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Week 14: Rushing the Passer

“One alligator…two…alligator…three alligator”.  You may remember counting “alligators” out loud when you were young as you waited to rush the quarterback in a two-hand-touch football game.  Of course, the rules stated that you must wait and count before rushing the passer, and he or she was generally restricted to only throwing the ball instead of rushing.  Tom Brady and Peyton Manning were more than likely successful in their youths as skilled and accurate pocket passers.  However, NFL defenses are not counting “alligators”, but must be even more cautious rushing the passer as this season has brought forth a shift from pure pocket pass-throwing to more versatile, dual signal callers that use their legs as much as their arms.

Carolina Panthers’ rookie sensation Cam Newton broke another record as he continues to flourish this season. Newton ran in three scores to eclipse the NFL record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback en route to a victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Newton has accumulated 26 total touchdowns this year and is the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year.  

Michael Vick has been the face of quarterback versatility with over 5,000 rushing yards in his career including a season where he topped 1,000.  Vick’s season has been disappointing, mostly due to injury, but he has still managed to amass over 500 rushing yards this season missing the last three games.  

After watching Kyle Orton lead the Denver Broncos for the first four and half games from the sidelines, Tim Tebow received his opportunity at starting despite harsh criticism.  Analysts may question his passing skills and open Christian views, but Tebow’s success has led to a paradigm shift in Denver.  Despite completing less than 50% of his throws and only passing for 200-plus yards on one occasion, Tebow has inspired the Denver Broncos to surprisingly win six of their last seven games and grasp first place of the AFC West. Tebow has rushed for 468 yards and averages 5.7 yards per rush, which is only one yard less than his 6.7 yards per pass average.  

Don’t get ousted in the first round of the playoffs.   Take a dive with me as review several key Week 14 matchups.  

QB Joe Flacco – Baltimore will defeat Indianapolis this weekend.  However, I see this game becoming more of a shootout.  Last week, Colts’ QB Dan Orlovsky showed potential that he can hurl the ball around better than Curtis Painter with 353 passing yards and two touchdowns.  Joe Flacco and Ray Rice should carry the Ravens and both have great games against Indy’s weak and fatigued defense. Flacco has been held under 200 yards the last two games, so expect him to air it out this week.

Week 14 Projection: 250 passing yards and 2 TD

RB Marion Barber – With Matt Forte and Jay Cutler sharing the bench for a few games with injuries, Chicago will turn to veteran running back Marion Barber to carry the offense.   Barber has already shined in a limited role with five touchdowns.  Don’t put too much weight on Barber’s 3.7 yards per carry this season since many of his carries have been goal line attempts.  Denver’s defense is average against the run and should shutdown Chicago’s pass offense, but Barber should receive a ton of work and have a productive outing.  

Week 14 Projection: 100 total yards and 1 TD

WR Malcom Floyd – Finally, Floyd returned to the lineup after missing four weeks and posted 108 receiving yards and a touchdown.  The Chargers’ receiver has at least 100 receiving yards in three of his last four starts, which shows that he is very productive when healthy.  San Diego welcomes the cross-country traveling Buffalo Bills, which have improved against wideouts recently in comparison to the first half of the season.  Regardless, I see Philip Rivers continuing where he left on Monday night and will be throwing to V-Jax, Gates, and Floyd.

Week 14 Projection:  75 receiving yards and 1 TD

TE Logan Paulsen–  Who?  Yes, I am recommending third string tight end Logan Paulsen this weekend if you are completely desperate at the position.  With Washington Redskins’ Fred Davis being suspended for the remainder of the season, Paulsen is in line for a start against the New England Patriots.  Washington’s offense is not great, but they do frequently target the tight end.  The Pats have only allowed two touchdowns to tights this season, but have surrendered at least five catches in all but four games this year.   

Week 14 Projection: 70 receiving yards

SEA DEF– Seattle has improved in the second half of the season and may be a dark horse for a wildcard seed.  They have the fourth best defense over the last month scoring with an average of 13 points per game.  During this time, they have averaged two INT’s per game, which will make it difficult for the Rams this Sunday.  With Sam Bradford and A.J. Feeley likely out, third string quarterback Tom Brandstater will struggle against Seattle’s punishing defense.

Week 14 Projection: 13 points


QB Tim Tebow
Week 13 Projection: 150 passing yards, 50 rushing yards and 2 TD’s
Week 13 Results: 202 passing yards, 13 rushing yards, 2 TD’s, 2 Pt Conversion, 1 fumble lost (SUCCESS)

RB LeGarrette Blount
Week 13 Projection: 150 total yards and 2 TD’s
Week 13 Results: 19 rushing yards (FAIL)

WR Percy Harvin
Week 13 Projection: 100 receiving yards and 1 TD
Week 13 Results:  19 rushing yards, 156 receiving yards and 2 TD’s (SUCCESS)

TE Jermaine Gresham
Week 13 Projection: 50 receiving yards and 1 TD
Week 13 Results:  37 receiving yards (FAIL)

Chicago Bears Defense
Week 13 Projection: 12 points  
Week 13 Results: 8 points (Partial Success)

Best of luck this week!

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