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Fantasy Football: Week 14 Waiver Wire

12.06.11 at 10:13 am ET
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Welcome to the Week 14 waiver wire. At this point, if you are still reading, you are a playoff team. Congrats, but there’€™s obviously still work to be done. Here, we have assembled some of the better free agent options that we are seeing in our leagues. We’€™ll be watching more games today and adding names to the list for you folks that play in deeper formats, so feel free to join us at Rotobahn.com if you are looking for even more options. We’€™re also available if you are in need of a second opinion, so please feel free to leave a question in our forums and we’€™ll get you and answer as quickly as possible.

Christian Ponder, QB, Vikings

He’€™s been in this space for a while now, but if he is still around, and you need QB help, go get him. He is a fine young quarterback, and he played a great game last week without Adrian Peterson to lean on. Ponder is a quality backup in all formats.

Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets

It’€™s often less than pretty, but Sanchez is a reasonable option in deeper fantasy leagues and makes for a solid backup if you need one. The Jets are playing better offense these days if only by degrees.

Matt Moore, QB, Dolphins

He has been too solid to ignore and he is using all of the Dolphins offensive weapons and getting the ball out of his owns hands quickly. Moore can be your backup in a deep league if you need him. If you are suffering from injuries at QB, he can even start for you.

Kyle Orton, QB, Chiefs

He’€™s a guy to pay attention to if not a guy to pick up right away. We like him very much in deeper fantasy leagues if his finger injury ends up being minor and if he is starting. Orton, in KC’€™s offense, could be a solid fantasy backup. If Tyler Palko remains in the lineup, then avoid Orton. This situation will play out later in the week.

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WEEI NFL Power Rankings: Week 14

12.06.11 at 7:23 am ET
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We learned a lot from Week 13. The Packers (1) and 49ers (4) clinched their respective divisions; the Bears (16) season is on life-support; the Bengals (18) can not contend with the elite teams in the league, Tim Tebow and the Broncos (13) are in first place; and Madonna will be performing at halftime during the Super Bowl.

The top six teams in WEEI’s NFL Power Rankings were victorious in Week 13. Teams ranked No.7-11 were a different story. The Falcons (8), Cowboys (10), Lions (12), Raiders (14), and Bears (16) all drop in the rankings. Meanwhile, the Jets (9) and Broncos (13) both climb.

The final four weeks of the NFL season are set to begin. The NFC East race is one of the most intriguing. The Giants (11) and Cowboys (10) will face off twice for the right to represent the division in the postseason. The series matchup starts this week in Dallas. Meanwhile, the race in the AFC for one wildcard spot seems destined to go down to the wire. Teams like the Jets, Raiders, Broncos, Titans, and Bengals are all in the hunt.

1. (1) Packers (12-0) ‘€” The Packers were tied in the fourth quarter for the first time this season. That’s a testament to how dominant the defending Super Bowl champs have been. They’ve now won 18 straight games and will surely wrap up home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The road to Indianapolis will go through Green Bay. NFC teams should be scared.

2. (2) Ravens (9-3) ‘€” The Ravens should finish the season 13-3 with games against the Colts, Chargers, Browns and Bengals remaining. It’s very important they take care of business and win out to soldify at least one home game in the playoffs. Ray Rice proved on Sunday that he is the motor that moves the Ravens offense. The elite running back rushed for over 200 yards.

3. (3) Saints (9-3) ‘€” The Saints couldn’t have picked a better time to be playing their best football of the season. It seems impossible to game plan against Drew Brees and the Saints offense. The pass defense has been the biggest cause for concern this season. However, they did a great job shutting down elite receiver Calvin Johnson on Sunday night.

4. (4) 49ers (10-2) ‘€” For the first time since 2002, the 49ers can call themselves division champs. The Niners defense hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher or a rushing touchdown all season. Running backs such as Steven Jackson, Ray Rice, and LeSean McCoy have all run into the 49ers D with little success. On the other side of the ball, Frank Gore is leading a productive rushing attack. Alex Smith is benefitting from the solid run game more than anyone. The young QB is managing games, not trying to do too much on the field, and has thrown just five interceptions.

5. (5) Steelers (9-3) ‘€” The Steelers are proud owners of the No. 1 defense in the league. The defending AFC champs look primed to make another strong playoff run. Ben Roethlisberger has shown no ill-effects from his thumb injury and James Harrison is starting to amp up the dominant Steelers pass rush.

6. (6) Patriots (9-3) ‘€” Playing 60 minutes of football seems to be challenge for the Patriots. Their fourth-quarter performance was alarming to say the least. The Colts rallied for 21 points in the last 15 minutes of the game. The cupcake schedule continues this week against the Redskins. They won’t play a top caliber quarterback until the playoffs. We won’t find out how good this team actually is until January.

7. (12) Texans (9-3) ‘€” The injuries keep piling up, but the wins keep coming in. The Texans are a resilient, gritty team that refuses to give up, no matter what player goes down with an injury. Gary Kubiak, Wade Phillips and the entire Texans coaching staff deserve much praise for what this team has done. The rags to riches story on defense has been one of the best storylines in the NFL this year.

8. (7) Falcons (7-5) ‘€” Dropped passes and a struggling run game is a bad combination. The Falcons had both in Sunday’s loss to the Texans. Star wide-receiver Roddy White leads the league with 11 dropped balls. Michael Turner was unable to get anything going against the Texans. The result is usually not good when the Falcons fail to run the ball effectively.

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Read More: aaron rodgers, NFL Power Rankings, Tim Tebow, Tom Brady

Nick McDonald happy to get his first NFL start under his belt

12.05.11 at 4:35 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Nick McDonald was sore when he woke up Monday morning, but that was a good thing.

‘€œIt feels great though — I haven’€™t felt like this in a while,’€ he said Monday afternoon during a break in the Patriots’€™ locker room. ‘€œIt feels good.’€

In his first NFL start, the center went wire-to-wire in New England‘€™s 31-24 win over Indianapolis. The fourth center the Patriots rolled out there this season, McDonald was signed off the practice squad on Friday to replace Ryan Wendell (calf) and Dan Connolly (groin), both of whom were too hobbled to play on Sunday. (Starter Dan Koppen was placed on injured reserve shortly after the regular-season opener against the Dolphins.)

‘€œNick did really well. He really did. He stepped up big time this week,’€ said fellow offensive lineman Brian Waters. ‘€œHe didn’€™t fully know what would happen, but he stepped up big time.

‘€œHe’€™s done a great job all season of making sure he knows what’€™s going on, and today was just to show that you never know when your time is coming and you have to be prepared. All of young guys … I feel confident in all our young guys being ready to go when their number is called.’€

The 6-foot-4, 316-pounder had been on the practice squad for the bulk of the 2011 season, but was signed to the active roster on Saturday when the Patriots released wide receiver Taylor Price. A 24-year-old undrafted free agent out of Saginaw Valley State, McDonald was signed by the Packers after the 2010 draft, and picked up a ring because he was on the Green Bay roster last season.

Sunday marked his first start with the Patriots.

‘€œIt was nice to see myself out there and see what I have to do to get better,’€ McDonald said after getting a chance to watch film with his teammates. ‘€œI need a lot of improvement, obviously, but I think I stepped up and played well. Obviously, I have two awesome players next to me in (Logan) Mankins and Waters, so that helps.

‘€œIf there’€™s a check, they’€™ll help make some calls. But as a center, you have to know everything. You have to be right on it. If it’€™s not the right call, those guys will definitely tell you,’€ McDonald added. ‘€œThat was key with me. I had to communicate. We worked on that all week to make sure I made the right calls.’€

Quarterback Tom Brady had nothing but positive things to say about the work that McDonald did in the week leading up to the game, and what he was able to accomplish on Sunday against the Colts.

‘€œIt’€™s really a credit to Nick and the work that he put in last week,’€ Brady told WEEI on Monday morning. ‘€œTaking care of the football starts with the center-quarterback exchange. You’€™ve got to execute the most basic play in football, getting the ball from the center to the quarterback. We spent a lot of time last week trying to be able to do that. To be forced into that situation, where basically Nick’€™s been on the practice squad and then to elevate him the roster and have him step in was really a great job by him.’€

Going forward, McDonald faces an uncertain future, as the injury status of both Wendell and Connolly could have a sizable impact on his playing time. For his part, he said Monday he’€™s going to control what he can control.

‘€œI just have to keep working. (Do) what I’€™ve been doing since I got here. I just have to keep working hard in the weight room and film study and know what I’€™m doing and just be prepared,’€ he said. ‘€œIt’€™s great. I’€™m glad that I’€™ve gotten the opportunity. Now, I just have to keep doing it every single week and keep improving.’€

Read More: Brian Waters, Dan Connolly, Dan Koppen, Logan Mankins

Andre Carter on M&M: Patriots’ fourth-quarter performance ‘unacceptable’

12.05.11 at 1:01 pm ET
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Patriots defensive lineman Andre Carter stopped by for a visit with the Mut & Merloni show Monday at Gillette Stadium. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

The Patriots took a big lead against the Colts Sunday before settling for a 31-24 decision.

“Granted, it was a win, but overall we just didn’t finish strong,” Carter said. “Having 21 unanswered points defensively is just unacceptable.”

The Patriots have turned heads by turning receivers into part-time defensive backs. The latest is Matthew Slater, who helped out on defense Sunday.

“I never experienced anything like this throughout my career,” Carter said. “This is actually a first for me, seeing guys that probably weren’t even on an NFL team end up getting signed and starting, to having guys on special teams, guys on the offensive side of the ball trying to help out or contribute. That’s just something that the coaches have faith in each individual and we just know that whoever’s back there, the front four or the seven-man in general, we’ve got to get there to help the guys out.”

Added Carter: “[Slater] was a professional about it. I’m sure he was out of his comfort zone.”

Next up for the Patriots is Carter’s former team, the Redskins. Carter spent the past five seasons in Washington before signing with the Patriots as a free agent.

“It will be a little bit weird,” he acknowledged. “But like I tell everybody, this is a business. ‘€¦ There’s no revenge or get-back or nothing like that. When I left Washington, we parted on good terms. We shook hands and parted ways. They were headed in a different direction and I knew I was headed in a different direction.”

Added Carter: “I had great years. The chapter is closed. A new chapter begins. I’m a Patriot now. So, you’ve just got to prepare and find a way to put out the best performance.”

Read More: Andre Carter, Matthew Slater,

Transcript of Tom Brady on D&C: Bill Belichick ‘just the way he is’ in dealing with media

12.05.11 at 10:46 am ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning, following Sunday’s 31-24 victory over the Colts.

Bill Belichick was his typical curt self when speaking at his press conference after the game. Brady, who always is more talkative, was asked about the different approaches in dealing with the media.

“Well, there’s only one Bill Belichick,” Brady said with a laugh. “There’s no one that can be like him. It’s really his personality. He’s not trying to act a certain way. It’s just the way he is. Everybody is the way they are. What you hear from myself when I speak or Billy O’Brien when he speaks or Nick Caserio when he speaks, that’s everybody’s own personality. If you got me in some other situation, I’d probably speak the same way. And so would coach Belichick. It’s just a matter of your level of comfort and answering questions. But we do it so often. After a while your personality comes out.

“Coach Belichick has to talk to the media six days a week. I don’t have it that bad, where I have to talk six days a week. Three days a week for me. The only thing I really like doing during the week is getting ready to play the game.”

Following is a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Up 31-3 in the fourth quarter, was that just human nature kicking in on all fronts for the New England Patriots, or was it something a little more nefarious at work here?

I don’t even know what nefarious means.

Evil, bad, something malignant.

OK. I just think we didn’t execute very well. Offensively, we didn’t get a first down in the fourth quarter. You can’t do that. You’re not going to do much in terms of helping your defense out, either. We were up 31-3 and I think everyone was obviously happy with that, but we’d like to close the game out a lot better than we did yesterday.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Peyton Manning, Rob Gronkowski, Taylor Price

Boomer Esiason on D&C: Patriots on track to meet Packers in Super Bowl

12.05.11 at 8:49 am ET
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CBS Sports NFL analyst Boomer Esiason made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to discuss the Patriots and other NFL news.

The Patriots captured a 31-24 victory over the Colts Sunday, but coach Bill Belichick was not pleased after they let Indianapolis climb back in the game in the fourth quarter.

“Anytime you give up 21 points in the fourth quarter, you can understand how they feel — especially to a team that hasn’t won a game and to a quarterback who really a lot of people don’t have much respect for on the field,” Esiason said, although he added: “Five weeks from now, nobody’s going to look back at this and saw that they gave up 24 points to Indianapolis and give a crap about it.”

The Patriots visit the Redskins next Sunday, but the anticipation already is building for the game in two weeks against the Broncos and Tim Tebow.

“I’m not a big fan of his ‘€¦ but I will say this: What’s happening in their games is fascinating,” Esiason said. “Other teams are imploding offensively, so their defense is scoring touchdowns for them. Guys drop coverage, Tebow runs around and makes big plays in the fourth quarter. I’ve never seen anything like it. I give the young man a ton of credit. I give John Fox a ton of credit for sticking with it and riding the wave.

“When the Patriots get there it’s really going to be interesting, because watching the Patriot defense we saw yesterday in the fourth quarter go against Tim Tebow in his building should lead to some very interesting football.”

Esiason predicted that Chargers coach Norv Turner, Giants coach Tom Coughlin, Dolphins coach Tony Sparano and Colts coach Jim Caldwell will be fired after the season, and that Eagles coach Andy Reid “wants out of there,” speculating that San Diego would be his ideal landing spot.

Following are more highlights from the conversation.

On if he would prefer Tebow or Mark Sanchez as his quarterback: “I would want Mark Sanchez. Tim Tebow’s got a nice, short resume of winning here. It’s unexplainable, other than the fact that the kid is earning it and doing it in the big spots much like Mark Sanchez has. I’ll take Mark over Tim, but I’ll tell you one thing: Both of them are showing they can win games in the fourth quarter after not playing that well for 3 1/2 quarters.”

On Tom Brady vs. Aaron Rodgers: “Tom Brady’s done it a lot longer than Aaron Rodgers has. If you just look at the body of work, I will tell you that Tom’s three Super Bowls still weigh heavily on his side. I’ll always look at those Super Bowls as saying that this will be one of the greatest quarterbacks to have ever played, especially if he can get to a fourth one. I still say it’s going to be New England and the Packers meeting up in Indianapolis. Obviously, only time will tell. Neither team has a great defense, by the way.”

On the Packers’ quest for an undefeated season: “Everybody there wants it. I did their game a couple of weeks ago against Minnesota on Monday night, and everybody there, to a man, even thought they’re not really supposed to be talking about, they’re talking about it. And they’re talking about it because they want it. Just like the Patriots wanted it back in 2007.”

On Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski: “He’s fantastic, he really is. That size, and the ability that he has, and he’s a full tight end — he can block, he can run pass routes. He obviously is a smart player, intuitive, understand where to get himself open and how to get himself open. And much like Tom has the relationship with Wes Welker, this relationship has now developed into that type of thing on the field. If you have it with one guy, it’s great. If you have it with two guys, it’s fantastic. There’s not enough good things to say about him.”

On the Colts’ decision about what to do with the top draft pick and Peyton Manning: “The big question for the Colts will be is [Manning] going to be ready to play next year. And I don’t think it matters. I think they’re going to take Andrew Luck regardless. And they should take Andrew Luck and be like the Green Bay Packers, who have been stocked at the quarterback position since 1992.”

Read More: aaron rodgers, Bill Belichick, boomer esiason, Mark Sanchez

Matthew Slater follows the lead of Julian Edelman as Patriots ‘get away with a win’

12.04.11 at 8:44 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Matthew Slater and Julian Edelman are very different people but they share a lot on a football field. They are both two-way players who have cut their teeth on special teams. They have now played safety for the Patriots in the secondary.

And they happen to be roommates in their Foxboro home when not at Gillette Stadium.

So, naturally the two talk about playing defense after working in the offense as receivers and on special teams. And when Slater got the call this week from the coaching staff that he would be starting the game at safety, he knew right where to turn.

“Julian and I are roommates so we’ve talked a lot about that. It was kind of fun for the two of us to be doing the flip-flop thing together,” Slater said. “[We] are close friends and he’s supported me and I’ve supported him and hopefully, we can keep this thing going.”

Edelman and Slater are just the latest examples of just how much Bill Belichick expects from everyone on the roster.

“Around here we like football players who can do things to help this team win, and the coaches preach that, ‘the more you can do.’ and I’ve always just tried to take the mentality, ‘whatever they ask me do’ even if they ask me to play right tackle, I’m going to go out there and do it,” Slater said. “That’s the mentality I’m going to continue to to have.”

While Edelman has been painted in a controversial light with his arrest on Halloween for indecent assault at a Boston nightclub, Slater is regarded as one of the most religiously dedicated players to his faith in the locker room. That was apparent after the 31-24 win over the Colts on Sunday.

“I’m very thankful for the opportunity and thank God and thank the coaches and teammates for having the faith in me to put me out there. I’m just thankful we got away with a win and we have a lot of things to work on and get better at.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bill Belichick, Delone Carter, Indianapolis Colts, Julian Edelman
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