Monday Night Musings: Beast of Eden

By Antonio D’Arcangelis

This column addresses some of the Monday-Tuesday fallout from Sunday’s games and provides some notes into the Monday night action. This week, we’ll focus on a thrilling Sunday night game, a some impressive performances from unlikely sources, and a Seattle slasher who thrives on contact – and the challenge of shouldering a monster workload.

  • Much of the Monday chatter involved Tim Tebow, who once again led the Broncos to an OT victory that largely resulted from the Bears miscues in the game’s final few minutes. For Tebow, it was another perfect storm of an incompetent play or two (a veteran running back like Marion Barber should be ashamed of himself), the thin Denver air (Matt Prater kicked two field goals that traveled a combined 140 yards or so) and some thrilling moves by Tebow, who grinded out some yards with his legs and tossed a few simple passes against a suspiciously lax defense. Usually, the Bears play a tight Cover 2, but for some reason played like they had a 20-point lead. Can the Patriots quiet this little sorcerer? We’ll see on Sunday.
  • Tom Brady made the news because of his hissy fit on the sidelines, but it’s clear the guy can get it done as long as he has Ron Gronkowski hauling in passes and running through, around and over would-be tacklers. The DeAngelo Hall watch-and-see-hold-crap-they-couldn’t-tackle-him approach was hilarious to beholdno DB really wants to lock horns with Gronkowski and his steam-filled head, but it’s kinda their job, right?
  • Injury news from Monday confirmed a couple things we all suspected: DeMarco Murray’s ankle is broken and he’ll be done for the season, and Greg Jennings will miss multiple weeks with a knee sprain. While Felix Jones will be the exclusive back in Dallas, the injury to Jennings bumps up Jermichael Finley, Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Donald Driver in the weekly rankings. The Packers pasing game has so many weapons, I don’t really see this as a setback for Green Bay in their search for the perfect season.
  • I have to comment on my Cowboys and their continued mangling of the final few minutes of regulation. They’re the anti-Tebows in just about every way – capable of playing well on both sides of the ball until it’s crunch time. Tony Romo seems to have the trust of his coaches, but they never let the guy throw to ice the game – a problem because opposing defenses don’t have a hard time stopping Dallas runs when they know they’re coming. If Romo can’t rise to the level of the game’s best closers (Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning, Tom Brady, Tim Te….wait a second) then the Cowboys won’t ever have playoff success.
  • After he broke a team rule (a curfew, from what I hear) Ahmad Bradshaw was benched during the first half on Sunday night, giving way to Brandon Jacobs and change-of-pace back D.J. Ware. It worked out for Tom Coughlin, but the Giants head coach rules with a draconian fist that’s slightly ham-fisted for today’s standards. Most coaches would have had Bradshaw sit for a play or two at the start, but Coughlin isn’t most coaches. As far as Bradshaw’s fantasy numbers from Sunday night? Well – they weren’t good. He should be back to normal this week, unless of course, he stays up too late on Saturday night.
  • A handful of players I was impressed with on Sunday:
    • T.J. Yates – The mobile young QB showed why he’s fully capable of leading the Texans into the next chapter of their franchise’s existence – the NFL playoffs. For the first time in the team’s decade-long existence, they have locked up a p[layoff spot and AFC South title, something that eluded them during the era of dominance Peyton Manning and the Colts established during the 00s. Yates showed poise and precision in the two-minute drill, tossing a TD pass in the final seconds against a tough Bengals defense. While it helps having backs like Arian Foster and Ben Tate, Yates got it done in ways that Matt Leinart could have only hoped.
    • Maurice Jones-Drew – Once again, the opposition knew exactly what was coming – heavy doses of MJD – but they couldn’t stop it. The squatty little sparkplug finished with 136 total yards and four TDs, a line that helped lead many fantasy owners into Round 2 of the playoffs, and a lot of FanDuel participants into some well-deserved green.
    • Percy Harvin – The Vikings have taken a while to figure out that the guy should be a bigger part of the offense, regardless of whether or not Adrian Peterson is hurt, but it’s better late than never for such a crucial revelation. QB position be damned, there’s no reason this team shouldn’t contend in the coming years, especially with Harvin seemingly over his migraine issues.
    • As far Monday night, there wasn’t much hope of an epic grudge match, but at least we got to see another monster performance from the game’s most vicious running back – Marshawn Lynch. “Beast Mode,” as he was dubbed many years ago during his days in Buffalo, rumbled for 115 rushing yards and a TD, marking the fifth time in the last six games he eclipsed the century mark. Since Week 4, Lynch has nine rushing TDs in nine games (he missed Week 7 versus the Browns), and he’s making a case for the Pro Bowl despite playing on a 6-7 team that’s out of the playoff picture. His fantasy value is off the charts right now, and he’s got little competition for carries on a team that can’t boast a good RB counterpart.
    • Lynch’s resurgence should serve as a important lesson to fantasy owners willing to dismiss guys after a couple weak seasons. In this case, it’s simply a matter of following the progress of a 25-year-old back in a new system, one that allows the talent to show through by calling plays that flex those strengths. Pete Carroll knows that Lynch – once more a home-run threat than a between-the-tackles bruiser – has changed his game and responded to the rigors of the NFL game. Lynch plays just about every snap and can handle a heavy workload, shouldering the burden between the 20s as well as in the red zone – which is a fantasy owner’s dream. Next season, expect the price on Lynch to skyrocket, as he’s a lock to be a first-round pick in redrafts.
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