this team will look on Week 1 in 2013. A lot of major changes could be coming the way of this Dallas Cowboys franchise.

– Many thanks to you the reader and of course Eric Gargiulo for allowing me to blog after every week throughout the 2012 NFL regular season. It’s a job I have enjoyed here since 2009 and am glad to have another regular season under my belt. Stay tuned for my Wild Card predictions blog later this week and my Wild Card round thoughts blog a week from today!

For more NFL talk join Bower, Chris Johnson and myself Monday – Friday throughout the Football season on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, ESPN 1300 in New Haven and online at 979espn.com!

You can listen to Jeff on “The Bower Show” every Monday – Friday from 3pm – 7pm ET on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, CT. You can listen online at www.979espn.com

You can follow Jeff on Twitter at www.twitter.com/JeffPeck979ESPN

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NFL Week 16 Thoughts & Recap – Inside The Wheelhouse

December 24, 2012 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Let’s take a look back at some of the things that stood out from Week 16 in the National Football League!

– Congrats to the Falcons on clinching the #1 seed in the NFC and having home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Personally, I believe while it’s a tremendous feat, they may be the weakest #1 seed in the NFL playoffs in some time. Their passing offense is great but their run game and defense can be shaky depending on the week. Let’s see if the ATL can make me eat my words yet again this season.

- Congrats to Calvin Johnson on breaking Jerry Rice’s single-season receiving record! Can we now say that the “Madden Curse” is done?

– Quietly, the Green Bay Packers are continuing to emerge in the NFC. While it is the Titans, they kept the momentum going throughout this one. Things are getting interesting for the Pack…

– At least the Titans put 7 points on the board and weren’t shut out…right?

– New Orleans gets to play spoiler against Dallas and can at least have a .500 record should they win next week. Nice to see the Saints giving it a shot and being competitive with nothing left to play for.

– What are the Cowboys doing!? They need to win these games and they are going through the same problem they always have this time of the year. Next week will be very interesting as the Cowboys will play for the NFC East division crown in Week 17 for the 2nd straight season.

– Congrats to the Indianapolis Colts on clinching a playoff berth this week. Better yet, Chuck Pagano will be returning to this playoff team very soon. Great story this year in the National Football League, I love that Chuck Pagano and the Colts are proving anyone can beat the odds.

– One more loss and the Chiefs clinch the #1 overall pick!

– Well at least Miami has a chance at a .500 season next week; they could be a sneaky pick in the NFC East next season.

– Buffalo needs to fire Chan Gailey at the end of the season.

– San Diego beats the New York Jets in Week 16; this is monumental because it could be Norv Turner’s last win as the Chargers head coach.

– So Tim Tebow gets flack for telling the coaching staff to not put him in the “Wildcat formation” after he was passed over for the 3rd string quarterback and people are complaining? Tebow has been a good solider for this Jets team all season long and when we look back on his tenure with this team the Jets could’ve really affected his NFL playing career based off of the way they handled him. He gets brought along basically to sell seats and not play, yet people have a problem with him removing himself from the “wildcat!?” C’mon man.

– Big win for the Redskins and they keep on rolling. It’s all on the line in Week 17 for them as they take on Dallas for the NFC East crown. The playoffs begin (and could end) next week for the ‘Skins.

– Fitting way for Andy Reid’s potentially last home game as the head coach of the Eagles to end like that.

– How about the Cincinnati Bengals this season? They force Roethlisberger to make a crucial interception in the final minute of the game, make a huge offensive play to set up the field goal and win it. That was a franchise achieving moment for the Bengals and their fans to knock out their rival Pittsburgh Steelers.

– I wonder if we could see any changes in the offseason to this Steelers team. They are getting older, the window is getting smaller and the coaches may not be gelling. Interesting times for this Steelers franchise and it could’ve been prevented had they won today.

– St. Louis is quietly ending their season very strong right now. This is another team that could enter 2013 as a surprise team in the NFC West. With the exception of Sam Bradford (the jury is still out on him), I like what is going in St. Louis.

– Tough to see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers continue to end their season like this. Really had high hopes for them at the midway point of the season.

– Carolina beats Oakland and this Panthers team continues to play well at the wrong point in the season. At least someone is probably keeping their job in Carolina, for now.

– Want to know how bad the Raiders are? Matt Leinart was the backup after Carson Palmer got hurt. How come they just didn’t bring Terrelle Pryor in to see what they got?

– A win-is-a-win but New England cannot be playing like this with less then two weeks to go until the playoffs. They played shaky against San Francisco last week and lost. They played shaky this week and almost lost. Hopefully it’s just a bad stretch for the Patriots so they can get it out of their system now and not in the Playoffs.

– If Jacksonville beat New England with Chad Henne as the Quarterback in Week 16 would that have saved him from the (rumored) incoming “TebowMania” next season?

– Minnesota needed this win and they got it. The Vikings are stepping up at the right time and didn’t need Adrian Peterson to pile on the rushing yards to do it. They win next week and they are in, it’s that simple.

– Houston is playing extremely sloppy at the wrong point in the season. It amazes me that they still have a chance at a First-Round bye next week.

– Denver is the only consistent team in the AFC right now and it’s coming at the right time with the playoffs nearing. I just hope that the Broncos weak schedule doesn’t come back to haunt them like it did for New England last season.

– Who saw the Cleveland Browns having 5 wins this season? They have a chance at 6 next week and amongst Browns fans that would be overachieving.

– Well they may have been struggling lately but they got a crucial win in Week 16 against Arizona. Lovie’s job as head coach is safe for at least this week; if they fail to beat Detroit in Week 17 or make the playoffs then it could be franchise-changing times in Chicago.

– Arizona really needs a quarterback and I don’t think Alex Smith or Mark Sanchez is the answer.

– All of us left the Ravens for “dead” and got proven wrong in Week 16. This is the type of win a team needs at this point in the season when they have been struggling and the Ravens got it. I still am not a huge believer in their playoffs chances but the win was really encouraging.

– I cannot believe there is a large probability that the Giants don’t make the playoffs this season. At times they have played like the best team in the league and in recent weeks they have been extremely inconsistent. The defending Super Bowl Champions need A LOT of things to happen next week, including for them to defeat Philadelphia of course, for them to make the playoffs.

– The Seattle Seahawks are proving to the NFL that they may just be the team to beat come January. What a huge win for the Seahawks against one of the best teams in the league, the San Francisco 49ers. This team is gaining momentum at the right time and we all know what that means come playoff time…

- Injuries and inconsistency in the last 6 quarters could be coming to haunt the Niners at the wrong time in the season. The fact that they may not have a first-round bye in the playoffs is extremely surprising and it’s possible that this team could be underachieving. Hopefully that changes once January hits.

For more NFL talk join Bower, Chris Johnson and myself Monday – Friday throughout the Football season on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, ESPN 1300 in New Haven and online at 979espn.com!

You can listen to Jeff on “The Bower Show” every Monday – Friday from 3pm – 7pm ET on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, CT. You can listen online at www.979espn.com

You can follow Jeff on Twitter at www.twitter.com/JeffPeck979ESPN

“LIKE” 97.9 ESPN on Facebook: www.facebook.com/979espn

“LIKE” The Bower Show on Facebook: www.facebook.com/bowershow

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NFL Week 15 Thoughts & Recap – Inside The Wheelhouse

December 18, 2012 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Let’s take a look back at some of the things that stood out from Week 15 in the National Football League!

– Very solid win for the Cincinnati Bengals against the Philadelphia Eagles in the final Thursday Night game of the season. No game is an “easy win” for any team and the Bengals needed to get the “W” at any cost. Now they are in the driver seat of playoff positioning with just two weeks to go, a win against Pittsburgh could all but close the door for them to play past Week 17.

- Was hoping to see some more from Philadelphia against Cincinnati on Thursday, but I didn’t. The Eagles needed something encouraging as this season slowly comes to a close for Eagles fans. Amazing to see how far this franchise has fallen since the “dream team” comment.

– Talk about a “statement win.” This is the win Atlanta has been looking for all season long and it has come at the right time with just two weeks to go until the regular season closes out. Watch out for the Falcons, this could finally be their year.

– New York needs to stop play inconsistently and needs to stop now. The Giants are self-imploding and finding a way to back out of the playoff competition. New York entered Week 15 the 4th seed in the NFC playoffs and they walk out Week 15 as they 9th seed in the NFC Playoffs currently; rough loss for the defending Super Bowl Champions.

– Enter this season there were a lot of people out there who doubted the Green Bay Packers. They believe this would be the Bears season to capture the NFC North and it looked that way for most of the season. Since their loss to New York a couple weeks back the Packers have really turned it around by capturing the NFC North division and they are quietly emerging as a scary team entering the playoffs.

– Since Week 10 the Bears have gone 1-5 in their last 6 games. If they can’t make the playoffs with Arizona and Detroit on their schedule to close out 2012 then we can all say “good-bye” to Lovie Smith in Chicago.

– No RG III, no problem! Washington is now your new NFC East division leaders with two weeks to go and they made the right move to sit RGIII against a poor opponent in Cleveland. I will be shocked if Washington is not playing past Week 17 this year, I have really enjoyed watching this team grow in recent weeks.

– Does Nick Saban really want to return to Cleveland? Not sure if a loss like this entices a big-time College Football coach to leave his very cushioned job.

– The NFL needs to give Adrian Peterson the NFL MVP award. He is single-handily putting this team in playoff position with just two games to go. While Minnesota does sit in the 6th spot currently I will be very surprised if they can hold onto it. But then again, nothing should surprise us about this Vikings team.

– I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t think Sam Bradford is the answer in St. Louis.

– Miami beats Jacksonville in a meaningless game in December, nice to see who the best team in Florida is.

– Can this season end any quicker for Jaguar fans? This team looked so much fun to watch a couple weeks ago and then they reappeared to what they always were…

– Welcome back to the NFL, Drew Brees. Where was this type of play the last couple of weeks when they needed it?

– Very tough to see how poorly this Bucs team has collapsed in recent weeks. They were so much fun to watch and a very dangerous team if they continued to be in playoff contention. I just continue to hope they are building forward for next season.

– I’ve been very critical of the Denver Broncos not beating good teams this season. Technically the Broncos beat a playoff clinching team in the Baltimore Ravens but did they really come off like a team playing past Week 17? I’m still not completely sold on this Broncos squad, sorry Denver.

– How is it that the Baltimore Ravens are a playoff team this year? Amazing how quickly this team has fallen in the last month or so.

– Loved seeing the Houston Texans bounce back after that rough Monday Night showing against New England in Week 14. They are the AFC South division champions yet again and are in the driver seat for that 1st round bye in the AFC playoffs. Maybe that Monday Night loss to New England is what this young team needed to get them back to focus.

– Indianapolis could’ve made the AFC South very interesting with just two weeks to go but that won’t be the case now. If I’m the Colts I just focus on preparing myself for the playoffs in these last two games. Indy can be a very scary team if they play their cards right because they weren’t supposed to be a playoff team this season.

– Seattle is the most dangerous team entering the playoffs right now. I have no issues with them running up the score on their opponents because they should never back down from their competitive nature. That Week 16 game against San Francisco is going to be very fun to watch.

– Fire Chan Gailey and consider looking into another starting quarterback. Buffalo has potential; they just need the right people to tap into it before this current crop disbands.

– How did Arizona get the win against Detroit!? Are the Lions really that bad this season?

– Do you believe me now Detroit Lions fans? Fire Jim Schwartz.

– Where was this Panthers team at the start of this season? Another solid week for the Panthers and I’m sure they are hoping this is something they can build off of in 2013.

– Can’t you just fire Norv Turner and A.J. Smith now? I really wonder if the next person in-charge keeps Philip Rivers around in San Diego for much longer…

– Huge win for Dallas and this is exactly what they needed with two games to go. It’s a big victory that can carry this team for the final two games. While they may not be the “media darling” that the Washington Redskins are right now, do not sleep on the Cowboys.

– The Steelers have found a way to back out of the playoffs and now it doesn’t look so good for this team with 2 games to go. They need to beat Cincinnati in Week 16 or they can all but kiss their 2012 season goodbye, should be a very interesting game next week.

– Oakland wins 15-0, congrats on not being the worst team in the NFL this season.

– All Kansas City has to do the next two weeks is play worse then Jacksonville and the #1 overall pick is theirs! Been a while since I wrote something positive about Kansas City…then again, do you consider being the worst team in the league honors necessarily positive?

– So San Francisco beats New England in a matchup that many people believed (including me) put the best team in the NFC against the best team in the AFC. So does that mean the 49ers are the best team in the NFL? I think so.

– New England did not look like New England in the 1st half but bounced back pretty loudly in the 2nd half. It looked like it was the Patriots game to lose at one point in the 2nd half as they were dominating the 49ers throughout their comeback but it just wasn’t meant to be. This loss is something the Patriots needed to motivate them and keep them on their toes with just two games left in the season.

- Well at least Tennessee got to play spoiler at some point in their season…then again it was the New York Jets.

– As weird as it sounded that the Jets were in playoff contention going into the Monday Night game, it made a world of sense when they went out there and performed like that against Tennessee. The fact that this team had a shot at a playoff spot was a shame.
For more NFL talk join Bower, Chris Johnson and myself Monday – Friday throughout the Football season on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, ESPN 1300 in New Haven and online at 979espn.com!

You can listen to Jeff on “The Bower Show” every Monday – Friday from 3pm – 7pm ET on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, CT. You can listen online at www.979espn.com

You can follow Jeff on Twitter at www.twitter.com/JeffPeck979ESPN

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NFL Week 14 Thoughts & Recap – Inside The Wheelhouse

December 11, 2012 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Let’s take a look back at some of the things that stood out from Week 14 in the National Football League!

– Nice win for the Broncos on Thursday Night as they continue to play like the hottest team in the NFL. Only issue is their schedule is extremely weak, I wonder how much it will affect them come playoff time.

- Why don’t the Raiders just start Terrelle Pryor already? What do you have to lose at this point?

– I really have enjoyed how this St. Louis Rams team has played these last couple of weeks. If they can continue to finish this season strong they will become a nice threat in the NFC West next season. Only concern I continue to have with this team is whether or not Sam Bradford is the true answer at quarterback.

– Heartbreaking loss for the Bills in Week 14. I would assume the loss all but finishes any potential playoff hopes they had in 2012.

– Dallas has inserted themselves back into the NFC East with a big win against Cincinnati in Week 14. The Cowboys played a really good game against a really good team in the Bengals and they aren’t even the “media darlings” right now as Washington continues to get all the hype!

– Tough loss for the Bengals but they are thankfully still in the AFC Playoff race after the Steelers lose in Week 14. I really like this team’s chances when you have a decent QB with a big-time receiver. Cincy’s defense is also very underrated, don’t count this team out after a tough loss to Dallas.

– The Cleveland Browns have won three straight games and no it’s not the preseason.

– Where should this Chiefs team rebuild during the offseason? They nearly have a guaranteed top-3 pick in next year’s draft but I don’t think this is the QB class to draft someone in the 1st round.

– How about the Indianapolis Colts getting 9 wins this season!? Could they pull a 2009 New York Jets in the playoffs and do well while being led by a rookie QB? I’m starting to really like them as a sneaky playoff pick.

– If the Titans can give Jake Locker some solid weapons in the offseason this could be a surprising borderline playoff team in 2013. Despite some inconsistent troubles this team is definitely building in the right direction.

– Don’t count out the Minnesota Vikings just yet! Huge win for them against the Chicago Bears with their season on the line. The Bears were banged up but a-win-is-a-win and this will certainly help Minnesota’s confidence.

– The Chicago Bears are in trouble and making these final three games very interesting. Tough breaks like losing kicker Robbie Gould before the game begins is something you just cannot control. Lovie Smith could be looking for a job in the offseason should this continue.

– Nick Foles became a hero for the Eagles on Sunday vs. Tampa Bay and is doing what he can to end this season on a good note. I’m sure many Eagles fans weren’t happy with the win as the thought of Andy Reid staying another year could make their heads explode.

– A loss like this one for Tampa Bay could all but end any chance they have at making the playoffs this season. After being one of the hottest teams in the league a month ago they have had a rough stretch these last couple of weeks. Hopefully this young team uses it as a learning lesson.

– My sports fan intuition tells me that Washington will win the NFC East. Call me crazy but when you win games like the way Washington did versus Baltimore it becomes one of those “mean’t to be” situations.

– Baltimore cannot enter the AFC Playoffs playing the way they have in recent weeks. They have a huge game versus Denver in Week 15 and need a HUGE win to get back on track. If they can’t get the win then it could be leading to an early playoff exit this year.

– If Carolina needed a game to make it feel like their 2012 season wasn’t a complete “wash” then it was this game. Cam Newton looked like…well, let’s be honest…Cam Newton. It’ll be intriguing to see how they build off this big win for the rest of the season.

– Atlanta just cannot lose games like this if they want to avoid “can Atlanta finally get it done in the playoffs” discussions! Mind-boggling loss for a team that has looked really good in recent weeks. I wonder how much of Matt Ryan telling Carolina to “get off their field” in Week 4 helped motivate this loss.

– What’s more shocking: the Jets aren’t completely out of AFC Playoff discussions or that Mark Sanchez lasted the entire game as the QB?

– Jacksonville is a really bad team but I believe this would’ve been a completely different outcome had Cecil Shorts been healthy. Chad Henne did not have his deep threat available today on offense and the Jets secondary is pretty horrible.

– So is San Diego doing what they can to keep Norv Turner employed or are the Steelers just that bad? Talk about an outcome nobody saw coming.

– Pittsburgh does not deserve to be in the playoffs and at the end of the season I don’t think they will have that #6 spot. Shocking loss for a Steelers team that I thought was really starting to turn the corner after that big win versus Baltimore in Week 13. I believe the Bengals are a better team right now then the Pittsburgh Steelers when looking at potential #6 seed teams.

– San Francisco reestablishes itself as a top NFC team after a nice win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. I still think they are the best all-around team in the NFC but they are starting to show signs of being human.

– Miami has had a decent season thus far but they still have a lot to work on. I believe head coach Joe Philbin can turn this team around once he starts to get the right kind of guys in his offensive system. Look for Miami to continue focusing on some more WR threats for Ryan Tannehill heading into 2013.

– Talk about momentum. These are the type of games you want to play with just three games to go and you fighting for a playoff spot. Seattle could surprise us all as a strong playoff team should they make it this year.

– If you are Larry Fitzgerald there is no way you want to play for this team until they get you a decent Quarterback, right?

– New York continues to hold onto their slim lead in the NFC East after a dominating win against New Orleans in Week 14. The Giants are a baffling team lately as they play extremely well every other week it seems. They have a Week 15 matchup against Atlanta in what can give us a playoff glimpse into what both these teams can possess come January.

– What an embarrassing loss for the New Orleans Saints. Weeks ago it appeared they were making a miracle run at the playoffs and then once they got to .500 it all crumbled to pieces. It’s been a tough couple of weeks for the NOLA.

– Big win for the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night as they can now clinch the NFC North with a victory over Chicago in Week 15. This team is starting to really put it together since their loss to New York back in Week 12. The running game is improving, the offensive line is getting better and the Packers are starting to get healthy…watch out.

– Detroit hasn’t beaten the Packers in Lambeau since 1991 and this is the 3rd straight game where the Lions had a lead of 10 points or more & lost. I really think there needs to be a coaching change in Detroit at the end of the season; this team should be playing much better then this.

- I hope Patriots fans have booked a trip to New Orleans right now. The Pats are looking like the most complete team in the AFC, if not the entire NFL right now. I cannot wait to watch them play San Francisco in Week 15.

– What happened to Houston!? They had a chance to make a very bold statement in the AFC and let the opportunity slip through their fingers. Horrible performance and hopefully this is a wake-up call for the Texans.

For more NFL talk join Bower, Chris Johnson and myself Monday – Friday throughout the Football season on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, ESPN 1300 in New Haven and online at 979espn.com!

You can listen to Jeff on “The Bower Show” every Monday – Friday from 3pm – 7pm ET on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, CT. You can listen online at www.979espn.com

You can follow Jeff on Twitter at www.twitter.com/JeffPeck979ESPN

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Fantasy Football Start Em Sit Em Week 11

November 15, 2012 By: Category: Fantasy Football, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Your hopes and dreams are coming near a conclusion. Are you a fantasy football playoff team? Are you a spoiler? Do you really have no idea what you are? Well very much all in a season’s work for many Fantasy owners. Week 11 brings (finally!) the end of bye weeks, some serious QB injury issues, and some tough match ups. The time is surely now to separate men from boys, and winners from losers.

As for me, another fantastic week last week had me finish at 4-0 in my leagues, and I am currently the top points guy in 3 of those 4, and in the last league, well just a TD from the lead. I am currently fielding a lusty record of 26-14, and while I am cruising with big points, no playoff spot is yet locked and nothing is safe. This week some key players will have the bye, guys like Adrian Peterson and the suddenly red-hot Chris Johnson to name a few. Also QBs like Ben Roethlisberger and Jay Cutler have concussion issues, which not only makes it tough for owners of them, but owners of their main WR targets and RBs. This is a challenging week, get that bench ready, and get ready for some Shark advice, and let’s try and get through this together.

It has been a good news and bad news year here with the start/sit/ Last week I showed a little lack of guts, which so isn’t me, and tweeted how I really should have advised against Doug Martin, but oh what hell would be raised, I mean he was sensational 2 straight weeks. Well the difference here, he played a real tough run defense. Alright so I have to go back to “stick with your stars” but remember, Doug Martin was not a huge production guy early. So I am back to going with the gut feeling. Yes, we all want to be right, but sometimes we need to venture out and swallow some pride to get there. So, take a read, and adjust accordingly, it’s go time people!

Quarterback

Start

Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders vs. New Orleans Saints: Yes, I am at that point. However, with injuries and bye weeks playing a roll, Palmer looks like a great bet against a poor defense at home. In his last 3 weeks he has popped for 9 TDs and close to 1,000 yards. If you’re in that pinch, feel safe with Palmer here.

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers: Break up the Lions! Despite a tough loss last week, this offense is playing much better, including Stafford who in his last 3 is averaging about 300 yards, and also has 6 TDs in those 3 weeks. When you play Aaron Rodgers, you have to pass often, and Stafford is improved, so use him.

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs: Don’t buy that hype you saw Monday night from the Chiefs defense. It was a trap game and the Steelers were just flat. Dalton and his Bengals need wins and they will come ready. 8 TDs in his last 3 looks good too. The Bengals can gain ground while the Steelers suffer with key injuries, so it’s a huge game for them right here.

Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: No I am not a Cam Newton supporter, but it is hard not to like him against Tampa and the leagues 32nd ranked pass defense. He has been a bit better of late, and should service well here if needed.

Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos vs. San Diego Chargers: Oh so obvious! Yes, I know, but I deserve an easy one right? Just a few weeks back, on the road, he torched them for 309 yards and 3 TDs in a wild second half comeback. This time at home the Broncos should be more in control, and Manning will have another solid day. Yeah, like you’d bench him anyway.

Sit

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins pass defense is nothing special, but just on a hunch by the numbers on Fitz the last 4 weeks: 0 TDs 3 TDs, 0 TDs, 2 TDs. If you can follow the pattern next up is 0? Make sense? He is always hard to trust anyway, so try and do better.

Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns at Dallas Cowboys: A few weeks back many of us were going after Weeden, and he was becoming a bye week darling. Since then he has gone 2 straight without a TD and awful QB ratings. On the road in this stadium against this rejuvenated defense won’t help that cause.

Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Despite all of their troubles, the Eagles defense is still 10th in pass yards allowed. Griffin has slowed a bit of late throwing just 4 TD passes in 4 weeks. His team as a whole is been on the down swing, and the Eagles really need to save face against a team they usually do well against. May not be a total shut down, but I don’t see evidence that says he can go nuts either.

Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers vs. Chicago Bears: He has passed his concussion tests so he should play, but how well? The Bears defense has 19 INTs and are 5th in fewest yards allowed. This defense has to be extra good also if Jay Cutler is out, so expect a lot of hard times for Smith.

Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins: I am not so much afraid of a poor Redskins pass defense, but I would like to see what the rookie has before I bank on him. A lot of “experts say to grab him, fine get him if you want, but wait before throwing him in there.

Running Back

Start

CJ Spiller, Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins: What is a Fantasy for Spiller owners? Well having Fred Jackson out of the Bills line up. While some are questioning, Spiller was jacking up huge numbers when being the go to guy, and still did well in a time share. Almost 7 yards per touch not good enough? It should be, and it will be. Spiller does it against any team, and this is a game he should be real busy in.

Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots vs. Indianapolis Colts: Ridley’s surprising season had a nice return over the last 2 weeks. He has scored in each and had over 100 yards in one and close in another. For the year a hefty 4.7 yards per carry, and enough help in that backfield to rest him and keep him strong. The Colts do little against the run, so despite Brady lighting it up regularly, Ridley should still get his here/

Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams vs. New York Jets: The Jets run defense is brutal and Jackson is coming off a nice game against the 49ers. Jackson runs better on the turf at home, so you can do much worse with some big backs on a bye week.

Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills: Again? I have been ripped for recommending Bush lately, but if he can’t get off the skids against this defense, then he better find a new job. All fumbles aside, I predict a resurgent beast mode here.

Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Cincinnati Bengals: Maybe head coach Romeo Crennel learned Monday that when Charles has the chance he does pretty good. 100 yards and a TD against the Steelers is a pretty good outing, and at home he should get more looks and find some success, if his team can stay in this one.

Sit

Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos vs. San Diego Chargers: The Chargers are tough to run on, and McGahee seems like he has dipped his hands in grease lately. A few more fumbles and we may be looking at a time share here. McGahee has done very little the last few weeks, so look elsewhere.

Carolina Panthers RBs vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Yes the pass defense stinks, but the Bucs make up for it with the number 1 run defense. Besides it’s not like we have any clue who the featured guy will be each week.

Alex Green, Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions: Wake me when this supposed sensation breaks out. 3.1 yards per carry and still no TDs since all of you gobbled him up when Cedric Benson went down. He is just a bad, bad option.

Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons vs. Arizona Cardinals: Tell me you still trust a guy that had just 15 yards on 12 carries, against the Saints! Yeah keep looking.

Steelers RBs vs. Baltimore Ravens: No, the Ravens aren’t that tough anymore against the run, but we really have no idea how or why they use any of their backs, and with Byron Leftwich at QB, the Ravens will gladly stack the line to slow down the Steelers ground game.

Wide Receiver

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers: Bad knee, concussion, poor offense, Madden Curse, oh yeah and 19 catches for 336 yards and a TD over the last 2 weeks. Yeah, I would say he’s back. Roll with Mega-tron.

Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots: Andrew Luck takes over for Peyton Manning in this long time rivalry. As for Wayne he is first in catches and second in yards this season. Now if he could get some TDs huh! He is still huge without, so use him.

Danario Alexander, San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos: They may have finally found a down-field speed threat. 5 catches for 134 yards last week, including an 80 yard TD, and now had 8 for 195 in 2 weeks. Denver has a good defense, but they can’t cover everyone every down. This is a sweet sneak pick here.

Danny Amendola, St. Louis Rams vs. New York Jets: Ho hum. He came back from injury last week to a mere 11 catches and 102 yards. He is always an injury risk, but boy when he is on the field he sure does get it done.

Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears at San Francisco 49ers: I know he may not have Cutler, and is playing a very tough defense, but the Bears have wised up, and do what they can to get him the ball. He is in the tops in the league in catches, yards and TDs and while many are looking around, he has been a quiet but deadly MVP type player. You just can’t bench him no matter what, he’s just too good right now.

Sit

Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans: Don’t laugh. Some people will be trying this. He’s been getting better, but please not in this one.

Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints at Oakland Raiders: Sure, he has TDs in 2 straight, but in the last 3 games, the catches are 5,4 and 3. When Jimmy Graham is healthy he is usually option 1, and the Raiders don’t stop TEs well. You may need him, but don’t get too excited.

Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Cincinnati Bengals: 18 catches and 0 TDs in 4 weeks. Please tell me you aren’t using him.

Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys vs. Cleveland Browns: Only 2 grabs last week, and now may be seeing some Joe Haden. Dez Bryant and Jason Witten have become the top 2 options, and Miles is doing average work of late.

Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers vs. Chicago Bears: Some nice work the last 2 weeks with 3 TDs, in fact it’s just good enough to earn him the match up with Charles Tillman. I feel Tillman has that advantage.

Tight End

Start

Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints at Oakland Raiders: When we hear the phrase “man-crush” do we all picture Drew Brees thinking about Jimmy Graham? I know I do. He’s had 20 catches and 4 TDs since returning healthy in 3 games. He is a beast.

Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs have a terrible pass defense, so someone has to go off here. Why not Olsen, who had his first 100 yard game of the season last week?

Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys vs. Cleveland Browns: 33 grabs in the last 3 weeks is crazy work. He also has added about 260 yards to it. He is a wonderful check valve for the otherwise brutal Tony Romo.

Sit

Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions: If you’re still using him, please stop reading this.

Scott Chandler, Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins: Yes, he has 5 TDs this year, but 3 of them were against New England, so I guess not here? Maybe?

Dustin Keller, New York Jets at St. Louis Rams: They are still fairly stingy in letting up TDs, something Keller only has 1 of this year. This offense is a mess right now.

Defenses I like this week:

St. Louis Rams vs. New York Jets

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers

Atlanta Falcons vs. Arizona Cardinals

Defenses I don’t like:

Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints at Oakland Raiders

Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins

So here is the juice for Week 11. Go out there and play your best, and we will see you all for Week 12!

I have now joined Twitter, so if you would like to ask any questions or need any advice feel free to reach out to my personal account, @JPshark71.

Fantasy Football Almanac 2012: The Essential Fantasy Football Reference Guide

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Fantasy Football Start Em Sit Em Week 9

November 01, 2012 By: Category: Fantasy Football, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

A loud scream of fear came from out of nowhere! Do you hear the sounds of pure angst and fear, echoing through the air and piercing ears all around? It sounds as if the person was in pure terror and saw no end in sight. The shriek was heard all through the city, could it have been a monster? Could it be a damsel in distress? Children who were scared by something on a Halloween night? No, it was just me, crying about a rough Fantasy week after Frank Gore was kept quiet on Monday night. Yes a real bad week that watched me finish 1-3 in my 4 leagues. No Halloween needed for me that was as scary as it gets!

So to set the record straight and share a serious moment, I was just happy to survive with very little damage from Hurricane Sandy. While most of the East Coast was getting pounded with rain and wind and damage, Fantasy was on my mind, but on the back burner for sure. New York and New Jersey, and parts of my state Pennsylvania came out with bad results, electric lost, businesses closed, cars stranded etc. I want to hope and pray for all of you who have suffered and all of you who may have lost over the last few days. I found myself very blessed. Never lost power, no damage, and family and most friends safe and healthy! A sigh of relief for sure.

Now back to the games at hand. Sports are always a distraction from the every day world, and we need it to keep our minds busy. Well if you are an owner of a Fantasy team you know full well it is always about being busy, and your job never ends. So I am back with more advice to try and help you through week 9, which is the start of the second half of the NFL season.

Bye weeks are coming to an end soon, so this is the moment you can play your best possible line up. As far as pickups, well the wire is thin, so hopefully you can rely on the guys you have on your squad. With that it is time for another Start/Sit for week 9. Yep I heard the bash on Twitter how I said start Reggie Bush and not Doug Martin, but hey if anyone saw that coming from Martin, well then it is time for you to start writing articles, or maybe lottery number books? To help expand it this week, I will give more choices to Start or Sit and less of my chit chat as to why. Next week however, more chit chat. So for now enjoy this new format!

Quarterback

Start

Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Oakland Raiders: He is a very hot hand right now. Over his last 4 starts, over 1,000 yards and 9 TDs. Good match up too.

Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos at Cincinnati Bengals: Averaging 3 TDs per week over his last 4. He is perfectly back to normal and a must start each week.

Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons vs. Dallas Cowboys: Just too good all around, especially at home. The match up doesn’t matter right now.

Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs: Just a hunch, but it is the second half of the season, which is usually Charger time.

Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints vs. Philadelphia Eagles: If this defense gets shredded at home, what can Brees do to them in New Orleans? Plenty!

Sit

Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks: Seattle at home is far different than the road team. Ponder looked awful last week against a real bad pass defense. He should struggle here.

Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts vs. Miami Dolphins: This defense is stepping up big time, and Luck has been decent at best the last 2 weeks.

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions at Jacksonville Jaguars: Still only 8 TDs this year, and not the same on the road, despite the good match up.

Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons: Prime time in Atlanta is usually QB disaster. They beat Peyton Manning, so Romo should be cake!

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans: As good as Fitz can be against bad defenses, he is even worse against good ones. Look everywhere else.

Running Back

Start

Matt Forte, Chicago Bears at Tennessee Titans: The Titans defense is Swiss cheese against the run, and Forte looks pretty healthy again. They need him.

LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints: This defense is so very bad, even Andy Reid can’t blow this one. Run McCoy early and often.

Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Heating up at the right time, and this defense can be had. DMC will get his share here.

Arian Foster, Houston Texans vs. Buffalo Bills: Fresh after a bye week and this brutal defense comes to town. Even Trick or Treat isn’t this easy.

Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins vs. Carolina Panthers: Should bounce back after a rough one last week. The rookie is still a top yardage back, and should find the end zone here.

Sit

Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers defense is a bit banged up, but improving, and Bradshaw is getting beat up lately. Plus Andre Brown may steal goal line touches.

Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens: He’s been hurting, but decent. However, Ravens need this game badly and should be aggressive.

Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers: He is getting used less and less and Hillis is back to steal time. Chargers are decent against the run at home as well.

BenJarvis Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Denver Broncos: He is lost in this offense. The Broncos defense is improving every week, while Green-Ellis is averaging just 50 yards per week. Ouch!

Carolina Panthers RBs at Washington Redskins: As bad as a committee can be, this one is the worst. Use any of these guys out of 100% pure desperation.

Wide Receiver

Start

Victor Cruz, New York Giants vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: If you like Salsa dancing, then you must love Giants games. He is the top WR for this team now.

Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons vs. Dallas Cowboys: Roddy scores at home, Julio on the road. The Falcons are home. He’s had 4 TDs at Atlanta so far for White.

Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: While you were sleeping on him: 14 catches, 232 yards and 3 TDs the last 3 weeks. He is a nice flex or WR2 right now.

James Jones, Green Bay Packers vs, Arizona Cardinals: 7 more catches last week, but 0 TDs. Teams will work harder to stop Randall Cobb, which means he should see lots of Pat Peterson. Jones is still worth a play.

Sidney Rice, Seattle Seahawks vs. Minnesota Vikings: Call it a hunch, but I think Rice will try really hard to be active against his old team. He is the best WR they have right now, so expect something here. Again this is just a hunch.

Sit

Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Giants: Just not getting much done right now, and there are at least 3 or 4 TD options ahead of him in this offense.

Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers at Washington Redskins: He has come around the last 2 weeks with catches and yards, but still 0 TDs this year. The decline of Smith has to be shocking after last year’s rebirth.

Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers: This is just a bad offense right now, and the QB mess is no help either. I generally like Bowe, but not here.

Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns: Only 9 catches the last 3 weeks is part of the proof how bad this pass offense has gotten. Flacco has fallen asleep on Fantasy owners of late.

Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: As good as Cruz has been, Nicks is like the anti-Cruz. Zero TDs and only 12 catches since returning from injury. He is just a tough option right now.

Tight End

Start

Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs: Usually on national TV we get a lot from Gates. He is still plenty good when he gets hot.

Owen Daniels, Houston Texans vs. Buffalo Bills: TDs in 3 of his last 4 and averaging 5 catches per week as well. Buffalo’s defense is usually generous.

Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Back from injury and right to the end zone last week. In the grand scheme of things he is their best option.

Sit

Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints: Just not doing anything special, even this bad match up makes me leery.

Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Detroit Lions: He has clearly vanished from this offense and catching only about 2 per week.

Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers at Washington Redskins: Just another victim of this poor offense. Only 9 catches in his last 3 so no need to rush him out there.

Defenses I like this week:

Denver Broncos at Cincinnati Bengals

Green Bay Packers vs. Arizona Cardinals

Chicago Bears at Tennessee Titans

Defenses I don’t like this week:

Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints

Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons

Houston Texans vs. Buffalo Bills

Here is my input for NFL Week 9. Read up and enjoy owners, and good luck with the second half of your season!

I have now joined Twitter, so if you would like to ask any questions or need any advice feel free to reach out to my personal account, @JPshark71.

Fantasy Football Almanac 2012: The Essential Fantasy Football Reference Guide

Madden 13 video game on all consoles

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Fantasy Football Start Em Sit Em Week 8

October 25, 2012 By: Category: Fantasy Football, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

We approach the half-way mark of the NFL season this week folks, how are things treating you? For me it has been a very typical season of tough choices, heart ache and some joy have helped me roll on to an 18-10 record in 4 Fantasy leagues! It has been tough of course, and it always seems that I have to sweat out each week up until the final whistle on Monday night. In fact I jumped up in the standings in one league when a late Lions TD lowered the points of the Bears defense and a team in that league ended with a loss by a half of a point. Just crazy!

As you all know, we are also approaching Halloween season, and we have seen some wild costumes in the NFL for sure. Last week we watched Josh Freeman wearing his Dan Marino costume, firing for over 400 yards and 3 TDs, which could of actually been 5 if not for a push out and a stop at the 1 yard line. Oh and how about the get up on that kid in Tennessee Chris Johnson, who did an excellent job impersonating Barry Sanders.

How about Jay Cutler on Monday night, wearing the costume of gladiator and playing through pain after a huge sack before the half? Granted he did nothing big by the numbers, but he held his team together, even looked like a leader in getting a key division win. The Baltimore Ravens? Yes a whole team in costume, looking more like the Cleveland Browns in getting thumped by the Houston Texans. See even NFL players can get into the spirit, scary huh? Well depending on what you did and who you chose it could be a pure nightmare! (Boo!)

Here in Week 8 I am going to ask, not beg, for you to read my insights. Last week I brought you plenty of good business. I had the Bills 1-2 punch of Jackson and Spiller, told you all to feel good about Josh Freeman, told you Owen Daniels was a fine play and so on. A 3-1 week for me is nothing to sneeze at. I am bringing the heat, and if the season ended today I would have a playoff spot in all 4 of my leagues. It is getting serious now, and the waiver wires are getting thinner. It is time for wins, and the losses can make you drop out of contention. You want the big money, the big record? Tune in each week to me and the news of the CCB. If not you will look like a guy who has lost his mind, or perhaps his head, it is Halloween soon after all. Headless Horseman anyone?

Quarterback

Start

Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos vs. New Orleans Saints: Some Manning owners are still hesitating, but that time is over. He looks very much like the Manning of old, with 14 TDs this season, including 6 in the last 2 weeks. This week the Saints come to town, a defense that could have 11 Jon Vilma’s and still not make a dent in anyone’s offense. This is an easy play here.

Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Atlanta Falcons: Very few coaches work the post-bye week magic quite like Andy Reid, and what better time to pull a rabbit out of a hat than this week. Last year Vick was excellent against his former club before an injury forced him out. The Falcons, while undefeated could be better on defense, and Vick will go all out here. I have told anyone who will listen that Philly ends the Falcons win streak, and Vick will need to lead that charge. He will, and you will profit!

Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants: Please don’t hurt me, I know he has been brutal, but the last few weeks has shown improvement. The Giants seem to bring out the best in Romo, including a 3 TD effort in week 1 against the same G-Men. Not quite sure what it is about this defense that makes him spark, but in the last 4 meetings he has 12 TDs and averages over 300 yards.

Sit

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions vs. Seattle Seahawks: Being home may help, but this Lions offense is terrible of late. Outside of a miracle comeback against Philly, the Lions have posted just 13 points in the last 3 weeks. The Bears showed just how easy it can be to get to Stafford, and he looked sore after Monday’s game. Now one of the NFL’s top defenses by the numbers comes to town. Not looking pretty.

Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers at Chicago Bears: A new GM? That’s how the Panthers solve the problems with this offense? Cam Newton is becoming very average of late, and this tough defense won’t help. He has just 5 TD passes this season and his WR corp seems bored on the field. If you have another QB the time may be here to use him over Newton, he is killing teams right now.

Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns vs. San Diego Chargers: I have been big on Weeden the last few weeks, but not real giddy about the match up this week. It is the midway point of the season, which is when the Chargers usually wake from hibernation and play better ball. Yes he has 6 TDs in his last 3, and has gone over 250 yards in each, but the Chargers defense is not that bad, and it is a game they need. I think you can do better this week.

Running Back

Start

Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans vs. Indianapolis Colts: Here we go again. The guy we saw last week was that superstar who boldly went by CJ2K. He’s fast and shifty, making huge plays and getting it done. The Titans are a whole different team when Johnson takes over, so they will force him all over Indy, who has never been known as a good run defense team. Monitor him week to week, but go with him here.

Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins at New York Jets: Some people are on the fence about Bush and using him moving forward, but I am here to say it’s pure nonsense. Before an injury in his last game against the Jets, Bush was averaging 6.1 yards per carry, and the Jets run defense has been torched this season. Bush also catches passes at a clip of 3.5 grabs per week, so he is always active and has the speed to go all the way every time he touches the ball. He is rested and healthy, go with it!

Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Oakland Raiders: Some of Charles’ best games have come against the Raiders, and coming off a bye week he is well rested and ready to roll. The Chiefs are keeping Brady Quinn at QB so he will need to use Charles to the fullest to give his team a chance to win. With an average of 80 rush yards and 3 catches per week means he’s working and now he needs more TDs. This week he should be good for maybe 2.

Sit

Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers at Chicago Bears: The light work load issued to DeAngelo Williams might make Stewart owners giddy, and it may amount to something, but not so much here. I have a hard time trusting anyone on this offense against the Bears.

Steven Jackson/Darryl Richardson St. Louis Rams vs. New England Patriots: Despite Richardson’s improving work and it helping Jackson, this is not the week to try these guys. The Patriots are tough on the run, which means we will probably see lots of Sam Bradfords arm. If he can find enough receivers is a whole other story.

LaRod Stephens-Howling, Arizona Cardinals vs. San Francisco 49ers: Yes he took the bull by the horns and was excellent last week, but here comes the ferocious 49ers defense to slow him down. The Cards have plenty of issues on the offensive line and a crazy situation at QB, so trying to endorse their running game is hard to do.

Wide Receiver

Start

Eric Decker/Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos vs. New Orleans Saints: If you used the big 2 from Tampa last week you did decent, so there is no holding back from starting either one of these guys this week. Peyton Manning is hot right now, and he likes to spread the ball between both of these WRs. Again, if you have both you can’t put all your eggs in one basket, but if you have one, use them.

Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints at Denver Broncos: Yep I like this match up for both teams, and I like how well Colston has been playing lately. 5 TDs in his last 3 starts and he is catching at least 7 passes per. With Jimmy Graham out there is more action to be had, and Denver, while tough on defense will have a hard time stopping the red hot Colston.

Victor Cruz, New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys: If you like Salsa dancing, you must love watching Cruz. Sure there is a contract issue looming, but hey if he plays well, someone will pay him, and of late he looks like a billionaire. He is doing possession as well as deep hitting receiving and is becoming a true superstar in the league. These games are always filled with yards, so expect Cruz to get plenty.

Sit

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions vs. Seattle Seahawks: I don’t like the QB so how can I like his top option? Johnson is clearly in the Madden curse stage, having just 1 TD this season, no matter how hard they try and force the ball to him. Last week he was frustrated and roughed up by the Bears defense, and the Seahawks are similar in style. Each week I say how he is due to break out soon, but I am having a hard time guessing how soon. Stay away here.

James Jones, Green Bay Packers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: Despite 6 TDs over his last 4 games, I am going against him. The Packers seem to love everyone but Jones, as yes he gets TDs but little else during the game. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are stepping up and it may be time for Jones to step out.

Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Washington Redskins: He seems to have a sudden case of the dropsy’s, and it is helping Antonio Brown become more productive. Wallace has loads of talent, but a pre-season holdout seems to be taking it’s toll. There is little scary about the match up but a long view look worries me about Wallace.

Tight End

Start

Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants: Coming on strong and getting back into the flow, Witten is worth a shot here. He is due for some end zone looks too, and Romo brings it against the Giants normally.

Dustin Keller, New York Jets vs. Miami Dolphins: Keller got into the end zone last week, and seems back from a groin injury. Keller has always been a key part of this offense, and with the bang ups at WR he should be busy each week.

Sit

Dallas Clark, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings: A few nice clutch catches last week should not have you all running to him. Clark has done very little this season, and the match up isn’t great. Sure keep an eye on his progress, but not here.

Martellus Bennett, New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys: A lot of print about this match up so far, but if you are still looking to use Bennett, you have not been watching lately.

Defenses I like this week:

San Diego Chargers at Cleveland Browns

Seattle Seahawks at Detroit Lions

Chicago Bears vs. Carolina Panthers

Defenses I don’t like this week

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys

Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings

Waiver Wire: It is taking a lot of work to find anything big, but keep chipping at those rocks, you may still find some gold nuggets!

Rashard Jennings, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars: Did decent last week after an injury to Maurice Jones-Drew, and will fill the lead role for a week or 2 at least. This week is tricky, but you can use him if you need to.

Chris Cooley, TE, Washington Redskins: He may not be ready yet, but he has always been a guy who stays active. He is a good pass catcher, and he should come back and make some plays. If you have to have a TE in your league, grab him and hang on to him.

Brandon LaFell, WR, Carolina Panthers: Not a great week for him, but they need someone to step up here. He has been getting more targets so it may amount to something.

Santana Moss, WR, Washington Redskins: 3 TDs in 3 weeks has been nice, and they have been looking his way when they need the big play. Moss is hard to trust normally, but he has been awfully good of late.

Philadelphia Eagles Defense: I see them getting dropped in many leagues, but with new coordinator Todd Bowles in charge they should bring more blitzes and more chances for turnovers. The Wide 9 was killing Philly, and that is gone. Could be a nice sneak pick.

So here is my stuff for Week 8, use it or lose it! Come on, use it! Thanks for reading and as always best of luck!

I have now joined Twitter, so if you would like to ask any questions or need any advice feel free to reach out to my personal account, @JPshark71.

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Fantasy Football Week 8 Waiver Wire Pickups

October 23, 2012 By: Category: Fantasy Football, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

If you are in trouble at this point in the fantasy football season, you probably aren’t going to turn it around on the waiver wire. However if you are fighting for a playoff spot and have a stud on bye this week, you may be able to find some short term relief on the wire.

Now that the wire blogs are starting to shrink, I thought it would be fun to add some accountability to the waiver wire. If there is one thing I hate it is when a fantasy writer or talk show host will brag about their selections, yet completely ignoring their busts. I don’t want to be that guy. So let’s take a look back at last week’s blog and see how my waiver picks did this week.

Quarterbacks

Josh Freeman 420 yards, 3 TDS

John Skelton 262 yards, 1 TD

Running Backs

Felix Jones – 44 yards on the ground, 30 yards receiving

Montario Hardesty – 28 yards rushing

Vick Ballard – 84 yards rushing, 19 yards receiving

A few things here. Freeman shows you that you should start anyone against the New Orleans Saints. Their defense is that bad. My suggestion regarding Hardesty was only if Trent Richardson missed the game, he didn’t so you wouldn’t have played him. Thus I wouldn’t necessarily call him a bust. Skelton put up 10 in standard scoring leagues but I expected much better so I’d put that as a bust. Felix Jones pulled a Felix Jones. I expected big things against the Panthers, so thats a bust. Vick Ballard, had okay numbers so I wouldn’t call him a bust or a hit. I thought he’d get more carries, I was wrong.

Note: I personally picked up Mike Williams in a few leagues off the wire last week specifically to play against the Saints. Sans a brief second at the end in which I thought I had a brilliant waiver pickup, he was a bust.

Biggest Hit – Freeman

Biggest Bust – Jones

Hopefully I can bounce back this week and give you some bigger hits than busts. I think there are some great opportunities on the wire this week. Grab them if you need them!

Running Backs

Rashad Jennings, Jacksonville Jaguars - This is an easy one. Maurice Jones-Drew is hurt and you can immediately grab a starting RB in a run-heavy offense. Jennings has the talent as we saw Sunday and will now get the production. They face an Oakland Raiders team that has been diced by running backs this season. He could turn out to be the waiver wire MVP if MJD misses the rest of the season.

LaRod Stephens Howling, Arizona Cardinals - Here is another case where every fantasy football “analyst” and “expert” got it wrong. Everyone said William Powell was the clear starter yet Stephens-Holwing went off on Sunday. The Cards face a stellar 49ers running defense on Monday night. The 49ers aren’t impossible to run on as they have been diced the last few weeks. Take a shot if you need a starter or have a RB on bye as the 49ers are not the must-sit RB defense they once were.

Jeremy Kerley, New York Jets - It’s really tough to get a handle on this Jets offense. The good news is that the wide receivers actually have a favorable schedule down the stretch. The bad news is that you can’t really figure out whether to go with Hill or Curley. I like Curley and he had a big game against the New England Patriots Sunday. Was it the poor Pats pass defense or is Curley breaking out? They face a pretty underrated Miami Dolphins defense Sunday so proceed with caution this week.

Jonathon Dwyer, Pittsburgh Steelers - The word out of Pittsburgh is that Mendenhall could miss another week. That is good enough of a reason to me to pick up Dwyer. Obviously you aren’t going to start him if Mendenhall plays. Dwyer gets a Washington Redskins team that just gave up two rushing TDs to the New York Giants. The Steelers want to run more and as long as Dwyer can produce, he’ll get the carries. I like him a lot if he gets the start next week.

Quarterbacks

Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings - Ponder probably isn’t available in larger leagues, but I see him on some wires in 10 team leagues. Ponder is another guy you pick up and play the matchup. If you’re QB is on a bye this week, I would highly recommend grabbing Ponder. I made the same recommendation last week about Josh Freeman and guess what? He went off. The Vikings face a Buccanners defense that has been carved up by QBs this season. It’s a great matchup and it could be a big night Thursday for Ponder.

Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders - I had Palmer listed as a sleeper before the season and well he has been rather disappointing. He hasn’t been as horrible as some make him out to be, but he is definitely a matchup only guy right now and he has a great one this week. He has a Kansas City defense that has been shredded this season by QBs. If you have someone on a bye week or need some help, Palmer could be a nice pickup. If the Chiefs aren’t enticing enough he has the Buccaneers defense the week after.

Wide Receivers

Donnie Avery, Indianapolis Colts - Avery has been on and off the waiver wire list this season. I’ll put him back on this week and this week only. He has a great matchup this week against a Tennessee Titans that have been sliced and diced by less talented receivers this season. There are a lot of good receivers on a bye week this week so chances are, you have a need. I’d take a flyer on him and exploit the matchup.

Chris Givens, St. Louis Rams - I am not as hot on Givens as some but his last few week’s of production definitely deserves a look. He doesn’t catch many balls (seven in his last three games) but he puts up the yardage. He has had two straight weeks of 8 point games in standard scoring leagues. He’s not someone I’d start every week but he may be someone you pick up and stash or use for one week during a bye. He is playing against a New England Patriots defense this week that was just carved up by Mark Sanchez. You could do worse but I am not ready to give him a full endorsement.

Tight Ends

Dustin Keller, New York Jets – Keller is another rough one to get a handle on. He has always had the potential and fantasy experts have expected big things out of him up until this year. He had a TD Sunday but again was this a bad Pats defense or is something brewing with Keller and Sanchez? I would be real hesitant to pick him up and plug him in but he may be someone you keep on the bench and play against favorable TE matchups.

Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers - The Chicago Bears are generally a defense you sit your players against but not when you have tight ends. The Bears have been lit up by tight ends this season. Keep in mind that Cam Newton lit up the Bears last season, although Newton is a much different player this season. The bottom line here is it is all matchup and I would be surprised if the Panthers didn’t exploit it with Olsen.

Fantasy Football Almanac 2012: The Essential Fantasy Football Reference Guide

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NFL Week 7 Thoughts & Recap – Inside The Wheelhouse

October 23, 2012 By: Category: Fantasy Football, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Let’s take a look back at some of the things that stood out from Week 7 in the National Football League!

– San Francisco edged out the Seahawks in a defensive battle proving that contrary to others beliefs, they are still the team to beat in the NFC West.

– I felt like despite the loss, Seattle proved they could hang with some of the best in the NFC. Seattle could’ve really made this into a game at different points but failed to convert at ample opportunities. It’s definitely a “learning loss” for Russell Wilson and Co.

- Welcome back Chris Johnson to the NFL. I look forward to most Fantasy owners starting him next week and for him to run upwards of 20 yards…for the entire game.

– Whatever happened to that amazing Buffalo Bills defense we were supposed to see this season? Chan Gailey just isn’t the guy for this team and the Bills organization needs to consider hiring a coach that can make this franchise believe they are the winners we know they can be.

– I’d say the New York Football Giants were lucky to beat the Washington Redskins in Week 7 but we know how that goes as the defending Super Bowl Champs play that type of “come-from-behind” victories ALL THE TIME. Good win but definitely foreshadowing into the future of what the NFC East will become.

– What is there to not say about RGIII? Guy is a gamer and going to be a huge thorn in the side of the Giants for years to come.

– New Orleans wins their 2nd game of the season after a call went their way. They don’t look as dominating and I don’t see them as a playoff team still but they are winning games. Thankfully for them they can still turn this around and get better for weeks to come.

– Tampa Bay is a frustrating team. Ton of potential but not completely capitalizing on it yet, at least these losses will help them plan for the future and hopefully learn from it.

– For the 2nd week in a row the Green Bay Packers are looking “normal” and Aaron Rodgers is setting the Fantasy Football world on fire. If they are playing this way without Greg Jennings, I can only imagine how they will play with Greg Jennings.

– The Rams never got going like they did against Arizona back on a Thursday Night game and I have to wonder if Sam Bradford will ever come into his own as a franchise QB still; lots to work on for St. Louis after a frustrating Week 7 loss.

– Congrats to Tony Romo and the Cowboys for avoiding this week’s “Monday Morning quarterback” headlines. This team still doesn’t have what it takes heading into Week 8 and I have to wonder if the relationship between Tony Romo & the Cowboys are coming to an end in the near-to-soon future. It may be time to move on after not playing up to the par Dallas sets them up to be every season.

– Cam Newton has zero confidence right now. Want to watch a Football star look at their career in the mirror with not a single ounce of positivity? Then watch Cam Newton’s post-game press conference after the Week 7 loss to Dallas. Not a good attitude to have for such a young player.

– Sure, we were worried about Houston after their tough Week 6 loss to Green Bay but they bounced back just fine. I really expect them to start pulling away from the rest of the AFC South in the coming weeks.

– Things aren’t looking too bright in Baltimore right now. I was wondering how they would handle all of their depleting injuries to their defense and that answer was not well. Joe Flacco needs to step up and lead this team if he ever wants to be a franchise defining quarterback in the NFL.

– Always great to see the Indianapolis Colts get the win due to everything going on with this organization. Even better news was that head coach Chuck Pagano left the hospital this weekend. Many Football fans are thinking of you right now Coach, stay strong!

– It’s a common trend here on the blog but I still love what Cleveland is doing despite all these losses. They haven’t been blown out like some weaker teams have been and they have stayed pretty competitive. Cleveland is making the right changes with their organization consistently as Mike Holmgren will also be out as President of Football Operations, good things will be coming to Cleveland in the future.

– The Minnesota Vikings are 5-2 heading into Week 7. I’m really intrigued to see how this squad will handle divisional play against Chicago and Green Bay this season. Do I believe them to be a playoff team due to their record? No, but if they are still competitive come Week 12 then I will take them seriously.

– Arizona is back-peddling out of all the good fortune and praise they received for the first 4-5 weeks of the season. I wonder how many jokes are still being made about this Cardinals team with the line: “they are who we thought they were…”

– Oakland comes back and wins the game as they prove they are NOT the worst team in the league. It’s a shame that this great game was on the same time Jets vs. Patriots was…

– Looks like that holdout finally caught up to MJD…Fantasy owners hold your breath (don’t worry I’m one of them in several leagues)!

– At one point it looked like New England was going to drop to 3-4 on the season heading into Week 8. That is something you never thought you’d see at the halfway point of the season during the Brady/Belichick era in New England. They continue to struggle against poor teams which make me wonder how they will handle some of the “elite” in the AFC this season.

– Lets face it; the Jets had low expectations going into Week 7. The fact they nearly beat their division rival would be an accomplishment for most teams but not for a team from New York. Mark Sanchez had his chance and he yet again, literally, dropped the ball.

– In a battle of disappointments the Pittsburgh Steelers get the win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday Night and while the window may be closing on this team they still have a very good chance to take over the AFC North at the moment. The AFC North is quite the crapshoot right now due in part to the Ravens injuries and despite not necessarily being a strong team, the Pittsburgh Steelers getting divisional wins such as this one will help their cause to at least make the playoffs in 2012.

– Cincy, what happened!? They were looking so good and then this losing streak has really set them back a ways. Clearly there is still a lot of room to grow in Cincinnati before we can put them up there with Baltimore and Pittsburgh.

- The Chicago Bears are starting to turn me into a believer but one that I will precede with caution towards. Their defense is incredibly solid and the best in Football right now, while their offense, at times, can be very inconsistent. If everything clicks together come January this is a team that could very well be representing the NFC in the Super Bowl.

– By far the biggest disappointment in 2012 has to be the Detroit Lions. This team was picked by many to start taking over the NFC North division starting this season and they are failing to live up to those expectations. You know things are getting bad when people are questioning the longevity of your #1 overall draft pick QB, Matthew Stafford.

For more NFL talk join Bower, Chris Johnson and myself Monday – Friday throughout the Football season on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, ESPN 1300 in New Haven and online at 979espn.com!

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Fantasy Football Week 7 Waiver Wire Pickups

October 16, 2012 By: Category: Fantasy Football, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

felix jonesIf you are still actively looking for fantasy football help off of the waiver wire at this point in the season you may be in luck. Unfortunate injuries have opened up a few starting opportunities for players that can be plucked right off of the wire and inserted into your lineup.

The waiver wire has been fairly disappointing this season. The pickups that have turned into fantasy weekly studs have been very few and far between. Then again if you were lucky enough to get players like James Jones or CJ Spiller would probably argue that point.

Here are a few options this week if you are either hurting in your weekly lineup or want to gamble on a bye week fill-in if your regular starter has the week off.

Running Backs

Felix Jones, Dallas Cowboys – Fool me once, shame on you Felix Jones, fool me twice shame on me. It appears that the former Razorback will likely get the start this week when the Cowboys play the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers are horrendous against the run so the opportunity for Jones couldn’t have come at a better time. The matchup looks fantastic on paper although I am always leery of putting Felix Jones in my fantasy lineup. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Montario Hardesty, Cleveland Browns – This is a case of taking a guy simply because he is the starter. I don’t expect big things out of Hardesty but it would appear that he will get the start for the injured Trent Richardson this week. Hardesty does have a fantastic matchup on Sunday against an Indianapolis Colts defense that was just shredded by Shonn freaking Greene! That alone makes Hardesty a recommended pickup and start in Week 7.

Vick Ballard, Indianapolis Colts – Ballard hit the wire last week when news broke that Donald Brown would miss up to six weeks with an injury. I grabbed him salivating over the matchup with the Jets, started him, and was rewarded with a whopping three points in my standard scoring league. What a joke! So why would I recommend him? It wasn’t all of his fault as the Colts were down and needed to throw. It was just one of those kinds of games. I don’t think his three points were indicative of talent, I think it was more the situation. One of the worst mistakes I made this season was dropping Kyle Rudolph after one bad game. You don’t want to do that with Ballard. I am willing to take a shot on him on a Cleveland Browns defense that is weak against the run.

Quarterbacks

John Skelton, Arizona Cardinals – I am putting Skelton here not because I am a big believer, but because I have to. Skelton is a starter on a team that has Larry Fitzgerald at wide receiver, thus he is due to put up some numbers. Skelton and Fitz actually have had pretty decent chemistry in the past so I am willing to take a shot if I am desperate here. Skelton does have some terrible matchups coming up but you never know. You could have said the same thing about Robert Griffin III last week and he lit up the Minnesota Vikings. Would I pick him up and start him? No, but you may need him in 14-16 team leagues.

Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Am I losing my mind over a good game? No, but what I am doing is sniffing out a tremendous matchup for Josh Freeman. Freeman gets the New Orleans Saints who are giving up mega points to everyone and anyone. He will get his chances with Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams and could put up one of the week’s bigger numbers on Sunday. If you have a QB on bye or are facing a bad defensive matchup, you may want to take a shot for one-week only on Josh Freeman.

Fantasy Football Almanac 2012: The Essential Fantasy Football Reference Guide

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Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft

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NFL Week 6 Thoughts & Recap – Inside The Wheelhouse

October 16, 2012 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Tom BradyLet’s take a look back at some of the things that stood out from Week 6 in the National Football League!

– Hey how about the Tennessee Titans shocking the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday Night in the closing seconds of the game? On “any given Sunday” anyone could win in the NFL and the Titans certainly proved that as they were the underdogs against the Steelers. In my opinion Matt Hasselbeck earned at least one more week as this team’s starting QB until Jake Locker is fully healthy.

– Pittsburgh…seriously? Every time I think the window isn’t closing on this team they go and do something like that on Thursday Night. This may be at best an 8-8 team if they continue to get hit with the injury bug.

- The Atlanta Falcons are on this incredible rollercoaster this season where they simply cannot lose. How many times have we watched their opponent drive down the field to take the lead or tie the game this season only for Atlanta to win the game in the end? This finally may be this team’s season after all.

– Oakland gave it a good shot but it just wasn’t meant to be. Many things still need to be fixed in Raider Nation but getting the big “W” this Sunday would’ve prevented that discussion at least for one week.

– Nice to see this current crop of Cleveland Browns getting their first win of the season. I’ll say it now and I’ll say it again; I really like the direction the Browns are headed in.

– Cincy, what are you doing to yourselves lately? They have a great opportunity to go under their radar again in the NFL and sneak into the playoffs only to botch it up in consecutive weeks. Maybe all that luck has finally run out for the Bengals.

– Speaking of teams going under the radar this season how about the Miami Dolphins? They get a pretty nice win over a young and hungry St. Louis Rams team to improve to 3-3 where they are now tied in the AFC East.

– I really believe the Rams are a better team then the one we saw play against the Dolphins on Sunday but that’s how the NFL rolls. I still like this team as a sleeper in the NFC playoffs at the season’s ends.

– Congrats to the New York Jets on prolonging another week of media craziness. Wait, what? They are playing New England next week? Oh, nevermind.

– While they played with a ton of emotion last week we learned that this week the Colts still have a lot to learn. Will be a good team soon enough but still lots to grow on in Indy.

– Detroit got their first loss in Week 6 last season and appeared to have finally woken up in Week 6 of this season. I’m still concerned by the way their offense played overall in the game but it’s a step in the right direction for a very underachieving team at the moment.

– What is going on with the Philadelphia Eagles!? Talk about inconsistency so far this season! Imagine if those one or two point wins were actually losses now…

– Baltimore is winning games against teams they should be heavily competing with like the Dallas Cowboys but it appears they may have lost their defensive captain and leader in the process in Ray Lewis. Great win but a bigger loss for the defensive unit.

– Remember when Dallas won that Week 1 kick-off game against the New York Football Giants?

– Still not really sure what to think of this Tampa Bay Buccaneers team. I’m under the impression that they are better then their record shows and help me agree with that theory after a nice win over the Chiefs in Week 6.

– Maybe the Kansas City Chiefs fans shouldn’t be cheering for Brady Quinn over Matt Cassel after all?

– Everyone’s favorite sleeper pick entering the 2012 season (except me) was the Buffalo Bills and now they are tied for 1st in the AFC East in Week 6…along with every other team in their division. They still got a good shot at that playoff berth but I believe still have an uphill climb this season to compete with the other AFC East teams.

– What has happened to the Arizona Cardinals? Were they just pretending to be that good the first four weeks of the season? Based off of their schedule they could’ve/should’ve been pulling away from the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West.

– If there was an “upset special” game that I liked going into this Week it would’ve been the Seahawks over the Patriots. Well I didn’t go with that instinct, simply because you don’t bet against the Patriots but the Seahawks still pulled it off. This team seems to play really well against good teams and really bad against bad teams. I wonder which Seahawks team shows up against San Francisco next week.

– The fact that New England has 3 losses at this point in the season is pretty alarming. They haven’t looked like that dominating Patriots team we are used to seeing but I’m not counting them out at all. I look for them to bounce back perfectly fine next week against the Jets; if not then the panic alarm shall be sounded.

– Where has this New York Football Giants team been this season? The defending Super Bowl Champions looked dominant in Week 6 against the San Francisco 49ers and the win should strike fear into many top NFC teams. That Week 15 matchup vs. the Falcons is starting to look pretty interesting…

– One of the best things for the 49ers last season was that they were the underdogs and that no one believed in them. Now they are the favorites and everyone believes in them as it makes it very hard for them to have that mindset that carried them last season. I’m very intrigued with their Thursday Night game against the Seattle Seahawks now.

– Would it be shocking if I told you that I’m starting to like the Washington Redskins as a Wild Card playoff team this season?

– The Vikings had the opportunity to go 5-1 on the season and failed to do so in a game that should’ve proven them to be for real. Instead we are left to the belief that the Vikings may be heading back down to the basement in the NFC North as the balance of power is starting shift back to where we are used to seeing it.

– Lets welcome back the Green Bay Packers to the NFL! It took them 6 weeks but the offense we are used to seeing from the Packers torched the very good Houston Texans defense this week. Aaron Rodgers threw for 6 touchdowns and Jordy Nelson finally broke out as the lead receiver the Packers needed. But it still begs the question, are the Pack really back?

– This was the test the Houston Texans needed to pass. While they were 5-0 on the season many people questioned how they would play against an elite team. They didn’t fair too well and now this team will have to live with that burden until they beat an elite NFL team this season.

– Are Eli and Peyton having some sort of “family rivalry” or something? The Broncos were struggling in the 1st half only to have that “Manning-like comeback” in the 2nd half to win the game. Great win for the Broncos and hopefully a step in the right direction for this great squad.

– The San Diego Chargers are without a doubt one of the most frustrating teams to watch this season. They could easily be either 6-0 or 0-6 on the season; they are very inconsistent as a team. I really wonder if Philip Rivers will ever be “that guy” we believe he could be in the NFL.

For more NFL talk join Bower, Chris Johnson and myself Monday – Friday throughout the Football season on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, ESPN 1300 in New Haven and online at 979espn.com!

You can listen to Jeff on “The Bower Show” every Monday – Friday from 3pm – 7pm ET on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, CT. You can listen online at www.979espn.com

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