November 23, 2008
Back in August, if we had told you that New England would deliver over 1,000 net yards of offense in Weeks 11 and 12, you wouldn't have considered it a particularly bold statement. That might have seemed conservative, in fact. The schedule looked soft, and Tom Brady was the Patriots quarterback.
But if we'd told you the same thing back in Week 10 -- following another 200-yard, zero-touchdown performance by Matt Cassel -- you might have been more skeptical.
Cassel was excellent again today, finishing with 415 passing yards and three TDs, and also rushing for a touchdown. For the second straight week, he led all quarterbacks in fantasy scoring. Cassel became just the fifth QB in NFL history to pass for 400 yards in back-to-back games.
He seems to have figured out that whole Wes Welker/Randy Moss thing. Each receiver had eight catches on Sunday, and they both finished with triple-digit yardage. All three of Cassel's touchdown passes went to Moss, who curiously found himself facing single-coverage all day.
"Anytime I feel disrespected, I want to go out there and make it happen," Moss said, while looking awesome.
He also said of Cassel, "He's playing some hellified ball."
Indeed. His ball is hellified.
Next week, New England has a rough match-up at home against Pittsburgh, the league's best defense. But the schedule gets much friendlier beginning in Week 14: at Seattle, at Oakland, Arizona, at Buffalo. Weather permitting, you'll find Cassel ranked as a public league starter down the stretch. He's still un-owned in more than one-third of Yahoo! leagues.
• Michael Turner binged again, but this time he did it against a respectable defense. Carolina entered Week 12 ranked eighth in the NFL in yards allowed (293.0 per game), but they allowed 392 net yards to Atlanta today. Turner carried 24 times for 117 yards and four touchdowns. That's 13 rushing TDs for the Burner this season.
• DeAngelo Williams had 101 rushing yards and a TD for the Panthers, and there was no job-share with Jonathan Stewart this week. Williams carried 19 times; Stewart had five carries for just 15 yards. Jake Delhomme bounced back nicely after a pair of disappointing fantasy weeks. He finished with 295 passing yards and one TD, and he added a 12-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Late update No. 1: Delhomme apparently injured his elbow on Sunday in the second quarter, but he played on. The initial reports don't sound too serious, but the guy isn't that far removed from Tommy John surgery, so we'll have to monitor this one.
• Even in defeat, the Arizona offense is remarkably useful. Kurt Warner passed for 351 yards, and Anquan Boldin had 11 receptions for 87 yards and a TD. (Remember when the Eagles weren't interested in him?) Tim Hightower's fantasy lines as a starter look suspiciously like his fantasy lines as a back-up: 11 carries, 21 yards, two TDs.
• We take you now to the Yahoo! box score for the exciting conclusion of the Redskins-Seahawks game:
2nd-9, SEA 23, 1:28, L. Betts rushed to the left for 1 yard gain. L. Betts fumbled. B. Atkins recovered fumble
1st-10, SEA 22, 1:20, S. Springs intercepted M. Hasselbeck for no gain
Two kneel-downs later, Washington escaped with a 20-17 win. If Clinton Portis was injured, you couldn't tell by looking at his workload: 31 touches, 159 yards.
The four percent-owned Maurice Morris carried 14 times for 103 yards, and he added three receptions for 10 yards and a TD. As we mentioned below, you shouldn't have high expectations for the Seattle rushing attack, but the Seahawks do travel to St. Louis in Week 15.
• Eleven teams scored 30 or more points this week. Eleven. Three other teams scored at least 28 points (and lost). And the Colts, Chargers, Saints and Packers still haven't played.
• Ahman Green injured a knee today, too, but don't worry. He assured the Houston Chronicle that he's a "fast healer." That seems consistent with everything you think you know about Green, right?
• Welcome back to the fantasy discussion, Darren McFadden. He carried just 10 times for 38 yards against Denver, but he had a pair of one-yard TD runs. The first of his touchdowns followed a failed plunge by Justin Fargas, who -- despite the 24 carries for 107 yards today -- still hasn't visited the end zone.
• That was a pretty spin move by Warrick Dunn on his second quarter TD. Highlight here, via NFL.com. Dunn delivered as expected against the Lions' generous defense: 14 carries for 90 yards and one TD, five receptions for 37. Carnell Williams was not particularly impressive in his return (16 carries, 27 yards), but if you saw the injury he suffered last year, it's amazing that he's already made it back.
• In his postgame press conference, Andy Reid said that he hadn't yet made a decision about his starting quarterback for Week 13. He'll want to figure that out pretty soon, since the Eagles host the Arizona Cardinals in four days.
Posted at 9:05 ET
• Plaxico Burress aggravated a hamstring in the first quarter against Arizona, and his return is officially doubtful. The fire-drill add is Domenik Hixon. You'll recall that he had 102 receiving yards and a touchdown back in Week 5 when Burress was suspended.
• You can't go crazy chasing Seattle running backs, but it's worth noting the stat line for Maurice Morris at half: seven carries, 72 yards, two receptions, one TD. Julius Jones has just one touch.
• Larry Fitzgerald owners, Kenny Phillips robbed you of a touchdown late in the second quarter. He punched the ball away from Fitzgerald in the end zone, just before the receiver could get his feet down.
• Johnnie Lee Higgins must have the league's best touch-to-highlight ratio. He has a return TD for the second consecutive week.
OK, ignore that. He's back.
Posted at 6:12 ET
• After a miserable first half, Donovan McNabb was benched at Baltimore. McNabb had gone 8-for-18, turned the ball over three times, and produced a quarterback rating of 13.2.
Ed Reed's 108-yard fourth quarter interception return was the result of a terrible decision by Kolb, with an assist to Andy Reid (it was second and goal, with inches to go).
• There were two other quarterback benchings of note in the early games. Brady Quinn was replaced by Derek Anderson; both were bad, but at least Quinn had an excuse (broken index finger). For Cleveland, the schedule ahead is rough: IND, at TEN, at PHI. There's no obvious reason to jump on Anderson. Also, after throwing two picks, Daunte Culpepper sat in favor of Drew Stanton. Nothing to add there. Stanton was later concussed.
Give credit to Calvin Johnson for continuing to deliver useful games, despite the QB situation. Johnson had three receptions for 66 yards and an early touchdown today.
• There have been many low points in the Rams' 2-9 season, but here's my nominee for lowest of the low: In the third quarter of today's loss to Chicago, FOX's Dick Stockton criticized the Bears fans who'd traveled to the Edward Jones Dome for being too quiet.
• Tennessee's hopes for a perfect season ended...decisively. Thomas Jones rushed for 96 tough yards and Leon Washington had a pair of fourth quarter scores. Check the time of possession difference there: 40:30 for New York, 19:30 for Tennessee. That's not quite the winning recipe.
Late update No. 3: These were a few of LenDale White's postgame comments, after his one-carry performance:
“You would like to win it, but it is one game, so what? … I only played three plays so I really couldn't tell you what happened, I don't really know, I wasn't paying attention, I didn't care really.’’
That probably won't earn him any additional work in Week 13 at Detroit. The Titans have three terrific match-ups ahead (at DET, CLE, at HOU).
• It was Old Timer's Day in Dallas, where Terrell Owens finished with seven catches for 213 yards, and Isaac Bruce had eight for 125. It was another rough day for the injured Jason Witten (ribs), who caught one pass for 11 yards. He left the game briefly with an unspecified injury, but later returned.
Shaun Hill finished with a nice line (303 yards, two TDs, one INT), and he did basically all of his fantasy scoring in the fourth quarter, after his team trailed 32-9.
• Clearly, all you need if you're a slumping quarterback is a visit to/from Kansas City. Trent Edwards entered Week 12 having thrown seven interceptions in his previous three games, yet he delivered a massive fantasy day against the Chiefs: 273 passing yards, two touchdowns, 38 rushing yards, two TDs.
Because you should care, Kansas City finishes the season this way: at OAK, at DEN, SD, MIA, at CIN. The Chiefs lost Mark Bradley to a late calf injury.
• Here's the final combined fantasy line from Matt Cassel and Chad Pennington: 756 passing yards, six touchdowns, two interceptions, 17 rushing yards, two TDs. If you started those guys in a two-QB league, please use the comments section to tell us all about it.
More Cassel coverage later in the day. That's two straight 400-yard passing performances for the 62 percent-owned quarterback.
Posted at 5:00 ET
• Chester Taylor opened at running back for Minnesota, not Adrian Peterson. Apparently the video below was not inspiring enough. This lineup decision caught us all be surprise, even the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
Peterson has been standing on the sideline with his helmet and doesn’t appear to be injured. Coach Brad Childress did not have Peterson practice on Thursday but said it was to get his Pro Bowl running back a day of rest.
Chester Taylor is playing in place of Peterson and scored on a 3-yard run to give the Vikings an early 7-0 lead. Peterson got in on the third series, an indication that the move was disciplinary in nature.
Peterson's first carry went for 21 yards, and his second went for four. No signs of a serious injury there. Maybe some anger, but no injury.
Late update No. 4: Peterson was late to a team meeting on Saturday. Thus, he was late to play on Sunday.
• Marc Bulger was flattened by an untouched Adewale Ogunleye at the conclusion of the Rams' opening drive, and Trent Green took the field for the second series. Bulger appeared to be concussed, and the Fortes are rolling early. The St. Louis offensive line is a disaster; this is a scary situation for Green.
Chicago finally unveiled their version of the Wildcat, with Devin Hester taking direct snaps. This could be the best possible use for Hester, so it gives him a bit more value.
• If you're the winless Lions, you can't ask for a better set-up than the one you had today: Detroit had a 17-0 lead after the first quarter, and they're not exactly facing an offensive juggernaut. Tampa Bay averages just 21.9 points per game.
Naturally, the Lions trail 21-17 at halftime.
• Terrell Owens shrugged off a would-be tackler at the end of his 75-yard TD reception. That's just his second score over the last seven weeks.
• Donovan McNabb hasn't exactly turned things around. He's 8-for-18 with two interceptions and one fumble at half. Philadelphia's only score was a Quintin Demps kickoff return TD. Brian Westbrook, who we've been telling you to avoid, didn't have a reception in the first half, and he's rushed seven times for just 12 yards.
• The Jets have done nothing to assist the Kerry Collins-for-MVP lobby. Collins is just 7-for-21 with 54 passing yards, and Justin Gage doesn't have a catch yet. Albert Haynesworth may have injured himself in this one, too.
• If you still had faith in Trent Edwards after Monday's three-interception performance, he's rewarding you today. Or rather, the Chiefs are rewarding you. Edwards is 13-for-18 at halftime with 155 passing yards. He also has a 15-yard rushing TD, and the Bills lead the Thigpens, 30-17.
• Matt Cassel and Chad Pennington are dueling. With 11:28 remaining in the third quarter, those two have already combined for 383 passing yards, two rushing TDs, and three touchdown passes.
Posted at 3:01 ET
And now, a stirring clip to inspire Vikings everywhere, on a day when some of us need a huge performance from Adrian Peterson:
Lord Thorvald, sound the horn of battle!
Photos via Getty Images (Peterson), US Presswire (McNabb, Burress), and AP (McFadden, Cassel).