Welcome my fantasy brethren to another edition of The Prognosticator. May it cleanse your soul with a dash of Tabasco. Kind of an off week for ye’ ole’ Progno last week. Nailed some predictions head on but erroneously predicted games were going to be closer than they were. A lot of big score blow ups last weekend that threw everything off kilter.
Now the bad news <wink>. It is unlikely that I’ll be able to slap a Progno together next week due to family stuff. Those that understand family will understand that you don’t trade that for anything. For those that rely on this column as an office pool sounding board, I do plan to get something up with just score predictions and perhaps the projected Week 11 fantasy temperature. I will get in what I can.
For those in and outside of the United States that celebrate Thanksgiving I wanted to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. Those guys with white wigs a while back sure seemed to know what they were doing. Makes you wonder who were the better politicians, the politicians today or the politicians that founded the country? Not that this has anything to do with Thanksgiving, just a random thought really. Enjoy the time with your families and for as much as you bitch and moan about the holidays, realize that if we didn’t have this time together your identity would be lost. Enjoy being yourself this holiday season.
Week 11 Fantasy Temperature
St. Louis Rams at Buffalo Bills Sunday 1:00pm
The Rams are in a spot where they don’t play well. It will be cold and slow in Buffalo and the Rams are not built for that. As I said in the beginning of the year, the Rams will win at home but lose on the road and this is one of those. There will be average days all around for your Rams starters due to the tenacity and timbre of the Bills D.
The Bills were on a roll till they too fell victim to the NFL team beating machine, the New England Patriots. For those that did not see the game, it was a slaughter. Look for the Bills to rebound with Willis McGahee against a Rams D that they can exploit. Expect Eric Moulds to get back on track as well.
Prediction: Bills 23 – Rams 20
Dallas Cowboys at Baltimore Ravens Sunday 1:00pm
The Cowboys are mired in a stretch of very difficult games at a time that is very, very bad. Last week the Eagles and now the Ravens? Aye Carumba. The Cowboys need a good old fashioned garbage team to whoop up on, not some of the elite in the NFL. The Cowboys will be cleaning house as soon as next week and changing the face of this team. There is something rotting in cow town.
Jamal Lewis the only recommendation in this contest. He should see a lot of 2nd half attempts to run the clock and wind down the game. Is it me? Or is Kyle Boller starting to come around? No really, he really is, due to the Jim Fassell connection as <ahem> mentioned last week. Todd Heap can’t get back soon enough.
Prediction: Ravens 24 – Cowboys 14
Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings Sunday 1:00pm
The Lions appear to have sprung a leak. Things were running downhill for them early in the season as their offense and defense were clicking. Lately, it appears the Lions have come back to the team we all expected. Capable of some big plays but still too many holes to seriously compete. No real stellar recommendations from the Lions this weekend even if it is the Vikings D.
The Vikings lost the game to Green Bay last week but the way they charged back in that game to tie it up late in the 4th quarter said a lot. It said they’re starting to operate efficiently without Randy Moss. Randy Moss of course brings that explosiveness to their team but not having him in the lineup is a mental shift more than a physical one. I think the Vikings are going to start generating a big head of confidence here, even more so when Randy comes back. Losing Randy Moss for these weeks actually has been better for the team because they have learned how to play well without him. When he comes back they could spring vault into a position of power in the NFC. Imagine if all their first round drafted D players came to play one day?
Vikings will have a solid day up top and on the ground. Players of note will be: Daunte Culpepper, Nate Burleson, Jermaine Wiggins and Onterrio Smith with Moe Williams vulturing a TD or two.
Prediction: Vikings 28 – Lions 21
Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers Sunday 1:00pm
I like the Cardinals to run the ball well on the Panthers. Both Emmitt Smith and Troy Hambrick enjoy decent days. I am starting to think we see the Cardinals draft a QB in the first round.
The Panthers surprised me last week. It looks like the prediction that an ex-Superbowl team will have mini loud explosions as they go into their death throw came true the week after. The Panthers came back hard on the Jets and exposed the Jets as vulnerable, which does not bode well for the future success of the Jets.
Cardinals will maintain control of this game and will win it when it needs to be won.
Prediction: Cardinals 24 – Panthers 23
Denver Broncos at New Orleans Saints Sunday 1:00pm
The Broncos were firing like a straight six before the bye and Mike Shanahan has kindled that fire well. Look for the Broncos to make an AFC statement this game to make us all think they deserve to be in the cream of the class. Fantasy players rejoice, any Bronco this week scores very well for you.
The Saints came off a surprising win last week with a mini Joe Horn explosion. It is nice to hear from him once and a while. Look for a little more running here as the Saints run Deuce McAllister fairly heavily as they look to rekindle their running game.
Saints get lucky.
Prediction: Saints 27 – Broncos 23
New York Jets at Cleveland Browns Sunday 1:00pm
I know it may not make much sense but I’m down on the Jets. I respect and appreciate what Herm Edwards does but they have some problems they need to fix. This is going to be a tough game for both teams as neither will play remarkably better than the other. Until Chad Pennington returns this team suffers. The Jets running game will be the best statistic to come out of this one but the Browns will play feisty.
Not a big day for Jeff Garcia or his receivers, they miss Andre Davis as he could stretch the defense and can be a talented player. Since I’ve been peddling him in this column for a number of weeks now, this is the week you’re going to wish you actually listened. This will be your last chance to get him for cheap.
Prediction: Browns 23 – Jets 17
San Francisco 49ers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday 1:00pm
The 49’ers let me down last week. I’m starting to think I have been giving them just a hair too much respect. They can be a scrappy team but cinderella story they are not. The 49’ers have tended to rely on their passing game more and that will continue here. Kevan Barlow hasn’t rushed well but always gets the score. It is not too early to start whispering the ‘B’ word. The ‘Bust’ word.
The Bucs have been playing well lately with their mix of personnel. The Buccaneers will grind one out with very flat statistics from all of them. If you have a nasty choice at any position, then do not hesitate to start a Buc but if you’re starting Michael Clayton or Brian Griese expecting a pile of numbers, don’t.
Prediction: Buccaneers 24 – 49’ers 20
Indianapolis Colts at Chicago Bears Sunday 1:00pm
Not even I know how to explain this. Let me start by saying I’m taking the Bears to win outright. Yes, I have been hitting the sauce lately but I don’t think that is clouding my judgment too much. This will come down to the final field goal, perhaps even in overtime. The Colts are due, things have been too easy for them lately and I do not buy that their D is suddenly NFL caliber. The Bears have been playing some great defense lately and will surprise with their running game and by slowing the Colts offensive machine. The Colts will of course come up with decent statistics. Look for a bounce back game for Marvin Harrison as the Colts are going to need a little extra firepower this week.
Whomever starts for the Bears at RB will make a solid start this week. Anthony Thomas is expected to start, do not be afraid to follow suit.
Prediction: Bears 31 – Colts 28
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals Sunday 1:00pm
I know they are the mightly Steelers after rolling over the best the NFL could throw at them but they will have their hands full with the resurgent Bengals. Remember how well the Bengals played last season? Today’s Bengals have never been far removed from that team, they just introduced a little too much too fast and the players had trouble grasping it all. It’s finally starting to sink in for them. That said, it is still going to be an uphill day for the Bengals as the Steelers D is very good. The Bengals are going to have to earn every yard but they’re capable of putting a few drives together. No real star or recommendation statistically for the Bengals in the game, though Rudi Johnson should get in the end zone twice.
The Steelers have discovered that it really doesn’t matter who they run. If Duce Staley returns then he will run well, if not, Jerome Bettis will run well. Just watch the news close to game time if you have either as one will make a premiere start this Sunday.
Prediction: Steelers 30 – Bengals 28
Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday 1:00pm
It sounds like Steve McNair will be back for this one. If he is, he and the Titans will play well with special emphasis placed on their passing game with Derek Mason and Drew Bennett. It appears as if you can go right back to starting Drew Bennett and smile. I bet even if you own Bennett you’re not entirely sure where he ranks among all WR’s in your league? Take a look, I think you will be surprised.
Now who was that QB I said was going to play well last week? Oh yeah! Dave Garrard. Look for Garrard to continue his solid play and once again have an above average showing. Jimmy Smith will be utilized. This is the time of the season that Fred Taylor starts to step it up and you saw some of that last week. Get ready for a string of solid Fred Taylor games as they started last week.
Prediction: Titans 23 – Jaguars 20
San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders Sunday 4:05pm
First and only game where two teams coming off a bye week play each other in 2004. An interesting nullification of the “coming off the bye” advantage. It is actually not fair to the Chargers and Raiders as every other team had the benefit of coming in as the bye team one week during the season. Not so for the Chargers and Raiders and someone in the NFL should raise a mini stink about this so the schedulers fix this issue going forward. Guys, something to add to the owners meeting agenda. Shout out to all the owners reading! What’s up fellas?
The Chargers, our early season darlings that have spread their wings and done their progno proud. Thanks guys for holding up your end and proving what we were saying all along. How dumb does Phil Rivers feel now? Guy went from starting QB to someone that may not see the light of day for years because of greed. Sometimes justice is served in odd ways. LaDainian Tomlinson is healthier, Keenan McCardell has had the extra week to learn the plays and Drew Brees is playing like the QB we thought he could be last season. It’s pseudo gratifying when a guy is touted, just to fizzle, to prove he really was capable. Every year we like some players that seem to put it all together the following year. They’re just one year off our timetable but they were on our chart. Drew Brees has been one of those players.
Speaking of Progno greats that we are all waiting for, we’ve been harping the vitues of Jerry Porter since he came out of college. This guy is starting to really push the “any day now” envelope. As if pushed by an invisible force, Jerry Porter makes a decent showing with Kerry Collins also checking in with a good day at the shop.
Prediction: Chargers 30 – Raiders 20
Miami Dolphins at Seattle Seahawks Sunday 4:05pm
The Dolphins are not to be messed with on defense. They play defense as well as anyone in the league now if they had an offense to match. Only note (not that you would be starting anyone in this mess) is to pick up Travis Minor as he is probably available and hold him for a week or two. It’s possible he could sneak back into the limelight fringe.
The Seahawks have been all Shaun Alexander as he has been a fantasy wrecking ball the past three weeks. The Seahawks are at home which means it is going to be very hard to beat them. It is safe to start Matt Hasselbeck again but the Seahawks will focus on ways to get the ball into Shaun Alexander’s hands.
Prediction: Seahawks 24 – Dolphins 19
Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants Sunday 4:15pm
Does anyone else think the Falcons are nuts for not running TJ Duckett more? Duckett has been fantastic with his carries and the Falcons are starting to take notice. Falcons passing game is a joke but you knew that right?
A lot went wrong with the Giants. The loss of Michael Strahan and now the switch to Eli Manning but it wasn’t Kurt Warner’s fault. If the Giants read The Progno they’d realize that they weren’t supposed to win those games. The Falcons they will beat even if they started Kurt Warner but they didn’t, and it makes Eli Manning and the Giants hot seat coaches look like geniuses. Even though, it doesn’t really matter who you start here. Look for a little tremor in Tiki Barber’s numbers in the negative direction because of the switch which includes this week.
Prediction: Giants 24 – Falcons 17
Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles Sunday 4:15pm
Everyone expects the Eagles to throttle the Redskins and ‘you know what? You’re 100% right. The Redskins switch to Patrick Ramsey who also has been a Progno favorite and a player we scratched our heads over when he failed. We haven’t given up on him here and like the fact he is getting the start. Clinton Portis worthy of the start and will perform well.
The Eagles, no matter how good the Redskins defense is, are not going to lay down. Look for the Eagles to have a difficult day on the ground but succeed in their Donovan McNabb to Terrell Owens connection.
Prediction: Eagles 29 – Redskins 20
Green Bay Packers at Houston Texans Sunday 8:30pm
If Brett Favre isn’t a hero of David Carr’s I don’t know who could be. Carr is the right age to be developing serious thoughts of football while Brett Favre was throwing for more than 30 TD’s in a season. They seem to be kindred spirits and even though David Carr will never be the QB Brett Favre is, he will have great success in this game over his career. It is hard not to like Brett Favre and Javon Walker in this tussle.
The Texans showed that they have a very difficult time against a high powered offense that can score quickly against the Colts. The Packers have that same potential. We once again recommend Andre Johnson but hold a wait and see attitude with the remainder on the Texans.
Prediction: Packers 30 – Texans 20
New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs Monday 9:00pm
The Chiefs own the Patriots in Kansas City. I believe it has been 40 years since the Patriots have won in Kansas City and that is a streak that exists for a reason, not bad luck. The Patriots are going to have a decent day in the air and Tom Brady makes a reliable start along with David Givens.
The Chiefs have been man handling defenses lately and this is going to be their test of the season. They know the Patriots D is the best in the game and they will be out to prove a point. The Chiefs are going to be hot in all aspects of their game and will run Derrick Blaylock well. It sounds like Priest Holmes may be out for the season and if that happens, expect Larry Johnson to get a long look at tailback. If he plays well, you’ll have an RB that can help you win your Superbowl. Nice day for Trent Green and company on Monday Night against the World Champion New England Patriots.
Prediction: Chiefs 29 – Patriots 27