We’re with you every Sunday to provide the Sunday Six Pack, an article featuring six of the biggest storylines heading into each and every week of the season. Keeping tabs on these events will keep you prepared and informed throughout the season – just don’t drive within six hours of reading this.
Can #1) Free Ray Rice?
Ray Rice has one game this year where he received 20 carries and in that game he received exactly 20. He has two games with ten or fewer carries. These stats drive Ray Rice owners and Baltimore Ravens fans insane. The Ravens have — again — vowed to correct this problem this week against the Browns and their 24th ranked rushing defense. Rice is still the number three overall fantasy running back in both PPR and non-PPR formats, so it’s not like he’s killing your fantasy team, but his owners would still like to see a more concerted effort to get him a consistent number of carries. The Browns defense has looked much better since Joe Haden has returned to the lineup, so the Ravens may decent to lean more on their ground game this week.
Can #2) Arian Foster’s Record Day?
The Buffalo Bills have the worst ranked rushing defense in the NFL, giving up an average of 176.9 yards per game – six yards worse than the lowly Saints defense. They gave up 195 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries to Chris Johnson and the struggling Tennessee Titans rushing offense. Now they travel to Houston to face Arian Foster and a Texans team fresh off of the bye and a demolition of the Baltimore Ravens. I feel like the only thing that will prevent a record day from Arian Foster is if the Texans get up big early and rest him down the stretch.
Can #3) Cam vs. RGIII
Two running quarterbacks with rocket arms face off in Washington this week. The Redskins defense, ranked 29th in average yards per game, may be just what the Panthers need to get Cam Newton in sync. The Panthers actually rank in the middle of the pack, 15th, in that regard, but I have a feeling that RGIII, after being shut down by Dick LeBeau and the weather last week, is going to have something to prove. If only his receivers can hang onto the ball. This has the makings of an exciting, high scoring game for Newton, RGIII, Steve Smith, Santana Moss, Alfred Morris, Jonathan Stewart and Greg Olsen.
Can #4) Stafford Reborn?
Matthew Stafford made it look like 2011 again against a tough Seahawks defense last week. Not just in the statistics column, but by all accounts, his mechanics, which have been extremely poor thus far, also looked better. Now he gets to play a Jaguars team that will likely be without their top two cornerbacks again this week. While they held up well against Green Bay’s depleted receiving corps last week, I’d bet against a repeat performance in week nine.
Can #5) Won’t You Fly Freeman?
Behind a revitalized ground game (Doug Martin is the PPR RB1 over the last three weeks), Josh Freeman is the QB2 over the last three weeks. Mike Williams has played much better this year, especially with Vincent Jackson drawing coverage away. The loss of his co-free agent star signing Carl Nicks at guard could not only hamper the running game, but also Freeman’s effectiveness. Oakland is ranked just 21st in passing yards allowed per game, but has been tough against the run (11th overall). Freeman is a low-end QB1 this week and an excellent bye-week filler for Tom Brady owners.
Can #6) Tannehill v. Luck
Everyone had this week nine game circled on their calendars as being between two 4-3 teams that would be in the playoffs if they started today, right? While few are surprised by the play of Andrew Luck (a/k/a the next Peyton Manning), not many saw Ryan Tannehill having this much success early on, especially considering the lack of offensive weapons surrounding him in Miami. Tannehill’s poise has been impressive, and I am extremely excited about his potential as he grows within Joe Philbin’s system and the Dolphins acquire some more skill players for him to throw to (hello healthy Greg Jennings, UFA in 2013).
Have a great Sunday!