We are just entering December in what is shaping up to be the most exciting NFL regular season of the decade. Between Vince Young, Brandon Marshall, Miles Austin, Matthew Stafford, and Carson Palmer the NFL 2009 regular season has seen some of the greatest finishes of any one season. Just as we sit back to catch our breath, another week is upon us with big possibilities and exciting matchups.
The Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals meet in the Sunday Night Game this week. This one has the potential to turn into the game of the week. The potential comes down to whether Kurt Warner plays or not. If other player situations this season are any indication, Warner will likely be sitting out. With recent backlash at the treatment of concussed players, I’d be shocked if he does play. If not, Matt Leinart is definitely not ready for the prime time attack of the Vikings.
[adinserter block=”1″]This is a huge game for the Vikings. For one, the Vikings need to win every week with hopes of a New Orleans Saints collapse and home field in a potential NFC title game. Two, the Vikings can clinch the NFC North with a win and a Green Bay Packers loss on MNF. The Cardinals have played much better on the road than at home this season, which gives the Cards a slight advantage here. The game will also be played at 5:20 PM on the West, so there isn’t a huge time difference here for the Vikes who normally kick off at 4:15 PM in the east.
The only hiccup the Vikes have had this season came on the road in Pittsburgh. The one real weakness of the Vikings is their pass defense. As great as this defense is, they are ranked at 19th overall against the pass in the NFL. They give up an average of 221 yards and at least a touchdown a game.
The Arizona Cardinals are fifth overall in passing offense and average over 265 yards a game in the air. The Cardinals also have an underrated rushing defense which could give Adrian Peterson some fits. At the same time, Arizona is 29th in the NFL against the pass. If Kurt Warner plays, this one has the potential to be a scoring extravaganza. If not, this game has the potential to be a terrible blowout in favor of the Vikings.
I would be very afraid if I was a New Orleans Saints fan. The Saints have already clinched their division. At this point, the Saints need to play hard every week to stay ahead of the Vikings. The Saints play the Washington Redskins in Washington this weekend. This has all of the makings of a trap game. The Saints are feeling high, maybe a little full of themselves, and are going up against a team that has played some good teams hard and even upset some of the better ones.
Do you know who has the overall number one passing defense in the NFL? I bet most people didn’t know that the answer to that question is the Washington Redskins. The Redskins passing defense is often overlooked, and allows an average of just slightly more than 170 passing yards a game. Heck, Drew Brees usually has more than that going into halftime. The Saints average just over 275 yards a game so this is truly the proverbial immovable object vs. the irresistible force.
The big question mark here is Albert Haynesworth. Without a great pass rush from Haynesworth, the Redskins have a very ordinary defense. The Redskins were also without starting cornerback DeAngelo Hall last week. Should Haynesworth and Hall play, I could easily see this one turning into a nightmare for the Saints. If both or Haynesworth are out, I wouldn’t be too worried for Saints fans. I am actually more intrigued about this matchup (with everyone playing) than any other game this weekend. I am picking the upset here if Haynesworth plays. If not, Brees is on the bench as this one wraps up and the Saints cruise to another easy win. I’ll give it to the Saints below, but if Haynesworth plays I am going with the ‘skins.
The Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants showcase the NFC East showdown of the week. The Cowboys travel to New York seeking revenge for the embarrassing last-second loss in their home-opener earlier this season. Could the Cowboys have picked a better time for this game or what? The Giants offense looked completely inept against the Denver Broncos. Rumors are circulating that Eli Manning is more hurt than the team has let on. Ahmad Bradshaw is also likely out for the Giants or will be playing with minimal impact. The timing of this game is like an early Christmas present from the NFL to Jerry Jones.
The advantage to playing on Thanksgiving is a 10-day break before the next game. Unfortunately for both teams, neither one will have an advantage as both played on Thanksgiving. On paper it would look like the Cowboys have the advantage at quarterback in this one. However, it could be the Giants who have the advantage. What does Tony Romo hate seeing more than Joe Simpson? That would be a December football game.
It is real Dallas Cowboys fans, very real. The truth is Tony Romo is horrendous in December. There have been dozens of articles speculating as to why that is, but regardless the numbers don’t lie for your hero. Romo’s last game in December cam against Philadelphia in which he didn’t score a touchdown in a 44-6 Cowboys loss. As an NFL starting quarterback, Tony Romo is 5-8 in December. This is a must-win game for the Cowboys, and Tony doesn’t do well in those situations. Fortunately for Cowboys fans, Romo’s last December win came in Week 15 last season against the New York Giants. My prediction on this one is a Dallas Cowboys win. I think Eli is hurt worse than the team is letting on, Bradshaw is likely out, and it just all seems like a recipe for a Cowboys win.
It is homecoming week for the former favorite son of Atlanta, Michael Vick. Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles travel to Atlanta for a showdown with the Falcons. In August when Vick signed with the team, this game was all anyone talked about. Several months later, Leonard Weaver returning to Seattle would have more interest than this story. This game may seem like more of a pre season game with injuries to both teams. Both teams will be without two of their most critical offensive weapons. Matt Ryan and Michael Turner will be sitting for the Falcons, while DeSean Jackson and Brian Westrbook are expected to sit for the birds. So much for the fireworks people hoped for when the schedule came out last spring.
The Eagles are off to their best regular season start since their Super Bowl run in 2004. As an Eagles, that just astounds me. This team looks anything but like that juggernaut back in 2004. The Eagles are a lot like the Philadelphia Phillies. They are a home run team. Andy Reid sets up the bomb and if it works, the Eagles rout their opponents. If the home run hits don’t work, you wind up with a game like you saw in Oakland. Without DeSean Jackson in the lineup, the chances of the home run hit are much more difficult. This is going to be a much tougher game for the Eagles than I had hoped for.
There is an argument that Chris Redman is an upgrade for the Falcons. Matt Ryan is obviously the better long term solution, but he has been in a sophomore slump for weeks. Redman was rusty initially last week, but seemed to generate great chemistry with the offense by the end of the game. Redman led the team on a terrific game-winning drive to end the game which got lost in all of the Vince Young hype. Even without Ryan and Turner, the Falcons still have tons of weapons. The Eagles were decimated early on by tight ends, but I do think they have done a pretty good job against tight ends over the last few weeks. The Eagles have recently been bit by star receivers, and Roddy White is one of the best in the game.
I think the Falcons jump out early on the Eagles. The Falcons while without Turner, still have a great 1-2 punch with Jerious Norwood and Jason Snelling. The Eagles will need to orchestrate long, sustained drives to keep those guys off of the field and I don’t know if they can do that. Without DeSean Jackson, I’d expect a lot of focus on Jeremy Maclin so Jason Avant needs to continue stepping up as he has in the last few weeks.
Michael Vick is a dog and pony show at this point, no pun intended of course. I see the Eagles losing and losing badly. This is a must-win for the birds, because either Dallas or New York is going to get a win on Sunday. I may be overvaluing the Falcons offense, but on paper this one looks like a big upset in Atlanta for Eagles fans.
Quick Hits – The Revis-T.O. battle should make for some interesting television Thursday night. Look for New England to bounce back and slaughter the Dolphins. Could Kyle Boller outplay Jay Cutler Sunday? Cedric Benson is back and the Lions are in for a long afternoon. If the Titans beat the Colts, it is officially time to fire Jeff Fisher for sitting Vince Young for the first six games. Will the 10-day layoff rejuvenate the Raiders? Finally, the San Diego Chargers have the head coaching advantage against another NFL team. I don’t believe in this Packers turnaround whatsoever and think the Ravens expose them badly Monday night.
Fantasy Fix – Bernard Berrian, Minnesota Vikings. While Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin are Favre’s go-to guys, he has shown Bernard Berrian a lot more love lately. As I stated above, the Cardinals have a horrendous pass defense. Berrian caught six balls for 74 yards last week. Teams are starting to double Sidney Rice, allowing Berrian to come free underneath. I like him a lot this week and in the upcoming weeks before teams start diverting attention from Rice to Berrian.
Steve Slaton, Houston Texans – As much as this guy has bitten me all year, I love him this week. He had a great fantasy game against the Jags earlier in the year. While Chris Brown is getting more carries, Slaton is becoming a big passing threat. It looks to me as if Slaton is getting the looks that Owen Daniels was getting from Matt Schaub when Daniels was healthy. Slaton is a dual threat and is turning into a huge weapon for the Texans. He is turning more into less carries which is perfectly fine for his fantasy owners. The Jags are 21st overall in defense and I look for the Texans to rally around their coach and get it done with a big dose of Double S!
Brett Celek, Philadelphia Eagles – He has a new contract and a great opponent on Sunday. With DeSean Jackson and Brian Westbrook out for Sunday’s game, Celek will get a ton of opportunities. The Falcons will try and take the long ball away from Donovan McNabb, forcing him to dump underneath to Celek. The Falcons give up over 55% more fantasy points to tight ends than the average NFL team. I like Celek a lot this weekend if you are struggling for a quick fix at tight end.
[adinserter block=”2″]Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers – I never expected to recommend this guy in my life here, but he has a pretty good matchup this weekend. The Seattle Seahawks are just flat out terrible. Now they do play better at home, but the Seahawks give up over 34% more fantasy points to quarterbacks than the average NFL team. The Niners are starting to open up the offense and have slowly morphed into a passing team. Michael Crabtree is proving a lot of skeptics wrong and looking better every week. The Seahakws have also been bit by several tight ends this season, which opens up the doors to a huge day for Vernon Davis. I may never recommend him again, but if you are looking for a sneaky play than go with Smith.
CamelClutchBlog.com Fantasy Football Standings
Dusty’s RedBellySpot 8-4 (Eric Gargiulo)
Havertown Spoilers 6-5-1 (Bryan Reigel)
Team Wheelhouse Radio! 5-7 (Jeff Peck)
Team Nuetral Zone 4-6-2 (Brett Clendaniel)
Team We Own You 4-8 (Erik Espenberg)
Team The Nice Guys 11-1 (Jeff Porrini)
…Not You!!! 8-4 (John Yomtov)
1st Place 5-7 (Derek Sabato)
The Kings of Krista 4-8 (Josh Usher)
Team Rowland 3-8-1 (Justin Rowland)
NFL Week 13 Picks!
I bounced back with my first 11 win week in awhile last week here on CamelClutchBlog.com, going 11-5. I am 115-61 overall on the season. Now for the NFL Week 13 Picks (Picks in BOLD) –
New York Jets vs Buffalo Bills
Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta Falcons
St. Louis Rams at Chicago Bears
Detroit Lions at Cincinnati Bengals
New Orleans Saints at Washington Redskins
Tampa Bay Bucs at Carolina Panthers
Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars
Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts
Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins
Oakland Raiders at Pittsburgh Steelers
San Diego Chargers at Cleveland Browns
Dallas Cowboys at NY Giants
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks
Minnesota Vikings at Arizona Cardinals
Baltimore Ravens at Green Bay Packers
Happy Holidays to you and yours.
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