Six hours, 13 games, and a notebook of observations. Let's get to it.
• The Panthers got a chance to use the game plan they wanted in Arizona: grab an early lead, pound away with DeAngelo Williams(notes) and Jonathan Stewart(notes), keep the ball out of Jake Delhomme's(notes) hands (just 14 pass attempts). I don't know how many times this blueprint will be in play for the second half of the year, however; Carolina still has to play the Saints twice, and check out the hellish slate for the fantasy playoffs: at New England, Minnesota, at New York Giants. If you can find a market for your big name Panthers (and I'm not guaranteeing you can), start selling immediately.
• It's amazing that the Jets lost to the Dolphins on a day where New York did so many things right. The Jets held the Fish to 2.3 yards a carry, the Jets had a 23-10 edge in first downs, and New York finished with a massive 378-104 edge in total yards. Ted Ginn has proven to be just about useless against 30 NFL clubs, but something clicks for that guy when he plays against New York (four of his eight career TDs have come in this matchup).
Miami's Wildcat has been declawed for two straight weeks, in part because the Saints and Jets didn't worry about the Dolphins passing out of the formation. It might be time for Tony Sparano to move on to the next gimmick.
• The next injury through celebration is probably going to come from Baltimore's Kelley Washington(notes), who did a crazy dance after a few of his Sunday receptions. Just head back to the huddle, big guy.
• Adrian Peterson looked lost as a receiver during his first two NFL seasons, but that hasn't been the case this year. A subtle, but notable, area of improvement.
• Alex Smith didn't go off against the Colts by any means, but he was competent enough for us to take him seriously in Week 9 (especially with the Titans on the schedule). And once again I was very impressed with Michael Crabtree(notes) (6-81), who doesn't look like a two-week player at all. I know you didn't get the contract you wanted, Young MC, but just be glad the Raiders didn't draft you.
• Aaron Rodgers(notes) continues to post excellent fantasy numbers but it's hard to imagine him playing a full season given the pounding he's absorbing on a weekly basis. A lot of the blame rests with the Green Bay offensive line, of course, but Rodgers is at fault on a lot of the sacks, he's holding onto the ball too darn long.
• You can blame a lot of things for the recent Giants collapse, but don't forget Eli Manning's(notes) heel injury a few weeks back. His mechanics haven't been very consistent since then, coincidence or not.
• Matt Forte's(notes) final line against Cleveland (26 carries, 90 yards) isn't signs of life – it's proof of the problem. The Browns hand out 4.9 YPC, you know.
• The Titans did a good job giving Vince Young(notes) a very conservative game plan to execute. Short passes, let him build up some confidence. They didn't discourage him from running either, albeit his scrambles didn't turn into much (12 carries, 30 yards). He's a long way from consideration in traditional formats, but I like him as a sleeper for multiple-QB groups, especially when you look at the schedule to come (the Niners will be a challenge, but he has a chance against Buffalo, Houston and Arizona, and St. Louis is waiting in Week 14).
• There's absolutely no reason for the Browns to keep Derek Anderson(notes) starting from a performance standpoint. He's officially entered the Ryan Leaf zone, he's bottomed out. If Brady Quinn(notes) continues to sit after Cleveland's bye, it means one of two things: Eric Mangini has some sort of dislike for Quinn that we don't know about, or the Browns are doing all they can to make sure Quinn doesn't hit lucrative contract incentives. I feel sorry for Mohamed Massaquoi(notes), he'd have a chance if some of those passes were on-target.
• It's another six-pack of teams on bye for Week 9, but the fantasy impact shouldn't be that bad. We're all going to miss the Vikings, of course, but there are only a handful of fantasy-worthy options from the other five clubs (Bills, Raiders, Rams, Jets, Browns). And Week 10 is a snap, with just two teams on holiday (Giants, Texans).
• I understand the frustration Jason Witten(notes) owners are feeling, but now is not the time to bail, not with the Eagles waiting on the schedule. The Philadelphia defense can't stop anyone's tight end right now, allowing five TE scores over the last four weeks (Kellen Winslow(notes) got two, the last time we've heard from him; Zach Miller beat them for a long one by the bay; Fred Davis(notes) schooled them on National TV; and Kevin Boss(notes) got them in Week 8).
• The song keeps playing for Joseph Addai(notes); he's not having a great year in real life, but he's having a useful and consistent fantasy season. Talent is nice, but sometimes it's trumped by opportunity and environment.
• Bill Walton has made it official – he's retired from broadcasting. I'm going to miss the big redhead; he was a unique voice who usually had something interesting to say, and that's a rarer commodity than you might think. To hear Walton at the top of his game, give a listen to this podcast he did with Bill Simmons back in November 2007.
Photos via US Presswire