Mostly NFL Notes: Calvin Johnson going crazy and a recap of Week 8

The Dallas/Detroit game was a classic and easily one of the best of this season. In what projected to be a shootout, the Cowboys led just 13-7 entering the fourth quarter, but that’s when the fun began, as the teams combined for 41 points in the final frame. The story of Week 8 is obviously Calvin Johnson, who hauled in 14 of 16 targets for 329 yards, which was the second-most in NFL history. He scored just one touchdown but was also tackled inside the one-foot line twice. His 54-yard catch in the fourth quarter was especially impressive. Johnson, who’s missed a game and been banged up in others, is still on pace to finish with 1,642 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns. It’s probably safe at this point to call him the most valuable non-QB player in the NFL. Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams secured just five of their 16 targets, but three of those receptions went for scores. Williams should be viewed as a top-25 fantasy wide receiver moving forward. Bryant’s sideline antics seemed a little over the top (although looks can be deceiving), but I’d be frustrated too if I were him. Why is he only getting six targets? This five-yard TD catch was ridiculous.

Until DeMarco Murray becomes fully healthy, the Cowboys RB situation is one to avoid…Tony Romo threw 50 and 60-yard TD passes on consecutive passes in the fourth quarter, where he has the best QB Rating in NFL history…What an insane finish. With 1:14 left in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys ran the ball on 3rd-and-14 from the Detroit 35-yard-line. They gained nine yards on the play but also committed a holding penalty that the Lions declined. While that kept them in field goal range (albeit from a no-sure-thing 44 yards out), most importantly it stopped the clock, saving a Lions team with no timeouts 35 seconds. In a way, this was the biggest play of the entire game. How do you commit a hold there? Unreal...Matthew Stafford deserves a ton of credit for his 80-yard game-winning TD drive that followed, although I’m still waiting for someone to explain why his TD run (in which he faked like he was going to spike the ball) was reviewed, when he was never tackled and easily scored even if his initial jump over the line wasn’t a touchdown (it was). Seriously, I don’t understand that at all. He walked into the end zone, and no whistle was ever blown, yet they review it? (Judging by my Twitter responses, I better make this clear. All scoring plays (and turnovers) are looked at by the booth, in which they then decide whether the refs should review the play or not)…On the following kickoff, Kyle Bosworth fielded a squib kick and for some reason tried to sprint across the entire field to get out of bounds, in which Dick Stockton apparently agreed with this decision, saying “He’s trying to get out of bounds” with no sense of irony. In case you are wondering, the clock stops after kickoffs in the NFL.

Here’s my Rapid React to Thursday’s Buccaneers/Panthers game.

After throwing a touchdown pass in 52 consecutive games, Tom Brady has thrown just two over his past four games, tossing four picks over that span. He had 25 passing yards and a 0:1 TD:INT ratio at halftime Sunday, marking his fewest yards in the first half since 2003. Brady has suffered through some drops this year, but he currently sports a 55.7 completion percentage and a 5.9 YPA while on track to take a career-high 46 sacks. He’s been the NFL’s most disappointing player in 2013 so far…I must admit, I didn’t expect Danny Amendola, Kenbrell Thompkins and Rob Gronkowski to combine for 42 yards and zero touchdowns, although Aaron Dobson’s 14-yard TD reception was the first Miami has allowed to a wide receiver this season. And Gronk did have a nice TD catch in the third quarter nullified by a holding penalty...Lamar Miller looked good, as Sunday marked the first time he’s run for 75 yards in his career. He’s yet to reach 90…I have no idea what to make of Stevan Ridley’s usage, but there’s been some speculation he was benched the first quarter for disciplinary reasons, possibly due to him getting a penalty for celebrating a TD last week…Ryan Tannehill is on pace to get sacked 73 times this season, which would be the second-most all time...This New England interception was pretty awesome.

Here’s Triumph visiting the great American beer festival.

Facing what most consider the NFL’s best defense, Jason Campbell somehow got 8.1 YPA with a 2:0 TD:INT ratio (and a 105.4 QB Rating) on the road in Arrowhead while making just his second start since early 2011. Going against a KC front seven that was on pace to finish with the most sacks in NFL history, Campbell was also dropped just once, so it’s safe to say the Browns’ offensive performance was surprising. The same can’t necessarily be said about their defensive performance, as the Chiefs’ offense remains highly suspect despite them being the only unbeaten team in football. Alex Smith is 27-5-1 since 2011, continues to post a low interception rate and had a 102.2 QB Rating Sunday while running for 40 yards, but he has a 6.3 YPA this season. 6.3! I’m actually a Smith fan, but this reveals a likely problem for Kansas City moving forward…Dwayne Bowe can be dropped in eight-team fantasy leagues at this point…Campbell starting is apparently good news to fantasy owners of Josh Gordon and Jordan CameronDavone Bess had a rough game, having a bad drop in the fourth quarter and losing a fumble on a punt return in embarrassing fashion…Jamaal Charles, who left with a knee injury but later returned, has now topped 100 yards from scrimmage during all eight games this year, although Sunday marked the first time he also didn’t add a score as well.

Here’s Russell Brand dominating an interview and continuing to surprise (in a good way) with what he says.

Since Week 1, Colin Kaepernick has somehow averaged just 12.3 completions per game. While he’s not lived up to the fantasy hype, CK7 hasn’t exactly been a bust either, getting 8.0 YPA on the year and rushing for 112 yards and three scores over the past two games. Also note the 49ers asked him to do basically nothing after the team jumped out to a 28-0 lead Sunday in the first quarter and a half in London and remember just how important Michael Crabtree was to him last season…After not running for multiple touchdowns since 2010, Frank Gore has done so in back-to-back weeks. He’s a top-10 fantasy back at age 30…There were somehow zero sacks recorded in this game…The Jaguars entered having averaged 3.7 points at home this season, so Sunday’s “home” game in London was a big improvement, as they scored their first touchdown of the year while not on the road…Justin Blackmon dropped what almost certainly would’ve been a touchdown and saw another 10 targets. Keep him safely in all fantasy lineups.

Here’s a prank that involves nothing but throwing fruit and vases at people.

This was truly a battle of attrition, with the Giants ultimately being less atrocious. Did Rueben Randle really get just one target? Facing an Eagles secondary that entered having allowed the most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers in all of football, including 14 touchdowns (only two other teams were in double digits). This occurred with Victor Cruz missing time while undergoing an X-Ray on his neck and Hakeem Nicks getting 4.25 yards-per-target. Even considering the danger of a possible long-term suspension if one more infraction were to happen, I’d give up a LOT MORE for Josh Gordon than Nicks if I were an NFL team right now before the upcoming trade deadline…The Eagles’ offense hasn’t scored a touchdown over their last two games, both being at home against suspect defenses. And I’m not especially happy about it as someone who’s heavily invested in LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson…Down eight points with 4:11 left in the fourth quarter, Philly elected to go for an onside kick. I don’t feel strongly either way here, but it’s an interesting decision, and probably the wrong one (regardless of outcome), since expected onside attempts are only successful about 20 percent of the time…Andre Brown is an interesting stash right now. I’d pick him if available this week even in shallower formats…Matt Barkley started at Mater Dei as a freshman, which might actually be more impressive than him doing the same at USC (the first ever to do so). At one time, I fully admit I expected him to be a star at the NFL level. But I couldn’t have been more wrong, as his internal clock appears to be a sundial. Seriously, I know he’s a rookie with room for improvement, but holy crap has Barkley been terrible. Remember how scary good the Philly offense looked after the first half during Monday Night Football Week 1 against the Redskins? Seems like ages ago, although to be fair it’s mostly come down to QB issues. I’m not writing Chip Kelly’s offense off until he brings in his own QB to groom, which will almost certainly be through next year’s draft.

In case you are also into fantasy hoops or just a fan of my random links in general, here’s my Mostly NBA Notes column from last week.

Thaddeus Lewis was annihilated on the first play of Sunday’s game, losing a fumble and looking unlikely to play another snap. But he surprisingly returned and continues to look not terrible, which is actually a compliment, especially in a tough environment in New Orleans with mediocre options to throw to and without his No. 1 running back…With a hobbled Jimmy Graham, I fully expected more work from Darren Sproles. Instead he somehow got zero yards on four catches while not getting a single carry (Drew Brees had four)…I liked Lance Moore as a sleeper this week, but Kenny Stills would’ve obviously been the better call…Fred Jackson, who will turn 33 years old shortly after the season and was coming off two knee injuries, has somehow been the ninth most valuable fantasy RB this season. I didn’t see that coming…Jimmy Graham caught two touchdowns while playing only 18 snaps Sunday. He simply must be started as long as he’s active, especially considering the current tight end landscape…Drew Brees is on pace to finish with 5,234 passing yards and 43 touchdowns. His No. 1 wide receiver (Marques Colston) is on track to record 787 yards and two TDs.

Here’s a Halloween Prank.

Here’s a Vampire Prank.

Here are the amount of carries given to Chris Ivory over the past five games in which he’s played, respectively: 4, 4, 4, 34, 6. One of these things is not like the other…I sure didn’t expect the Bengals to win 49-9, becoming the only team to win a game by 40 points this season. Then again, I’ve admittedly underrated Cincy all year long…Marvin Jones had six catches for 166 yards and three touchdowns at halftime Sunday, ultimately securing all eight of his targets and scoring four touchdowns (while playing just 19 snaps!) versus a Jets defense that entered allowing the third-fewest YPA (6.4) in the NFL. His four scores matched his previous career total…I imagine it’s not often a team loses by 40 points yet has a fantasy kicker that helps his owners…A.J. Green averaged 38.3 yards-per-catch…I’m a Giovani Bernard fan, but he’s averaging just 9.0 carries per game (and 3.9 YPC), so it’s tough to get excited about him right now unless something fundamentally changes. The team is winning with this method too.

Headlines of the Week: Florida Man Holds Woman’s Grandfather’s Ashes For $40 Ransom...Man Throws Parrot At Waterbury Office...Seattle Seizes Private Parking Lot To Build New Parking Lot...The Dallas Safari Club Will Save The Endangered Black Rhino By Auctioning Off The Chance To Shoot One.

Terrelle Pryor’s 93-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage was the longest by a quarterback in NFL history, also marking the first TD against Pittsburgh during their opponents’ first drive this season. Pryor mostly struggled the rest of the game, finishing with 4.6 YPA and a 0:2 TD:INT ratio, but that run was pretty ridiculous…The Steelers had a 9:11 minute drive while they were down 18 points to open the second half that resulted in Shaun Suisham missing his second field goal from inside 35 yards. He also had one of the worst onside attempts late in the game you’ll ever see. Pittsburgh was 0-for-7 on third downs and outrushed 182-8 in the first half against an Oakland team that won coming off a bye for the first time in a decade. I bet on the Steelers “over” and the Raiders “under” before the year but this game (in which I also made Pitt my “best bet” of the week) couldn’t have been more fitting, as there were three reviews involving fumbles and - I hope you’re sitting down - all of them went against the Steelers. Excuses aside, this Pittsburgh team is awful, and I guess I’m finally ready to admit that…Having said that, this Raiders defense is better than most realize…Antonio Brown is on pace to record 128 receptions this year. And 4.5 touchdowns.

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I’m not sure if it’s still the knee injury or defenses catching up to him, but Robert Griffin looked truly awful, although Kirk Cousins, who was picked off twice on nine attempts after replacing RG3 on Sunday, didn’t exactly make a case for a QB change in Washington (not that I’d have considered it anyway). In hindsight, maybe Week 7 said more about Chicago’s terrible defense than RG3’s recovery process. I’ll still probably rank Griffin as a back-end QB1 at home against San Diego in Week 9, but I sure expected his 2013 season to go more smoothly than it has so far. He’s on track to finish with a 21:25 TD:turnover ratio. Griffin has run for one touchdown since Week 6 last season…Alfred Morris had a solid fantasy game Sunday, but he’s surprisingly yet to get 20 carries in a game this year, a number he reached 10 times last season…The Broncos were 12-point favorites down 21-7 with eight minutes left in the third quarter and yet somehow covered easily, ending Sunday’s game on a 38-0 run...Fourteen more targets for Jordan Reed? He’s an obvious top-eight fantasy tight end from here on out, and that may be way too conservative…Denver had one of the worst penalties you’ll see, having 12 men in the huddle before a Washington field goal attempt on fourth down late in the first half, resulting in a first down and then a touchdown on the following play…The Broncos have scored more points through the first eight games of a season in NFL history – and would be a five-seed if the season ended today…Pierre Garcon made a sick one-handed catch Sunday, but he has just two touchdowns this year despite seeing 78 targets. At some point he needs to start turning all those looks into scores.

Headlines of the Week Part Two: Woman’s Blind Date Turns Out To Be Her Father-In-Law, Husband Is Not Happy...Touching Pregnant Ladies’ Tummies Now Illegal in Pennsylvania...T.A. at University of Iowa Emails Her Own Nude Photos to Class Instead of Homework Assignment...Georgia Man Runs Into Burning Home To Get Beer...International Clown Convention Deny Involvement In Killing Drug Cartel Leader.

Matt Ryan got 4.9 YPA and tossed four interceptions, so it looks like last week’s surprisingly strong performance may have had a lot to do with a Tampa Bay team seemingly giving up on the season. Of course, Arizona has a solid secondary, and Ryan has always performed worse away from home, and it obviously should come as no surprise he’ll miss Julio Jones and Roddy White. Ryan has had only one worse YPA game since his rookie season, although he continued to make Harry Douglas fantasy relevant and somehow led the Falcons with 13 rushing yards. Ryan has now been picked off a whopping nine times over his last two games against the Cardinals…I fully expected the losses at wide receiver would lead to better production from Tony Gonzalez, but the way defenses are now treating him, the opposite has been true…I wouldn’t use Steven Jackson on a bet right now, and that’s before considering his next two opponents (@Car and Sea)…Larry Fitzgerald is the youngest player to reach 800 receptions in NFL history…Andre Ellington might not run for an 80-yard touchdown every game in which he’s the leader in touches, but it’s still a mystery why it took Rashard Mendenhall getting hurt to have him get more than seven carries in a game this season. Coming off Arizona’s upcoming bye, let’s hope Ellington is given 15-18 touches moving forward. It’s malpractice if not. He leads the NFL with 4.0 YPC after contact.

Animal Antics: Here’s a Sea Lion stealing a monster fish...Man Fights Off Shark...Live Animals Being Sold As Key-Rings In China...Racing Pigeons in Belgium Are Having a Major Doping Scandal.

Throughout his career while playing indoors, Aaron Rodgers has completed 69.1 percent of his passes for 9.0 YPA with 49 touchdowns over 19 games. That's obviously all come on the road. Wow…The first play of Sunday night’s game tied for the longest in NFL history (and had never been done on a kickoff)…Eddie Lacy continued to be a workhorse, looked mostly good Sunday night and could’ve easily had another TD run, but James Starks is now a must-own for all of the rookie running back’s owners…How has Adrian Peterson been given just 36 total carries since Week 4? That’s crazy…The Packers literally scored on every (plausible) drive…After Calvin Johnson and Dez Bryant, there isn’t a fantasy wide receiver I’d rather own than Jordy Nelson.

Review of the Week: After a couple of so-so seasons, “Eastbound & Down” has been terrific this year. While the lowbrow humor remains (and I say this lovingly, as Stevie Janowski is probably the funniest character on television right now), there are also some deceptively deeper issues being dealt with here, often creating an uncomfortable viewing experience (in a good way). I thought for sure Danny McBride and Jody Hill made a mistake coming back for one more year, but the opposite has been true so far. What a great finish to a show that’s simply unlike any other…And to go on record, I’m on board with “Homeland’s” big twist this season. But then again, I liked the show’s second season a lot more than most did.

While low scoring, Monday night’s game wasn’t bad, especially considering a near pretty big upset occurred. Zac Stacy (who looks legit) had 134 rushing yards (and would’ve had more if not for spending some time on the sideline late dealing with an injury) while Marshawn Lynch gained 23 yards on the ground. Go figure…Seattle’s offensive line is a problem right now, especially when on the road. It was seemingly a jailbreak on the ends on every play…The game ended on a 96-yard drive that resulted in zero points, as the Rams had some problems in the red zone, to say the least. The Greg Zuerlein missed FG proved crucial…Seattle had more punts (nine) than first downs (seven), while the Rams remain the only team in football without a rushing touchdown. Moreover, the Seahawks' 135 yards on offense were the fewest by a winning team since 2010…Golden Tate’s behavior here seemed to upset most observers, but I found it funny (and I’m a Niners fan who was irate with Monday night’s outcome). After last week’s interaction with Steve Smith, I’m going to go ahead and assume the taunting toward Janoris Jenkins wasn’t totally uncalled for.

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