Tag:Rams
Posted on: October 21, 2010 8:35 am

## Week 7 probabilities

One of the more intriguing matchups this weekend, and possibly the most puzzling prediction of the efficiency model all season, is the Patriots at Chargers. The Patriots come into Week 7 at 4-1, fresh off a dramatic win over the contending Ravens. The Chargers enter the weekend at 2-4, fresh off a loss to the rebuilding Rams. But somehow the model makes the Chargers heavy favorites over the Patriots  at 0.85 to 0.15.

In fact, the Chargers sit atop all other teams in the weekly rankings produced by the game probability model thanks to their passing efficiency on both sides of the ball. Philip Rivers and the rest of the offense are in a class by themselves, averaging 7.9 net yards per pass attempt. San Diego’s pass defense is also best in the league at 4.9 net yards per attempt. The Chargers’ running efficiencies on offense and defense are both better than average, as are their turnover rates.

So what is going on? How can a team that leads the league in efficiency (and in total yards) on both sides of the ball have only a 2-4 record to show for it? A big part of the answer is very clear: special-teams play. The Chargers have given up  three touchdowns on kicks and punts, and have had further difficulties on special teams.

But things still don’t add up, so let’s look at turnover differential. Although the Chargers are better than average in interception rate, they pass so often that they actually have a turnover differential of -3. This certainly isn’t good, but even combined with their special-teams failures, it still doesn’t fully explain four losses for such a statistically dominant team. Something else is going on.

I think a big part of the Chargers’ 2-4 record is bad luck. Statisticians might call it sample error or randomness, but whatever you call it, it’s not going well for San Diego. I’m not talking about leprechauns or superstitions or the random bouncing of footballs. (Although the Chargers have lost 9 of 11 fumbles, and the league-wide rate is about 50 percent. Fumble recovery is a notoriously random event in football — just look at the shape of the ball.)

Rather, I’m talking about a concept I call “bunching.”

Let’s say there are two baseball teams, completely equal in ability, playing one game at a neutral site. Each team performs perfectly equally, both hitting exactly nine singles over nine innings. But let’s say one team gets all its singles in one inning, and the other has its singles spread out one per inning. The first team might win, 7-0. It’s an extreme example, but it illustrates an overlooked point about many sports. Successful plays are not enough. Consecutive successes are required to win.

In football, two equal teams could each have 12 first downs in a game. One team could have three drives of four consecutive first downs, each leading to a touchdown, and the rest of its drives could be three-and-outs. The other team could have 12 drives consisting of one first down followed by a punt. Both teams could have equal yards, first downs and efficiency stats, and yet one team could win, 21-0. It’s easy to imagine a game in which one team has many more first downs and yards, but still loses. Could something like this bunching effect be cursing the Chargers?

It’s a given that N.F.L. offenses tend to score in proportion to their yards gained. It’s actually an extremely tight correlation, and the best–fit estimate of a team’s points per game is to take just under 10 percent of its yards per game and subtract 10. For the Chargers, who lead the N.F.L. with 433 yards gained per game, we’d expect the offense to score about 32 points per game, but they’ve actually scored only 26.

A similar analysis for the Chargers’ defense, with the special-teams scores set aside, shows that it has  allowed almost 2 points more per game more than the yardage total implies. That’s a total difference of 8 points per game.

If we could magically add those 8 points onto the scoreboard for each game this season, the Chargers would have five wins, no losses and a tie. Of course, things aren’t that simple, and we can’t just add points after the fact. But it’s an exercise that illustrates just how random game outcomes can be, even in the N.F.L.

Here are your Week 7 game probabilities:

Win ChanceGAMEWin Chance0.45Cincinnati at Atlanta0.550.37Washington at Chicago0.630.40St. Louis at Tampa Bay0.600.49San Francisco at Carolina0.510.19Buffalo at Baltimore0.810.45Philadelphia at Tennessee0.550.14Jacksonville at Kansas City0.860.52Pittsburgh at Miami0.480.28Cleveland at New Orleans0.720.13Arizona at Seattle0.870.15New England at San Diego0.850.19Oakland at Denver0.810.26Minnesota at Green Bay0.740.53Giants at Dallas0.47
Category: NFL
Posted on: September 24, 2010 9:14 am

## Week 3 in the NFL

Can you believe that it's already week 3 in the NFL? If I told you that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would be 2 - 0 and the Cowboys were going to be 0 - 2, you would have said that I'm crazy. The unpredictable season is always exciting.

Fans can be a fickle bunch, myself included. The collective mood varies week to week, quarter to quarter, possession to possession. This sentiment is amplified following a team's season opening performance. A win correlates into a franchise's followers booking their Super Bowl accommodations; a loss spirals supporters into panic. This is especially the case in Philadelphia. Another example: the New York Jets, who arrived with unparalleled hype and hoopla thanks to HBO's Hardknocks and proclamations from coach Rex Ryan. Yet after suffering a defeat to the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night, seemingly the entire football world wrote off Gang Green's title aspirations. Pigskin pundits blasted New York management for cutting ties with running back Thomas Jones, signing washed-up veterans, and welcoming the distraction of a reality series into training camp. Former star Joe Namath took issue with the team, stating the current Jets needed to "shut up and play." Ryan was crucified for his game plan, whose conservative nature seemed to contradict the coach's brash attitude and assertions. Keep in mind, New York lost by just ONE POINT. But in the NFL, there's a thin line between bliss and bitterness.

On to the game of the week:
The Atlanta Falcons were the recipients of similar vitriol after a Week 1 defeat to Dennis Dixon and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Falcons were expected to bounce back from a disappointing and injury plagued 2009, and competing against Dixon, a 3rd string quarterback, appeared to be just what the doctor ordered. Unfortunately for the Falcons, Troy Pomamalu and the Steeler defense had a different itinerary in mind, as Pittsburgh came out victorious in a 15-9 overtime slugfest. Soon after, Mike Smith's squad was showered with criticisms and condemnations. Would Matt Ryan fall short of his projected potential? Was Michael Turner's 2008 an aberration? After Roddy White, were there any viable weapons in the aerial arsenal? So on and so on...

A 41-7 drubbing of defending NFC West champion Arizona seemed to lay to rest doubts among the Dirty-Bird backers, if only for a week. Ryan threw for 225 yards and 3 touchdowns, with a QB rating of 117.3. The Burner rushed for 75 yards on just 9 carries before succumbing to an injury (although not feared to be serious). Receivers not named White accounted for 14 receptions on Sunday. In short, Atlanta looked like the playoff-contending team that many had forecasted.

In reality, the Falcons fate is somewhere between their two performances. The Pittsburgh D, after shutting down Chris Johnson and Vince Young in Week 2, looks to have reclaimed their tenacious tendencies that led them to a Super Bowl in 2008. Meanwhile, the Cardinals are doing their best Little Giants impersonation. Atlanta travels to the Big Easy this week to play the Saints, off to a 2-0 start in their title defense. I give the edge to New Orleans; prediction: 28-19.

But rest assured, no matter what the outcome, one fan base will be making January playoff plans while the other will willow in its own misery. At least until next week's game.

These are my picks for the rest of the NFL:
Vikings over the Lions
Ravens over the Browns
Patriots over the Bills, aka the worst team in the NFL
Raiders over the Cardinals
Texans over the Cowboys...how bout dem cowboys? 0-3
Dolphins over the Jets
Steelers over the Buccaneers
Titans over the Giants
Bengals over the Panthers
Colts over the Broncos
49ers over the Chiefs
Eagles over the Jaguars
Redskins over the Rams
Packers over the Bears
Chargers over the Seahawks

Category: NFL
Posted on: September 15, 2010 6:13 pm

## What are the rules of trash talk?

Wilfred Winkenbach created fantasy football. He set the rules for engagement. Check out this funny video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NX1ncpOXoDw
Category: Fantasy Football
Posted on: December 17, 2009 3:11 pm

## Unsuspecting Fantasy Studs

This week I'm identifying unsuspecting players who I believe could emerge as the "fantasy stud" for the week. Each player/defense will be owned in less than a third of all leagues. I settled on 33% primarily because I'm working under the assumption that most people don't have the luxury of plucking Jonathan Stewart off the waiver wire at this point of the season.

Jason Campbell (vs. Giants) I won't spend a great deal of time on him. His Week 15 opponent, the New York Giants, is much better than it appears and should be someone to consider for fantasy owners with non-elite QB options. After a great start to the season, the Giants have become a sieve against the pass, allowing the third-most fantasy points/game to QBs over the last three and five weeks. Over the last two weeks, Campbell has turned Devin Thomas into a late-season fantasy option and Fred Davis into a somewhat reliable TE play with scores in three straight games. Defenses still must respect Santana Moss and new starting RB Quinton Ganther showed last week he is a capable receiver as well. So while the black-and-blue reputation of the Giants (and the NFC East in general) may scare off some owners, it should be noted that only Washington has the defense that each of its division rivals envy. Thus, feel free to trust Campbell this week if you felt comfortable with him last week, as I did.

Chad Henne (@ Titans) I'd much rather recommend a Titans' QB here, but Vince Young's hamstring injury makes the thought of playing him or Kerry Collins dicey at best this week. Therefore, I am forced to turn to the other sideline and give a slight nod to the fast-improving second-year Dolphins signal-caller. While Tennessee ranks as the third-most favorable defense for opposing fantasy QBs this season, it has been the sixth-best unit over the last five weeks. While I admit it would take a pretty desperate owner to put Henne in your lineup this week, I certainly would play him over the likes of players such as Josh Freeman or Brady Quinn (perhaps in two-QB leagues) just because of the matchup. Here's why: what the Dolphins lack in terms of quality WRs, they make up for in quantity. Over the last month, Davone Bess has started to emerge as a quasi-WR1 for the team, but in recent weeks, Henne has come to trust Brian Hartline and Greg Camarillo as well. Because Ricky Williams should have a difficult time with Tennessee's eighth-ranked rush defense, Henne will probably be responsible for Miami’s ability touchdowns this week the few times the Dolphins get into scoring position. I don't anticipate much more than 210 yards and a score, but again, he should provide a usable fantasy point total if you find yourself in a truly desperate spot at the QB position.

Arian Foster (@ Rams) You have to hand it to HC Gary Kubiak. When he decides to make a change at RB, he seems to give that back a chance against a team in which he should be able to succeed. What do I mean? When Steve Slaton lost his fifth fumble of the season in Week 8, Kubiak turned to Ryan Moats against Buffalo's league-worst rushing defense (at the time) and he promptly went off for 151 total yards and three scores. With any luck, Part 2 of this drama may be coming just in time for desperate fantasy owners as the coach is "fixing to pick it up big-time for Foster" with a contest on deck against the 28th-ranked rush defense of the Rams in Week 15. With Slaton on IR, Chris Brown had been named the de facto starter, but that seemed like a place-filler move for Kubiak, and after three carries in Week 14, that appears to be the case. Of course, as luck would have it, Moats apparently picked up on a bit of his predecessor’s ball-handling issues (fumbling for the second time in three games of which he has played and contributed to the box score). On a team that has shuffled through its backs like Houston has this season, nothing is set in stone and certainly Kubiak isn't the most committed coach when it comes to sticking with the run or a particular RB for that matter, so he's certainly a gamble at this point of the season. However, the matchup is so juicy and Foster's pedigree is good enough - especially for an undrafted free agent - that I would be willing to roll with him over several established starting NFL RBs this week.

Kevin Faulk (@ Bills) If there is a Rodney Dangerfield (someone who gets no respect, for the younger crowd) among likely free agent RBs available each year, it has be Faulk. PPR leaguers already know Faulk is a great end-of-the-roster filler, but he has always been a RB that has gotten the most out of his limited touches. We all know the drill with Patriots RBs (and last week's 38 carries by New England RBs was definitely a one-time deal), but if there has been one constant over the years with the Pats’ runners, it has been Faulk. His chances of putting a huge number in your fantasy box score are extremely remote from week-to-week, but at this point of the season, fantasy owners are quite often searching for a RB who won't hang them with a bagel (right Chris Brown?) or near bagel (are you listening, Jerome Harrison?); this from supposed starters on players' real teams. (For what it's worth, I don't hold Brown or Harrison near as accountable for last week's sorry performances as I do their coaches, but I digress.) The Bills and their fifth-ranked pass defense are next on the schedule for the Patriots and given the state of New England passing game right now - more specifically, the fact that Bill Belichick revealed that Tom Brady was a true game-time decision last week - it may be wise for the AFC East leaders to take the same run-heavy approach they did last week vs. the Panthers' sixth-ranked pass defense. In that scenario, Faulk could push 12-15 touches, which is more than enough for him to put up 75-90 total yards.

Good luck, gentlemen.

Category: Fantasy Football
Posted on: December 4, 2009 8:36 am

## Safe bets by DC

With 12 weeks in the books, it is becoming exponentially more difficult to find games that I like each week, especially because this year a lot of teams have played Jekyll and Hyde with us (looking dominant one week—and losing to Oakland or Kansas City the next). Parity is obviously important to the NFL, but this season has made sports betting feel like Russian roulette, thanks in large part to the inconsistency of teams such as the Steelers, Packers, Eagles, Bengals, Cardinals, Ravens, Broncos, Texans, and the New York Giants. Wildly erratic play makes this part of the season very difficult. Good luck to you; I know I’ll need it!

The games are listed in order from 1 to 3. 1 is my most confident pick.

(bet? beware): Tennessee over Indianapolis

I liked Houston as a trap game pick last week, but ultimately thought that Indianapolis was too good to lose to them. Most people suspected that Peyton Manning would find a way to score a bunch of points at will in the second half and win the game. Well, that’s more or less what happened, with one small difference: Peyton didn’t beat Houston; Houston beat Houston with terrible defense, bad penalties, and offensive ineptitude in the second half.

This week, things will be different. The Titans are as hot as ever, as I mentioned when I picked them two weeks ago to beat Houston, and they are really playing some inspired ball behind Vince Young. I never thought he would be a great NFL quarterback, but he sure is running that team well recently. It helps to have an unstoppable running back like Chris Johnson. He is part of the reason why my fantasy team is in first place…not like anyone cares about that, though.

The other thing going for Tennessee this week is that the Colts have been struggling, despite their spotless record. Peyton has faltered of late, matching his career high for consecutive games with 2 interceptions. The last time that happened was 2001. He sometimes looks uncomfortable in the pocket and is doing things that are generally beneath his caliber of play. For example, against Houston for most of the game he had tunnel vision for Pierre Garcon, at one point throwing 5 or 6 consecutive passes to him, multiple times into double coverage. At his best, Peyton never does that; he usually spreads the ball around.

If the Colts don’t clean up their act, they very well could see their first loss of the season on Sunday.

3. Chicago over Saint Louis

I have more confidence in this game than its #3 spot suggests. I am convinced that it would just be too much for Saint Louis to head into Chicago and win a game. Jay Cutler is an interception machine, but the Rams don’t have a good secondary. I expect Cutler to have a decent game.

As usual, Chicago can only hope to contain Steven Jackson. Luckily for the Bears, however, the Rams don’t have a single offensive weapon other than Jackson; don’t give me Donny Avery. Even though the Chicago defense is uncharacteristically weak this season, and the offense is inconsistent, the Bears should be able to move the ball at will against the Rams. This pick isn’t as safe as it normally would be, but there’s just no way that the Rams keep up with Cutler & company in a scoring race, and no way Chicago fans could stomach losing at home to a St. Louis team that obviously needs to be rebuilt.

2. San Diego over Cleveland

I have less confidence in this selection than its #2 designation might suggest. San Diego is traveling into Cleveland, and away games always seem to give the Chargers trouble. Perhaps they have grown accustomed to the beautiful weather out in SoCal, but whatever the reason for their missteps, I try not to pick them for away games, but the Browns make it very tempting.

That said, the Browns are playing such consistently terrible football recently that even if their opponent is no better than mediocre, one cannot afford not to select the team playing against them. They have no offense, a defense riddled with injuries, and very little hope of winning this game. I don’t wholly trust the Chargers, but I trust they can stomp on one of the worst teams in the NFL.

1. Cincinnati over Detroit

I was on the Detroit bandwagon for a while this season, but the injuries to Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson have proven too costly for the Detroit offense to overcome. When you can assume your defense will allow 28+ points per game and your two most talented offensive players are injured, it’s pretty difficult to win games.

Cincinnati, though sometimes Jekyll (sweeping Pittsburgh) and sometimes Hyde (losing to Oakland), should manage to win this one handily. Their defense has drastically improved over the last couple of years, with a young, talented secondary allowing the front seven to get very aggressive and go after opposing quarterbacks. Cedrick Benson has resurrected his career and is leading a reinvigorated Bengals offense; even if he doesn’t play, Bernard Scott should have no trouble topping the century mark against the Lions. Pick the Bengals this week with confidence. This game is my lock of the week.

Before anyone calls me a “homer,” the Eagles should put up a double digit win over the Falcons. With Matt Ryan out, and Michael Turner and Roddy White fighting injuries, the Eagles should rout the Falcons. I would expect to see Michael Vick taking some snaps in the 4<sup>th</sup> quarter, after the game is in the bag. This game isn’t my lock of the week, but I’ll list this one as 1.A. I plan to take all 4 games in a nice little parlay: Bears, Chargers, Bengals, and Eagles.

Just remember, in betting you will win some and lose some. I’m hoping that these bets don’t lose money for me, because my fiancé is expecting xmas gifts…

Category: NFL
Posted on: November 25, 2009 10:54 am

## NFL trash pickers on Thanksgiving

Week 12 has quickly appeared. This is a week where the gluttons will prosper and the weak teams will go home starving. Let’s take a look at the matchups.

The Packers to Detroit to face the Lions. The city of Detroit has been facing hard times, so this weekend they shouldn’t be upset when their team loses; they are used to the feeling of dejection. Aaron Rodgers and Greg Jennings should be able to light up the Lions secondary. Calvin Johnson is beat up and will probably be a non-factor.

The Raiders go to Dallas to do battle with the Cowboys. The Dallas offense has been weak for the last couple of weeks. They almost got beat by the Redskins last week, so this game could be closer than the experts in Vegas would suggest. The Raiders have a good pass defense, so dem boys will have to get the running game going. If the game was on the west coast, the Raiders might be able to win, but the Cowboys should take care of business.

The Giants go to mile high to face the Broncos. After a great start, the Broncs have been struggling. The Giants had their own losing streak, but the win last week might have been the confidence boost that they needed. If Brandon Jacobs can get loose, Eli Manning should be able to pick apart the Denver secondary. I have a feeling that the Broncos loosing streak is going to continue.

Redskins go to Philly to face the Eagles. If Washington had an offense, they might be a formidable team. Donovan McNabb, DeSean Jackson, and Jeremy Maclin have been in synch. It is a horrible time to be a Redskins fan. The Eagles are going to crush them on Sunday.

Buccaneers go to Atlanta to play the Falcons. ATL has been somewhat disappointing this year, but they will beat the Bucs. Josh Freeman might turn out to be a great QB, but he isn’t going to make a difference in this game. Matt Ryan is improving and this game should boost his confidence.

Panthers go to New York to face the Jets. This is a really tough game to predict. Both teams have shown a hint of potential, but there are still a lot of voids. If the Jets can stop the run, they will win. Carolina has a good passing D, so Mark Sanchez might struggle. Thomas Jones needs to have a big day if the Jets are going to win.

Seahawks go to St. Louis to “play” the Rams, and by Rams I’m referring to Stephen Jackson. He is the only player doing anything on that team. If the Seahawks don’t win by 2 scores then the Rams should consider that a win.

Dolphins head to NY to play the Bills. Last week Terrell Owens emerged from his coma. The Dolphins should be able to lock down the Bills offense this week. Even without Ronnie Brown, the Fins can win games. Ricky Williams has proved that he can still carry the load.

Browns go to Cincinnati to lose to the Bengals. The Browns are horrible…enough said

Colts go to Houston to play the Texans. The Texans need a win in a big way, but the Colts are damn good. This would be a major statement game, if the Texans can pull out a win, but conventional wisdom tells me that the Colts will win.

Chiefs head to San Diego to play the Chargers. Jamaal Charles has been playing well, but I expect the Chargers to shut him down this week. The Chargers should be able to jump up big and take away the running game from KC. Look, the Chiefs aren’t a good team; the Chargers are.

Bears go to Minnesota to try to beat the Vikings. Jay Cutler has been killing the Bears. If I was the coach, I would run Matt Forte 35 times in this game…no matter what. Cutler needs to cool off, before he kills his confidence (the little bit that he has left).

Cardinals go to Tennessee to face off against the Titans. This game should be a great one. Chris Johnson is unstoppable, but the Cardinals strength is their running defense. If the Titans can get pressure of Kurt Warner, they will win this game. Larry Fitzgerald vs Chris Johnson…talk about playmakers.

Steelers go to Baltimore to play the Ravens. The Steelers might have too many injuries (Troy) to beat the Ravens. Both teams need the win, so this should be a great fight. A coin flip should be used to predict this winner…my coin toss said Ravens win.

Patriots go to the Big Easy to play the Saints. This might be the game of the year: Tom Brady vs Drew Brees. I think a coin toss is the best way to predict this game as well…my Lincoln said Saints win!

I don’t know about you guys, but this is going to be a great week of games! The hungry teams will feast, while the pretenders will be like the homeless guy on the corner, starving while others stuff their mouths with stuffing and turkey.

These are the Thanksgiving day trash pickers:
Lions
Raiders
Broncos
Redskins
Bucs
Panthers?
Rams
Bills
Browns!
Texans?
49ers
Chiefs
Bears
Cardinals?
Steelers
Patriots

Category: NFL
Posted on: November 17, 2009 8:41 am

## FFB week 10 review

49ers 10 – Bears 6

The 49ers rode the legs of Frank Gore to stop a four-game losing streak. Gore had 125 total yards (104 rushing) and scored his seventh TD of the season. After saying prior to the game that Chicago’s defense doesn’t impress him, Vernon Davis was held to 3 catches for 16 yards. However, he remains one of the best options at tight end this year. Michael Crabtree has been solid but unspectacular since joining the team, and he picked up a solid 48 receiving yards against the Bears. Alex Smith picked up his first win since September 2007 though he only had 118 yards on the day, with no touchdowns and an interception. But I’m sure he’s just glad he got a win.

Last year Kyle Orton threw 5 INTs while wearing a Bears uniform; Jay Cutler did the same on Thursday night. Those picks took away nearly all the fantasy points Cutler earned by throwing for 307 yards. Matt Forte also had a tough game on the ground at least. Forte ran for just 41 yards on 20 carries but made up for it by catching 8 passes for 120 yards. Devin Hester was targeted a game-high 14 times but only came down with half of those passes for 48 yards.

Titans 41 – Bills 17

If the Titans were 6-3 instead of 3-6, Chris Johnson would be right up there with Peyton Manning for MVP honors. Johnson was once again magnificent with 132 yards rushing, 100 yards receiving, and 2 touchdowns. Vince Young had his most passing yards (210) since December 2007 and also threw for a TD and ran for 29 yards. With Justin Gage out, Nate Washington became the #1 receiver, compiling 33 receiving yards and a score.

When Terrell Owens has a season-high of 85 receiving yards in Week 10, you know things are rough in Buffalo. Lee Evans had a nice game as well, as he caught 2 TD passes to go along with 50 receiving yards. Marshawn Lynch had 55 total yards and was outperformed by Fred Jackson who had 71 total yards and also threw a TD pass to Evans. For those of you who have Trent Edwards, it may be time to start looking elsewhere for a QB. Edwards was pulled in the fourth quarter after throwing a pick-six. He finished with 185 passing yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT, and Coach Jauron was noncommittal on who would be his starting QB next week.

Saints 28 - Rams 23

It wasn’t pretty, but the Saints got the job done. Drew Brees threw for 223 yards and 2 TDs but also threw 2 INTs and has thrown 7 INTs in the last four games. Reggie Bush had his best game of the season, by far, with 98 total yards (83 rushing) and 2 TDs. His versatility combined with his inconsistency make him a flex play each week, especially in PPR leagues. Pierre Thomas took a backseat to Bush in this game as Thomas only had 37 rushing yards. Marques Colston had another quiet game as he had only 17 receiving yards and also lost a fumble. On the other hand, Robert Meachem had his second straight good game with 68 total yards (27 receiving) and a touchdown. Coincidentally, both of these games have come with Lance Moore sitting out. If Moore, Colston, or Devery Henderson miss any time, Meachem is worth serious consideration in your starting lineup.

Steven Jackson continues to be options A, B, and C for the Rams as he had another great game. Jackson had 131 yards and a touchdown on the ground and also had 9 receptions for 45 yards through the air. It was his fifth straight game with over 100 yards from scrimmage. Marc Bulger turned back the clock and looked like the Bulger of 2006. He threw for 298 yards and 2 TDs while displaying his customary accuracy. Even though the bye weeks are over, Bulger is still worth a roster spot as insurance for your starting QB. Donnie Avery had 67 yards and 2 TDs as he remains Bulger’s favorite target. That alone gives him value as a WR3.

Dolphins 25 – Buccaneers 23

The Dolphins got the win but they may have lost their starting running back--at least for one week. Ronnie Brown left the game after hurting his ankle. With a game scheduled this Thursday, Brown may have to sit one out. Before leaving, he did have 82 rushing yards and a score. Ricky Williams led Miami with 102 rushing yards and, if you have him, he should be in your lineup regardless of whether Brown plays or not. Davone Bess appears to be Chad Henne’s favorite receiver but Bess has yet to get into the end zone this year. He had 4 receptions for 72 yards but should only be considered if you are in a PPR league.

Expect more games like this from Josh Freeman (196 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 1 lost fumble), rather than the 3 TD performance last week. Kellen Winslow continued to build on a good season, catching 7 balls for 102 yards on Sunday. Cadillac Williams has been inconsistent throughout the season but he did score a rushing touchdown to go along with 52 yards. He seems destined to be an RB3 for the remainder of the year.

Vikings 27 – Lions 10

This game played out pretty much as expected. Brett Favre threw for 344 yards and one touchdown and Adrian Peterson ran for 133 yards and 2 TDs. However, the star of the day was Sidney Rice who caught 7 passes for 201 yards. Though he only has two scores on the year, Rice is a legit WR2 and is on pace for nearly 1,400 receiving yards. Bernard Berrian continues to be a disappointment as he only had 22 receiving yards. Over the past three seasons, Berrian averaged about 900 receiving yards and 6 TDs. He may reach that TD average but is on pace for fewer than 600 receiving yards. Keep him on your roster, but don’t start him until he can gain some rapport with Favre.

For just the second time this season, Matt Stafford went a full game without throwing a pick. He also threw for 224 yards and a TD. Still, Stafford is only a QB2. Kevin Smith continued his sophomore slump with only 65 total yards this week. He is averaging only 3.4 yards per carry after putting up 4.1 last season. Even so, he is still an RB2/RB3. Calvin Johnson rebounded from last week’s poor game with 8 receptions for 84 yards.

Jaguars 24 – Jets 22

Maurice Jones-Drew continues to prove that he can be an every-down back as he gained 145 total yards and scored a touchdown. MJD became the first RB this year to gain 100 rushing yards against the Jets. His QB, David Garrard, showed his versatility with 221 passing yards and one passing TD along with one rushing touchdown. Mike Sims-Walker found the end zone for the fifth time in his past seven games. He is the Jags’ #1 WR and a fantasy WR2. Not bad for a guy who went undrafted in most fantasy leagues.

Mark Sanchez’s up-and-down rookie season hit another down against the Jaguars. He did throw for 212 yards and a touchdown, but also threw 2 INTs. Since he is fringe fantasy material at this point, he shouldn’t be on your roster. Someone who definitely should be on your roster is Thomas Jones who took another drink from the fountain of youth Sunday before running for 77 yards and a score. I thought the loss of Favre would hurt him but he’s actually outperforming his 2008 numbers. Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery had 79 and 68 receiving yards, respectively. Cotchery also scored a TD. You never know which one is going to be Sanchez’s favorite target for a particular game so neither has more value than a WR3 at this point.

Bengals 18 – Steelers 12

Surprisingly, this game featured no offensive TDs. Carson Palmer had 178 yards passing while Chad Ochocinco had only 29 receiving yards. Cedric Benson only had 7 carries for 22 yards before leaving with a hip injury, which he doesn’t believe is serious. With Chris Henry done for the season, Laveranues Coles will get more looks, and he led the team this week with 5 receptions for 67 yards.

Ben Roethlisberger only completed 50% of his passes and threw an INT along with only 174 yards. Santonio Holmes, with 88 receiving yards, garnered more fantasy points than any other player. Heath Miller (26) and Hines Ward (24) combined for only 50 receiving yards as Roethlisberger struggled under constant pressure from the Bengals. Rashard Mendenhall couldn’t repeat last Monday night’s performance as he had only 36 rushing yards on just 13 carries.

Redskins 27 – Broncos 17

For the first time this year, the Redskins managed to break the 17-point threshold to pick up their third win of the year. Jason Campbell was serviceable, throwing for 193 yards and one touchdown while not turning the ball over. Ladell Betts, subbing for the concussed Clinton Portis, had 114 rushing yards and a touchdown. The Redskins are likely not in a rush to get Portis back on the field with such a serious injury as a concussion. If Betts is still available in your league for some reason, jump on him. He could make for a nice flex play in the coming weeks. Santana Moss had a measly 2 catches for 8 yards and should be benched until he can show some consistency. He’s in a similar situation to Carolina’s Steve Smith; they are great players, but the people around them are hurting their fantasy value.

Not only did the Broncos lose their third game in a row, but they may have also lost their QB for a couple of weeks. Kyle Orton threw for 193 yards and 2 TDs before leaving with an ankle injury that could keep him out of next week’s pivotal matchup with San Diego. His backup, Chris Simms, has barely played since 2006 and should not be picked up in free agency. Brandon Marshall caught two long TD passes and finished with 134 receiving yards. Eddie Royal’s (21 receiving yards) disappearing act extended another week and, unless you get points for return yards, he has virtually no value. Knowshon Moreno had 97 rushing yards to lead the Broncos and, maybe an even better sign for his owners, had 18 carries compared to Buckhalter’s 2 carries.

Panthers 28 - Falcons 19

Jake Delhomme actually looked like a pro QB against Atlanta as he threw for 2 TDs and 195 yards without turning the ball over. Steve Smith, who is managing to salvage this season despite his QB’s play, caught both Delhomme’s TD passes. DeAngelo Williams appears to have regained his 2008 form as he had 122 total yards, while backfield mate Jonathan Stewart had 82 rushing yards and 2 scores. Williams is a bona-fide RB1 and Stewart is a safe flex option.

If he wasn’t there before this game, Matt Ryan is officially in a sophomore slump. Actually, slump may be too nice a word, as he has thrown 11 INTs in his last six games. He did throw for 224 yards, but the points he got from his TD were negated by the turnovers. With a tough upcoming schedule (NYG, PHI, NO, NYJ), things are not going to get any easier. You may want to hit up the trade market to see what kind of value you can get for Ryan. To make matters worse for Atlanta, Michael Turner injured his ankle and will undergo additional tests on Monday. He had rushed for 111 yards before leaving and all Turner owners should immediately grab Jason Snelling (93 total yards, 1 TD) if he’s still available in free agency. Roddy White had 7 grabs for 98 yards and Tony Gonzalez had 6 for 67, but neither player was able to get into the end zone.

Chargers 31 - Eagles 23

With his 2 TDs on Sunday, LT jumped ahead of Marcus Allen to take third place in the record books for career TDs. He also ran for 96 yards which was his most in a home game since 2007. Philip Rivers tossed two scores of his own, along with 231 passing yards. Vincent Jackson was held to a single reception for 10 yards, but you shouldn’t even think about taking him out of your lineup. Antonio Gates had 7 catches for 78 yards and Malcolm Floyd had 3 catches for 45 yards. Floyd is worth a spot in deeper leagues as well as keeper leagues since it is clear that the Chargers are now a passing team, with Philip Rivers as their leader rather than LT.

The most telling stat from this game is Donovan McNabb’s 450 passing yards compared to his team’s 29 total rushing yards. Brian Westbrook suffered another concussion and, in my humble opinion, he should sit the rest of the year. If you have Westbrook, make contingency plans as you may not see him for the remainder of the season. Jason Avant, of all people, led the Eagles in receiving with 156 yards while DeSean Jackson had 8 catches for 91 yards. Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek each had 6 catches and a TD reception.

Packers 17 – Cowboys 7

When the Packers defense plays the way it did against Dallas, you can expect pedestrian offensive efforts as well. Aaron Rodgers threw for only 189 yards and 1 TD, though he did rush for a score. Ryan Grant ran for 79 yards but doesn’t appear to have the explosiveness that he displayed two years ago. Donald Driver and Greg Jennings had 50 and 45 receiving yards, respectively. The Packers are having trouble with the pass rush, so Driver’s intermediate routes are a much more viable option for Rodgers than Jennings’ deep routes. Driver should be rated higher than Jennings until the Packers O-line improves.

The Cowboys O was dominated by the Packers D in this game as both the running game and Miles Austin were shut down. None of the three Dallas running backs gained more than 26 yards, and Austin had only 20 yards on the day. Tony Romo threw for 251 yards and a late TD, but he also threw a pick and lost a fumble. The lone TD was scored by Roy Williams, who also managed 105 receiving yards on 5 receptions. From the looks of things over the past month, it appears that Austin and Williams can’t each have a big game in the same game. It’s either one or the other. I have more confidence in Austin than in Williams. Austin is still a WR1 while Williams is only a WR3. I really don’t know what to make of Jason Witten. It seems as though every week he’s catching 4-5 passes for around 45 yards. I still have faith in him--and you should, too--as he is still Romo’s favorite target in the red zone…even though he hasn’t scored a TD since Week 2.

Cardinals 31 – Seahawks 20

With his 2 TD passes on Sunday, Kurt Warner has now thrown for 200 TDs in his Hall-of-Fame career. He also threw for 340 yards as all three of his top receivers got into the action. Anquan Boldin had 8 for 105, Steve Breaston had 4 for 76, and Larry Fitzgerald had 7 for 73. Breaston and Fitzgerald also got into the end zone. Everyone knows Fitz is a WR1, but Breaston and even Boldin are WR3s. Boldin’s injuries are starting to catch up with him and he has almost no deep speed. Rookie Beanie Wells had the best game of his young career with 85 rushing yards and 2 TDs. Tim Hightower had 58 total yards, which included 5 receptions. Despite Wells’ two scores, Hightower still has a little more value due to the huge disparity in receptions between the two of them (Hightower has 45 on the season, Wells has 6).

The good news for Seattle this week is that they may have found their future running back. After Julius Jones left with an injury, Justin Forsett took over and ran for 123 yards and one score while catching five passes for 26 yards. It appears Jones will be out for some time, so grab Forsett while you can. Even when Jones returns, Forsett will still have value, especially in PPR leagues. Matt Hasselbeck threw for 315 yards and 1 TD with most of the yardage going to T.J. Houshmandzadeh (9 for 165). Housh hasn’t been quite what we expected him to be in Seattle, but this week’s game was a good sign that he and Hasselbeck are developing more of a rapport. The Seahawks’ leading receiver, Nate Burleson, went catchless for the first time this season. He was targeted five times, so Hasselbeck was definitely looking for him. Burleson remains a safe WR2 for next week.

Chiefs 16 – Raiders 10

As the score indicates, this was not an aesthetically-pleasing game. Jamaal Charles said, “Larry Who?” by rushing for 103 yards and a score. Todd Haley doesn’t like to run the ball all that much so don’t expect this type of performance too often, but Charles can be a serviceable RB3 for the remainder of the season. Matt Cassel did not throw a TD pass, but he did throw an INT and lost a fumble. The Dwayne Bowe and Chris Chambers tandem had 91 and 60 yards receiving, respectively.

The return of Darren McFadden (11 rushing yards) and Chaz Schilens (27 receiving yards) did not play out quite as anticipated. However, Michael Bush (119 rushing yards) and Justin Fargas (41 rushing yards, 1 TD) were able to provide some much-needed offensive punch. The RBBC all but eliminates any value for the Oakland backs, but Schilens is someone to keep an eye on. He is a big target and can actually catch--unlike Oakland’s other receivers. If you have an open roster spot it may be wise to take a chance on Schilens, who some see as a Vincent Jackson-clone.

Colts 35 - Patriots 34

Wow! That’s all I can say. I’m sure most of the people reading this saw the game last night so you pretty much know what happened. Peyton Manning did his thing with another 300+ yard, multi-TD game. Reggie Wayne caught 10 passes for 126 yards and 2 TDs, including the game winner. The Patriots held Dallas Clark in check as he “only” had 65 receiving yards. Despite a finger injury, Joseph Addai still managed to score 2 TDs and gain 68 total yards. The Colts are really struggling to run the ball, but Addai is a big factor in the passing game and receives lots of goal line carries. He can still be used as an RB2.

Tom Brady was Tom Terrific in throwing for 3 TDs and 375 yards (though I’m sure all of Boston thinks it should have been 376 yards). Randy Moss and Wes Welker each had 9 receptions. Welker went for 94 yards and Moss showed he still has 4.4 speed by going for 179 yards and 2 TDs. Laurence Maroney scored a rushing TD but also lost a fumble on the Colts’ one-yard line. Kevin Faulk had 79 rushing yards and caught 2 passes for 7 yards (though, again, Boston thinks it should have been 8 yards).

Category: NFL
Posted on: November 11, 2009 8:16 pm

## Week 10: safe bets by DC

Last week was the first time that I shared my predictions with the online community. I was on point with 61% of my games with the spread. I'm looking to build on that percentage this week. That brings me to the first game of week 10.

The 49ers are 3-point favorites over the Bears, who have lost four in a row. Another loss and they might lose sight of the Cardinals in the NFC West.

Chicago (4-4) has seen its once fearsome defense turn soft without Brian Urlacher, who broke his wrist in the opener, and several other key players. The Bears have won the last three meetings, all at Soldier Field, outscoring San Francisco 81-32. They could be vulnerable to the runs of Frank Gore because Chicago ranks 21st against the rush.

The Niners handle the run well but struggle against the pass, which means Jay Cutler might be airing it out all night. Chicago has looked a bit more vulnerable and a lot more fragile.

49ERS, 21-20

Dallas (pick 'em) at Green Bay

Having found their pass rush, the Cowboys could cause more sack havoc for Aaron Rodgers.

BEST BET: Cowboys, 21-17

New England (plus 3) at Indianapolis

Time for Bill Belichick to toy with Peyton Manning's mind again, and for the Patriots to prevent Indy from chasing their unprecedented 16-0 of 2007. The Colts just have too many injuries in the secondary.

UPSET SPECIAL: PATRIOTS, 24-20

Cincinnati (plus 6 1/2) at Pittsburgh

I have been wrong on the Bengals a lot this year, but I'm starting to believe in them — at least enough to cover.

Steelers, 20-17

Philadelphia (plus 1) at San Diego

Two teams that epitomize the up-and-down nature of the NFL. Philly's secondary is depleted and they only have one LB. I expect Gates and Vincent Jackson to come up big.

Chargers, 24-23

Jacksonville (plus 6) at N.Y. Jets

Two teams that epitomize not being too good or too bad, thus their 4-4 marks. Mark Sanchez will get back on track this week; Cotchery and Braylon Edwards will have fun with the weak Jaguar secondary.

JETS, 24-13

Detroit (plus 15) at Minnesota

Fresh from a bye, this should be easy for the Purple Favres. It's like having 2 bye weeks.

Vikings, 31-10

Denver (minus 4 1/2) at Washington

Denver's mini-slide ends here, or its sensational early season comes into serious question. The Redskins without Clinton Portis are even worse than they were, but not as bad as the Browns.

Broncos, 20-10

New Orleans (minus 14) at St. Louis

Been searching for hours for a reason this will be close. Still searching ...

Saints, 40-14

Seattle (plus 7 1/2) at Arizona

Enigmatic Cardinals need to bring their road temperament to their dome.

CARDINALS, 30-20

Buffalo (plus 6 1/2) at Tennessee

From 0-6, Titans have decent shot at seven wins. Here's No. 3. The Bills are just horrible this year.

TITANS, 20-10

Atlanta (minus 2) at Carolina

Panthers can be tough if they don't make errors. Falcons have been mistake-prone recently. Jake Delhomme is due for another turnover special.

Atlanta, 24-14

Baltimore (minus 10 1/2) at Cleveland

The Monday night massacre, although the Ravens really are struggling. Not nearly as much as the Browns, of course. Brady Quinn better practice throwing from his backside; I feel bad for the young fella.

RAVENS, 27-7

Tampa Bay (plus 9) at Miami

Does anyone outside of Florida really care? Don't expect Freeman to sneak out with another win.

Dolphins, 23-10

Kansas City (plus 2) at Oakland

Does anyone anywhere really care?

Chiefs, and cover...no points total here because they are both zeros.

There it is: safe bets by DC.

Category: NFL

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com