For a team to choke, the team must be in contention to claim victory, whether the time frame may be just a game or a period during the season. In Major League Baseball, we witnessed the Boston Red Sox collapse in 2011 to miss the playoffs, while the Texas Rangers managed to nosedive last month thus losing grip of the division to the Oakland Athletics. In the National Football League, each play and game holds even more significance with only 16 matchups comprising the entire regular season. Week 6 displayed several major examples of utter meltdown.
The visiting Oakland Raiders were clearly viewed as the underdog against the undefeated Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia Dome. Rather than suffering a blowout, Oakland’s offense and defense ran on all cylinders with almost 200 more total yards than Atlanta, and even intercepted Matt Ryan three times while limiting Michael Turner to 33 rushing yards. After a costly interception from Carson Palmer, then unsuccessfully “icing” Atlanta’s kicker, the Raiders watched their hard fought victory dwindle away as Matt Bryant’s field goal split the uprights.
In the next choke of the day, the visiting Dallas Cowboys held their own in Baltimore and began to see the momentum shift in their favor. With 165 more yards of offense, Dallas finally showed off a balanced aerial and ground attack against the reeling Ravens. Nevertheless, a combination of poor clock management, Dez Bryant’s dropped two-point conversion, and a missed field goal, helped Baltimore survive Dallas’ onslaught. Although Dallas was down most of the game, the Cowboys had numerous opportunities to leave Baltimore with a victory, including recovering an onsite kick late in the fourth quarter.
Lastly, Monday Night Football hosted one of the worst chokes in NFL history as the Denver Broncos battled the San Diego Chargers.
Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates seemed to re-establish their relationship from a few years ago as they connected on two touchdown scores to propel San Diego to a 24-0 halftime lead over the dumbfounded Denver Broncos. Peyton Manning had no intentions of playing “garbage time” and inspired his new teammates to fight back. Manning went on his own tear by completing 13-of-14 passes for 167 yards in the second half as Denver scored 35 unanswered points to take ownership of the AFC West. On the other side of the field, Rivers’ terrific first half fell completely flat with five second half turnovers. The Broncos’ victory was the greatest comeback in Monday Night Football history and in Peyton Manning’s career.
Hopefully you were able to catch several of the nail-biting, down-to-the-wire games in Week 6. Aaron Rodgers and Robert Griffin III also rewarded their fantasy owners generously with their insane performances.
Take a dive with me as we review several key players that may benefit your team in Week 7, especially with teams on a bye.
QB Andrew Luck- Before Week 6, top draft pick Andrew Luck had strung together three very solid starts with six touchdowns and an average of 300 passing yards per game. Luck welcomes the Cleveland Browns, who have allowed three touchdowns to quarterbacks four times already this season. Luck has excelled this season and has built strong chemistry with his receiving corps.
Week 7 Forecast: 275 passing yards, 2 TD
RB Doug Martin- To continue our theme of successful rookies, Doug Martin may be a viable solution for your running back slot. Even though his Tampa Bay Buccaneers were finding more success through the air last weekend, Martin was able to average almost six yards per carry and total 131 yards. Martin faces the New Orleans Saints’ struggling defense that surrenders five yards per carry on the ground and nine yards per catch to opposing running backs this season. Running backs have scored at least 24 fantasy points every week but one against the Saints. Start Martin this week!
Week 7 Forecast: 125 total yards, TD
WR Donnie Avery- Reggie Wayne may be Andrew Luck’s favorite receiver, but Donnie Avery is cementing himself as the reliable runner-up. Avery caught nine passes for 111 yards and two scores in Week 2, but has been relatively quiet since. With that being said, he averages more than nine targets per game, including 12 last week. Luck will connect with him frequently against Cleveland, which has allowed the second most fantasy points to wide receivers and most touchdowns.
Week 7 Forecast: 80 total yards, TD
TE Martellus Bennett- Bennett has shown sparks this season, but also marks of inconsistency. After a sizzling start, Bennett has posted a mere 41 receiving yards and no touchdowns over the last three games. He will rebound this week against Washington, who has allowed 219 yards in the last two games and a touchdown every week but one to opposing tight ends. Look for Bennett to get back on track and earn his fourth touchdown of the season.
Week 7 Forecast: 60 receiving yards, TD
Minnesota D/ST - Although the Arizona Cardinals were impressive out of the gate, they have now lost two in a row. They will also be forced to show their depth as Kevin Kolb will be sidelined with injury as John Skelton will be starting. The team continues to be without Ryan Williams and Chris ‘Beanie’ Wells, and will be using their third- and fourth-string running backs. Arizona’s offense line has surrendered a league-leading 28 sacks and will have to protect a less mobile quarterback in Skelton. Although Minnesota’s defense struggled last week, they should rebound at home against the ailing Cardinals.