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Fantasy Football Championship Week Dos and Don’ts

December 18, 2013 By: Category: Fantasy Football, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

It is finally here for some of you, your fantasy football championship week. Fourteen weeks and endless hours of draft preparation have brought you to this point. Unfortunately with big games comes big pressure, and the wrong decision can result in an early exit and an offseason of depression.

Don’t over-analyze - There is a reason you have gotten this far in the fantasy football playoffs. Stick with what got you here. The most common mistake for first-time championship players is to over-think your game. For example, you own Marshawn Lynch and the Seattle Seahawks are playing the Arizona Cardinals this week. You start Lynch no matter what. Especially this season as no defense has been consistent for fifteen games.

The worst words you want to hear before you play your running back are Cardinals. Yes, the Cardinals have shutdown the run for most of the season and are first against the run in fantasy football. Yes the Cardinals have given up only 4 rushing TDs all season.  However, are you really going to shut down someone as hot as Marshawn Lynch in your championship week for someone off the waiver wire? Are you going to sit down Drew Brees just because he is playing the Carolina Panthers? Now if you are sitting there with comparable backups on your bench you may and I stress may want to consider it. However, the moral here is not to panic. Stick with the money guys who brought you to the dance, especially if you don’t have any suitable backups on your bench. Strange things can happen, just ask anyone who played against Jamaal Charles last week.

Skip the waiver wire - There is no reason you should even think of playing the waiver wire game.  Yes Matt Cassel is tempting, but can you really trust an offense like the Vikings at this point? I look at it this way when it comes to playing guys in fantasy football at this point in the season. It comes down to, who do you trust? If there is a gem flying around your waiver wire, I’d grab him only to keep him away from your opponent. But I’d have a hard time resting my championship hopes on someone that has been hanging around for most of the year on the wire.

Go with a running back in your flex position - I have always had a rule which has cost me on some weeks, but has won me more games in the long haul. My rule of thumb is always start a running back in the flex position over a wide receiver. I don’t care if you have three great receivers. One of them has to sit for the running back. Remember what time of year we are in. It is the winter time, and this is the time of the year where most teams will be running over passing in outdoor weather.

Of course this is subject to change if you have no true starting running back to start in the flex while you have a great receiver sitting on your bench. At the same time, you know a running back is going to get his carries. Whether he scores or not, he is going to get double digit carries depending upon the offense. The wide receiver you want to play could be easily shut out. I’d rather take 7 points from a bad running back than 0 from a wide receiver.

Beware of fuzzy fantasy football statistics - This is something that could get you into big trouble if you don’t do your homework. There are a lot of writers and websites that give you fantasy stats such as average points a team gives up to tight ends, quarterbacks, etc. Read the stats closely.

Most of these websites are giving you seasonal stats. My rule of thumb is to look at a team’s last four-five games. For example, the Minnesota Vikings are ranked as one of the best bets for running backs by most fantasy sites. Those same “experts” will yell and scream to play your running backs against the Vikings. What they don’t tell you is that over the last four games, the Vikings have only given up one touchdown to opposing running backs. A lot of those fantasy football sites use seasonal stats and while the Vikings  may have been shredded a few times, they aren’t the “give me” that most fantasy experts would lead you to believe they are. The same can be said for the Jaguars, who have greatly improved their defense over the last few weeks. These fantasy websites can be a great guide, but do your own homework. Remember this is the championship game and chances are your opponent is up to his neck in stats. Be prepared and you’ll be fine.

Go with your gut - This goes for the playoffs and regular season. I have been there. Your gut is telling you one thing but all of the “experts” or bloggers are telling you another. At the end of the day this is purely a guessing game for all of us. Nothing is ever a sure thing. Strange things happen in December whether it is weather, injuries, or coaches on the hot seat, or just flukes. Your gut is what got you to the championship game in the first place. It is okay to accumulate as much information as possible and use that towards making your decision. I just wouldn’t make a decision purely based off of something you hear or read that completely goes against your instincts. The only one who has accountability this week is you. Remember that.

So there they are, a few dos and don’ts for fantasy football championship players. Hopefully you followed some of my advice this season and had some luck in your league (and better luck than I had in some of my others). Good luck in your championship, and welcome to the big dance.

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2012: The Year in Sports, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

January 01, 2013 By: Category: Major League Baseball, NBA, NFL | NCAA Football, NHL, Sports

Before I start, I hope that everyone at Camelclutchblog.com, especially my editor Eric Gargiulo, and their families had a great holiday. I hope that my readers also had a great holiday as well. I did as well as my beagle Ace Frehley. I thought I would get a blog done for you before we all celebrate the coming of the new year.

As 2012 comes to a close, it is time for me to write a blog about the high points, and the low points of the year in sports. As sports fans, we had quite a very interesting year. We have had great moments, shocking moments, sad moments, and great comebacks. Hopefully, in 2013, there will be many more.

As I said, a lot has happened in 2012, so it will be hard to sum it up, but I will do my best. I will be putting the ones that I thought were the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of 2012. I apologize in advance if I missed anyone’s personal favorite.

Here we go. The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly in Sports for 2012:

The GOOD:

Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera wins Major League Baseball’s Triple Crown.

This was awesome. All through the 2012 MLB season, commentators were keeping an eye on Cabrera to see if he would win the elusive Triple Crown (batting average, home runs, and RBI). He sure did, and became the first to do so since Carl Yastrzemski in1967.

SF Giants sweep the Detroit Tigers to win the 2012 World Series.

The Giants on their way to the final round, made things difficult for themselves, but once they faced the Tigers, they swept them away.

Super Bowl 46 was won by the NY Giants over the New England Patriots.

The Giants nearly showed why they were a 9-7 team by using two time outs late in the second half. However, thanks to an unlucky miscommunication between Tom Brady and Wes Welker, and a lucky catch by Mario Manningham (who normally would have dropped that ball), the Giants wound up with their fourth Lombardi.

The Los Angeles Kings win their first Stanley Cup over the New Jersey Devils.

In six games, in a thrilling series, the Los Angeles Kings defeated the favored New Jersey Devils. This was the Kings franchise’s first Stanley Cup. Yes, my Devils got beat, and from the way they played, they deserved to get beat. However, it is nice to see a team who never won the coveted Cup finally win.

The amazing comebacks of both Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson.

Who would have thought that sports fans would see two of the greatest players at their respective positions suffer career threatening injuries in 2011, and return to have MVP-like seasons? This is amazing. One does not even have to be a fan of either to just admire these men, and their will to come back.

I remember seeing Peyton on the sidelines. I was wondering if he was going to return like before. I also remember seeing Peterson crumbling to the ground. I was so sad. Well, now, in 2012, these two are in the running for MVP. Pun intended.

2012 Haskell Winner Paynter’s Recovery and KISS bassist Gene Simmons getting involved with promotion at Santa Anita Racetrack.

Of course, I have blogged a few times about my beloved Paynter’s recovery from colitis, and laminitis, and his return to trainer Bob Baffert’s barn on Decemeber 29, 2012.

Santa Anita Racetrack has now associated itself with KISS bassist, and entrepreneur, Gene Simmons to help with promotion. He was at Santa Anita’s opening day, and presented the trophy to the winning connections of Jimmy Creed, who won the Malibu Stakes.

The BAD:

The Lance Armstrong Debacle.

Wow. What a fall from grace. I mean, to some, he will always be a hero due to his beating cancer, and to others, he will be a cheater. This is just sad because he was a hero to so many who had been cancer victims.

Terrell Owens being released from the Seahawks.

This is just sad. If you believe in the “karma” theory, I guess karma turned into the female dog for Owens. I mean, everyone knows his story by now. He got cut back in August by just about the only team that would give him a chance. Now, he is out of the NFL. I thought he was done anyway, but maybe he should not have burned so many bridges, perhaps?

I’ll Have Another’s Triple Crown Bid ends before he even got put in the gate.

I’ll Have Another, the winner of the 2012 Kentucky Derby, and Preakness was scratched the day before he was to run in the Belmont Stakes to attempt to be the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. He evidently suffered some sort of tendon injury, and was retired. He eventually was sold, and now lives in Japan.

I’ll Have Another’s Triple Crown attempt also highlighted his trainer, Doug O’Neill who had a drug violation that had to be adjudicated. The Triple Crown bid also put a spotlight on drug use in the sport.

NY Governor Mario Cuomo, Jr., in his infinite wisdom, takes over NYRA, and has the Belmont Stakes horses in separate barns.

This was awful. After the news about O’Neil’s drug issue broke, NY Governor Mario Cuomo, Jr., after previously taking over NYRA, orders the horses for the Belmont Stakes , starting Wednesday before the race, to go into separate barns. Cuomo doesn’t quite get horses and racing. Horses are creatures of habit. They like routine, and don’t like it when their routine is disturbed. I don’t think it affected any of the horses who ran, but I thought it was a dumb idea.

The UGLY.

The New York Jets.

Oh Lord. Even when I lived in New Jersey, I did not remember the Jets being this horrid. I am no fan of theirs, and never have been, and never will, but I don’t think Rich Kotite had them this bad. Good Grief. The team is so disorganized. I know they lost Santonio Holmes, and Darrelle Revis to IR. However, that is no excuse.

The Jets have become the Keystone Cops of the NFL. Period. They trade for Tim Tebow, but to soothe the ego of their starter, Mark Sanchez, they give Sanchez more money. Now, that Sanchez has either regressed or the Jets discovered that Sanchez is not all that, the Jets are in cap room hell if they try to trade him. They only wanted Tebow to win the back pages against the newly crowned Super Bowl Champions, New York Giants. Why ESPN shoved this team down our throats, I don’t know.

This play sums up the 2012-13 Season of the New York Jets:

http://youtu.be/vEI03oOE6is

The Cottage Industry that is Tim Tebow.

As a lifelong sports fan, I have never seen a third string quarterback get so much attention in my entire life. He has been pushed as the face of goodness. He has been pushed as the greatest college player ever. He gets pushed to soothe the religious conservatives. ESPN shoves him down our throats via First Take. Skip Bayless, who was once a good author, has lowered his standards to be Tebow’s flagbearer.

On the other side, you have Merrill Hodge, and Mark Schlereth, who argue that the kid can’t play the position. Hodge is very adamant about it. There are other journalists that debate whether Tebow is going to make it as a QB as well, and now with this Wildcat-gate, the debating has escalated.

I honestly do not see what the big deal is over this guy.

Tragedies involving players of the Dallas Cowboys and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Dallas Cowboy lineman Josh Brent was driving intoxicated on December 8, 2012, when he got into an accident, killing his best friend and teammate, Jerry Brown. Brent was charged with one count of intoxication manslaughter.

So sad, but what is uplifting is that Brown’s mother forgave Brent, and Brent sat with Brown’s family at the funeral.

Kansas City Chief Linebacker Javon Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend
Kasandra Perkins before going to Arrowhead Stadium, and killing himself in front of Chiefs GM Scott Pioli, and Head Coach Romeo Crennel on December 1, 2012. The couple’s three month old daughter was left behind.

This made me sad, and then angry. If you are in an argument with someone, just walk away. Why on earth do you have to get so mad that you have to kill the other person? A three month old girl will never know her parents, because an argument escalated to the point where one of the participants didn’t have the sense to walk away and cool off. That person just had to kill the other one, and then took the coward’s way out, instead of facing the consequences of what he did.

ESPN First Take’s Rob Parker’s Comments about Redskins QB Robert Griffin III.

As most people are aware, ESPN suspended Rob Parker 30 days for his comments about Robert Griffin III on ESPN First Take. I also hope that action will be taken against the producers who let the controversial comments be re-aired on the replay, and on the “Best of First Take” later that afternoon. I don’t think Parker’s punishment was strong enough, but that’s my opinion.

For those who are not familiar with Parker’s comments, Parker (who is African American) was discussing a USA Today interview done with RGIII where RGIII said he wanted to be known as a QB, not a “black QB.” Well, Parker questioned whether RGIII was a “brother or a cornball brother.” Parker then questioned whether RGIII was a “brother” because he had a white fiancee, and was allegedly a Republican.

I am mixed race (white mother married to a father who is African American and Cherokee). I found Parker’s comments idiotic, and just wrong. I had thought we had gotten past all this. There was a time in the USA where interracial marriage was ILLEGAL. I mean, why is Parker hung up on that?

Parker also made fun of golf legend Tiger Woods for wanting to be seen as a person, and not a “black golfer.” The pigeon-holing is very shortsighted. I mean, if RGIII is a Republican, that means he is not black? Seriously, Mr. Parker?

I just think we should see people as people. I watch Griffin play, and I see a QB. I watch Tom Brady play, and I see a QB. I don’t say “RGIII is a great black QB.” I also don’t say, “Brady is a great white QB.” They are just QBs.

Well, that was my Good, Bad, and the Ugly in sports for 2012. I hope everyone enjoyed it and I hope everyone has a great New Year.

Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/giopontifan

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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!

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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

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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 Waiver Wire Week 14 Pickups

December 04, 2012 By: Category: Fantasy Football, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

The Fantasy Football 2012 playoffs are here. Unless you are playing with the perfect lineup, you could always use a little help on the waiver wire. Even dynasty players looking on the outside could get a jump start and pick up some intriguing options for next year on this week’s wire.

Now let’s get one thing real clear. I wouldn’t start half of these guys in my playoff matchups. However, there are some really nice options here for dynasty players that can start looking ahead to next year. Additionally there are some intriguing options that while they may not be needed on your team, you may want to consider grabbing them just to keep them away from your post season opponents.

Quarterbacks

Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns - Look I am not going to tell you to grab Weeden and start him over your starting QB that may have gotten you to the playoffs. What I will tell you that is Weeden has looked better lately and has some very tasty matchups left with the Kansas City Chiefs and Washington Redskins, both great defenses for making your average QB look great. If you have the room on your bench you maybe you grab him just to keep him away from a potential opponent who is looking for a boost at QB.

Greg McElroy, New York Jets - This is more for you dynasty players out there than anyone else. McElroy could wind up as the starter next year on the Jets depending upon how he finishes the season. My hunch is that he will be pretty darn efficient thanks to a lot of teams sleeping on the Jets. If you are in a 12-16 team dynasty league maybe you grab him on the chance that he does some nice things with the Jets. Would I grab him and stick him in my starting my lineup in the playoffs? Heck no!

Wide Receivers

Mike Thomas, Detroit Lions - Just when you were ready to start using Ryan Broles in your lineup every week he leaves with an injury. Thomas stepped in this week and looked pretty good in his new role. Thomas is a good receiver who had some big moments in Jacksonville. Unfortunately consistent he is not. Thomas is the kind of player who will put up 75 yards and a TD one week and 5 yards and 0 TDs the next. But you have to love anyone who is the number-two receiving option in this offense. That alone lands him on the list.

Running Backs

Montell Owens, Jacksonville Jaguars - And then there was one. The Jaguars running back situation this season has gotten to be almost comical at this point. Injuries now dictate that Montell Owens will be the work horse for the Jags. All comedy aside, Owens is an intriguing option. This is not the same Jags team that stifled Rashad Jennings most of the season. This is an offense that has a passing threat which should open up some big time opportunities for Owens. I love the upside here but I’d probably hold him on my bench for a week just to see how he assimilates to a full work load.

Bilal Powell, New York Jets - Powell is another guy like his teammate McElroy who could be more someone you stash for the future in your dynasty league than someone you will count on in your playoffs. Powell has some really nice matchups coming up against some of the worst rushing defenses in the fantasy football. If Powell can make some plays there is a good possibility he returns to the Jets next season in an increased role. That could make him a nice pickup, especially since he plays in an offense that would like to run more. Dynasty owners could have a really nice steal coming into next season in Powell.

Tight Ends

Dallas Clark, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Okay it is time to get back on board with Dallas Clark. That old S.O.B. has come back to life in recent weeks with three scores in his last four games. The downside with Clark is that he doesn’t get a lot of targets at all in the Bucs offense. The upside though is that he appears to have replaced Mike Williams as Josh Freeman’s go-to option in the red zone. Clark has some awesome matchups down the stretch against some pretty poor defenses. He has a real good chance to finish strong and help boost your playoff team.

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NFL Week 13 Thoughts & Recap – Inside The Wheelhouse

December 04, 2012 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Let’s take a look back at some of the things that stood out from Week 13 in the National Football League!

- Great win for the Atlanta Falcons in primetime as they improve to 11-1 on the season. I have been very critical of the Falcons ability against good teams all season and they proved in back-to-back weeks they can pull it off. Now they just need to show up come playoff time…

– Say what you will about the New Orleans Saints but they gave it a pretty valiant effort these last couple of weeks. It will take a miracle for them to be playoff bound in 2012 as they get their 7th loss of the season here in Week 13. I wonder if the “Sean Payton magic” will be able to get this team back where they typically are in 2013, obviously if Payton returns.

– I’m sure many Buffalo Bills fans wondered where this team has been all season long and the funny thing about this Bills team is that they can’t be counted out completely just yet. They are 5-7 on the year and just sit outside the 6th seed in the AFC. Certainly that tells you how weak the AFC truly is this season.

– After two weeks of “Jaguar-Mania” they finally came back to Earth. Sorry Jacksonville, Chad Henne is decent but not your savior. I’m sure Alex Smith will be looking for a job next season…or will he.

– Seattle has been a pretty nice surprise all season long in the NFC. They pick up their 7th win on the season and get another hard fought win against a pretty good team in Chicago. Not a bad year when you beat Green Bay (technically), New England and Chicago in one season.

– I’ve been preaching this belief off-and-on the last couple of weeks: the Chicago Bears aren’t as good as their record shows. Believe me when I say that because they have trouble against good NFL teams. They need to turn that belief around before playoff time gets here.

– Green Bay looked like they were still hung over from the knockout punch they received last week from the Giants in the 1st half and then had shades of the Packers we have been used to the last couple of seasons in the 2nd half. It could be a good sign for Aaron Rodgers and company.

– How is Adrian Peterson not the NFL MVP favorite right now? I know Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have had good seasons but would the Vikings be where they are right now without him? 21 carries for 210 yards, enough said.

– The Colts are having a miracle season right now and if you don’t believe me watch Andrew Luck’s game-winning pass in Detroit. Indianapolis has been the best story in the NFL all season long, amazing stuff.

– Hello, can anyone hear me yet? Fire Jim Schwartz at the end of the season! He literally coached the Detroit Lions out of a win…AGAIN!

– Sure Houston plays in an easy division but they still need to get the easy wins as well. The Texans did just that and got their 11th win of the season. Home-field advantage is getting closer to their grasps.

– I may be in the minority on this one but I really enjoy what I see out of Jake Locker on a weekly basis. I really hope Tennessee continues to believe in the kid, he is definitely poised to potentially surprise his critics with his pla.

– Tough weekend for the Kansas City Chiefs, my thoughts & prayers go out to them, the families involved and of course the 3-month old who was left behind in this selfish tragedy. I know a win won’t completely heal this situation but I hope it was able to take their minds off of it for a little bit.

– The more I watch this team play the more I realize that Ron Rivera just isn’t the right fit there. The Panthers need a coach who will know how to properly utilize Cam Newton, imagine Chip Kelly of Oregon coaching this team next year…

– Whatever the St. Louis Rams do the rest of the NFL needs to follow because they have the ingredient on how to beat the 49ers. Watch both of these games!

– San Francisco loses but that doesn’t change my belief in Colin Kaepernick as the starter for this team. The 49ers still have the best chance in winning when he is on the field.

– New England is the best team in the AFC but suffer from a tough schedule and it’s going to be tougher in the coming weeks as they take on Houston in Week 14 & San Francisco in Week 15. These next two games will be very telling in regards to the Patriots chances come playoff time.

– Seriously Dolphins? You have a chance to make things interesting in the AFC playoff standings and you lose yet again when it matters the most? Granted its New England but c’mon make the AFC interesting!

– The Jets get a win in a historical snoozer. Bench Mark Sanchez, start Tim Tebow (if he’s healthy) and just have Greg McElroy ready to go if Tebow isn’t cutting it. You brought Tebow in there for a reason now just start him at QB!

– How does Larry Fitzgerald wake up every Sunday morning knowing that he is playing for this team and that these Quarterback’s are throwing to him?

– Believe me when I tell you this, the AFC may be a weak conference but the Denver Broncos are going to make the playoff seeds very interesting amongst the division leaders. This could get very fun, very quickly.

– Sadly it’s starting to look like maybe that “glimmer” on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season is starting to wear off. Has been a fun year and I hope they can piece back together for the final weeks of the season.

– Back-to-back wins for the Cleveland Browns…it’s been a while since we could say that.

– Oakland is just plain awful. I’m starting to really wonder if the Raiders will just give Terrelle Pryor a shot to see what he’s got as a NFL QB. What do you have to lose at this point?

– Quietly the Cincinnati Bengals continue to make noise in the NFL as they have won their last 4 games. They sit just outside the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC playoff standings and are a dangerous team with just 4 games to go.

– 4-8 season = Fire Norv Turner. I wonder if San Diego would consider looking a potential replacement for Phillip Rivers cause I’m not sure if he is the right fit for the Chargers anymore either.

– Wow how lucky was the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 13? Great win for them and their playoff chances stay alive. I wonder if we will see a “Big Ben” return next week with the season starting to dwindle down.

– Tough loss for Baltimore as their inconsistency once again rears its ugly head. This team would be so good if they could just get it together. The loss now puts Baltimore as the #3 seed in the AFC and no longer facing a first-round bye, in-fact if the season ended today they would play Pittsburgh again.

– Good win for Dallas on Sunday Night, they still looked inconsistent against a weak Philadelphia Eagles team but a win is a win and they stay alive in the NFC Playoff picture.

– Philadelphia didn’t look terrible in their loss to Dallas on Sunday Night. In fact they looked pretty encouraging as the Eagles were able to make plays offensively, something they needed to see badly with a rookie QB and RB starting for them against the Cowboys. It’s still too little, too late but at least they continue to try and play spoiler in the NFC East.

– Huge win for Washington and now things have gotten very interesting in the NFC East. I have this strange feeling that the Giants may not be the NFC East representative when it’s all said and done.

- The Giants had their chance to capitalize on wins in back-to-back weeks and separate themselves from the NFC East. They failed to do so and now have created yet another typical end of the season for the Eli Manning led New York Giants. This is going to get fun with 4 games to go.

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!

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

Check out Jeff Peck’s wrestling podcast “The Still Real to Us show” which can be available at www.wheelhouseradio.com and www.wrestlechat.net

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NFl 2012-13 Season: Getting Close To The Stretch Drive

November 29, 2012 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Before I get started, I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving holiday. I apologize for my absence from this blog. I had recent gall bladder surgery, and I am happy to report that it went well. My recovery is going very well. I think I am ready to write a bit more, and I want to thank my editor, and blog owner, Eric Gargiulo for being such a wonderful, and understanding editor.

Now that I am back, I am ready to comment on where the 2012-13 season is after about three-fourths of the season has now past. This is a somewhat sad time for me. It signals the impending end of the regular season. I also have to realize that the playoffs will make January go by quickly, and after the Super Bowl, no more NFL till training camps in August. Waiting six months will be agony.

This point of the season is also when the experts start talking playoff scenarios. That is the fun part. Many scenarios are a little confusing, but some are pretty simple. It makes every game from Week 13 (which starts Thursday, 11/29/12 with Saints at Atlanta on NFL Network) on more important.

Let’s discuss some of the good, the bad and the ugly at this point in the NFL Season. If this were a horse race, the teams are going around the clubhouse turn. During the last 5 games, teams fighting for playoff position will be set down for the drive, and others will be just positioning for the April Draft.

The Good:

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning’s Season Coming Off A Fourth Neck Surgery:

I admit that I was never the biggest fan of Peyton, but since my beloved WWE Superstar Edge was forced to retire due to his own neck issues, how can I not root for Peyton to do well? He has uplifted the Broncos to be an overall better team. His playing the QB position has been awesome.

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson’s Leading the NFL in Rushing Coming Off an ACL Tear:

Much like Peyton Manning, people were wondering when Adrian Peterson tore his ACL in November of 2011, if Peterson would be the same RB as he was. Well, Peterson did more than answer the bell. He is leading the NFL in rushing. Peterson is awesome, to say the least. If Manning and Peterson could somehow share the Comeback Player of the Year Award, that would be sweet.

Tom Brady and The Patriots Force Themselves Into The Conversation As One of The Top Teams In The AFC:

The so called “World Wide Leader,” ESPN, and their talking heads were all over themselves pushing the Texans, and the Ravens as the best teams in the AFC. By their records, those teams should have been pushed, even though the Ravens got away with a few lucky breaks in a few of their wins (Patriots, Cowboys, Steelers).

One team, the defending AFC Champion Patriots were sort of forgotten, and were dismissed due to their close losses early in the season. Lately though, the Patriots have dismantled the Colts, Rams, and ESPN favorite, the Jets, and put the Patriots right back in the discussion of one of the best teams in the AFC.

The Indianapolis Colts Supporting Their Head Coach, Chuck Pagano:

As someone who lost her father to cancer, (RIP) I know all too well how the disease destroys families. This story of the Indianapolis Colts , from top management leaving the light on in Coach Pagano’s office, to the players and cheerleaders shaving their heads is very touching. It is a great story of love, support, and dedication. The team’s record of 7-4, and being on the verge of a playoff spot is nothing short of miraculous.

The Rise Of Young Quarterbacks:

The NFL is seeing an array of young QBs taking over the NFL. From the dynamic Robert Griffin III, to the Colts rookie sensation, Andrew Luck, to the San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick, fans are being treated to the next generation of QBs. I think it is great, as one day, the “old guard” will be retiring, and the NFL will need new blood.

The Bad

The Number of Players Being Caught With PEDs:

This is really a shame. I mean, why do players need to take drugs to enhance their performance? Recently, Patriots DE Jermaine Cunningham, Seahawks CB Richard Sherman, and his teammate, fellow CB Brandon Browner were nailed with four week suspensions for PEDs. Don’t these guys realize that when they take these drugs, and get caught, that they HURT THEIR TEAM? It really makes me mad.

The NFL’s Hypocrisy On Player Safety:

This item could be a blog of it’s own. Anyway, in their match up against the Ravens at Heinz Field, Pittsburgh Steelers WR Emmanuel Sanders was hit in the head/neck area by Ravens S Ed Reed. The referee, at least, felt the hit was in the neck/head area, and threw the flag for the 15 yard penalty. Reed was suspended one game for being a repeat offender over the past three years. ESPN and others had a hissy fit, and Ed Reed appealed. The suspension was overturned, and Reed got a slap on the wrist with a 50,000 dollar fine.

The hypocrisy is that the NFL ruled Reed a “repeat offender.” Well, why then did they reverse their decision? It could not have been because ESPN’s talking heads lost their marbles over the fact that Reed would have lost 430,000 dollars of his salary? It couldn’t have been that Ed Reed is one of the network’s “Golden Children?” “Mike and Mike’s” Mike Greenberg gave the excuse that Reed could not tackle due to the torn labrum. Well, what in the heck is Reed doing playing then?

My point is, if Reed was deemed a “repeat offender,” then he should have been punished like one. The NFL backed down because he was Ed Reed. I shudder to think what would have happened if this had been one of the Steelers, particularly James Harrison. If a suspension was given to Harrison as a repeat offender, one should have been given to Reed also. The heck with what a bunch of crybabies at ESPN say.

The Ugly:

Happy Trails To You:

This is more geared to coaches/GMs that I am SPECULATING that may be fired after the season is over. I mean, from watching them after all these weeks, it appears to me that the respective team owners MAY want to make some changes.

The Carolina Panthers:

When I saw earlier this season that the Panthers fired their GM, I had a feeling that Coach Ron Rivera may be on borrowed time. I had heard that in previous interviews for other teams in the past, he had not interviewed well. However, he was given a shot here. I think, IF he is fired, the team needs an offensive coach to help out Cam Newton. The team may want someone to smooth out Newton’s attitude also. Cam is not used to losing, and his poor attitude needs to be straightened out.

The Dallas Cowboys:

That goofy petition to President Obama aside, I do agree with the sentiment of the group that Dallas Cowboy owner Jerry Jones needs to step aside as GM, and let someone else “buy the groceries,” as former Cowboy coach Bill Parcells once said. I am sort of on the fence as to whether Jason Garrett keeps his head coaching job. The Dallas Cowboys have been overrated, in my opinion, for years. They haven’t done anything in over 15 years. I know Jones loves his team, but he can’t interfere in everything.

The Kansas City Chiefs:

This is another disaster area. I don’t know what the Chiefs will do. There are people not happy with Scott Pioli, the current GM. I am sure Head Coach Romeo Crennel will be gone at the end of the season. I am sure KC will be drafting a QB. I would dump Pioli also.

The New York Jets:

Wow. What to do with this dumpster fire. Owner Woody Johnson keeps insisting that the team is “not a circus.” I don’t think it is either, because that would be an insult to circuses. Circuses are well organized, and fun to watch. This team is unorganized, and not fun at all to watch. I mean, this team is the “butt” of all jokes.

Seriously, this team has been so bad this year. I admit that a couple of their big weapons, CB Darrelle Revis, and WR Santonio Holmes wound up on IR, and their bringing in QB Tim Tebow has not worked out as hoped, but something is really wrong.

I don’t see Rex Ryan being fired. I would not fire him. After all, his first two years, the Jets DID go from being an OK team to being one game away from the Super Bowl. Last year, and this year has not gone well, but Ryan has not forgotten how to coach. Of course, this is the same team who fired Eric Mangini who had the Jets at 9-7.

I WOULD fire GM Mike Tannenbaum. He’s the one who largely put the team together.
However, what the Jets do is another thing altogether.

The Philadelphia Eagles:

I had a very sad feeling that this year was not going to be a good year for the Eagles, and especially for Head Coach Andy Reid when Reid’s son Garrett died at the team’s training camp on August 6th of this year. I know that people grieve differently, and some people throw themselves into work, but I just think losing his son had to weigh on him as he coached. Owner Jeffery Lurie’s edict of the team needing to make the playoffs didn’t help the situation, in my opinion.

However, as the injuries to star players like Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, etc piled up, and the defense not being what it should, leading to Defensive Coordinator Juan Castillo’s firing, and his replacement Todd Bowles’ failure to make the defense better, it does look like Andy Reid will be coaching his last year with the team.

What will happen with star QB Michael Vick, I don’t know. As for Reid, if he wants to coach next year, trust me, he won’t be unemployed for very long.

Well, that is my review at the three quarter pole, so to speak. The 32 teams are rounding the far turn. When they hit the stretch, we will have to see who winds up with the Lombardi in February. Like the Kentucky Derby, it is a long stretch, from now (Week 13) until February 2, 2013, but like in horse racing, anything can happen.

Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/giopontifan

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NFL Week 12 Thoughts & Recap – Inside The Wheelhouse

November 27, 2012 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Let’s take a look back at some of the things that stood out from Week 12 in the National Football League!

– Good win for Houston on Thanksgiving as they need to have these kinds of wins to make them look like a formable contender in the AFC. Houston’s lack-of defense lately is probably a concern right now but not a growing one unless this current trend continues. Obviously if the Texans want to be successful this season it will come from their D.

- Detroit gets their 7th loss of the season and is all but done for the 2012 season as it’s an extremely disappointing season when you look at what they were able to accomplish last season and how talented their roster is. They need to give Stafford another wide receiver option heading into 2013 because this offense is looking completely different without Nate Burleson, clearly their #2 WR target.

– Robert Griffin III put on a Thanksgiving show that I’m sure we will be talking about for sometime. The Redskins are becoming a serious threat in the NFC East at this point in the season and may surprise some teams. Despite the below .500 record don’t count out Washington just yet.

– This was your typical “Tony Romo era” Cowboys loss. Dallas needed this win to put some major pressure on the New York Giants in the NFC East and they failed to do so. The Cowboys are a very frustrating team to watch as they are so inconsistent on a weekly basis.

– New England is the most complete AFC team at the moment right now. They looked good on both sides of the ball (clearly) and I wonder if it will continue on against good AFC opponents, something the Jets are most definitely not.

– The 2012 New York Jets are horrible. That game will go down in the ages as one of the worst Thanksgiving performances of All-Time!

– Chicago gets the win over Minnesota in pretty convincing fashion. It was also a good sign for the Bears as Jay Cutler looked pretty good in his first game back from his concussion two weeks ago.

– Minnesota needed this win as they are staying neck-and-neck with teams like Tampa Bay & New Orleans for the final Wild Card playoff spots. Vikings are the team on the “outside looking in” when it comes to being competitive though.

– I’ll say it again: Cincinnati is quietly becoming an AFC Playoff contender yet again. Watch out for the Bengals.

– So if you were the Raiders front office would you draft a QB or RB in the 2013 NFL Draft?

– That may be the last win this season for the Browns but it will be considered a successful season by the Cleveland faithful because they beat the Steelers. Week 12 was Cleveland’s Super Bowl win.

– Ya think Pittsburgh misses “Big Ben” yet? Ouch.

– Indianapolis has 7 wins this season and it’s Week 12. Who would’ve thought that to be possible going into this season? Really enjoy watching this Colts team.

– Buffalo, you disappoint me. Please fire Chan Gailey at the end of this season!

– Based on their schedule, the Denver Broncos may have a very good chance at being a #1 or #2 seed in the AFC at the moment. Tough win for the Broncos as the Chiefs did not play like a “bye week” this past Sunday.

– At least Kansas City gave it a good shot…

– Good win for the Dolphins as the #6 seed in the AFC side of the playoffs is basically wide-open at the moment. A 5-6 team like Miami is still in the running with just 5 games to go but I wouldn’t hold my breath that Miami can be that team right now.

– Seattle needed this win as the Wild Card spots are very tight in the heavily competitive NFC playoffs. If the Seahawks want a shot to play in January they need to win games over teams like Miami as they can’t go up against division rivals in the NFC West, such as the 49ers, and think they can still be playoff-bound.

– Atlanta gets that must needed “statement win” over the Tampa Bay Bucs. For the entire season I have felt like the Falcons weren’t looking like a 10-1 team because they didn’t get that “battle tested” victory. While that is no longer the case after Week 12, I still don’t feel like they are strong #1 seed in the NFC yet.

– Tough loss for Tampa who is a borderline NFC playoff team at the moment. How this team responds to the tough loss will be very interesting to watch for the rest of this season.

– How is Chad Henne breathing new life into this Jacksonville offense!? Nice win for the Jaguars as they have played really well the last two weeks.

– The Titans aren’t “lighting the world on-fire” but they certainly should be beating teams like the Jaguars.

– 4th and 29 saved the Ravens first-round bye hopes in Week 12. I still believe the Ravens need to be more consistent when they are on the road especially if they want to catch Houston for home field advantage.

– How did San Diego let that game slip through their grasps? I just don’t know how or why Norv Turner is still coaching this team, extremely disappointing season for the Chargers and it was all summed up in that loss to Baltimore.

– To me the San Francisco 49ers are the best team in the NFL right now and despite that moniker they have a Quarterback controversy on their hands! This is comparable to the “Twilight teams” as people are either on “Team Colin” or “Team Alex.” Personally I am a “Team Colin” guy but feel extremely bad for Alex Smith.

– I’m very interested to see how this loss will affect the Saints momentum for the rest of this season. It’s a veteran team so you’d have to figure they can shake off this loss but when you start 0-4 on the year you never know.

– Nice to see the Rams bounce back after the loss to the Jets in Week 11. I’ve said it many times this season in the blog but I really like what is going in St. Louis. Not sure if Sam Bradford will ever take the step up to be a franchise QB but they are building something good in St. Louis.

– If you are Larry Fitzgerald do you allow this QB situation to happen again for ANOTHER season? Arizona needs to do whatever they can to draft a top QB in the 2013 NFL Draft or make a play for someone (*cough* Kaepernick or Smith *cough*) in the off-season before they lose their franchise WR.

– Great bounce back win for the Giants as there has been much concern lately regarding this team’s performance. Don’t think that will be the case anymore as this is what the Giants needed…a bye week.

– Tough beat down of a loss for the Packers on Sunday Night. Clearly they could not contain the Giants pass rush all game long and how they handle Minnesota in Week 13 will be under a microscope. I wonder how well this team will play once they are completely healthy because they are looking out of rhythm yet again.

- Carolina becomes relevant again for at least one week and Cam Newton won’t emotionally meltdown after a loss during the post-game news conference. Consider that a successful week for the Panthers…for now.

– Just fire Andy Reid already…this is getting embarrassing for the Philadelphia Eagles!

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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NFL Week 11 Thoughts & Recap – Inside The Wheelhouse

November 20, 2012 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Let’s take a look back at some of the things that stood out from Week 11 in the National Football League!

- Buffalo looked really good against Miami on Thursday Night, you got to feel bad for the Bills because had they played this way most of the season then they could’ve lived up to their potential.

– How disappointing has this Dolphins team been the last 3 weeks? One minute they look like a potential playoff team and the next they are backing out of any playoff possibilities. There has to be a big concern when it comes to Reggie Bush right now, I really don’t understand what has happened to him these last couple of weeks.

– Not sure if we learned anything about Atlanta this week being that they barely beat the Arizona Cardinals coming off of a loss. Atlanta is no doubt going to be a playoff team but how far they advance is up in the air right now.

– I really enjoyed Arizona at the start of the season and was really hoping they could give a team like San Francisco a run for their money in the NFC West but as we all know now, we were sadly mistaken.

– Once again the Cincinnati Bengals are quietly impressing people and moving up the standings in the AFC North. While I like what I see as of late they are still far away from making it back to the playoffs for the 2nd season in a row.

– I wonder who the Kansas City Chiefs will draft with one of their top 3 draft picks in the 2013 NFL Draft? And more importantly who will be their head coach to make those picks?

– Similar to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Dallas Cowboys have quietly become one of the hottest teams in the league in recent weeks. I’m starting to get the feeling that we could see another Week 17 where the NFC East could be decided between the Giants and Cowboys.

– Cleveland gave it a great shot, but once again they have a tough time closing out the lead against a NFC East team this season. I still like this team’s growth heading into 2013 and beyond.

– Green Bay gets a much needed tough win against the Detroit Lions in Week 11. It wasn’t the greatest game the Packers have played this season but a win is a win and they head into Week 12 with a chance to really tighten things up in the NFC North.

– I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t know how the Lions can bring Jim Schwartz back next season. This team is too good to be playing this bad, especially when the offense had their chances and never got in rhythm against Green Bay. If this continues on into 2013 then people will be questioning whether or not Matthew Stafford is “the guy” in Detroit as well.

– Houston still proves they are the best team in the AFC but they need to be blowing out teams like Jacksonville and not playing catch up all day into Overtime. It was a win for the Texans but not the prettiest of wins.

– Jacksonville is still horrible but I think they are onto something with Chad Henne actually starting at QB. Even if Gabbert is hurt the Jaguars need to start Henne from here on out.

– Of course the Jets win this week after everyone write’s them off! It may just be a Week 11 win to all of us but to the Jets organization it may have just save Rex Ryan’s job heading into 2013.

– Some weeks I like what the Rams are doing and then they have a week like this against the lowly New York Jets. Not sure what to think of this team right now, they could be a surprise team in 2013 if they get things together. Hopefully this young team is learning from these losses.

– RG III gets the “Captain” nod heading into this week and he lives up to that honor by going 14/15 for 200 yards and 4 touchdowns while running on 12 attempts for 84 yards. You read that right.

– Andy Reid doesn’t make it till the end of the season now, right? If Philly keeps having games like this I can’t see this franchise keeping Reid as the head coach. It clearly looks like this Eagles team has just given up on the 2012 season.

– Who has been my favorite team to watch the last 4-5 weeks? If you’ve been reading these blogs or listening to The Bower Show then you know it’s the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This team is going to be a major “underdog threat” if they make the playoffs.

– The Carolina Panthers are the NFC version of the New York Jets thanks to what we presume is a locker room filled with issues right now. Thankfully Cam Newton doesn’t have a backup QB who is as popular/gets a lot of press like Tim Tebow does. Could the Jets trade Tebow to Carolina in the offseason? (I’m kidding, or am I?)

– Don’t look now but here comes the New Orleans Saints. I believe if this team can get past the Tampa Bay Buccaneers then there is no stopping them from making a playoff spot. Who would’ve thought you’d say that with 6 games to go this season?

– You would’ve figured that after all these years of losing the Raiders organization would be in better shape then they are but they are not. While Carson Palmer may be playing really well I wonder if it’s worth giving Terrelle Pryor a shot to just see how he can play as a starting QB. What do you have to lose at this point?

– No shock here: Denver gets the win over AFC West rival San Diego. While it’s a victory for the Broncos I would’ve liked to seen a little bit more overall dominance. For whatever reason it seems like this team loses steam come the 4th quarter, may be something to keep your eye on as the season wraps up.

– Unlike Andy Reid I still believe Norv Turner finishes the season out with the Chargers. What’s the point of firing him now after you keep him on after last season’s debacle? Also it appears this team hasn’t given up on Norv Turner yet, while Andy Reid’s Eagles certainly have.

– The New England Patriots reminded us all why they are still the New England Patriots in Week 11. Dear Bill and Tom, thanks for the reminder!

– Welcome to the NFL rookie! How’d that butt whoopin’ taste? Sure looks like we may have to pump our brakes on Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts after that tough Week 11 loss now doesn’t?

– Baltimore’s victory over Pittsburgh was the stereotypical Ravens game during the “Joe Flacco era.” The Ravens come off a huge victory against Oakland and then follow it up by barely beating an injury depleted Steelers squad. This type of game is what constantly holds this team and Joe Flacco back from ever being those “Super Bowl contenders” so many fans/analysts believe they can be.

– There aren’t high hopes in Pittsburgh right now without “Big Ben” at QB. But what we saw Sunday Night is that despite their injuries the Steelers will give it everything they got to win the game. I wouldn’t be so quick to count this team out of the playoffs just yet.

- The San Francisco 49ers are the most complete team in the NFL, hands down. This is the team to beat in the NFL right now.

– Week-after-week I bash the Chicago Bears for not getting that “statement” or “battle tested” win. They had a huge opportunity to get that win against the 49ers and failed to do so in Week 11. I don’t believe this team to be “for real” until proven otherwise and I believe them to be nothing more then a “Super Bowl contender” at the present moment.

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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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.

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