By Matt Kroeger
Happy late Thanksgiving. I have to say, I am quite grateful for three Thursday games. I love the tradition, I love the clutch combination of food and football, and I love being able to watch games with people I care about. In a world with so much to be thankful for, though, can we agree we could do without the NFL Network? These games used to be special because they were played on a day that wasn’t Sunday or Monday. Now? It’s just another Thursday slate. It isn’t special anymore. More importantly, the NFL Network pretends like it’s doing us a solid, when really it is spitting out mediocre games because the teams are either a) tired, b) banged up, c) under-prepared, or d) all the above. It isn’t worth it.
And yes, it screws up fantasy, but the main issue is that it screws up the game. I thought we cared about the health/well-being of the players? So why do we insist on forcing young men to torpedo one another for 60 minutes twice in five days? To me, it isn’t worth it unless it’s a special occasion like Thanksgiving, which has been a long-standing tradition that is inherently tied to the NFL itself. So in a world of countless blessings, I’m not too fond of the NFL Network one. But I’m not complaining.
By the way: any time I choose a player in a Thursday game (because this runs on Saturdays), I have made the prediction before their game has played. You can just assume that. For this week, I am writing this after Thanksgiving, so none of the players from those three games are mentioned. Fair is fair.
QB: Matt Cassel (KC). Boy, did Troy Smith underperform or what? I have come to terms that the Niners were NOT who I thought they were. And I did let them off the hook…by picking Troy to do well. Dennis Green would be ashamed. I unintentionally gave him the kiss of death, Michael Corleone style. Sorry Fredo, err I mean Troy.
What was I talking about? Oh yeah, Matt Cassel. He will have a big week. One interception in his last seven games? I can live with that.
Other options: Peyton Manning (IND), Philip “GT” Rivers (SD), Rusty Smith (TEN)
(Last week: Troy Smith vs. TB…16-31, 148 yds, 1 INT, 45 rush yds)
RB: Mike Tolbert (SD). If you watched the Colts-Pats game, you surely realize my rationale for this selection. Green-Ellis and Woodhead ran for 165 yards on 29 carries with two scores. The tackling was abominable. The Colts had no business even being in that game, but they clawed their way back into contention only to throw the game away in the most painful way possible. I might as well have taken the straw out of my drink at Buffalo Wild Wings and stabbed my eye ball repeatedly. Needless to say, I am not very high on the Colts run defense until these injuries heal up in the linebacking corps. So until then, I’m high on all opposing backs, like Tolbert.
Other options: Chris Johnson (TEN), Darren McFadden (OAK), Mike Goodson (CAR)
(Last week: Charles vs. ARI…12 rush, 88 yds, 4 rec, 38 yds)
WR: Sidney Rice (MIN). So much for Favre being benched. Looks like the Vikings higher ups are sticking with him unconditionally. I suppose I don’t blame them, but superfluous statistics for one dude’s legacy (who has been with the team for 1.5 seasons no less) shouldn’t trump the future of the organization. But that’s just some random blogger’s opinion. What do I know.
One thing I do know is that the Washington Redskins are unpredictable, but predictable. Let me explain. They’re like the current season of The Office (season 7). You have characters who impressed you early on in the show, but after six seasons, they’ve lost a significant amount of their comedic value. The Redskins have a lot of nice players, but I’d rather have the 2004 versions of them. That said, the Redskins have shown flashes of brilliance, but then followed it up with monumental stink jobs. Season 7 of The Office has done the same; we get one fantastic episode that reconnects to the show’s humble beginnings, but then we get another the next week that makes you want to write an angry fan letter full of expletives to no one in particular.
Following this trend, the Skins eked out a victory last week at Tennessee in overtime. So it only makes sense that they will take a massive dump on the field against the Vikings yes? Plus there is always the possibility that the Childress firing will instantly make everyone infinitely happier to be a Viking and thus play infinitely better. I’m looking at Rice to have a great game.
Other options: Mario Manningham (NYG), Mike Williams (TB), Lee Evans (BUF)
(Last week: Jennings vs. MIN…7 catch, 152 yds, 3 TD)
QB: Ben Roethlisberger (PIT). It won’t be pretty, but the Steelers will win against the Bills (on the road). I could also whip out the stat that the Bills are last in the NFL against the run, thus making Rashard Mendenhall the go-to guy. But I know Tomlin *cough* Dr. Foreman doesn’t run the ball unless he wants to chew up clock, so I’m just predicting a bad game by Roethlisberger.
Other candidates: Michael Vick (PHI), Jake Delhomme (CLE), David Garrard (JAC)
(Last week: Cutler vs. MIA…16-25, 156 yds, 1 INT)
RB: Fred Jackson (BUF). The feel-good story has to end sometime, right? Like I said, I believe/hope the Bills keep it close, but Pittsburgh’s defense is frightening. Jackson has been a beast the past two weeks (249 yards, 4 touchdowns), but I don’t like his odds against a formidable front line; those two performances came against the Lions and Bengals.
Other candidates: LeSean McCoy (PHI), Matt Forte (CHI), Tim Hightower (ARI)
(Last week: Mendenhall vs. OAK…23 rush, 59 yds, 1 TD, fumble lost)
WR: Roddy White (ATL). I had him in my other options here last week, but he finished with 9 grabs for 83 yards. This week, the Falcons play the Packers. If you look, the Packers have dominated their past four games, completely shutting down their opponents’ passing games specifically. Chalk it up to Clay Matthews returning to the field or feeble opposing quarterbacks, but the numbers don’t lie. I like how Charles Woodson matches up with White. I still think the Falcons will win (because Matt Ryan is automatic at home), but don’t be surprised if Roddy has a subpar day. And no, I am not suffering from turkey-induced stupidity.
Other options: Pierre “Flintsone Fingers” Garcon (IND, again), Laurent Robinson (STL), Randy Moss (TEN)
(Last week: SEA Mike Williams vs. NO…6 catch, 109 yds)