Every Sunday we’re featuring the Sunday Six Pack that covers the day’s biggest storylines. We follow this up each and every Monday with the Monday Hangover, which looks back on those stories and covers what we learned. These back-to-back articles are sure to get you primed, pumped and informed throughout the entire season. In addition, reading these articles will ensure you understand the dangers of not paying attention or drinking too much on Sundays.
Can #1) Lion’s Share
It wasn’t pretty, but the Lions got the job done against the visiting Seahawks on Sunday. It took two fourth quarter touchdowns, one by Matthew Stafford and the other with twenty seconds to go by Titus Young to secure the win. Once again, however, Calvin Johnson couldn’t find the end zone and was held to 46 yards receiving on three receptions. After a slow start, Stafford ended the game with 352 yards passing, three touchdowns and a single interception. The unlikely star of the game was Young who scored twice and reeled in nine receptions for 100 yards. The gut check will continue over the next two weeks as they hit the road for Jacksonville in week nine followed by Minnesota in week ten. I’m not ready to call the Lions a playoff team, but with two wins over the next two weeks, they’re in the running.
Can #2) Cam it be true?
Another difficult week for Cam Newton as the Panthers dropped a difficult game in Chicago. For his part, Newton did throw for 314 yards while rushing for 37 more. But with no passing touchdowns and two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown in the fourth quarter), Newton’s confidence is certain to take yet another hit. If Cam can take anything away from this game, let it be that the Bears have been extremely difficult on nearly every quarterback thus far. So much so that it’s safe to sit most all quarterbacks not named Rodgers, Brady and Brees facing the Bears. But at 1-6, that won’t be enough to silence the Carolina critics. The drums beat on.
Can #3) Titanic Effort
Chris Johnson was quiet early, but began to find open field in the second half against the Colts, ultimately finishing the game with 99 yards on 21 carries and 18 additional yards on two receptions. It wasn’t enough of an effort to re-establish the enigmatic runner as an every week player, but it’s his third game in a row with more than 90 yards rushing and a yards per carry average of greater than 4.6. Truth be told, CJ1k is still too dynamic to bench in most weeks, but with the stingy Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins on tap before the Titans’ week 11 bye, coaches will be faced with a touch decision. Over these next two weeks, we see Johnson as middle-tier flex play at best and if he can perform against these two defenses, are ready to upgrade him in what is a relatively favorable schedule to end the year.
Can #4) Fallen Oak
Darren McFadden didn’t find the end-zone, but he did find 129 rushing yards on 29 carries – he also chipped in with four receptions for a total of 23 yards. It will take more than a poor Kansas City team to elevate DMc back to true RB1 status, but owners should be happy with this effort. Looking into the second half of the season, the Raiders have only two contests remaining with rushing defenses in the upper half of the league – this should mean much greater success for the Raiders and McFadden, at least in the ground game. He’s a great trade target for competitive teams needing a boost at the running back position.
Can #5) On the Cobb
With five receptions, 28 yards and a touchdown, Randall Cobb didn’t recreate the magic of previous weeks, but his late receptions helped elevate him to a respectable day. Going forward, there’s perhaps no greater riser within the position. Greg Jennings is slated to miss a few more weeks, potentially the remainder of the season, Donald Driver is not a factor and James Jones is best suited as the third receiver. Cobb’s time is now, the lights are on and he’s making the most of his opportunity. He’s an every-week flex starter and may even be a sneaky WR2, only time will dictate just how good he can be.
Can #6) Greene Giant
The Jets couldn’t match the intensity of their talk against a motivated Dolphin team, ultimately losing at home 30-9. And it wasn’t that close. To his credit though, Shonn Greene managed 77 yards on 15 carries, good for a 5.1 ypc. average, in addition to 29 yards on two receptions. I actually found myself further impressed. Greene ran tough, with a burst and looks like a completely different runner than what we’ve come to expect. There’s unquestionably a dynamic missing from the Jets running game, but until they can find that element, Greene is commanding more touches with his new-found running style. The Jets are on bye in week nine, then visit a tough Seattle defense in the following week. It’s hard to know exactly what to expect from Greene week-in, week-out, but we’ll take it what we’re currently receiving. He’s been one of the few recent week bright spots for the struggling Jets.
Can #7) Jennings Unleashed
Jacksonville’s Rashad Jennings was a difficult start for fantasy owners in week eight. Up against the offensive juggernaut known as the Green Bay Packers and struggling mightily as is, it was anyone’s guess just how many touches Jennings would command. While he only rushed for 59 yards on 17 carries, he did his best Darren Sproles impression by also hauling in six receptions for 56 yards. He did lose a costly fumble, but otherwise performed admirably for coaches risking the start. With Maurice Jones-Drew still sporting a heavy foot cast, it’s obvious Jennings will be the go-to player to own in Jacksonville and he’ll be a popular trade target. The next two weeks find a visiting Detroit Lions team followed by a tough road contest in Houston. In either case, Jennings is a startable asset in a flex role and even more so in PPR formats. Beyond 2012, it seems likely that Jennings will be a starter in 2013.
Can #8) Mile High Shootout
It wasn’t the shootout most were expecting, it was more of an ambush. Peyton Manning was Peyton Manning, leading the Broncos to a big victory over the Saints by the score of 34-14. If not for a late Drew Brees strike to Jimmy Graham in garbage time, it would have been worse. Demaryius Thomas had another big game for the Broncos, hauling in seven receptions for 137 yards and a touchdown. Eric Decker caught two touchdowns, but on only four receptions for 43 yards. It was an impressive showing for the Broncos passing attack which saw nine different receivers receiving targets and seven with at least one reception. Even more impressive was the running game that generated 225 rushing yards and a touchdown. Willis McGahee, showing no signs of his advancing age, ran for 122 yards on 23 carries and scored a rushing touchdown – he also caught two passes for 33 yards. For the Saints, it was a night to forget. No receiver could generate more than 63 yards, Drew Brees only threw for 213 yards, two touchdowns and one interception and the running game could only muster 51 yards. Sure seems that few questions now remain about Peyton Manning.
Can #9) RGIII Meets Dick LeBeau
It’s not surprising that RGIII had a sub par day – playing in Pittsburgh can do that to any quarterback, let alone a rookie. In the end, Griffin III couldn’t even muster a 50% completion percentage, going 16-for-34 for 177 yards and a single touchdown. A sub-par rushing day was also on tap as he only had eight yards on six attempts. What wasn’t expected was just how poor the Redskins receivers would be. On one stat sheet, they tallied a total of ten dropped passes … TEN. Add those back to RGIII’s numbers and you’re much closer to his normal production. The absence of Fred Davis and Pierre Garcon hasn’t been filled well by Niles Paul, Aldrick Robinson and Josh Morgan, all of which need to step up if the Redskins plan to stay in the race within the NFC East. Griffin and the Redskins should have a much more pleasant experience in week nine vs the visiting Panthers, after which they are on bye. RGIII continues to be the favorite for Rookie of the Year, but he had better start receiving better play from his supporting cast.
Can #10) I Hope Steve Smith Likes Peanuts
Steve Smith rose to the occasion, perhaps as the lone bright spot on a dark day in Chicago. With seven receptions for 118 yards, Smith attempted to put the team on his back and lead them to a victory. In the end, poor play by the offense (specifically Cam Newton), led to another loss, leaving the Panthers at 1-6. Center Ryan Kalil’s pre-season Superbowl letter now seems much more like a New York Jets attention-grab than a serious prognostication. Beyond the story line that was Cam Newton and Steve Smith was the running game woes. Prior to the game, we heard that Jonathan Stewart would be drawing the start in an attempt to establish the rushing attack. When the fat lady sung, Stewart had racked up 42 rushing yards on 17 carries, while adding another 38 yards on four receptions. Woo. But for fantasy owners, we’re focused more on the longer term prospects of the Carolina run-game and Stewart’s prospects as the full-time back. Rumors are swirling, and not surprisingly so, that DeAngelo Williams will be moved before the trade deadline; this situation would be a gift to both Stewart and Williams owners. That may be the only gift in Carolina this year.