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The Prognosticator: Week 8

Week 8


Welcome my fantasy brethren to another edition of The Prognosticator.  May it bring you inner peace coupled with the wisdom of a thousand snails.  Got back on the plus side last week as most of the picks came in as we won 9 of the 14 games against the spread.  Even the fantasy advise was sound!  Careful now, I may just start to think I know what I’m doing here. 

I can’t help but mention Doug Coutts’ article this week on the Red Sox.  If you missed it, go back and read it from the main page.  I know this is a football site but we’re all sports fans and can appreciate other sports when it gets down to the wire.  I really enjoy the series playoff structure.  Hockey and Baseball playoffs are just great to watch when you can buckle in for the entire ride. 

I, like Doug, have been changed by Game 7 of the ALCS.  In fact, I’ve refused to even discuss it till now.  The day after, and on the golf course, guys have tried to get my thoughts knowing I’m a sports guy but all I’ve been able to do is make a face.  Not a word have I uttered about Game 7 because I don’t know what to say.  It changed me but more so, I think of the thousands of people who have been Red Sox or Cubs fans their entire lives who won’t be with us next year.  They will die without seeing the team they’ve rooted for all their lives, in the winner’s circle.  I’m a Red Sox fan and have been for 18 years but my tenure as a fan pales in comparison to my father-in-law who’s been a die hard Red Sox fan since 1943 when he was 10 years old.  I hope to god he gets to see the Red Sox win a World Series.  I know there are many like him and just as many Cubbies fans that have rooted on their team for just as long and live it just as passionately.  Yes, Doug, myself and countless others of us, lost something much bigger than a game last week but we still have 40 or so years to see the Red Sox win a World Series.  By this time next year, another generation of die hard Red Sox and Cubs fans simply won’t be with us and for them, I feel the most.  Let’s pray 40 years from now, we aren’t one of these poor souls that have stuck by their team to be rewarded with nothing.

Team

Rush

Pass

Opponent

ARI

94

210

SF

BAL

138

153

DEN

BUF

102

221

KC

CAR

139

173

NO

CHI

127

181

DET

CIN

90

204

SEA

CLE

93

210

NE

DAL

124

208

TB

DEN

122

201

BAL

DET

120

188

CHI

HOU

122

214

IND

IND

101

256

HOU

JAX

90

242

TEN

KC

101

232

BUF

MIA

132

203

SD

MIN

120

221

NYG

NE

122

171

CLE

NO

114

224

CAR

NYG

106

233

MIN

NYJ

82

216

PHI

PHI

137

142

NYJ

PIT

94

213

STL

SD

104

221

MIA

SEA

124

194

CIN

SF

130

208

ARI

STL

95

211

PIT

TB

88

217

DAL

TEN

85

244

JAX

Red – Great Play!

Yellow – Solid Play.

White – Average Play.

Grey – Run Away!!


All times are Eastern

Wagers
Initial Bankroll: $500 Geoffrey Dollars.
Current Bankroll: $430 Geoffrey Dollars.
Last Week: No bet.

Again I spent some time ripping the database apart and guess what, I found it.  Somehow a bad calculation crept in when comparing turnovers.  Last week I was comparing Seattle’s defense as if they were playing their offense.  Embarrassing I tell you!  I went back and redid last week with the corrected calculations and we would have been 10-4 against the spread and there was no bet.  I’m fairly confident I’ve shaken out all the kinks now.  Man..  Let’s win some Geoffrey’s.

This Week: $110/$100 on the Minnesota Vikings -5.5 over the Giants. 


Seattle Seahawks at Cincinnati Bengals – Sunday 1:00pm

The Seahawks like to feature Shaun Alexander when they can and they will in this one.  The Seahawks have cooled as of late as Matt Hasselbeck isn’t making all the right decisions and that is hurting the team from being a complete powerhouse.  Teams know now how to defend against them.  They still have a scary unit and are ready to explode at any given time but they need to get a little better to consistently do that.  One thing the Seahawks are doing is protecting the ball as their offense is tied for 2nd best in turnovers given away.  On defense they’re causing havoc as their defense is top 5 in takeaways.

The Bengals are getting it done without Corey Dillon and boy is he steamed.  Dillon is coming at the front office just like Carl Pickens did as Dillon wants to be traded to Dallas and he’s causing a ripe stink in the locker room over it.  Where is Carl Pickens today?  The same place Corey Dillon will be if he keeps his attitude up.  If he wants to be traded he needs to work that through his agent, not the newspapers.  

The Bengals will have a tough time handling the Seahawks defense in general but there are few defenses that can stop them completely in the air, as they are clicking right now.  Jon Kitna certainly makes good spot starts and both Chad Johnson and Peter Warrick are all over the field.  

Prediction: Seahawks 27 – Bengals 24  (Seahawks -1.5)


Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints – Sunday 1:00pm

*** RB of the Week Award: Stephen Davis ***

The problem with the Panthers is that they are one dimensional.  They are going to win a lot of games because they excel at running the football and playing defense but that isn’t a complete recipe for success.  The Panthers can still get beat on a tough matchup.  The Panthers will of course run their horse into the ground and Stephen Davis is a must play against the soft interior of the Saints.

They’re back.  Tony?  How can you proclaim the Saints back after one huge game?  I’m not sure they were ever gone.  The Saints offense took a while to come together that’s for sure but the talent they have is frightening when it all comes together.  Take my word for it, the Saints offense has gone from bad to good, reap the rewards.  If the guy that has Aaron Brooks was waiting for one good game to get him on the block, take him up on his offer because he’ll be taking him off the block after this weekend.  Look for a nice week from Joe Horn.  

When I first saw the line that the Saints were favored, I had to double check it but it’s true.  When I ran the numbers I see why.  Why can’t Vegas just throw me a bone once and a while?  I’ll bet the books clean up on this game as a lot of people poor money onto the Panthers.

Prediction: Saints 27 – Panthers 21  (Saints -1.5)


Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Sunday 1:00pm

To have the Bucs favored by almost a touchdown is a joke.  Make no mistake about it, one on one, the Cowboys are just as good as the Bucs in a regular season game.  This is anyone’s game and will come down to the last possession.  Neither team will have big numbers as the Cowboys are going to test the interior of the Bucs line.  The Bucs have been giving up some yardage up the middle and Troy Hambrick is the perfect size to pound it right up the gut.  If the Cowboys don’t run it, Quincy Carter may just get decapitated by the very good pass rush of the Bucs.  I’d play Hambrick but would shy away from all other Cowboys this week.

The Bucs offense will have their hands full with the speed of the Cowboys defense and they’ve been very solid run stoppers to boot.  Michael Pittman will have trouble getting anything going on the ground and the Cowboys linebackers will give him some grief when he’s on the receiving end of the ball.  The Bucs are going to have to come up with something creative to move the chains on Sunday and look for some unconventional football from them.  The key will be Brad Johnson and if he can execute the heavily modified game plan.  Stay away from your Bucs this week, especially Michael Pittman if you don’t get points for receptions.

Prediction: Bucs 24 – Cowboys 23  (Bucs -6.5)


Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears – Sunday 1:00pm

To blame Joey Harrington is a farce.  Harrington is keeping his job for this week but it’s not his fault.  You put Peyton Manning behind center for the Lions and I guarantee he’ll get beat up good.  The problem with the Lions isn’t their QB, it’s that their defense is horrible so they are always playing catch up.  The Lions if given the chance, could run the football as they have a host of characters to do it.  The defense has them down two touchdowns after the first quarter and the Lions have to throw lights out to catch up.  Considering they don’t really have any WR’s that are any good, their world quickly implodes on them by the half.  I know Mariucci wants a win, as the Lions do need a win more than anything to bolster their confidence but you’re not going to the Superbowl this year, that much is evident.  Find your running game.  Your offensive line doesn’t even remember how to run block because you’re always passing the ball.  It is a lot more fun to run block than pass protect and if you want to get your guys back in it, run the ball.  Down by 14 points?  Run.  Down by 21?  Run.  28 you say?  Run.  Just walk into this game and say, we are going to run the ball 70% of the time, REGARDLESS of the score.  Use this game as a stepping stone to real football and you’ll have late season success which you can carry over into next season.  Keep playing this fools game and we’ll start seeing musical QB’s, RB’s, WR’s, you name it, and the Lions will be building on a base of dirt.

I know the Bears stink.  Chris Chandler will be starting for them again and it sounds like RB Anthony Thomas will be back for this one.  I bet he wants some numbers against the Lions D to help him one day negotiate contracts and his agent can spout off how he had 900 yards rushing in 2003.  The thing about the Bears is that they’re not as bad as everyone thinks.  You see, they actually excel in a few areas.  For instance, red zone production.  The Bears are really good at punching the ball in for a score once they’re in range.  Much better then most teams in the NFL.  What has killed them is turnovers.  If they can reduce their mistakes, they could be a decent team.  They still have problems in other areas but the key for the Bears is to eradicate the dumb play and they’ll actually start to surprise a few folks.   If A-Train is 100% for this one, I’d play him.

Prediction: Bears 24 – Lions 20  (Bears -3)


Saint Louis Rams at Pittsburgh Steelers – Sunday 1:00pm

The Rams are efficient and the play of the defense has really helped offset the mistakes of the offense.  I don’t see the Rams rolling over the Steelers nor do I see the Steelers rolling over the Rams.  This will be a tightly contested game as both sides will play with emotion and both defenses will come to play.  The Rams have trouble in their running game as they’re going with their #3 RB, now that Lamar Gordon is out.  That will reduce a lot of what the Rams can do and it will open up the Steelers to bring that strong safety back more often to protect against the big play and plug up some of the zone busting that the Rams like to do.  The Rams have Marc Bulger and that is a good thing, but they’ll have to play a patient game this week, tire the Steelers out and win the game in the 4th quarter.  

The Steelers haven’t been able to run the ball and the team is pointing at this one area as their current reason for failure so Jerome Bettis gets the starting nod.  I think Bettis makes a fine stop gap and the Steelers just may get a solid half a season out of him.  I think we will still see Zereoue plenty but Bettis muddies the fantasy waters once again for us as the Steelers look to be headed into the latest dreaded RBBC.  Yuck.  

You of course play the air portion of your Rams and Steelers but don’t expect big games from either side.  Tory Holt has been a machine this season and he’ll get his catches. 

Prediction: Rams 27 – Steelers 23  (Steelers -1.5)


NY Giants at Minnesota Vikings – Sunday 1:00pm

What’s wrong with the Giants everyone keeps asking?  OK, I’ll tell you if you really want to know.  They need Ron Dayne.  That’s not to say Ron Dayne is the answer, but the answer is a Ron Dayne.  Guess who is flat last in converting yards to points in the NFL?  Yup, the Giants.  The Giants can move the ball well.  In fact, they’re one of the best movers of the football in the NFL with Tiki, Toomer, Hilliard and Shockey.  The boys have some get up and go and can move the chains.  As soon as the field starts to shrink, everything falls apart on them.  Shockey is the logical end zone choice against teams with slow LB’s but what the Giants need is a pounder.  The Raiders have Zack Crockett expressly for those short yardage situations, I’d really like to see what a Ron Dayne can do in goal line situations.  The Giants are small at both RB and FB and don’t have anyone BUT Ron Dayne on the roster over 250 pounds.  Even their middle line backers aren’t over 250.  I know this may sound crazy but Ron Dayne is the answer.  The Giants come away with nothing time and time again and that is what is killing them.  That being said, don’t be afraid to play your Giants, the Vikings can be had in the air and it is a soft matchup for the Giants receivers.  They’ll have a lot of yards with nothing to show for it of course.    

The Vikings have been solid and haven’t skipped a beat.  The Vikings and Giants will both have success against each other and expect some good fantasy statistics to come out of this.  The difference is that the Vikings know how to score points with their machine and are stingy with the football.  The Giants have no clue what to do when they get near the end zone and give the ball away a ton.    

Prediction: Vikings 37 – Giants 14  (Vikings -5.5)


Denver Broncos at Baltimore Ravens – Sunday 1:00pm

I’ll take the team with balance every time and the Broncos are the better balanced team.  There is of course the little matter at QB where Dannie Kanell gets the starting nod!  I always thought Kanell a decent player.  Not a long term answer but a solid option if you needed him.  It’s been a few years for him but I think he’s a capable QB.  Kanell nearly brought the Broncos back from a 28-10 hole last week, leading them to two scores before a last-minute drive failed.  He finished 12 of 18 for 104 yards and a touchdown.  I think he’s capable and the Broncos game is really Clinton Portis who will be relied upon heavily.  

The Ravens have trouble with their dimension as well.  Jamal Lewis has a shoulder injury that will impact him for the remainder of the season and that doesn’t help their cause.  You still play Lewis of course but it is cause for concern.  Do not expect Travis Taylor to all of a sudden be a stud for you.  

Prediction: Broncos 27 – Ravens 23  (Ravens -1.5) 


Cleveland Browns at New England Patriots – Sunday 1:00pm

Here we go again.  Kelly Holcomb vs. Tim Couch, Round 3.  We’ll have to get the Fantasy Sharks ring card girl in next.  Holcomb says he’s ready but after having some bleeding inside his leg after last weeks action, I just don’t see how Butch Davis could go to the bullpen for Holcomb.  Couch gets one last audition to make Cleveland think twice about him unless Holcomb’s injury continues to linger.  William Green had his arm in a sling but should start this game, if not, James Jackson will go and that’s a downgrade.  Whomever starts, it’s a tough assignment against the Patriots.

The Patriots may have won it on a long pass play to Troy Brown but their passing game has been anemic.  They will want to run the ball on the Browns and considering everyone else has been able to, there’s no reason to think the Pats can’t.  Kevin Faulk will be back but the Patriots will rotate between him, Antowain Smith and Mike Cloud.  Joy.  

The Browns and the Patriots are evenly matched on offense.  Both teams try to get it done with a little smoke and a few mirrors.  The deciding factor will be the defensive schemes and we all know that the Patriots have a huge leg up in that category.  Their defense will win this game for them.  

Prediction: Patriots 24 – Browns 17  (Patriots -5.5)


Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars – Sunday 1:00pm

Shootout of the week!  The Titans are passing the ball with the greatest of ease and against the Jags, look for it to be very easy.  The Jaguars are going to answer with a pile of passing as well.  Expect Jimmy Smith to have a huge day against this suspect Titans secondary.  Do not be shy about giving QB Byron Leftwich the start.  Go on, you know you’ve wanted to.  The Titans defense has picked it up a lot lately and have gained my respect.  Jevon Kearse is playing lights out right now.

Prediction: Titans 27 – Jaguars 24  (Titans -3.5)


San Francisco 49’ers at Arizona Cardinals – Sunday 4:05pm

I’ll spare you the gory details.  The 49’ers, Patriots and Vikings are in a three way tie behind the league leading Chiefs in the turnovers caused department.  The Cardinals lead the league in turnovers given.  You do the math.

Look for the 49’ers to pace themselves and let the game come to them.  They will want to try and feature their running game against the smallish Cardinal front and toss it up to TO and Streets only when necessary so look for good, but not stellar receiving numbers from the 49’ers.  

The Cardinals will have Jeff Blake throwing to Anquan Boldin all day long.  What a story this Anquan Boldin kid is.  Look for TE Freddie Jones to be on the other end of at least 1 TD.

Prediction: 49’ers 28 – Cardinals 17  (49’ers -7)


NY Jets at Philadelphia Eagles – Sunday 4:15pm

*** Low Score of the Week Award ***

The Jets do a better job of moving the football, they’re slightly more efficient in the red zone and they lead the league by only turning the ball over 4 times this season.  That’s 4 turnovers total people.  They’re also the underdog.  

The Eagles have been shaky, Donovan McNabb looks a shell of his former self, and their defense is plain vanilla average.  Though look for Westbrook to open up some distance between him and the other RB’s on the roster with a nice showing.  You want Brian Westbrook in your lineup.  

We’re expecting to see a little bit of Chad Pennington in this one as he makes his season debut and that will be a big lift for the guys in the huddle.  Remember, Pennington took them far last year and their woes this season just haven’t added up.  Santana Moss has responded well, look for that to continue.

Prediction: Jets 23 – Eagles 19  (Eagles -3)


Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts – Sunday 4:15pm

*** QB of the Week Award: Peyton Manning ***

*** High Score of the Week Award ***

It is a mistake to short change the Texans.  Their offense is very solid and has produced nicely.  Domanick Davis adds the spark they were looking for, Andre Johnson brings them back into the game if need be and David Carr holds it all together masterfully.  Do not turn your back on this offense, they’re darn good.  I know this is way out of line but you know what it reminds me of?  Troy Aikman, Emmit Smith and Michael Irvin.  I know, I know, comparing Domanick Davis to Emmit Smith is sacrilegious in football but I’m going to float it anyway.  Their offense has that very early Cowboys dynasty feel.  Operators are standing by for your phone calls.  

The irony is that this teams strength has been their veteran defense and it is starting to show its age.  They’re having trouble keeping up and that is not what you want traveling into the teeth of Peyton Manning and Co.  In my opinion, the best offense in football right now.  If you’re curious, I’d rank it the Packers then Rams next.  The Texans are going to get their shots in and you play Domanick Davis, no questions asked, as he’ll be used in the passing game if they’re ahead or behind.

The Colts are going to be throwing lights out.  Expect a big day from Peyton Manning and if the Texans can take away Marvin Harrison, which is doubtful, look for Reggie Wayne to have a big day.  If you need him, Reggie Wayne is a solid play this week, but only if you really need him.  Edgerrin James should be back but look for them to take it easy on him still.  There is no one left to run the ball though, so look for more blocking assignments for Edge as the Colts pass till the Cows go home.   

Prediction: Colts 36 – Texans 18  (Colts -13)


Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs – Sunday 8:30pm

The Bills had a nice game last week but headed into Kansas City is another matter.  That is not to say that the Bills will be bad on Sunday night, far from it.  They are a capable team and are creative in how they get guys involved.  One week Travis Henry is the hero, the next, Drew Bledsoe.  Look for the Bills to throw the ball with a little more regularity this week.  

The Chiefs are going to want to also throw the ball in this contest to upend the Bills.  The Bills have been susceptible to the pass and the Chiefs have been getting Tony Gonzalez and Johnnie Morton more involved.  Look for a nice day from Trent Green as his consistency as a QB (not a fantasy player) has been better this season and his team can rely on him more to get the job done.  Last season they had to play it be ear as the game progressed to see if they could load Trent up with more.  

You play Priest Holmes and Travis Henry of course but rushing wise, they won’t be in for a huge day but both should give you a serviceable start on the ground.  Priest is always active in the passing game and always makes up for statistics there is the opposing defense is taking away their running game.

Prediction: Chiefs 31 – Bills 21  (Chiefs -6.5)


Miami Dolphins at San Diego Chargers – Monday 9:00pm

The Dolphins have been sputtering lately.  They still have a solid team at all positions but they sorely miss a viable 2nd WR.  Because of it, they haven’t been able to get Ricky Williams completely on track.  Look for that to change in a hurry as the Dolphins are going to put him on the Monday night stage complete with track lighting as the Chargers LB’s are nothing to write home about.  Jay Fiedler may not be ready to go, so it may also be our first real look at Brian Griese in a Dolphins uniform.  I’m sure some of the old timers will think it novel to see Griese on the back of the QB’s jersey.  

The Chargers bring three guys to the dance.  LaDainian Tomlinson, Drew Brees and David Boston.  Tomlinson always gets his carries and Boston is hit or miss.  Look for him to be a hit on Monday night as the Chargers will try to feed him the ball often.  

Expect a thriller on Monday as the game comes down to the wire but the Dolphins are the better team and will walk away the victors by a foot.  

Prediction: Dolphins 24 – Chargers 23  (Dolphins -3.5)


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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.