Welcome my fantasy brethren to another edition of The Prognosticator. May it finally get on track before this season comes to a close. What a dismal performance last week. The NFL is a whacky place when the Cardinals are trouncing the Niners. We come at it with a fresh set of specs and see if we can whoop up something fierce on this parity (or is that parody) they call the NFL.
Red – Strong Play.
Yellow – Good Play.
White – Average Play.
Grey – Run Away!
All times are Eastern
|Initial Bankroll: $500 Geoffrey Dollars.
Current Bankroll: $320 Geoffrey Dollars.
Last Week: Lost even more money on the Vikings to cover against the Giants.
Stubborn I am. Giants took my lunch money last week, this week I repay the favor. Bring it Kerry. You and me, let’s go. This time I’m sending in Chad Pennington and the Jets. What you got?
This Week: $55/$50 on the Jets +2.5 over the Giants.
|Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys – Sunday 1:00pm|
When I was a child I had a fever, my hands felt just like, two balloons. Patrick Ramsey has balloon hands and it’s been painful gripping a football but the bye week helped get him straight again. The Redskins had a lot of talent on offense, because they could throw a variety of looks at you with Canidate and Betts. With both out this weekend, the Cowboys are going to have an easy time of it. They can focus on taking away Ramsey’s receivers and usually (ala Daniel Graham last week) the QB can then take the TE to help the passing game move along if his receivers are taken away on the outside. The problems for the Redskins is that they don’t have a viable pass catching TE and Chad Morton just ain’t gonna get it done. Be afraid, be very afraid.
The Cowboys, fresh off a no hitter, are going to be fine. Look for them to look at Antonio Bryant a little more this week as he’ll have the better match up. Terry Glenn and Joey Galloway will have a harder time getting open. It wouldn’t completely surprise me if Quincy Carter puts in a very solid performance this weekend. In fact, I expect it.
Prediction: Cowboys 24 – Redskins 17 (Cowboys -4)
|San Diego Chargers at Chicago Bears – Sunday 1:00pm|
And the Chargers are back to a one dimensional team as LaDainian Tomlinson puts this team on his shoulders. Play LT of course but the rest, I’d leave on le bencho. If the truth be told, I’m really disappointed in Drew Brees and surprised he didn’t take the next step in his development. The Chargers really don’t have a solid 2nd WR and that hurts for sure but at this pace it looks like Brees won’t match his numbers from last year and that’s heading in the wrong direction. He better start to turn the ship around or he may find himself holding a clipboard sometime next season. I still think he has it in him to be a better QB than he’s been, and a supporting cast will help. Whomever had the bright notion to sign David Boston needs to first be whipped then thrown out on the street with a sign around his neck that says, “I signed David Boston, kick me” and paraded around the streets of San Diego.
Chris Chandler is a serviceable QB. He’s not a serviceable fantasy QB but he played better last week and could continue to pick it up a bit. He does have a very low ceiling so don’t expect too much. Look for the Bears running game to do fairly well and that’ll win the game for them as well as a few timely turnovers by the Bears defense.
Prediction: Bears 27 – Chargers 21 (Bears -2.5)
|New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Sunday 1:00pm|
The Saints defense is just pathetic. You simply can’t win in this league without a defense and the Saints are wasting a lot of offensive talent and money, because of their horrid defense. I still like Joe Horn and Deuce McAlister but please guys, figure out a way to stop the run, you’re getting killed out there. What some defenses try and do, if they just can’t get the job done, is to play aggressive and play a turnover game. The Saints can’t do that either. In fact, the four worst defenses in the league right now for turnover potential are the Saints, Cardinals, Lions and Broncos. They have to make something happen out there and they’re not. They’re getting beat every which way.
Look for Michael Pittman to be involved and have yet another nice game. What a nice surprise Brad Johnson is this season as he’s steady and productive. I raised a few eyebrows when I backed up Peyton Manning with him in one of my leagues and I’m very glad I did.
Prediction: Bucs 30 – Saints 20 (Bucs -8)
|Carolina Panthers at Houston Texans – Sunday 1:00pm|
The Panthers keep winning by the hair on their chinnie-chin-chins behind the legs of Stephen Davis and look for that to continue. Stephen Davis was almost the RB of the Week Award recipient and really should be given his track record, I just couldn’t resist taking the dark horse below. You will also enjoy some nice numbers from Steve Smith here so don’t be shy about sticking him in your lineup.
The Texans cover the spread week in and week out so I see no reason why this will be any different. 6 1/2 points with the Panthers defense is a lot of points. If the Texans can keep the turnovers down they’ll keep it close and have a shot at winning this with the incredible play of Domanick Davis. For a little guy, he sure is getting it done with his burst of speed.
The fundamental problem for the Texans is that they continue to make a lot of mistakes on offense, which has been hurting them in a variety of ways, and the Panthers can and will capitalize.
Prediction: Panthers 25 – Texans 23 (Panthers -6.5)
|NY Giants at NY Jets – Sunday 1:00pm|
Last week I ranted about how the Achilles heel of the Giants is their red zone offense and they should insert Ron Dayne when in the red zone. Their inability to punch it in would be their downfall against the Vikings. Well they scored like crazy but when I went back and looked at the game, it all panned out like I expected except the Giants did something a little different to compensate for their problems in the red zone. They took shots at the end zone before the field shrunk on them and hit Ike Hilliard twice. That was the difference. A brilliant compensation by Jim Fassel and listen up Jets, the Giants still can’t score in the red zone but they can move the ball. When they’re in field goal range and it’s an early down, drop into a nickel package and get an extra DB on the field because they’re taking a shot. Tiki looks good in this one.
Chad Pennington returns in full force! This is exactly what the Jets need. Santana Moss is looking exceptional and now he has Pennington throwing to him? Expect Santana Moss to rise the WR chart rapidly over the next couple of weeks. If he’s available in your league, like he is in a lot of leagues, snatch him up NOW. Curtis Martin has been playing well and LaMont Jordan can score. The Jets can pressure the QB and have experience in their secondary. Most importantly, they’re one of the best teams in the NFL at holding onto the rock. The Vikings and Titans have also been excelling at holding the rock lately. Expect a mini surge from the Jets with Pennington back.
No real home field advantage in this one.
Prediction: Jets 24 – Giants 17 (Giants -2)
|Jacksonville Jaguars at Baltimore Ravens – Sunday 1:00pm|
And the award for ridiculous turnovers goes to? Well, actually it goes to the Bills but they’re on a bye so to accept that award in their place is the Jacksonville Jaguars. They’ve played some seriously sloppy ball lately. I’ve given them a lot of respect in this column all year, time for me to jump off this beer cart.
By now you know the way this is going to go down. Jamal Lewis will run and the Ravens defense will dominate. End of story. I’m not giving up on my Chris Redman position! It’s foolish to have him holding a clipboard. Is Redman ever going to be a Steve Young? No, he is not. Does Redman have the potential to be a Phil Simms? Why yes he does. Would Phil Simms in his playing years fit perfectly on the Ravens? He sure would. Has Brian Billick ever made a good QB decision? Nope.
Prediction: Ravens 27 – Jaguars 17 (Ravens -7)
|Oakland Raiders at Detroit Lions – Sunday 1:00pm|
*** Low Score of the Week Award ***
I promised the return of Jerry Porter would boost the Raiders and it did. After a bye week look for the Raiders to have a mini-secret weapon in Porter. Marques Tuiasosopo will start at QB and look darn good doing it. If you need him, don’t be shy about starting either guy because both are going to have a very good day against the porous Lions defense. I’ll even go as far as to state Tuiasosopo will finish in the top 10 for starting QB’s this week. I know a lot of folks are touting Charlie Garner this week but I see it different. The Raiders want to get a good look at Tuiasosopo before Gannon comes back because they don’t want Gannon to freak on them. They’ll script a lot of plays to keep their QB active this week and they’ll be working the Porter connection.
The Lions keep running Bryson and Gary but Bryson continually has the better performance. At some point you need to let Bryson run it for a game and see if he’s a back that can close the deal in the 4th quarter. Obviously Mariucci doesn’t read the progno because I pointed out last week all the reasons why they should just run the ball. I even called out for 70% of the plays to be running plays but if they split it 50/50 that would have been progress. Well, they Lions had 63 plays last week, 23 of them were running plays which is a whopping 36.5%. Result? Loss. Hello? Can someone please pass onto the Lions organization that they need to run Bryson 50% of the time this week if they want to win. It’s as simple as that. Stop being so stubborn.
Prediction: Raiders 21 – Lions 17 (Raiders -2.5) ** Lions win if a copy of this makes it onto Mooch’s desk **
|Indianapolis Colts at Miami Dolphins – Sunday 1:00pm|
*** QB of the Week Award: Peyton Manning ***
Big players play in big games and Peyton Manning is one of the biggest. The Colts move the ball at will and can score better than anyone in the NFL. For my money, they are the best TD scoring machine in the league. Their defense has been playing well, Edgerrin James ran well in his return and Reggie Wayne went off as predicted. The Colts have too many weapons to cover and Manning has played in this system now long enough to subliminally execute it. Hey, check that out, a Colts write up without mentioning Marvin Harrison. Oh shoot.
The Dolphins are starting Brian Griese and I don’t think he’ll look back. He looked poised and played a nice game but that’s vintage Brian Griese. Some weekends he looks great and some, well, the light just goes out. I’ve always blamed maturity with him, and his father (a point I’m not going to rehash). One day he will grow up and cut his obstacles in half.
This will be strength against strength, no funny business. The Colts passing game against the Dolphins ground game. It’ll be a great one.
Prediction: Colts 30 – Dolphins 27 (Dolphins -3)
|Cincinnati Bengals at Arizona Cardinals – Sunday 4:05pm|
Nice game from the Bengals last week as they knocked off the Seahawks. It took a 53 yard 4th quarter strike to Chad Johnson to get them past Mike Holmgren though they were active all day long. The Bengals have won back to back games for the first time since 2001, have won three of their last four, are one game out of first and Corey Dillon wants out? Say what? Here comes another Carl Pickens episode. Great, just what the Bengals needed, more distractions. Well if Corey wants out, he better start playing and auditioning.
I don’t care that the Cardinals won last week. Unless they’re playing the Lions I’m never picking them to win. The numbers just aren’t there to support it. Heck, I’m not sure the numbers are there to support them winning against the Lions. Quick check looks like it would probably come down to who is home if the Cards played the Lions.
Marv Lewis has his Bengals streaking!
Prediction: Bengals 27 – Cardinals 21 (Bengals -3)
|Saint Louis Rams at San Francisco 49’ers – Sunday 4:15pm|
Marc Bulger and Tory Holt are really all you need to know as they rip apart the 49’ers for one of the better performances of the weekend. Marshall Faulk is supposed to be back in this one but to what degree? No one knows yet and I don’t think the Rams will know either till they’re on the field, playing the game.
Owen Pochman, well there it was, the last time I’ll ever type that name again. Pochman goes back to asking if you’d like to super size your order. I wonder, does Pochman have a little wall at home where he’s got pictures of him kicking in a 49’ers uniform? You know, one of those little shrines that players like to have, devoted to their accomplishments? What a farce that would be. I mean, does he tell his grand-children that he used to kick for the 49’ers or not? Or is it one of those things that falls out of his closet when they’re cleaning out his attic after he’s dead and gone? Tough call.
Average day of successes and frustrations for the 49’ers.
Prediction: Rams 31 – 49’ers 21 (Rams -3)
|Pittsburgh Steelers at Seattle Seahawks – Sunday 4:15pm|
The Jerome Bettis 2003 reign already looks to be slowed as he tweeked his groin or some such injury. Not sure “tweek” and “groin” in the same sentence will make it past your corporate firewall! I’m going to play stubborn like the Lions not running the ball and stick with the guy I’ve been touting as a guy you want to have the second half, Amos Zereoue. Let’s see if the switch last week is a wake up call for Amos. I think it will be. Hines Ward gets thrown to a lot as he is one of the most frequent pass targets in the NFL and he catches most of those too. Tommy Maddox looks for Hines Ward. I wonder if Plaxico Burress is taking plays off. He’s at that same stage where he very well could give it 80% each game till he realizes a couple of years from now as his career is slipping away and he should really get after it. Maybe then we’ll see the great promise this athlete keeps locked within.
The Seahawks are a very good team. Not great and certainly not average. Koren Robinson is causing great frustration across all of fantasy football. Use that to your advantage, his value is very low, go get. I can almost guarantee he will have a strong finish. But then I said the 49’ers would beat the Cardinals last week so what do I know?
This will be a physical game with the Seahawks trying to exploit holes in the Steelers secondary with their big receivers and the Steelers trying desperately to get their fundamentals back on track. Which means for them, running the ball.
Prediction: Seahawks 24 – Steelers 17 (Seahawks -4)
|Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta Falcons – Sunday 4:15pm|
*** RB of the Week Award: Correll Buckhalter ***
Yes you read that right. I am giggling a little as I type this but there’s a very real chance why Buckhalter is going to simply explode this weekend. So much so, I’ll slide my neck into the guillotine and go for the “Holy Cow, you know that Prognosticator dude Tony Holm? He said last week Correll Buckhalter would be a beast this week and he was!” effect. Let’s take a look at the facts shall we?
1) The Falcons have stopped playing and give up more yards on the ground than anyone. I repeat, they’re the softest team to run on in the NFL.
2) Buckhalter was supposed to take over from Staley and was looking like he was going to do that when he went down hard with a big injury.
3) Brian Westbrook is out.
4) Buckhalter ran 15 times for 100 yards and 2 TD’s last week and looked darn good doing it.
5) The Eagles are still looking for ways to mix this team up (a reason why Westbrook saw the light of day in the first place).
6) The Eagles, very quietly, are one game behind first place and Dallas.
7) The Eagles will know the outcome of the Cowboys game when they play their game so may be playing for the division this weekend.
8) I think we all just “feel” an explosion waiting to happen from the Eagles. It’s like an active volcano, it’s inevitable. Eventually, Andy Reid will get the right pieces in place, he is too good of a coach not to.
Oh, and the Falcons are playing this week too. Good luck birds. I’ll be looking for my Buckhalter highlight reel Sunday night on ESPN.
Prediction: Eagles 30 – Falcons 17 (Eagles -4.5)
|Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings – Sunday 8:30pm|
*** High Score of the Week Award ***
The big story here is Brett Favre and his broken thumb on his throwing hand. The bone under the nail of the thumb broke. The bye week couldn’t have come at a better time for them last week. The team still wants the bone to stitch together better so they’re working with Favre to get some protection on it. Favre of course wants nothing and is ready to play. It sounds like Favre will go but if he’s not effective he’ll get pulled. He will definitely start this game and it’s a big game to boot as it’s the two best teams in the division battling it out. Expect an offensive out pouring from the Packers. Take note, the Giants ripped the Vikings secondary to shreds last week, Favre and Driver are quite capable of pulling the same stunt. Ahman Green of course is in for a big day.
The Vikings have Michael Bennett back and he will play in this one. It looks like Onterrio Smith will still see some action along with Bennett and once again, Moe Williams is the odd man out. It remains to be seen how this shakes out but I expect Bennett to take over his starting role if and only if he’s 100%. If not, we’ll see flavors of all three.
Look for the Culpepper to Moss connection to thrive.
Prediction: Vikings 33 – Packers 30 (Vikings -4.5)
|New England Patriots at Denver Broncos – Monday 9:00pm|
Usually I am a big fan of plugging in players that play in the Monday night game in my lineups. They tend to do well. This week is an exception as I don’t really expect either team to really excel in any area. The Patriots and Kevin Faulk are going to be OK but I’d stay away from their passing game. The Broncos are going to be OK with Clinton Portis but until Jake Plummer gets back, we have to wrap the crime scene tape around their passing game.
The game will be close but uneventful. Either team could win this as they’re fairly well matched. The Broncos have the advantage of being home and that’s a big advantage up in the thin air. If the Pats grab an interception or two and bring it back to the house, which is very possible, then this game falls the Patriots way.
Prediction: Broncos 23 – Patriots 21 (Broncos -2.5)