Here is the latest from around the league from our NFL Reporter, Steve Silverman.
Josh McCown is going to try to attack the vulnerable Minnesota secondary. While the Bears’ gameplan since Jay Cutler has been injured has been to get the ball as much and as often as possible to Matt Forte, the Vikings are going to attack with Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall and even oft-forgotten Earl Bennett.
Look for Delanie Walker to have a big day against the Colts. Walker has been quite productive throughout the season with 44 catches for 449 yards and five touchdowns, and he has gotten the word from the coaching staff that he is expected to be a big weapon against Indianapolis, ranked 22nd in the league defensively.
This is the game the Dolphins would really like to get something out of Mike Wallace against the Jets. Miami head coach Joe Philbin knows you can’t run against the Jets, and he’s going to try to attack downfield and get Wallace matched up with Ed Reed. If he can do that, look for Wallace to have a big day.
You would think that Bill Belichick felt some real satisfaction with his team’s come-from-behind win over the Broncos last week. However, after the initial flush of victory waned, Belichick’s message was about his team’s poor start. Look for Tom Brady to attack with Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola early. Obviously, Rob Gronkowski figures heavily, but the Patriots figure that Gronkowski will get double-teamed from the start.
Fred Jackson could have one of his best games of the year against Atlanta’s defense. The Falcons are small and tend to get pushed around, so look for the Buffalo offensive line to establish the run with Jackson early. C.J. Spiller will also get his carries and yards, but this game belongs to Jackson. Doug Marrone wants the Bills to run on the Falcons, and he has made that clear all week.
CAN THE BUCCANEERS SAVE YOUR FANTASY SEASON?
Many expect the shocking run of quarterback Mike Glennon to come to an end this week against the Carolina Panthers. Carolina is just too aggressive and nasty defensively, and they have the pass rushers to crush Glennon, or so the theory goes.
But that same theory said that the Bucs were going to lose at Detroit in Week 12 because the Lions had a winning record and were contending for the NFC North title. Glennon did not fade under those circumstances and he’s not going to fade against the Panthers either.
In fact, the Bucs may get the advantage of the scheduling situation. Carolina has an important game in Week 14 against the New Orleans Saints, one that will have a huge impact on the division. The Saints will be getting the Panthers attention, as they figure they can beat the Bucs by showing up at home.
It takes more than that, of course, and Ron Rivera and his coaches will send the message home, but that’s not enough. The Panthers defense will learn this lesson first hand, as Glennon will keep his cool and should throw for at least 250 yards.
His top weapon will be wide receiver Vincent Jackson, of course. Jackson has a chance to catch at least five passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns against the Panthers, and he can dominate the game. Once the Bucs establish Jackson, things will open up for tight end Timothy Wright and fellow wideout Tiquan Underwood.
Wright had eight catches for 75 yards last week against the Lions, and he should find some fertile ground in the Carolina secondary. The Panthers have given up three touchdowns to tight ends in the last five games. That means Wright should have a chance to do serious business against them.
Underwood has a chance to become a big-play maker against the Panthers as well. Glennon likes him and will send him downfield to make big plays. Most secondary receivers are not going to go deep down the field like Underwood, but he is capable of making big plays.
The one problem for the Bucs in this game is the running game. There is very little chance they can establish Bobby Rainey against the Panthers, who rarely give up any yards on the ground. Rainey has been impressive because he has been fearless since getting a chance to play because of injuries to Doug Martin and Mike James, but he’s not good enough to hurt the Panthers.
But this still should be a big game for the Bucs.
NEWTON HAS TO GET IN LINE
Cam Newton was at the crossroads of his career earlier this season. It looked like he was in the process of blowing his status as the Carolina Panthers’ No. 1 quarterback position when his team lost three of its’ first four games. Not only would another losing season have cost Newton, it probably would have been the end of the line for head coach Ron Rivera as well. However, the Panthers did a 180-degree turn and won seven straight games; they are now getting respect as one of the toughest teams in the league.
Newton has keyed the turnaround, as he is completing 61.7 percent of his passes and thrown 17 touchdown passes. He has also run for 379 yards and five touchdowns. But while Newton has turned things around, he is being mentioned as a longshot candidate for the Most Valuable Player Award. That means his highlights are being shown regularly and his name is in the headlines. Newton is eating that up, and he loves the glory that is coming his way.
He may love that more than the winning that the Panthers are doing right now. Newton wants endorsements and to be considered with the likes of the best quarterbacks in the game. Teammates and coaches have noticed how Newton lights up when the cameras are in the lockerroom. The Panthers have to keep him on track, and that means Steve Smith is going to be responsible for riding herd on Newton if he sees him paying too much attention to the cameras and not to the gameplan.
Still, the Panthers have a chance to be a formidable offensive team the rest of the way. The presence of DeAngelo Williams gives Newton a credible running attack and Mike Tolbert is one of the best short-yardage runners going. Smith is the Panthers main receiving weapon because he will always fight opposing defensive backs to make the catch. He has caught 51 passes, but he is not the deep threat he once was. He has caught just three TD passes. Look for tight end Greg Olsen and wide receiver Brandon LeFell to take up the touchdown slack.
The Panthers should be able to light up the scoreboard against the Bucs, but if there is any downturn it may indicate that it’s time to get rid of Newton prior to your Fantasy playoffs. Newton must keep his mind on his business or the Panthers – and your Fantasy team – could suffer a downturn.
BEARS DEPENDENT ON OFFENSE THE REST OF THE WAY
The once-formidable Chicago Bears defense has fallen apart. The Bears have the worst run defense in the league and that’s not likely to change the rest of the season. If they are going to survive, it’s up to the offense to carry its own weight and make up for the defensive deficit.
The Bears have been talking bravely about getting Jay Cutler back in the lineup after he recovers from his sprained ankle, but we have heard that the injury may also involve some of his tendons. The Bears laughed publicly at those reports this week, but credible sources have said that Cutler is not going to be ready when the Bears play at Dallas in Week 14. But the situation is still viable thanks to Jake McCown. The Bears play the Vikings prior to their game against the Cowboys, and that means they are playing two of the weakest defensive teams in the league in back-to-back games.
The first option is running back Matt Forte, who has been slowed in practice this week with a sore right knee. However, Forte is going to be in the lineup according to head coach Marc Trestman. Forte should be able to tear up the Vikings 30th-rated defense. Forte will get the job done as a runner and a receiver. He has had success against the Vikings in the past and that should not change here.
The same holds for Brandon Marshall. The big wide receiver has the length and strength to dominate Minnesota’s defensive backs. Alshon Jeffery should also be ready to produce yards and touchdowns. However, if you are hesitant about any of the Bears, it should be tight end Martellus Bennett, who has scored just two touchdowns since his two-touchdown effort against the Vikings in Week 2.
Jeff Fisher knows the St. Louis Rams have a formula for winning down the home stretch, and the key to winning is getting their running game going. That may be difficult after Zac Stacy suffered a head shot in the Week 12 win over the Chicago Bears, but the Rams are going to try to attack the stiff San Francisco defense with Benny Cunningham if Stacy is not at his best. Fisher likes Kellen Clemens as a game manager, but he is not the kind of quarterback who can throw for 300 yards or dominate the game with his arm. Fisher has learned that first hand, and he is going to have his team try to establish the running game.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski is the primary reason the Patriots have been able to turn around their moribund offense. Prior to Gronkowski’s return, the Patriots seemed to be a dink-and-dunk offense that could not go downfield and Tom Brady was enduring one of the worst years of his career. Now that Gronkowski is back and in top form, the Patriots have been putting up big numbers. In addition to playing Gronkowski and Brady, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola are worth putting in your lineup.
It’s time for Knowshon Moreno to get respect. All season long, the word has been that Moreno was just an average running back who was taking advantage of the explosive Denver passing game. Somebody had to take advantage of the running opportunities, and that happened to be Moreno. Well, that scenario may have sounded good, but Moreno has been running his heart out and he will continue to do so the rest of the season. Moreno ran for 224 yards against the Patriots in Week 12, but he finished the game with a bruised ankle. However, Moreno will be ready to go against the Chiefs and Fantasy owners should not hesitate to put him in the lineup.
It’s time for Fantasy players to understand that Marvin Jones is going to continue to make things happen as a secondary receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals. A.J. Green is clearly the Bengals’ go-to receiver, but Jones has already caught seven touchdown passes. He always faces single-coverage and that should remain constant from now through the end of the season. Jones could have 10 touchdowns or more by the time the season concludes.
LOVE ‘EM, HATE ‘EM IN WEEK 13
Ryan Fitzpatrick is a very competent backup quarterback. He understands just what head coach Mike Munchak wants him to do in the Tennessee offense. He is experienced and talented, but the reason he’s a backup is that he tends to force the ball into tight windows instead of taking what the defense gives him. Fitzpatrick avoided mistakes in the Week 12 win at Oakland, and look for him to pick up where he left off this week against the Colts. He will throw for 280 yards and two touchdowns. LOVE HIM.
Matt Ryan played the game at a MVP level last year. He has not been at that level this year and no team has collapsed worse than the Falcons. They have a tough assignment on the road against Buffalo in December. That’s not the best place for Ryan and the Falcons to try and end their losing ways. The Bills will throttle the Falcons; Ryan will throw two interceptions and won’t have more than one TD pass. HATE HIM.
Carson Palmer is playing as well as any quarterback in the league over the last two games. Palmer has thrown for 733 yards and four touchdowns and he has not thrown an interception after being dogged by turnovers earlier in the year. Palmer will throw for at least 300 yards and two more TD passes in this game. LOVE HIM.
Drew Brees is one of the best quarterbacks in the game, but he is up against it this week when the Saints go to Seattle to take on the Seahawks. The crowd in Seattle will be deafening and the Seahawks will be primed for a huge defensive effort. The defense will take tight end Jimmy Graham out of the game, and Brees will not be able to find him. Brees will struggle for one of the few times this season. HATE HIM.