|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.
|Who will be the next over-35 quarterback to win a Super Bowl?||05.26.15 at 11:16 am ET|
Last season, Tom Brady entered into select company on a couple of levels. He wasn’t only the third quarterback to win four Super Bowls as a starter, joining Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw — he became the fifth quarterback to win a Super Bowl after his 35th birthday, joining Johnny Unitas, Roger Staubach, Jim Plunkett and John Elway.
In truth, this could be considered a pretty good time to be an older quarterback. This season, six projected starters will be 35 or older (Peyton Manning, Brady, Drew Brees, Josh McCown, Carson Palmer and Tony Romo), and while it’s early to handicap the field, it seems to be a safe bet that at least four of them will make the postseason. But which one of them has the best chance of joining Brady in that exclusive company and being able to boast of winning a ring after his 35th birthday?
Here’s a look at the field:
Peyton Manning: Despite the fact there was talk he wouldn’t return for an 18th season, Manning is back in camp with the Broncos. After seeing how he struggled to the finish line last year with Denver, there are questions about his health, as well as a few members of his receiving corps. At 39, he’s slated to be the oldest position player in the league this season, and if he wins a Super Bowl this year with the Broncos, he’d be the oldest quarterback in NFL history to win a title.
Drew Brees: The Saints’ signal-caller turned 36 in January, and while he’s talked about playing into his 40s, he shown little sign of slowing down. He led the NFL in several major passing categories in 2014, including passing yards (4,952, first), completed passes (456, first) and passing yards per game (309.5). Despite the fact that New Orleans was 7-9 last season and underwent some serious personnel changes in the offseason, as long as he stays healthy, Brees will certainly be able to keep the Saints competitive for the foreseeable future.
Josh McCown: Truthfully, we’re just including him on this list because he’s become the default starter for the Browns this season. McCown, who will turn 36 in July, has had some nice moments for the six other teams he’s played for over the course of his career, but at this stage with Cleveland, is a longshot at best to become the next plus-35 quarterback to win a title.
Carson Palmer: The former Bengal, who will turn 36 in December, was looking good as a possible darkhorse last season, as he led the Cardinals to a 6-0 start. Then, he wrecked his knee and had to watch the rest of the season from the sidelines. If he stays healthy this year, it’s reasonable to think that Arizona has progressed to a point where it can be a serious playoff threat in the NFC West.
Tony Romo: Well, he’s certainly not lacking for confidence when it comes to the 2015 season. The Cowboys quarterback, who celebrated his 35th birthday last month, was able to get the first playoff win of his career last year against the Eagles, and if a catch is truly a catch, then there’s the very real chance that Dallas pulls the upset on Green Bay in the divisional playoffs and is going against the Seahawks in the NFC title game. If the Cowboys can keep the running game moving after losing DeMarco Murray and Romo is truly over any past late-season or playoff meltdowns, then Romo has a chance to join fellow Cowboy Staubach and the rest of the over-35 crowd that took home a title.
|Tony Romo jabs Patriots over Deflategate||04.20.15 at 7:30 am ET|
Tony Romo took a jab at the Patriots and the Deflategate controversy Sunday night.
The Cowboys quarterback, who was a presenter at the Academy of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium in Texas, was on stage with co-host Luke Bryan when Bryan asked Romo to throw him a football. Romo acquiesced. That’s when Bryan asked “Is this one of those deflated balls?”
The Patriots are scheduled to face the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in 2015.
|Fantasy Football: Divisional round daily leagues||01.09.15 at 11:44 am ET|
If you are playing in one of the big contests this weekend, setting your DraftKings lineup is going to be a little tricky. The divisional round games help set up a rare dynamic in daily fantasy football. You have a small number of games (four) and most of the country watched these teams play last week. The exception would be the bye teams, but what’s left to learn about Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers or their respective offenses?
With familiarity at a high point and with available options at a low point, the number of unique fantasy rosters will be few. Good luck finding a contrarian move that half the league isn’t at least thinking about. Yes, it’s a tough week for differentiation. So tough, in fact, that you may want to steer away from it as a major point of strategy and focus more on matchups and lineup synergy.
This week I’m going to create two lineups — starting each with a different quarterback and working from there. The two quarterbacks I’m choosing will save me some money while not compromising upside.
Tom Brady (7,800 units), Patriots vs. Ravens
Tony Romo (7,600 units), Cowboys at Packers
These are not choices free of risk. Romo always comes with injury concerns and the tendency to go “tilt” at the wrong time, and Brady has a tough matchup for a less-then-mobile quarterback. That said, I see as much risk or more with all the quarterbacks who cost the same or more, and I have no interest in getting into the Joe Flacco or Cam Newton business. I’m not betting against the Patriots defense at home and certainly not Seattle’s.
|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.
|Patriots select QB Jimmy Garoppolo with their pick at No. 62 in second round||05.09.14 at 9:30 pm ET|
The Patriots took another step in the eventual replacement of Tom Brady on Friday night when they selected Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo with their second-round pick, 62nd overall.
The all-time leading passer at Eastern Illinois (the school where Tony Romo played) is known for his quick release and his footwork. In his bio, Garoppolo listed his favorite NFL player as Tom Brady. Now he’ll get a chance to work with Brady every day in training camp and practice.
“I can’t imagine a better situation,” Garoppolo told the NFL Network moments after being selected. “I’m going to go to work every day like I am the starter and make it work.”
As a senior in 2013, he broke Romo’s school records for career passing touchdowns and yards, as well as passing touchdowns in a season. He also won the Walter Payton Award as the top player in the Football Championship Series.
Garoppolo played football for Eastern Illinois from 2010-13. In his freshman year, he started eight games, passing for 1,639 yards and 14 touchdowns and earning All-OVC Newcomer Team honors. Garoppolo went on to start every further game in his time at Eastern Illinois, passing for 2,644 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2011, 3,823 yards and 31 touchdowns in 2012 and 5,050 yards and 53 touchdowns in 2013.
In his senior season he won the Walter Payton Award and set the school record for career pass completions. He also won the 2013 College Football Performance FCS National Quarterback of the Year.
With the selection of Garoppolo, speculation will intensify about the future of 2011 third-round pick Ryan Mallett. Mallett is set to become a free agent after this season and has been the subject of trade rumors on the eve of this year’s draft, with the Texans often mentioned as a possible landing spot.
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