|Scouting Report: What you have to know about Patriots-Colts||10.17.15 at 7:08 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — Here’s what you have to know when it comes to Sunday’s Colts-Patriots contest at Lucas Oil Stadium.
WHEN THE PATRIOTS RUN THE BALL
Even with Tom Brady under center, this is the most winnable matchup for the Patriots. As we explained here, New England has dominated on the ground the last four times these two teams met. The Patriots have averaged 193 rushing yards per game in those games, and have averaged 4.98 yards per carry in that stretch. This time around — even with a slightly-improved Indy run defense and with New England featuring some level of uncertainty along the offensive line — it certainly appears like it could be more of the same. LeGarrette Blount (33 carries, 156 yards, 3 TDs) and Dion Lewis (36 carries, 180 yards, 2 TDs) form the heart of the Patriots’ ground attack, and figure to get the bulk of the touches this time around. Through five games, Indy is 18th in the league in run defense, having yielded an average of 112 rushing yards per game. The Colts allowed two teams to rush for more than 140 yards (Bills, Jags) while two other teams were held under 90 yards (Titans, Texans). Last Thursday’s narrow win over Houston was the second game in three weeks in which Indy held an opponent to under 90, which allowed its yards per carry average to fall to 3.5, fourth best in the NFL. Ultimately, if New England starts out running the ball and has success, the Patriots will continue to follow the same blueprint that lifted them to easy wins in the last four games.
WHEN THE PATRIOTS PASS THE BALL
While the run game will be a sizable force against the Colts, you certainly can’t discount the emotion surrounding Brady coming into this contest. The quarterback was embarrassed by the Deflategate scandal, one that was kickstarted when Indy blew the whistle on the Patriots. The quarterback (116-for-160 for a 73 percent completion rate, 1,387 passing yards, 11 TDs, 0 INTs and a passer rating of 121.5) protested Wednesday that he’s not robot, and on Sunday, he’ll likely be riding an emotional roller coaster. In past games, he’s been so emotional coming in, by his own admission he’s needed time to calm down. That could certainly be something to watch for here — if he’s overthrowing targets, that could be a sign he’s a little too jacked up, and needs to settle a bit. On the other side of the ball, the Indy pass defense has been ragged at times over the course of the season. The Colts are 28th in the league in pass defense, having yielded an average of 287 passing yards per game. (According to our scouting report, Vontae Davis and Greg Toler have had their issues this year.) If Brady is able to get enough time behind an offensive line that won’t include left tackle Nate Solder the rest of the year, he should be able to find the likes of Julian Edelman (34 catches, 399 yards, 3 TDs), Rob Gronkowski (20 catches, 375 yards, 4 TDs) and Lewis (23 catches, 238 yards, 1 TD as a receiver) with the short and intermediate routes that have been the forte of the New England passing game over the first four games of the season.
|5 things you have to know about Colts: Indy a massive underdog against Patriots||10.12.15 at 12:59 pm ET|
Five things you have to know about the Colts, who host the Patriots on Sunday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The 40-year-old Hasselbeck, who took over after Luck went down with a shoulder issue, has started the last two games and has done a good job managing to wring just enough out of the offense to allow the Colts to escape with a pair of wins. In his two starts, Hasselbeck is 48-for-76 (63 percent completion rate) for 495 yards and three touchdowns, with no picks and a passer rating of 95.0. (Through the first three games, Luck was 65-for-116 for a 56 percent completion rate, with 753 yards, five touchdowns, seven interceptions and a passer rating of 65.1.) It has to be taken with a grain of salt because the wins were relatively narrow victories over Jacksonville and Houston, but Hasselbeck’s steadiness and consistent play the last two weeks has allowed Indy to climb just over .500 entering this game. It’s likely that the Colts will do whatever they can to keep the Patriots guessing this week when it comes to who will be under center at the start of Sunday’s contest, but Hasselbeck might be the first Indy backup quarterback in 20 years to show that he can do more than just hold a clipboard. (For what it’s worth, Indy released quarterback Josh Johnson on Monday, which likely is a sign that one or both of the Luck/Hasselbeck combo is feeling better.)
2. Hasselbeck isn’t the only veteran who has helped the Colts offense through a rough patch.
In his first season with Indy, 32-year-old running back Frank Gore (76 carries, 325 yards, 3 TDs) has provided the bulk of the yardage on the ground. Meanwhile, 34-year-old receiver Andre Johnson (13 catches, 128 yards, 2 TDs), also in his initial season with the Colts, has also seen action as a complementary pass catcher, augmenting the work of youngsters like the speedy T.Y. Hilton (a team-high 27 catches, 382 yards) and Donte Moncrief (24 catches, 278 yards, 3 TDs). The positional grouping won’t remind anyone of Peyton Manning, Edgerrin James and Marvin Harrison, but it’s provided just enough offense over the last few weeks to lift the Colts to three consecutive victories. (One more quick note on the Indy offense: the Colts are 31st in the league in giveaways with seven interceptions and five fumbles. In all, Indy is 31st when it comes to turnover ratio at minus-7. Not a good sign when you are facing a New England team that’s tied for fifth overall at plus-5.)
|Frank Gore makes recruiting pitch to Vince Wilfork to join Colts for University of Miami reunion||03.13.15 at 12:07 pm ET|
The Colts have made some noise this week at the start of NFL free agency, as they have signed a few players including running back Frank Gore and wide receiver Andre Johnson. Gore took to Instagram Thursday night and made a recruiting pitch to another free agent, former Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork.
Wilfork played college at the University of Miami where both Gore and Johnson played their college ball. They all played at the school in the early 2000s, and furthermore Colts coach Chuck Pagano was the lead recruiter there from 1995-2000.
Gore wrote: The u we waiting for big Vince wilfork now family
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Fantasy Football: Week 4 starts, sits||09.26.14 at 9:31 am ET|
Welcome to the Week 4 starts and sits! Is it too late to recommend Larry Donnell? Oh well. Don’t fret, we have plenty of other ideas for this weekend. If you need more guidance than I could fit into this space, check out my full lineup rankings over at Rotobahn or participate in our WEEI Sunday morning chat. It starts right here at 11 a.m. and I’ll tweet a link to the chat early Sunday morning as soon as it’s available. Follow me on Twitter to get all the fantasy football info we have to offer.
I will also be back on the air this weekend, so tune in Sunday morning for The Fantasy Football Hour with my co-host and good friend Jim Hackett. You can check out our latest podcast as well. I’ll also be on NFL Sunday with Dickerson, Price and DeOssie at about 10:45 as usual, so don’t miss it.
And, don’t forget to start your Week 5 with us on Tuesday, when I break down the best pickups in the Week 5 waiver wire.
Tony Romo, Cowboys vs. Saints
He’s been shaky in his return from back surgery, but he battled back last week on the road against a better defense. I expect a high-scoring game and a solid fantasy output from Romo. Don’t hesitate to use him in any format.
Philip Rivers, Chargers vs. Jaguars
He’s playing very well so far, and this is a very enticing home matchup. Treat Rivers like a QB1 in all formats in Week 4. He’s good for a solid outing.
Blake Bortles, Jaguars at Chargers
He’s a young QB making his first start on the road. That’s normally a red flag situation, but Bortles will be chasing a Chargers offense that can score points in bunches in good matchups like this one. Bortles can score points with his feet and with his arm. That should give him a solid fantasy floor. He can help you in big formats if you need some help in Week 4. If you are unfamiliar with the rookie’s skill set, check out my original scouting report on the UCF product.
Geno Smith, Jets vs. Lions
This is not a week with a lot of sits for quarterbacks outside of the obvious ones. Smith is a good passer to avoid this week because he struggles more than most when the pocket gets busy, and things certainly will get busy with Detroit’s front four in town. Factor in the injuries to Smith’s receivers and you have a recipe for bad play or at least limited success. Even on a slow week, there are better options out there than Smith.
|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.
|Fantasy Football: Postseason rankings, strategy||01.02.14 at 10:27 am ET|
The fantasy football season has concluded, but as most of you know, fantasy football lives on with postseason leagues. We’re here to help you stack the odds in your favor or at least to avoid doing the opposite.
Playoff leagues can be a lot of fun, and they are completely different than regular-season fantasy football. The key difference is that predicting game outcomes is perhaps the key factor in your team’s success. In most situations, you’d rather have your player advance than have a big game and lose. That’s because once your player’s team is finished, so is the player. That means no more points and a big old dead spot in your lineup. For this reason, it is important to project the number of games each team will play.
You may think Philip Rivers is a better quarterback than Colin Kaepernick, but if you think the Chargers are a one-and-done team as I do, and if you think the 49ers have a chance to play four games (the maximum), as I do, then you’d be kooky to draft Rivers ahead of Kaepernick. This is true even if you project Rivers to outscore Kaepernick by a factor of two on a per-game basis. This is how you must think in a playoff draft. Get in that frame of mind — the same frame of mind that makes you want LeGarrette Blount over Jamaal Charles. Yes, really.
Since leagues are different sizes and many use different sets of rules, I am going to keep the rankings somewhat general. The first thing you need to do is to decide how you think the playoff games will go, then follow those predictions. I’ve laid out my current take below, but I won’t lie to you, I could flip a few games this week as I continue to think about things and assess the injury situations. Some of these games are very close. Value players accordingly. For example, I think Kaepernick plays twice, but I also think he’s the player with the best chance at playing four times. It will take an upset of the Seahawks in Seattle to make that happen, but Frisco probably is the best bet to pull that off at this point.
GAMES PLAYED PROJECTIONS
If you look at the projections, you might assume that Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson are the players to own. And they certainly are players you’d like to have, but a few of the quarterbacks with two projected games played are potentially as or more valuable. I already mentioned Kaepernick, but Tom Brady will have a very good chance at a third game, and I see most of the early round games being competitive. For this, I suggest that you play your own hunches if you have strong ones and if you trust your instincts. That’s really what make these postseason leagues so much fun. You get to do more prognostication.
|Niners’ Michael Crabtree, Jim Harbaugh convinced refs blew call on critical fourth-and-goal pass||02.04.13 at 10:16 am ET|
The 49ers mounted a furious comeback in Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday night, but they fell just short in losing to the Ravens, 34-31. There also was some controversy, as a fourth-and-goal pass fell incomplete after what might have been a hold on Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith.
“I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to think about it. I don’t know, man. What do you think? I thought it was holding.”
Should the Ravens have been called for holding on the 49ers' critical fourth-and-goal pass late in Sunday's Super Bowl?
- Yes, it was holding (68%, 1,674 Votes)
- Technically it might have been holding, but the refs were right to let it go in that situation (25%, 623 Votes)
- No, it was not holding (7%, 184 Votes)
Total Voters: 2,477
Added 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh: “You know, I really want to handle this with class and grace, and we had several opportunities in this game. We didn’t play our best game, and the Ravens made a lot of plays and battled back. They competed to win. But there’s no question in my mind that it was a pass interference and hold on Crabtree on the last one.”
“They got away with one,” Gore said. “We showed we were the better team. It was just a couple plays here, a couple plays there.”
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