Saturday, December 31, 2005

NFL WEEK 17 PICK 'EM!

The final reggie' season week is upon us! Enjoy and happy, healthy New Year!

Denver at San Diego: With everything locked-up, coach Shanny' is giving thought to starting backup Bradlee van Pelt. 'Nuff said. The Bolts' STILL can't believe that they didn't receive an invite to the Post-Season party... but have only themselves... and a ghastly pass defense to blame. RB LaDainian Tomlinson's been slowed considerably by bad ribs... look for him to give the final game his all... and QB Drew Brees will try and leave his fans, and coach, with fond memories of his capabilities as it'll be either he... or former 1st rounder Philip Rivers. TE Antonio Gates and WR Keenan McCardell rank as excellent and decie' starts in that order.
The Broncs' will try and get #2 back Tatum Bell the 1,000 yard season he so depserately craves. Feature back Mike Anderson's on crutches... so he'll be out of action, but the only runner to eclipse the century mark against these Bolts was Chief RB Larry Johnson. Johnson ran for 131 yards that day... and in an odd twist of fate, Tatum "Chips" Bell needs... 131 yards to hit a grand on the rush-ometer. WR Ashley Lelie could be a solid start against a San' Secondary that has been battered repeatedly.

N.Y. Giants at Oakland: Oakie' has GOT to be one of the NFL's most disappointing teams. With playoff seeding left to play for, Barber and the boys play balls to the wall Football Sunday and look to shame their former QB, Kerry Collins.
However, once the team secures a double-diggy' lead... Coughlin might pull Tiki and Plax' in order to minimize the htreat of injury. I look for the G-Men to win.. possible big. HOWEVER, unless Coughlin finds a way to reinvigorate the porous, exposed Secondary... and starting Corey Webster in Curtis DeLoach's place may or may not be the move, "Big Blue" could be one and done. Then again... the G-Men are the kind of team that can get hot... and stay hot. I think that this game against Oakland is VERY significant. Start Plax' and Eli against a bad Black and Silver Secondary, Tiki should hang at least 65/1 on Oakland by the end of the first Half, and WR Amani Toomer is a rock-solid start.
As for the Raiduhs'... give WR Jerry Porter a start against an often times clueless NY D-backfield.

Arizona at Indianapolis: Believe it or not... this is a VERY important game for the AFC champs. Yeah, yeah- they've got Homefield locked AND a 1st round Bye. They've also dropped their last 2, haven't been playing up to their usual standards, and will need to regain the edge, and confidence, only a win can provide. While I'm not suggesting the starters are gonna' go 4... or even 3 Qs deep, I DO think Dungy will play this game as if it were a regular season model.. in an effort to get his team back on track. Likewise, the players will play hard for their coach as well as themsleves.
Against the Colts smallish Secondary, both Q' and Fitz' are fine pass catching starts... if ANY of you still have playoff games.

Baltimore at Cleveland: Looking like...dare I say it? I dare, I dare, a real live NFL QB over the past 2 weeks, Kyle Boller has not only shown signs of life and progress... he's forcing the Balty' brain-trust to make a decision; stick with Boller... or move on because 2 games does not a Quarterback make. More than likely, the Ravens will take a Signal Caller in the middle-rounds. Looking towards this week, however, the Browny' Secondary has really acquitted itself well of late... and WRs Clayton and Mason will have their work cut out for them. The key to the Raven passing game will, not surprisingly, be TE Todd Heap. The nimble, soft-handed TE has again assumed top 5 fantasy TE (Gates, Shockey, Crumpler, Gonzo remain ahead of Heap... though the Baltimore pass catcher is capable of supplanting every one of 'em save Gates) status with his recent play, and the passing game will, likely, feature him. Really, this game holds little interest.

Buffalo at N.Y. Jets: Herm Edwards and GM Terry Bradway need to go. Together, the tandem has made a litany of drafting and free agent acquisition errors... and the entire front office should be shown the front door. Expect Germ' Edwards to get 1 more year as the injuries suffered by both QBs are tantamount to a free pass. What the injries do NOT explain away are Edwards' poor clock management skills, his G-d awful GAME management skills, and the fire he REFUSES to light under his team... a franchise that has plodded along and been playing out the string since MID-FRIGGIN'-SEASON!
Look for WR Eric Moulds to have a standout game, likely his last in a Buff' Uni'. The Jets will again feed RB Cedrick Houston the ball in an effort to ascertain whether or not he's a future feature. Given Buff's ghastly run D, Houston could enjoy a solid day. QB Brooks Bollinger... or Vinne Testaverde (who, rumor has it, once posed as a model for Leonardo Da Vinci)... who's over Center? Doesn't matter.

Carolina at Atlanta: In a game that has meaning for the Panthers, look for QB Jake "Daylight Come and Me Wanna" Delhomme and WR Steve "Cash Money" Smith to hook up at least once as the Falc' Secondary will be without top cover corner DeAngelo Hall. In addition, the Atlanta run D has been absent all season, and the combo of Nick Goings and... and... could enjoy some success.

Cincinnati at Kansas City: With their Playoff berth and seeding locked-up tigher than Fort Knox, Cincy' has zero to play for, QB Carson Palmer's weenie is buggin' him, and RB Rudi Johnson can ill afford to suffer an injury... thus the infamous Jeremi Johnson will see a lot of back action. The Chiefs maintain a Post-C' pulse, I believe... though they won't get there without oodles of help. Nonetheless, they'll have NO chance if they lose. Look for QB Trent Green, TE Tony Gonzalez, RB Larry Johnson, and WR Samie Parker to all post solid fantasy diggies'. "LJ" is a stud this week... look for something like 140/2.

Detroit at Pittsburgh: Another team that has much at stake, the Steelers are looking to improve upon their positioning and sharpen their game. QB Ben Roethlisberger, TE Heath Miller, RB Fast Willie Parker, and WR Hines Ward are all solid plays against a decimated D-troit D.
On the other side of the field, WR Roy Williams has really impressed in recent weeks... he could victimize a Steeler Secondary that has shown cracks.

Miami at New England: Resident genius Bill Belichik was breaking game film down with his father, also a coach (though not a pro coach), as a 9 year old child. The coaching prodigy has an eerie and unparalleled ability to envision plays and their outcomes; how will the D respond, adjustments etc. The dude is SO gifted, he should be studied by a team of scientists with European accents. Although the game ultimately has little meaning for the Pats', Obi Wan Belichik wants his team to maintain their edge and hunger... the team is peaking at the right time and I would NOT expect the starters, with the exception, possibly, of RB Corey Dillon, to be pulled until the game is well within hand. With the playoffs just around the corner, scat-back Kevin Faulk and backup Patrick Pass will probably play far larger roles. Look for solid games from QB Tom Brady, WR Deion Branch, and TE Ben Watson. The run D could be an issue as LB Tedy Bruschi will miss the regular season finale with a calf injury suffered last week.
Significant stat time: The game-time temperature is projected to be around 33 degrees- Brady is 20-0 when the temp' is below 40 degrees.
Miami WR Chris Chambers has been playing phenomenal ball, and with Ronnie Brown nursing an injury and RB Ricky Williams running as well as he ever did, both skill po' players could enjoy productive games... that's about it offensively.

New Orleans at Tampa Bay: What would lead you to believe that the Aints' will put up any real resistance? Look for Caddy' to leave tire tracks on the N.O defenders, and QB Chris Simms and WR Joey Galloway have been making beautiful music together. Interestingly enuff', rookie TE Alex Smith is starting to get looks... he could be a sneaky-solid start.

Seattle at Green Bay: Aside from RB Shaun Alexander looking to set rushing and single-season TD records... this game means bupkiss to the 'Hawks. The only starters worth considering... or if your leagues' playoffs are over as mine are... the only players who may really contribute to the Seattle cause are WR Darrell Jackson and RB "Alexander the Great." D-Jax will probably see action so as to improve his timing and to prep' him for what should be a legit' SuperBowl run, and Shaun-A will get the G-Line totes and enuff' yardage to secure his records.
Alas, as I have been writing since my pre-season positional reviews... I believe we are amid QB Brett Favre's final days. While HE believes his physical skills remain intact... there is no question that his fastball has lost some zip... and many of his passes float are are underthrown.
That, however, is not the issue- Brett can still hop around the pocket and elude would-be tacklers, and he can stop trying to force passes into spaces no larger than a throw-pillow. What Brett CANNOT do is usher in a 3 year re-building project. The receivers are competent and top op' Javon Walker should return from his torn-up knee in time for training camp. The running game needs to be addressed... RB Ahman Green (another guy who I hated on in the pre-season analyses) is done as a feature back, hulking Najeh Davenport isl rehabbing nicely from his busted-up ankle and has an outside shot at being their 3-down man, and surprise Samkon Gado has a chance to be a change o' pacer, but will have to recover from torn liggies' first. Further, the O-line is aged, the D-line unable to pressure opposing Signal Callers, and the Secondary needs at least 1 top-notch coverman. There's no question that new D-Coordinator Bill Bates did an impressive job reconfiguring the D... the team allowed 60 fewer yards per game this season. Still, much work needs to be done... and a 15 year veteran QB will not be the answer. Favre is not interested in learning a new system, he's not interested in playing for another team, and he won't tolerate the firing of longtime friend and Head Coach Mike Sherman. In an odd way, Favre is holding the team hostage. However, Brett's recent news conference made it sound as if he had already made the decision to retire... and now it's simply a matter of whether he wants to UNretire. We shall see.

Houston at San Francisco: In the "Reggie Bush Bowl," Houston outguns a sappy San Fran' squad. Do you realize that rookie TE Alex Smith (Tampa Bay) has more TDs with 2 than rookie QB Alex Smithh as with 1? Sad, really sad. Of course... the Frsco' line is such in name only.

Tennessee at Jacksonville: Jax' has virtually nothing at stake in this game. The Titans, on the other hand, conceivably (though unlikely) could have QB Steve McNair at the helm for the final time. "Air" is forever banged up; he limps while laying down, he can suffer a ligament tear while eating dinner, and the dude bruises like an over-ripe tomato. All that being said, give the guy credit for playing while hurt. It wouldn't be a complete surprise if backup QB Billy Volek plays this weekend. At some point in the VERY near future, McNair will decide that he'd like to retain all of his limbs... as a 40 year old, and he'll finally opt to hang 'em up. I give him 1 more season. RB Chris Brown is dynamic when healthy... but that's a rarity. "Shockingly" listed as "Questionable" for Week 17, Brown is also another winner of "Frequent Training Table" Mile gift certificates. As for the receiving corps... they too have suffered their share of injuries. Check the IR... but really, WR Drew Bennett is prolly' the only worthwhile Titan fantasy start.
Jag' coach Jack Del Rio is faced with a QB quandry; start a now healthy Byron Leftwhich and give him some tune-up time for the post-C' ... or give QB David Garrard another start and maintain the forward mo'. Smart money says Garrard starts, but Lefty' sees some snaps to re-adjust to game speed.

Chicago at Minnesota: The Bears snared the NFC North... and they did it with a powerful, scary-good, formidable, relentless... please continue to fill-in your own adjectives, defense . A D, mind you, that rivals the legendary Dent, Singletary, McMichael unit of the mid-80's. While the Bears have nothing to play for...technically, the game will serve as further conditioning for QB Rex Grossman. While rook' Signal Caller Kyle Orton's modest skills and sound decision making kept the franchise afloat... now back from injury, "veteran" QB Rex Grossman's more substantial gifts could guide the team all the way to Mo-Town. Whereas Orton's short and accurate passing game supplemented the run game, brutish back Thomas Jones now sets up Grossman's strong-armed passing attack. That, my fantasy friends, is a VERY important distinction. WR Muhsin Muhammed's skills are no longer going to waste, and Jones is a far more dangerous runner now that the team can go vertical.
QB Rex Grossman is a sneaky-solid start in most formats, and I wouldn't hesitate to trot out Jones and "Moose" against a Viking team that WILL undergo a major off-season face-lift.
It's fascinating to me. Everyone praised the Vikes for their annual "Save Coach Tice's Job" drive... but did'ja stop to consider the opposition they were beating? I mean... with the offensive talent the team was able to field (even without Moss playing half-assed ball), should we give the Vikings props for winning? And what about the other side of the ball. An enormous sum of money was thrown at free agents such as Fred Smoot, Darren Sharper and Pat Williams to bolster the secondary and help shore up the run D... but to little avail when all was said and done. Should Minny' be lauded for beating on Detroit, Green Bay, St. Loo' and other sub .500 teams? No. Say g'bye to coach Mike Tice, a knuckle-head if ever there was one. New owner Zygi W. is gonna' clean some house... and it won't end with Tice being shown the door. Players such as RBs Onterrio "Faux-Weenie" Smith and Michael Bennett, WR Kelly Campbell and possibly Marcus Robinson, DB Brian Russell, LB Napolean Harris (a zero of a backer who was a key component in the Moss trade)... a number of the butt-heads implicated in the embarrassing "Love Boat" scandal, expect a rebuilding process to begin.
Wilf will usher in a new and prouder Viking era as compared to the "McCombs error." The former owner, Red McCombs, was known to pinch a penny SO hard, you could practically hear Abe Lincoln scream! Wilf is anxious to guide the Vikes back to where they should be... atop a once proud NFC North. Keep an eye on QB Daunte' Culpepper's recovery from a VERY serious, career-threatening knee injury. Should C-Pepp's recovery hit a hurdle, the team could either look to draft a potential franchise QB... or make a move to aquire a veteran starter.

Washington at Philadelphia: Ok, newsflash! The Eagles are bad. I have seen birds crash... but never actually burn. The Eagles, however, were a teaming inferno- "ablaze" that began with "TO-Gate."
With a win, those nutty, fun-lovin' 'Skins can score a Playoff berth. Look for Clinton Portis to run hard, look for WR Santana Moss to find the soft spots in a riddled secondary, and look for the Redskins to exit a very hostile Philly' venue as winners. QB Mark Brunell (check his status) should have enough time to pick apart the bad "Iggle" Secondary, and H-back Chris Cooley... a guy whose praises I've been singin' all season, should give the Eags' fits and find the 'Zone yet again.
As for worthy Eagle starts... snicker-snicker... ummm, go with LB Jeremiah Trotter.

St. Louis at Dallas: The Rams have been D-fensively D-ficient all season, and injuries... Mike Martz's achy-breaky heart... and poor-play aside, let's face it, the Rams cannot WAIT for the off-season. There's always next year, and with some defensive acquisitions and .... never mind.
So... the 'Pokes are looking for a second season invite and the only way they'll be able to secure one is with help. Lots and lots of help. However, it all starts with a win at Home, against the butt-head Rams, for both themselves and their coach who has been taloking about retirement, Again. If I had a share of Google Stock for every time Parcells retired, I would own a small Island in the South Pacific.
Look for strong play from RB Julius Jones again. He came outta' no where to gut the Carolina Panthers and their run D last week... look for a repeat performance. Lovin' the hard-hittin', snob-bubble makin' S Roy Williams. D-rooks Ware and Stroud have bright futures, the light may have come on for Ware last week. Assuming Jamie Martin is over C' for th Rams, WR Torry Holt and RB Steven Jackson are each decie' starts Check S-Jax's health. I am sure interim coach Joe Vitt would like to have his team exit a sad season with a W.

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