Here's what KFFL's inside sources are saying this week.
The Indianapolis Colts' Peyton Manning career line in five games against
systems run by current Denver Broncos DC Mike Nolan: seven touchdowns, six
interceptions and just one 300-yard game, which came on 51 attempts. He never
had more than two touchdowns in a game but went 4-1 in those contests.
Can Nolan continue "success" vs. No. 18?
- The Arizona Cardinals may have set the blueprint on how to beat Brett Favre; the Minnesota Vikings have struggled against aptly cast 3-4 defenses.
- If the Houston Texans' Matt Schaub takes another big hit that dislocates
his left (non-throwing) shoulder, there's chance he'll need season-ending
surgery if they can't pop it back into place.
- The Baltimore Ravens will aim for an aerial show against the Detroit Lions
this week to help Joe Flacco regain some confidence. After that, they
may look to increased ground control, but we'll believe this when we see it;
OC Cam Cameron thinks the Ravens should continue to fly.
- Expect the New York Jets to employ a conservative offensive approach with
Kellen Clemens at quarterback this week, with something like 15 to
20 low-risk passes looking like the M.O. Don't expect Clemens to hold the
job if the fallen Mark Sanchez (knee) can suit up at some point this
- When not trying to escape Baltimore Ravens pressure, the Detroit Lions'
Daunte Culpepper will probably try to stretch the D as much as possible
via wideout Calvin Johnson. Weather, however, may dictate more of running
back Kevin Smith.
- The Philadelphia Eagles knew last week's homecoming meant a lot to Michael Vick, hence the increased workload. It also helped that they were able
to run up the score early, allowing them to keep Vick in.
- Though concern shouldn't be too elevated, Adrian
Peterson's ankle injury has slowed him down a little bit. The Minnesota
Vikings back is thinking more about being patient to holes and avoiding
fumbles; if he's fighting his instincts, his play speed typically comes out
a bit slower.
- DeAngelo Williams is expected back
for the Carolina Panthers this weekend, and he'll
be carrying his normal workload.
- Our insider felt Marion Barber III
might have one more year after this one with the Dallas
Cowboys. Now, it's hard to speculate, especially with the uncertain cap
situation. However, Tashard Choice
and Felix Jones could make up a much more financially beneficial tandem
that is just as good as the two-headed monster as they have now.
- Mike Bell (knee) is questionable
for this week for the New Orleans Saints. If he can't go, expect Pierre
Thomas (quadriceps) to see a few more carries, but don't think Reggie
Bush (knee) will see an increase. It's safer to play Thomas than Bell
this week even if the latter plays.
- The New York Giants should keep Ahmad
Bradshaw (ankles, foot) at his typical workload this week. He received
a typical percentage of backfield touches last week; the Gints' time of possession
hindered them from using the run much.
- Jamaal Charles could lose a few
third-down plays for the Kansas City Chiefs, and maybe his kick return duties,
but he'll still shoulder most of the workload.
- Lightning was more important than Thunder last week as Jerious
Norwood started for the Atlanta Falcons;
he was used more often than Jason Snelling
partially because Atlanta wanted to expose the outside parts of the Philadelphia
Eagles' defense (defensive ends, cornerbacks).
- We might see the banged up Michael Turner
(ankle) this weekend; the Falcons' playoff hopes are quickly burning out.
Atlanta contemplated just giving Turner red zone work and nothing else; they
might just sprinkle him in. Either way, don't expect a full flame from The
Burner for Week 14.
Don't expect Tim Hightower's early-game
fumble last week to hurt his split with Beanie
Wells in the Arizona Cardinals backfield.
It isn't like the rookie Wells hasn't had similar issues this year.
Haley to Charles: suck it up
- Don't fret, owners of Justin Forsett.
The Seattle Seahawks should make the touch split
more even this week between him and starter Julius
Jones. They'll be running, too. They need to evaluate how their zone-blocking
scheme does with this offensive line; Seattle expects the front five to finally
be cohesive enough to show positive results the rest of the way.
- Our insider would be surprised if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers'
Cadillac Williams (back) sat out. If
he does, Derrick Ward and Earnest
Graham could see more touches. With Cadillac in drive, Graham's role
is tied to that of fullback Chris Pressley
- the more the rookie can do, the more comfortable they are giving Graham
a few more touches.
- Sammy Morris should at least receive
the same amount of work he saw last week for the New
England Patriots backfield. If Laurence
Maroney is ineffective or sees his fumbling issues resurface, Morris
could garner more reps.
- The Washington Redskins' tailback touch split
percentage for Week 14 will probably have Quinton
Ganther at 50 with Rock Cartwright
and Marcus Mason each seeing 25. A
hot start from Ganther could keep him in for more against the Oakland
Raiders; he has shown the most talent of this trio even in his previously
limited sample size. Mason may see goal line and short-yardage totes.
- As for that other Skins back, the presence of a salary cap next year could
determine if or where Clinton Portis
(concussion) plays next season; a capped year may keep him in his current
threads. It's hard to think he'd make '09 his last year when he's ending it
on Injured Reserve.
- The Tennessee Titans' LenDale
White lost some pounds this year and probably could carry a larger
workload elsewhere - it depends on the situation. With the way Chris
Johnson is running, White realizes his role, even if he'd like something
- The Houston Texans want to see what they have
in Arian Foster. Head coach Gary
Kubiak wants him to see five carries, and maybe he'll see 10 if he impresses.
They don't want him in third-down work because they don't think he could protect
quarterback Matt Schaub (shoulder) from
pass rushes. Oh, and don't expect the Texans to
use Chris J. Henry much, if at all.
- The Baltimore Ravens have struggled in the red
zone without a Lorenzo Neal-type to pound
it in. Le'Ron McClain hasn't filled
Neal's shoes effectively.
- Double coverage and jams on the line have frustrated Randy
Moss this year. The New England Patriots
wideout is reverting to his old standby of reduced effort if he knows he'll
be doubled or a play isn't going in his direction.
- The production of tight end Antonio Gates
and increasing bracket coverage have been chiefly responsible for Vincent
Jackson's disappointing numbers lately for the San
Diego Chargers. V-Jax likely draws the Dallas Cowboys'
Terence Newman this week, so maybe the vertical
threat can break through.
- Will Terrell Owens be on the Buffalo
Bills in 2010? Tough to tell without the new regime in place, but our
source felt it was TO just being politically correct. No way he comes back
unless no one else wants him. This week, though, they might try to feed him
the ball after he was shut down last week. The matchup favors him, too.
- The Dallas Cowboys' Miles
Austin is still receiving a lot of attention from opposing defenses.
Most of his yardage last week came in garbage time, while he was able to beat
the Oakland Raiders' press coverage in Week 11.
His extra attention has opened things up for Roy
Williams and tight end Jason Witten.
The former is finally giving credence to the belief he can be a reliable red
zone target for Romo; the two are finally clicking.
- This week's conspiracy theory? That the Indianapolis
Colts might not return Anthony Gonzalez
until the playoffs. He and quarterback Peyton Manning
work hard enough that there might not be any rust, and it's tough to see them
using him in the likely wintry conditions at Buffalo in Week 17.
- With Devin Hester (calf) not expected
to play, the Chicago Bears will probably have a
WR target pecking order of Earl Bennett,
Johnny Knox and Devin
Aromashodu, whom they want to see more of.
A poorly run route by Mario Manningham
rubbed New York Giants quarterback Eli
Manning the wrong way in Week 13. Manning, in tribute to his brother,
went elsewhere for most of the game. No long-term distrust exists, though;
this has happened to Manningham occasionally this year.
Cotchery benefits with Kellen Clemens starting
- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers like what they've seen
from Maurice Stovall and won't go away
from him even when Michael Clayton (knee)
is healthy. Stovall and quarterback Josh Freeman
appear to have some chemistry. Stovall could be looked at more with New
York Jets shutdown corner Darrelle Revis
likely on Antonio Bryant.
- Is there a difference between the X and Z receivers in the Oakland
Raiders offense? Maybe for head coach Tom
Cable but Louis Murphy, Darrius
Heyward-Bey and passing game coordinator Ted
Tollner all say there isn't much. It's just Cable's way of keeping DHB
relevant during his rocky rookie season.
- Interim New York Jets quarterback Kellen
Clemens has more chemistry with possession wideout Jerricho
Cotchery than Braylon Edwards,
whom Clemens had not worked with until this week.
- The Tennessee Titans will ease Justin
Gage back as he returns from a back injury. Kenny
Britt and Nate Washington will
both start, and neither should see a significant drop in snaps with Gage back.
- Baltimore Ravens pecking order with Mark
Clayton (knee) doubtful: Derrick
Mason, Kelley Washington and
Demetrius Williams. Expect ample three-wide
sets against the league's worst pass D, the Detroit Lions.
- It'd be a mistake to expect Lance Moore
(ankle, hamstring) to make a big impact when he returns (if not this week,
then the next). The New Orleans Saints will probably
bring him along slowly, but once he's comfortable enough, they'll be thankful
to have a better No. 4 WR than Courtney Roby.
- For those wondering: Their WR hierarchy still runs through Marques
Colston, with Devery Henderson
at No. 2a and "The Sixth Sense" Robert Meachem
- Brian Hartline remains the best
bet for red zone looks among Miami Dolphins wideouts,
but they'll continue to mix up the looks among their quartet that also includes
Davone Bess, Greg
Camarillo and Ted Ginn Jr..
- Brandon Gibson (St.
Louis Rams) has been deflated a bit these last few weeks due to the coverage
from Seattle Seahawks cornerback Marcus
Trufant in Week 12 and the Rams' overall ineptitude in Week 13.
- Don't count on much more Deon Butler
despite his flashes in limited play this year. The Seattle
Seahawks use tight end John Carlson often
in four-wide sets and believe No. 3 wideout Deion
Branch gives them a better chance to win. Now, if they cut Branch
next season, Butler should be watched.
- Brent Celek is likely ahead of the Philadelphia Eagles wideouts
for looks this week; they could make use of him a lot against the New York
Giants, who don't cover this position well.
- The Green Bay Packers should keep giving tight end Jermichael Finley
around eight targets, possibly as many as 10, per game. They've started throwing
him fades near the end zone, something they'd worked on in camp but hadn't
used much of this year. Finley was a fairly good basketball player in high
- Packers shutdown corner Charles Woodson could line up on the Chicago Bears'
Greg Olsen, who is Chicago's best pass catcher and perhaps most popular
target with Devin Hester (calf) unlikely to play. Woodson has been able to
limit the damage down by the opposition's tight end when he has lined up against
The Washington Redskins' Fred Davis continues to struggle in blocking,
but he has earned quarterback Jason Campbell's trust, is trusted in the red
zone and has shown some after-the-catch ability.
Here to stay, especially inside the 20
- John Carlson has struggled recovering from contact when coming off
the line in routes. The Seattle Seahawks sophomore has been working on keeping
his balance in such situations. They aren't ignoring him, but opposing pass
rushers often have not given them enough time to read through progressions.
- The Jacksonville Jaguars want to incorporate Zach X. Miller more
often; they've been planning to for awhile, but he hasn't adjusted to the
offense. He's gaining separation and has good speed for a tight end. His experience
as a QB works toward his ability to find seams downfield.
- The New England Patriots' red zone woes may call for a larger dose of Benjamin Watson He's a risky fantasy play, so you shouldn't pay to find out.
- As the Indianapolis Colts approach, the Denver Broncos will be substituting less this weekend in preparation for Indy's no-huddle offense. Opponents have exposed Denver's nickel packages by going no-huddle and often running against them.
- The New England Patriots haven't blitzed much this season because they've been trying to cover up deficiencies in their secondary. They haven't used linebacker Adalius Thomas, their best pass rusher, in enough ways to help with QB pressure. The Pats could've had more backup with the pass rush: They were supposed to sign Jason Taylor (Miami Dolphins) last offseason, but he backed out. Derrick Burgess hasn't done much to make them forget about Richard Seymour, either.
- The already strong Arizona Cardinals run D stayed in their gaps last week against hobbled Minnesota Vikings back Adrian Peterson (ankle). They made a point of not being beaten deep by Brett Favre but still held their ground against AD.
- While Minnesota Vikings linebacker Jasper Brinkley is good against the run, he's a fairly large dropoff from Injured Reserve inhabitant E.J. Henderson (leg) in pass coverage.
- Though it'll be hard to replace the big-play ability of St. Louis Rams safety Oshiomogho Atogwe (shoulder), who's done for the year, Craig Dahl is a sure tackler and can blitz a little. It isn't as big an overall dropoff as expected.
Around the league
- One of the teams Julius Peppers was
believed to be interested in joining last year before he was franchised was
the New England Patriots. He'll have a chance to
show the Pats, first-hand, what they're missing this weekend.
- The Denver Broncos' run game has been helped
in recent weeks by the emergence of right tackle Tyler
Polumbus, who will remain their starter with Ryan
Harris (toe) done for the year.
- The Miami Dolphins will continue a trial separation
from the wildcat but should still employ it in red zone situations. The formation's
biggest advantage was having both Ricky Williams
and Ronnie Brown (foot) on the field
at the same time. With Brown on IR, they aren't inclined to use it frequently.
- Left tackle Sebastian Vollmer's (concussion)
absence reminded the New England Patriots how much
better he has played than Matt Light;
the Pats suffered with Vollmer out.
- Sure, cornerback Antrel Rolle's scramble was exciting last week,
but his wildcat QB tenure probably won't happen more than once a game, and
the Arizona Cardinals may just stash this plan until
- For those keeping track, only $32,500 remains of the Cincinnati
Bengals' Chad Ochocinco's fine fund.
How badly will the league hammer him if he makes use of Ragnar the Viking's
horn this weekend?
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous publications, and recognized as a finalist in FSWA's awards. The Boston University alum competes in Tout Wars and LABR and has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, he's on The Reality Check with Glenn Clark every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore. He hits the airwaves every Thursday at 9:30 a.m. ET on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, where he often crashes other shows, as well.
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