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Tunnel Vision - Week 15
David Dorey
December 20, 2010
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Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Michael Vick 242P 130R 4
Rex Grossman 322 4
Eli Manning 289 4
Matt Flynn 264 3
Philip Rivers 273 3
Running Backs Yards TD
Ray Rice 233 2
Jamaal Charles 153 1
Cedric Benson 150 1
Chris Johnson 137 1
Donald Brown 133 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Vincent Jackson 112 3
Mario Manningham 113 2
Austin Collie 87 2
Santana Moss 72 2
Jeremy Maclin 59 2
Tight Ends Yards TD
Jason Witten 140 1
Aaron Hernandez 47 2
Jimmy Graham 29 2
Chris Cooley 62 1
Brent Celek 72 1
Placekickers XP FG
David Buehler 3 4
Sebastian Janikowski 4 3
John Kasay 1 4
Clint Stitser 1 4
Billy Cundiff 3 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Patriots 1 5 2
Falcons 1 2 3
Eagles 1 2 2
Jets 1 3 1
Colts 1 1 2

Bumps, bruises and bow outs

Arian Foster (HOU) - Sprained Ankle
Terrell Owens (CIN) - Torn MCL
Vernon Davis (SF) - Sprained ankle
Austin Collie (IND) - More concussion problems
Knowshon Moreno (DEN) - Rib injury

The Playoffs SO far

NE (12-2) left to play @BUF, MIA. One more win locks #1 seed.
NYJ (10-4) left to play @CHI, BUF One more win locks wildcard

PIT (10-4) left to play CAR, @CLE has tie breaker on BAL
BAL (10-4) left to play @CLE, CIN No worse than wildcard

IND (8-6) left to play @OAK, TEN has tie breaker on JAC
JAC (8-6) left to play WAS, @HOU needs help

KC (9-5) left to play TEN, OAK
SD (8-6) left to play @CIN, @DEN

Look like to me - NE and PIT get byes, NYJ vs. IND and BAL vs. KC

PHI (10-4) left to play MIN, DAL
NYG (9-5) left to play @GB, @WAS should be no worse than wildcard

CHI (9-4) left to play @MIN, NYJ, @GB
GB (8-6) left to play NYG, CHI

ATL (12-2) left to play NO, CAR one more win locks #1 seed
NO (10-4) left to play @ATL, TB will end up with wildcard

STL (6-8) left to play SF, @SEA
SEA (6-8) left to play @TB, STL

Looks like to me - ATL and PHI get byes, NYG vs CHI, NO vs SEA/STL

ten random observations

1. I cannot imagine what it must be like to have season tickets to see the Dolphins. They are 6-1 on the road - as good as any team in the NFL. And they are 1-6 at home which now is the worst record of any NFL team. Even the Panthers have two wins at home. It's great that fans can see their team win on TV but how do you sell tickets to a game that the Fins always lose? Really? I thought the visiting Bills would surely be enough to break the spell but no. And now the visiting Lions next week are coming off their first road win.

2. Sam Bradford joins Peyton Manning and Matt Ryan as the only quarterbacks to ever reach 3000 passing yards as a rookie. Bradford currently has 3065 yards with two games left to play. Manning was the all-time leader with 3739 yards and Ryan passed for 3440. Bradford needs only about 200 yards per game to become #2 but needs over 320 yards per game to challenge Manning.

3. Vincent Jackson was another player that showed up with a monster game - 112 yards on five catches with three touchdowns - right when you needed him in your fantasy playoffs. And owners had been waiting for 14 weeks for that to happen which is a brutally long time when you could use that space to churn your roster for improvement. But he paid off finally and you know, that's all you will remember next summer for the next player in a similar situation. Sure, you can wait 14 weeks. It's not that long...

4. My prediction is that both the Seahawks and Rams are going to end up 7-9 on the season and one will actually win a division with a losing record. Assuming both win their home games and lose their road games, I believe that ties them in record, head-to-head but Seattle would have a better record in the division (4-2 vs. 3-3) and so Seattle would advance. Then again, it all doesn't matter since they'll probably play the Saints anyway.

5. What to think about Randy Moss who has not caught a pass in two games and who is clearly an afterthought in TEN now that Kenny Britt is back? Moss is only 32 years old and for comparison sake, he is five years younger than Terrell Owens. Moss could have several very productive seasons ahead of him but it only seems to get worse with him this year. He's going to be a very scary draft pick next year and yet one that spawns optimism for his owner. At least until the season starts. Moss is one of the best receivers to ever play the game and he will end up in the Hall of Fame (at least his numbers dictate he will). But this is not ending well at all. I'm not going to touch him in 2011 and I am willing to let someone else take the risk. Would you draft Moss? Even if he was cheap?

6. I want to see what is going to happen with the Titans next year because Kenny Britt is having a breakout year cloaked by missing five games injured. He has seven touchdowns through the first seven games and this week caught six passes for 128 yards. There could be a coaching or quarterback change in Tennessee next year (or both) and Britt could be a nice value in the summer because his total numbers are not as gaudy as his "average game" is.

7. Condolences to the owners of Arian Foster, Aaron Rodgers, Maurice Jones-Drew, Tom Brady, Knowshon Moreno, LeSean McCoy, Terrell Owens, Reggie Wayne and a few others. Nothing like seeing your star players flop right when you needed them the most. The world of "one and done" can be a cruel place. I can accept the losing. I can accept the pain. What I cannot stand is not being able to get the song "You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille" out of my freaking head.

8. What do SF, ARI, CAR, MIA, SEA, OAK and MIN have in common? Those seven teams may be looking for new starting quarterbacks next year (and a few other teams as well potentially). In a league that is progressively becoming more and more pass oriented, there are a lot of unsettled situations going into 2011 and the NFL draft never serves up more than a couple decent options as rookies. Donovan McNabb may have a number of different alternatives where to play next year.

9. Special teams were hardly special this weekend but they were good for some laughs. The Jaguars scored a touchdown with 1:59 left in the Colts game to bring the score to 24-27. They then tried an onside kick but special teams LB Tyjuan Hagler not only caught it on a bounce, he continued to run straight down the field for a 41-yard touchdown. If every Jaguar is going for the ball, wouldn't that mean at least one of them would end up in the way? Even better was the Patriots-Packers game when the Packers scored with only 2:20 left in the first half, they kicked it short and it was caught by G Dan Connolly who cradled it in two hands and ran forward waiting to be tackled only he wasn't. After about twenty yards, a Packers player tried to strip the ball from him but was blocked off of him. And Connolly kept running. Going down the sideline like a Mac Truck trying to find second gear, he was even carrying the ball vertically like a kid who did not have a long enough arm to carry it correctly. And he kept running for 71 yards until he was finally tackled on the four-yard line. Unofficially it was the longest return by an offensive lineman in NFL history. According to Tom Brady who witnessed the slow motion event, "I've never seen anything happen so slow in my life. They won't be kicking to him anymore, I'll tell you that."

10. It appears that this is one of the rare years that there will be no teams resting players in week 16 because no team has clinched enough to merit sitting anyone. The Falcons and Pats could both rest players in week 17 if they win in week 16 because only then do they lock in being the #1 seed in their respective conferences. Of course that won't stop some players from having freakishly bad games like this week, but at least they should all be trying and that's a major plus. Nothing like reaching the league superbowl and then not using the players that got you there.

Huddle Player of the Week

Ray Rice - When the fantasy playoffs are underway, you need your early draft picks to show up big and Ray Rice finally paid his owners off handsomely with 153 rushing yards and a touchdown on 31 carries and added 80 more yards on five catches with a second score. That's 233 yards and two scores for 35 fantasy points - 40 points if you count receptions right when you needed it most.


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

Comedy Line-up Yards TDs Tragedy Line-up Yards TDs
QB Rex Grossman 322 4 QB Carson Palmer 209 0
RB Maurice Morris 129 1 RB Maurice Jones-Drew 68 0
RB Marcel Reece 88 1 RB Arian Foster 61 0
WR Jacoby Ford 118 1 WR Terrell Owens 0 0
WR Brian Robiskie 82 1 WR Anquan Boldin 2 0
WR David Nelson 61 1 WR Reggie Wayne 34 0
PK Clint Stitser 1 XP 4 FG PK Graham Gano 2 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 134

Huddle Fantasy Points = 27

Sunday Snippet

SF 7, SD 34 No surprises here with the 49ers unable to mount an offense on the road and Alex Smith ended with only 165 yards and one interception. Josh Morgan turned in seven catches for 106 yards but no other wideout had more than 17 yards. Philip Rivers passed for 273 yards and three TDs that all went to Vincent Jackson (5-112). The Chargers are now in full timeshare between Mike Tolbert (17-46, TD) and Ryan Mathews (17-56). The win keeps the Chargers one game behind the Chiefs.
NO 24, BAL 30 Close game but the Saints couldn't get it done after tying early in the fourth quarter. Drew Brees ended with 267 yards and three scores that went to the rookie Jimmy Graham (5-29, 2 TD) and Lance Moore (2-26, TD). Without Chris Ivory, the Saints only had 27 rushing yards on 14 carries and split that meager load up three ways. The Ravens took the win with Joe Flacco passing for 172 yards and two scores but it was Ray Rice who delivered huge for fantasy owners when he ran for 153 yards and a score and added five catches for 80 yards and a second touchdown. Now the Ravens are tied with the Steelers in the AFC North and the Saints fall two games back of the Falcons.
ARI 12, CAR 19 The greatly anticipated shootout between John Skelton (196 yds) and Jimmy Clausen (141 yds, TD) had the fireworks.... man ... how brutal was this game really? It was nothing more than James Stewart running 27 times for 137 yards and Larry Fitzgerald catching nine passes for 125 yards and yet neither scored. The Cardinals rushed for 27 yards between Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells who has yet to show he's even practice squad good. Ugly game but both kickers got some work and the Panthers got their second win. Merry Christmas Carolina.
CLE 17, CIN 19 Speaking of ugly games where one team somehow finally won. The Bengals lost Terrell Owens (for the season no less) and reverted to a running game that featured Cedric Benson (31-150, TD) that made the difference. The Browns only got 82 total yards and no scores from Peyton Hillis and Colt McCoy kept them in the game with 243 passing yards and two scores that went to Brian Robiskie (5-82) and Robert Royal (2-29). Ben Watson was the best receiver in the game with seven receptions for 92 yards. The Bengals finally get a win and stop their ten game losing streak.
WAS 30, DAL 33 Contender for Game-o-the-week. Rex Grossman shook off the dust in a quick way against the Cowboys sloppy secondary and passed for 322 yards and four scores. Anthony Armstrong (5-100) had the most yards but Santana Moss (8-72, 2 TD), Chris Cooley (5-62, TD) and Ryan Torain (5-48, TD) all had receiving scores. Torain was only used on 11 runs and gained 53 yards. Jon Kitna threw for 305 yards and two scores that went to Jason Witten (10-140) and Miles Austin (3-38) and Tashard Choice rushed for 53 yards and a score on 15 carries. Good fantasy scores from most players and a high scoring game made this one of the best of the weekend. Grossman caught a break opening against the Dallas secondary and no doubt sends McNabb tumbling down the depth chart for good.
JAC 24, IND 34 The Colts remained in contention for the post season with a win here and Peyton Manning passed for 229 yards and two scores that both went to Austin Collie (8-87, 2 TD) before he once again was laid out on the field and needed help. Donald Brown (14-129, TD) was the big surprise in this game and Dominic Rhodes (9-26) is back. David Garrard turned in 294 yards and two scores that both went to Mike Sims-Walker (4-42) but Maurice Jones-Drew only gained 46 yards on 15 carries against the Colts. He added 22 yards on two catches but Rashad Jennings was the lead receiver with seven receptions for 64 yards which led to a crash and burn for many MoJo owners this week.
BUF 17, MIA 14 The Bills beat the Fins who cannot win at home for reasons that no one can figure out. Chad Henne passed for 276 yards and one score to Brandon Marshall (11-106) who finally had a decent game though way too late you help his fantasy owners. Ronnie Brown ran in one score but only accounted for 39 yards on ten carries while Ricky Williams (7-19) was even worse despite facing the normally horrible Bills defense. Ryan Fitzpatrick passed for 223 yards and two touchdowns that went to Steve Johnson (6-69) and David Nelson (3-61) but Fred Jackson only gained 36 yards on 15 runs. Pretty sad game from a fantasy perspective outside of Brandon Marshall and Steve Johnson.
KC 27, STL 13 Matt Cassel ignored his lack of an appendix and actually started the game with 184 passing yards and one touchdown. Dwayne Bowe was the best receiver but only had 53 yards on two catches but Jamaal Charles rushed for 126 yards and a score on only 11 runs and yet Thomas Jones was given 22 carries to gain 62 yards and one touchdown. Sam Bradford had one of his worst games ever when he passed for only 181 yards and two interceptions and Steven Jackson was the only Rams player with much fantasy value thanks to 67 rushing yards and one score along with 37 yards on five catches. The win keeps the Chiefs one game ahead of the Chargers in the AFC West and the loss by the Rams is okay because they play in the NFC West and 6-8 is still tied for the division lead.
DET 23, TB 20 THIS SHOULD BE THE GAME OF THE YEAR. Sure - it had marginal scoring and all but the Lions won ON THE ROAD for the first time after 26 straight losses. A road win. How bad is it to be a Buccaneer right now?The Lions tied the game 20-20 on the final play of regulation with a 28-yard field goal and then had Dave Rayner kick a 34-yard field goal to win on their first possession in overtime. Josh Freeman passed for 251 yards and one score that mostly benefited Mike Williams (6-96, TD) and LeGarrette Blount gained 110 yards and one score on just 15 carries because Carnell Williams needed to waste his seven runs for 38 yards. Drew Stanton may have only a start or two left in his career but at least he can claim to have ended the NFL record longest road losing streak when he passed for 252 yards and one score to Nate Burleson (4-28) while Calvin Johnson caught ten passes for 152 yards. Maurice Morris was a huge surprise with 109 yards and a score on 15 runs. The Buccaneers are now 8-6 and probably going to miss the playoffs.
HOU 17, TEN 31 The Titans finally stopped their six game losing streak when they completely shut down Arian Foster (11-15) who later left with a sore ankle. Matt Schaub passed for 325 yards and two scores that went to Kevin Walter (7-79) and Andre Johnson (6-58). Kerry Collins threw for 237 yards and two touchdowns but Kenny Britt (6-128) had the biggest game of receivers that included the second straight game of no catches for Randy Moss. Bo Scaife was a healthy scratch. Chris Johnson racked up 130 yards and a score on 24 carries to secure the win that still won't be enough to get the Titans into the playoffs. Worst yet - the Texans drop to 5-9 for the inescapable losing season.
ATL 34, SEA 18 The Falcons are the team to beat in the NFC and rolled up another easy win. Matt Ryan only passed for 174 yards but had three touchdowns which of course included Roddy White (7-65, TD). Michael Turner gained 82 yards on 25 runs but Jason Snelling and Michael Jenkins had receiving scores. Matt Hasselbeck only passed for 83 yards before giving way to Charlie Whitehurst and that may not be the only time that happens. Marshawn Lynch managed to score once on his 12 runs for 60 yards and Mike Williams was able to play and led all receivers with eight catches for 66 yards. But this is the year of the Falcons and the Seahawks rarely fare well outside of their division. The Falcons remain top of the class at 12-2 while the Seahawks remain in contention i the NFC West with a 6-8 record.
DEN 23, OAK 39 The Broncos have done the impossible in making the Raiders look like a high-powered offense not once but twice this year. Tim Tebow finally got his first start but looked shaky passing for 138 yards and one touchdown. Tebow had a few decent passes but mostly made an impact as the leading rusher with 78 yards and a touchdown on eight runs for the second best in Denver history for a quarterback. But the Raiders held all Denver rushers to a combined 28 yards on 25 carries. Jason Campbell passed for 238 yards and a 73-yard score to Marcel Reece (2-79). Jacoby Ford opened the game with a 71-yard touchdown run while Michael Bush (12-24) scored twice and Darren McFadden rushed for 119 yards and had four catches for 39 yards. The Raiders actually have a chance to be the only team to be undefeated in their division and yet not go to the playoffs. You'd think the NFC West would produce that .
NYJ 22, PIT 17 Here's the biggest upset of the day with the Jets apparently unable to beat anyone lately except in their toughest game of the year. Mark Sanchez ran in the first touchdown by the Jets since Thanksgiving but he only passed for 170 yards. Braylon Edwards caught eight passes for 100 yards as the only receiver of note and the rushing game was split between LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene for a total of 23 runs for 89 yards. Ben Roethlisberger passed for 264 yards and one score but couldn't produce a winning drive at the end. Mike Wallace (7-102) and Emmanuel Sanders (7-78) had decent games and even Rashard Mendenhall turned in 100 rush yards and one score. The Steelers lost but clinched a playoff spot at 10-4 and are now tied again with the Ravens. The Jets remain two games behind the Pats but in a good place to get a wild card.
GB 27, NE 31 This was a great game. This was almost an upset and if the Packers had not dropped three would-be interceptions it would have been a win. Matt Flynn played an outstanding first game when he passed for 251 yards and three scores with only one interception. James Jones (5-95) had a 66-yard touchdown catch and Brandon Jackson was a pleasant surprise with 99 yards on 22 carries. James Starks was a healthy inactive. Tom Brady only passed for 163 yards and two scores and no Patriots receiver had more than 42 yards. BenJarvus Green-Ellis scored once but only had 38 yards on six runs. This was clearly a game that the Pats had not fully prepared to play but they managed to get away with it with a few lucky breaks.

Sunday's Couch Commentary

What a week. How often do you see CAR, CIN, BUF and DET all win their games on the same day? The Lions win on the road for the first time in 27 games? The Jets finally win and it is on the road in PIT? Really? This late in the season, shouldn't everything be going according to plan? HA!

The Game-O-The-Week may be the best comeback for the entire year.

PHI 38, NYG 31

I had a hunch that the Eagles could beat the Giants this week. The Eagles seem balanced and the Giants usually have a late season slide plus they have injuries as well. But when it was 24-3 at halftime, I chalked that one up to not only a loss but one that I got horribly, horribly wrong. It happens. I mean down 21 points at halftime and the Eagles are on the road. It was, as they say "All Giants" in the game.

After ten minutes into the third quarter, Eli Manning threw to Mario Manningham who then fumbled the ball on the NYG 25-yard line. Actually, it wasn't a fumble per se. He just sort of dropped the ball before running out of bounds and it was recovered by the Eagles. Two plays later and Michael Vick connected with Jeremy Maclin for a 8-yard touchdown and a more respectable 10-24 deficit.

But it was not to last. On their first series in the fourth quarter, Michael Vick threw to DeSean Jackson who fumbled the ball on the PHI 47-yard line. It took eight plays for Manning to finally throw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Boss for the embarrassing and insurmountable 31-10 lead with only 8:23 left to play. What else could happen? Would the blowout get any worse?

Not really.

Starting on his own 25-yard line, Vick needed only two plays to hit Brent Celek for a 65 yard touchdown and a 17-31 deficit with 7:43 left to play. Now it may seem obvious that the Eagles might try an onside kick since they trailed by 14 with only seven minutes left to play. But apparently not to the Giants. The Eagles recovered easily on the 43-yard line. After a quick pass to Jackson for ten yards, Vick ran for 35 yards to the 9-yard line and on third down ran in the score himself. With 5:32 left to play, the Eagles were suddenly only down 24-31. If nothing else, it made the game look respectable.

The Giants took over after making sure it was not another onsides kick on their own 35-yard line and drove to the PHI 40-yard line before punting with 3:08 left to play.

The Eagles took over at 3:01 remaining on their own 12-yard line. After two incompletions, Vick scrambled for 33 yards to the 45-yard line and then found Jason Avant with a 12 yard gain. As the two minute mark passed, Vick ran for 22 more yards to the NYG 20-yard line. After a short pass to Brent Celek, Vick connected with Maclin again for a 13-yard game-tying touchdown with 1:24 left to play. The Eagles had tied with 21 points scored in under seven minutes.

An overtime game is usually better for the home team. Statistics prove that. But when the Giants took over on their own 36-yard line with 1:10 left to play and with the Eagles owning no more timeouts, Manning threw two incompletions instead of just running out the clock. On third down, he was sacked with a minute left so they let the clock drain because the Eagles could not do anything about it. With 14 seconds left, the rookie punter was instructed to kick it out of bounds but the snap was a bit high and when it was all done, he kicked it straight down the field to DeSean Jackson who was so surprised that he muffed the punt and had to chase after it.

But he gathered it in and made a cut and ran. And cut more and ran more and suddenly all the blue shirts were behind him and the Eagles were about to win a very improbable game with a NFL record long 65-yard punt return with no time remaining.

The Eagles scored 28 points in the final eight minutes as proof that it is never over until it is over. Yes, this ensures that Michael Vick is the new Brett Favre in the eyes of the adoring media but there is at least some justification for it. It was a huge comeback on the road and it was a defining game for both Vick and the Eagles. And the Giants.

This was a great week with the requisite monster games by a handful of players that no doubt advanced many teams to their league superbowls. And yes, sadly, a number of players fell short after providing a season full of big point games and difference making performances that made you look way smarter than you really are. But come week 15 when you needed them the most, they picked a fine time to leave you... Lucille.

With 200 children and a crop in the field
And I've had some bad times
I lived through some sad times
But this time the hurtin' won't heal
You picked a fine time to leave me,Arian, Aaron, Terrell, Vernon, Carson, Mojo, Reggie, LeSean, Lucille

Man I hate that song.

Now get back to work...

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