The Wednesday Walk Through is far from a political column, but while I was watching the election coverage on Tuesday I couldn’t help but think I was watching a sporting event. There is a scoreboard, results are coming in on the half hour, and each network has their own crew to analyze every single twist or turn in the action. On Tuesday, Barack Obama was called the winner at about 11:15 PMEST.
The post game show proved to be more entertaining than the game itself. Karl Rove had a meltdown on Fox News. Donald Trump couldn’t put down his twitter and Brian Williams smacked him for it.
Mitt Romney gave a respectful and short concession speech, and then the POTUS closed the night with a celebration that forced the hair on my neck to stand. It was a fun night.
Electing a President is like the World Cup or the Olympics. It only comes around every four years. I am looking forward to 2016 when two completely new candidates will emerge.
So, where have you been Wednesday Walk Through? Last week, I was struck down by a case of the flu that left me flatter on my back than Michael Vick was on Monday Night. This week, we are a day behind because the election caused us to push back our podcast recording until Wednesday and thus the column to Thursday. We are back now with everything you have grown to love about the column. Sorry about the delay.
Each Wednesday, readers of this column will sit in and enjoy exactly what you read the week before. The idea of the column is to present the information in sections that will run each week. It might sound a little confusing, but you will catch on. Let’s do this…
Without any further ado, let’t start the Wednesday Walk Through…
5 Things I wont Forget about Week 9
- It has been a long time since the WWT has seen a team as dysfunctional as the Philadelphia Eagles. Each season, Andy Reid emerges from his bye week with an improved team. This year, he has emerged from the bye week without a team. The offensive line is in shambles. The play calling is terrible. Michael Vick doesn’t know if he should zig or zag and is turning the ball over at a rate we haven’t seen in years. Nnamdi Asomugha has not been the player the Eagles thought he would be when they invested in him two summers ago. On Monday, the Eagles had one of the worst red zone performances in league history. The Eagles were in the red zone four times and came out behind 7-6. On their first trip to the end zone, Michael Vick was intercepted by Patrick Robinson who returned the ball 99 yards for a touchdown. On the Eagles next two trips, they were forced by the Saints defense to settle for a field goal. On their last trip in, Brent Celek fumbled the ball. The WWT doesn’t know what is left for the Eagles but the 2012 season seems dead. Andy Reid has probably hit a wall in Philly and should be replaced this summer.
- If you haven’t seen Chuck Pagano’s post game speech from the Colts locker room after their win over the Dolphins, take a second and check it out. On September 23, the Colts lost to the Jaguars and fell to 1-2. Before their next game, head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia. Since, the Colts are 4-1 and have emerged as playoff contenders. It’s amazing how the season of a team can change so drastically, so quickly, when all 53 men rally to support the greater good. The Colts have a chance to avenge their loss to the Jaguars this week and improve to 6-3. If they do, they might only be four wins away from clinching a playoff spot in the thin AFC. The Colts have winnable games against the Bills, Lions, Titans, and Chiefs. If the season ended today, the Colts would travel to Denver to play Payton Manning and the Broncos in the AFC Wild Card round. I think the networks would have a blast with that game.
- It might be over for the Minnesota Vikings. The bottom has fallen out in the last few weeks with loses to the Buccaneers and Seahawks and Christian Ponder seems lost. Percy Harvin badly sprained his ankle and is going to miss some time. Two weeks ago, the Vikings were 5-2 and one of the best stories in the league. Today, they sit 5-4 and have a game against the Lions before their bye week. The problem for the Vikings is their schedule after the bye. The Vikings play the Bears and Packers twice and travel to Houston and St. Louis. Vegas will probably only favor the Vikings in one of those games and they might have to most difficult path to the playoffs in the league. Before the Vikings can even think about the playoffs they have to straighten out their quarterback. Ponder was only 11 for 22 with 63 yards passing and an interception against the Seahawks. The key might be to feed Adrian Peterson as much as possible. Peterson leads the league in rushing despite having carried the ball more than 25 times once this season. It makes sense that the Vikings are trying to bring Peterson back slowly but the way AD ran on Sunday he sure seems ready to carry the load.
- Speaking of Peterson, he is in the midst of the greatest race for comeback player of the year in NFL history with Peyton Manning. Manning bounced back on Sunday after being intercepted on back to back possessions by Terrance Newman. Manning threw two fourth quarter touchdown passes to lead the Broncos to their third straight victory and a 5-3 record. The Broncos lead the AFC West and seem to be just hitting their stride. As for the comeback player of the year award, the WWT will give you :30 seconds to shout out last year’s winner. Give up? Matt Stafford won the award last year. Actually, quarterbacks have won the award 5 of the last 6 seasons. Chad Pennington won the award in 2006 and 2008. Manning and Peterson will both be deserving winners of the award come the end of the season, but the WWT will be shocked if the voters don’t lean towards to quarterback.
- Did the Bears need to run up the score on the Titans? The Bears entered the fourth quarter with a 37-12 lead. Then, on back to back possessions, in a span of 1:01 Jay Cutler threw the ball to Brandon Marshall for a pair of touchdowns. The scores gave the Bears a 52-12 lead and left the Titans thoroughly embarrassed in front of their home crowd. I know everyone on the field was a professional, but it just seemed unnecessary. Did Lovie Smith have Brandon Marshall on his fantasy team? There is no BCS in the National Football League and no reason to tempt the football gods. The Bears play the game of the week against the Texans on Sunday. They should have saved some of those late, meaningless touchdowns for the fourth quarter against the Texans.
Raking the Rookie QB’s
They say that this is a quarterback league and five team’s are playing with a rookie behind center this year. Each week, the WWT will rank the progress of the five rookie starters to see who develops quickest this season and who might be a draft day miss.
- Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts) (Last Week: 2) Luck set the NFL mark for most passing yards by a rookie with 433 yards passing against the Dolphins. Luck has his team in the playoff race and is well ahead of schedule in his development. It will be hard for any of the other rookie QB’s to knock Luck out of the top spot at this point.
- Ryan Tannehill (Miami Dolphins) (LW: 4) Tannehill did his best to out duel Luck on Sunday but fell just shot. The result of the game was no fault of Tannehill. The rookie QB passed for 290 yards and a touchdown. Most importantly, Tannehill protected the ball on Sunday and hasn’t thrown an interception since September 30th.
- Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks) (LW:3) Wilson played one of his best games against the Vikings on Sunday. Wilson passed for only 173 yards but had three touchdown passes and no interceptions. Protecting the ball is the key for Wilson. In the Seahawks five wins, Wilson has only thrown an interception in one of them. In their four losses, Wilson has six interceptions with at least one in each game.
- Robert Griffin III (Washington Redskins) (LW:1) Griffin probably deserves better than this, but his season seems to be going backwards all of a sudden. The Redskins got Griffin off to a great start with a scheme filled with options, bootlegs, and other gimmicks that usually don’t work in the NFL. Have defenses figured out how to contain Griffin? Griffin is one of the most talented players to enter the league in years and I don’t expect this slump to last forever. The key is going to be Mike Shanahan’s ability to keep defenses guessing.
- Brandon Weeden (Cleveland Browns) (LW:5) Weeden and the Browns failed to score a touchdown against a reeling Ravens defense. The Browns kicked five field goals and Weeden was intercepted twice. Weeden has shown glimpses at times this season, but the Browns are 2-7 and headed for another high draft pick in the spring. Will the Browns new management be tempted to draft and develop their own quarterback?
Week 9 Playoff Projections
Instead of power rankings, each week in the WWT we will look at what the playoff situation would look like in each conference if the season ended today. It will be interesting to see this list evolve from week-to-week.
East- New York Giants
North- Chicago Bears
South- Atlanta Falcons
West- San Francisco 49ers
Wild Card 1- Green Bay Packers
Wild Cars 2- Seattle Seahawks
East- New England Patriots
North- Baltimore Ravens
South- Houston Texans
West- Denver Broncos
Wild Card 1-Indianapolis Colts
Wild Card 2- Pittsburgh Steelers
Must See TV- Week 10 Edition
Each week, the WWT will get you ready for the upcoming week of action in the NFL by ranking the five games every NFL fan must watch.
1 Houston Texans at Chicago Bears, Sunday, November 11 at 8:20 on NBC
The Bears and Texans will cap off our Sunday of football with a potential Super Bowl preview. The Bears and Texans both have one loss this season and both of the losses were blow outs on National TV. The Bears lost to the Packers on Thursday Night Football on September 13. The Packers won the game 23-10 and it really wasn’t that close. Cutler was hounded all night by Clay Matthews and the Packers defense. Cutler was sacked 7 times and threw 4 interceptions. The Texans loss came on their first ever Sunday Night Football appearance to the same Packers team. Green Bay coasted to a 42-24 win in a game dominated by Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers gutted the Texans defense with six touchdown passes. The good news for the Bears and Texans is that the Packers are on a bye this week and will be no where near Soldier Field when the game kicks off at 8:20. Can the Texans beat the Bears in Chicago? Did the Bears anger the football gods by running up the score on the Titans last week? It might come down to what team can run the ball better. Will Matt Forte or Arian Foster lead his team to victory?
Prediction: Bears 24 Texans 21
2. Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, November 11 at 4:25 on FOX
I cant help it. The WWT is addicted to these NFC East battles. The Eagles are a train wreck that I can’t look away from right now. The Cowboys aren’t much better. The Eagles and Cowboys are both (3-5) and the loser will fall out of the playoff picture in the NFC. Both coaches are holding on to their jobs by the slimmest of threads and Sean Payton has been rumored to be the coach of both teams next season. Regardless of records and circumstance, these NFC East games are usually exciting games that come down to the final minute. Jerry Jones better make sure his glasses are clean because he isn’t going to want to miss much of this game.
Prediction: Cowboys 31 Eagles 27
3. Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints, November 11 at 1:00 on FOX
The Saints and Falcons don’t like each other. Roddy White of the Falcons said this week that he doesn’t like anything about New Orleans except the food. The Falcons are the league’s last undefeated team and the Saints would like nothing more than to end the streak. Brees and company have won 3 of their last 4 games and have turned into a frisky team. With a win, the Saints will improve to 4-5 and could be tied in the loss column for the last playoff spot in the NFC. Do the Saints have anything to lose? Sure, if the Falcons beat them, their season is over. However, don’t most people think their season is over anyway? My guess is that this game is going to mean a lot more to the Saints than the Falcons. The Falcons could lose their next four games and still have a lead in the NFC South. The Superdome should be rocking and Brees always gives the Saints a fighting chance.
Prediction: Saints 40 Falcons 33
4. Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings, November 11 at 1:00 on FOX
It’s all about the division match-ups in the NFL this week. The Vikings can’t afford to lose their third straight game heading into their bye week. The Lions seem to be hitting their stride having won 3 of 4 games since their bye week. The loser of this game is going to make their path to the playoffs much more difficult. The WWT talked about the hellish schedule that the Vikings will face after their bye week and the Lions don’t have it much better. The Lions face a stretch of games against the Packers, Texans (on Thanksgiving), Colts, and Packers.
Prediction: Vikings 21 Lions 20
5. Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots, Sunday, November 11 at 1:00 on CBS
The Bills have never won a game at Gillette Stadium. Actually, Gillette is one of 11 stadiums around the NFL that the Bills have yet to score a victory. Grantland had an incredible piece about the Bills and Patriots game in September. If you have any interest in Buffalo or the Bills you have to check it out. Speaking of Buffalo, Patriots tight end and native of a Buffalo suburb has never played a game against the Bills and not scored a touchdown. The Patriots have won 17 of their last 19 games against the Bills. Any reason for optimism for Bills fans? The WWT cant think of one.
Prediction: Patriots 42 Bills 3
Make Sure He is in your Lineup
Each week, the WWT will pick out a player that absolutely has to be in your fantasy lineup this week.
Randall Cobb was the choice the last time the WWT graced the pages of Pro Player Insiders and he didn’t disappoint nor dominate. Cobb had 5 catches for a modest 28 yards and a touchdown. The WWT expected more from Cobb against the Jaguars but at least he put the ball in the end zone.
Did anyone notice what Doug Martin has done in the last couple of weeks? Of course you have. Chances are that Martin’s preformance last week resulted in 1 of 3 things for your fantasy team.
1. He single handedly lead your team to victory.
2. He single hadedly defeated your team.
3. You left him on your bench and have been contemplating quitting fantasy football all week.
The WWT isn’t going to state the obvious and tell you to put Martin in your lineup, but we want to make sure that the Buccaneers running game doesn’t convince you to put Vincent Jackson on the bench. The Chargers are 18th against the pass but those numbers are protected by 2 games against the Chiefs, one against the Browns, and another against the Titans. When the Chargers have faced the Falcons, Saints, and Broncos they haven give up oodles of passing yards. Martin will bring the Charger close to the line of scrimmage and Josh Freeman will throw the ball over the top to Jackson and Mike Williams. Get both of them in your lineup this week.
Projected Total: Jackson 7 catches for 102 yards and a touchdown. Williams: 4 catces for 88 yards and a touchdown.
Must Win Game of the Week
Each week, the WWT will tell you what team absolutely positively needs to win their upcoming game.
The Saints, Vikings, Lions, Buccaneers, Chargers, Jets, Cowboys, and Eagles all need to find a way to win their games this week. The schedule is loaded with important division games and teams on losing streaks that they have to stop before it is too late.
The WWT is pointing their giant finger at the Jets. Rex Ryan was called out by the players this week in a Sports Illustrated poll that called him the most overrated coach in the league. The Jets lost back to back division games before their bye on Sunday. Now, the Jets have two games against NFC West opponents before a Sunday night showdown against the Patriots. The Seahawks will be a difficult out this week but the bye week has already stripped away most of the Jets excuses. With two weeks off, the Jets were free to travel to Seattle whenever they wanted. They have had two weeks to prepare for a game against a rookie quarterback. While the Jets were relaxing, the Seahawks were in a dog fight against the Vikings. If the Jets lose both of their games against NFC West opponents before heading home, Rex Ryan might not be on the plane.
One Last Thing…
The Sports-Casters podcast this week featured an interview with Jon Wertheim from Sports Illustrated. Wertheim traveled to London to watch the Patriots play the Rams and he wasn’t impressed with the experience. I have wondered for years why the NFL insists of forcing their game down the throats of England and Canada. I get the Commissioner’s dream of expanding the game internationally, but why the insistence on London and Canada? What about Germany? Many of the World League teams were in Germany. How about Mexico? The league played a game their a few years ago and the buzz seemed greater than any game played in England or Canada.
The Toronto experiment has been especially ugly. Each game played in the Skydome seems deader than the last. It would be a true shame if the Bills ever left Buffalo for that dead market.
If you want to read about Werteim’s experience in London, you can click here.
If you want to listen to Jon tell the Sports-Casters about it, you can click here.
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