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Tunnel Vision - Week 13
David Dorey
November 30, 2009
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Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Brett Favre 392 3
Aaron Rodgers 348 3
Ryan Fitzpatrick 296 2
Vince Young 387 1
Philip Rivers 317 2
Running Backs Yards TD
Justin Forsett 130 2
Chris Johnson 186 1
Fred Jackson 78 2
Jamaal Charles 147 1
Steven Jackson 116 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Percy Harvin 146 1
Miles Austin 145 1
Donald Driver 142 1
Kenny Britt 128 1
Terrell Owens 96 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Antonio Gates 118 2
Vernon Davis 69 1
Dallas Clark 63 1
Vishante Shiancoe 51 1
Jason Witten 107 0
Placekickers XP FG
Matt Prater 2 4
David Akers 1 4
Ryan Longwell 3 3
Nate Kaeding 5 2
Shayne Graham 1 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Packers 1 2 5
NY Jets 1 3 4
Chargers 1 1 4
Seahawks 1 4 2
49ers 0 6 2

Bumps, Bruises and Bow-outs

Brandon Pettigrew (DET) - Knee injury - lost for season
Danny Ware (NYG) - Concussion
Eli Manning (NYG) - Aggravated Plantar Fasciitis
Mario Manningham (NYG) - Sprained shoulder
Michael Turner (ATL) - Reinjured high ankle sprain
Matt Ryan (ATL) - Toe injury
Michael Clayton (TB) - Knee injury
Jake Delhomme (CAR) - Inability to distinguish jersey color
DeSean Jackson (PHI) - Concussion
Bernard Scott (CIN) - Turf toe
Le 'Ron McClain (BAL) - Back injury

Oh for the crazy days of october

This week is a reminder that every season the scoring overall will start to decrease the later in the year that you get and those games in December will mostly be cranking out fewer points then we have been used to seeing. Consider that this week we have a season low five games with over 27 points and last week there were ten. There were 12 in week eight and that was when four teams were off on bye.

This week there were 19 teams that only had 20 points or less - two touchdowns at most. That's one reason why it is so important to get a fast start because here later in the year it is even harder to catch up. To make this week meet up with week 11 in total points, we need to see the Saints and Patriots end with 91 total points scored.

Man... fingers crossed...

Dropping the ball

The wide receivers this week collectively caught a season low 23 touchdowns between 30 teams playing and none had more than one score. Other than Miles Austin and Donald Driver, the top ten wideouts were a collection of players who mostly spawned the question "really?"

Percy Harvin, Kenny Britt, Terrell Owens, Antonio Bryant, Santonio Holmes, Chris Chambers, Mark Clayton and Pierre Garcon made up that top ten and all the receivers below them had less than 60 yards and a score or less than 90 yards and no touchdown. Not a big week for the elite talent.

partly cloudy with a chance of rock, paper, scissors

The playoff picture was made no clearer this week so teams have five more games to make their move. In the AFC, the division leaders - Chargers (8-3), Colts (11-0) and Bengals (8-3) all won with the Patriots yet to play against the Saints. But the #2 team in each AFC division other than the Broncos (7-4) lost. The Dolphins (5-6), Steelers (6-4) and Jaguars (6-5) all lost ground. Throw in the Ravens (5-5) and even the Jets (5-6) and GASP! Titans (5-6) and Texans (5-6) as possible contenders and you have 12 of the 16 AFC teams with a shot at least for a wildcard.

The NFC is little better with only the Vikings and Saints looking like lock certain division winners. The Cowboys (8-3), Eagles (7-4) and Giants (6-5) have settled nothing yet and the Packers (7-4), Falcons (6-5) and even the 49ers (5-6) are still potential contenders.

I'm still of the mind that the playoffs have the Saints and Vikings in the NFC Championship and the winner plays the Colts in the Super Bowl with all other games merely for dressing. But the Chargers or Titans... could make a good story...

10 Random Thoughts

1. I cannot think of a wide receiver who was so productive for many years, still is on the same team with the same players and yet has just fallen so far. I am speaking of Steve Smith who I am convinced is the only weapon that Jake Delhomme has in the passing game and when he is removed, Delhomme has nothing. Muhsin Muhammad is little more than an extra offensive tackle split out wide and there's never been a slot receiver or tight end of note here. As fiery a guy that Smith is, I have to wonder who he is taking out his frustration on? Just when it seemed he was getting better with four scores in the last four games, he has only two yards against the Jets? He has only one game over 100 yards back in week two. He's probably going to spend the offseason as a MMA fighter just to work off some steam.

2. The most surprising tight end this year continues to be Vernon Davis. He has scored nine times this year to lead all tight ends. He is tied with leaders Reggie Wayne, Larry Fitzgerald and Miles Austin among all wide outs with nine receiving scores. He has as many touchdowns this season as he scored in the first three years of his career combined. Hard to believe it took four years for him to get it together but no denying he was worth the wait.

3. I am impressed with Kenny Britt of the Titans and not just for catching the winning score against the Cardinals. He has scored for two straight games now and been the primary target for Vince Young. The Titans are always going to run the ball as much as they can but Vince Young is throwing to wide receivers like never before and the rookie is looking like he should remain the starter when Justin Gage is healthy again. He could become a wideout that matters in Tennessee which has not been seen since Derrick Mason left.

4. While he flies way, way, way below the radar for a good reason, the Bucs have to be pleased with what Josh Freeman has done as a rookie on a bad team with marginal weapons and no supporting rushing game. He has thrown for a score in each of his four NFL starts and has seven touchdowns already this season. He comes off his best showing of the year when he passed for 250 yards and two touchdowns in Atlanta and had his first outing without any interceptions. Tampa Bay get in a another option for wide receiver and maybe a decent rookie running back and have to wonder what this offense might do in 2010.

5. Terrell Owens is talking to the media again, coincidentally on the heels of his best two games of the year. He had five catches for 96 yards and a score against the Dolphins thanks to the Fins not considering him worthy of being doubled with a safety and Owens scored a 51 yard touchdown against single coverage. He had 197 yards and one score last week because he caught a 98 yard touchdown. It is not so surprising that Dick Jauron had no idea what to do with Owens, it's just that we had no idea why they brought him in. Owens still has games against the Chiefs and Falcons so he may still have a little life left in those old legs.

6. The Falcons have Matt Ryan leaving the game wearing a protective boot and Michael Turner has re-aggravated his high ankle sprain. You know, the injury that typically takes three or four weeks to heal but only needed one week for him to sit out. He returned on Sunday to gain 33 yards on 12 carries before hurting himself. Why? Why rush him back in with Jason Snelling running well and Jerious Norwood returning? Now the Falcons may be without an offense while facing PHI and NO in the next two weeks and then going to play the Jets in New York. That 6-5 record may be as good as it gets this year.

7. The Bengals rushed for 194 yards between Larry Johnson (22-107) and Bernard Scott (18-87) and the greater share by Johnson reflected both the turf toe injury by Scott and the reality that the Bengals just rushed all over the Browns regardless who was running the ball. Remember this when you see the Browns ranked highly like they have a great pass defense - opponents just run the ball with ease so why throw? Before you Larry Johnson owners start to hyperventilate because the Bengals face the visiting Lions this week. Benson should be back and he's rested.

8. What if the TItans keep winning? No team in NFL history had ever lost six games in a row and then won their next three, let alone their next five. It's like we do in fantasy football when we start figuring "if I can win all the rest of my games and those guys lose most of theirs..." except the Titans are actually doing it. They have to play at Indianapolis this week which should be a loss of course but then host STL, MIA and SD before ending in Seattle. Even one loss could doom the Titans from the playoffs but over the last five weeks, they'd be tied with the Colts, Saints and Chargers for best record in the NFL. Oh yes, and playing IND, STL, MIA, SD and SEA is Chris Johnson who has rushed for over 125 yards in each of the last six games. He is still on pace for a 2000 yard season if he averages around 120 yards per week. Who is to say he won't?

9. Jamaal Charles has scored in each of the last three games since becoming a starter and comes off a game in San Diego where he rushed for 93 yards and had 54 yards as a receiver. Most considered Charles as the running back placeholder for who ever shows up next year but he's challenging the notion that he cannot be the man in that offense. After expectations were bottomed out with Larry Johnson, Charles has been productive each week.

10. Getting near the time to play that game - what head coaches are playing out their final month or so? It appears that we will not lose any more coaches during the regular season unless it is one of those final game things. Here's my list of coaches that should be collecting empty boxes from the dumpster at the mall: Eric Mangini (CLE), Gary Kubiak (HOU), Tom Cable (OAK), Jack Del Rio (JAC), Jim Zorn (WAS), Wade Phillips (DAL), and John Fox (CAR). That makes eight with Dick Jauron already gone and that is about the normal number. Who did I miss? Anyone else you think may be gone? Changes at the top mean fundamental changes throughout the team (exception Raiders). Who will be the first to go?

Huddle Player of the Week

Justin Forsett - Granted, it was only against the Rams but it was on the road and Justin Forsett has now scored in three straight games and comes off his best game of 22 rushes for 130 yards and two touchdowns. Even Julius Jones would have been considered no more than a decent start had he been healthy enough to play. But Forsett became the leading fantasy scorer among running backs on Sunday.


Drama 101 - Somebody has to laugh, somebody has to cry

Comedy Yards TDs Tragedy Yards TDs
QB Kyle Boller 308 1 QB Matt Ryan 15 0
RB Vonte Leach 11 1 RB Michael Turner 33 0
RB Chad Simpson 20 1 RB DeAngelo Williams 37 0
WR Jason Avant 94 0 WR Vincent Jackson 39 0
WR Brian Hartline 31 1 WR Steve Smith (CAR) 2 0
WR Jacoby Jones 27 1 WR Larry Fitzgerald 34 0
PK Matt Prater 2 XP 4 FG PK Josh Scobee 1 FG

Huddle Fantasy Points = 73

Huddle Fantasy Points = 13

Sunday's Couch Commentary

GB 34, DET 12 At least the first game of Thanksgiving meant everyone had plenty of time to get to Grandma's house and not miss anything important. Surprise! Stafford and Megatron played! Surprise! They can't all be the Browns.
OAK 7, DAL 24 Raiders still cannot set a trap on the road but Gradkowski is almost like a real QB unless you expect passes to WR. Cowboys graciously take their final easy game of the year.
NYG 6, DEN 26 Broncos got back on track at least at home against a struggling opponent but Giants descent seems to be getting faster. Manning's injury not going to help. No rushing game not a good thing either.
TB 17, ATL 20 This was so close to be an upset and a GOTW. Ryan out injured but even Chris Redman can beat the Bucs. Rushing Michael Turner back not a great idea now that he is injured again. Falcons remain a force at home.
MIA 14, BUF 31 Fins solved their problem of limiting losses to non-divisional foes. Ends up that no Ronnie Brown = no wildcat threat = Miami just a bad passing team with the oldest starting RB in the NFL. Bills don't need no stinking head coach. Terrell Owens and Fred Jackson suddenly matter.
WAS 24, PHI 27 Mounting a comeback and beating road Redskins has the same degree of difficulty as finding a politically slanted talk show. Close losses to Cowboys and Eagles does not say good things about WAS, it says the entire NFC East will have a free calendar for almost all of January.
SEA 27, STL 17 Steven Jackson played with a bad back and continues to be the only thing keeping the Rams from being the dome version of the Browns. Seahawks used rushing and defense to win easy enough.
CAR 6, NYJ 17 Boring game but proof that Jets can defend a passing game that has only one receiver. Jets needed the win just to keep their sanity and Panthers disappointed across the board.
CLE 7, CIN 16 Bengals sweep the AFC North and Larry Johnson ran 22-107 and Scott had 18-87 with a sore knee. That left Palmer and company there to just hand off and block. Browns have turned back into a pumpkin after last week's pointfest that developed in DET.
IND 35, HOU 27 Oh no, Colts are down by 17 points! Aaa - quit yanking our chain and just crush opponents from the start because we ain't buying the upset thing anymore. Colts outscored HOU 35-10 from second quarter on. Manning only had 244 yards so that's sort of a win for the Texans. At least as close as they get.
KC 14, SD 42 Chambers had 70 yards and a TD on ex-team and Charles had a decent showing but this was an NFL version of the back alley beating. Rivers, Gates and Tomlinson all had two touchdowns each and SD has 6 wins in a row. Chiefs need to stay on the reservation.
JAC 3, SF 20 Shotgun fits Alex Smith who had no interception for the first time this year. Jaguars are undecided if they are good or bad while the 49ers just happy to get a win.
CHI 10, MIN 36 Bears are the gift that keeps on giving in six of their last seven games. Adrian Peterson was allowed to score the fifth touchdown in a game that was over shortly after the Vikings team bus arrived.
PIT 17, BAL 20 Losing two straight overtime games sends the defending Champs reeling though they were surprisingly game with no Big Ben. Ravens maybe save their season with the win but mostly we were just wanting it to end ASAP unless you have Rice or Mendenhall on your team.


ARI 17, TEN 20

Normally I would never use such a low scoring game for the GOTW but most of the games were that way on Sunday. The Colts mounted a comeback, 'yawn', and beat the Texans. The Skins almost beat the Eagles which mostly makes me feel dirty for some reason. Certainly the final second win when Roddy White caught the touchdown in Atlanta is a serious contender with the same score. But the Cardinals and Titans played a game that was a perfect example of what this week - and season - has been all about.

Despite encouraging reports all week, Kurt Warner woke up on Sunday with blurred vision and admitted it to the team doctors at the stadium and was deemed out. Time for Matt Leinart to kick off the training wheels and play against - WHO? Vince Young? The same one that he battled in the Rose Bowl when the Longhorns beat the Trojans when Vince Young scrambled in for a touchdown. Leinart has proven to be incapable of being a starter - or so we thought. Young had been a starter but had never done much throwing and never to wide receivers - or so we thought.

The Titans led 6-3 at the half and then Chris Johnson finally broke free in the third quarter when he rushed for an 85 yard touchdown and a 13-3 lead. But the Cardinals just returned the kickoff 99 yards by LeRod Stephens-Howling who coincidentally has replaced T.J. Houshmandzadeh as the player who sets the column width in the box scores.. But that was the extent of the scoring in the third quarter and it remained 10-13.

But the Cardinals opened the fourth quarter with a long drive that ended when Tim Hightower rushed six yards for a touchdown and a Cardinals lead 17-13 with 12:27 left to play. The two teams traded series and then with 5:58 left to play, the Titans took over on their own 2-yard line. After reaching the 25-yard line in three plays, Young found Kenny Britt deep down the middle for a 51-yard completion but he was stripped from behind and lost the ball. The Cardinals had the ball back on their own 30-yard line with 4:37 left to play. But they only gained five yards and punted to the Titans 1-yard line with 2:37 left to play.

The Titans needed a touchdown since they were down by four points and were 99 yards away. They reached their seven yard line when on fourth and four, Young found Britt for ten yards and a new set of downs. Seven plays later it was fourth and four from the ARI 44-yard line with 43 seconds left to play. Young found Lavelle Hawkins for 13 yards to keep the drive alive. On third and five from the ARI 26-yard line with 28 seconds left, Young found Jared Cook for a 17 yard gain to the ARI 9-yard line. He threw an incompletion with 21 seconds left on first down. He tried a run but was bottled up for a one yard loss and called their final timeout. With 11 seconds left, he threw incomplete to Nate Washington on third down. On fourth down with six seconds left to play, he didn't run yet another game winning touchdown, he started up the middle, pump faked and then threw high over the back of the end zone where Kenny Britt happened to be flying by. Game over.

Sadly for the Cardinals, they lost despite a rather impressive showing by Matt Leinart (21 of 31 for 220 yards). Vince Young passed for a career best 387 yards and Britt had 128 yards on seven receptions. It was an exciting game that was sort of like the Rose Bowl since Young beat Leinart on the final play. But it was far different this time around with Young handing off to the league's hottest running back or actually using wide receivers to win games.

Scoring was down and the position studs mostly had a quiet week. After twelve weeks, we are still seeing players stepping up big for a week and some nice development from the youngsters. Backfields are still in transition for some teams and the ones that are not have injuries to contend with. Sure, having Chris Johnson or Maurice Jones-Drew has been a boost to fantasy owners but I bet not one is winning solely because of them. In the year where the NFL has the least parity with plenty of teams on both extremes, the same is not true for fantasy football where it is more about parity because the team with the best overall rosters are winning games. And riding players every week is getting harder to rely on even if they are still healthy.

That'll make for some very interesting results come fantasy playoff time because it's more about the hot week than the hot season for most players. You can play fantasy football as a casual team owner.

But it's getting a lot harder to win that way.

Now get back to work...

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