Simply put, the Panthers’ 24-20 win over the Patriots on Monday night was the game of the 2013 season to date. It had most everything you could have wanted. Two of the game’s top quarterbacks. One a 36-year-old two-time MVP and three-time Super Bowl champion. The other a 24-year-old budding superstar with one of the brightest futures in the sport. The league’s top defense. Jaw-jacking and skirmishes between one of the league’s most candid receivers and a premier cornerback. Back-and-forth scoring. The final play deciding the outcome. This was a heavyweight cage match. Each team possessed the ball just seven times. The Panthers ultimately prevailed and notched their sixth win in a row.
Cam Newton posted his fifth career three-touchdown and zero-interception passing game. He also led the Panthers in rushing with 62 yards on seven incredible runs. One stood out in particular. On a third-and-seven on his own side of the 50, Newton felt the pocket collapsing on him. He retreated 19 yards away from the first-down marker, side-stepped three defenders leaving them grasping at air, and then scampered 14 yards to move the chains. At the end of the play, Super Cam was seen chewing his gum, acting like he hadn’t just pulled off one of the best runs of his career. It was as if he was playing a game of backyard football on Thanksgiving Day. Passing-wise, Cam still missed a few easy throws. We’ve grown accustomed to that. He isn’t the sharpest passer in the short game. But at the end of the day, it’s hard to leave Newton out of the MVP talk after 11 weeks of the season.
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Patriots at Panthers Slants
Shane Vereen, making his first appearance since Week 1 due to wrist surgery, played about 50 percent of the snaps and led the Patriots with 72 total yards on nine touches. … None of the three Carolina running backs are start-able in fantasy. Mike Tolbert and DeAngelo tied for the team lead with six carries. Jonathan Stewart saw just four touches. Avoid this three-man committee. … Rob Gronkowski didn’t see his first target until there was 1:52 left in the first half. On his touchdown, he plowed through three Carolina defenders. … Steve Smith won his matchup with Aqib Talib handily. Smith beat Talib for a 42-yard gain early and also baited Talib into two penalties. Talib couldn’t finish the game after he re-injured his hip. Smith’s advice to Talib after the game: “Ice up, son! Ice up!” Smith owned Talib. … Tom Brady completed 13 consecutive passes during one stretch. He was extremely efficient for much of the night. … Stevan Ridley lost a fumble at the beginning of the second quarter in the red zone. He ended up in coach Bill Belichick’s doghouse for nearly two quarters of play before scoring from one yard out in the fourth quarter. … Greg Olsen has scored a touchdown in three of his last four games and has a tasty matchup on tap in Miami next week. … Ted Ginn’s game-winning 25-yard touchdown was his first game-winner at any level, he said.
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News Nugget #1
Jay Cutler (ankle) has already been ruled out for Week 12 against the Rams. Josh McCown will make his third start in place of Cutler, who is dealing with a high-ankle sprain. Speaking on Tuesday, Cutler hinted that he may be dealing with significantly more damage to his ankle than just a mere sprain.
"The ankle is the problem. The groin is going to be fine," Cutler said. "If I just had a normal high-ankle sprain, I wouldn't be in a cast. I'm searching for any doctor in the country that will say, 'Hey, you can play on this,' but we haven't found him yet. There’s a couple ligaments that we’re a little bit worried about that’s different than a normal high-ankle sprain."
Cutler initially targeted a Week 13 return against the Vikings, but now he “really doesn’t know.” All the Bears have said is that Cutler is “week-to-week.” McCown has been impressive in his two-plus games of action, accounting for five touchdowns and zero turnovers. He’s also kept the offense moving for the most part. Let’s make this clear, though. There is no quarterback controversy in Chicago. Cutler is the guy when healthy, and McCown is the backup. McCown shouldn’t have even had to come out and confirm that Monday. We’d continue to stash Cutler for the fantasy playoffs, but it does sound like there’s legitimate concern that he may miss a couple more starts. McCown is just a QB2.
News Nugget #2
Reggie Bush touched the ball just 14 times and totaled 53 yards on Sunday against the Steelers. He also lost a fumble in the process. That, coupled with the weather conditions, earned Bush a spot on the bench for large portions of the second and third quarters. The Detroit News reported Sunday night that Bush was indeed benched, and not injured. However, on Monday, coach Jim Schwartz insisted Bush’s lack of action was not fumble-related.
Schwartz said Bush’s inactivity had “nothing to do” with the turnover, and had more to do with the Lions’ desire to get Theo Riddick and Joique Bell some work along with the slow Heinz Field track. "Reggie in horse racing wouldn't be called a mudder," said Schwartz. "He's an explosively quick guy. He's better on a fast track." Bush’s starting job is in no danger. He’ll be an RB1 for Week 12 when the Lions host the Bucs.
News Nugget #3
Coach Gary Kubiak shockingly benched Case Keenum in the third quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Raiders after he went 13-of-24 for 170 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Matt Schaub was pulled out of the cobwebs and thrown into the game. He played even worse than Keenum and got into an argument with Andre Johnson, something that isn’t a good idea. Sunday night, Kubiak was noncommittal on who would start in Week 12 against the Jaguars.
On Monday, Kubiak said he has “total confidence” in Keenum and named him the starter. That’s welcome news to Andre Johnson owners. Schaub has shown an increasing inability to get his No. 1 receiver the football, while Keenum has found Johnson for three touchdowns the past month. Keenum has struggled a bit the past two weeks, but he’ll be back on the QB2 radar in a tasty home game against Jacksonville.
Quarterback/Running Back Slants
Coach Dennis Allen said Matt McGloin has earned the right to be in the mix for the Week 12 starting quarterback job. … Chad Henne remains the Jaguars’ starter. … Scott Tolzien will start for the Packers again this week. … The Titans signed John Skelton to be their No. 3 quarterback. … Joique Bell (foot) has avoided a long-term injury. … Darren Sproles (ankle) was limited in Monday’s practice. Check back Wednesday or Thursday for a clearer picture on Sproles’ status for Thursday night’s tilt with the Falcons. … Coach Dennis Allen isn’t sure how far along Darren McFadden (hamstring) is in his rehab. Allen hinted Rashad Jennings could remain the starter when DMC returns. … The Falcons want to get Antone Smith more touches after he posted 92 yards and one touchdown on three garbage-time touches Sunday. … Chris Ogbonnaya led the Browns’ backfield with 48 snaps played Sunday. … Adrian Peterson said his groin injury bothered him “a lot” in Sunday’s loss. … LeSean McCoy said the hamstring injury he suffered Sunday may have just been a cramp.
Wide Receiver/Tight End Slants
Wes Welker has been diagnosed with a concussion. … DeAndre Hopkins was benched due to numerous mental mistakes Sunday. … Coach Mike McCoy said Keenan Allen (knee) will be “fine.” Check back later in the week. … The Jets are considering benching Stephen Hill. … Leonard Hankerson may need surgery on his LCL. … Denarius Moore underwent an MRI on his shoulder Monday. … Coach Jim Harbaugh was noncommittal on Michael Crabtree’s (Achilles’) Week 12 status. … The Dolphins want to get Mike Wallace more involved in the deep passing game. … Marlon Brown (knee) said he’ll be back for Week 12. … There’s a “possibility” Nate Burleson (arm) will play this week. … Mike Brown (shoulder) has been diagnosed with an AC sprain. … Coach Doug Marrone “sounded optimistic” on Stevie Johnson’s (groin) Week 13 status. The Bills are on the bye. … Tony Gonzalez (toe) did not practice Monday. He’ll suit up Thursday night against the Saints. … Jimmy Graham (foot, elbow) was limited in Monday’s practice. He’s in zero danger of missing Thursday night’s game. … Julius Thomas is dealing with a sprained knee and is being classified by the team as day-to-day. … Jordan Reed is going through the league’s concussion protocol.
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- Aqib Talib
- Cam Newton
- Reggie Bush
- Josh McCown