Tuesday - Jan 22, 2019

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Games to Watch – Week 5

Hello fellow Sharks! From now right up through Week
17, we’ll be giving our insight as to which games are the ‘games to watch’ each
week. This is a heavy burden, as we know a lot of you have Sunday Ticket, too
much free time, and an addiction to premium brews like Natty Lite or Yuengling.
A lot of you know us from our weekly podcast on this site (the Fantasy PRE-Wind
podcast), and our “Sine Lines” sport-toon (every Mon, Wed, Fri), or maybe one
of our posts in the Tank. We’re just like you, though. We love a good football
game, no matter who’s playing.

All times Eastern:

Whew – we
were hard pressed to even find three good games this weekend, with the NFL’s
week 5 seemingly a bunch of mismatches around the league, but we persevered,
studied endless hours of NFL game tapes, evaluated the match-ups with a
specially designed statistical analysis tool (thanks Betbot!), and made several
personal phone calls to head coaches around the league. Then we meshed together all that data and
came up with 2 good games for you to watch this weekend… which still left us
one short. So a few shakes of the magic
8-ball later, and we had our third game sure to thrill you. (Well, we aren’t quite ‘sure’, but we do know
that the ‘outlook is good’.)

Cincinnati

@

Baltimore

– Sunday 10/11,

1:00pm

All of us at
FantasySharks think the PINK theme for breast cancer awareness is an awesome
undertaking by the NFL. It makes people aware; it raises money; and helps us fight
a disease that seems to affect every family we know, in one way or another. We
did indeed find a problem with it this week though. You’ll see PINK again at a
ton of stadiums, but then we noticed an interesting problem in Cincy v. Baltimore game in sticking to the
theme. Sure, you’ll see PINK to start
the game, but we can promise you that you’ll see BLACK & BLUE from kickoff
to final gun. OK, that was a long setup just to connect the pink to black and
blue, and quite frankly it wasn’t even that witty. We would apologize, but truth be told, VINNIE
– our Caribbean affiliate, dared us to work the PINK theme into one of the game
write-ups this week. So now that we’re
$5 richer, we plan to take our winnings and donate it to breast cancer research
– see, we’re doing our part, too!

With first
place on the line in the AFC North, Cincinnati finds itself (to many peoples
surprise) in contention for the division lead. Part of the reason for the team’s
success may be that the man under center, QB

Carson Palmer (845yd/6TD/5int), started a season injury free. He
has been seeking WR

Chad Ochocinco
(258yd/17rec/3TD), who is tied for the lead in the AFC in receiving TDs, and 2-year
man

Andre Caldwell (148yd/16rec/1TD)
through the air, and leaves the ground game to RB

Cedric Benson (367yd/2TD) who is has found plenty of room to run,
even while battling a hip injury. Defensively, the Bengals allow on average
only 19ppg, and with the outstanding play of guys like DE

Antwan Odom (17tk/8sacks) and CB

Jonathan Joseph (2int/1DTD), Cincinnati fans have something to cheer
about for the first time in the past few years.
If the Cincy defense can keep up their outstanding play, and Carson
Palmer can dial back the interceptions a bit, we might just be seeing tiger
stripes in the playoffs this year. (Who knows – maybe a revival of the ‘Icky
Shuffle’?!?)

While the Baltimore
Ravens have a 3-1 record and are among the best teams in the league according to
armchair experts, it has actually been the offense that has put them on top of
the AFC Central, not their top tier defense. With their offense ranked 3rd in
the league, it seems that sophomore QB

Joe
Flacco
(1103yd/8TD/3int) has mastered an offense that has struggled in previous years before he arrived. Sharing
the running game,

Ray Rice
(295yd/1TD) gets the yards, while

Willis
McGahee
(201yd/5TD) puts up the points. Former ‘retiree’ WR

Derrick Mason (284yd/19rec/2TD) should
be thanking whoever convinced him he should still play, as he currently leads
the team with 19 receptions. On the opposite side of the ball, the Ravens
dominate the league in preventing the ground game going (1st in rush yds
against – holding opponents to a measly 59.5ypg), and continue to wreak havoc
on opponents (10 sacks/4 forced fumbles/6int).
LB

Ray Lewis (35 tackles/1
forced fum) still anchors one of the NFL’s best defensive squads, and leads the
team in tackles in his 14th season.
S

Dawan

Landry (21tkl/2int)
is the man to watch in the secondary this year, even overshadowing veteran
safety

Ed Reed so far this season.

OK – putting
the PINK stuff aside, food for thought:
Every Bengals game this season has been decided in the final minute. It hasn’t
mattered whether the opponent is formidable like Pittsburgh or Denver or winless like Cleveland; Cincinnati likes to make it interesting. This
one pits the two division leaders in a battle for sole possession of 1st
place in the AFC Central, which doesn’t hurt the luster of this match-up,
either. Throw in a dose of emotion which
seems to fuel the Ravens, a dose of wackiness which seems to fuel Mr.
Ochosinco, and we can’t see how this isn’t a ‘Game to Watch’. Enjoy!

New England

@

Denver

– Sunday 10/11,

4:15pm

Anyone
remember that old show starring David Carradine? No – not the Extra nightly tabloid show
talking about the unfortunate conclusion to an ill-advised attempt at
auto-erotic asphyxiation, but the actual TV show that made him a household name
in the 70’s… “Kung Fu”. His character
(Caine) was always being told as a boy to try and snatch the pebble from his
master’s hand. When he could do that –
he would be ready to go out into the world on his own. Well, in this match-up we have the old story
of the pupil facing teacher that we’ve seen many times before in the NFL (which
isn’t too surprising considering the names Bill Walsh and Bill Parcells have “descendents”
on at least 16 teams throughout the NFL). So in this ‘Game to Watch’, we get former
pupil

Josh McDaniels looking to
teach his old master

Bill Belichick
that he not only can snatch the pebble from his hand, but jam it right back
down his throat.

New
England’s
Belichick (incidentally, a descendent on the Bill Parcells coaching tree, if
you didn’t know) hasn’t really torn up the turf, even though his team is 3-1.
His field general on the ground, QB

Tom
Brady
(1129yd/4TD/2int), had taken quite a few hits as he has aired it out
to his outstanding receiving corps, including WR

Randy Moss (331yd/29rec/1TD) and TE

Ben Watson (174yd/2TD). The ground game by committee with Fred
Taylor (201yd/2TD though now injured) and Laurence Maroney (78yd) has only produced one game with
a rusher having over 100 yards. All of that aside, the struggles of the Patriot
offense have already started to alleviate with the addition of WR

Wes Welker (141yd/18rec) back from
injury last week, and defensively with a unit ranked in the top ten in yards
and points against, even if they haven’t been forcing turnovers like they have
been used to in the past few years. The
Patriots are still one of the NFL’s best teams – on both sides of the ball, even
if they aren’t having the same dominating success as they did when they went undefeated
in the regular season 2 years ago. Count
on the Pats and Belichick to be contenders, not pretenders – and if they can
defeat one of the AFC’s two remaining undefeated squads this weekend, it’ll go
a long way to prove it to critics and fans alike.

Enter

Josh McDaniels (from the Belichick
coaching tree). The NFL ride for this rookie coach had a rough start when
former Broncos QB

Jay Cutler stirred
up a hornet’s nest and then demanded a trade (now in Chicago), and a
disgruntled

Brandon Marshall (219yd/16rec/2TD)
pulling grade-school tantrums in training camp. Coach McDaniels did say that if
they started off the season winning, all of that would be forgotten, and at 4-0
Denver fans are finding themselves saying Shana-who? With Cutler traded, QB

Kyle Orton (906yds/5TD/0int), who looked shaky in training camp, has
come out of the gate slinging, finding both Marshall and

Brandon Stokley (157yd/6rec/1TD) for big gains this season – all
without throwing a single pick through four games. The ground game by committee
seems to be getting more “featured” as rookie RB

Knowshon Moreno (249yd/1TD) might be getting the workload as the
(always) injured Correll Buckhalter (267yd/1TD) gets some down time. On
defense, DE

Elvis Dumervil
(17tkl/8sack) has been so good up front, that we’ll skip the ‘Blue Suede Shoes’
jokes… for now. CB

Brian Dawkins (27tkl) brought some defensive leadership to the
Broncos, and is proving he’s far from too old to make an impact in this
league. Let’s be honest, it hasn’t been
the “prettiest” 4-0 in the league (insert Cincinatti week one highlight here),
but between the consistent offense, and a defense that allows only 6.5ppg
(ranked 1st) and 240 total yds per game (ranked 2nd), Denver looks every bit the playoff team New England does.

Okay, the
Patriots completely dominated the Broncos in a lopsided 41-7 Week Seven victory
last season. This year, don’t expect the same. No need to choke yourself to
make this one exciting (sorry, Mr. Carradine)… the action on the field should
be more than enough to do that. It’s
student vs. teacher, and we’ll find out if McDaniels can snatch the pebble from
Belichick’s hand – and make his own name for himself as one of the NFL’s top
coaches at 4:15 EDT on Sunday.

New York

Jets @ Miami – Monday 10/12,

8:30pm

In this
age of using the computer for everything, we’re positive some of you have used
one or more of the popular internet dating sites available these days. First you looked at a snapshot or two of the
person, and figured they looked ok – so you were willing to read their
details. Then you read through their
profile, and saw a few things that piqued your interest, so you decided maybe
they were worth meeting for a quick date.
So you tossed on a nice outfit (or at least a shirt that had the
smallest amount of wing sauce stains), and went out to meet this new person
hoping for a great connection. Sometimes
it worked out great, and you felt like you were on Cloud 9, other times you got
one look at the person in real life and realized that Photoshop and clever
camera angles could make anyone look good in a few photos – no matter how ugly
they really were. After it was all over,
you told your buddies just how bad or good the date went. Well, that’s exactly how we feel about this
match-up.

We looked
at a few quick snapshots (two AFC East rivals squaring off, traditionally
hard-fought contests between the two, etc); read through their details (two top
ten defenses, similar rankings in overall offense, both teams sport a poor
passing game – coupled with a top ten rushing offense, etc); we all dressed up
in our Monday Night Football best; and we get to lay our eyes on them at 8:30pm
EST. This will either be a great game
between two AFC East rivals, or it could look every bit as bad as a contest
between a division-leading 3-1 team and a struggling 1-3 squad can be. No matter how this one turns out, though,
it’ll be worth talking to your friends about.

The New
York Jets started out on a 3-0 tear under new outspoken Head Coach

Rex Ryan. But they swallowed the bitter pill of reality
against a New Orleans Saints team, which not only was able to best their
top-ten defense, but made the Jets offense, and especially rookie QB

Mark Sanchez (744yd/4TD/5int), look
sloppy. But the Jets just made a big
trade to give Sanchez another weapon to help stretch the field – WR

Braylon Edwards (139yd/10rec). If Edwards can hang onto the ball, he can be
a real threat – but he certainly adds a different dimension to the offense than

Chansi Stucky did.

Jericho

Cotchery (356yd/23rec/1TD) should still be
Sanchez’s favorite target until he gets comfortable with Edwards, though. Thankfully for the Jets, when they have
lacked in the passing game, has been made up for in their two-headed rushing
attack. RBs

Thomas Jones (229yd/3TD) and

Leon
Washington
(181yd) have frustrated fantasy owners, due to splitting carries
fairly evenly (61 and 45 carries, respectively) – but it’s paying solid
dividends in winning football games. The
defense in top-ten in total yardage allowed (#4), passing defense (#5), and
points allowed per game (#3) – and one of the biggest reasons why the Jets are
sitting atop their own division. LB

David Harris (33tkl/2sacks/1int) is the
one to watch, as he leads the team in both tackles and sacks and is tied for
the team lead in interceptions.

The Miami
Dolphins stumbled out of the gate, posting 3 straight losses before finally
notching a solid victory last week against another AFC East opponent, Buffalo.
The ‘Fins only lost five games all season last year, and to open up with
three straight losses seems like it (finally) may have lit a fire under these
guys. The Miami offense is sitting
squarely on the shoulders of RB

Ronnie
Brown
(369yd/4TD), who is currently the #3 ranked rusher in the NFL in
yardage, and #4 ranked rusher in TDs – all with little help from an anemic
passing attack. RB

Ricky Williams (248yd/2TD) has been solid in spelling Brown and the
duo has been dominant this year – making Miami the #1 rushing offense in the NFL
right now. Starting QB

Chad Pennington went down with a
season-ending shoulder injury, but backup

Chad
Henne
(207yd/1TD/1int) already has as many TDs as Pennington did, and half
of the yards, in just a single game. WRs

Davone Bess (157yd/20rec) and

Ted Ginn Jr. (138yd/14rec) are one of the
youngest staring WR duos in the league, and their inexperience has both of them
struggling to help the passing game find the end zone. Like their offense, the Miami defense struggles in the passing
game (ranked just 24th in pass D), but is dominant in the run game
(ranked #2 in run D).

There you
have it – just like a semi-blind date, you have nothing to lose if you give
this Monday Night match-up a chance. It
looks like it will be solid match-up, and when you read into both teams
details, you find some interesting similarities on both the offensive and
defensive sides of the ball. But the
real enjoyment is in the excitement of the first meeting between these two
teams this season, and seeing which team shows up; the nice looking 3-1
divisional leader or the 1-3 team looking to improve upon their homely
offense. No matter which one shows up
big on Monday, you’ll be talking about it at the water cooler with your buddies
on Tuesday morning – we guarantee it.

About Fantasy Sharks

FantasySharks.com began in 2003, disseminating fantasy football content on the web for free. It is, or has been, home to some of the most talented and best known fantasy writers on the planet. Owned and operated by Tony Holm (5 time Fantasy Sports Writer Association Hall-of-Fame nominee,) Tony started writing fantasy content in 1993 for the only three fantasy football web sites in existence at the time.