You can find more from Michael Salfino at Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia
I was wearing out my No. 2 pencils during this very big Week 9, which marks the turning point of the season and the beginning of every fantasy football championship chase. So here's an expanded Scouting Notebook.
The Packers lost to Tampa Bay because they continue to be unable to protect Aaron Rodgers(notes). Green Bay has scored on 37 percent of drives where they haven't allowed a sack but on just three percent of the drives (one total) when they do. Tampa Bay had six sacks Sunday despite entering the game with just 11 all year. I'd be moving Aaron Rodgers everywhere. Odds are good that he'll be carted off well before opposing defenses register the 74 sacks for which they are on pace.
The Chargers have to stop wasting time with LaDainian Tomlinson(notes). Giving him 12 carries (for 22 yards) should have cost them the game. Tomlinson ran with no speed, power or vision. He looked done.
We make fun of Norv Turner, but he did a great job with clock management on the winning TD drive, giving Philip Rivers(notes) the order not to clock the ball on what turned into the Vincent Jackson(notes) connection that won the game. About 90 percent of coaches would have traded a down for time they don't need down at around the 20 with 30 seconds left and one timeout.
Chris Johnson is a very unconventional fantasy stud. He's so inconsistent week-to-week, but the big weeks are so huge that he is a one-man wreaking crew. He's a top three pick next year, along with Adrian Peterson and Michael Turner(notes).
Turner sure looks like "the Burner" again. He had another long run of 30-plus yards taken off the board by a hold that he didn't even need. Turner is even chipping in with some catches in Jerious Norwood's(notes) absence.
The Redskins jumped after about five fake "huts" and when the play clock was set to expire on that fourth-down scam when the offense is only trying to draw the penalty. A TD pass to Tony Gonzalez(notes) soon followed.
Jay Cutler(notes) and Devin Hester(notes) completed a great 42-yard throw and catch, one of Hester's six grabs for 94 yards. He entered the game second in the NFL in catches the last three weeks (behind Larry Fitzgerald(notes), who had nine grabs for 123 yards and two scores).
Greg Olsen(notes) has only 27 catches through eight games and the emergence of Devin Hester and Earl Bennett(notes) are hurting his value. He finished Sunday with five catches, fourth best on the team. I recommend trading your Olsen shares now.
Matt Schaub(notes) threw into triple coverage on a pick intended for Andre Johnson(notes). You can't make up your mind who you're going to throw to before the snap, Matt. If you don't see it, don't throw it.
Ryan Moats(notes) fumbled at the one and out of the end zone after the Texans ran down the clock and called a timeout to hand the indecisive Colts a successful challenge. I've never seen a team screw up goal-line chances in as many ways as the Texans. Later Steve Slaton(notes) got a big goal-line carry and converted. So this situation remains very murky.
Also note, Slaton owners, that coach Alex Gibbs chewed him out (again) after he made a cut and ran sideways instead of up the field into an open hole. This is why Slaton leads the NFL in getting stuffed (times getting zero or minus yards rushing).
On the last snap of the first half, Indy tried to ice Kris Brown(notes) before a 56-yard field goal with that stupid timeout just before the snap. This took a blocked kick off the board and gave Brown another chance, which he converted. Who are you going to ice next, Colts? Tom Dempsey? Gus the Wonder Mule?
Dallas Clark(notes) had 10 catches with about 10 minutes left in the second quarter and Peyton Manning(notes) threw 40 in the first half. Indy almost lost, though, because they got cute with another gadget play. Joseph Addai(notes) and Reggie Wayne(notes) shouldn’t be throwing big passes. That's why you have No. 18.
The Dolphins went 16 plays over 10 minutes to score a TD and then let the Patriots score immediately on one big pass play when Randy Moss(notes) had about 60 yards of run after catch (after a fantastic stiff arm). Do coaches understand you don’t really keep the other offense off the field? It's getting the ball after you no matter how long you take to score.
Jason Campbell(notes) looks shell-shocked from all the punishment. He's looking at oncoming rushers instead of the receivers operating downfield. You can't really blame him, though, as the 'Skins pass protection is a joke after a series of injuries has devastated their O-line.
Carson Palmer(notes) stretched his streak to scoring on 10 straight drives before the Ravens tightened things up and shut out Palmer the rest of the way. But we must again note that Cedric Benson(notes) is this year's Michael Turner – another TD, another great rushing day (117 yards) against a top defense. Yes, the yards per carry were bad, but his early efficiency in running the ball was the key to Cincy opening up the 17-0 lead over Baltimore.
The Bears have a brand-name defense, but opened the week 19th in my defensive power rankings and are sure to go down after the putrid outing against the Cardinals. Do not fear them at all.
Beanie Wells(notes) and Tim Hightower(notes) ran very effectively against that "don't beat us deep" Cover 2 shell where the safeties are way back off the line. Drawing the safeties back up to stop the run is the key to the Cardinals passing game becoming explosive again in a downfield sense. Warner was dinking and dunking again on Sunday, despite the five TDs.
To be clear, I said last week that Mike Sims-Walker(notes) is a borderline starter which means a matchup play – so certainly you would start him against the Chiefs secondary that owes more to the Keystone Cops than Emmitt Thomas. But now you trade Sims-Walker because otherwise you tie your fate to David Garrard(notes), which is a very bad bet.
Great route adjustment by Steve Smith on the first Giants TD.
Michael Salfino’s work has appeared in USA Today’s Sports Weekly, RotoWire, dozens of newspapers nationwide and most recently throughout Comcast SportsNet and NESN. Michael also covers the Jets and Giants each week for SNY.tv.
- Michael Turner