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NFL Week 6 2014-15 Recap and Week 7 Questions

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

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

Questions and Predictions for Week 7:

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

My Guess: Colts go over on the Bengals.

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

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

Recap from Questions and Predictions from last week:

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

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

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

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

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

New York Jets – (1-5)

Oakland Raiders – (0-5)

Washington Redskins – (1-5)

Jacksonville Jaguars – (0-6)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-5)

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Legendary Steelers Coach Chuck Noll Dead At 82

June 14, 2014 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

On Friday, June 13, 2014, the National Football League lost a legend.  Specifically,  the entire city of Pittsburgh, PA, and Steelers fans all over (aka Steelers Nation) lost a hero Legendary Coach Chuck Noll passed away from an undisclosed illness at his Sewickley, PA (a suburb of Pittsburgh) home. Chuck Noll coached the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1969-91.  He led the team to 4 Super Bowl victories.  Noll leaves behind his wife Marianne, their son Chris, and legions of Steelers Nation members such as myself. Noll was 82.

Chuck Noll was born in Cleveland, OH on January 5, 1932. He played running back and tackle Benedictine High School.  He became such a good player, that he received all-state honors. This earned him a scholarship at the University of Dayton.  At the University of Dayton, he was a tackle and linebacker.  He would be eventually drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 1953, where he played under Coach Paul Brown.  Noll would eventually retire as a player at the age of 28 to start a coaching career.

Noll was going to accept a coaching job at the University of Dayton, but Sid Gillman hired him to be an assistant coach with the Chargers, and the Chargers won five AFL Western Division Champions in the six seasons that Noll was with the team. Chuck Noll went on to be the defensive coordinator under Coach Don Shula for the Baltimore Colts in 1968.  The Colts had a 13-1 record, and in the infamous Super Bowl III, lost to the upstart AFL New York Jets, led by Joe Namath, 16-7.  On January 27, 1969, Chuck Noll was hired by the Pittsburgh Steelers as head coach for a hapless franchise.

The Pittsburgh Steelers needed a real change.  The team was a mess. It had a long history of being a losing franchise.  Even “Mean” Joe Greene was mad he was drafted by them. Who could blame him? Would you want to be on a team that only won 18 games in five years?  I wouldn’t.  Chuck Noll was not a magician, at first.  The team went 1-13 in 1969, which was his first year.  In the 1970 season, Noll’s Steelers went to 5-9. In 1971, the record was 6-8. The Steelers made the playoffs in 1972, and defeated the (Oakland fans skip over) Oakland Raiders via the “Immaculate Reception.”

However, there was one (of many) great qualities that Noll had, and it was the ability to build a team through the draft, and to judge talent. The aforementioned Greene was drafted in 1969. QB Terry Bradshaw (2x SB MVP, 4X SB Champ), was drafted in 1970. Who can forget arguably the best single draft by a team? I am referring to the 1974 class.  The team got WR Lynn Swann, LB Jack Lambert, WR John Stallworth, and C Mike Webster. Chuck Noll just knew talent. All six of these men not only have four rings, but are all Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees.  There are others, such as LB Jack Ham (1971 Draft), and Mel Blount (1970) but eventually,  Noll would turn the Steelers into a powerhouse, which would happen two years after the “Immaculate Reception” victory.

Chuck Noll was also great at allowing his team to be themselves, Many guys had their own personalities, especially Terry Bradshaw. They butted heads quite a bit. Noll was also described as a teacher.  His teams were tough, and when it was game time, the opponents better be ready.  Those Steelers teams, especially that “Steel Curtain,” were like hungry dogs wanting a steak.  On the other hand, Noll would have his entire team trained in the proper technique.  Noll emphasized things like the 3 point stance.  He called his teaching, “the how to.” He wanted his players to know how to block, and how to run, etc. He wasn’t into the shaking hands after the game bit either. Actually, one time, he confronted then Oilers coach Jerry Glanville after a game, because Noll thought Glanville’s players tried to hurt the Steelers players.

Of course, Chuck Noll’s legacy as a head coach speaks for itself.  He was head coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers for 23 years.  His 70s Steelers is one of sports’ greatest dynasties.  The Steelers, under Chuck Noll won the Super Bowl in the 1974 season (d. Minnesota Vikings), the 1975 season (d. Dallas Cowboys), the 1978 Season (d. Dallas Cowboys),  and the 1979 season (d. L.A Rams). Chuck Noll is still the only head coach who has won four Lombardi Trophies. Chuck Noll is still the only head coach to win four Lombardi Trophies in six years.  He retired with a 209-156-1 record. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on the first ballot.  What a career.

As a long time Steelers fan, my heart aches. From August, 1986 to about November, 1987, I attended Carnegie-Mellon University on Forbes Avenue, in Pittsburgh, PA.  I was on a violin scholarship at the College of Fine Arts at the University.  I had to leave due to personal reasons.  Anyway, I had never been to Three Rivers Stadium.  As a college student, I couldn’t afford to attend a game.  I had seen it. However, I thought it was awesome just to be in the same city as one of the greatest teams ever, even if they hadn’t won a Super Bowl in some time. I really regret not trying to get a ticket.  I had seen Coach Noll on TV, back in New Jersey (provided they were on TV, but they did show the Super Bowl, and the playoffs). It would have been neat just to be in the same building.

I just want to say that Chuck Noll will never be forgotten.  He will go down in history as one of the best coaches ever. I don’t think his feat of winning 4 Super Bowls in six years will ever be touched.  I am so grateful that the Steelers hired him, and that Chuck Noll turned a hapless franchise into a powerhouse, and a beloved franchise.

Thank you Coach Noll.

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!

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

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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

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NFL Week 15 Thoughts & Recap – Inside The Wheelhouse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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NFL Week 14 Thoughts & Recap – Inside The Wheelhouse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Fantasy Football Start Em Sit Em Week 10

November 08, 2012 By: Category: Fantasy Football, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Welcome back owners. Here we are back for Week 10 of the NFL season, and wow, what a wild week we had for Week 9. Explosive days by many stars like Doug Martin, Adrian Peterson, Brandon Marshall and yes that Bears defense made some owners numbers boom! However some of us had to be on the losing end of those numbers. How about the days turned in by the Eli Mannings or Jamaal Charles? Well I fell prey to some of it, where in one league my whopping 166 points was still not enough to out do my opponent who posted a cool 173, topped by DeSean Jackson and only his second TD of the year! Hey, it happens.

Well back to the really good news where your good friend, The Shark had a really nice week. I am 3-1 in my 4 leagues and a cool season overall record of 22-14. Now while I am not perfect I am playing strong ball, and am in the top 3 in points in all 4 of those leagues. Yes, you can ignore my information, or you can read it and gain some success. I am here to hand out some recommendations, help you on your journey and try and help you towards a playoff position. It is a dog eat dog world out there friends, so you can’t expect to ask your friends who are in the same league for help now can you?

As Election Day came and went we saw our president re-elected and the country can now go back to normal. All the hype and argument over government can now take a back seat. We are back to Fantasy Football, the time is here as we are into the double digit weeks and the playoffs are coming really soon! I will keep up with the new format and give you 5 recommendations, which is more than my usual 3. Many of my picks had big weeks last week, so let’s see what I got for Week 10. As always good luck, the season is closing in to its end.

Quarterback

Start

Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints: In a game that may light up the skies like July 4th, you can expect Ryan to do plenty. He does great indoors and has plenty of weapons. His 17 TDs are 4th best in the league. Big money week expected here.

Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars: Although being compared to Peyton Manning is hardly fair for anyone, Luck has been shining of late. In his last 3 weeks he has passed for close to 1,000 yards and has accounted for 5 total TD’s. The Jaguars post a very appealing match up.

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Kansas City Chiefs: The Steelers are finding a groove at the right time and this Monday Night match should favor them plenty. The Chiefs 17 TD passes allowed are the 4th most generous in the NFL, so get Ben out there, and watch offensive coordinator Todd Haley roast his former team.

Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. San Diego Chargers: Until further notice I am going to recommend Freeman. Last 4 weeks? Oh just 11 TDs to just 1 INT. The Chargers allow 238 yards per week and have surrendered 12 TDs. They also play the run decent, so we may not see another Doug Martin super show.

Tom Brady, New England Patriots vs. Buffalo Bills: I know I hate to go obvious, but this one is too good. After roasting them in Buffalo a few weeks back he now gets them at home. Brady is a constant starter, but you don’t ignore starts this good to print.

Sit

Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders at Baltimore Ravens: Despite a real nice week by Palmer last week, this is not the place to try him again. The Ravens give up the fewest pass TDs and also have been tough in yards allowed. Also with Darren McFadden out, they lose a top decoy. Scary match here.

Mark Sanchez, New York Jets at Seattle Seahawks: The Hawks are 4-0 at home, and flat out hard to beat there. Head coach Pete Carroll must be extra excited to see his former college QB turned NFL enigma this week. The Jets offense is horrid right now. Aaron Rodgers is a better start and he is on a bye.

Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys: Marcus Vick will be busy again on Twitter this week as he watches a decent Cowboy pass rush face the terrible Eagles offensive line. The Cowboys have done well against the pass allowing just 7 TDs, including holding Matt Ryan to 1 in Atlanta. Get ready Philly boo-birds, you will be busy again this week.

Eli Manning, New York Giants at Cincinnati Bengals: I hate to say it, but Manning has thrown just 2 TDs in 4 weeks! The man who they call the most clutch QB in the league is in trouble, then again find me a November when he isn’t. I know the Bengals aren’t great, but Eli is making me quiver right now.

Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers allow just 174 yards per game against the pass, so why trust one of the worst offenses here? You will be better served with guys like Russell Wilson, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Alex Smith, all of which are most likely available.

Running Back

Start

Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens vs. Oakland Raiders: The defense that allowed Doug Martin to scamper for 251 yards last week will now have to face an even better back in Ray Rice. Get your ice packs ready, it could be a long day. The pass offense has been cold lately for the Ravens, so Rice should be real active.

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions: Yes the Lions are improved, but not as much as Peterson is. He usually runs well against them and is coming off of a stellar game last week in which he ran for 182 yards and 2 TDs against a very good Seahawks defense. His nickname is All Day, and you will see that this week.

Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins vs. Tennessee Titans: The Titans are allowing 4.4 yards per carry, one of the highest totals in the league, and Reggie looked like the Bush of old last week with ankle breaking moves and a nice TD. Come on Dolphins, this guy is your most talented player, use him and stop making me look foolish.

Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers vs. St. Louis Rams: He usually handles them well, and is at home. Gore has had a better year than many expected and is in the top 10 in rushing, and has a whopping 5.5 yards per carry, against a Rams defense that allows 4.6 per. The Rams pass defense is actually decent, so expect some serious ground work here.

Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots vs. Buffalo Bills: The numbers are terrifying. The Bills are dead last in yards allowed at a crazy 5.7 yards per carry. While Tom Brady should do a lot, expect Ridley to also get his share. The Bills probably couldn’t stop a kicker if he ran the ball right now.

Sit

Ryan Matthews, San Diego Chargers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs remain stingy against the run, and Matthews is watching a bunch of wants was backs steal his carries. He is not near what many of us hoped when grabbing him within the first 3 rounds this year. Tough match up that you should avoid here.

Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins: No, I am not living under a rock, and I saw that Johnson’s has improved greatly over the last 4 weeks. My problem here is 2 things: A) The Dolphins are second best in the NFL with just 3.6 yards per carry allowed and B) For some unknown reason the Titans are going back to Jake Locker at QB. Locker is not Hasselback, so defenses can focus more on the run. Johnson will have a tough road this week.

Matt Forte, Chicago Bears vs. Houston Texans: A bit of a stretch here but numbers say it all. The Texans have not allowed a rushing TD all year and just 84 yards per game. While Forte runs hard and can wear teams down, the Bears may look to throw more, and also share the load with Michael Bush to try and soften this tough defense. It could be a long day for both backs, and many of you may need Forte, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers: I can’t see starting any Chief, even the best Chief. The Steelers defense has improved, and Peyton Hillis is stealing more and more time from Charles. Just not worth it here.

Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots: Despite 14 touches he could only get 36 yards last week, and the Patriots run defense has been tough. This Bills team will need to get more familiar with CJ Spiller if they hope to move forward. Jackson is always a decent option to catch some passes, but he looks to be slowing down of late.

Wide Receiver

Start

Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. San Diego Chargers: You know he is begging for this game here. After years of turmoil and contract nonsense in San Diego, Jackson now gets a crack at his old mates. 4 TDs in the last 4 weeks is not bad either. He will need to be busier than his 4 catches in the last 2 weeks however, but I like his chances.

Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints: Jones is the Atlanta Falcons WR luggage because he travels so very well. While Roddy White owns home, Jones does the road. 5 TDs this year, all on the road, and can easily make that number 7 with a pair this week. Next home game however, well that’s Roddy’s turn to shine.

A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals vs. New York Giants: Some teams have that guy you play no matter what, and Green is one of them. Over his last 4 games he has 5 TDs on 24 catches, and is becoming one of the best WR in all the league. Bank on a good game here from him.

Andre Johnson, Houston Texans at Chicago Bears: Rumor has it that Charles Tillman may not play due to the birth of his child, and that means Johnson will face a lesser CB. He has come back, quietly over the last 3 weeks in which we saw him grab 26 passes. He needs to find the end zone more to pay dividends for fantasy, and this may be his week. Running will be tough, so QB Matt Schaub will have to prove he can be a Super Bowl caliper QB here.

Eric Decker, Denver Broncos at Carolina Panthers: Once Peyton Manning starts to love a WR, you go with him. He’s got 6 TDs in the last 4 weeks with 22 catches for 261 yards. Decker is now the go to guy for TDs here, and he should be for you too.

Sit

Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers vs. St Louis Rams: Many think he is a guy you roll with now, but this defense plays tough against WRs. Crabtree has never been real consistent and he has too many people to try and compete with for the ball here.

Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions: An ankle injury may force Harvin out of the week 10 game against the Lions, and even if it doesn’t he will be hard to trust.

Danny Amendola, St Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers: Yes he will be back, and he is a guy to go to down the stretch, but not here against a very tough 49ers defense. I know that someone will have to score here, but let Amendola get his legs back before you jump on his bandwagon.

Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles: Although the Eagles have been had of late, Bryant and his bad hip are scary here. He still only has 2 TDs this year and they came in one game. His iffy hands also make him a tough bet here.

Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers: I just figured I would finish the Chiefs hat trick here, go about your business.

Tight End

Start

Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles: Becoming more and more involved and Jimmy Graham roasted this defense last week.

Scott Chandler, Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots: Well the Bills will get some points at least, and Chandler got them for 2 TDs the last meeting.

Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers vs. Denver Broncos: If Cam Newton can remember how to complete some big time passes, this can be his go to guy. The Broncos defense has been decent but struggles against TEs of late. It’s a roll of the dice, but may pay off.

Sit

Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens vs. Oakland Raiders: Remember when Pitta was good, and the Ravens passed a lot? Me either.

Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys: He looks slow and isn’t making big catches right now. Keep him on the bench.

Defenses I like this week:

Baltimore Ravens vs. Oakland Raiders

Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles

New England Patriots vs. Buffalo Bills

San Francisco 49ers vs. St Louis Rams

Defenses I don’t like this week:

San Diego Chargers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers

Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions

New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons

Waiver Wire: With some tough injuries and new faces coming in, here is your chance to grab a nice late season gem. Oh and cheers to the end of the bye week!

Marcel Reece, RB, Oakland Raiders: Although he has not carried the ball this year, he is very active in the passing game, and with Darren McFadden and Mike Goodsen expected to miss this week he is a nice flex play.

Taiwan Jones, RB, Oakland Raiders: Tough call as to who carries the load here, but Jones is the speed to Reece’s bull. He has barely played this season, but this guy may be in line for some playing time soon. What he does with it is any one’s guess.

Chris Ivory, RB, New Orleans Saints: A busy backfield but it lacks super talent. With Darren Sproles out with injury, Ivory finally got his shot and carried 10 times for 48 yards and a TD. He is a back with the best mix of speed, hands and power the Saints have.

Danario Alexander, WR, San Diego Chargers: Any option is needed here. He has more speed than Malcolm Floyd, and showed nice flashes in his first action last week.

Dallas Cowboys Defense: Not sure if they are free in your league, but if they are grab them against a generous Eagles offense.

Well here is Week 10 folks, go out there and make me proud!

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

Fantasy Football Almanac 2012: The Essential Fantasy Football Reference Guide

Madden 13 video game on all consoles

Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft

NFL Jerseys on Amazon.com

Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Week 10 Pickups

November 06, 2012 By: Category: Fantasy Football, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Week 10 is not a week that will turn around your fantasy football season.You won’t find many gems out there, yet there are a few safety valves that are worthy pickups if you need a bye-week substitute or want to take a flyer on a couple of gambles.

Quarterbacks

Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins - Tannehill started out slow but he has heated up the last few weeks. He is quietly putting together some nice numbers and is on pace to get even better as the season progresses. Tannehill has one of the juiciest matchups on the docket in week 10 against the Tennessee Titans who just gave up three TDs to Jay Cutler. The Dolphins defense is highly underrated and will likely give Tannehill some short fields on Sunday. If you’re like me and you own one of the bye week QBs, Tannehill is your man. I’m certainly going to put in a claim for him in two leagues.

Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders - Palmer is quietly having a very nice fantasy season in Oakland. Since coming back from the bye week he has had at least one TD in every game including six in his last two. Now that Darren McFadden is out whatever little running game the Raiders had will morph into more opportunities for Palmer to put it in the air. He’s got a tough game this week against the Baltimore Ravens but this isn’t the same Ravens shutdown defense you are used to seeing. Granted Palmer has played some soft defenses lately but he still manged 1 TD and 350+ yards against a stingy Falcons defense. I like Tannehill slightly better this week but I like Palmer a lot more over the long haul.

Running Backs

Andre Brown, New York Giants - We have a Mike Tolbert situation on our hands here. I own Bradshaw and Brown and have watched Brown vulture scores for the last three weeks. The guy is legit and has a touchdown in each of the last three weeks to prove it. Now keep in mind he still hasn’t reached double digits but he had better weeks this week than starters like Rashad Jennings, Ryan Matthews, and his own teammate Ahmad Bradshaw. Bradshaw’s production has drastically dropped and the Giants know it. Brown isn’t going to be the starter but so what? If he gets these scores every week he will be worth starting.

Marcel Reese/Mike Goodson Oakland Raiders - I am a Darren McFadden owner and quite frankly I am going to pass on these two. While I would normally draft Run DMC’s backup I passed this season due to the instability at the position. Nobody is quite sure who exactly McFadden’s backup is. Goodson would probably get the first call but he is hurt. Reese will get some shots but this is obviously a passing team. I feel as if I owe it to you to at least mention these guys but I would steer clear of both. If you are in a 16-team league and need a RB, well you may have to take a shot. Otherwise I’d pass.

Wide Receivers

Emmanuel Sanders, Pittsburgh Steelers - An injury to Antonio Brown opens up a nice opportunity for Sanders at the right time. Sanders will get the generous Kansas City defense on Monday night. Sanders should be able to take advantage of the matchup and put up double digits in this spot. Brown is expected back in Week 11 so the pickup is only a temporary fix for this week only.

Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins - This is another gamble and could result in zero points and a wasted roster spot. I play in several leagues and Garcon has been dropped in all of them. The buzz on Garcon is that the Redskins will make a determination on his future after the bye week which is this week. If Garcon can get back on the field in weeks 11 or 12 you could have yourself a high end WR 2 borderline WR 1 depending on the matchup. If you have the room or an IR spot, take a hard look at Garcon.

Tight Ends

Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers - This is purely matchup right here. Olsen has been hot and cold but he couldn’t have a better matchup this weekend than what he has against the Denver Broncos. The Broncos are horrendous against tight ends and have given up three TDS in the last three weeks to TEs. While they kept Jermaine Gresham out of the end zone Sunday they did allow him to rack up 100 yards. If Olsen can’t produce here, he may as well stay on the wire for the rest of the season.

Defenses

Miami Dolphins Defense - This is the first time I have put a defense on here all season. But there is no defense with a better matchup on Sunday than the Dolphins. Even better, they are probably available in your league. Unless you own the Chicago Bears, you are better off playing defenses off the wire by matchup. If you were ever going to take a shot at a waiver wire defense, this is your week to grab the Dolphins.

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Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Week 10 Pickups

Top 10 Fantasy Football 2012 Disappointments

November 02, 2012 By: Category: Fantasy Football, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

We past the halfway point of the fantasy football season and it is time to start calling people out. Those people are the highly ranked preseason players who have turned into huge disappointments and those arrogant experts who told you to pick them.

For many of us, your fantasy football season is made or broken on draft day. It is almost impossible to recover from a busted first or second-round draft pick. Those other players you passed up have gone on to either live up or exceed expectations. Your opponents got stronger as your team turned into a big fat bust. It’s time to call out those disappointments who have given you weeks of frustration and a stressful fantasy football season.

I could sit here and come up with at least 25 players off of the top of my head that have failed to meet preseason expectations. Instead, I narrowed it down to ten. I chose to focus on players that were ranked top 10 at their position, players you would have chosen with an early pick, players who have screwed you royally! I went back and based these projections off of the preseason rankings at FantasyPros.com standard scoring Expert Consensus Rankings, the largest collection of consensus expert rankings I have found anywhere on the Internet. This isn’t meant as a bash Fantasy Pros blog, but I thought that their rankings give the best overall vibe on a player coming into the season.

Stats and scoring are based on ESPN Fantasy Football standard scoring.

Andre Johnson, Houston Texans - Now I can tell you that I never bought into Johnson’s ADP value because why would you put that much stock into a wide receiver in a running offense. Yet a lot of experts did and predicted big things for Johnson. Johnson had a overall rank of 23 and was ranked as the fifth best fantasy WR coming into the season. Today Johnson is the 36th ranked wide receiver overall! Jeremy Kerley, Mike Williams, Andre Roberts, and Josh Gordon are having better seasons than him! If you have him you took him early and you have probably regretted it ever since.

Matt Forte, Chicago Bears - Forte was a real tough player to assess coming into the season. The talent is there but there was always the fear of Michael Bush stealing goal line carries. I kept Forte in one league but have traded him since. Forte was ranked the 10th best player overall coming into the season. Today Forte is the 20th ranked Running Back! He was injured yes, but he only missed one full game. “Burners” like Michael Turner, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Shonn Greene are ranked ahead of Forte currently! Entering Week 9 he has had only two TDs on the season and three double-digit games.

Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers - Jennings has been an injury headache going back to the preseason. I owned Jennings last season and he was phenomenal. Going into this season I had reservations, yet he was still ranked as the sixth overall wide receiver going into the season. Jennings has a whopping 12 points in eight weeks of play at this point. He’s missed a lot of time and may not return this season. I hate to indict guys who got injured but the writing was on the wall in preseason. Yet experts still pushed the Packer on fantasy owners ignoring the alarms. If you took him you are probably looking up at the standings unless you were savvy enough to grab some sleepers later in your draft.

Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers - Cam is an interesting player to assess. There were plenty of people (like yours truly) that had reservations about Cam coming into the season. His numbers started declining towards the end of the last season, yet there were plenty of experts that propped him up in the preseason. Cam was ranked as the number five QB going into the season, number 20 overall. Saying Cam has struggled this season would be the understatement of the year. He is currently ranked #13 behind guys like Alex Smith and Josh Freeman! If you own Cam you had to blow an early draft pick on him and unless you grabbed someone like RG III or Andrew Luck late, you are probably in big trouble.

LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles - I own Shady in two leagues and I can tell you, that I am disappointed. I don’t think there is anyone who plays fantasy football that didn’t expect more from the Philadelphia Eagles offense. McCoy was ranked number three overall and as the number three RB going into the season. McCoy is ranked 13th in RBs going into Week 9 behind such studs like Shonn Greene and Alfred Morris. Andy Reid’s refusal to stick to a running game has burnt plenty of fantasy owners this season. He’s got respectable numbers but far less than what was expected from this fantasy stud.

Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles - Vick is another tough one to assess. Vick was not someone you likely took in your first or second round, but he was highly touted by experts coming into the season. Vick was ranked 6th among QBs coming into the season making him a bust at this point in the season. Vick is currently ranked 15th among QBs. Again he has respectable numbers for a guy you may have grabbed later, yet as a top 6 QB, he is a bust.

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions - Speaking of busts, meet your 2012 Madden Curse. Johnson has been arguably the biggest bust in all of fantasy football. Johnson was ranked as the number one wide receiver by fantasy experts on just about every website online. Coming into Week 9 he has only one, yep just one touchdown on the season! Some have blamed it on Matthew Stafford yet if you look at Stafford’s numbers (who is actually putting up better numbers than most people are giving him credit for), he is getting the yards. Johnson recently revealed an injury which may be the culprit. Regardless, he is hardly giving you the numbers you’d expect if you took him with your first draft pick.

Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders – I said that Megatron was arguably the biggest bust of the season and I say that because McFadden could also win that argument. Just about every fantasy expert in the world predicted gigantic numbers for Run DMC if he stayed healthy. Guess what? He is healthy and disappointing. He has two TDs on the season and only two 100+ games on the ground. These hardly the kind of numbers you’d expect from someone ranked 8th overall coming into the season.

Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans - Fool me once CJ2K shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. I was fortunate enough not to get bit by Johnson but that wasn’t for a lack of trying. I tried to draft him but he went way too early in every draft which turned out to be a blessing. The projected number 6 RB overall isn’t even in the top ten among RBs. If not for one mega game in Week 7 against Buffalo, Johnson would be an even bigger bust. Two touchdowns in eight weeks of play isn’t going to cut it. Facing some tough matchups down the stretch probably won’t turn around Johnson’s season. My hunch is that CJ2K isn’t even ranked among top 10 RBs in 2013 preseason projections or back with the Titans for that matter.

DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys - I never bought it! I remember sitting in one draft when a friend asked me about taking Murray in an early round. I told him not to do it yet he took him anyway and paid the price. Again, I hate to bash a guy due to injury but the warning signs were there. Murray has had a history of injuries going back to college which made me hesitant to pick him up. Also, like Cam Newton his numbers dwindled down the stretch last season yet experts loved him. I got the whole idea of Murray appealing because he isn’t a time share but other than a few good games against terrible defenses last season, I didn’t see it. Compound that with an awful offensive live spotlighted during the preseason, this guy had bust all over him. Looking at him when he was playing, he only had two double digit games and one touchdown. Those certainly are not numbers you’d expect from the projected number 11 fantasy player overall coming into the season.

Honorable Mention…
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars
Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers

Fantasy Football Almanac 2012: The Essential Fantasy Football Reference Guide

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Fantasy Football Start Em Sit Em Week 8

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

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

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

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

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

Quarterback

Start

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

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

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

Sit

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

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

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

Running Back

Start

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

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

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

Sit

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

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

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

Wide Receiver

Start

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

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

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

Sit

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

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

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

Tight End

Start

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

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

Sit

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

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

Defenses I like this week:

San Diego Chargers at Cleveland Browns

Seattle Seahawks at Detroit Lions

Chicago Bears vs. Carolina Panthers

Defenses I don’t like this week

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys

Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fantasy Football Almanac 2012: The Essential Fantasy Football Reference Guide

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Fantasy Football Week 8 Waiver Wire Pickups

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

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

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

Quarterbacks

Josh Freeman 420 yards, 3 TDS

John Skelton 262 yards, 1 TD

Running Backs

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

Montario Hardesty – 28 yards rushing

Vick Ballard – 84 yards rushing, 19 yards receiving

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

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

Biggest Hit – Freeman

Biggest Bust – Jones

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

Running Backs

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

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

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

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

Quarterbacks

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

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

Wide Receivers

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

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

Tight Ends

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

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

Fantasy Football Almanac 2012: The Essential Fantasy Football Reference Guide

Madden 13 video game on all consoles

Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft

NFL Jerseys on Amazon.com

NFL Week 7 Thoughts & Recap – Inside The Wheelhouse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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