Cam Newton got 2.8 fewer YPA than Ryan Tannehill, yet Carolina won on the road anyway. Of course, Newton also ran for 51 yards and a touchdown on eight carries, as he’s now turned in three straight performances with a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter (it’s probably no coincidence Ron Rivera has gone from one of the most conservative coaches to “Riverboat Ron” during the same span in which the Panthers went from one of the worst teams in games decided by seven points or fewer to one of the best)…Mike Wallace’s big game could’ve been even bigger (he somehow nearly hauled in a long TD with just seconds left in the fourth quarter with Carolina in full prevent mode), as Miami finally targeted him downfield multiple times…Newton’s stats would have looked a lot better had Ted Ginn not dropped a would-be 68-yard touchdown early in the third quarter on a perfectly thrown pass…With 12:09 left in the third quarter and in their own territory, the Panthers went for it on 4th-and-1, resulting in a first down run by Newton. Riverboat Ron is no joke. Looking at their schedules, the Panthers could conceivably get the NFC’s No. 2 seed even if they just split their two upcoming games against the Saints.
Matt Forte had another strong game, totaling 117 yards on just 23 touches, but he left with what looked like a serious injury. He later returned and scored a touchdown that was reversed on replay (he scored another TD earlier that was taken back on a penalty), but hopefully that means the injury isn’t going to keep him out moving forward…Take away Kellen Clemens' kneel downs, and the Rams ran for 261 yards on 26 attempts, as Chicago’s front seven continues to get gashed. Hopefully Zac Stacy’s concussion isn’t severe, because he’s been a fantasy star over the last four games. Benny Cunningham is now on the radar, although St. Louis’ next two games are in San Francisco and in Arizona…The last five times Tavon Austin has touched the ball on offense, he’s recorded three touchdowns, with the scores averaging 67.7 yards. The rookie is the first player to have four touchdowns from 50 yards or more in a two-game span since Gale Sayers…Sunday marked the first time Jared Cook topped 45 receiving yards since Week 1, although he’s scored twice over the past three contests…Is this is the same Chris Givens who had a 50-yard catch in five straight games last season as a rookie? He failed to secure any of his six targets Sunday and has yet to score a TD this year…Alshon Jeffery had a quiet game but continues to rack up targets, so there’s no reason to worry here. Brandon Marshall has had to share looks with the rookie WR, and while that’s hurt his yardage numbers some, Marshall is on pace to finish with a career-high 13 touchdowns...Martellus Bennett has broken 17 tackles this season. No other tight end has broken more than 10.
This footage of a car crashing at nearly 200 mph is insane, and the fact the driver came away mostly unharmed is equally as crazy.
What a terrific game in Arrowhead, as the Chargers and Chiefs combined to score 55 second half points in a contest that featured eight lead changes. I had recently criticized Philip Rivers for his lack of TD passes despite otherwise playing so well, but he tossed three scores Sunday on the road against one of the best defenses in football (while Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead also both ran for scores). Rivers got 10.1 YPA and posted a 127.3 QB Rating and wasn’t sacked until 31 seconds were left in the fourth quarter. And the next play was this…After starting with a record-setting pace, Kansas City’s defense has recorded just two sacks over its past four games. Losing both Justin Houston and Tamba Hali to potentially serious injuries certainly won’t help. San Diego had three points with 20 seconds left in the first half yet somehow finished scoring 41…Jim Nantz kept referring to Knile Davis as Kniles Davis, which means I’m contractually obligated to once again link to this…Keenan Allen had a big game, hauling in nine catches for 124 yards, but considering he had eight catches for 104 yards at halftime, it still felt a bit disappointing…Jamaal Charles was a beast, totaling 157 yards and two touchdowns on just 18 touches. He’s the only running back in the NFL to lead his team in receptions and is averaging 6.0 YPC over his past three games.
I mostly thought David Blaine was a joke, but his recent publicity tour, when he appeared on Jimmy Kimmel here, kind of made me like him more.
Over his last six games, Geno Smith has a 1:10 TD:INT ratio. It’s not exactly an encouraging development looking toward the team’s future...The Jets are a very tough team to run against, but this was more of a reminder just how ineffective Ray Rice has been this season, as last week’s performance against the Bears should be considered a big anomaly (Chicago’s front seven allowed Benny Cunningham to run for 109 yards on 13 carries Sunday). Rice is only an option for desperate fantasy owners. His 1.4 YPC after contact is the lowest mark in the NFL this season among 51 running backs who qualify. Eddie Lacy forced more missed tackles Sunday (eight) than Rice has all year (six)…Over the Jets’ last three games, Stephen Hill and David Nelson have combined to secure 2-of-20 targets…While most considered Ed Reed done, Rex Ryan appeared fired up to sign him recently. This play suggests the latter may have been mistaken.
Here’s My Latest NBA Column, talking Monta Ellis and Derrick Rose. I post it here in case you aren’t a hoops fan but like my random links.
I ranked Case Keenum high and would’ve absolutely used Houston in a “survivor” pool this week, but the Texans continued to disappoint, losing as double-digit favorites to a team that entered with a historically bad offense. At least I was right in thinking Keenum wouldn’t be benched again no matter what after how the home crowd reacted to Matt Schaub last week, but the problem is my point was proven in a big way thanks to Keenum’s worst game of his career. But that’s just the start of it, as Ben Tate ran for one yard on seven carries, the Texans allowed Chad Henne to get 7.5 YPA and Maurice Jones-Drew, who entered with a 2.9 YPC mark, get 6.0 YPC. I’m beginning to think this might not be Houston’s year…The Texans now share the same 2-9 record as the Jaguars, and when these teams meet again in two weeks, it will be in Jacksonville…If Ben Tate can muster just one yard rushing at home against the Jags as 10-point favorites, it’s pretty tough to trust him in any matchup moving forward, although coach Gary Kubiak claims he’s still the team’s unquestioned starter. Not that we can really fault Tate, as it probably doesn’t feel great playing running back with four broken ribs.
Facing a Minnesota secondary that had allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, I liked Scott Tolzien as a sneaky fantasy start, ranking him inside my top-12. He had an ugly 1:5 TD:INT ratio over his previous two games, but that was accompanied by a 65.8 completion percentage with an impressive 8.5 YPA mark, and while Green Bay has lost some weapons, it’s still a nice system to be in. This sick TD run prevented Tolzien from being a total bust, but he was benched early in the second half, making my optimistic outlook very wrong. Matt Flynn was marginally better for the most part, and he deserves credit for drawing the Vikings offside on a 4th-and-6 play with 1:10 left in the fourth quarter, when he took full advantage of the “free play,” finding James Jones for a 28-yard gain…The Packers managed to gain 5.8 YPC despite the shaky QB play, but the defense was a mess, allowing Christian Ponder to get 7.8 YPA while a badly hobbled Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart combined for 237 rushing yards, getting 5.9 YPC in the process…Eddie Lacy was flat out dominant, securing all six of his targets for 48 yards to go long with 110 rushing yards and a score. His run on 4th-and-1 late in the fourth quarter was simply one of the most impressive plays of Week 12. Not that asthma can’t be serious, but it was good to hear his exit late in the game wasn’t due to another concussion. There are few backs in the league running better than Lacy right now. He’s easily going to be a first round fantasy pick next year.
I thought both were humorous but were probably fake, right?
Over his last seven games, Mike Glennon has a 12:2 TD:INTO ratio, and while that’s come with a modest 7.0 YPA, the rookie was considered extremely raw entering the league, so it’s an encouraging development. Somehow this dysfunctional Tampa Bay team has done anything but give up on Greg Schiano, playing hard and winning its last three games (and nearly winning in Seattle four weeks ago) after losing its first eight. As crazy as it sounds, I don’t think I’d fire Schiano at this point. Considering Josh Freeman finished the game in which he suffered his concussion, it’s telling he’s yet to see the field again. In other words, I’d give the Bucs a pass on their early season struggles, especially considering the MRSA issues and the fact Darrelle Revis wasn’t close to 100 percent. And if anything, it’s impressive Schiano hasn’t not only lost the team but has them winning on the road as near 10-point dogs despite a lost season (and despite his kicker missing two field goals in the fourth quarter…Bobby Rainey struggled, getting just 1.9 YPC. But he also got 18 times the amount of carries as Brian Leonard, so even with a tough upcoming schedule, he's a viable flex option as a workhorse on a suddenly not bad Tampa Bay team...Nate Burleson has averaged 6.5 catches and 79.0 receiving yards when playing this year…Matthew Stafford’s four interceptions Sunday doubled his previous total while playing at home this season despite Revis leaving injured and Dashon Goldson suspended, although to be fair, this play to Calvin Johnson resulted in a (game-ending) pick. Stafford has suffered the most drops from his wide receivers this season (43) by a wide margin among all QBs (next highest is Tom Brady with 36). To put this in perspective, Russell Wilson has seen his receivers drop just 10 passes this year.
Facing a Pittsburgh secondary that entered having ceded the fourth-fewest catches to wide receivers, Josh Gordon secured 14-of-17 targets for a whopping 237 yards and a score despite having both Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden throwing to him. It’s hard to argue against Gordon being a top-five fantasy wide receiver. Just imagine if he played alongside even an average QB…Over the first four games, Jordan Cameron had 30 catches for 360 yards and five touchdowns. Over the following seven games since, the tight end has 29 receptions for 301 yards and one touchdown. He remains a low-end TE1 for fantasy purposes this season but has top-three upside moving forward in dynasty leagues should Cleveland upgrade its QB position…The Browns are now 1-7 in games not started by Brian Hoyer…Over his last four games, Ben Roethlisberger has an 11:3 TD:INT ratio (and he also executed this terrific pooch punt), while Antonio Brown’s 92 yards and a score were especially impressive since Joe Haden mostly covered him Sunday. Brown is on pace to see 169 targets this season. He’s a borderline top-five fantasy WR…Le’Veon Bell shows flashes at times and catches the ball, but the rookie runner currently sports an ugly 3.2 YPC mark. It’s mostly on Pittsburgh’s poor run blocking, but that’s still a dangerously low number.
Headlines of the Week: These Vein-Spotting Smart Glasses Will Give Medics X-Ray Vision...Sledgehammer-Wielding State Rep. Bashes Homeless People’s Shopping Carts to Solve Homeless Problem...Lawsuit Paid In Full: Samsung Pays Apple $1 Billion Sending 30 Trucks Full of 5 Cent Coins...Utah Town Forgets to Hold Election – Again...Vancouver Has Banned The Doorknob. Is The Rest of Canada Next?...Extraterrestrials on Earth: Scientists Find Outer Space Stuff at South Pole...Man Signs Up For his Insurance; His Dog Gets Covered Instead...Woman on First Walk After Motorcycle Crash Is Killed by Car.
As someone facing Sebastian Janikowski, it was rough seeing the kicker attempt six field goals over the first three quarters Sunday, although at least he only made four of them…While Chris Johnson gained just 81 yards on 23 touches, Rashad Jennings continued to impress, totaling 122 yards from scrimmage on 20 touches while securing all four of his targets. The veteran RB absolutely deserves to maintain the role of Oakland’s feature back if/when Darren McFadden returns, especially since the latter has no future with the organization beyond this year (or at least the soon to be free agent shouldn’t)…Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter combined to secure 12-of-13 targets for 212 yards and two touchdowns, as it appears the Titans have a decent foundation set for the future when it comes to their receiving corps. Wright has been fantasy relevant for a while now, and his game-winning catch here with just seconds left Sunday was especially noteworthy. Put a fork in Kenny Britt, he’s done.
Manny Pacquiao dominated Brandon Rios on Saturday night. The only question was whether he won 120-108 or 119-109. Pacquiao beat someone who weighed around 10 pounds more when the bell rung, and while his “two fight losing streak” was a farce thanks to the joke of a decision during the Timothy Bradley debacle, he deserves credit for bouncing back after getting thoroughly knocked out during his last fight, especially at this stage of his career. Pacquiao was smart to take nearly a year off, and this now again sets the stage for a Floyd Mayweather match, although the HBO/Showtime paperwork seems like a nightmare, and no one should get their hopes up. When these two were first rumored to fight in what would have easily been the most lucrative fight ever, Mayweather was the slight favorite (it was around -110 or -120). In the incredibly unlikely event these two were to agree to meet in a match that would still almost certainly break PPV records, especially after Pacman looked so sharp Saturday, Mayweather would be at least a 2/1 favorite now I’d guess. Probably even more (and deservingly so).
Police Blotter: Father Arrested For Picking Up His Kids From School...Man Attacked Pregnant Sister Over Chicken Nuggets, Orlando Police Say...Ankle Monitor Documents Crime Spree...George Zimmerman ‘is being framed by ex girlfriend who faked a pregnancy to stop him leaving before lying to police that he threatened her with a gun.’...Elderly Ex-Con Robs Bank Because He Missed Prison.
Over their past four games, the Colts have trailed a combined 93-12 at the end of the first half. While they somehow managed to go 2-2 during those games, they were nevertheless boat raced in Arizona on Sunday, losing 40-11. Over his last three games, Andrew Luck has gotten 6.1 YPA with a 2:4 TD:INT ratio. Meanwhile, Carson Palmer has quietly gotten 8.9 YPA with an 8:2 TD:INT ratio over his past four contests. Arizona is 5-1 at home this year, with its only loss coming against Seattle, and they beat Carolina handily (22-6). In other words, this is a team that’s a legitimate threat to make the playoffs…Larry Fitzgerald, who became the youngest player ever to reach 11,000 receiving yards in his career, scored two touchdowns (with nearly a third), and while that’s a positive sign he may be getting back close to full health, it took him 11 targets to get 52 yards, whereas Michael Floyd secured all seven of his looks to gain 104 receiving yards. Of course, defenses pay more attention to Fitz, but Floyd’s future looks bright…It was a tough matchup, but Donald Brown and Trent Richardson combined to rush for 16 yards on eight carries. Since Indy traded a first round pick for him, Richardson has averaged 2.8 YPC…T.Y. Hilton has dealt with tough matchups but continues to hog targets and should be considered a top-10 fantasy WR. Make sure his current owner values him as such…Andrew Luck got 3.1 YPA over the first three quarters Sunday, finishing with 4.2. For all the criticism Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin have gotten this season, Luck sits with a 6.7 YPA during his sophomore campaign. Of course, he’s a terrific runner and has produced 19 touchdowns over 11 games despite it, so it remains easy to be excited about his future. But man, at some point he’s going to have to get more efficient to reach the stardom so many predict.
Review of the Week: I haven’t read any of the “Hunger Games” books and thought the first movie was OK. Of course, I’m grading on a curve here, as I never expected an exceptional film, but I liked the sequel quite a bit. I definitely recommend “Catching Fire,” but it’s hard to criticize anything Jennifer Lawrence, right?
Eli Manning has had an extremely disappointing season, and that was only exasperated when he threw for just 174 yards (5.8 YPA) at home Sunday against a Dallas defense that entered having allowed the most fantasy points to opposing QBs this season. To be fair, Manning did toss two TDs, so he wasn’t a total bust, but one of them came on this embarrassing display of “tackling,” when Brandon Meyers wouldn’t have been down during two-hand touch on a crucial fourth-down play…Jason Witten had an NFL record 110 catches for a tight end last season and scored three touchdowns. Despite fewer production elsewhere, Witten already has six scores in 2013, with four of them coming against the Giants…After getting 118 receiving yards and three touchdowns versus the Cowboys in Week 1, Dallas held Victor Cruz to just two catches and 27 yards Sunday, and the wideout also lost a fumble…Andre Brown made some mistakes, running out of bounds twice late in the second quarter when the Giants wanted to get to halftime after Dallas just used its first timeout. He’s also injury prone (which we were reminded of when he left Sunday’s game banged up early) and is frequently replaced in short-yardage situations. That said, Brown had seven carries that went for 10+ yards Sunday, and no matter how favorable the matchup is, that’s impressive. Although to be fair Brandon Jacobs had New York’s first 20-yard run of the year during the second quarter, becoming the final team to reach such a landmark this season. The Cowboys’ run defense is awful, especially with Sean Lee sidelined, but Brown is good and will be a must-start as long as he’s healthy…Dallas hadn’t converted a first down during 16 straight third down tries (dating back to last week) until New York committed a personal foul penalty midway through the third quarter.
Animal Antics: Here’s a Ram screaming like a falling human...Here’s a baby dolphin getting rescued from a plastic bag...Here’s a Moose-eating shark rescued in a Newfoundland harbour...Mysterious fish with whip-like tail and cone-shaped snout identified as a long-nosed chimaera.
Six minutes into the Pats/Broncos game, Denver was up 14-0. They also led 17-0 after the first quarter, when they were going against the wind. At halftime, the Broncos held a seemingly insurmountable 24-0 lead, and yet less than two minutes into the fourth quarter, New England was up 28-24. The Patriots won the toss when the teams went to overtime tied 31-31 and chose the wind at their backs over the ball first, which was especially crazy considering they were facing a Denver team putting up historic offensive numbers with a defense devastated by injuries. Of course, Bill Belichick knew what he was doing (although he obviously got lucky on a botched fumble on a late punt return), resulting in a 34-31 Pats win…Peyton Manning, who had just 74 passing yards through three quarters, has six more career losses against the Patriots than any other team during his career, and he’s never played in their same division…The Broncos had won 20 of their past 21 regular season games before losing Sunday night…I haven’t been surprised by Danny Amendola’s injuries, but I have been by his lack of production when healthy…I thought Rob Gronkowski, who apparently doesn’t quite understand what a “time machine” means, scored during his third quarter catch, and I’m not sure what New England’s strategy was rushing to the line and calling a quick play afterward, other than screwing my Stopa Law Firm fantasy team (in which I own Tom Brady, Gronkowski, Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and Stephen Gostkowski), as it resulted in a Brandon Bolden TD. Ridley didn’t see a carry after he lost yet another fumble early on, nor did LeGarrette Blount when he did the same shortly thereafter. Bolden may very well be a factor down the stretch…Did Knowshon Moreno really rush for 224 yards and a score? He got 6.1 YPC while Manning got 4.2 YPA. Go figure. It’s too bad Moreno suffered an injury that could keep him out a bit.
Longread of the week: “There’s a Whole New Way of Killing Cancer.”
Colin Kaepernick threw for more than 200 yards Sunday night for the first time since Week 6, marking just the second time he’s done so since Week 1. It came in a favorable matchup, but he got 9.8 YPA with a 3:0 TD:INT ratio. Kaepernick got away with a couple of throws that could have been picked, but Mario Manningham is getting back into form, and Michael Crabtree is due to return in Week 13, so the 49ers’ passing attack should improve down the stretch…Robert Griffin finished the first quarter 1-for-6 with an interception for minus-1 yard. In his defense, the four sacks don’t come close to telling the story, as he was pressured relentlessly throughout. And to add injury to insult, RG3 was hit in his “midsection” here. Aldon Smith was a beast. Washington totaled just 30 yards during the second half Monday…Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin have all 14 of San Francisco’s receiving touchdowns this season...My wife was down .15 fantasy points at the end of Monday night’s game and won by .15 points thanks to three Kaepernick kneel downs, when the QB lost three yards rushing. That’s about as crazy as it gets.