|WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 4: Cardinals move into top 3 behind Patriots, Packers||09.29.15 at 11:01 pm ET|
The top five teams all won in Week 3, but the Cardinals and Broncos swapped places in light of Arizona’s dominant performance vs. the 49ers. Everyone expected the Patriots to roll over the Jaguars, and they delivered. We’re only three weeks into the season but the hype machine is rolling through Boston, with many fans anticipating another undefeated regular season. Bill Belichick and the Patriots head into the early bye with almost no injuries, and in Week 5 they will head to Dallas to face a Cowboys team that has lost its starting quarterback and best wide receiver. The Patriots hype won’t be slowing down anytime soon.
The Steelers drop seven spots with the loss of Ben Roethlisberger. Mike Tomlin better hope Michael Vick has been reading the playbook, as he’ll be expected to get the ball to Antonio Brown for the next four to six weeks. Brandon Marshall is pretty much solely responsible for the Jets dropping nine spots after his ill-advised lateral attempt gift-wrapped a turnover for Chip Kelly’s floundering Eagles. Another AFC East team dropped six spots as the Dolphins continue to wait for Ryan Tannehill to progress into a franchise QB. (More on him later.)
The only team I really wanted to move up this week was the Falcons. Coach Dan Quinn made substantial adjustments at halftime, and after allowing 28 points to the Cowboys in the first half, Atlanta allowed none in the second. Bills QB Tyrod Taylor continues to impress with his mobility in the pocket. He just looks comfortable back there, and Rex Ryan‘s defense bounced back after getting throttled by Brady and the Pats in Week 2 to beat the Dolphins. The Colts (begrudgingly) get moved up three spots after a narrow victory over the Titans.
1. (1 last week) Patriots (3-0) — A thrashing of the Jaguars keeps the Patriots on top. After the bye, they play the injury-plagued Cowboys followed by the Colts, Jets, Dolphins, Redskins, Giants and Bills at home before their first real test in Denver against the Broncos. It’s not too early to think about Tom Brady being in the MVP conversation, which is great for the employees at 345 Park Ave.
2. (2) Packers (3-0) — Aaron Rodgers obliterated a (usually) good Chiefs defense. I think last year’s meltdown in the NFC championship game will galvanize the Pack for the entire 2015 season. Cheeseheads should be booking hotels in San Francisco as soon as possible.
3. (4) Cardinals (3-0) — Chris Johnson‘s resurgence with Arizona is a bit of a surprise. His 2,000-yard seasons likely are behind him, but he looks better than he ever did with the Jets. Larry Fitzgerald is staving off Father Time for another season. He’s got 333 receiving yards and five touchdowns in three games.
|Week 3 fantasy football live chat, 11 a.m.||09.27.15 at 9:04 am ET|
Join Pete Davidson of WEEI.com and Rotobahn.com for a fantasy football live chat, with all the action starting at 11 a.m. Sunday. Let Davidson help you set your lineups heading into Week 3. Get your questions in now …
DraftKings has your shot to play for FREE in the $1 Million Fantasy Football Contest THIS SUNDAY! First place takes home $100,000! FOR FREE ENTRY, CLICK HERE.
|Fantasy Football: DraftKings Week 3||09.26.15 at 8:18 am ET|
I hope you all had some success in Week 2. I had it rough with a lot of Tony Romo lineups, but I am raring to go for Week 3. I’ve broken my recommendations into three cost categories, so you have options throughout DraftKings‘ pricing from top to bottom.
If you haven’t yet, please join Jim Hackett and me tomorrow morning for The Fantasy Football Hour at 8 a.m. on 93.7. We’ll be covering Week 3 injuries, some lineup advice and plenty of DraftKings, too!
BIG-MONEY OPTIONS ($7,000 and up)
Antonio Brown, Steelers at Rams, $8,900
He’s going to see a ton of targets as usual, and he can handle anybody the Rams throw at him. The return of Le’Veon Bell helps him because they like to use them in tandem. Play-action to Bell sets up a lot of nice screen opportunities for Brown, who is one of the safest plays week in and week out.
Aaron Rodgers, Packers vs. Chiefs, $8,000
Yeah, it’s a boatload of coin, but with it you get the league’s best quarterback going against a defense that has been giving up passing yards and touchdowns through the first two games. The fact that Eddie Lacy is banged up could lead to a little extra passing volume, and we like extra passing volume.
Tom Brady, Patriots vs. Jaguars, $7,700
He’s on fire, and I like this week’s home matchup. The biggest fear would be an early blowout, but the Patriots usually pile on the points, so I am not too worried.
Rob Gronkowski, Patriots vs. Jaguars, $7,400
Stack him with Brady or play him on his own. Gronkowski is a man amongst boys right now, and he offers amazingly consistent performance at a position littered with duds. Granted, it will cost you, but no other tight end offers you the kind of upside you get from Gronk. He’s in half of my Week 3 DraftKings lineups.
|WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 3: Patriots cement hold on top spot, Broncos move up to 3||09.22.15 at 9:42 pm ET|
The Bills were supposed to be a serious test for the Patriots offense. Rex Ryan typically gives Tom Brady fits. Such was not the case Sunday, as Brady and the Pats put a divisional whupping on Sexy Rexy and retained their top spot in the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. The Packers held strong at No. 2, avenging their NFC championship game loss to the Seahawks. I’m not quite ready to say that Peyton Manning is back, but he certainly looked in control during the Broncos‘ fourth-quarter comeback against the Chiefs.
The biggest surprise in the NFL seems to be the NFC East. No one is poised to win that division, never mind run away with it. The Cowboys have to withstand injuries to their two best players, but they can still make a run late in the season if their backup quarterback — Brandon Weeden or the newly acquired Matt Cassel — can win one out of every three. The AFC East looks better than it has in years, with the Jets and Pats starting off undefeated. The Bills will stick around, but the Dolphins’ loss to the Jaguars is a major cause for concern.
Drew Brees is hurt, leading many to consider the Saints’ 2015 campaign already over. The NFC South, then, becomes a two-team battle between the Panthers and Falcons, both of whom are 2-0. The Colts are 0-2 but still will end up winning the AFC South, because it’s just that bad of a division. We’re only two weeks into the season, but that doesn’t stop us from making rash generalizations that will look foolish at year’s end. On to the rankings!
1. (1 last week) Patriots (2-0) — Tom Brady and the Patriots marched into the Ralph and dominated Rex Ryan and the Bills. Following three touchdown passes from TB12, pundits are comparing this team to the one in 2007. A Week 3 matchup vs. Jacksonville will lead to more stat-padding from the offense.
2. (2) Packers (2-0) — After losing three straight to the Seahawks, the Pack finally got some revenge. Aaron Rodgers continues to spread the ball around, and he was masterful in the fourth quarter. The team’s decision to move LB Clay Matthews into the middle has worked out, as he helped limit Marshawn Lynch to 41 yards on the ground.
3. (9) Broncos (2-0) — Peyton Manning still has no velocity, but Thursday night’s comeback win over the Chiefs, in Kansas City, was about as gutsy of a performance you’ll see from the veteran QB. The defense forced five more turnovers and looks primed to carry the load week in and week out.
|WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 2: Patriots remain on top, Bills jump into top 10||09.16.15 at 10:42 am ET|
The Patriots retain their position at the top of the WEEI NFL Power Rankings after the first week of the season. Tom Brady continued his career dominance of the Steelers with four touchdown passes and a near-perfect passer rating. The Bills hit the ground running under Rex Ryan and climbed three spots to get into the top 10. Philip Rivers and his shiny new contract brought the Chargers up 10 places with a furious comeback against the Lions. As expected, the Rams took down the defending NFC champion Seahawks at home, which moves St. Louis in the top 10 as well.
The Colts, Ravens and Giants all suffered crushing defeats, leading to significant drops. Andrew Luck needs to get his offense rolling. Same for Joe Flacco and the Ravens. The Giants were victims of their own ineptitude, and should have been able to pull out an upset win in Dallas. The Eagles have yet to be defined, as DeMarco Murray scored twice but only rushed for nine yards. Marcus Mariota annihilated Jameis Winston in their first contest. We’ll undoubtedly have to wait four years to see them face off again.
Big-time injuries in Dallas and Baltimore will force those teams to make some adjustments going forward. On to the rankings:
1. (1 last week) Patriots (1-0)– Tom Brady was nearly perfect against the Steelers to the tune of four TDs. Malcolm Butler had his hands full with the best receiver in football but was in position to make a play all day. The injury bug bit Dominique Easley, and he’s expected to miss a week or two. Expect future opponents to roll some coverage Rob Gronkowski‘s way after he dominated the defenseless Steelers.
2. (3) Packers (1-0) — Aaron Rodgers looked great and was all smiles in Chicago. He spread the ball around and hooked up with newly reacquired WR James Jones for a pair of scores. On the other side of the ball, Clay Matthews made a huge fourth-quarter pick to put the game away.
3. (2) Seahawks (0-1) — Holdout Kam Chancellor may have cost his team a divisional win. His backup, Dion Bailey, slipped late in the fourth quarter, allowing the Rams to tie and then win the Week 1 matchup. Pete Carroll‘s curious decision to go for a surprise onside kick in OT should have Hawks fans fuming.
|Bill Belichick encouraged by ‘competitive’ pass D, red zone stops||08.14.15 at 12:50 pm ET|
Perhaps one of the most encouraging developments came in red area and fourth-down defense against arguably the premier quarterback in the game not named Tom Brady.
Aaron Rodgers played the first three series. On his first drive, he handed off to Eddie Lacy, who ran through and around the Patriots defense until the Packers had first-and-goal at the 5. Chandler Jones and Jonathan Freeny combined to make a stop on Lacy on first down. Jamie Collins made a tackle of Lacy on third down and Rodgers was forced out of the pocket and threw incomplete on fourth down.
On the second drive, Jabaal Sheard made stop of James Starks on fourth-and-1 at the Patriots 34. On the third drive, Rodgers threw incomplete on third-and-7 from the Patriots 7. What was the key to success?
“I thought, with the exception of a couple of plays, overall our pass coverage was competitive and our pass rush was competitive,” Belichick said. “We just didn’t do a good enough job on — we let a few drives get extended with penalties, with a couple conversions on second-and-long, so we never got to third-and-long. But, overall in those situations, we covered fairly well. The quarterback had to hold the ball, scrambled around two or three times, got a little pressure on a couple of those plays.”
Those are significant words from Belichick since there has been so much talk this spring and summer about how the Patriots were going to replace Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner (carted off Thursday night) and Kyle Arrington. Belichick generally was pleased with Robert McClain and Bradley Fletcher, though Logan Ryan did get beat by Jeff Janis for a touchdown late in the second quarter.
|Aaron Rodgers hopes for Deflategate resolution soon, offers support for ‘buddy’ Tom Brady||at 1:46 am ET|
FOXBORO — Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said Thursday he’s hoping there’s a resolution to Deflategate sooner rather than later.
Speaking after Green Bay’s 22-11 preseason win over the Patriots at Gillette Stadium, Rodgers called Tom Brady “a buddy” and sounded hopeful there would be some sort of closure on the matter before the start of the regular season.
“Tom’s a buddy, and he’s going through some stuff right now. I’m sure we’ll have resolution here pretty soon,” Rodgers said.
He added: “I don’t know enough about it to make any comment on [Deflategate]. But Tom’s a buddy, and I’d like to see it get figured out before the season.”
Rodgers touched on the bond that connects each one of the NFL starting quarterbacks.
“There’s only 32 of us,” Rodgers said. “[There are] a lot of expectations. A lot of adversity. We also have a great opportunity and platform to make a difference. I think you realize how difficult it is to play the position, the stuff you deal with every single day. You wear a lot of hats, as a leader, as an encourager. As a supporter. As a cheerleader. Disciplinarian. You lead from a lot of different vantage points. It’s also really thrilling. You know what those guys are going through and it’s fun to get to know some of the guys.”
For the record, Rodgers was asked — tongue-in-cheek — about the state of the footballs for Thursday’s contest.
“So you were OK with the air pressure in the ball tonight?” asked a reporter near the end of his postgame session with the media.
“Yeah, it was good,” the Green Bay star said with a straight face.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
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