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The Weekly 6-Pack
By Paul Sandy
November 21, 2003
 

Quarterback

Three weeks ago, it looked like Marc Bulger was on the verge of entering the MVP race. Instead, he's thrown four interceptions and just two touchdowns over the past two weeks. Bulger has suddenly become a liability for his owners. This week the Rams travel to Arizona. While it looks like a favorable matchup, let's not forget that the Cardinals have played well in the at Sun Devil stadium, defeating playoff contenders Green Bay, San Francisco and Cincinnati at home. Start Bulger this week, but don't count on a three-touchdown, 300-yard performance. I expect a lower scoring game than most, with Bulger posting 250 yards and a touchdown. - As predicted here at the 6-Pack last week, Jake Plummer returned from his injury in fine form, tossing three touchdown passes. Look for more success this week when the Broncos face the Bears. Chicago actually has a reasonably stout defense, but they haven't won on the road all season and should give up 30+ points this week to a Denver offense that has been rejuvenated with Plummer back under center. Plummer should finish this contest with 240 yards and two touchdowns. - Despite turning the ball over five times last week against the Raiders, Daunte Culpepper still managed to pass for nearly 400 yards and rush for 42 yards. It was another fine fantasy performance for a guy who always scores two touchdowns per game. He may be fantasy football's most consistent quarterback and the NFL's most inconsistent. Culpepper is a good bet to pass for another 320 yards and three touchdowns this week when the Vikings return to Minneapolis to face the Lions. - Start Tom Brady this week against the Texans. Houston ranks near the bottom of the league against the pass and they've been very susceptible to big plays all year. Brady has been on-again off-again for the past six weeks. After a poor fantasy performance last week, the pattern should hold true this week. Look for Brady to throw two touchdowns and accumulate more than 240 yards through the air.

This Week's Sleepers: Jake Plummer, Tom Brady and Kelly Holcomb

Running Back

Last Sunday against the Bengals, Priest Holmes turned in his most disappointing performance since 2001. In that game, Holmes failed to score a touchdown, and *gasp* he didn't even surpass 100 all-purpose yards. While one poor game isn't any reason to panic, it's surprising to see that Holmes hasn't carried the ball more than 19 times in any of Kansas City's last three games. If the Chiefs continue to limit his opportunities, the days of Holmes generating 180-200 all-purpose yards could be few and far between. Even so, I like his matchup this week at home against a Raiders defense that is giving up nearly 147.4 rushing yards per game. Holmes should tally 160 total yards and two touchdowns. - After failing to gain 100-yards for six straight weeks while facing average run defenses like the Colts, Giants and Chargers, Ricky Williams finally broke the 100-yard barrier Sunday against the stingy Ravens. Go figure. At this point, Williams might be the biggest bust in fantasy football. While that statement might draw some debate from a William Green or Donovan McNabb owner, the fact is Ricky Williams is very likely the only player chosen in the first round of your draft without a multi-touchdown game. If that's to change this fantasy football season, it will probably happen this week against the Redskins because in Weeks 13 and 14, Williams will face the Cowboys and Patriots respectively, two teams known for their ability to stop the run. Look for Williams to gain close to 120 yards and score two touchdowns this week. - After last week's crushing defeat at the hands of the Denver Broncos, San Diego running back LaDainian Tomlinson said, "We play for pride. You play not to get laughed at. Not to be called the Cincinnati Bengals of the league." Perhaps Tomlinson should have consulted the schedule before making such a statement. The Chargers face the Bengals this week. Can you say "bulletin board material"? There's been a lot of talk about Corey Dillon and Rudi Johnson sharing a backfield this week. While that may be the case, keep Johnson in your lineup. I expect Dillon will likely see 10-12 carries and finish with 35-40 yards. That should leave around 20-23 touches for Johnson, who should break 100 yards for the third straight game. - Brian Westbrook is a touchdown-scoring machine. After being limited with an ankle injury for the past three weeks, Westbrook returned to full strength in Week 11 and scored three touchdowns. Prior to spraining his ankle, Westbrook had scored a touchdown in four straight games. I like his chances to reach paydirt at least once again this week when the Eagles face the Saints. New Orleans gives up 133.3 yards per game on the ground. Expect Westbrook to finish Week 12 with around 95 total yards and a touchdown.

This Week's Sleepers: Shawn Bryson, Kevin Faulk and Brian Westbrook

Wide Receiver

When I heard the news about Keyshawn Johnson getting benched for the rest of the season, I was pretty surprised. Then I turned on SportsCenter and saw Dan Patrick's interview with him and I was disgusted. I don't understand how a player can be so cavalier just hours after he's been told he's no longer wanted on the team. If Johnson had the slightest bit of competitive fire in his belly, he would either be furious with the decision or too embarrassed to do an interview. Johnson was neither. I'm glad I didn't waste a draft pick on this bum. - With Johnson done for the rest of the season, this week's hot free agent was Joe Jurevicius, who is returning from a long lull with an injury. Look for Jurevicius to make an immediate contribution when he lines up opposite his former team, the New York Giants, Monday night. He should finish with 70 yards and a touchdown. - I like Cincinnati wideouts Chad Johnson and Peter Warrick this week. Don't be surprised if the dynamic duo combines for three touchdowns this weekend against the Chargers. San Diego has given up a league-worst 22 passing scores this season. - After catching 70 passes for more than 1,000 yards in 2002, Donald Driver has been virtually non-existent this season. Driver is on pace to finish the season with less than 550 yards receiving. Even so, I like him to re-emerge and put up good numbers this week against the 49ers. Brett Favre has reportedly had an excellent week of practice and Driver has been feeling some media heat regarding his lack of catches. Another fast start from Ahman Green should open up the passing game and allow Favre and Driver to hook up for 80 yards and a touchdown. - That groaning you hear is from Randy Moss owners expressing their collective annoyance. Moss reverted back to his old form last week, lollygagging his way through the second half of Minnesota's loss to the Raiders. He finished with just 25 yards receiving. Head coach Mike Tice and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan are intent on getting Moss involved early in this week's game against Detroit. Look for him to bounce back with a big game, 110 yards and two touchdowns.

This Week's Sleepers: Joe Jurevicius, Deion Branch and Donald Driver

Tight End

With Marcus Pollard and Marvin Harrison on the bench last week with injuries, rookie tight end Dallas Clark became one of Peyton Manning's top receiving threats. Clark caught five passes for 100 yards. Pollard is expected to miss this week's game against the Bills and Harrison hasn't practiced all week. It all adds up to another big week for Clark. I anticipate he'll finish with 60 yards and a touchdown. - In the first six games of the season with Doug Johnson at quarterback, Falcons tight end Alge Crumpler was averaging 52.6 yards per game. In the last four games with Kurt Kittner under center, Crumper has averaged just 19.5 yards per game. Johnson is slated to return to the starting lineup this week, so Crumpler could once again become a reliable receiving threat. If you're looking for a boost from your tight end, grab Crumpler this week and start him against the Titans. Tennessee's pass defense ranks near the bottom of the league, giving up 233 yards per game through the air.

This Week's Sleepers: Alge Crumpler and Matt Schobel

Kicker

St. Louis kicker Jeff Wilkins has seven field goals in the last two games. Much of Wilkins' success has to be attributed to the offense's inability to sustain drives. Look for the trend to continue this week. The Rams stay on the road this week, visiting Arizona. Wilkins should post another 10 points against the Cardinals, a defense that gave up 44 points and three field goals last week. - Start Adam Vinatieri this week against the Texans. Although Houston has had some decent defensive efforts over the past few weeks, they've played some average offenses in that same span. More importantly, they still rank near the bottom of the league in total defense, giving up more than 25 points per game. Vinatieri is good for 8-10 points Sunday.

This Week's Sleepers: Adam Vinatieri, Shayne Graham and Morten Andersen

Defense

This week, the Carolina Panthers travel to Texas Stadium to face the Dallas Cowboys in what promises to be a low-scoring game. Unless there's a special teams touchdown, I can't foresee either team scoring 20 points. Depending on how your league scores defenses, this could be either a very good or a very bad week for the Panthers and Cowboys. I expect both teams to play conservatively. It's likely that this game will see less than two total turnovers. If your league rewards defensive points based on yardage and points allowed, you can expect a good week. If you're looking for defensive touchdowns and turnovers, it's probably not going to happen. - In his last four games, Drew Bledsoe has one touchdown, four interceptions and six fumbles. Oh yeah, and he's been sacked 11 times. This week, the Bills could take the field without arguably their two best players, Travis Henry and Eric Moulds. If you own the Indianapolis Colts defense or if they're available through free agency, start them against the Bills. This game could get out of hand early, forcing Bledsoe to make tough throws. Don't be surprised if Indianapolis ends up with four turnovers, a few sacks and less than 10 points scored against them.

This Week's Sleepers: Indianapolis Colts and New York Jets

The 6-Pack

Last Week's 6-Pack: Tsingtao

Price Paid: $6.79

What the Bottle Tells Us: Not much beyond the obvious. The beer is imported from the People's Republic of China and women shouldn't drink it during pregnancy.

What I Say: Tsingtao is presented in a green 12-ounce bottle with an attractive foil label. Because this was my first experience with Tsingtao, I did it up right and cooked some spicy Thai noodles to pair with the beer. This Chinese lager smells a bit like citrus fruit and flowers while in the bottle - an all around pleasant aroma with no hints of skunk. When I poured it in my glass, I was surprised at how pale this beer is. While I didn't do a side-by-side comparison, I would be surprised if Tsingtao wasn't as light as or lighter than the American lagers. The carbonation is very active, but doesn't form much of a head. What little head there was disappeared before my first sip. As for the taste, it is very comparable to Bud, with prominent rice and malt flavors. But Tsingtao is a bit sweeter and offers an additional flair that is difficult to characterize - perhaps resembling roasted cashews. All in all, Tsingtao is pretty simple and bordering on ordinary, but it was drinkable and I certainly enjoyed it with my spicy dish. I can't picture myself ever drinking Tsingtao in a social setting, but it is a worthwhile complement to Asian foods. If you're picking up some Moo Shoo or Kung Pao takeout, grab a 6-Pack of Tsingtao . otherwise you can probably find a better beer for the price.

What Readers Say: Chris from Seattle agrees that Tsingtao provides a great companion for food from similar ethnicities. "I spent a good amount of time in China and Hong Kong in my youth," writes Chris. "The best part about a beer like Tsingtao is when it is served up with an intensely spicy Asian noodle dish like Cho Ho Fun. The contrast of hot noodles and this smooth beer cannot be paralleled!" On the other side of the country, Mary Brennan used to drink Tsingtao at a bar near where she worked in New York City. She writes, "When introducing friends to this Asian delight -- I always told them it was like Pilsner Urquell and Michelob got together in one bottle piggybacked by a sweet happy ending."  

This Week's 6-Pack: Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale

I've had many requests for Samuel Smith's beer over the past two months - many for the Oatmeal Stout. However, all I can find in my area is the Nut Brown Ale, so that's what I'm going with this week. This is another first-time beer for me, so I'm excited to contrast it with some of the other Nut Browns I've tasted. Go out and grab yourself a 6-Pack (actually this one might only be available in a 4-Pack) of this English beer and send your thoughts to me at paul.sandy@frontiernet.net.