Week 10 Musings: The Pack can’t stop its attack
This column addresses some of the Monday-Tuesday fallout from Sunday’s games and provides some notes into the Monday night action. We’ve got a lot of injury updates to get to, as well as more effusive praise for Aaron Rodgers and the undefeated, high-scoring Green Bay Packers.
- One of the biggest news items coming out of Tuesday morning was that the 49ers will be limiting Frank Gore’s (ankle, knee) role in Sunday’s game with Arizona. Kendall Hunter is one of the best backups in the league (averaging 4.8 yards per carry this season) and will likely get the bulk of the workload if Gore’s touches are kept in check due to his injuries.
- There were several QBs injured in Week 10, including Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, who has a broken right thumb but plans on playing when his team returns from their bye week. Texans QB Matt Schaub, who was injured on a QB sneak after being landed on by the accursed Albert Haynesworth, is done for the season with a Lisfranc injury to his right foot. Like the Steelers, Houston is on a Week 11 bye. Unlike the Steelers, they’ll be forced to go with their backup, who is Matt Leinart. The former USC standout’s NFL career has been about as memorable as that of Ryan Leaf and Tim Couch, but he’ll get another chance to prove he belongs in the league. I’m not holding my breath waiting for great results, but the importance of Arian Foster and Ben Tate has been elevated.
- Matt Cassel also went down on Sunday, with Tyler Palko slated to take over the reins in KC if they don’t acquire another QB. It appears Cassel is done for the year with the injury to his throwing hand, as it will require surgery. Palko is a complete unknown in terms of fantasy production, but he does have some solid weapons at the WR slots. His situation is tenuous at best, but don’t dismiss Palko’s prospects just yet.
- Just when you thought it was safe to drop back in the pocket, the Eagles announce that Michael Vick has two broken ribs. This means that Vince Young will likely be the Week 11 starter against the Giants, a team that’s drastically improved its pass defense over the past few weeks. Young is another “X-factor” player who can look brilliant or terrible, depending on his mental state and acumen reading defenses. Nobody questions his arm strength or scrambling ability, but he’s a long shot to succeed where even Vick had been struggling.
- Lance Ball will be a hot pickup off the waiver wire this week, largely because the Broncos don’t throw the ball anymore and all of their running backs are injured. With Knowshon Moreno done for the year with a torn ACL and Willis McGahee nursing a hamstring strain, that leaves the offensive output on the backs of Ball, the much-beleagured Tim Tebow and Eric Decker. The Jets should clobber these guys, with or without LaDainian Tomlinson, who’s planning on sitting out Thursday’s game.
- DeMarco Murray showed up with another monster week, and that makes a healthy Felix Jones the primary backup in Week 11 against the Redskins. I told you this would happen after his breakout performance in late October when I predicted Murray would be atop the depth chart by Thanksgiving. There’s a lot to like about this week’s matchup with their division rivals, especially considering what Reggie Bush did to them on Sunday. Tony Romo and the receivers’ matchups don’t look too bad either.
- The Lions got a bit of a scare after Calvin Johnson got tagged with a couple big hits in the fourth quarter on Sunday. Already without Jahvid Best and struggling to find any kind of serviceable running game in his absence, the Lions received some good news Tuesday when it was revealed Megatron passed all his concussion tests and will be good to go in Sunday’s game against the Panthers. Since Best’s breakout game in Week 5 (he left during Week 6 against the 49ers and has not returned) Detroit is 1-3 and shows no signs of being the 5-0 team that dispatched the Cowboys and Bears in consecutive weeks. The pickup of Kevin Smith goes to show they’re not entirely cool with the thought of Maurice Morris carrying the running game, and that Best isn’t ready to get back on the field.
- As much as I enjoy a good Monday night drubbing, it was a bit too much to see one of my fantasy teams lose a 40-point lead because of Aaron Rodgers and the greedy bunch of receivers in Green Bay. The guy just doesn’t stop throwing the ball, even when it makes all the sense in the world to run a few times and bleed the clock. It’s also a darned good strategy for a team that doesn’t do a heck of a good job pounding the football and must deal with a punt/kick returner who can look simultaneously boneheaded and brilliant at his job. With all the cheesy cholesterol they’re scarfing down in Wisconsin, there’s a good chance Randall Cobb kills anywhere from 10-15 Packers fans this season with his heart-stopping antics.
- Since we nailed one big sleeper pick (Denarius Moore) in last week’s bonus bullet, I’ll throw out a few more: RB Marion Barber, CHI (vs. SD); RB Jacquizz Rodgers, ATL (vs. TEN); WR Ben Obamanu, SEA (at STL); TE Scott Chandler, BUF (at MIA). Good luck, folks!
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