Tuesday - Jan 22, 2019

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Week 3 – The Progno

Welcome my fantasy brethren to another edition of The Prognosticator.  May it be smoother than chocolate pudding and crisper than iceberg lettuce.  A little off topic but the Yankees and Red Sox are shaping up to be quite a story come playoff time.  If you watch nothing else, if these two teams meet in the playoffs, don’t miss a second of it.  The story in fantasy football is of course, where have all my players gone?  People are digging deep into the waiver wire and pulling out coal like Aaron Stecker, Ki-Jana Carter and Reche Caldwell.  You know you’re having a tough season when Terry Glenn starts looking good to you.  I can’t think of any other time in history that fantasy football owners have been so ravaged with injuries to star players.  As you should know by now, fantasy football is more an exercise in survival than it is competition and surviving the loss of your first five picks is not realistic.  It is starting to look like the team that drafted Curtis Martin just wrapped this thing up!  How the heck did that happen?

The NFL in general is a pass first, run next league.  The first two weeks of the season we’ve seen a lot more running than passing and it’s been unusual to see so many RB’s with solid numbers while receivers have been relatively quiet.  This week, all that changes as really only one RB gets on track this week in Domanick Davis.  Get ready for some big numbers in the air Week 3 as the Cowboys, Lions, Packers, Vikings, Giants (no, that’s not a misprint), Eagles and Rams enjoy big days in the passing game.

Team

Rush Pass Against

ARI

Frigid

Average

ATL

ATL

Hot

Average

ARI

BAL

Average

Frigid

CIN

CHI

Average

Warm

MIN

CIN

Cold

Cold

BAL

CLE

Average

Average

NYG

DAL

Frigid

Hot

WAS

DEN

Warm

Cold

SD

DET

Average

Hot

PHI

GB

Warm

Hot

IND

HOU

Hot

Warm

KC

IND

Warm

Warm

GB

JAX

Frigid

Frigid

TEN

KC

Average

Cold

HOU

MIA

Frigid

Average

PIT

MIN

Average

Hot

CHI

NO

Average

Average

STL

NYG

Average

Hot

CLE

OAK

Cold

Average

TB

PHI

Average

Hot

DET

PIT

Average

Frigid

MIA

SD

Average

Frigid

DEN

SEA

Frigid

Average

SF

SF

Average

Average

SEA

STL

Warm

Hot

NO

TB

Frigid

Frigid

OAK

TEN

Warm

Cold

JAX

WAS

Warm

Frigid

DAL

 

Arizona Cardinals at Atlanta Falcons Sunday 1:00pm

In the right situation the Cardinals can win.  They have a good coach and some talent in their young WR group but that day has yet to arrive.  Emmitt Smith is a warrior and to continue to start in the NFL is a testament to him and his longevity but the plug simply needs to be pulled.  The Falcons have been decent on D and won’t have much trouble taking away the running game of the Cardinals.  They will dare Josh McCown to beat them in the air and that is more a joke than a fact.

Michael Vick has been dy-no-mite but the loss of Warrick Dunn will hurt as Dunn was a better fit for their offensive scheme.  T.J. Duckett owners can come on down as Duckett will be their workhorse back and that will bring the offense back in a little to the point that the Falcons will play a little more conservative.  It will be interesting to see if this shakes up the thus far poor production of WR Peerless Price, it can only help.  Look for Price to be more involved this week.  While you’re looking, watch Vick run as he will be roaming often and tearing off big runs.  A nice week for Duckett too. 

Prediction: Falcons 32 – Cardinals 13


Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings Sunday 1:00pm

As the Bears proved against the Packers last week, when it is an ex NFC Central match up (I still can’t get completely used to 4 divisions per conference) throw the statistics into a fiery pit.  The same applies here.  The Bears have been running Thomas Jones ultra successfully and I have to wonder when will a Defense stack the box and just try to let youngster Rex Grossman beat them?  Look for the Vikings, who have been very solid on Defense, to start that trend.  The Bears lost three starters on defense in their win against Green Bay with their biggest blow coming to CB Charles Tillman.  Tillman was something else and against the Vikings and Randy Moss, will be sorely missed.  

Why does Mike Tice impress me as a bumbling fool?  Wait!  I know why!  Because he is!  He simply has to have compromising photos of Vikings ownership as there is no other explanation for why he does what he does.  I do think he is a good people person and makes good reads on his players but he has a bunch of trouble making the right decisions in a game.  Tice would excel as a college coach because of his inter-personal skills and it is this author’s opinion that is where he should be.  While the Vikings sort out their RB fiasco look for this to be all Daunte Culpepper, all the time, with some strikes to Randy Moss now that Tillman is out.

Still, this will be close due to the teams involved.  The Vikings and Bears always are even when on paper it doesn’t look possible.  History should teach us something here.

Prediction: Vikings 23 – Bears 20


Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals Sunday 1:00pm

Brian Billick is a QB’s worst nightmare.  Billick has proven season over season that he is the worst evaluator of QB’s and can’t coach one worth a pile of beans.  This years project is Kyle Boller and he too will be another QB on the trash heap at the end of this season, reduced to a pile of wasted talent that will never see another starting job in their career.  Speaking of heap, Todd Heap is out for 4 weeks or so and with bust Travis Taylor nursing a groin, that leaves NO ONE to catch the ball.  With a thousand apologies to Kevin Johnson, there simply isn’t anyone left.  The Ravens are going to run, run, and run again.  With Heap out they’re forced into a 2 TE set as their base offense and attempt to push the pile forward down after down.  Every team in the league is simply focusing every man in their defensive unit on Jamal Lewis and that is why his numbers have been down.  The Ravens have migrated to a new style of offense, it’s not West Coast, it’s Kill the man with the ball and Lewis has the ball.  Interesting usage of Chester Taylor last week.  A lot of folks are suddenly dismissing Musa Smith as the heir apparent after Taylor’s performance last week.  Not so fast.  The Ravens are forced into changing pace on offense as they can’t stretch the field with their personnel and Taylor provides an excellent change of pace to Jamal Lewis.  If Lewis were to go down, go to jail or get hit by the proverbial bus, it will still be Musa Smith that steps in for him.

I can probably stop saying that Carson Palmer is the real deal now right?  Rudi Johnson owners have got to be frustrated and your frustration level will mount this week as the Ravens will focus on dismantling the Bengal running game before throwing a whole pile of pressure on Palmer from every conceivable angle.  I was not a Rudi Johnson draft proponent due to the incredibly difficult schedule the Bengals pulled this season and we are seeing it now.

With all that said, this is going to be a defensive struggle as the Bengals offense can move the Ravens defense at times and the Bengals defense matches up well with the bad Baltimore offense.  The wildcard here will be Chad Johnson and Peter Warrick as Carson Palmer is comfortable with both and one will not draw CB Chris McAlister.  With Deion Sanders already out, one will be open most of the time.  If Palmer can find him quickly and avoid the pass rush, that will be the difference maker in this one.

Prediction: Bengals 23 – Ravens 17


Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions Sunday 1:00pm

One thing I can say assuredly is that the Eagles are a darn good football team.  They are well coached and have good to great players in the positions that count.  They are the class of the NFC and are never an easy task for anyone.  Brian Westbrook is capable of some Barry Sanders type moves though stud fantasy back he is not.  The Eagles start and end with Donovan McNabb and the addition of Terrell Owens spells disaster for just about anyone that plays them.

Just about?  Well, there are these snotty nosed kids in Detroit that think they have themselves a football team.  A quick check of the standings and – wait a minute – what do we have here?  The Lions are 2-0 and sitting on top of their division?  Ahead of the Bears, Packers and Vikings?  How can this be?  What’s this?  The Lions defense has given up less points than either the Patriots or the Ravens D?  Are we talking about the Detroit Lions?  Quick check of their offense and they’re one field goal shy of matching the Vikings point total this season.  In fact, the Lions are 7th on the list for total point production across all 32 teams. 

Fasten your seatbelts my friends because this is going to be a shoot out.  The Lions loss of ex Ram CB Dre’ Bly last week stings hard.  A sting so bad that store brand antiseptic is comparitively soothing.  The loss of Bly will help Terrell Owens significantly.  The Lions are having great success in their passing game with WR Roy Williams as Joey Harrington has finally started putting it all together.  Surprise!

Prediction: Lions 33 – Eagles 27


New Orleans Saints at St. Louis Rams Sunday 1:00pm

You do not replace a Deuce McAllister, especially a Deuce that was already having trouble running as the Saints offensive line appears to have no idea what a hole is.  Aaron Stecker takes over this week with some relief from Ki-Jana Carter though Carter won’t be ready off the bat.  Do not expect much from either player.  Instead, the Saints are going to rally around the arm of Aaron Brooks and bring in 3 WR sets a lot more often.  The two guys that benefit most from this will be Aaron Brooks and Jerome Pathon.  Other defenses will not be shy about playing their nickel and dime packages against the Saints and that will help to take Joe Horn and Donte Stallworth out of the game which will open up Jerome Pathon.  Not everyone has the personnel to reliably play a lot of nickel and to reliably take two good receivers like Horn and Stallworth out of the mix.  Those that don’t will pop Pathon open for a lot of yards.  

The Rams are teetering on the edge of good and bad.  If they start sliding either way they will slide for a very long way in that direction and we find out this weekend which slope they’re about to slide down.  Look for the Rams statistically to light it up at home.  Tory Holt, Isaac Bruce and Marc Bulger are all in for a good day.  His royal highness, ex-fantasy RB King Marshall Faulk himself will play well too.  

In the end though, the Saints are going to scrap their way into a win as they will make better use of their scoring opportunities.

Prediction: Saints 20 – Rams 17


Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans Sunday 1:00pm

Calling the Jaguar offense anemic is a compliment as they’re far worse than that.  Fred Taylor has yet to do anything and Byron Leftwich can’t complete a pass even if they added them as incentives to his contract.  Their line is predominantly to blame and until they get that disaster straightened out, expect no numbers from your Jaguars.  Of note however is their defense as it has been rock solid.  The Jaguars front could be the unheralded best front of the season.  

While Chris Brown has been running wild as Eddie George’s replacement, things get a little tighter this weekend.  Although the Jaguar defensive tackles are sequoia trees, the Titans are built around their lines and the Titans have a solid O-Line so Brown will still have some room to run.  Steve McNair has been quiet thus far and this will be his weekend to change that as the Titans challenge the Jaguar corners with some success.  

Prediction: Titans 17 – Jaguars 10


Pittsburgh Steelers at Miami Dolphins Sunday 1:00pm

The Steelers are what they are and that’s a team with two old RB’s and now a rookie QB at the helm after last weeks loss of Tommy Maddox to an elbow injury.  While Ben Roethlisberger did play well in relief and is the progno’s personal favorite QB of this rookie class, do not expect a pile of numbers from him or Hines Ward nor Plaxico Burress.  Though, when a new QB comes in it can turn a fantasy WR’s season around and it remains to be seen which WR Ben feels most comfortable with.  You can expect it to be one, not both as Ben just is too green to be able to make enough quick NFL reads to work with both consistently.  His opening salvo was with Hines Ward but that was more the game plan than his outlet.  If he ignore Burress this weekend, you may as well toss Burress out onto the sidewalk.  

The Dolphins are a team in flux making mad adjustments, particularly on their offensive line.  Their line has been downright terrible and they made a number of changes yet again.  The success factor for the Dolphins will be how successful their tinkering is.  My bet is that it won’t happen over night and while what they may improve their situation, they are still a long way away from having a real football team.  No wonder Ricky Williams split town.  Maybe he was the smart one?

Prediction: Steelers 17 – Dolphins 10


Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs Sunday 1:00pm

David Carr has been respectable but the focus here will be on Domanick Davis and the porous Chiefs run defense.  Davis has had two costly fumbles to open the season, has watched a lot of film and has decreed he knows what is happening and vows to correct it.  You can bet your bottom dollar that the Chiefs are going to come in focused on stripping the ball.  

I know the Chiefs look awful and with no deep threat with Eddie Kennison likely not suiting up, that doesn’t help their cause.  Toss Priest Holmes onto the injured list and things get ugly fast.  The thing about Dick Vermeil and his teams is that he can get blood from a stone and often times it’s the most unlikely cast of characters that step up and play big.

Prediction: Chiefs 26 – Texans 13


Cleveland Browns at New York Giants Sunday 1:00pm

Now that was the Jeff Garcia I was talking about.  Thanks Jeff for keeping it real.  Hey Cleveland, I heard Tim Couch is available!  We’re all holding our breath for the arrival of Lee Suggs once he gets over his neck stinger.  I have the sinking feeling he ain’t all that and that the team in general is in chaos.  WR’s Andre Davis, Quincy Morgan and Dennis Northcutt are a heck of a 1-2-3 punch.  To not take advantage of them is criminal.  

The Giants win!  Naturally, you read that here first.  Even so, who’s the Einstein that thought Tom Coughlin would make a good coach in New York?  Fining players for showing up early to a meeting is nonsense and there’s no quicker way to make the players turn on you.  Why Tom why?    

The Giants are going to shock and awe via the sky and surprise a lot of people with what suddenly appears to be a solid WR group and a QB that can run the offense.  Look for Tiki Barber to catch quite a few balls.  Some of it is smoke and mirrors but this weekend, that’s enough to sneak by the Brownies.

Prediction: Giants 21 – Browns 20


San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos Sunday 4:05pm

The Broncos are heavy favorites but you have to respect the offensive production of the Chargers so far.  The Chargers have scored 15 more points than Denver through 2 although they’ve given up a lot more.  The Chargers have a funny way of looking good against particular teams and the Broncos are one of them.  Look for both teams to focus more on running the ball than chucking it.  Both LaDainian Tomlinson and Quentin Griffin deserve a start here but hopefully that is not news to you.

I know the world is saying Reche Caldwell is an aberration but apart from his almost Homer Simpson like wonderlic score, the guy has always been billed as a poor mans Cris Carter.  The Chargers expected a lot out of Caldwell and it’s possible they’re starting to get it.  He has a load of natural ability, he’s just not the brightest bulb in the tree and it has taken him a long time to adjust to the playbook.  I’ll be the one voice in the wilderness that says Caldwell is not going to fade away. 

Prediction: Chargers 24 – Broncos 17


San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks Sunday 4:15pm

Before Week 1 when I said the 49’ers would be a scrappy team all season long, a lot of folks scoffed at the notion that the 49’ers could be anything but bad.  Guess what?  They’re a scrappy team.  The 49’ers may win this one outright but I’ll take the Seahawks in a squeaker.  The 49’ers will have an average day in the air and on land but enough to keep the chains moving every other drive.  Kevan Barlow sounds ready to go and will probably be the TD guy, though the Seahawks run D is stout.  Those that think Curtis Conway is a waiver wire pick up, think again.  The 49’ers are going to emphasize their youth and not their age.  Conway is a backup on this team.  Brandon Lloyd?  Now paging Mr. Brandon Lloyd?  Please report to the red zone immediately.  Your party is waiting for you.  

The biggest reason the Seahawks are going to struggle against the 49’ers is because they’re going to over commit to Shaun Alexander as they like to lead with him.  The 49’ers, surprisingly, have a very good run stop unit of their own and they can contain Alexander.  That will mess with the Seahawks rhythm and force Matt Hasselbeck to make passes he may not want to make.  Overall, Hasselbeck excels at home and there’s little reason to think otherwise, just look for a few extra interceptions this week as he forces a few passes which will help keep the Niners in the game.

Prediction: Seahawks 18 – 49’ers 17


Green Bay Packers at Indianapolis Colts Sunday 4:15pm

And the lead story in the NFL is the face off between Brett Favre and Peyton Manning in their 2nd ever meeting.  Baaah! I say.  It’s disgusting this sensationalism just to try and sell you a football game so that advertisers line up around the corner.  It’s all a big marketing game people.  Last time I checked, the QB’s didn’t compete against each other as they’re not even on the field at the same time.  Does anyone think Brett Favre will be tossing a TD strike and exclaiming, “Take that Manning!” followed by a Peyton Manning TD strike and a follow up, “Right back at you Brett!”  I don’t think so.  These guys have a job to do and they’re going to walk in and do it.  

There will be some crazy fantasy statistics coming out of this one.  Of course you play Ahman Green but I see Brett Favre and Javon Walker exploding against a very poor Colts D.  The Colts will answer with probably Dominic Rhodes but whichever back is running, they’ll do well.  Naturally, you play Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison as Harrison is due for a big one.  

Prediction: Colts 27 – Packers 17


Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Oakland Raiders Sunday 8:30pm

What a mess.  How I can’t wait to hear all about the Superbowl just two years ago between these teams.  Joe Theismann laying his edict on heavy and thick as they scramble to try and wrap a story line around this game.  If I want story lines I’ll watch Days of Our Lives, or Bold and the Beautiful.  Who knew I could watch the NFL and get the same loathsome feeling?

The Bucs D is still plenty talented, it’s their offense that stinks like old Pirate.  Chris Simms takes a turn under center and the networks are scrambling to get Dad Phil Simms lined up to call one of his games before he breaks his clavicle.  The Bucs need to run to take a lot of pressure of the QB position in general, but they’ll have a tough go of it against a very good Oakland D.

The Raiders need to find their running game and as predicted, they auditioned a couple runners last weekend.  They would REALLY like to hand the ball to Justin Fargas as soon as they possibly can.  Maybe this week is that week?  That day is rapidly approaching assuming they don’t peel LaMont Jordan off the Jets bench.  Look for the Raiders to work it a little more in the air as Rich Gannon is playing well and they would really like to jump start Jerry Porter.  With their inability to run the ball, they’ll be forced into it.  

Prediction: Raiders 17 – Buccaneers 9


Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins Monday 9:00pm

More story line!  Bill Parcells vs. Joe Gibbs in a reported battle for the ages.  The Cowboys defense has been surprisingly porous as they’ve given up a whole pile of points and they’re soft in a number of areas.  The ‘Boys will be going up top with Vinny Testaverde all day and they won’t play favorites either.  Keyshawn Johnson, Terry Glenn and Antonio Bryant will all get in the action with one having a really big game.  My hunch is Terry Glenn.

The Redskins have a lot to prove and it sounds like Patrick Ramsey just got the starting reigns back again.  He had a particularly unimpressive outing last week as he made a lot of bad reads and while he certainly has a lot of natural ability, his head may not be complete for this game or this league.  The Redskins will run Clinton Portis as much as they can right at the smallish Cowboy front and try to dictate the pace of the game.  They’ll be able to manage the clock and play this one on their terms because of it.  Monday night in Washington with the ability to control the clock?  Advantage Redskins.

Prediction: Redskins 17 – Cowboys 13

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