Looking under the hood of Week 16
Ego’s aside, the Vikings need to let Favre lead…
The proof is definitely in the pudding and if you cared to take a taste last night watching Monday night football, you would come to the same conclusion. The Vikings need to cater the offense around what Favre can do. In a methodical run first offensive approach the Vikings mounted no offensive threat; 82 total yards (53 rushing, 36 passing) and four first downs. In the second half the Vikings were a different team with more purpose led by Brett Favre. In the second half he led the team to 30 points, completing 21 of 31 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns. Another big stat, first half rushing 14 carries for 53 yards, second half rushing 19 carries for 70 yards and two scores.
So much for poor play in December….
The Cowboys entered the month of December being highly criticized for their so-called past failures during the holiday season. And the one player being most scrutinized for these shortcomings was their quarterback Tony Romo. After dropping their first two games in December the critics were relentless, and Romo was caught in the middle, but he could hardly be faulted for poor play. Since the two losses the Cowboys rebounded with impressive wins over the Saints and Redskins. When you look over Romo’s play the past month, seven touchdowns, 300 yards passing per game, and no turnovers, he’s been as good as good gets. He’s been as big a reason for the Cowboys success this season and being in their current position. In their Week 17 season finale they’ll face the Eagles for all the marbles; NFC East Division title and a shot at the second seed in the NFC (a first round bye). So much for Romo’s poor play.
Riding Warner into the post season…..
The Cardinal’s head coach Ken Whisenhunt may be conservative by nature coming from his early coaching roots in Pittsburgh, but he’s no gambler. It appears he likes the sure thing like the rest of us. Against the Rams he let his veteran quarterback Kurt Warner sling the rock early and often to build the early lead. In the first half Warner tossed the pigskin 23 times for 216 yards and connected on two scores to put the Cards ahead 17-0 at the half. With the big lead Warner only needed 15 passes in the second half, conversely the ground game was quiet with 13 runs in the first half and got most of its work in the second half (16 run plays). We’d expect to see more of this formula going into the post season.
More fantasy Notes
“Late Season Heroes”
With the chance to play more, the Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart has the most of his opportunity. With starter DeAngelo Williams (ankle) sidelined, Stewart has started the last two weeks and totaled 315 yards on the ground with two rushing touchdowns. He’s also added four receptions for another 30 yards and a score. With a meaningless season finale it’s hard to imagine Williams suiting up if his ankle is less than 100 percent, against the Saints (who may rest some starters) Stewart could have another field day.
The Cowboys may have found that missing piece that will help their passing game stay off the ground in the post season. Over the past five weeks Austin has returned to that form that burst onto the scene in weeks 5 & 7. In his last five games the Cowboys big play threat is averaging over seven catches and 110 yards per game with a total of four touchdowns. He’s easily Romo’s favorite downfield threat.
Jerome Harrison has emerged as a late season hero with his big performances over the past two weeks. The Browns running back has rushed for over 430 yards in his last two games as the teams starter and added four touchdowns. While his big numbers have come against poor run defenses, the totals are still staggering and enough to move him (if he’s the starter in Cleveland) up the rankings some for next season.
Continuing his bounce back season the Ravens tight end Todd Heap has really come on the last couple of weeks as a big-time redzoen target. In his last two games Heap has been targeted four times in the red-zone and has scored on all four plays. For the season Heap has 51 receptions, 551 yards receiving, and six touchdowns; all big improvements from last season. Expect to see his number called again on Sunday against the Raiders.
There’s no question that one of this season’s biggest late season hero has been the Chief’s running back Jamaal Charles. For those owners that were lucky to nab him just before the fantasy playoffs, they were able to ride his hot foot right through their league post season. In weeks 14-16 (most fantasy leagues playoffs), Charles averaged 19 fantasy points (399 yards rushing, 76 yards receiving, & two rushing touchdowns). Not a bad late run for a back up running back when the season started.