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Redemption

Synonyms of redemption include atonement, recovery, salvation, deliverance and restoration. For one to achieve redemption, there is often some type of failure or fall from grace that has taken place. Lindsey Lohan recently had the opportunity to redeem herself, but has failed and hit rock bottom yet again. Week 2 offered a chance at redemption for several NFL players and teams which have either struggled out of the gate or dealt with a variety of other obstacles.

After a disappointing opener, it seemed Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings would receive a much-needed break against a satisfactory Miami Dolphins team. Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys had the opportunity to avoid a 
difficult Week 1 loss, but their hope disappeared when a game-winning touchdown was replaced with a holding penalty. Both NFC favorites have been unable to redeem themselves and are off to slow starts. 

With Kevin Kolb sitting on the bench recuperating from a concussion, Vick started his first NFL game since 2006 this past Sunday. He led the Philadelphia Eagles to victory with 284 passing yards and two touchdowns, thus stirring conversations as to whether Vick or Kolb may be the best option to play Philadelphia’s field general. Jay Cutler is another signal caller seeking redemption. After leading Chicago to a losing season and tossing more picks than any other quarterback, Cutler has flipped 180 degrees to begin 2010 with a bang. After two games, Cutler holds a 121.2 quarterback rating with five touchdowns and, most importantly, has led the Bears to two victories.

As we dive into Week 3, we will have more redemption stories to celebrate. However, we will also experience jaw-dropping disappointment as players and teams that we projected for success this season may fall deeper into the abyss with even less hope of redemption.

Tony Romo – Who is the best football team in Texas? Many analysts predicted the Dallas Cowboys would represent the NFC in the Super Bowl this season, which would be even more remarkable since the game will be played in the new Cowboys stadium. After an 0-2 start, Romo needs to concentrate more on finishing drives or else he will be hosting a Super Bowl barbecue at his house rather than Cowboys stadium. Although Romo’s Week 3 opponent, the Houston Texans, are undefeated, they have been absolutely defenseless against the pass allowing nearly 430 yards per game in the first two weeks. Romo has never thrown for 400 yards, however, I expect him to unleash an aerial assault against Houston with over 300 yards and at least two touchdowns. His primary weapons of Miles Austin, Jason Witten and Dez Bryant will be must-starts this week. Another interesting tidbit of this matchup is the fact that Romo threw his first career pass and touchdown against the Texans in 2006, which is his only game against the neighborhood rival.  

Pierre Thomas – “The Flying Frenchman” has been relatively grounded thus far in the first two games of the season with only 58 rush yards per game and 3.1 yards per carry. In Week 3, the Super Bowl Champs battle their division rivals, the Atlanta Falcons. After watching Reggie Bush writhe in pain on Monday Night Football after breaking his leg, Thomas will receive the bulk of touches this week against Atlanta’s 26th ranked rush defense. Their defense has already surrendered an 80-yard rushing touchdown to Tim Hightower and a 50-yard touchdown run to Rashard Mendenhall this season. Another positive sign is that Thomas posted 100 yards from scrimmage in both games against Atlanta last season. With Bush out of the picture, Thomas will break through for around 150 total yards and at least one touchdown.

Jerricho Cotchery – The theory of elimination would suggest starting Cotchery in Week 3 against Miami. Coach Rex Ryan will be hoping for redemption for his wide receiving corps as Braylon Edwards was arrested for driving with a blood alcohol level that doubled the legal limit. In addition, Santonio Holmes is still serving a suspension for violating the NFL’s substance policy. Mark Sanchez’s much-improved performance in Week 2 is reason to believe that Cotchery may be in store for a solid outing against the Miami Dolphins. Although Miami’s pass defense has been reliable, their competition has consisted of Trent Edwards and a rusty Brett Favre. It does appear that Edwards will be active on Sunday, but Ryan declared that he will not be starting. After defeating Tom Brady with a brilliant performance, look for Sanchez to throw another gem against Miami, which should elevate Cotchery’s value this week. I forecast Cotchery to top 100 receiving yards and score a touchdown. 

Jason Witten – I wonder if Witten is getting jealous of Miles Austin and Dez Bryant? Romo’s ex-favorite target currently ranks 19th among tight ends with only 78 receiving yards. In reality, I am certain that Witten is more concerned about Dallas’ 0-2 start. Regardless, fantasy owners are disappointed with his first two games, but are even more concerned about his head injury. Before you think I am here to bash a wounded Witten, think again. The Dallas Cowboys will be playing the worst pass defense that also has yielded the most receptions, yards, and touchdowns (tied with three other teams) to opposing tight ends. If there was a game for Witten to redeem his value, this would be it. Witten also had a slow start last season, but then strung together three games of over 100 receiving yards in the second half. Be patient with Witten and the Dallas Cowboys. If he is declared healthy enough to start, my crystal ball predicts Witten to finish with 75 receiving yards and a touchdown. Yes, you heard me. I am predicting a touchdown for Witten, which has been a relatively uncommon event throughout his very successful career.    


Cincinnati

Bengals Defense – The pairing of Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens (aka Batman and Robin) was not the only hype in Cincinnati this season. Cincinnati’s defense finished strong in 2009 and was commonly ranked in the top 10 going into this season. However, New England embarrassed their defense by scoring 24 points in the first half. The next game showcased the skills of their highly touted defense as they picked off Joe Flacco four times. The Bengals will feast on Carolina’s rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen this Sunday, who coach John Fox announced will be replacing Matt Moore as the starter. The lack of a pass game has also hindered Carolina’s run game, which only has earned 104 rushing yards per game and zero touchdowns. In comparison, the Panthers’ “Smash and Dash” duo of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart averaged 156 yards per game last season. Unless Clausen is able to open up the field, expect Cincinnati to have a field day in Carolina.

Good luck in Week 3. If you are 0-2, this is a must win week for you. Study the matchups and keep a close eye on the status of any injured players on your roster.  It is time for your team to experience redemption.

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