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Games to Watch – Week 9

Hello fellow Sharks! From now until 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 Week in Review podcast), our new “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:

Hee-hee-hee… hello my fiendish fantasy football friends! It’s me, the TaleTeller™*, and while Dolfi and Braun argue who gets to wear fight over who gets to wear the “Ocho Cinco” jersey for Halloween, I’m back to share three howling, horrifying tales to terrorize you. Muhahahah!! So watch out for this trio of wickedly wonderful games to watch; the pulse-pounding action just might kill you. My first story of the gory gridiron involves two sets of men leading teams who are FAVRE from having their seasons ended. My second fable of freakish football pits two teams trying to claw their way out of the AFC graveyard and into the playoffs. And my third and final tale of the terrible turf features two teams running for their lives (or at least to put points on the scoreboard). These games aren’t for the faint of heart… provided you still retain yours after All Hallows Eve. Muhahaha!! So sit back boils and ghouls and let me tell you some tales…

*[Editor’s Note: FantasySharks.com simply could not afford the rights for the most famous scary spinner of stories, HBO’s CryptKeeper™, but we were able to “dig up” one of his relatives, the TaleTeller. He may not have the rotting, moldering corpse charisma of the original, but if you ever saw the TaleTeller eat a slice of watermelon or a turkey leg, you’d be scared. Trust us.]

New York

Jets @ Buffalo – Sunday 11/2,

1:00pm

Ahhh… a bowl full of bitterness always makes for a great game, or at least one brimming with the promise of a battle of good and evil. (Of course, which side is which will depend on who you root for, or who you dropped a dime on with your bookie, you fiendish football fanatics.) What better place to look than a week nine division rivalry where the top of the division is still up for grabs ½ way through the season. These two teams have history, 104 games of it to be precise, and history has a way of repeating itself. And history has a way of repeating itself; muhahaha!! See, I’ve already got myself doing it!

The Jets picked up QB Brett Favre to shore up an offense that was lackluster in 2007; and Favre can certainly add excitement to any coach’s game as evidenced by his 1,611 yards or his 15 touchdowns. But sometimes excitement can easily turn to terror, and we all know that Favre can streak fear into his own team’s heart when he is off – just ask Jets fans how they enjoy his 11 interceptions so far this year (tied for the NFL lead in that dubious category). Well, if nothing else, it certainly has helped take a team from the bottom of the NFL to averaging more than 26 points a game. And Favre’s presence has also served to loosen up the running game the NYJ duo of Thomas Jones (532yd / 4TD) and change-of-pace RB Leon Washington (155yd / 2TD). Trying to snag Favre’s pirouetting pigskins are WRs Laveranues Coles (433yd / 5TD) and Jehrico Cotchery (430yds / 3TD). As the offense improves, the defense struggles at points, but is a bit of an enigma. It currently holds the 4th ranked rushing defense in the NFL, allowing just over 80 rushing yards a game; enough to scare any team that thinks about keeping the ball on the ground. But their 23rd ranked passing defense invites teams to take to the air against them, even with the NFL’s 7th (tied with four others) ranked sacker, DE Shaun Ellis (6 sacks).

In the Bills camp, it shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that they are at the top of the division; after all, they have a dangerous running game in Marshawn Lynch (450yd / 6TD) who anchors their offense. What has been a scary surprise to the opposition is the play behind center. QB Trent Edwards (1436yd / 5TD / 3int) has not had sinfully high numbers, but has shown his cold blood by becoming one of the most disciplined quarterbacks in the league (8th best QB passer rating at 92.9). Although short in the touchdown category, WR Lee Evans (637yd / 3TD) is the man that Edwards has his eye on, just as many fantasy owners do. Don’t forget about a solidly balanced Bills defense, ranked both 13th against the pass and the run that only gives up 20.4 points a game on average. Former Penn State punisher Paul Posluszny leads the team in tackles (48), and TEN different players have at least one sack on this squad. Not being able to key on any one individual certainly strikes fear into opposing signal callers – if they know what’s good for them.

There you have it; both teams are looking devilishly good; either team can rise above the fray in their division by winning this game, at least until next week; either team could possibly scare off a chance at the post-season with a loss. Spooky stuff; remember my rampaging readers, spite is a good thing, and a dash of history might make for a bloodletting in Buffalo – but you’ll have to watch the game to find out who’s heads end up on a pike. Muhahahaha!!!

New England

@

Indianapolis

– Sunday 11/2,

8:15pm

My second tale of teams trying to rise from the graves of their shattered respect pits two long-time AFC rivals thirsting for each other’s blood. But it’s not just these two (former?) monsters that each has to worry about; so, too, must they fear the machinations of their mad-scientist masterminds. One thing is for sure, neither team is feared they way they once were, but a win here would go a long way in resurrecting their respect, and getting one step closer to an AFC playoff berth.

The Patriots are lead by one of the NFL’s most highly-touted mad geniuses. Bill Belichick. In the past, Bill built a monster of a defense and constructed a balanced offense to compliment it. Over time, his creation metamorphosed into an (almost) unstoppable killing machine, bent on annihilating the opposition through the air. But after losing the head of the monster offense he created, QB Tom Brady, to injury this season, ol’ Bill has gone back to building his basic monster. His defense has aged, but has managed to become the 9th best scoring defense in the NFL (18.9ppg) through the first eight weeks – who loves to gang-tackle the opposition like the Pats of old… and many of those defenders are the same OLD defenders they had back then – but with a bit of new life breathed into them by their leaders’ fury. QB Matt Cassel (1362yd / 7TD / 6int) just needs to keep the errors to a minimum to put the Pats in position to win. A cavalcade of RBs has become the NFL’s biggest RBBC backfield ever seen, with Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk, Lamont Jordan, Lawrence Maroney, and now rookie BenJarvus Green-Ellis getting into the mix as of late. (Expect Jordan, Faulk, and Green-Ellis to be this week’s RBBC crew.) WR Randy Moss (32rec / 472yd / 4TD) isn’t living up to expectations, but the Pats are using some WR bubble-screens to finally get him some more touches. WR Wes Welker is still ranked 3rd in receptions (49) even with Cassel throwing the rock.

And while fear of New England has lessened with Cassel running the offense, maybe even more surprising is the fall from grace of their opposition this week – the Indianapolis Colts. The calm, cool mad-scientist on their side of the field, Tony Dungy, is desperately trying to repair the ripped seams of his gridiron golem after the first eight weeks. Their #2 ranked run defense is nothing more than a statistical smoke-screen, since teams would rather exploit their 26th ranked run defense, giving up over 144 yards a game. Their once-vaunted running game has fallen on hard times with RB Joseph Addai (216yd / 4TD) being banged up, but he should be back this weekend. QB Peyton Manning (1754yd / 10TD / 9int) and the Colts passing game has looked in some disarray with their erratic start, but they hope to continue their recent turnaround with a victory here. WR Marvin Harrison has become almost an afterthought (even with his 3 TDs) in a passing game that is focusing on WRs Reggie Wayne (38rec / 521yd / 4TD) and Anthony Gonzalez (30rec / 357yd). And TE Dallas Clark (27rec / 328yd / 2TD) is a reliable option for this struggling squad.

New England is 5-2, but the NFC East is still up for grabs – a loss here might strike them a blow that sends them fighting to keep from going six feet under. Indy is a dismal 3-4 (4 games back of division leading Tennessee), and another loss might put the final nail in the Colt’s coffin. The winner of this one regains some much needed respect in the weird and woeful AFC playoff picture. The loser invites more opponents to stick pins in their voodoo doll. Which reminds me… where did I leave those locks of Dungy’s and Belichick’s hair?!? Muhahahah!!

Pittsburgh

@

Washington

– Monday 11/3,

8:30pm

EEEEEEEEE!!! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!! Or at least your lively-hood if you’re Mike Tomlin or Jim Zorn; two coaches who enjoy a good airing out, but rely heavily on a ground game. My final malevolently malicious match-up puts two teams looking forward to post-season mayhem against each other. And while you never know what the future holds, I certainly do – the spirits of the dead are talking to me through my crystal ball right now; but it’s still a bit cloudy… all I can see are the colors black and blue everywhere this Sunday in Washington. Muhahahaha!!

Pittsburgh seems to have had two witch doctor curses placed on it this season: keeping running backs healthy and playing teams in the NFC East. With their 6-2 record, they currently lead the AFC North and want to put more distance between themselves and the “Poe-esque” Baltimore Ravens. QB Ben Roethlisberger (1352yd / 10TD / 7int) has been decent – when his offensive line gives him more than 3 seconds to pass the ball to “bounty man” Hines Ward (31rec / 406yd / 5TD) or Santonio Holmes (22rec / 360yd / 1TD). But that running game curse is working some strong juju against the Steelers this year. RBs Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall were to be the terrifying twosome that tantalized Steel City; but now in week 9, the Steelers find themselves using Mewelde Moore (322yd / 3TD) as their primary man. And while the second curse of playing the NFC East, probably the toughest division in the NFL this year, certainly isn’t helping matters – the blue-collar boys from Steeltown, USA still have one very potent demon they can summon up to smother their opponents – the Pittsburgh defense. Ranked #1 in overall defense(236ypg), #3 in run defense (a paltry 71.6ypg), #1 in pass defense (just 164.4ypg), and tied for 3rd in scoring defense (allowing just 15.7ppg) – this defense is one of the deadliest forces in the NFL right now. The scary speed and power of S Troy Polamalu (3 ints), the punishing blitzes of LBs James Harrison (8.5 sacks) and LaMarr Woodley (7.5 sacks), and the brute strength of LB James Farrior (50 tackles) make this team unbelievably frightening, even if they are playing the NFC Beast, err, East.

Washington has played above expectations, sitting comfortably in the #2 spot in the NFC East, with just their two losses to the Giants and the Rams leaving them outside the division lead. QB Jason Campbell (1574yd / 8TD) has been playing very disciplined in Jim Zorn’s new offense, as evidenced by being the ONLY quarterback not to throw an interception so far this season. The real star of this offense (which we were all lead to believe was a “west coast” offense) is RB Clinton Portis (944yd / 7TD) who runs, and runs, and runs all over opponents – and is currently the NFL leader on the ground. The main recipient of the passes so far has been WR Santana “The Other” Moss (42rec / 658yd / 5TD – top 8 in every category). Don’t forget about TE Chris Cooley (451yd / 1TD), though, his 40 receptions put him above almost every WR in the league, tying him for the 10th overall spot in catches this season. And while the Redskins defense might not be quite as scary as the Steelers, they can conjure up enough fear in most opponents to leave them as one of the NFL’s better D’s this year. #6 in overall defense (278.1ypg), #5 against the rush (82.8ypg), and #8 in scoring D (18.1ppg) makes this defense one of the reasons Washington is a tough a team as they are this year. And who am I to argue with the likes of LB London Fletcher, who has amassed a truly terrifying 67 tackles this year?!?

And while the mist is beginning to clear in my crystal ball, I still can’t make out the final score of this one… but I can see the weather brewing in my vision; the thunder of two teams that love to run the ball, the slashes of defensive lightning that leave their opponents broken and scorched, and the cool demeanor of two of the NFL’s most unflappable quarterbacks this year. Trust me my fanatical football freaks, you won’t be caught DEAD missing this one. That is unless something… unfortunate… might befall you this Halloween. I’d tell you to sleep tight, but you might never wake up – Muhahahaha!!! Now where are those two fools that had me conjure up this week’s games for you? They don’t owe me much for my help… only their souls*! Muhahahaha!!!

*[Editor’s Note: This presents quite a dilemma, as Braun and Dolfi already sold their souls to ensure a Phillies’ World Series victory. Perhaps the TaleTeller™ will accept their hearts instead, or maybe even some old S&H Green Stamps we have lying around the FantasySharks.com offices.]

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.