Green Bay Packers @ Philadelphia Eagles NFC Wild Card Weekend Prediction: The Eagles only lost twice when Michael Vick started and finished a game this season. He hasn’t been as stellar lately as he was most of the season, but even when he’s been a little bit off, he’s looked nothing short of heroic. That amazing comeback against the New York Giants was a game where Vick put the Eagles right on his back. Vick has been better this season than any other year in his pre-prison career – and that truly is impressive.
The Packers have looked equally great at times. They straight crushed the Giants two weeks ago in what was essentially a do or die game for both teams. The Packers do’d, the Giants died. Green Bay then won an ugly defensive battle against the Bears in another playoff game last week. Needless to say, they are well tested.
Both teams have great quarterbacks, as Rodgers has blossomed into one of the truly great passers in our league. Vick is just amazing. Both have running games that don’t play too huge of a role, though the Eagles are much better with LeSean McCoy (as a runner and receiver) than the Packers are with Brandon Jackson. Defensively, I give the Packers the nod, and statistics do as well. Green Bay gives up 8.5 less points per game than Philly, and they give up fewer yards. But I don’t think pass-rushing defenses can play against Vick the same way they play everyone else. If the Packers rush their base package and drop their linebackers back, Vick will get big yards running the football. Will the Packers blitz like the Vikings and Cowboys did? It worked for them, but then Green Bay is playing out of their game.
This game is very close to even, for me – but I give the Eagles a home-field advantage, and the “Mike Vick Advantage” also puts me over the top. It’s only a field goal they must cover to win, and that 2.5 has never persuaded me one way or another. But there’s no doubt, this game could come down to a big play on either side of the ball, and both teams have the roster to make those kinds of plays.
Green Bay Packers @ New York Jets NFL Week 8 Picks: The Jets play in a lot of close games, and while the Packers haven’t shown a consistent enough rushing attack to make the Jets respect the run-game, they have shown a dynamic passing attack that can blister even the toughest of secondaries – and believe it or not, the Jets don’t boast one of the toughest of secondaries. New York has done a good job against the run, holding opponents to just 90 yards per game on the ground, but they are giving up 230 per game through the air, which ranks them 22nd on the season. Their average point differential of +10 and 5-1 record makes them look a little better than they are, I think.
The Jets have been in up and down close-call fights in 4 games this season, and got most of that point-differential from a 38-14 win over the Buffalo Bills. In four games the Jets have been out-gained and they were out-rushed by the Broncos last week for the first time this season. In 5 of their 6 games, their opponents have thrown the ball with more success than New York. That makes sense, because the Jets have such a strong rushing game – but the Packers can really throw it, and I expect them to do so in New York.
Green Bay is coming off a big win and despite some health issues, look to win their 2nd straight game to stay above .500 on the season.
Brandon Jackson has been getting better and better in his role as the #1 RB, and if he can break just a couple big runs, the Packers will upset the ever-so-popular Jets.
What’s up party people, your favorite Alaskan resident PE Teacher/freelance sportswriter is back for another season of spreading the fantasy knowledge. After looking over some of my Thing 1 and Thing 2 articles from a year ago, I realized that owners that payed a attention to the words in this column did very well for themselves down the stretch. For those in keeper leagues, my advice toward owners in week 6 of last year was to go out and grab Chad Henne (3% ownership at the time), Justin Forsett (1%), Mike Wallace (3%) and Jermichael Finley (15%) – how are those guys looking about now?
The point once again is that titles are rarely won on draft day. The owners that put in their due diligence and work the waiver wires and their fellow league members throughout the grind are those that more often than not find themselves with a shot at the ‘ship when the weather turns cold.
So if you’re new to the crew or a returning reader off your game, here’s how this column works. I will throw out stat-lines for two players at a time (Thing 1 and Thing 2). Though the production of these two players will be similar, their ownership will not be – Thing 1 will be owned in most leagues and Thing 2 will be a guy you have a good shot at adding if you can beat your fellow league members to the punch. For the quickest updates following the weekend action, stay up to date by following me on Twitter @AlaskanArse or by checking in on the site daily – now let’s get down to business.
Thing 1: This QB with a roller coaster past took over as starter for his club last year and led them on an impressive second half run. He is capable of making plays with his legs and his arm and is owned in 95% of ESPN standard leagues.
Thing 2: A supremely talented athlete with a similarly checkered past, this QB will get an opportunity to start at least a game or two for his club. His playmaking ability is second to none and he is currently owned in just 7% of leagues.
Reality Check: Thing 1 is Vince Young and Thing 2 is Michael Vick. Although Vick’s hold on the starting job in Philly is tenuous at best, he will make head coach Andy Reid’s decision tougher if the Eagles respond as they did in nearly coming all the way back against a very good Packer team in week 1. Vick has never been known for his passing efficiency, but he is surrounded by more weapons than ever before and his trademark speed and elusiveness have returned. The Eagles get the Lions and Jags in the next two weeks, and Vick could be among the highest scoring fantasy QBs in the league during that stretch.
Thing 1: This running back totaled 63 yards on 18 carries in week 1. Despite being owned in 100% of standard leagues as the unquestioned starter on his team, his upside is limited and his best years are behind him.
Thing 2: This running back also totaled 63 yards on 18 carries in week 1. Despite being owned in just 2% of standard leagues, this player is now the unquestioned starter on an explosive offense who may be poised for a breakout season.
Reality Check: Thing 1 is Clinton Portis and Thing 2 is Brandon Jackson. A nasty ankle injury to Packer RB Ryan Grant will likely sideline him for the season. Jackson will likely be the hottest waiver commodity in most leagues this week but he is deserves it. The 24-year-old former Husker has shown flashes of brilliance in his career as a backup and now has the opportunity to show what he can do. A gifted pass catcher out of the backfield, Jackson may be a better fit for the explosive Packer passing attack than the injured incumbent Grant. I am all-in on BJ’s fantasy prospects this season, and wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him crack the top-15 RBs in PPR leagues.
Thing 1: This veteran WR had a disappointing opening week and may see his production drop in 2010 due to roster changes. He is known for his steady production and is currently owned in 100% of standard leagues.
Thing 2: This veteran WR had a surprising opening week and may see his production increase in 2010 due to new surroundings. He has been inconsistent during his career and is currently owned in 5% of standard leagues.
Reality Check: Thing 1 is Derrick Mason and Thing 2 is Mark Clayton. Given the arrival of Anquan Boldin, Mason’s days as the #1 target in Baltimore are likely over. A healthy Todd Heap, plus the addition of TJ Whoseyourdaddy will only serve to further muddy the target breakdown. Clayton on the other hand has landed in an ideal situation in St. Louis where injuries depleted the Rams’ receivers corps in the preseason. If week 1 is any indication, Clayton and young QB Sam Bradford have already developed a decent rapport. The Rams are improving but will still find themselves behind in a lot of games (Bradford slung the rock 55 times in their week 1 loss to the Cardinals). I like Clayton to outproduce his former teammate in 2010, and you can get him on the cheap if you act quickly.