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07 Dec 2005

Scramble for the Ball: Fuzzy Logic

by Al Bogdan and Vivek Ramgopal

Vivek: No matter how much analysis of the statistics and breakdown of the game tape we do, we self-proclaimed NFL pundits are still caught off-guard by the unexpected in the NFL (case in point, my Best Bets.) This week we take a look at a few things that went against conventional logic in Week 13 of the NFL season.

Logic Says: The Redskins Need to Pound the Ball with Clinton Portis in Order to Win

What Actually Happened: Both Rock Cartwright and Portis Rushed for More than 100 Yards

Vivek: In the past I've knocked Joe Gibbs for keeping with his predictable late-game play calling when the Redskins have a lead. The Gibbs model has been the same in both of his tours of duty in Washington -- build a lead, then kill the clock with the running back. The difference here is that Clinton Portis is best suited to running to the outside while Gibbs, being used to the big bruiser (a la John Riggins), prefers a North-South running attack. Enter the 5'7", 215-pound aptly-named Rock Cartwright. The fullback without a position in Joe Gibbs' H-back system finally showed what he could do with the ball on Sunday with a nine-carry, 118-yard rushing performance, most of those yards coming between the tackles. With both running backs, Gibbs can still keep the ball on the ground but can throw multiple schemes at opposing defenses.

Gibbs needs to use Cartwright more to remedy the team's inability to convert third-and-short situations. The team's overall 42.3 percent third down conversion rate is deceptive; the Redskins have struggled for most of the year on third-and-short. A look at the Power Success (the percentage of runs on third or fourth down, two yards or less to go, that achieved a first down or touchdown) statistics shows that the Redskins (23rd) have trouble in these short yardage situations.

Al: I've been a big Rock Cartwright fan for years. He had a great 2003 campaign, ranking in the top 20 in DVOA. (Long-time FO readers may remember this article on why Cartwright had a better 2003 season than DeShaun Foster.) But for some reason, Cartwright wasn't a part of the offense in Washington last year even as Portis struggled mightily to move the ball. The Redskins had those same problems in short-yardage situations last year when they insisted on giving the ball to Portis. Clinton had the fifth worst DVOA in short-yardage situations last year among all running backs with at least 30 short-yardage carries, -16.1 percent. It was great to have a Rock Cartwright sighting. If the Redskins have any hope of making the playoffs, they'll need to get Cartwright back into the regular rotation at running back.

Logic says: The Steelers Should Run the Ball Close to 40 Times and Play Solid Defense to Beat the Bengals

What Actually Happened: The Opposite -- Big Ben Threw for a Personal Best 386 Yards to Bail Out His Ground Game

Vivek: What a difference a few weeks can make. Since exploding for 221 yards on 47 carries in their earlier 27-13 win at Cincinnati, the Steelers have seen a drop in the performance of their offensive line and running game. This week marked the team's fourth straight underachieving performance on the ground, which just so happens to coincide with a three-game losing skid. Three of the offensive linemen were flagged for penalties, and there were times when the linemen were slow in getting to the block. Willie Parker essentially outran his own blockers and either got hit for a loss or missed out on a chance to break free.

We cannot blame the offensive line entirely for the Steelers' downward spiral, as two fumbles by Parker and another by Duce Staley killed what could have been a storybook win for the hurting Ben Roethlisberger.

Pittsburgh suddenly went from being in the driver's seat for the division title after Week 10 to needing to leapfrog both the Chargers and Chiefs to get into the playoffs.

Al: The Steelers didn't lose that game against Cincinnati because of their offense. As fellow FO writer Ryan Wilson notes, the Pittsburgh special teams were awful on Sunday, giving Cincinnati great field position throughout the game.

Pittsburgh's only saving grace for their playoff push is that they have a much easier remaining schedule than either Kansas City or San Diego. Pittsburgh's best chance at making it in as a wild card is to finish in a two-team tie with San Diego. As we talked about last week, if the Steelers end up in a three way tie they will likely be the first team knocked out because of their poor conference record. If the Steelers were tied with Kansas City, they'd also likely lose on the conference record tiebreaker.

To get to that two-way tie with San Diego, Pittsburgh would need the Chiefs to lose at least two games, which could easily happen with Kansas City's tough upcoming schedule. San Diego would have to lose at least one more, again, not unbelievable with the Chargers having road games remaining at Indianapolis and Kansas City. But the Steelers pretty much have to win this week at home against Chicago, and win out the rest of the way, to make that happen.

Logic Says: Seattle Will Struggle on the Road, Especially on the East Coast

What Actually Happened: Mike McMahon Remembered That He Is, In Fact, Mike McMahon

Al: As the Monday Night folks pointed out, Seattle had been 1-7 in their last eight games played in the Eastern time zone going into the game against Philadelphia. A long road trip combined with predicted cold weather and a packed house ready to honor the late Reggie White would make things very difficult for Seattle. I can't tell you how many people I saw picking Philadelphia to win that game on Monday night.

But as we saw, Seattle had no problems destroying the Eagles on Monday. Mike McMahon did everything to telegraph his passes short of announcing the intended receiver over the P.A. system. Seattle returned two interceptions for touchdowns before McMahon was relieved by Koy Detmer, who was McMahon-esque in his ineptitude.

I'm guessing that game caused more surprising fantasy football results than any Monday night game in recent history. Two quick stories: Our friend Ian was up in one basic scoring league by ten points with Shaun Alexander yet to play going into Monday night. Unfortunately for Ian, his opponent had the Seattle defense, whichput up 39 points with a shutout, four sacks, four interceptions, two fumble recoveries and three touchdowns. In one of the leagues Vivek and I are in together, I was within striking distance of my opponent with Matt Hasselbeck, Brian Westbrook and Joe Jurevicius on Monday night. Needless to say, I ended up losing that one.

Vivek: If you took into consideration all the factors against the Seahawks that Al mentioned and then told me that:

  • Seattle would be held to 194 total yards
  • Matt Hasselbeck would not break the 100-yard mark
  • Shaun Alexander would finish with 49 yards
  • There would be a Seneca Wallace sighting

… I would immediately have started writing about how the Seahawks fell victim to this trap game after the win against the Giants.

During the third quarter of their Week 5 game at St. Louis, the Seahawks finally decided to win on the road. They haven't looked back since. The Seahawks should close the season with six consecutive road wins, with remaining games at Tennessee and Green Bay. Throw in another game against the 49ers, and this team should take the top seed in the NFC playoffs.

Oh, by the way, Darrell Jackson is expected to return this weekend with enough time to shake off the rust before the Colts come to town.

Logic Says: Drew Bledsoe Will Struggle against a Strong Pass Rush

What Actually Happened: OK, That One Actually Happened

Al: There isn't enough room to link to all the knocks made on Drew Bledsoe in past Scramble columns, but I'll add to that collection anyway. Even when the Cowboys had seven or eight players in to block the New York pass rush, Bledsoe would rush a throw to his nearest receiver the second he saw an unblocked red jersey. The Giants kept lining up Osi Umenyiora and Michael Strahan a yard or so wide of Rob Petitti and Torrin Tucker. That made it more difficult for Dallas' exceptional guards to help stop the New York pass rushers.

When the guards did try to take out the Giants defensive ends, that left the door open for their underrated defensive tackles. Kendrick Clancy had an amazing play which made all the highlight reels, where he almost beat Drew Bledsoe to the running back on a hand-off, causing a fumble which Antonio Pierce recovered for a touchdown.

If the Giants don't have the best defensive line in the league, then they at least have the deepest. I was worried about how they would fare when William Joseph went down with an elbow injury a few weeks ago, but Kendrick Allen and Fred Robbins have done a great job clogging the middle of the line in his absence. If Justin Tuck had been drafted by most any other team in the league, he'd likely be making a lot of noise as a Rookie of the Year candidate by putting up big sack totals. With the Giants, however, he's behind Pro Bowl candidate Umenyiora and future Hall of Famer Strahan on the depth chart. When Tuck does get in the game in obvious passing situations, though, the Notre Dame product has done a great job at attacking the quarterback, often when there are only two other pass rushers coming with him.

Vivek: "A good line beats a bad secondary" is the motto here. I wasn't as sure as Al that Bledsoe would have a rough day, but the Giants defense removed any doubt there. This comes after Matt Hasselbeck and the dangerous Mike McMahon picked apart the Giants secondary. The difference this week was that Strahan & Co. got to Bledsoe so quickly that the Dallas receivers never had a chance to get into and past the New York secondary. Only two of Bledsoe's 15 completions were for more than ten yards (26 and 22), and one of those plays came on the last play of the game as the Giants just needed to prevent a 70-yard gain in order to hold on to the win.

New York defensive coordinator Tim Lewis did a fantastic job of shuffling between blitzes and zone coverage in order to keep Bledsoe guessing.

Lessons Learned From Week 13

Lesson 1 – The Contenders for Defensive Rookie of the Year Will Be Candidates for Defensive Player of the Year Very Soon

Vivek: We have to give the Cincinnati scouting department a lot of credit for this year's success, most notably the performance of this year's draft class - David Pollack, Chris Henry and Tab Perry. My pick for Defensive Rookie of the Year, however, goes to Cincinnati middle linebacker Odell Thurman. Thurman, taken in the middle of the second round, bolstered his candidacy with ten tackles and an interception that set up the eventual game-winning touchdown at Pittsburgh. Thurman's five interceptions, a remarkable number for a middle linebacker, go along with his team-leading 110 tackles.

This is not a unanimous Scramble pick, though, because …

Al: … after his Monday night performance, and the endless accolades Al Michaels and John Madden were throwing at him, I wouldn't count Lofa Tatupu out of the race for top rookie. He's the starting middle linebacker on the team most likely to finish with the best record in the NFC. He's in the top 20 overall in the league in tackles, third behind Thurman and Oakland linebacker Kirk Morrision among rookies.

Lesson 2 – The Downfall of Drew Rosenhaus Has Started

Vivek: Downfall might be a bit strong, but Javon Walker's defection from the Rosenhaus camp after the T.O. debacle could have a domino effect. Maybe not necessarily with clients jumping ship, but I don't think we will see a situation like this past summer when several Rosenhaus players threatened a holdout.

Al: Tra Thomas has also reportedly dumped Rosenhaus as his agent. I don't think downfall is too strong of a word. He wasn't able to get a new long term deal for any of his clients that held out or threatened to hold out this past summer. If you were an NFL player looking to sign a big deal this off-season, who would you want representing you: the agent who helped pave the way for Terrell Owens to lose as much as $10 million or one that didn't?

Keep Choppin' Wood Award

Al:Too many candidates to count this week. Out of the contenders we haven't already criticized in this column, I'll give this to Dre' Bly. After laying the blame for Detroit's troubles this year squarely on the shoulders of Joey Harrington, Bly let Koren Robinson catch a 52-yard touchdown pass when he had Robinson in single coverage. If you're going to call out your quarterback during the week, you have to get the job done on Sunday yourself.

Scramble for the Ball Mailbag

Send your fantasy football questions each week to scramble@footballoutsiders.com, or fill out our contact form.

Leading off this week is loyal reader and part-time Scramble writer Ian:

Big playoff matchup next week, and I need to choose to start either Cadillac Williams @ Carolina, or DeShaun Foster vs TB. The league scoring is only 1 point for every 20 yards rush/rec, with 6 for touchdowns, so it's a fairly TD-heavy format. Both teams have strong defenses. What to do?

Al: Neither of those are great options, but I'd go with Cadillac. It's not that I like Williams matched up against the Panthers, but that I like Foster matched up against the Buccaneers even less.

Williams had a decent game against the Bears two weeks ago, averaging four yards a carry, although he has only scored one touchdown since Week 2. Foster was great against Atlanta, but then again, most running backs have great games against Atlanta. Foster plays best against teams that have a tendency to give up big runs. That doesn't describe the Tampa defense which, going into Week 13, had given up the fifth lowest percentage of rushing yards on runs of ten or more yards.

Ray: This is it. The chips are down and all bets are in. If I win this week, I'm in the playoffs at the #2 seed. If I lose, I'm probably out on the curb for the postseason. I'm counting on you, FO!

QB: B. Johnson vs StL; Favre vs Det; Bledsoe vs KC
WR: Driver vs Det; Chambers @ SD
RB: Foster vs TB; FA pickup (K. Jones @ GB; Bennett vs StL; Duckett vs NO as well as other scrubs available)
TE: L.J. Smith vs NYG; Watson @ Buf

My own choices are listed first, but I'll take any advice you can give!


  • Bledsoe. Johnson is winning, but not providing big fantasy numbers, and Favre could throw for 300 yards and two interceptions without recording a touchdown.
  • I've recommended against Chambers all year because of his inconsistency, but I'll ride his hot streak (339 yards in the past two games) against the Chargers pass defense.
  • Foster by default unless Jones heals enough to practice by the end of the week.
  • L.J. has been a top tight end all year long, so stick with him.

Al: QB: I'd start Johnson. The Rams have one of the worst pass defenses in the league, even allowing David Carr to put up nearly 300 yards and three touchdowns two weeks ago. Johnson should be able to hook up with at least one of the Robinsons for a long touchdown or two. Bledsoe's production has dropped off significantly since Flozell Adams was lost for the year.

WR: I hate relying on Chambers, but he's a must start, especially with Sage Rosenfels behind center. Miami is going to be behind in this game so Rosenfels will be forced to throw the ball when Miami is on offense. As we saw last week, Rosenfels is going to throw the ball to Chambers if it is at all possible.

RB: I'm tempted to suggest Bennett against St. Louis depending on Mewelde Moore's injury situation. If Bennett is getting the start against the Rams, I'd probably start him. Like I mentioned earlier, Foster has a terrible matchup against Tampa. Minnesota could easily put 30+ points on the board at home against St. Louis, with Bennett playing a big role in their offense.

TE: Don't mess around with Ben Watson. Stick with LJ Smith, he's the only weapon the Eagles have left on offense.

Eric: Keeper league question – I can keep UP TO six players. Delhomme, T. Green and Ward are no brainers, but then I have Droughns, Holmes, Burress, Duckett, McNair and Kennison as maybes. This is a ten-team league, starting rosters are 2 QBs, 2 RBs, 3 WR, FLEX, TE, K, D. It's a complicated compensation system if we don't hold onto all six, but basically, I can get an extra third round pick if I leave Holmes or McNair exposed and only keep five guys, and an extra 10th for the rest if I keep five. Who would you keep?

Vivek: For those of us who saw our fantasy seasons go down the tubes with Javon Walker or Dante Culpepper's legs, I guess that it is never too early to think about 2006. I would hold onto Priest because you are really getting a 9th round pick (six keepers plus the three draft rounds) by cutting him lose. If your system was for a first round pick, then I would take a shot at getting Reggie Bush or DeAngelo Williams. Without a running back on your roster, you should definitely hold onto Droughns and then make Burress your last protection.

Al: Yeah, you pretty much have to keep Droughns since he's your only real option at running back at this point. Burress is another definite keeper; he's been a solid fantasy play all season in New York. I guess I'd keep Holmes also, but mainly by default. There's a good chance this will be McNair's last season, Duckett doesn't get enough carries to be worth holding on to, and Kennison is really no different than any other wide receiver you should be able to grab in the draft.

Loser League Report

More technical kinks. Coming soon.

Best Bets

Al: (1-2 last week, 20-15 overall)

No one warned me about the impact that having a child would have on my picking ability.

Indianapolis -8.0 over JACKSONVILLE

It should be 62 degrees and sunny in Jacksonville on Sunday. The Jaguars defense might be good enough to slow down the Colts, but their offense isn't good enough to put too many points up on the board, especially with David Garrard at quarterback. The Colts have a record number of consecutive wins by seven points or more. They'll keep it going and potentially lock up home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Chicago +6.0 over PITTSBURGH

This line started at +4.5 and actually moved to give the Bears even more points. I don't get why Pittsburgh is getting so much action after their loss to Cincinnati and Chicago's continued dominance on defense. Sure, Kyle Orton's awful, but the Bears have been able to contain much better offenses than Pittsburgh's with a hobbled Ben Roethlisberger and no running game to speak of.

Oakland -3.0 over NEW YORK JETS

I don't care who is starting at quarterback for Oakland. If New Orleans can come in and beat the Jets in the Meadowlands by two, Oakland should win by at least a touchdown. If the weather isn't bad, Jerry Porter should have a ridiculous game lined up against David Barrett.

Vivek: (3-1 last week, 21-23 overall)

If not for my prediction of a trap game for the Colts, trap game meaning a win by no more than two touchdowns, I would have had my second straight perfect week.

ARIZONA +3.5 over Washington

Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald will be regarded as one of the best receiver duos when it is all said and done. If not for a 285-yard performance in Week 11 against St. Louis, Kurt Warner would have five straight 300-yard passing games. This might be a mismatch on paper, but I am going to ride Warner's hot arm.

Giants -7.0 over PHILADELPHIA

I've seen this line range anywhere from two to seven, with a few books turning off action on this game. With the news of Brian Westbrook's season-ending injury, I don't see anyway that this game is within two touchdowns. Last week will be nothing compared to what the Giants front four does this week. The bright spot for the Eagles is that it will mean rookie running back Ryan Moats' time to shine.

SEATTLE -16.0 over San Francisco

If the Seahawks can win by 42 with no offense whatsoever against the Eagles, imagine what they can do at home against the 49ers.

Posted by: scramble on 07 Dec 2005

75 comments, Last at 10 Dec 2005, 5:56am by NF


by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 5:03pm

Remember, lines aren't driven by analysis, but by who's betting on whom at the time the line's set. Pittsburgh bettors are going on these assumptions:

1) Orton's awful; the defense might be able to score against him;

2) Heinz Field is tough on visiting kickers, especially visiting rookie kickers like Chicago's;

3) Desperation -- the "Stillers" are too good to be this bad, expecially when a playoff berth is slipping away.

Logical? Not all of it, just enough of it to get a fan to bet -- and the more bets on Pittsburgh, the higher the line goes. Add in Chicago fans leery of Orton as well, and the line goes out to 6. I wouldn't be surprised to see Bear fans jump in now, so expect the line to go back to at least 5 by Sunday.

Oh, and expect the Bears to win -- their D is as likely to score as Pittsburgh's.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 5:04pm

Stick with LJ Smith, he’s the only weapon the Eagles have left on offense.

Which, of course, means that he's guaranteed to get injured this week.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 5:10pm

Sure, Kyle Orton’s awful, but the Bears have been able to contain much better offenses than Pittsburgh’s with a hobbled Ben Roethlisberger and no running game to speak of.

And this isn't really true. They've never beaten a team with a passing offense as good as Pittsburgh's. The closest they've come is beating Washington and Carolina, and Pittsburgh's is far better than that.

by Tim Gerheim :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 5:16pm

How exactly is Pittsburgh's passing offense much better than Carolina's? I'm pretty sure I remember someone drawing a distinct parallel between Roethlisberger and Delhomme, based on their general proficience by predilection for interceptions. To me, Hines Ward is slightly worse than Steve Smith as the #1, and Randle El is slightly better than Carolina's inanimate carbon rod. Heath Miller is probably the biggest difference, since I can't name a Panthers tight end, and that could make a difference if Harris is out. But it seems like the argument is there to be made that Carolina's pass offense is better. Pittsburgh's has typically been predicated on its running game, which isn't so hot lately.

by Jeremy (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 5:21pm

Umm, the Bears didn't beat Washington. They did "contain" the Skins offense.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 5:30pm

I think the Bears/Stillers game comes down to which defense can score more points. I I have to go with Chicago.

by DJAnyReason (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 5:34pm

Yo, Al, Vivek, you might want to take a gander at the three-team tiebreaker rules.

If Pit, SD, and KC get into a tie, the first team kicked out will guaranteed not be Pit, because the first move is to RESOLVE ALL INTRA-DIVISIONAL TIES. KC's only hope is to beat SD outright or on tiebreakers (which means first beating SD, then hoping for help). SD's only hope is to beat Pit outright and beat KC outright or on tiebreakers. Pit needs to beat KC outright, or have SD beat KC on tiebreakers, while tying or beating SD. Conference record only will matter if Pit and KC end up in a tie and KC beats SD.

by Adam B. (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 5:44pm

My question, submitted too late for consideration here:

I'm in a keeper league where rosters lock at the end of this week, and I have room to stash away one free agent for next year -- someone who hasn't done enough this year to merit inclusion on a current roster, but has that whole Upside thing going on. Like, my brother grabbed Eric Shelton and Derrick Blaylock. Who should I consider?

by Sean (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 5:47pm

Re 4:

Well, if you happen to believe in the statistics this site puts together, it's pretty straightforward. Pittsburgh's passing DVOA is 21.5%, while Carolina's is 11.3%. That's a sizeable difference.

by Tim Gerheim :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 5:54pm

They didn't mention it, but if Jacksonville loses two more games, and they, Pittsburgh, and SD/KC are all at 11-5, then the three-team tiebreakers with conference record could come it.

I have a fantasy question for the gallery, which has been bugging me weekly for about a month now: Santana Moss, Plaxico Burress, or Rod Smith, alongside Torry Holt? This is in the "good problem to have" category of fantasy questions. Moss seems like the easy answer, but the Washington offense has been pretty feeble in recent weeks.

by MRH (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 5:56pm

Re #4
Randle El is slightly better than Carolina’s inanimate carbon rod.

Following the route of Sean in #9, I looked up Randle El and Colbert in the FO WR stats. They're a week old, but Randle El is #65 w/a DPAR of -1.6 and Colbert is #67, DPAR -2.0 so they seem to be equally rod-like.

BTW, #66 is Muhammad. At least Colbert-El are their team's #2 wrs.

by Tim Gerheim :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 5:56pm


Touche. I hadn't looked at those. I would speculate that much of that Steelers value came when 1) Big Ben was healthy, and 2) the O-line was healthy, leading to a credible running game and better protection for Big Ben. I'm not as familiar with the Panthers, so for all I know they have similar issues, as I haven't heard as much about Steve Smith going nuts lately.

by Ben (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 6:07pm

Re 2

He's not guaranteed to get injured. It's a 50-50 shot between him and the other starter left, John Runyan.

by dfarrar777 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 6:09pm

A few notes on the SEA-PHI game:

CB Andre Dyson, who scored two defensive TDs (INT/fumble), is out for the rest of the regular season with a high ankle sprain.

Cincy had an outstanding draft, but don't forget about Seattle's third-round pick, OLB Leroy Hill. The Seahawks have been using Hill as a blitzing LB in different situations recently, and he leads all NFC linebackers in sacks, despite the fact that he hasn't been a starter since day one.

Of the Tatupu/Thurman/Merriman DROY argument trifecta, I believe Tatupu is the only one calling his defense's plays. I'm not sure if Thurman is doing that as well. That might be a tiebreaker.

by Sara (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 6:22pm

#4 - Kris Mangum, Michael Gaines and Mike Seidman

The Panthers do have issues on offense coming from their lack of a running game and the inability of anyone not named Steve Smith to get open and hold on to a football. However, in the last few games it looks like they've made an effort to fix those problems before the (possible) playoffs. They really spread the passes around against Buffalo with mixed results. DeShaun Foster ran well against Atlanta (which isn't saying a lot since A) it's DeShaun Foster and B) it's Atlanta). Never in a million years did I think I'd see Carolina winning with a past-first, no rush offense. (I guess that's why their offense is ranked so low, huh?)

by JonL (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 6:30pm

Rock Cartwright hasn't gotten much run in part because he was behind Ladell Betts, and Joe Gibbs makes it very hard for players to move up in the depth chart. During training camp, there was also talk that he might lose his roster spot. Also, I believe Cartwright has at times shown a propensity for fumbling, which never helps, unless maybe you're Robert Royal.

RE: #10
I'd lay off Moss, at least until Gibbs, Bugel (assistant head coach - offense), Don Breaux (offensive coordinator) and Jack Burns (offensive assistant) can find some way to get opposing secondaries to stop double-covering him. Oh, and Stan Hixon (wide receivers) and Bill Lazor (offensive assistant).

by 10K (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 6:34pm

Sage isn't playing; it'll be Frerotte, for good or ill. But... Chambers has been producing because Saban has reigned in Linehan on the O-play calling. They've gone from cute and aggressive (2 reverses per game, throw the ball to 6 different receivers, throw on 1st, 2nd, 3rd at the 5, etc...) to FEATURE THE STUDS!! (Duh) The studs being Chris, Randy, Ronnie, and Ricky. (Makes me wish Chambers name was Ris or something...) So Gus or Sage will be throwing to Chris. With SD's weak pass defense but pretty strong run defense, feature Chris Chambers. Whether or not Miami succeeds, whether or not Gus or Sage is the QB, Miami actually has a pretty aggressive, long offensive game, and Chris will be featured for the final 6 games of the season.

by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 6:40pm

I would be very reluctant to bet on the Bears. If for whatever reason they get behind, they'll have to throw more. and if they have to throw more, they'll get further and further behind.

It's not just a bad offense, its a mistake prone offense.

by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 6:41pm

and I'm not saying "I wouldn't bet on the bears". Just that I wouldn't touch a Bears game at all.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 6:58pm

I'm going to disagree with #16 here.

Arizona has a horrible passing defense, and Moss is due.... that's just a gut feeling.

I just can't shake the images of the Washington offense agaist Kansas City, Tampa Bay, and Denver... but the image of their offense against Oakland and San Diego was a nightmare....

#16, you forgot Bill Musgrave (QB coach).

by Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Person (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 6:59pm

So who will score more touchdowns this week, Mark Brunell vs. ARI or David Garrard vs. IND? Garrard will need more points, but I'm not sure if he gets them

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 7:00pm

How exactly is Pittsburgh’s passing offense much better than Carolina’s?

Pitt's got a 21.5% passing DVOA. Carolina's got an 11.3% passing DVOA.

Carolina's pass offense has looked more productive than Pittsburgh's because Pittsburgh used it less. But Pitt's perfectly capable of using it, as they did this week.

by emcee fleshy (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 7:01pm

McMahon's first interception - sure, he telegraphed it. But that interception was the receiver's fault as much as anybody's. McMahon led him perfectly, throwing exactly to where his route would take him. Upon seeing the ball in the air, headed to the same place he was, the receiver inexplicably SLOWED DOWN. This allowed the Db to get in front of him, catch the ball, and all of a sudden . . .

13-0. rout. McMahon unjustifiably demoted from "sucks" to "really sucks."

by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 7:05pm

Since we're talking about the Bears, here's
Fantasy Question #1:

For a DST in a league that scores for both points-against and yards-against: CHI @ PIT or DEN home vs. BAL?

And Fantasy Question #2:

Receivers, 6/TD, 1/10yds, no reception points, pick 2 of these 5:

Wayne @ JAX
Housh home vs. CLE
Jurevicious home vs. SF
McCardell home vs. MIA
Drew Bennett home vs. HOU

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 7:09pm


Actually, the more I think about it, this game is going to come down to whoever has the better special teams. And while Pitt's got a better kicker, Chicago's got a far better punter/punt coverage. And in a defensive struggle, a good punter is a heckuva lot better than a good kicker.

by james (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 7:23pm

I like the Bears this week. If you look at the stats from the Cinci game they absolutely shut them down. Too bad Orton wasted a good D performance with a season's worth of picks in one game. Steelers offense is inept these days. It wasn't that great last either. I don't see how Pitt moves the ball or how they shut down the Chicago run game. I'm taking the six and crossing my fingers.

by Steve Sandvik (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 7:28pm

Yes, Greg Lewis was partially to blame for that one, as well as allowing the DB position on a later deep ball to knock it down--but that looks like a genuine problem with Greg Lewis, not just a one-time brain fart, so it sort of falls under "not putting it where the receiver will make a play" in the same way that throwing it in Koren Robinson's hands last year was a bad pass.

The *second* pick, however, to Tatupu, was truly amazing. He's looking at the spot where he's throwing the ball before the snap, and his head never even turns a bit. The only way that works is if the defender somehow believes the QB can't possibly be that dumb and must be trying to fool him. I mean, I had to replay it on TiVO about 4 times because I was in complete shock. Telegraphing is one thing, but this wasn't just your garden variety Western Union, this was a full-on singing telegram.

by Mike B. (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 7:32pm

Re: #11 -
Yeah, but they have real QBs throwing to them.

by Ferg (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 7:37pm

Re 16: Joe Gibbs makes it very hard for players to move up in the depth chart

Unless you're Mark Brunell.

by Nate (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 8:15pm

In more Bears-related news, Grossman has been elevated to the #2 QB spot and is taking 25% of the first team snaps this week.
Also, our kicker isn't anything special, but he seems very solid under 40 yards, assuming sub-40 mph winds.

by Adam B. (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 8:20pm

#24: I'd stick with Chicago; Boller's been tossing it around a lot lately. And with DJax back, I think you go with Wayne and Housh. Bennett just hasn't done it this year.

Any help on my keeper question?

by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 8:25pm

And apropos of nothing: Go Lofa Tatupu! Son of Mosi, the Snowin' Samoan, a sentimental Pats favorite. Will we see a sign at a Seahawks game that says "Lofa My Stretchmarks"? :D

by andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 8:27pm

Bly let Koren Robinson catch a 52-yard touchdown pass when he had Robinson in single coverage.

Um, Bly did let Koren Robinson catch a 52-yard pass, but it didn't go for a touchdown. Bly had nothing to do with it not being a touchdown, the pass was a little outside and Robinson couldn't change direction enough to avoid going out of bounds. The pass did put the Vikings into good field position and the drive did result in a touchdown.

(Robinson's earlier TD pass, the 80 yard one, was with RW McQuarters in coverage).

by Scott C (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 8:28pm

Choice from h*ll, guys, as my starting QB (Bulger) and backup (Leftwich) are both done for the season. Our trading deadline passed so I had no choice to pick up waiver wire QBs. So who do I start for this first week's playoff game: Fitzpatrick, Boller, Garrard or Losman? Believe it or not, the rest of my team looks solid.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 8:36pm

Nate: He is a good kicker under 40 yards. He doesn't have a great leg, but he's very consistent. I'm a little surprised at how short his kickoffs have been, though.

Fortunately for Penn State, we got another good kicker this year, as I always thought Gould was a decent kicker. Good to see a team sticking with him.

by Jeremy (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 8:39pm

#4, #15

Seidman hasn't caught a pass all year, I don't think he's been thrown to or even been in on a passing play. Mangum's an average pass catcher who's the starter because he always has been. Gaines is one of the better pass catching tight ends in the game. Probably better than Miller and he's been playing more since the Chicago loss. He's the only Panther besides Smith who can get open downfield. Colbert's only really good at catching short outs or slants and then running with the ball. He rarely makes catches in traffic. Proehl's only been good on one drive this season.

by JonL (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 8:40pm

you forgot Bill Musgrave (QB coach).

and don't forget Coy Gibbs, the offense quality control coach. (By the way, is there some kind of support group he and Koy Detmer can join?)

Unless you’re Mark Brunell.

Okay, so unless you're explicitly one of Gibbs's guys, it's hard to move up. On a related note, I know he's injured, but when will Gibbs realize that James Thrash does not a #3 receiver make?

by Jeremy (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 8:42pm

Also, I have a few fantasy questions. I need a win this week to make the playoffs.

RB: Domanick Davis, Antowain Smith, or DeShaun Foster.
WR (2 of): S. Moss, Evans, Wilford, Horn or K. Curtis.

by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 8:53pm

People put a little bit too much emphasis on the Bears defense's ability to score TDs. They have four on the year, tying them with Ten, Ind, and SF for first in the league. The quality of two of those defenses should suggest the randomness of a defense scoring a TD. The Bears may not do it again all year.
I think Pat is correct in saying special teams play will be very important, though not just in the way he mentions. The Bears offense hasn't been extremely mistake prone, relative to the rest of the league, but there terrible punt returners (mainly Wade) have been.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 9:34pm

Jerry: Good point. Wade has fumbled a freaking lot. Unfortunately Pitt's main problem in punting is their poor coverage/hangtime on punts.

by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 9:44pm

Jeremy(38), your RB's: Smith has the best matchup according to rushing defense DVOA (ATL, 23.7%, last), Davis next (TEN -7.9%, 13th), Foster last (TB, -19.5%, 5th). But I figure NO will fall behind and not stick with the running game, so I think Smith is out. After that, I can't figure the other two games: can CAR run on TB? Foster has been feast or famine. Davis has been consistent the last 3 weeks. Do you need an upside, or consistency? On your WR's, I'm not sure.

by jason shaffer (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 11:18pm

"coach Joe Gibbs"...honestly,dont you think this guy is over rated Ive been a die-hard skins fan for 25 years,and yes,Gibbs had his moment in the sun a decade ago,but how can anyone expect this man to win games with his myopic call playing? gee,its first down,i wonder,will he run the ball,again? OF COURSE HE DOES!! why? would it hurt to mix it up a little? 3rd and 10,whats gibbs gonna call? ummm,duh,a screen play of course! how many times on 3rd and long situations does gibbs calla play that puts the ball in the recievers hands yards before the firstdown marker? 8 outta 10 times you will see this...let the QB throw the ball to moss,let portis run it outside instead up the gut where its obvious hes no good. and have you ever taken a good look at the skins on the sidelines? they look about as excited as the playing calling is mundane,theres no excitement,no fire in these guys eyes,they dont look like they could give a crap about the score anymore than my girlfriend does. personally,i think theres only one way in washington to get these guys to play,you dont win,you dont earn a dime,obviously its the only thing these over paid,non educated mush mouth speaking punks care about. HOW SAD ITS COME TO THIS.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 12:07am

Well to be fair to Gibbs...

The Redskins are a Rabach holding call + 43 yd field goal from Hall and a 2-point conversion away from being 8-4.

I can't complain about a .500 season after going 6-10 the past couple of years.

The players execute the plays...

by SJM (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 1:20am

WR question- Pick two of the following:

Darrel Jackson, Randle El, Kevin Curtis, Wilford, Moulds. I'm leaning toward the first two.

by Vash (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 1:27am

Why are people still talking about Pittsburgh's offense being poor against Cincinnati?
Did Roethlisberger's 386 yards leave any doubts? Turnovers aside, Cincinatti was thoroughly beaten by the Pittsburgh passing game.
I like the Steelers, for the simple reason that Ben Roethlisberger is going to play far better than Kyle Orton.

by Harris L (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 2:06am

take Reggie Bush. just kidding. grab Chester Taylor or Najeh Davenport.

by Adam (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 2:09am

#44: I can't advocate DJax in his first week back, and Moulds is suspended (I think), and Curtis has stunk with Fitzgerald in there. Wilford and . . .crap, Randel El stinks too . . . okay, Wilford and DJax.

by Adam (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 2:11am

Oh, and #46: thanks, but both are gone, stowed on others' rosters all year long.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 4:03am

As a Bears fan, I'm not liking the matchups. My bet is they'll put Tillman on Ward, but he has a tendency to get jumpy on short routes, and I like Ward against any safety if Tillman gets caught a bit behind. That said, Chicago's linebackers are fast, and they can drop them in coverage to keep an eye on Miller. Will it matter? We'll see.

As for the "Is Pittsburgh a good offense" question, I recall from the begining (1-6) of the year commenting (or at least thinking) that PIT's high DVOA was not due to its defense. Its defense was rather average. It's run was above-average, but its passing rating was spectacular. If I recall, it was somewhere in the top 5 until Ben got hurt and then the era of Maddox began. The question then is, can they get back to that level? I'm not a big fan or adjusted sack rate, but it's saying probably not. 21st in the league going against a team that can generate a good rush with just the linemen. Then again, the sack total might be higher because Maddox got sacked a crapload in his two games. Then again, I'm not sure.

What a mess. All I know is that if we miss the playoffs because of the sodding bengals, I just might have to give up football.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 4:07am

To clarify "As a bears fan, I would not." I'm not a bears fan. Thank god. Though I do think Orton's got potential if he had more than 1 WR that was competent (and even then only most of the time).

I also hold nothing against the Bengals, nor their fans, but god I'm still pissed about the way Sunday's game ended.

by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 11:08am

People put a little bit too much emphasis on the Bears defense’s ability to score TDs. They have four on the year, tying them with Ten, Ind, and SF for first in the league. The quality of two of those defenses should suggest the randomness of a defense scoring a TD. The Bears may not do it again all year.

That doesn't include turnovers in good field position for the Bears, which should be credited to the D.

by Smeghead (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 11:40am

#8: Hmm ... hard to call without knowing exactly how far down into the murky depths to look, but Blaylock doesn't seem so very deep. Backup RB makes a good all-purpose answer along the lines of Kaufman's all-purpose game predictions like "home team wins." For instance: place a wager on the proposition that Shaun Alexander won't re-sign by grabbing Maurice Morris and (this is a dark horse, but Morris can't stay healthy) Leonard Weaver. Presumably Mungro is currently handcuffed to James, but anyone with the slightest glimmer of becoming the Colts #1 RB if Edgerrin bolts ... or just get backups to studs (especially overworked studs), guys like Chris Perry or Michael Turner.

Similar goes for backup QBs in position to become starters (Charlie Frye or Rex Grossman or Billy Volek or certainly Matt Schaub are probably too obvious to be available) or one late hit away from running a good offense (Phillip Rivers, Jon Kitna, (gulp) Jim Sorgi).

If you must do a receiver, try squinting at the FO stats page under "Other Players" for 1st-3rd-year players in a good offensive situation who seem somewhat talented. I dunno. D.J. Hackett of Seattle looks good to me and could become a starter next year.

Or try guys currently off the shelf who could, imaginably, have a renaissance next year: Kellen Winslow 2, Peerless Price, that sort of junk.


by jimmo (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 1:44pm

re: Adam's keeper league; I like Roddy White, but your league seems pretty deep, so I'm guessing he's not available. Another guy at WR I like, mainly because he's a free agent after the year, is Reche Caldwell. He's in Marty's doghouse, and he's been hurt a bit, but he's shown plenty of flashes in the past and I can imagine him in KC or Philly next year.
for a total RB sleeper, look at Nehemiah Broughton on Washington. The guy is huge, Cartwright is a FA to-be, Betts can't stay healthy (and might be a FA as well, I can't remember) and Portis carries the ball too much. If Gibbs stays around, I like Brouhgton's chances of moving up the depth chart and at least being a vulture.

and probably too deep, but guys to keep an eye on at least are Noah Herron, whom Green Bay signed from the Steelers practice squad and warrants mention just for being part of GB's RB jumble, and Buffalo's Lionel Gates, inactive all season, but at least showed enough in the preseason to remain on the roster.
slim pickings at the RB spot.

I like Cleo Lemon at QB, again probably too deep, but rumor has it that Mia is going to seriously consider him next year, and that Marty didn't want him moved in SD....

by Daniel (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 2:00pm

Got a few running backs with question marks hanging over them this week. Which of these three would you go with?

Julius Jones @ KC
Kevin Jones @ GB
Mike Anderson vs. BAL
Cadillac Williams @ CAR
Ryan Moats vs. NYG
Greg Jones vs. IND

Right now, Julius Jones is the only guy I'm pretty sure I'm gonna start.

by Adam B. (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 2:06pm

Thanks for the advice. Tuiasosopo got nabbed minutes before I was ready to grab him, so I'm considering Frye, Hackett, Caldwell and Fason.

54: I'd go with Cadillac and . . . gosh . . . Greg Jones?

by Tim Gerheim :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 3:08pm

What, is Mike Anderson injured? Don't be scared off by the Baltimore defense; Domanick Davis just ran for 122 in a game without any pass offense. I'd go with him, Julius, and maybe Kevin Jones. He's supposedly healthy this week, and Dick Jauron et al want to give him more carries. If not, then probably Cadillac because he's Cadillac. I might consider Ryan Moats if you're desperate though; he looked pretty good on Monday (although I suppose that was against Seattle's non-scholarship defense).

by NF (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 3:38pm

I need a win to make the playoffs in my FFL, and I have questions about starting defense and WR.

First, I just picked up the Seattle defense, which is playing at home against the 49ers. Who now have Alex Smith starting again. Does that make the Seattle defense a better play than the Carolina defense at home vs. City of Tampa?

Also, Joe Horn was the first WR I drafted, and has been a disappointment. My other two wide receivers are Rod Smith and Steve Smith, and while I think there is a chance Joe Horn could have a big day at Atlanta, are there any wide receivers likely to do things this week such as catch touchdowns that might be available as free agents?

by Dave Rogers (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 4:18pm

If I win this week I pick up a #2 seed for the playoffs.. lose, and its tough.

THanks to Carson Palmer, LT, Neil Rackers and the Bears Defense, Ive made it this far. My skill positions are shaky at best though.

RB: (need 1 to join LT)
Curtis Martin v. OAK
Greg Jones v. IND
Stephen Davis v. TB
Michael Bennett v. STL

WR: (need 2)
Randy Moss v. NYJ
Roy Williams v. GB
Mushin Muhammad v. PIT
Brandon Lloyd v. SEA

I know its ugly. That's why I am asking.

by NF (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 4:47pm


I think your least-bad options at WR are Randy Moss vs. the Jets and Muhsin Muhammad at Pittsburgh. Even though Collins isn't starting, there is a good chance Moss could become the only receiving option for Tuipaso on plays where Moss is run over to the opposite side of the field Ty Law is on, since the Jets secondary runs mainly zone. There is a good chance Grossman could go under center for Chicago halfway through the game, so it is possible that Muhsin will have a big game.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 5:11pm

Problem is that Pittsburgh is pretty good at shutting down a top receiver, moreso than the #2.

Cincinnati/Pittsburgh game? Who had the better game? T.J. Whosyourdaddy, not Chad Johnson.

Unfortunately, Green Bay is one of the best in the leagues at shutting down a top receiver, so Roy Williams isn't a good choice either. In their first meeting, Roy had 2 catches for 13 yards, out of ten passes thrown to him.

There's no one else? Yipes.

You know, though, I'd almost suggest taking Brandon Lloyd. He had a great game versus Seattle last time. There's at least the possibility of him having another one.

by Adam B. (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 6:43pm

My playoffs start/bench: Is Nate Clements so good (and the Patriots D so bad) that I should bench Deion Branch for Lee Evans? (Note: Brady is my QB.)

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 1:15am

Adam B (#61 )--

It may not be a question of Clements being good or the Pats' D being bad -- the Patriots tend not to throw too much to any single receiver, while the Bills just suspended their other top wideout.

Unless you expect Losman not to complete many passes all day, the choice is probably Evans.

by MCS (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 10:13am

It's playoff time. I'm 10-3 (#1 Seed) and an underdog for the first time in weeks. Last week I lost for the first time since week 3. Go figure.

Need WR advice. How does the Moulds situation impact Evans?

Need 2 (1pt/10yds, 10pt/TD):
Holt @ Minn
Wayne @ Jax
Driver vs. Det.
Evans vs. NE
Wilford vs Indy

Need 2 RBs(1pt/10yds, 10pt/TD:
S Jackson @ Minn
L Johnson @ Dal
R Brown @ SD
W Parker vs. Chi
N. Davenport vs. injury riddled career.

>I'm leaning towards Holt/Jackson vs. Minn. I'm not sold on Minny, yet the QB situation in StL is frightening to say the least.
>I'm thinking LJ (cause he's carried me for weeks) and Driver vs. Det.
>But that leaves Wayne on my bench. Plus Evans had that huge week last week. I've been waiting all season for him to become the go to guy.

Note that my QBs are P Manning and Brees.

I welcome any comments.

For further discussion, we're a keeper league and we can keep any 3. We don't need to announce until 2 weeks before next season's draft (No Ricky Williams/Barry Sanders situations). LJ, SJax, ??? I took Manning in Rd 1 this season with the intention of keeping him, but now I am not so sure.

by Mike (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 12:19pm

What do you think about the fantasy viability of Chris Henry? He's battling Kevin Curtis for a spot in my starting lineup this week. The Fitzpatrick factor may be enough, I think, to tip the scales.

by Oswlek (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 1:45pm

Urgent! I need help!

I have a standard scoring Yahoo league that has 4 receiver slots, 2 RB slots and a RB/WR slot. I should also say that this league does give additional points for return yardage, 1/25 yards, and return TDs, 6 pts.

I have 3 layup receivers in Holt, Boldin and Steve Smith. Dante Hall is another receiver that I play a lot because he is virtually guaranteed 5-6 points even if he doesn't get a TD. I need help with the rest.

Remaining WRs
Bennett vs Hou
Mathis (return yardage) vs. Ten
K. Robinson vs. StL

MacGahee vs. NE
Gado vs. Det
K. Jones vs. GB
Cad. Williams vs. Carolina
Parker vs. Chicago

I would normally play 4 WRs and 3 RBs, but I can't see three good RB plays there. Gado is the only good play. Jones has been terrible this year, but has a good matchup and is supposed to be healthy. McGahee has been struggling, and NE's run D has been strong for 4 weeks now. Cadillac is typically a must start, but Carolina is very good and Cady hasn't scored a TD in a long time.

Who would you start?

by Oswlek (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 1:50pm

Just FYI, many people don't know, but Koren Robinson has almost 1,000 return yards on the season. SO if you think that he is a decent play, that's probably worth another 2-3 points.

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 2:06pm

A win will lock up #1 seed in my biggest lead (almost assured it anyway).

Well I am having a hard time deciding between CHI and PIT DEF.

CHI is best DEF by a lot, but PIT has the 12th OFF

Whereas PIT has the 7th DEF and CHI is the 29th OFF.

CHI DEF has been doing great things for me, so I hate to sit them, but PIT DEF clearly has the better matchup.

So I am looking for advice...

And...my TE are H. Miller and D. Clark

They are roughly equal when they play (Clark missed significant time with injury).

But CHI is 1st against the pass and 4th against tight ends and JAC is 2nd against the pass and 3rd agaisnt tight ends...so they both have very tough matchups.

Alternatively I could start M. Pollard, but he hasn't done much of anything this year (Green Bay is 9th against the pass, but 28th aginst TE).

So anyone have a feel on who is a good idea between Miller/Clark/Pollard?

Finally, Gado or Dillon?

DIllon may have the better game, but then agains he might not play at all. I am going with Gado for now to be safe, but who knows.

by Bob (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 2:14pm

Randy Moss or Chris Chambers?

by Oswlek (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 2:23pm

MCS, I agree with you on all fronts. Sometimes it is painful having a really strong team knowing that your bench is as likely as your starters to break out.

Not that I would know this year.

by Oswlek (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 2:26pm


Dillon is far more likely to play that you seem to think. This is a very important divisional game for the Pats and I don't recall hearing that Dillon missed any practice time.

by MCS (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 3:10pm

Yeah, I've never been in this position before. In previous years where I was competitive, I've had clear starters. This season, I've really had to watch the match-ups.

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 4:15pm

Dillon missed part of practice yesterday. Not sureabout today yet.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 10:11pm

It'd be nice to have Dillon back, then I could go back to Dillon/J. Jones and not have to hit myself over the head when my running back catastrophe of M. Moore and T. Bell got me 2 points because they got hurt/didn't get carries/saw a big scary lineman and hid.

by Otis the Pug (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 11:14pm

You all know the answers to the easy questions. Let me see your answers to some REALLY tough questions:

QB - Big Ben at the tough Bears, or Brunnell against the lousy Cards?

RB - Smokin' Ricky W, playing half time, or JJ Arrington, playing 3/4 time, or Frank Gore, playing full time?

by NF (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 5:56am


If those are your only options, you go with Rick Williams. He's had some good games, and JJ Arrington is a big part of one of the worst rushing games in the league. Also, Frank Gore plays for SanFran. 'nuff said. For QB, if the Redsmkins are at home you go with Brunell. He hasn't been all that bad, and the Cardinals aren't a historic defense.