Blue Duck Must Watch List: The 2nd Week

September 19, 2009

See if you can pick em like Peyton.

See if you can pick 'em like Peyton.

Before I get to the important stuff, I just wanted to spread the word about the Blue Duck Pick ‘Em league on Yahoo fantasy.  Its just a normal office-pool type pick ’em league, and its free.  Beat the “experts” and embarrass us week in and week out.  League starts up week 3, but sign up now.  At the end of the season the winner will get an official Blue Duck T shirt.  Anyone can join.  The more the merrier.

The Group ID is: 64754, and the password is: bigblueduck.  Good Luck.

On to business:

Carebear’s Game you should watch week 2 is:

New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys.

Literally built by aliens, just like the pyramids

Literally built by aliens, just like the pyramids

This is pretty much a no brainer as the game of the week.  Giants/Cowboys is always a big game, but now that the ‘boys are opening up the giant spaceship that Jerry Jones has parked out by the Ballpark at Arlington, this matchup gets even better.

I just moved to Dallas, and the city has been abuzz for a long time over this one.  The Big D is ecstatic that they got rid of T.O., and even more excited that they get to christen the new Mecca of pro sports on Sunday.  But Dallas probably feels like a high school team that scheduled a tough opponent for homecoming.

The NFC East is probably the strongest division in football.  On any given Sunday, any one team in the east can take out any other team so this game can really go either way.  Here are a few keys.

The Giants are pretty banged up.  DT Chris Canty has been ruled out, but the Giants have some depth on the D-line, Hakeem Nicks is out, and a couple key guys in the secondary are questionable.

The secondary being shorthanded may be an issue here as Tony Romo lit up the Bucs last week for 353 yards on only 16 completions, and always seems to play well against the G-men.  Patrick Crayton, Miles Austin, and Roy Williams all had long receptions.  If the Giants can keep the passing game in check, they should take this game.

These two are friendly postgame, but Sunday should be a battle.

These two are friendly postgame, but Sunday should be a battle.

The Giant’s offense will have to rely again on that no-name receiving corps we saw last week. Eli hit 7 different targets en route to their “not as close as the score made it look” win against Washington.  The Post-Plaxico Catching Team looked good, and who knows, maybe the lack of egos from receivers makes Eli more comfortable.

Ahmad Bradshaw led the Giants in rushing with 60 yards, and look for a big game out of him.  Teams prepare for big Brandon Jacobs, and the quick and nimble Bradshaw is a huge change of pace, but quick and nimble does not necessarily mean soft, as Bradshaw’s runs more often end in refs blowing them dead, than with Bradshaw being brought to the turf.

My Prediction: Giants get lit up a few times on big passes, but control the run.  Eli has a mediocre, but effective game, and the Giants open up the 8th Wonder of the world with a 31-27 victory.

And oh yeah, what we all can’t wait for:
Seeing the look on Jerry Jones face when Jeff Feagles peppers the scoreboard throughout the billion dollar cathedral’s opening act.

Alex’s Must Watch Game of the Week:

New Orleans Saints @ Philadelphia Eagles

Drew Brees and New Orleans cruise into the City of Brotherly Love, riding high after a 45-27 victory over the Lions.  The Eagles were no slouch last week, beating Carolina 38-10, most likely losing QB Donovan McNabb for this week’s tilt in the process.  While we may not have McNabb under center for a big NFC matchup, this game is still must watch TV.

Drew Brees looked like he was playing a game of Madden out there last week, tossing 6 touchdowns.  This week is important, because we’ll see how he fares against one of the best passing defenses in football.  The Eagles secondary added another nail to the Jake Delhomme coffin last week, and didn’t just seize the opportunity against a bad quarterback.  Asante Samuel is a premier cornerback and Sheldon Brown is solid as well.  Another advantage for the Eagles is that they are extremely deep in the secondary (Hobbs, Hanson, Harris, Jones, and Demps).  This is the perfect test to see how unstoppable the Brees-led aerial assault really is.

With McNabb, the Eagles are a playoff team (a successful playoff team? God no).  All signs are pointing towards a Kevin Kolb-led Philadelphia offense.  My magic eight ball says “outlook not so good”, even considering the Saints D allowed 27 points to the Lions last week.

Kolb has been absolutely miserable in limited relief of McNabb.  In 45 career attempts, he has thrown ZERO touchdowns, four interceptions, fumbled three times and taken four sacks.  Newly signed Jeff Garcia knows the offense and should be available as insurance, but he can’t be expected to have his timing down with the receivers.  The Eagles need to be counting on Brian Westbrook to be Mr. Everything out there on Sunday, or else they are going to be praying that Kolb gives them something.  And I wouldn’t count on much, even with the weapons he has at his disposal.

Expect a heavy dose of Brian Westbrook against the Saints on Sunday.  Kevin Kolb doesnt offer much promise if McNabb cant play.

Expect a heavy dose of Brian Westbrook against the Saints on Sunday. Kevin Kolb doesn't offer much promise if McNabb can't play.

Bottom line:  This game is more about seeing the Drew Brees Show versus the Mighty Eagles Secondary than anything else.  I don’t care who wins or loses, or about the final score for that matter.  I just want to see the battle between an unstoppable force (Brees) versus an immovable object (Asante Samuel and Co.).

For me, I’d love to see Garcia come in and light things up, just to add more pressure to McNabb’s shoulders.  He’s got the inevitable Michael Vick threat one week away already, and I think it would be all the more amusing to see Garcia throw his hat into the ring of possible QB contenders.  He was already a fan favorite in 2006, and McNabb has never seemed to have the fans behind him in Philly.  I want to see how the three-headed quarterback headache turns out if Garcia has a good game.  Maybe the stress will cause Andy Reid to stop eating, something the rest of the starving world will appreciate, as well as his cardiologist.

My prediction is that the Eagles defense will give Brees his toughest test he will see all year, but it won’t be enough to overcome the Kevin Kolb doom that is sure to ensue.  Brees will toss a couple touchdowns and Brian Westbrook will put on a show, but the Saints will pull it out, 24-17.

At Press Time, Andy was seen sitting at Gung Ho, yelling at Jimmy about how the Pats are “a better version of the unstoppable 2007 team.”  Maybe he’ll get a must watch up before the games Sunday.  We shall see.

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Giants @ Cowboys – A Fantasy Perspective

September 18, 2009
The Cowboys have beaten the Giants 4 out of the last 5 meetings.  Well have to see if Dallas passing attack is for real or if the Giants front 7 can get to Romo first.

The Cowboys have beaten the Giants 4 out of the last 5 regular season meetings. We'll have to see if Dallas' passing attack is for real or if the Giants front 7 can get to Romo first.

Last week started another great NFL season and it offered everything we’ve been waiting 9 months to see.  We had blowouts, tight games, stunning individual performances and great team efforts.  The Broncos even gave us a thrilling end to a tight game, when Brandon Stokley came away with a tipped pass at the end to score the game winning TD.  The Jets introduced themselves as possible contenders, behind solid play from rookie Mark Sanchez and a stout defense.  This weekend promises to offer more excitement, so let’s take a look at one interesting game – from A Fantasy Perspective.

The Giants travel to Big D to open Jerry Jones behemoth of a stadium, this Sunday in Arlington.  Over/under on punts that hit the board: 1.5 for Jeff Feagles.  I’m almost certain that the Cowboys Mat McBriar is under strict orders from the man upstairs to avoid the massive scoreboard at all costs, punishable by death.  But the new stadium and 60 yard HD screen at Cowboys stadium isn’t the only reason to tune into this game, as it also offers some important fantasy insight as well.

Must Start:

Barber should be used to quite a bit, in an attempt to stifle the Giants pass rush.

Barber should be used quite a bit, in an attempt to stifle the Giants pass rush.

Marion Barber (RB) Dal – Barber was quite productive last week (14 car, 79 yds, 1 td, 5.6 yd/car) against Tampa Bay.  Talks of him sharing the ball with Felix Jones (six) and even Tashard Choice (two) are a bit overblown at the moment, as they were nothing near a committee last week.  Given how productive Barber was, it’s a great sign that he’s finally healthy.  This week, he faces a big time defense in New York.  Everyone knows about the Giants pass rush, which is why I think Barber is a good play.  He can grind out the tough yards between the tackles and Jason Garrett is going to have to slow the game down a bit to keep some of the pressure off of Tony Romo.  Not only is Barber a supreme goal line back, he can also catch the ball when Romo needs to check down due to pressure.

Roy Williams (WR) Dal – Roy Williams showed he can be the explosive receiver Jerry Jones gave up a ton in draft picks to get from Detroit last year.  He only caught 3 balls last week, but went for 86 yards and a score.  The New York secondary is not healthy at all; last week they started the day with only 6 defensive backs active.  You’ve got to know that besides Witten (who’s always a must-start in Romo land), Williams is going to be a very big target this week.  He can catch the underneath stuff, but he can also go over the top for the big play.  If Romo has time to throw, watch for him to look Williams way a lot this week.

Steve Smith (WR) NYG – He sure looked like New York’s number one last week.  He finished with 6 catches for 80 yards as Eli Manning’s security blanket.  He’s not afraid to go across the middle and always makes the tough catch for the Giants.  Eli’s obviously looking for him on third down, as Smith is playing a role similar to Welker’s in New England.  In PPC leagues, Smith should be owned and started in most leagues.  He’s not a big yardage guy, so in leagues that value that, he’s not what you’re looking for.

Worth a Shot:

Brandon Jacobs + Ahmad Bradhaw (RB) NYG – The Bucs were able to gash the Dallas defense for 174 yards last week by a combo platter featuring the oft-catastrophically injured Cadillac Williams and former Giant Derrick Ward.  The Giants duo is vastly more talented than Tampa Bay’s, so I’d consider starting both Jacobs and his change-of-pace, Ahmad Bradshaw.  Jacobs has had moderate success vs Dallas in his past three games against them (17 car/177 yd,/1 td, 14/54/1, 24/95/0) and is always a threat to score in any game that he’s healthy enough to play.  Bradshaw is the better play, as he had a big game last week and is a threat in the passing game.  When the ball is in his hands, he has the chance to make something special happen with his supreme speed.  He’s filling the role that Ward had in New York last year and he’s much more talented than Ward ever was.  I can see him seeing more time on the field this week as the Dallas defense hounds Eli all day.

Sure T.O. and Jessica Simpson are gone, but is all the drama in Big D?

Sure T.O. and Jessica Simpson are gone, but did all the drama in Big D go with them?

Tony Romo (QB) Dal – Not because he put up a career high last week against a Tampa Bay secondary in disarray, not because he’s “more comfortable” without T.O. on the team, and not because I think he’s a particularly good quarterback.  He’s not on all accounts.  The Giants pass rush is worth the hype (Osi + Tuck? Scary) but if Romo is upright long enough to throw the ball, I see Jason Garrett wanting to attack the beat-up Giants secondary.

Guys I’m Avoiding:

Dallas receivers not named Williams/Witten – Sure, Patrick Crayton and Miles Austin had big games last week, but it was against Tampa Bay.  Crayton was targeted 6 times to Austin’s 2, but Dallas doesn’t know who their number 2 is.  Crayton is atop the depth chart currently, but they really like Austin’s big-play ability.  While I love to gamble, I don’t like to risk fantasy points playing roulette on who might be the guy this week.

New York receivers not named Smith – I like Manningham, a lot.  But he saw only 4 targets, posting 3 receptions for 58 yards (30 came on one play he extended himself).  Hixon starts, but only saw 3 balls thrown his way in week one.  Hakeem Nicks looked real good, but he’s out with an ankle injury.  Just as in Dallas, I wouldn’t gamble on who might be number 2 in New York.

Eli Manning (QB) NYG – In their last 3 meetings, Manning hasn’t eclipsed even 200 yards per game.  He’s never been an accurate passer (last year was his career high at 60%) and the Giants aren’t volume passers.  That’s an equation for fantasy failure if you ask me.  He makes just as many mistakes as everyone else, but he doesn’t pass enough to make up for them.  While he was fine last week, this week he’ll face a good defense in a rabid atmosphere.  He’s easily flustered, so I’d make other arrangements this week.

As with most NFC East face-offs, this should be a good game.  These teams battle hard, and while Dallas has won 4 out of the last 5 regular season matchups, these games are always entertaining.  Division rivals, a little uncertainty at the wide receiver positions, punts hitting the scoreboard and drama queens at QB,  this game should be a good one.  Add Fox’s showcasing of the stadium and the flash and flair of a Jerry Jones event, I’m sure well be treated to something great.


Blue Duck Must Watch List: 1st Sunday of Ordinary Time

September 13, 2009
Code Blue! Footballs back.  And twins.

Code Blue! Football's back. And twins.

Its been so long since we had a normal Sunday.  This is the first sunday in a while where Tiger hasn’t been the only attraction, but Blue Duck, get ready for a sensory overload because today, we got Tiger and football.  Relax, its week 1, but its nice to be back to the Sundays on the couch and the monday fantasy arguments with the girl in the cube next to you.  Its all what America likes to call, the NFL regular season.

Blue Duck is always looking out for you so you tune in to the best sports programming, but since we have no idea whats available in your area (because our readership spans the globe) our contributors are going to tell you a few games to set the dial to, unbutton the pants, and get a steady flow of Coors Light and Doritos going.

From the Lone Colchestrian: Andy,
Game of the week

Green Bay Packers VS Chicago Bears

Jay Cutler, savior in Chicago? or crybaby jackass? we start to find out today

Jay Cutler, savior in Chicago? or crybaby jackass? we start to find out today

In what looks to be a strong NFC North (come on the Lions can’t really even be considered a team) this has the makings of a December-feeling game in September.  The Chicago Bears traded away their future in order to secure a little girl at quarterback.  Of course, I’m speaking of Jay Cutler, possibly the biggest baby to ever play the game of football.  He single-handedly cried himself out of Denver where new coach Josh Mcdaniels handed him a box of tissues and wished him good
luck.

Cutler will experience a big test of his leadership capabilities in his first real game with the Bears.  Playing at Lambeau with the entire crowd against you is no easy task.  It also doesn’t help that the Packers look completely revitalized after a disappointing 08 campaign.

In the offseason the Packers replaced their defensive coordinator
with Dom Capers,  who has gotten his hands dirty in implementing the
3-4 scheme into the Packers game plan, and throughout the preseason this defensive unit led by Aaron Kampmann has looked downright scary.

Assuming Rodgers can stay healthy this year, this offense has looked
exceptionally potent as well.  With a receiving duo of old pro Donald
Driver
along with emerging superstar Greg Jennings, it is going to be
tough to stop this team from scoring.  If Ryan Grant can grind away
yards and keep the defense from dropping all of their defensive backs
into coverage the Bears will have a long day in the house that Favre
built.

My prediction?  Jay Cutler is in tears by the end of the first half as
the Packers force a couple of mistakes from the little guy and the
Pack dominate time of possession winning the game 30-17.

From the Carebear:

Well, I don’t hate people near as much as Andy so I’m just going to go with my team’s game.  As much as I hate watching the Giants play, the Giants against the Redskins tomorrow will be a solid game to tune in to.  It will also be a good way to test the NFC East waters.

The Giants Defense is highly touted, but has a lot to prove to me.  The line will always be strong, but the linebacking corps is suspect, and the secondary has a reputation of giving up the big play.  The defensive backs have a year under their belts now, and we’ll see if they can build off the progress they made last year.

Ahmad Bradshaw may be the lightning to Brandon Jacobs thunder in 09-10

Ahmad Bradshaw may be the lightning to Brandon Jacobs thunder in '09-'10

The real question, though, is the offense.  While I think they actually get better with Ahmad Bradshaw’s tenacious and downright angry running style taking over for the surprisingly Tiki-like talent that Derrick Ward was, the problems are in the receiving ranks.  Ever since Plax pulled a Munson, the Giants passing game has been weak to quite weak, every week.

They lost the well dressed, drop-happy, more tortoise than hare, Amani Toomer, and now start the season with Steve Smith, Domenik Hixon, Sinorice Moss, and rookie Hakeem Nicks as their receivers.  Maybe the no name WRs will work, but that is up in the air going into sunday.

As for the Redskins, I don’t care so you shouldn’t either.  If you want good Redskins info go to, http://dcsportsuniverse.blogspot.com/, its a blog from a DC guy I played baseball with at Gburg… Slightly less well done than Blue Duck, but a valiant effort.  Haynesworth is a beast, he should scare the hell out Eli, and his oreo-eating ass.

Prediction from Carebear:  This comes down to Jason Campbell.  If the Giant’s secondary can handle Santana Moss and the passing game then  Clinton Portis will be easier to keep in check for big blue, and the Giants take week 1.  Look for a close one.  Giants: 24, 17.  Big day for Bradshaw.

He could do better.  Hes f***ing Tom Brady.

He could do better. He's f***ing Tom Brady.

Now it’s time for Alex’s pick for Must Watch Game of the Week:

Denver Broncos @ Cincinatti Bengals

This is not a game where you look at both teams and expect playoff births.  This is a game between one team contantly in turmoil (Cinci) vs a team challenging for the title of “NFL’s most dysfunctional team” (Denver).  But this could be a telling game for things to come.

As Andy mentioned, Denver traded away their franchise quarterback in Jay Cutler and have also had a drama filled training camp with Pro Bowl WR Brandon Marshall.  That all happened after the shocking (to some…) firing of longtime coach Mike Shanahan.  Enter new head coach Josh McDaniels, QB Kyle Orton, and new faces all over both sides of the ball.  Denver has always been known for a successful running game and had one of the most explosive passing games in the league last year, ranking their offense as 2nd overall.  The defense, on the other hand, has been among the league’s worst over the past few years.

For Denver, this game can answer alot of questions.  Has McDaniels mended fences with star receiver Brandon Marshall?  As great as Eddie Royal was last year, in order for the Broncos offense to be successful, they need Marshall to add that vertical threat to the offense.  Also, which running back will lead the committee setup by McDaniels; rookie Knowshon Moreno, veterans LaMont Jordan, or Corell Buckhalter?  On the defensive side of the ball, can Brian Dawkin defeat father time and produce at safety?  The Bronco’s secondary was ranked 26th in the league last year and didn’t get any younger in the offseason.  We’ll find out against a team with a promising offense with its own issues to boot.

In Cincinatti, you’d have to hope that this is the make or break year for head coach Marvin Lewis.  He’s let the inmates run the asylum, and as a coach who was hired based on his success as a defensive coordinator, he’s never had an average defense as a Bengal.  That’s not even mentioning the character issues on this team, where there are too many to count.  If I’m a Cincinatti fan, I’m hoping that clueless owner Mike Brown is demanding a big step forward from his team or else changes are in the mix.

Things are actually looking up for the Bengals, as QB Carson Palmer is returning healthy for the first time in over a year.  Despite the loss of TJ Houshmandzadeh, the Bengals picked up underrated Laveranues Coles to man the spot opposite a revitalized Chad Ochocinco.  Adding to the passing game, troubled wide receiver Chris Henry seems to have his head on straight and has always teased with flashes of a starter’s talent.  If he can keep it together this season and Palmer can stay healthy, this passing offense has a ton of potential.  As the passing game goes, so goes the running game, manned by an extremely average Cedric Benson (another player with character issues in Cinci? No way!) .  If the passing game is successful, they will be able to run the ball behind an average line.

Also looking promising, the young defense finally built by Lewis.  Second year linebacker Keith Rivers was a beast last year, before suffering a broken jaw on a brutal hit by Hines Ward.  He’ll be joined by Dhani Jones in the middle, who had a solid year last season, and rookie Rey Maualuga, his former USC teammate.  That has the making of a very solid unit.  Cornerback Leon Hall is establishing himself as one of the top CB in the AFC.  There is talent here, so we just have to see if Lewis can coach it up.

The reasons to watch this game?  First, we’ve got to see if Palmer is officially back.  If so, look for Chad Ochocinco to just go off.  He’s too talented to waste it again.  Next, can the below average lines, both offensive and defensive, play above their heads?  Can former Cowboy Roy Williams fulfill the promise he offered coming out of the University of Texas 8 years ago or is he the undersized linebacker Dallas finally realized he’d become?  Bottom line is, this is a team with plenty of promise that can take that next step towards the playoffs (but won’t make it yet).

My prediction is that the Bengals come in and handle business.  The Broncos camp couldn’t have been productive with Orton and Moreno missing time due to injury, Marshall missing time due to suspension, and a new offense being implemented.  Furthermore, Orton has looked like a jugs machine for opposing defenses during the preseason.  Cinci will want to come and prove they are back.  The Bengals take it, 31-14.

In the preseason, Kyle Orton gave opposings defenses the ball.  Will he continue into the regular season?

In the preseason, Kyle Orton gave opposings defenses the ball. Will he continue into the regular season?