|Colts overwhelm shorthanded Bengals, advance to play Broncos||01.04.15 at 4:10 pm ET|
The story remains the same.
For the fourth straight season, the Cincinnati Bengals reach the playoffs and for a fourth straight season, they are one-and-done.
Andrew Luck threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to Donte Moncrief and Adam Vinatieri kicked four field goals as the Indianapolis Colts beat the Bengals, 26-10, in an AFC wildcard game Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Colts advance to play Peyton Manning and the Broncos in the AFC divisional round next Sunday at Sports Authority Field in Denver. It will be the first time Manning has faced his former team in the playoffs.
Luck finished 31-of-44 for 376 yards for the Colts, who outgained the Bengals, 482-254.
The Colts took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a 2-yard run by Boom Herron but the Bengals answered with their only touchdown of the day, a one-yard run from Jeremy Hill. Vinatieri hit two field goals to put the Colts up, 13-7, as the Bengals defense held Luck without a TD in the red zone.
The Bengals defense then gave their overwhelmed quarterback a fighting chance at halftime. Darqueze Dennard forced a turnover from Herron and converted it into a 57-yard field goal from Mike Nugent with 10 seconds left in the first half, closing the Indianapolis lead to 13-10 at the break.
But Dalton, who finished 18-of-35 for 155 yards, went three-and-out on his first three possessions of the second half, including the opening possession of the half when the Bengals had a chance at momentum. Luck found Moncrief on 36-yard connection in the third quarter and Vinatieri added two more field goals.
The remarkable losing culture continues with the Bengals. Their head coach Marvin Lewis falls to 0-6 in the playoffs. Dalton is now 0-4. And they haven’t won a playoff game since Jan. 1991, a string of seven straight losses in the postseason.
The Bengals have also never won a road playoff game, falling to 0-7 all time.
|Fantasy Football: Week 15 starts, sits||12.12.14 at 10:38 am ET|
Welcome to the Week 15 starts and sits! It’s high-stakes fantasy football in all leagues this week. A loss means a spot in the consolation round next weekend while a win earns you a trip to the bowl game … unless you play in a league that uses Week 17 (bad idea) for its big game. I’ve done my best to find some good talent that is not too obvious or obscure. I mean, if you have an elite quarterback, you don’t need me to tell you to start him. If you are looking for advice on players not listed in this space, you can check out my full lineup rankings over at Rotobahn. They are comprehensive and they are free of cost or obligation.
Don’t forget to tune in Sunday morning for another episode of the Fantasy Football Hour with my co-host Jim Hackett. If you have last-minute lineup concerns, you should check out my Sunday chat. It takes place right here at WEEI.com and it runs from 11 a.m. to noon.
If you want to keep track of all our fantasy football content, both here and at Rotobahn, follow me on Twitter. I send out links to all fresh articles and chats as well.
Jay Cutler, Bears vs. Saints
He’s got QB1 upside in all formats, but he’s always a potential adventure, and I am sure some of the Cutler owners out there are concerned about the loss of Brandon Marshall. It’s certainly not a positive, but the Bears have enough depth at the skill positions to weather the storm. I expect new starter Marquess Wilson to perform well, and Cutler still has Alshon Jefferey, Martellus Bennett and Matt Forte to work with. The Bears’ starter can help you. He’s my 11th-ranked QB this week.
Mark Sanchez, Eagles vs. Cowboys
I am sure that last week scared some people off of Sanchez as a fantasy option. Even by my own math, there are about 12 options that I would rather use, but if Sanchez is your highest-ranked option, you need not worry too much. He’s more than capable of posting QB1-caliber numbers this week at home against Dallas. Collectively, the Eagles receivers are more talented than the Cowboys defensive backs.
He’s not a lock for a great performance, but he’s a viable play this week, and Odell Beckham gives him a weapon potent enough to score from any spot on the gridiron. Manning can help you this week if you need a quarterback in any league. You throw to beat Washington, and I suspect that is what the Giants will do … throw a lot and win.
If you are looking for a lock starter, then Manziel can’t help you. Guys making their first NFL start will always be a bit unpredictable, but there is a place for Manziel in a lot of lineups. I know I will have him active in a few leagues this weekend on teams where I have been streaming my quarterback all season long. To me, Manziel and his foot-point potential offer a higher floor and ceiling than most of the other streaming options such as Ryan Fitzpatrick, Joe Flacco or Kyle Orton. He should be good for decent numbers and has plenty of upside because he can score for you as a runner or a passer. It’s Johnny Football time, and he’s playable if you need him.
Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins at Patriots
New England is a tough matchup for Tannehill on paper. It goes something like this: The Patriots are outstanding at funneling the underneath routes to the middle of the field, which should limit the Dolphins in terms of moving the chains. The deep game is limited by Tannehill himself, as his deep-ball accuracy has been exceedingly poor. I’m not touching the Dolphins passing game this weekend if I can avoid it.
Andy Dalton, Bengals at Browns
He’s a one-trick pony right now going up against a deep defense that can handle Dalton’s single trick (A.J. Green) while slowing down the running game. Dalton will need to play well above average to post good numbers here, and I am not betting on that in such a crucial situation.
|Adam Schefter on MFB: ‘If you’re not going to give [Tom Brady] an A-minus, I don’t know who in football deserves an A’||11.07.14 at 1:28 pm ET|
ESPN’s Adam Schefter made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Friday to discuss Tom Brady‘s grade heading into the bye week and other NFL news. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
WEEI.com’s Chris Price graded Brady with a B-minus through Week 9. Schefter said that’s grading the QB very tough.
“I would say an A-minus,” Schefter said. “And I mark him down from the A just because he struggled early on, the Patriots struggled early on, and it wasn’t very Patriot- or Tom Brady-like. But over the last four or five weeks, he’s arguably been the single best player in the entire league, right? They’re sitting there where they are because he’s been so good. So, no he was not perfect and they still have some work to do, but he was mighty impressive over the last month or so.”
Added Schefter: “To me, it’s a case where at the very least he gets a B-plus, probably gets an A-minus. Look, if you’re not going to give him an A-minus, I don’t know who in football deserves an A.”
While Brady has shined of late, the quarterback situation in Cincinnati is more concerning. Andy Dalton was historically bad in the Bengals’ Thursday night loss to the Browns, completing just 10-of-33 passes for 86 yards with three interceptions, two sacks and a passer rating of 2.
“Last night was one of the worst quarterback performances I’ve seen in a long time. I think anyone would agree that it was one of the worst performances they’ve seen in a long time,” Schefter said. “He had lowest completion percentage in Bengals franchise history for a single game. And if you watched it, there was almost never — almost never — any hope that anything was going to go the Bengals’ way. It was, it was, wow, I mean, again, it was a startling performance on a number of levels, not for good reasons.”
NBC NFL analyst Rodney Harrison joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday to discuss Thursday night’s Bengals-Browns game and the state of the Patriots as the team goes into its bye week. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The Bengals, playing at home against their AFC North rival, struggled all night during a 24-3 loss. Quarterback Andy Dalton completed just 10 passes for 86 yards and threw three interceptions. It was the fifth-worst statistical game for a quarterback since 1960.
Said Harrison: “First of all, if I was a member of that organization, I don’t know if I would’ve went on a limb and paid [Dalton] just based off of everything that’s happening in prime-time games as well as in the playoffs. But everyone acts like it’s a surprise of what’s going on with Andy Dalton and inconsistent play. Marvin Lewis, he has to take a big responsibility, but that’s something we can talk about later. But Andy Dalton, just his performances, the inconsistencies, and we’ve seen it from this team this entire year from the Patriots and the Bears and from the Indianapolis Colts shutting them out. From the tie with Carolina to last night, it’s just pathetic.”
Continued Harrison: “You look at Marvin Lewis, and I see this team last week, he was smiling, he was enjoying the victory. But they’ve been so inconsistent, and part of that is the lack of preparation with the players.”
While the Bengals battle their own problems, the Browns have moved to 6-3 and into a first-place tie in the AFC North.
“I don’t believe in the Browns like a lot of people,” Harrison said. “It’s easy to look at a team’s record and jump on the bandwagon. Just last week, or was it the week before, where they lost to Jacksonville, then everybody kind of jumped off the Browns. Then all of a sudden they’re back. Cincinnati, it’s one of those teams that’s hot and cold. I just don’t believe in the Browns right now. I like what they’re doing, I think Mike Pettine, I mean, he’s probably on pace to be Coach of the Year, not Bruce Arians. But I look at that team still far, far away now.”
|Fantasy Football: Week 5 starts, sits||10.03.14 at 8:59 am ET|
I’ll get to the starts and sits in a second, but I have to say that if the NFL wants to keep having Thursday night football, could they have both teams agree to play?
It’s now two weeks in a row that one team showed up and mopped the field with what looked like a JV unit. It seems like we keep getting low-quality football on Thursdays and it’s almost certainly related to the short week of preparation. And, in an era where player safety is supposedly of paramount concern, what’s the rationale for the short week? Not to mention that Jim Nantz and Phil Simms are about as compelling as another Derek Jeter retrospective. I never thought I would miss Mike Mayock.
So who do we want in our Week 5 lineups this weekend? Let’s endeavor to find out. As usual, I have avoided the exceedingly obvious choices. The most obvious selection below probably is Reggie Bush, who is included because his Week 5 situation is atypical. If the player or players that you want feedback on are not listed here, consult my full lineup rankings at Rotobahn. If you still have unanswered questions on Sunday, then head over to our chat, which starts at 11 a.m. every Sunday during fantasy football season. And, don’t forget to check out The Fantasy Football Hour. It airs each Sunday morning starting at 6:30 a.m., and you can listen to a tape of the show right here on WEEI.com if you are not an early riser.
To keep track of all our fantasy football content both here and at Rotobahn, follow us on Twitter.
He gets Odell Beckham, Jr. back this week, and they have righted the ship lately even without the highly regarded rookie. It’s a sweet home matchup with the Falcons, who can score the ball and who aid others in doing the same. Fire up all your Giants skill players.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers at Jaguars
He’s playing well, and this matchup is a slam dunk. Big Ben is a solid QB1 option with a cast of healthy targets led by scorching-hot receiver Antonio Brown.
Blake Bortles, Jaguars vs. Vikings
He should be playing from behind for much of the game, and we like the way he stays cool under pressure. This is crucial in Jacksonville, where quarterbacks face constant pressure. The good thing about Bortles is that he’s a rugged dude who gets you points with both his arm and his feet. If you need an option in a deep league, he can help you.
Andy Dalton, Bengals at Patriots
He’s playable in big formats, but I am not loving him on the road against a Patriots defense that projects to be fired up and ready to go. The Bengals are likely to be without Marvin Jones again after the tall receiver rolled his ankle in practice this week. Jones was supposed to return and bolster the Cincinnati receiving corps, but he’ll be limited if he can play. I see this game as a ground battle, so be careful with Dalton in smaller formats. You probably have better options.
|Fantasy Football: Week 2 starts, sits||09.12.14 at 2:15 pm ET|
Welcome to the Week 2 starts and sits. I hope you all did well last week, but if bad luck befell you, we’re here to help you up off the ground. There are some good sleepers this week and I’ve tried to bring a few to the surface. However, if you need more information on players not listed, you can always hit Rotobahn and check out my full Lineup Rankings, which will be updated over the weekend as always.
Jim Hackett and I will be back again on Sunday morning on 93.7 FM with another Fantasy Football Hour. We’ll be getting into some Week 1 fallout and looking forward to Week 2 by getting into some matchups and some potential value plays in both seasonal and weekly fantasy football. Join us! Our show comes on at 6:30 a.m. for all you early risers, but you can always listen to us later on as the show will be posted right here at WEEI.com. To keep up with all of our fantasy football content, follow me on Twitter. I tweet links to all our chats, articles and rankings.
Andy Dalton, Bengals vs. Falcons
Dalton has a home matchup vs. a porous defense. This is when you use him if you have a need. He’s a better option than some guys who are typically QB1 caliber, like Robert Griffin and Jay Cutler.
Jake Locker, Titans vs. Cowboys
On paper, this is definitely the week to play Locker. He’s got the Dallas defense and he’s at home. After he stood up to KC on the road, you have to like his chances here. His weapons are all healthy and ready to go.
Brian Hoyer, Browns vs. Saints
You probably don’t need him, but he looked good last week in the second half and this is a better matchup at home. Hoyer’s a solid player and his knee looks healthy enough at this point. He can help you if you’re in a jam.
He’s got injured receivers and he’s facing an imposing defense. He’s playable if you need him, because he’s a fine player. However, if you have another option like Andy Dalton or Jake Locker, this is the week to consider using them.
|Tom Brady isn’t afraid of (preseason) blitzes: ‘You figure out how to solve the problem’||08.21.14 at 6:08 pm ET|
FOXBORO — As far as Tom Brady is concerned, go ahead and bring the heat, even in the preseason.
And certainly, with the Carolina Panthers coming to town Friday, the opponent certainly has the wherewithal to execute a blitz or two.
But usually, in the preseason, defensive coordinators like to hold off on showing too much on film when it comes to exotic or advanced defensive approaches. And offensive coordinators, similarly, do the same.
However, usual and customary are not two words commonly used to describe Rex Ryan. The Jets coach watched last Saturday as his defense was torched by Andy Dalton for 144 yards on 8-for-8 passing and a touchdown. His response? Start blitzing the Bengals second and third stringers along the offensive line.
Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander took some offense.
But if the Panthers want to do the same from the start against Tom Brady, the Patriots quarterback says he’d have no problem with it, since there is no “wrong” defense to play, even in the third preseason game.
“They can blitz, they can do whatever they want to do,” Brady said. “Every defense is right. Like every call, there is risk and reward to everything. If they’re going to blitz, then you’ve got to figure out a way to beat the blitz. If you don’t fix the blitz, they’re just going to keep running them. It’s the same thing on offense.”
Then Brady got to the heart of the matter and revealed what competition is all about, even in games that don’t count.
“If you see a weakness, you’re just going to keep going to it, and that’s what separates pro-caliber players from guys who aren’t. There are guys who can fix problems and know that this is what a team is trying to do, and then you figure out how to solve the problem, and then they’ve got to work on something else. But if you know there are weaknesses, that’s what you go after. That’s what pro football is all about.
“We’ve got two games left, and they’re both very important for our season, for our preparation leading up to the opener. Coach told us we’re going to get a lot of work, and what that means I don’t know. I don’t think anyone ever knows with him. But we’ll be prepared and ready to go for 60 minutes, and hopefully it’s a good 60 minutes. We’ve had a couple doozies in the third preseason game lately, and it’d be nice to have a good one.”
Brady also took some time to talk about the other Ohio team, which named its starting quarterback this week, old friend and teammate Brian Hoyer, Brady’s back-up between 2009 and 2011. Hoyer was chosen as the Browns starting QB over Johnny Manziel this week by Cleveland coach Mike Pettine.
“I love Brian. He’s just such a great guy, person and friend. We’ve always kept in touch,” Brady said. “I’m proud of him. He’s fought through some tough circumstances over the years, being released here, going to Arizona, getting a little bit of an opportunity there, and then really taking advantage of his opportunity in Cleveland. It’s great for him, and he’s a great player, so I’m very happy for him.”