NFL Week 9 Saturday News & Notes

Ahmad Bradshaw has been a back and forth issue all week with his cracked foot, broken foot, fractured foot…whatever you want to call it. Bottom line is he will play not so we can expect the Giants to give Brandon Jacobs a majority of the carries. Regardless, it should be the pass game which does most of the damage against the Patriots 32nd ranked secondary. This will be a great test of where the Giants are and comes at a point in the season where they can make adjustments and gear up for the playoff’s should they make it in.

Peyton Hillis has been ruled out this week and possibly the next two weeks as well after having a “major setback” with his hammy. Let’s face it, Holmgren made it known early in the season that Hillis would not necessarily be kept after this year so why is the guy going to play through injury and risk his career. The Browns seem to be in the “Suck for Luck” mode and really can call it quits on the season. They will be following the build through the draft theory so this is a team which will take a few more years to be relevant. Houston should be able to have their way with them so we can expect great numbers from Arian Foster once again as he is a candidate to touch the ball 25+ times.

Darren McFadden has been ruled out which leaves Mike Bush and Taiwan Jones as the primary backs. Denver is 18th vs. the run and the Raiders will not want to have Carson slinging it 30 times this week unless they have to. Expect a heavy work load for the two backs. The Raiders have had the bye week to prepare so we should expect their A game. I am especially excited about Jones and the ability he brings. He is an exciting back to watch with killer speed. The Raiders found a gem in him and he will be able to showcase his abilities this week.

Ryan Mathews is another back we heard about being out this game but coaches suddenly announced he may be available come Sunday. Mathews has not practiced at all this week but Friday was rained out so it could be Mathews was ready to go but we didn’t get a chance to see him participate. Regardless, Mike Tolbert should see most of the carries and will be grinding it out against Green Bay. This will be a closer game than people expect because everyone is used to the Packers brand. They are actually 31st against the pass, which is something the Chargers can do well now that Gates is healthy. The Chargers are 4th vs. the pass so don’t expect another huge game from Rodgers. I still give the advantage to Packers because of the bye week to prep but this is a game the Chargers need more and should be one of the better games Sunday.

Arizona QB Kevin Kolb looks like he will be out this week which leaves John Skelton as the signal caller. The good news is in four games Skelton started, he and Fitzgerald connected for 348 yards with a score. Kolb has been sporadic all season and I like Skelton’s accuracy a bit more. He seems like the better pocket presence and reminds me of Ryan Fitzpatrick. Everyone will be riding high on the Rams after their win over the Saints but take a breath and remember the Rams have only one win under their belt. Beanie Wells has been having the best year of his career and faces their 32nd ranked rush defense. Sorry, but I am not buying the Rams all of a sudden realized they are in the same league as the Ravens defense.

The Bucs will have RB LeGarrette Blount back in the lineup Sunday and have had the bye to prepare for the Saints. This is essentially a battle for first place in the stacked NFC South and will be one to watch. The Bucs won the previous meeting and the Saints are coming off the loss to the Rams. Mark Ingram will not be available here so it will be another RBBC (running back-by-committee) for the Saints. My biggest problem with the Saints has been Brees’ dependence on Graham and Colston all season. He has ignored both Meachem and Henderson for weeks which is a mistake to me. Part of what makes the Saints so effective is their ability to spread the ball around to multiple receivers and we have seen Brees’ stray away from that. Maybe it’s not have Coach Payton’s soothing presence on the field but the Saints have lacked that extra dimension for me. The Bucs are coming off the bye and have confidence knowing they beat this team once already. The big concern here is if Freeman can stop throwing interceptions and make better reads than he has to this point. This is a hard game to read given where both teams sit and could go either way.

Sean Lee, Mike Jenkins, and Felix Jones all will not play this week for the Cowboys but thankfully they play Seattle. Lee has been a monster for this defense, literally a one man wrecking crew making plays all over the field. He leads the team in tackles and interceptions. If he is lost for the season it will be a big blow, leaving even more pressure on DeMarcus Ware and this underachieving secondary. Seattle is 31st rushing and 24th passing so this is as good a week as any to work without some of your top defensive players. I expect this game to possibly be one of the blowouts given how Seattle is still searching for their identity and an offense. The Cowboys need this one and will be looking to release some steam after last week’s embarrassing loss to the Eagles.

Emmanuel Sanders will sit out this game after the passing of his mother and being an addition to the injury report with a knee issue. Antonio Brown to me is the most valuable weapon on this offense and is the future behind Hines Ward. Ward will return this week, but he has been ineffective and looks his age. Even when Ward gets the start, Brown receives a majority of the targets and does more with them. This week he faces a Ravens defense which is 3rd against the pass but has not faced a WR corps like this one since…this one. The Ravens have to be salivating at the chance of revenge after their week 1 beating by the Steelers and Pittsburgh is riding a 4 game win streak. Flacco has been a major disappointment thus far and I see this game riding on his production specifically. He has struggled against lesser defenses all year while Roethlisberger has progressed with each game. Finally SNF has a good matchup on so we can all enjoy the evening game. This one is a coin flip but should provide plenty of old school, hard hitting football.

Chris Johnson has been one of the most talked about players all week and I wanted to touch on him. I hear all of the talk of his decline which is obvious, but people seem to be reading into it more than they should. All the “experts” think he has hit is peak, and while it’s possible I see a different scenario. Johnson is a player who is agility based and thrives off of his training and timing off the line. The lockout and his long hold out to me are the real underlying reasons here. Ringer is more of a straight forward runner who needs the basic conditioning to prepare along with strength work. Those two things can be attained even in a shortened off-season. CJ2K on the other hand is more the finesse player which needs every ounce of time to work with his line and know their intricacies so he can time his cuts. He has never been a straight ahead guy but has always had full off-seasons to work with his group. There is also the distinct possibility he is playing through an injury which is why he was so adamant with his hold out. While he definitely is far from the player we know, don’t jump off the bandwagon just yet. I have seen more of the old CJ2K with every passing week, even if the stats don’t show it. Watch every one of his games like I have and you will see progression on a weekly basis with his footwork and cuts.


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