Wednesday, November 28, 2012

2012 Week 13 Fantasy Advice

Games in December are almost here, and now the weather starts to play a huge role in setting your lineups as we get close to playoff time. For some people, that is. As Mike Mularkey said about playing Buffalo on Sunday, "It's cold for them too".

Who to Start:

QB Tony Romo (DAL) vs. PHI: I actually underestimated how bad the Eagles have been in their 7 game losing streak, until I watched them play Carolina on Monday Night. By that token, Tony Romo can right all of the wrongs he has accumulated with a big performance.

RB C.J Spiller (BUF) vs. JAX: He should see the majority of the carries on Sunday, and going up against a sketchy Jacksonville rush defense (with newly acquired Jason Babin), should provide some big benefits for Spiller's fantasy owners.

WR Hakeem Nicks (NYG) vs. WSH MON: Nicks has been fighting injuries most of the season, but he seems to be healthier now, and it couldn't come at a better time. The Redskins secondary has been pretty bad this season, so Nicks figures to have a big game at FedEx.

WR Eric Decker (DEN) vs. TB: The Bucs will now be without Eric Wright as he serves a 4 game suspension, and that won't help them going up against Peyton Manning at Mile High, so Eric Decker figures to see major benefits from that.

TE Owen Daniels (HOU) vs. TEN: Daniels had a huge game against the Titans in Week 4, and he can very easily do that again on Sunday, since the Titans are one of the worst teams at defending the TE, fantasy-wise.

DEF New York Jets vs. ARZ: The Jets have 10 days between their New England drubbing and Arizona coming to MetLife, so the sting of the loss should have worn off. Oh, and Arizona is starting Ryan Lindley.

Who to Sit:

QB Philip Rivers (SD) vs. CIN: He has been pretty poor this season fantasy-wise, and it doesn't help that the Bengals are coming to town, who do have an underrated secondary in tow.

RB Rashard Mendenhall (PIT) vs. BAL: Not only is the matchup for the Steelers bad in Baltimore, but rumors have Mendenhall falling to 3rd on the Steelers RB depth chart. Considering what's ahead of him, that hurts.

WR Dwayne Bowe (KC) vs. CAR: Brady Quinn. That says it all, along with Carolina having a good secondary.

WR Brandon Lloyd (NE) vs. MIA: With the rise of Julian Edelman in fantasy land, someone on the Pats depth chart had to fall. The one who has fallen is Lloyd. He's not a reliable option, especially against a divisional rival like Miami.

TE Brandon Pettigrew (DET) vs. IND: Despite the Colts having other defensive struggles this season, they have been really good at shutting down opposing Tight Ends. Pettigrew is the next in line.

DEF St. Louis vs. SF: The Rams D had a big fantasy game last week, but that was Ryan Lindley and Arizona. Now, it's Colin Kaepernick and San Francisco.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Colin Kaepernick (SF) vs. STL: Speaking of Kaepernick, he put up some big numbers the last 2 weeks. Even though he still might be raw, he is a very good option off the pine if you have no better ones.

WR Stevie Johnson (BUF) vs. JAX: He hasn't scored a TD since Week 7, but has put up 271 yards in his last 3 games. The Jags are getting very thin in the secondary, so Johnson could finally break through.

DEF Carolina vs. KC: I said it before, Brady Quinn. That is all.

Buyer Beware:

WR Larry Fitzgerald (ARZ) vs. NYJ: I know he's hard to bench, but just look at his performances this year with very mediocre QB's throwing him the ball. Ryan Lindley might be the most mediocre of the lot. Combine that with going up against Antonio Cromartie, this won't be a comfortable day for Fitz, or his fantasy owners.

Good Luck in Week 13!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

2012 Week 12 Fantasy Advice

As Thanksgiving is now here, it is time to start thinking about what we might be thankful for. I am thankful that the NFL is playing, while other leagues continue to prove how stupid they are in insulting the fans by the day. Football is still king.

Who to Start:

QB Andrew Luck (IND) v. BUF: He struggled last week against the Pats, but the Bills defense has been pretty bad for most of the season, and they are much worse on the road than they are at home. Luck could have a big game this week.

RB Doug Martin (TB) vs. ATL: After LaRod Stephens-Howling ran through the Falcons defense last week, the "Muscle Hamster" (worst nickname ever) could do even more damage to the Falcons porous rush defense.

WR Dez Bryant (DAL) vs. WSH THU: So long as Tony Romo is upright, Bryant will see the majority of the targets in any game. Also, the Redskins pass defense is still terrible, despite what happened last week, so Bryant could have another huge game for the Cowboys.

WR Randall Cobb (GB) vs. NYG: He is this year's Jordy Nelson with all the fantasy points he's racking up, and going up against the Giants at MetLife, he should rack up even more fantasy points. He's a must-start for this weekend.

TE Jermaine Gresham (CIN) vs. OAK: He hasn't had the best of seasons for the Bengals, but since he's going up against the absolute sieve of a Raiders defense, he's a decent option if you need a tight end for the weekend.

DEF Tennessee vs. JAX: Don't let last weekend's breakout performance fool you, the Jags have been awful at home this season for some reason. The Titans are coming off their bye, so they'll be well rested for a game that their defense could very well dominate.

Who to Sit:

QB Joe Flacco (BAL) vs. SD: Joe Flacco for some reason doesn't like playing on the road, since he's pretty bad when he does. Not that the Chargers are an amazing defense, but there is legit reason to not trust Flacco in a road start, fantasy-wise.

RB Mark Ingram (NO) vs. SF: He did have a breakout game against the Raiders, but he has two factors working against him for this week. One is the possible return of Darren Sproles, who could eat into his carries. Two is the 49ers rush defense, which is pretty good.

WR DeSean Jackson (PHI) vs. CAR MON: If Nick Foles starts again, it's hard to trust Jackson to put up the big numbers he usually can put up. Even with Vick, he still is a gamble because of his overall struggles, and an underrated Carolina secondary.

WR Malcolm Floyd (SD) vs. BAL: The Ravens defense had a resurgence last Sunday in Pittsburgh, and now they go up against the floundering Chargers offense, which won't help Floyd any. Danario Alexander is also taking away targets from Floyd, making him an even less decent fantasy option.

TE Kyle Rudolph (MIN) vs. CHI: He's a risk this week because of his matchup against the Bears defense, but also because his QB, Christian Ponder, could have an absolutely horrid game against a defense that desperately needs to rebound after getting embarrassed on Monday.

DEF New York Jets vs. NE THU: The Pats put up 59 last week. Of course I'm going to suggest benching the Jets D.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Jake Locker (TEN) vs. JAX: Of his bye, Locker could have a big game against a Jags secondary that was absolutely shredded by Matt Schaub and the Texans last Sunday.

RB Marcel Reece (OAK) vs. CIN: Once again, Reece should see most of the carries for the Raiders this Sunday, and the Bengals defense has struggled against the run some, so Reece could be in for another decent game.

WR Michael Crabtree (SF) vs. NO: Since he's going up against the putrid Saints secondary, he could have a big game while the Saints D tries to take out Frank Gore and Vernon Davis.

Buyer Beware:

QB Philip Rivers (SD) vs. BAL: Just look to last week to see why Rivers is a sketchy option, and playing against the Ravens doesn't help that much.

Good Luck in Week 12, and have a happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tradition... Tradition?

Full Disclosure: I am currently a freshman at the University of Maryland. 

"Tradition" is a word that is bandied about in sports all the time, especially when dealing with college sports. This explicit narrative has been thrown out during the conference re-alignment madness that has been going on for nearly 3 years now, and it always seems to end with, "Tradition is dead". The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines tradition as, "an inherited, established, or customary practice of thought, action or behavior (as a religious practice or social custom)" and "a belief... relating to the past that is commonly accepted as historical though non-verifiable". That last part should strike a chord with the dis-illusioned amongst the college sports landscape. Are these "traditions" that have been going on for years just beliefs or customs that feel real, but are just mirages?

Look to the University of Maryland, which just jumped ship from the ACC, of which it was a founding member back in 1953, to go to the Big 10. Like many of the other schools that changed conferences since 2010, Maryland had some good reasons to change conferences. The big reason was of course, money. But, this is different from schools like Texas A&M, West Virginia, and others who just wanted to stuff their coffers a bit more. This past July, Maryland cut 7 varsity athletic programs because they didn't have the money to sustain those programs. Compile that with high paying contracts to Randy Edsall and Mark Turgeon, and empty seats in a newly expanded Byrd Stadium, the athletic department was beginning to bleed red ink. In order to assure its survival, the Big 10 comes calling with a lucrative TV rights contract, plus a conference TV network with immense revenue, to save the Maryland athletic department from itself. The academic advantages of switching conferences don't hurt either. So in every respect, this is a money move from the Maryland Regents. They are not the ones (mostly) though, lamenting the loss of 60 years of "tradition" in the ACC. My question is, what tradition?

Maryland doesn't really have rivals in an Ohio State-Michigan sense, or better yet, a Duke-UNC sense. Maryland fans might see Duke as a rival in basketball, but whether the feelings are mutual is highly doubtful. Maryland in the ACC might have made sense in 1953, when ideologies between UMD and North Carolina schools were better lined up, but since they aren't anymore, the ACC has become a Carolina-centric conference while Maryland lies on the outside. And ask a Terp fan about a football rival, and you'll get solely awkward silence. This is not of Maryland's own volition, but a by-product of what has happened in the histories of these athletic programs in the ACC. When Maryland's program was in a down time, the other NC schools were up, and when UNC was down in the early 2000's, Maryland filled the void temporarily. That has switched since then. The "tradition" of Duke-Maryland doesn't really exist on one side of the coin, so does that mean the claim to "tradition" was non-verifiable? Maryland's "tradition" was built in the ACC, but when times change, so do practices and beliefs. Holding onto old beliefs is what gets people in trouble, and is why those who don't adapt with the times often get left out in the cold.

Even though schools like Texas A&M, Nebraska, and West Virginia left "traditions" in their old conferences, they will create new ones because times dictated they had to. Just blindly claiming "tradition" is a reason to avoid change when it is needed is why history often repeats itself, and just look to any history textbook to see that in action. Sports are no exception to this principle. College sports have the most "traditions" of any major player on the American sports scene, but sometimes those have to fade to black in order for advancement. Every time a major school changes conference affiliation, those steadfast to "tradition" lament the death of "traditions", yet over time, new ones develop and those people adapt with the times just like the school. Penn State did it, Arkansas did it, South Carolina did it, and so did many others. Some will even argue they had more "tradition" than other schools who bolted for other conferences. The point is, when old "traditions" die, new ones are born from them, and holding to those old "traditions" to death is not the way to look at the world when it is constantly changing.

If traditions are in fact, "beliefs... relating to the past commonly accepted as historical though non-verifiable", then college sports "traditions" are the epitome of that. Some stand the test of time, while others understandably die off. If another school jumps conferences and "traditions" die, remember that old beliefs and practices don't always stand the test of time, as well they shouldn't.

Humans are the most adaptive species on the planet Earth. Why can't one of their creations be the same?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

2012 Week 11 Fantasy Advice

I don't what's scarier: The fact that we are already at Week 11 of this NFL season already, or the fact that my fantasy picks are getting better, slowly but surely. You can pick that one for yourself.


Who to Start:

QB Carson Palmer (OAK) vs. NO: Yes, he turns the ball over a ton. But, look at the numbers he puts up, mainly because his team is always trailing. This week, he goes up against the sieve that is the New Orleans Saints pass defense, so he'll be in for another gaudy stat line.

RB Stevan Ridley (NE) vs. IND: Even though the motto usually is "never trust any New England running back", Ridley is the best option of many in that Patriot backfield. He should have a big game against a Colts defense that struggles mightily against the run.

WR Steve Smith (CAR) vs. TB: Even though he hasn't done very much this season, he is a must start when the matchup goes in his favor. The Panthers host the Bucs this Sunday, meaning that the matchup is well in the Panthers court.

WR Eric Decker (DEN) vs. SD: He didn't do much of anything last week against Carolina, but the Chargers are different animal. Looking at how opposing WR's have been doing against the Bolts recently, Decker is a pretty easy option to start on Sunday.

TE Antonio Gates (SD) vs. DEN: Maybe the lone bright spot for the Chargers all season has been Gates, and his good play should continue against the Broncos defense that does really struggle to defend Tight Ends.

DEF (Not Houston, because that would be too easy) Atlanta vs. ARZ: The Falcons defense isn't very good on the surface, but when they play against a bad offense, they suddenly become an appealing fantasy option. The Cardinals are not a very good offense, therefore the Falcons D is a good start.

Who to Sit:

QB Joe Flacco (BAL) vs. PIT: Gaudy numbers aside, Flacco has never played particularly well against Pittsburgh in his career, and he also hasn't been very reliable on the road. The Steelers defense is banged up, but they will give Flacco, and his fantasy owners, fits.

RB Rashad Jennings (JAX) vs. HOU: Since being thrust into the spotlight due to an MJD injury, Jennings has failed to live up to the billing. The Texans defense is on a roll right now, so Jennings will be looking straight down the barrel of another bad performance.

WR Josh Gordon (CLE) vs. DAL: He has been a hot waiver wire name, but since his breakout game, he has struggled big time. Dallas' defense is very good, especially at home, so Gordon could be looking at another game where he doesn't put up big numbers.

WR Danario Alexander (SD) vs. DEN: Yes, he had a huge game against the Bucs last week. Repeat to yourself the team he played against for a second, and then you'll see why he is not recommended for anyone to start him this week, even if you plucked him off the waiver wire.

TE Jermichael Finley (GB) vs. DET: Even though he was a highly rated TE before the season started, he has produced minimal numbers for his owners this season, and that will likely continue in Week 11 in Detroit, because the Lions defend the Tight End very well.

DEF Indianapolis vs. NE: They are banged up, and the Patriots are not the Jaguars. Clearly not.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Andy Dalton (CIN) vs. KC: He had a huge game against the Giants last week, and the Chiefs are next, and they really don't play very well on their home field, so Dalton could potentially pick them apart.

RB Marcel Reece (OAK) vs. NO: Unless Darren McFadden's ankle magically heals, Reece will get the start against the porous Saints defense. He could be in for a potentially huge day.

DEF St. Louis vs. NYJ: They had a great game last week against San Francisco, and now off that high, they play the Jets. You see why they could have a big week.

Buyer Beware:

QB Philip Rivers (SD) vs. DEN: He's hard to bench, but the Broncos secondary has been very good this season, and Rivers is always game for a bad turnover or two. He is a risky start this week.

Good Luck in Week 11!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

If It Ain't Broke... Don't Pay for It

There's an art to rebuilding in sports, which takes the edge off the fans who have to sit through it. You can call it "re-tooling", a thinly veiled euphemism for rapid re-construction of a roster while not addressing every part of it. Also, there is the grind it out type of rebuild, which takes time and patience from everyone involved, but often turns out better results than "re-tooling". No name given by anyone, i.e. "The Plan", "The Blueprint", "The Process", makes rebuilding any more fun to sit through. Alas, there are two words that fans in every sport loathe to hear. The buzzwords of doom: "Fire Sale". One team makes that an art form in of itself. The Florida (Miami) Marlins. Reminding their fans of 1998 and 2004 is not my plan, but what might be happening now blows the other 2 out of the water. And this one might be the straw that breaks everyone's back, which is in order after years and years of frustration.

In short, the Marlins may be trading everyone on their roster that makes any semblance of a salary to the Toronto Blue Jays for every type of prospect known to baseball people. On the face of the deal, this is a jump-start for the Blue Jays organization in every way, and this is the Marlins getting "bad" contracts off the books in an attempt to get younger (cheaper). Sorry Blue Jays fans, but this is not a piece about Canada's only MLB team. This is about the other team, which has a sorry connection to Canadian baseball history with the Expos, but maybe a new sorry piece of baseball history in their own, unique right.

Last year, the Marlins opened a $634 million  palace to modern art and everything Miami (baseball is in there somewhere) on the site of the old Orange Bowl, and the great citizens of Miami-Dade county and the city of Miami paid about 80% of the construction costs of the stadium, and bonds that cost $2.4 billion that lasts 40 years, long after the owner of the Marlins is dead. I can't go into more detail, since I'm writing about sports, and not finance, but simply put, the Marlins themselves paid for almost none of the costs of building this palace. I never expect the team to front all the money for a stadium, but 20% altogether with the debt burden all on the shoulders of taxpayers? That is unacceptable.

The narrative has been written time and time again that the Marlins bleed money, and look to their ridiculously low payroll for evidence of that. Studies have shown the contrary though, that the Marlins make a healthy profit every year, mainly due to frugality, and MLB revenue sharing. Yet, Jeff Loria and David Samson can cry poor all the time, since MLB does not make teams publish their financial books. Remember all the money they spent on Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, Mark Buerhle, and almost on Albert Pujols? If you want to now, you'll have to look for it, since now every penny of that money and more is now spread about in LA, Toronto, and other cities across the MLB landscape. Yet the Marlins cried poor and were able to spend all the money anyway, so one has to assume they didn't have in the first place, and now it's all gone with a fiery explosion. How is this fair to a market that was promised another fire sale wouldn't happen again if they built Mr. Loria his modern art castle?

If you thought Bernie Madoff was a criminal, Jeff Loria might be a bigger one, just his crimes are thinly veiled under the guise of "cost-effectiveness" for his sports franchise. This team makes money every year according to studies of their finances, but can cry poor with fire sales and admitting they can't pay for the exorbitant salaries of the day. That one year holiday of thinking the Marlins turned over a new leaf when they moved from Miami Gardens to Little Havana has now ended, with the ship crashing into a barge of reality. The people in Miami knew this from the start, yet signed the check regardless. The fleecing of the taxpayers of Dade County and the city of Miami was bad enough, but now a $118 million dollar opening day payroll last year has been bombed down in a new and unimaginable fashion, to where the Marlins now have the lowest payroll in baseball. It's a magic trick, from Loria, Samson, and Beinfest, in the guise of progress and change, everyone just sees more of the same.

Giancarlo Stanton, the Marlins lone star now, is understandably mad. Many Marlins fans, like Stanton, have thrown their hands in the air, while people around baseball snicker at the roadside dumpster fire outside Marlins Park that was the contracts to Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buerhle and others. Fans already had little reason to go to Marlins games when they were bad at SunLife Stadium. What reason do they have to go to this monument to empty promises and lying, when this fire sale was the most criminal of them all? Why put money in the pocket of a man who would rather build a monstrosity of a sculpture in center than field a competitive team?

Jeffrey Loria got his stadium at no cost, while he and his cronies quietly cull a large profit and cry about being poor in public with fire sales every time there is hope. And, Loria can shoot his mouth off in public when talking about the city leaders who know they got fleeced and have the balls to speak up about it. Loria called them, "naysayers", and later said, "There'll always be activists in a community who don't know what they're talking about, who have their own agendas." Like possibly feeding their family and paying off their mortgage in a recession, when that money is paying off the debt for a stadium Loria could have chipped in more to build.

The SEC is investigating the building of the stadium, while Loria and his cronies count their money knowing they robbed taxpayers blind anyway. Marlins fans could show their displeasure by not showing up, but they already do that well. There is nothing to root for, no hope in a town that was so enthralled with their new favorite son a year ago. If any fan jumps ship because they were outright lied to again, and can't take it any more, I can't call you out, because I would do the same thing. These fans deserve better, and the taxpayers who are paying for this stadium instead of vital necessities do too. Which brings me back to the title of this piece...

If it ain't broke... don't pay for it. Jeff Loria couldn't be any better at that.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Dangers of a Debate

In the past couple of weeks, there has been a debate in the sports world that has been, and always will be, asinine. The question, "Could the best team in college football beat the worst team in the NFL?" has been bandied about as much as the name "Johnny Football" in the past couple of weeks, but since Mr. Football Manzieled the best team in college football at that time, the debate grounded to a halt. Maybe now, everyone in the sports world will see the dangers of that useless debate.

As most informed sports fans know, the college and pro games are incredibly different, and comparing them is almost entirely pointless. This is why most sane NFL minds loathe seeing bits and pieces of the spread option offense when implemented in the NFL, and also why most college coaches don't exactly translate well to the NFL. But, in the not-so-distant past, examples of all the aforementioned things have broken the mold, especially with the successes of QB's like Griffin, Newton, and others, and coaches like Carroll (although he was in the NFL first), and Schiano. This does not mean that a very good college team could beat a really bad NFL team, however, despite what Steve Spurrier, and callers in to the Paul Finebaum show, might lead someone to believe.

Pete Carroll himself disagrees with the notion. He said, when asked the question again, "I was confronted with that at times (at USC) and the falsehood is to think that it could ever take place. It ain't even close. It's not even close." Of course, this comes straight from the coach of maybe the best college football team of the last decade. Even the oddsmakers in Vegas agree. They put out a hypothetical line on a Jacksonville Jaguars- Alabama Crimson Tide contest, and the Jaguars were favored by 24 points (which is astounding to me, not the size of the line, that the Jaguars were favored in anything by Vegas). Now that Alabama has lost, the line on a Kansas State- Kansas City game would be closer to 30 than 0, not including the 3 point swing for a home team.

But wait, I hear some of you as you rush to your keyboards to slave away, "Didn't college all-stars use to beat the NFL champion in a game before?" Yes, and no. The two sides did play exhibitions, and the college all-stars did beat the NFL champ 3 times out of 10, and drew 2 other times. But, these games took place back in the 1960's and 1970's, when many football historians would argue the college game was better than the pro game, and this was before the introduction of the AFL and all-black college stars. If this was tried again today, I doubt the best college players would even sign up to do a game like this, and the NFL champ would even care enough.

While the really bad NFL teams are truly pathetic (as a fan of one of them, I know), the best college team changes every week. Last week, it was Alabama. Post Texas A&M, it's Oregon, or Kansas State, or maybe Notre Dame... who knows? The styles, and the substance (the best college teams sometimes have 10-15 NFL players, the worst NFL team has 53, no matter how bad), are just too different to accurately compare. Even when advanced metrics are put into the equation, they flesh out exactly the same thought. The impartiality of numbers gave the college team one or two wins, but that is the magic of standard deviation, and I wouldn't be surprised to see one or two games out of 10 swing the way of the BCS national champ, or college all-star team. But that's not a high hit rate.

Now that the consensus best team in the land, Alabama, has been felled, and with their being no distinct best team in their place, the debate should be put to bed for now. Oh, but Lord knows when one Mr. Klein leads his Kansas State Wildcats to Miami and an undefeated season, or when Johnny Football runs the SEC table at some point, the debate will be resurrected. Just remember to look at the numbers, at listen to the advice of the men that coached on campus and in the pros.

"It ain't even close." Thanks Pete.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

2012 Week 10 Fantasy Advice

Post-election day blues are fun... mainly because the ads are gone. I want to see more ads for Thursday Night Football, but we never get the chance to. My plea now is for more fantasy football ads, but since we'll never see those, I should just start the column.


Who to Start:

QB Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) vs. KC MON: He seems to get better every single week, and now, he gets to face the Kansas City Chiefs. It only gets better.

RB Vick Ballard (IND) vs. JAX THU: Since Donald Brown has been out with injuries, Ballard has been very, very impressive out of the backfield for the Colts. The Jags got shredded on Sunday by Mikel Leshoure, who does not qualify as one of the leagues best backs, so Ballard could see a big game.

BONUS PICK (I'm so generous): RB Michael Turner (ATL) vs. NO: After the Saints got run over by LeSean McCoy and Ronnie Brown on Monday night, Michael Turner comes in to face the same sketchy rush defense. He should have a very big game.

WR Malcom Floyd (SD) vs. TB: The Bucs secondary has been pretty decimated due to suspensions and injuries, and the Chargers come in on 10 days rest to play them. Floyd hasn't been reliable week-to-week for fantasy, but he should have a big game this week.

WR Brandon Lloyd (NE) vs. BUF: He had a big game in the first meeting between these two squads, and since the Bills defense is still pretty terrible, there are no reasons to see why Lloyd can't do it again on Sunday.

TE Vernon Davis (SF) vs. STL: Even though he hasn't put up great fantasy numbers recently, he always has big games against the Rams, and guess who the 49ers play this week?

DEF Seattle vs. NYJ: The Seahawks have been downright dominant at home this season, and they've beaten QB's that include Romo, Rodgers, and Brady. Next up: Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets. You can see why the Seahawks D is a great start this week.

Who to Sit:

QB Jay Cutler (CHI) vs. HOU: Yes, Cutler had a big game last week against the Titans. But, the Texans come into Soldier Field on Sunday Night packing a much better defense, and they might be the best unit in the AFC. Avoid starting Cutler.

RB Felix Jones (DAL) vs. PHI: DeMarco Murray is still out for the Cowboys, and Lance Dunbar has stolen some carries away from Jones recently. The Eagles are prime for a big game on defense, and Jones might be the casualty in that.

WR Denarius Moore (OAK) vs. BAL: Despite all the injuries on the Ravens defense, their secondary has been solid all year, only allowing 5 TD's to wideouts all season. The Raiders going out East playing a 1 PM game doesn't bode well for Moore.

WR Sidney Rice (SEA) vs. NYJ: About that Revis fellow... Antonio Cromartie has been great all year for the Jets, and I doubt Russell Wilson will attack Cromartie at all during this game, so Rice will not likely have a big game on Sunday.

TE Jared Cook (TEN) vs. MIA: He was seen as a fantasy sleeper prior to the season, but he's done next to nothing for most of the season. The Dolphins have not allowed a TD to an opposing Tight End all season, so the immediate future doesn't look any brighter for Cook.

DEF Atlanta vs. NO: The Saints offense is starting to pick up in steam, and Atlanta's defense hasn't been a juggernaut to begin with. Here's the classic example of a terrible matchup.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (BUF) vs. NE: The Patriots secondary has been sketchy all season, and Fitz has been pretty good against the Pats in recent meetings. He could have another good game, since the newly acquired Aqib Talib won't play on Sunday.

TE Greg Olsen (CAR) vs. DEN: The Broncos defense has been good, but not great for most of the season. They have had struggles defending the Tight End this year, and Greg Olsen could be the next benefactor of that.

DEF Miami vs. TEN: Yes, the Dolphins D got torched by Andrew Luck last week. But, the Titans are not the Colts, especially if you saw the stat line from the Bears-Titans game.

Buyer Beware:

QB Carson Palmer (OAK) vs. BAL: Tons of yards are a certainly. Some TD's are also possible. But so are many turnovers. This matchup doesn't look favorable for Palmer on Sunday in Baltimore.

Good Luck in Week 10!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Filler! Filler! Filler to make the Season go by Faster!

       Anyone with their finger on the pulse of the NFL noticed peculiar reports yesterday surrounding suspended Saints skipper Sean Payton. According to those reports, Payton is a "free agent" after one Mr. Goodell voided Payton's contract extension. Not a big deal, one might say, why wouldn't he return to the Saints after all the successes he's had with the franchise? Oh, but no one saw those stories yesterday. Instead, the media reproduced the same headline over and over again, "Sean Payton to Dallas?" As if everyone wasn't sick of rancid Tebow headlines. Media hype, especially baseless hype, is fun isn't it?

       No one is indicting the suspicion that Payton in fact will jump ship to Jerryworld. In fact, every single trend seems to indicate that this move is perfect for both parties. I don't need to flesh out the evidence for that theory to bear itself out. What is clearer than that, though, is how the media jumped on this story like tigers on raw meat, and now this non-starter is the story of the dead. Not Chuck Pagano. Not the 8-0 Atlanta Falcons. The Dallas Cowboys have a new coach, when they are 3-5 and their season is far from dead. Washington Redskins players decried Mike Shanahan for declaring their season "over" at 3-6, and most will agree with that sentiment, but the media is allowed to speculate wildly over the future of 2 men when the team in the middle is by no means dead? What a fun double standard to beat to death.

     While Jason Garrett isn't everyone's favorite coach in the NFL, he has a ship to rite, and by no means should he worry about the safety of his job. He did that with almost every game last year, and it seems every game this year warms the flame underneath his chair. Only the world's largest microscope looking down at him could increase the heat on his seat, and it always seems to. Here's another question: What good does it do Jerry Jones and the Cowboys to fire Garrett now, or next week if the Cowboys fall in Philadelphia? And here is the most important question of them all: What good does it do the media to speculate on a perfect storm (too soon?) of circumstances that would make Sean Payton the next head coach in Dallas? There are only two teams whose season is "over" now, and saying that isn't even fair: Kansas City and Jacksonville. Playing out the string is a media term, and that's all.

     The media microscope is as large today as it has ever been over the NFL, but that doesn't mean this tool should be used on everything. Yes, this Cowboys team has the most talent it has had in some years. Yes, it looks like much more a fault of the coaching than the talent in the Cowboys' failures this year. But, as the NFL has constantly proved, no one is dead until the math says you are. Even though the NFC might not bear out the appearance now of letting in a team with 6 or 7 losses into the postseason, there are still 8 games to be played. If we sit on December 30th and the Cowboys are on the outside looking in, then discussing the security of Jason Garrett is fine. It's November 5th (the day I write this). 

     Remember, remember, the fifth of November applies to Guy Fawkes, not to Jason Garrett. The media should recognize that.