Tag Archives: LaDainian Tomlinson

NFL quick hits

It’s funny, really – since the Eagles didn’t play on Sunday, I felt like I had the day off. I’m not entirely certain why, since normally all I do on a Sunday is watch the Eagles. I guess our beloved Birds provide the same amount of stress as a difficult day at the office. (Editor’s note: Try reading this crap all day…) Anyway, it freed me up to check in on the rest of the NFL – here’s what I observed.

– Tampa Bay has a very good defense. Tampa Bay’s offense, minus Jeff Garcia and Earnest Graham, might cost them a playoff birth. The Falcons gave up three turnovers and never really got top receiver Roddy White going, and still squeaked out a win, mostly because Tampa Bay’s offense was putrid. Atlanta did get a huge game from Michael Turner, who rushed for 152 yards, and a stellar performance from John Abraham, whose three sacks brought him to a very quiet 15 1/2 for the season. Give Atlanta credit – they ran the ball well, kept the Tampa Bay’s offense out of the endzone, and pulled out an ugly win. They had the look of a playoff team, and now Eagles fans have to hope that either Minnesota beats them next week, or that disappointing San Diego can beat a suddenly struggling Tampa Bay team next week.

– The Giants are reeling. They did not look good against the Cowboys, giving up eight sacks and never really getting anything going offensively. Not having Jacobs hurt the running game to a point, but I doubt he would have been able to bash his way through the Cowboys defense. Anbody still think this team will be as productive without Plaxico? (Editor’s note: He was always a shot in the leg for their offense). Steve Smith did his job, but Terrence Newman completely shut out Domenik Hixon. The Giants are left to battle for the top seed in the NFC against Carolina next week, and it will be interesting to see how they respond.

Did the loss of this guy handcuff the Giants Super Bowl chances?

Did the loss of this guy handcuff the Giants Super Bowl chances?

– All Pittsburgh does is win. It’s ugly, sloppy, unappealing and nerve-wracking (Editor’s note: Sounds like a date with The Pundit), but they manage to squeak out W’s week in and week out. Their battle against Baltimore was a smashmouth, lunch pail grind from the get-go, and despite the low score, was entertaining throughout. The Ravens will be a very tough team to face if they make the playoffs, and I expect them to come out humming against Dallas next week. Meanwhile, the Steelers will be preparing for a huge showdown against the Titans…

– …who somehow gave up 207 receiving yards to Andre Johnson and lost to the Texans on Sunday. Should Fisher have sent out Bironas for a 51-yard attempt late in the fourth? Maybe, but if Bironas misses it, I guarantee you everyone is talking about how poor that decision was. Fact is, Kerry Collins wasn’t making his throws, and it killed him right until the end of the game. An huuuuuge game against Pittsburgh next week, with the number one seed in the AFC on the line. Oh, and where has this Texans team been all season? A better start to their season, and they’re in the playoff mix right now.

-Way to go, Tavaris Jackson. Now damnit, I want to see that type of performance in a win against Atlanta next week. (Editor’s note: Don’t think of yourself, Tavaris – think of Philadelphia).

– Hey, Buffalo Bills: what in God’s green earth were you thinking dropping back to pass? Run the ball, damnit! Your defense was playing well, and you had run the ball successfully all game long! How many ways can you find to lose football games? You make losing an art. (Editor’s note: Nobody circles the loss column like the Buffalo Bills. And that’s my rumbling, stumbling impression of an archaic routine).

Nobody knows the trouble I've seen / Nobody knows my sorrow...

Nobody knows the trouble I've seen / Nobody knows my sorrow...

– Fantasy Note: I would just like to thank the core of my successful fantasy team this season for absolutely tanking this week, which happens to be my league’s semifinal. A big, warm thank-you to Brandon Marshall, Roddy White, LaDainian Tomlinson, Clinton Portis, Chris Johnson, and Tony Gonzalez for combining to score 51.5 points this week. Now, all I need to defeat my opponent is a meager 56 points from Donovan McNabb tomorrow. That shouldn’t be too tough – all he needs to do is throw for 450 yards and five touchdowns, while running for another 50 yards and two TD’s. (Editor’s note: Eh, just another night at the office, right?)

– What we have to look forward to, after the Eagles tomorrow night: Cowboys vs. Ravens. Two defenses playing at a very high level right now, two teams with everything to play for. Falcons vs. Vikings. Atlanta is still fighting to make the playoffs, and if the Vikings win out, and the Giants lose their next two, the Vikings can actually sneak into the bye (they play each other on the last week of the season). That, and they’ve won their last four, and are red-hot right now. Giants vs. Panthers. Top seed in the NFC goes to the victor. This one should a brawl. Titans vs. Steelers. Top seed in the AFC likely goes to the victor (Titans win seals it, Steelers win puts them atop the AFC, would still have to beat the Browns in their season finale). This one should be a war. Eagles vs. Redskins. Eagles playing for their playoff lives, Redskins fighting to salvage some respect from a season teetering dangerously on the edge of disaster. Two NFC East teams that don’t like each other always makes for a good game. Patriots vs. Cardinals. The Patriots are fighting to make the playoffs, and the Cardinals are fighting for a bit of momentum heading into the playoffs. Bucs vs. Chargers. Believe or not, the Chargers can still win their division (by winning their last two, and having the Broncos lose their last two. They play the Broncos the last week of the season). Meanwhile, the Bucs will clinch a playoff spot if they win their last two games. It’s gonna be fun, baby.

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Monday Night Football Liveblogging

8:32 PM – First edition of the Monday Night Football liveblogging. This game is intriguing for three reasons: I didn’t expect the Chargers to start 0-2, Brett Favre is playing, and the game has huge fantasy implications for me. I have a 25 point lead, and LT is on my team. My opponent has Favre, Thomas Jones and the San Diego defense. I’m figuring he’s going to cancel some points out. Hopefully, Favre will throw 3 interceptions but no touchdowns, Jones will have a few fumbles and barely any yards, but a bunch of other Jets will step up and they’ll put 30 up on the Chargers D. Meanwhile, LT will rush for over 100 yards and two TD’s, and I’ll go 2-1 on the season.

8:36 PM – Oh god, I think Kornheiser is attempting to do Howard Cosell while performing a montage of Brett Favre MNF football moments. Uggggghhhhhh.

8:38 PM – I’ll be throwing some Phils coverage into the mix, as well. 2-2 in the 7th. Let’s go, boys.

8:42 PM – A nice screen pass to Thomas Jones. That hurts me twice in fantasy. According to Jaws, tonight is going to be Brett Favre’s “coming out party” with the Jets. I wonder when Kornheiser will have his coming out party. (Editor’s note: That’s not right).

8:46 PM – Rudy Seanez coming into the game for J.A. Happ. Wrap it up, Rudy.

8:47 PM – I am praying that LT’s toe feels nice tonight. Inject that bad boy with Lidocaine or whatever the hell they use.

8:54 PM – Rivers is looking a bit shaky right now. Almost threw another pick. Hey, Rivers – knock it off. I need LT with the ball in his hands, not the friggin’ Jets.

8:56 PM – Oh no. LT’s wife had a bad feeling about this game for the Chargers. Guess this one is a foregone conclusion.

9:04 PM – Braves had a man on third, Jeff Francoeur hit a chopper to third, J-Roll made a great play, jumping for the ball and making a perfect throw to home, getting the runner easily. Game stays tied 2-2.

9:09 PM – Fumble by Thomas Jones! And the Chargers D doesn’t return it for a touchdown! I’m a huge fantasy geek!

9:13 PM – Chargers score, but it isn’t LT, so I’m pissed. Then, with Greg Golson pinch-running for Greg Dobbs, a pick-off attempt went past the first basemen and Golson ends up on third. No outs, Phillies need to capitalize here.

9:18 PM – Golson scores on a ground ball to third, speeding down the line and getting underneath the tag. Phillies take the lead, 3-2. God, I love this team.

9:20 PM – Antonio Cromartie returns an interception for a touchdown. Hurts Favre, but helps the Chargers defense. This has to be unbelievably frustrating for the guy I’m playing against.

9:24 PM – Worst possible scenario for me. I thought Leon Washington was going to return the kick for a touchdown, thereby hurting the Chargers D in points and preventing Favre or Jones from getting a touchdown. Instead, he gets tackled at the five, and Favre gets the touchdown pass. Still hurts the Chargers D, but Favre gets them back. My 25 point lead has been shaved to 8.

9:28 PM – Suddenly, the Phillies are up 6-2. Pat Burrell with a 3-run homer. Booyah!

9:33 PM – Chris Chambers with a long TD reception. Stop stealing TD’s from LT, Chargers!

9:42 PM – Phillies win. Magic number for a playoff spot now down to two. And another interception by the Chargers D, though it really didn’t hurt me, as I’m still leading by 8.

9:51 PM – Touchdown pass to Antonio Gates. If you would have told me that the Chargers would score 31 points in the first half, and that LT wouldn’t have any of those touchdowns, I would have laughed in your face. Guess the joke is on me, huh?

10:03 PM – At the half, Chargers up 31-14. In fantasy, I lead 106.1 – 98.9. Oh man, gonna be a wild finish, at least in my fantasy match-up. I need LT to start grinding out some yards to keep the clock moving, maybe get a TD in here somewhere.

10:24 PM – So, LT scores a touchdown and I miss it taking a break on my roof. That’s fitting, isn’t it? You know what – I’m out. Back to the roof. I’ll leave you with one final thought: fantasy football is both a great thing, and a distracting thing. Truthfully, watching this game, I could have given two shits who actually won this game. I was paying attention to fantasy points, and fantasy points alone. Granted, it gets countless fans into football, and I pay much more attention to the rest of the league because of my fantasy guys. But football purists surely must complain that it negatively affects the way people analyze and value football. Whatever. I consider myself a football purist, and I love fantasy football. Now, enough of my soapbox, its back to the roof. Let’s go LT!

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NFL Preview Part One: The AFC West

For the next 8 days, I’ll be doing an overview of each team, highlighting their strengths, weaknesses, question marks and their fantasy outlook. On day 9, I’ll offer a full prediction for the upcoming season, including each team’s record, playoff predictions and the Superbowl champ.

Denver Broncos

Strengths: Their offense should produce, though not having Brandon Marshall early (suspended for at least 2 games Actual Editor’s note: only suspended for one, first game back will be without pay) will hurt. All indications are that Jay Cutler is primed for a big year. They’ll run the ball well, even if Andre Hall somehow ends up as their starter by year’s end. The secondary is solid, and Champ Bailey is arguably the best corner in football. D.J. Williams is a stud at LB.

Weaknesses: Basically, the defensive line. They gave up 142.6 rushing yards per game last year, 3rd worst in the league. The only real bright spot was Elvis Dumervil, who posted 12.5 sacks. Can recently added DT Dewayne Robertson (Jets) shore up the middle? Will anybody on this unit step up? If the defense can’t get stops and get off the field, the offense, which is expected to be solid, will suffer.

The question marks: The offensive and defensive lines. Can the O-line protect Cutler? Can the D-line stop anybody’s running attack and generate a pass rush?

Fantasy Forecast: He may be out for two one week, but Brandon Marshall is worth keeping in your back pocket. Keep your eye on the R situation, and work the waiver wire. My money says Selvin Young won’t be the only guy getting significant carries this season. Tony Scheffler may surprise you. As for Mr. Cutler – take him as your second QB, and see what he does. Don’t bother with their defense.

Overview: The Broncos are a tough call. They’ve got solid players at key positions: Champ Baily and Dre’ Bly at corner, D.J. Williams at LB, Brandon Marshall when he returns at WR, Jay Cutler (if he’s ready to explode as being predicted) at QB. They always run the ball well, and expect Cutler to spread the ball around a bit better than last year (Marshall led the team with 102 catches, and Scheffler was next with 49). But can the defense, and specifically, the D-line, step up? I don’t think so, and it will be their Achilles heel all season long. Their schedule before their bye in week 8 is absolutely brutal, with games against San Diego (week 2), New Orleans (week 3), Tampa Bay (week 5), Jacksonville (week 6) and New England (week 7). If they can start the season at 4-3 or better, they may have a shot for one of the wildcards.

Kansas City Chiefs

Strengths: Um, I’ll list them individually. Larry Johnson (if he can get any sort of blocking), Tony Gonzalez (if Brodie Croyle can get the ball to him), Dwayne Bowe has a lot of potential, Glenn Dorsey is going to be a beast, and all indications are that Derrick Johnson is primed for a break-out year. Their overall linebacking corps (Johnson, Donnie Edwards, Demorrio Williams, Napolean Harris, Pat Thomas) is solid.

Weaknesses: (Editor’s note: The Pundit just took a deep breath, as though this may take a while). Is Brodie Croyle really the long-term solution for this team at QB? Because it’s doubtful he’s a short term fix. After Gonzalez and Bowe, I’m not sure who he’ll throw to. The offensive line will likely struggle to get a push in the running game, even with the addition of rookie Branden Albert. Doesn’t help that LJ has probably lost a step anyway. Losing Jared Allen (Vikings) will significantly hurt their pass rush, unless Tamba Hali can have a career year. Their secondary is suspect. They should be stout against the run, unless Glenn Dorsey is a bust (Editor’s note: Highly doubtful). They are very young, and as excited as Herm Edwards is pretending to be about that, they will lose games due to mental mistakes. They are still forming their identity – not a formula for success.

The question marks: Brodie Croyle and the pass rush. Croyle is a gigantic, enormous, monumental, colassal, gargantuan (Editor’s note: He’ll keep going unless I stop him) question mark. If he comes out and manages the game well, occasionally connecting with Bowe for big plays, he may be able to keep the defense off-balance. Doubtful, though. If the D can’t generate a pass rush, it doesn’t matter how they defend the run: their secondary simply isn’t good enough to cover for extended periods of time. No pass rush = a long season for Chiefs fans.

Fantasy forecast: Obviously, Larry Johnson will be a guy taken in the top two rounds. Which I think may be a bit high, but he’ll get his touches. Tony Gonzalez will be a top five TE. Dwayne Bowe has Greg Jennings break-out potential, if Croyle cooperates, of course.

Overview: This team will struggle. When the question marks on your offense are the quarterback and the offensive line, you won’t strike fear in the hearts of many defenses. Their own defense will probably appear to overachieve, given the mediocrity of their offense, but will most likely get picked apart by solid passing attacks. Their youth and inexperience will plague them in close games. They will very likely have another top ten pick in next year’s draft, if not top five.

Oakland Raiders

Strengths: Solid defensively, with an excellent secondary bolstered by the offseason additions of DeAngelo Hall (Falcons) and Gibril Wilson (Giants). Very good core of running backs, with Justin Fargas, Darren McFadden and Michael Bush. TE Zach Miller showing promise, quickly becoming a favorite target of JaMarcus Russell.

Weaknesses: Pretty much their entire passing attack. The offensive line is better at blocking for the run, and has a few serious question marks of its own. The receiving group is thin after a season ending injury to Drew Carter. Russell is still developing at the QB position.

The question marks: JaMarcus Russell and Tommy Kelly. If Russell can competently manage the offense, and minimalize his mistakes, the Raiders may be able to replicate the Vikings offense of last year and beat teams on the ground. Can Tommy Kelly improve his play and improve a defense that allowed 145.9 rushing yards per game, second worst in the NFL? If he does (and early indications are that he is), along with the rest of the front seven, this will be a defense to be reckoned with.

Fantasy forecast: McFadden and Fargas are both worth owning. I don’t trust Javon Walker, but Ronald Curry could be a sleeper. Avoid Russell. Keep an eye on Zach Miller and their defense – each could become viable options down the line.

Overview: They have one of the best secondaries in the NFL. Darren McFadden could be a star, and Justin Fargas is darn good insurance if he isn’t. If the Raiders can improve their run defense, create turnovers, control the clock and wear down defenses with their run game, they will surprise people (Editor’s note: Oh, is that all?). I believe the key for their season is the development of JaMarcus Russell – if he can make just enough throws to keep the defense off-balance, their running attack (6th in the NFL last year) will do the rest. But if he’s throwing picks, and keeping the D out on the field, they don’t stand a chance. They don’t have a terribly difficult schedule – I project them as a middle of the road team that could hover around the .500 mark.

San Diego Chargers

Strengths: Their entire defense, basically. They led the NFL in turnovers last year with 48, and they shouldn’t regress much from that. Quentin Jammer and Antonio Cromartie make up one of the best cornerback pairs in football. Jamal Williams and Luis Castillo are excellent run-stuffers. Their linebackers get constant pressure on the quarterback, led by a guy you may have heard of named Shawne Merriman. Right, their defense is good. Oh, they also have this pretty good running back named LaDainian Tomlinson, i.e. the best running back in the NFL. The offensive line is steady. Antonio Gates, when healthy, is an impossible mismatch for defenses. The Chargers, on paper, are very, very good.

Weaknesses: Shawne Merriman’s knee ligaments. The potential that Antonio Gates is not 100 percent healthy. The wide receivers, though really I’m nitpicking, because Chris Chambers has now had a full training camp to get acclimated with Philip Rivers, and Vincent Jackson showed marked improvement in the second half of the season last year. Oh, wait, I’ve got one – Norv Turner. Yeah, Norv Turner. And the nice weather, because maybe instead of practicing, they’d rather be enjoying the weather. Or something like that.

The question marks: Philip Rivers and Shawne Merriman. Their offense will always be most effective when LT has the ball, but an efficient passing attack could make them almost indefensible. A big year for Rivers and this team is Superbowl bound; a mediocre one, and a brief playoff visit is likely. Then, there’s Mr. Merriman and his knee. Merriman at 75 percent is still a better option than a lot of OLB’s out there, and that’s assuming that he won’t play at a higher level than that. He may, but I don’t know if he lasts the season. If he doesn’t, the defense will not only lose effectiveness, but swagger as well. They are talented enough across the board to survive without him, but he makes them special.

Fantasy forecast: If you had the first overall pick, and you didn’t select LaDainian Tomlinson, you’re an idiot. (Editor’s note: Easy there, Pun). Antonio Gates is in the top tier of tight ends along with Jason Witten, Dallas Clark, Kellen Winslow, Jr. and Tony Gonzalez. The defense should be one of the first ones of the board, if not the first. Their receivers could be late round steals.

Overview: They should be very, very good. But, I predicted them to win the Superbowl last year, and though they didn’t accomplish that, they at least made the AFC Championship game. Expect them to better last season ‘s dismal 1-3 start, and remain steady throughout the year. In my mind, they are one of four legitimate Superbowl contenders in the AFC.

Be sure to check in tomorrow for the AFC South.

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