|10.05.12 at 12:32 pm ET|
Welcome to Week 5. I’ve compiled some solid starts for your consideration and I’ve also highlighted some players that are poor options for one reason or another. As always, if you need further assistance, please feel free to join us at Rotobahn.com where you can consult our full lineup rankings. Good luck to all in Week 5!
Joe Flacco, Ravens at Chiefs
The Chiefs should go down pretty easily, and we think Flacco will do very well. The risk is that they simply don’t need to throw at some point. That could make having a big game tough to pull off, but we like Flacco to produce solid numbers worthy of starting for you in all formats.
Jay Cutler, Bears at Jaguars
Cutler’s Jekyll & Hyde routine continued in Week 4 as he and Brandon Marshall had a good time dealing with the Cowboys defense. The ‘Boys have a stud pass-rusher, so it’s a good sign for the Bears and Cutler, because pass protection is their Achilles’ heel. Cutler should fare well against Jacksonville in Week 5 and he can be a bye week solution for you in any league.
Andrew Luck, Colts vs. Packers
The game looks good in terms of its dynamics. Luck may have his ups and downs, but we know that the Colts will have to open it up if they want to compete with Green Bay. You won’t be seeing Donald Brown and a cloud of dust all day long. Not by a long shot. Luck is a solid play if you need bye week help.
Christian Ponder, Vikings vs. Titans
Check his health just to be sure. If Ponder is limited in Friday’s practice, then there could be some reason for concern, but he’s been very good so far and we think Tennessee is ripe for the taking as far as matchups go. The Vikings are healthy and fully loaded on offense as long as Ponder is ready to roll. He’s a strong play.
|10.04.12 at 1:12 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The numbers say Brandon Spikes is finally reaching his potential.
The third-year run-stopping linebacker out of Florida is second on the Patriots with 30 tackles through four games. Only Jerod Mayo (46) has more.
He forced two fumbles on Sunday in the 52-28 win over the Bills and set the tempo on the sideline with ferocious hits that turned the momentum in the game.
“It was a just form tackling,” Spikes said Thursday of his fourth-quarter hit on Fred Jackson in Sunday’s win. “I was taught to hit the ball and separate it from the man so that’s what I was able to do. It went well that game.”
“It’s something that comes natural. I always have been like that, ever since I was little,” Spikes said. “I played with a lot of emotion and I just love the game. As you can see, you can tell I’m having fun playing. It’s just a part of me. It’s just comes with playing beside me.
“I’ve been playing that way. Honestly, you guys just noticed but I feel like I’ve been playing like that ever since I stepped on the field. It’s just emotion. It just comes out.”
Regarded as one of the most physical athletes on the team, Spikes is showing just how valuable he is to the defense.
“I definitely have to stay agile,” Spikes said. “I play basketball so that helps me out. I still have a lot of work to do. I feel like right now, as far as my performance, I’ve been inconsistent. So, if I could start doing all the little things and getting better each week, I feel like I’ll have a great season.”
Spikes, who had 11 tackles in the Super Bowl last February, feels there are areas he can improve. One such example came in the first half Sunday when he lined up in the slot to cover Chandler. Chandler shook him off and beat him to the middle of the field. He stopped his coverage on the play, leaving the defensive backs to pick him up. The secondary didn’t get to Chandler in time and the result was a 20-yard touchdown for the Bills.
“Pass coverage, just everything. Just ups and downs,” Spikes said. “I might have a brain fart here and there. It’s the league, I’m trying to get that out of the way.”
|10.04.12 at 12:49 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Brandon Bolden isn’t looking back, only forward.
The rookie running back, who finished with 16 carries for 137 yards and a touchdown last week against the Bills, isn’t resting on his accomplishments. He said before practice on Thursday that the focus has now moved on to the Broncos, saying that he has “blinders” on.
“[You don’t] worry about last week. Last week happened; now we’re getting ready for Denver. We have them coming here,” he said. “Just forget about it. It was a game. You see that: ‘Yeah, yay, yippee.’ Everybody was happy. But it happened, it’s in the past, and now, we’re moving on.”
An undrafted free agent out of Ole Miss, the 5-foot-11, 220-pound running back said he isn’t sure how he’s going to fit into the game plan this weekend.
“I have no clue. Like I said, you never know,” Bolden said. “We might go in one game and do something different from what we expected and we have to change it. You don’t know. So I don’t know.
“Going into every week of practice, you go in and try and learn as much of the game plan as you can in case your number does get called, you have the opportunity to go execute everything.”
Four games into his professional career, Bolden said there haven’t been a whole lot of surprises.
“Really, I haven’t had much of a surprise, per se,” he said. “I had a great job working with our entire [team] this spring, when I first got here. Everybody kind of jump started me ahead of time and let me know what to look for — this and that. And then, getting in with the older guys, watching film and seeing how they take notes and everything and kind of preparing you for the entire season.
“My first four [games], things have been pretty much the pace they prepared me for, and things are still going according to plan.”
|10.03.12 at 11:30 pm ET|
Gone is the uncertainty and unpredictability of Tebow Time. It’s been replaced with the certain future hall of fame quarterback Peyton Manning his predictable brilliance of managing of the game at the line of scrimmage. Just how different are the Broncos now?
“It’s, I’d say, 95 percent different,” Bill Belichick said Wednesday. “Some of the same players, some of the same matchups, but those players are doing different things. They’re not running the dive option, it’s just different types of plays.”
What the Broncos ARE running looks a lot like what Manning ran for 13 years in Indianapolis. And, as WEEI.com’s Chris Price explains, Belichick and his staff won’t just be watching Broncos film this week to get ready.
Over the years, how many hours of Peyton Manning footage has he seen?
“Quite a few. Back in the division it seems like,” Belichick said.
This is the 13th time Tom Brady has faced Manning. The Patriots and Brady have won eight of the 12 previous meetings. Belichick has faced him 14 times and is 9-5. What has Belichick grown to admire about him?
“Everything,” Belichick said. “I think he’s got no weaknesses in his game. He does everything well.”
Belichick said – despite his multiple neck procedures – Manning is playing at the level that he was when he was playing with the Colts.
“He’s playing at a high level, yeah,” Belichick said. “He looks pretty good to me. Everything is good. His mechanics are good, decision making is good, handles the team well, all the little things ‘ footwork and ball handling, throwing mechanics. He’s pretty good.”
And the offense Manning is running in Denver?
“It’s identical. It looks the same to me,” Belichick said.
Indeed tight end Jacob Tamme and wide receiver Brandon Stokley are on the Broncos roster, a couple of receivers that Manning frequently targeted in Indianapolis.
In four games, Tamme has 19 catches for 177 yards and a touchdown while Stokley has 13 catches for 158 yards and a touchdown.
“I think they’re both, they’ve been very productive and certainly Peyton looks for them in critical situations,” Belichick said. “Stokley gets open a lot in the slot and Tamme does a good job on everything, especially play-action passes going down the seam. I think he has a lot of confidence in both guys on conversions or scramble situations like that where they have to improvise and the play gets extended. Those guys do a good job, they have good chemistry.
“I’d say the formations and all are the same. At Indianapolis, Dallas Clark was a lot of times in the slot. With Denver, they’ve played a lot more two, three receivers with [Brandon] Stokley in the slot. So, the tight end plays the tight end, the tight end doesn’t play the slot, if you will.” Read the rest of this entry »
|10.03.12 at 9:17 pm ET|
Last season, we had the Harbowl, a battle of coaching brothers in San Francisco and Baltimore. While the Gronkbowl might not have the same sort of national juice, it’ll still be intriguing when brothers Rob and Chris Gronkowski take part in the Patriots-Broncos game at Gillette Stadium.
Chris, a Denver fullback, is in his third season the league, and has bounced from the Cowboys to the Colts before joining the Broncos before the start of the 2012 season. In his professional career, he has five rushes for 17 yards.
Even though his brother Rob has managed to put up some eye-popping numbers through his first two-plus seasons in the NFL, Chris said Wednesday that doesn’t diminish the level of trash talk between the two, on or off the field.
‘It’s all trash talk,” the 6-foot-2, 245-pound Chris said Wednesday. “We’re both on offense so we can’t really go against each other so we just have to talk trash instead.’
There are five Gronkowski brothers, including tight end Dan, who played briefly with New England last season. Who would do a better job of providing a scouting report than one of his brothers?
‘They’ve seen the film. They played him last year. They should have a good idea,” Chris said when asked if he gave his teammates any tips on stopping his brother. “I don’t have to go against him, so I don’t really know.
‘We played together, but never actually went against each other,” Chris added, laughing. “That was a long time ago, too. Back in the day, I would kill him back then. He was tiny back then.’
When he’s not facing his brothers’ team, Chris remains his biggest fan.
‘I try to catch his games. Both my brothers, whenever I can,” he said. “If they’re playing Monday night and we’re playing Sunday, I watch all their games. I watched their playoff games last year, so I’m pretty familiar with the team.’
Chris said he hasn’t heard from his parents as to who they’ll be rooting for.
‘I keep asking them who they’re cheering for and they won’t tell me,” he said. “So we’re going to have to see on game day what jersey they are wearing.’
|10.03.12 at 5:40 pm ET|
What did he learn?
‘They were good battles,’ Lloyd said. ‘I learned a lot from him, just from a technique standpoint, catching and finishing the play because Champ is one of the only cornerbacks I’ve gone against that that play is never over. He can catch the ball, and if you’re not bringing it in or if you’re not protecting it, then he will find a way to get it out.’
Lloyd is now going to be facing Bailey, with 50 career interceptions, for real on Sunday. But that doesn’t mean Bailey will be on Lloyd all day since he could be lined up against a receiver or tight end at the snap.
‘Champ is a very talented kid when it comes to his film study and how he plays out there,’ Lloyd said. ‘I’m sure that the coaching staff is going to do a good job of mixing up the routes and combinations that we’re doing out there.’
|10.03.12 at 4:58 pm ET|
FOXBORO — After the replacement officials, no one faced more criticism after New England’s 31-30 loss in Baltimore on Sept. 23 than Devin McCourty.
He dropped a pair of potential interceptions and was beaten on the final pass that set up the game-winning field goal.
But on Sunday he redeemed himself with his first two interceptions of 2012.
“As a defensive back, it always feels good to come down with interceptions, that’s what we work hard [at] and that’s really the biggest reward of playing defensive back,” McCourty said. “That’s big, and defensively, turnovers always help.”
Was it just a matter of confidence? Well, yes and no. McCourty said he felt more confident but that confidence is built during a week of good practice – not necessarily during the game.
“For us, it’s each week we want to try to get better,” McCourty added. “We work hard in practice to go out there and perform well on Sunday,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “I think my confidence will start today with going out and having a good practice and just keep building throughout the week.”
In his third NFL season, McCourty knows there can be endless talk about a cornerback’s confidence going into a particular game. He explained Wednesday why all the “confidence” talk can be overrated – especially with an experienced quarterback like Peyton Manning coming to town.
“Because a lot of things we go into the game [with] are determined in practice,” McCourty said. “When we have a good week in practice, when we have a good week studying film, you go into those games confident. Just because you have a great game one week, it doesn’t mean you’re going to go into that next game feeling like no one can attack you. There’s different offenses, you see different guys each week. That week in practice always determines a lot.”