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Risers and Fallers - Week 14

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St. Louis Rams vs Buffalo Bills


Given his recent level of play, how many suitors will pursue Steven Jackson this offseason?


            The season started off as rocky as the Colorado horizon for the veteran back. Expectations where set very lofty as Jackson was coming off a great season and would undoubtedly benefit from the hiring of new head coach Jeff Fisher. After the first three weeks of the season it looked as though the Jackson/Fisher marriage would quickly end in divorce. Things have turned around over the past few weeks as marriage counseling seems to have ironed out their issues.


            Steven Jackson is now back to carrying the full load after splitting time with backups Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead early on. It’s as though Fisher went from a complete rebuilding, long-term outlook to an immediate, seeking success now perspective. S-Jax is catching the ball and running tough in the same manner we’ve grown so used to seeing over the past decade. Fisher may be starting to regret settling the rest of Jackson’s contract and in doing so, agreeing to part ways this offseason.


            The question begins to surface as to who will be interested in Jackson? It would need to be a running back hungry team that would offer him the full workload and a chance at a championship. Early money should be placed on Green Bay given their yearly issues with the position but if Jackson continues his current pace he could draw the attention of numerous other clubs and drive up his asking price. Perhaps Indianapolis comes calling, or the Jets make a surprise bid for his services. As long as Jackson keeps running tough and stays on the field he could offer huge fantasy potential next season depending on who brings him in.


Atlanta Falcons vs Carolina Panthers


Can Julio Jones and Roddy White take the Falcons to the next level?


            The numbers for the Falcons offense are fantastic to say the very least. Matt Ryan has stepped up just as most had expected and the offense has moved away from power running to a finesse aerial game. But there is a lot of work that needs to be down between the first quarter of Week 14 and the final seconds of week 17. The offense has to prove that they are as prolific as advertised. Last week's stinker against the Saints has put them behind the eight ball in regards to catching up to the best of the best. If Atlanta wants to be viewed in the same spotlight as New England, Denver, and New Orleans they’re going to have to make a sprint to the finish.


            Now again, don’t get things confused here. The Falcons have taken flight at an extremely high level. They are knocking on the elite door but need to realize that they themselves hold the key. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones need to get the long ball moving again and Roddy White needs to finish with a lot more than four touchdowns for this offense to be mentioned in the same breath as the elitists. The Atlanta offense has the firepower to rival some of the best offenses put together over the past twenty years. They need to hit the playoffs firing on all cylinders and hitting the turbo to take the next step and maybe even move head of the other top-notch offenses.


Dallas Cowboys vs Cincinnati Bengals


How high will Andy Dalton be ranked heading into 2013?


            Throughout the history of the NFL, many quarterbacks who experienced great success in their rookie season took a step back in their second year. A years worth of film for defenses to dissect has a strong tendency to create a learning curve for young signal callers. Much like Calvin Johnson and the Madden curse, Andy Dalton is Ghost-Busting this demon. Twenty-four touchdown passes with four games left is nothing short of brilliant. The combination of Dalton and A.J. Green is already a top three connection in just their second pro year. The question here becomes how much higher will his 2013 ranking be over his 2012 rank?


            If Dalton averages two passing touchdowns a game and a modest 250 yards for the rest of the season, he’ll finish with about 4,000 passing yards and 32 scores. Those numbers at such a young age are simply astounding. It resembles the type of production that Tom Brady himself put up his early years. With quarterbacks like Michael Vick and Philip Rivers falling out of the top ten, there seems to be enough room for him to join the in crowd. Next season will see two rookies moving on up as well so he’ll need to stay on his 'A' game in order to secure a seat among the elite.

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