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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Friday Football Diary(Saturday Edition)-By David Ortega for Football Reporters Online

Friday Football Diary-By David Ortega for Football Reporters Online
[Saturday Edition]

Dear Diary

Week 12 presents one of the biggest and likely one of the most anticipated matchups this season. Just like the Colts and Patriots in week 10 gave us one fot he ages, this Monday night when the Patriots visit the Sainst this matchup promises to be just that and everything more!

A Classic in the Making

There's no secret that both the Patriots and the Saints are loaded with tremendous talent on offense and have one of the premiere passers in today's game. Monday night's matchup promises to be a great matchup of two high scoring potented offenses.

Over their past five games the Patriots have scored no fewer than 27 points and are averaging 37 points per game. Their offense has been led by none other than quarterback Tom Brady (3,049 yards) who has passed for over 300-yards in each of the five games. Brady has also sprayed 14 touchdowns in the same time span. With his two trusty receivers Randy Moss (eight touchdowns) and Wes Welker (79 receptions), expect Brady's bunch to continue the show.

The Saints on the other hand boast just as an explosive offense as the Patriots, but they are finding more balance ways to put points on the board. Quarterback Drew Brees (22 touchdowns) still leads the offense with his plethora of receiving options; Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, and Jeremy Shockey, but this year the Saints have added balance with a running attack. Both running backs Pierre Thomas (584 yards) and Mike Bell (514 yards) anchor the leagues 5th ranked rushing attack.

When these two teams meet on Monday night, it will be a fantasy owner's dream matchup with big plays, lots of yards, and plenty of scores.

Fantasy Notes:

While some of Brees passing numbers are down (274 passing yards per game) this season, he's become more efficient with over 68 percent of his passes completed and 22 touchdown. His leading receiver is Marques Colston who has 44 receptions this season, but has not gone over 100-yards in his last five games.

The Patriots offense has been on a roll this season and no one has been quite on fire as quarterback Tom Brady. Brady has passed for 300-yards in five straight games and thrown 20 touchdowns this season, while his wide receiver Wes Welker has also been sizzling along the way. Welker has 61 receptions in his last six starts including three games with at least 10 receptions. Running back Laurence Maroney has not seen a lot of carries this season, but he's finding the end-zone often; Maroney has scored a touchdown in five straight games.

10 Things
On my Sunday's Watch-List

1. If he's plays Sunday, Steven Jackson against the Seahawks will be a key watch. The Hawks are ranked 16th against the run and Jackson has been a beast of late.
2. If Kurt Warner plays, he's been plenty good the past couple of weeks throwing nine touchdowns and on Sunday he faces the Titan's 31st ranked pass defense.
3. Can Terrell Owens follow up his big game last week with another this week against the Dolphins 22nd ranked pass defense.
4. The Texans let one get away Monday night, but on Sunday I'll be watching to see if Matt Schaub and the offense can exploit the Colts 18th ranked pass defense.
5. Brady Quinn finally had his first big passing day last week against the Lions, can he do it again this week facing the leagues 20th ranked pass defense (Bengals)?
6. The Chargers have been on a roll and running back LaDanian Tomlinson has been playing well scoring three times in his last two games. Can he continue against the Chiefs 27th ranked run defense.
7. The Vikings quarterback Brett Favre has been playing as well as any quarterback in the league with nine touchdowns in his last three games. On Sunday Favre will get the Bears 8th ranked pass defense that has allowed 18 touchdowns this season.
8. With Portis and WEstbrook out, I will be watching to see which back has the bigger day Rock Cartwright (135 yards rushing) or LeSean McCoy (452 yards).
9. Quietly the Jets are the leagues number two ranked rushing offense and on Sunday they play the Carolina Panthers (ranked 26th against the run). I will be watching running backs Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene.
10. Monday night I will be watching both the Saints and Patriot's offense with all of their playmakers; Brady, Brees, Colston, and Moss to name a few.


by TJ Rosenthal for Football Reporters Online

QB Mark Sanchez is struggling but won't be benched. Free safety Kerry Rhodes , compared to Ed Reed before the season by Rex Ryan, WILL be benched. Ryan will now sit in on offensive meetings as a way to help Sanchez with his development. Oh, and David Clowney's twitter account was hacked into this week as some creep threw violent taunts towards a fan who sent the Jet wideout not so kind  thoughts on the Patriot loss. Welcome to "As The Jets Turn," the latest episode in the Gang Green's 2009 season as the club readies for Carolina . 

It seems like light years ago that this soap opera was full of hope and promise. Now at 4-6, losers of six of the last seven, the Jets look to simply regroup against another 4-6 team, the Carolina Panthers. A club like the Jets whose run game is dangerous yet  whose QB Jake Delhomme, has also come under fire for underperforming this season.

For the Jets, the formula is simple on paper. Sanchez must limit his mistakes ( he's 3rd in the NFL in interceptions with 16)  while Thomas Jones and the Jet run game move the chains. The Jet defense must regain its early season form and create pressure on opposing team's backfields. 

The D must also find a way to start creating turnovers,  something they've been unable to do all season. FS Kerry Rhodes who many thought would become the next Ed Reed, the ball hawking future hall of fame Raven, (a former leader on Rex Ryan's Baltimore defense),  has not made one big play all season. His tentative play has led to big plays given up by the Jet secondary. Eric Smith will replace Rhodes this week who was benched by Ryan in order to send a message to his team. How the Jets react to the benching will go a long way in determining Ryan's presence as a leader of this team in the future.

Ryan has also decided to now sit in and observe the offense at team meetings. Admittedly Ryan likened the experience to "French class," but something had to be done and sitting the future of the team Sanchez, was not on the head coach's radar. Many Jet faithful are starting to wonder though, if its it too early to throw the season away and allow Sanchez the growing pains. What if backup QB Kellen Clemens can settle down an offense that has turned it over too often during this two month swoon? A swoon that has dropped the Jets from first place to a game out of last in the AFC East. Jet analyst and former Jet QB Ray Lucas voiced his belief on SNY that the move to Clemens might be the right one in order to save 2009.

If the Jets want to have any chance on Sunday they have to do one thing. Stop the league's number four rusher (982 yards) Deangelo Williams. He's a faster version of the league's number five rusher  Maurice Jones-Drew, who torched the Jets for 123 yards weeks two weeks ago.  The Panthers defense ranks 11th overall, fourth against the pass at 185 yards per game. That doesn't bode well for the Jet air attack which has struggled to move the ball since the arrival of the player thought to be perhaps the missing playoff piece in WR Braylon Edwards in week five. Sanchez averages 179 passing yards a game. To score, the Jet ground game has to be effective. More carries for Shonn Greene, the rookie backup with big play potential exemplified in Oakland a month back 
may be on the menu.

With Buffalo up next in Toronto on Thursday, the Jets play two games in five days. A win streak would leave the Jets at 6-6 and talking playoffs again.  Anything less than a two game sweep though, and the talk around Florham Park the rest of the way will be about the development of Sanchez and 2010.


Stop Deangelo Williams: Forget Jake Delhomme. He's good for a few mistakes, missed opportunities and a bunch of yardage that add up to field goal chances. It's Deangelo Williams who must be stopped. Williams can single handedly ruin the Jets as quality RBs often do. It's in the Gang Green's DNA to face a tough back and get dominated. If it happens Sunday, it's light out for 2009. For real.

Sanchez, throw to the Green Jerseys! Interception happy Mark Sanchez HAS to cut down on the INT's. Otherwise one of two things will happen. Or both. The Jets will certainly lose. Two, the rookie will be benched for Clemens during the game as Rex Ryan tries to save a season evaporating faster than electronic appliances  on Black Friday department store shelves.

Shonn Greene, Dustin Keller, Braylon Edwards,  you guys alive? : The Jets need a spark on offense. Here are three players that can provide that. Greene needs more touches, Keller and Sanchez need to get on the same page now and Edwards has to stop dousing his hands with vaseline before he enters the huddle. Catch the ball Braylon let's go. Enough already.

follow TJ Rosenthal on twitter @ thejetreport for daily Jet news and thoughts regarding Gang Green

Giants Play Like Turkeys In Thanksgiving Night Loss In Denver

Giants Play Like Turkeys In Thanksgiving Night Loss In Denver
By Jon Wagner-Sr. Writer at Large Football Reporters Online

The New York Giants traveled to Denver feeling appropriately thankful on Thanksgiving.

How could they not, after finally ending a four-game losing streak with an overtime win over Atlanta last week and licking their chops, thinking of feasting on a Denver Broncos team that was on a bad four-game slide of its own?

After an embarrassing 26-6 loss in Denver however, the Giants (6-5) will be most grateful if they can simply remain a legitimate contender in the NFC playoff race by the time the December holidays arrive.

If that happens, Giants’ head coach Tom Coughlin might be thanking any player on his team who could help prevent another performance as dreadful as the one he witnessed at Invesco Field at Mile High on Thursday night.

“We didn’t have any tempo and we didn’t make any plays,” Coughlin said. “We keep talking about winning the physical battle and controlling the line of scrimmage. We thought this would be the night and it wasn’t.

That was the understatement of the evening for Giants fans who probably wished Big Blue could have at least swapped places with one of the NFL teams which played its game earlier in the day. Seeing their team get physically dominated in the trenches the way it did in a Thanksgiving nightcap must have made it tough for Giants supporters to keep down their turkey and all of the trimmings.

The Giants managed just a pair of Lawrence Tynes field goals against a Broncos squad that allowed between 27 and 32 points in each of its previous four games.

New York tight end Kevin Boss (two receptions for 22 yards), who caught two key touchdown passes last week, said “We really wanted this one. We needed this one. We felt like we were starting to play our type of ball again [after last week] and for whatever reason we just came out here and laid an egg. We never got into a rhythm and we were just flat.”

Offensively, that was true right from the start, as the Giants stumbled out of the gate, with their six first-half possessions resulting in five punts and a fumble, going an anemic three-and-out on four occasions.

Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning (24-40, 230 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT), who threw for a career-high 384 yards and three touchdowns only four days prior, was routinely pressured as the Giants’ ineffective offensive line let the floodgates open on its often unprotected quarterback.

Although New York made the final statistics respectable -- the Broncos outgained the Giants 373-267 and finished with just six more first downs (21-15) -- the first half numbers, which set the tone for the rest of the game, told the real story, as the Giants could get very little going offensively and didn’t make enough defensive stops early on, to stay in the game.

Denver (7-4) held a huge advantage (213-38) in total yards (including 149-9 net yards through the air), had twelve first downs to New York’s three, and limited Manning to just six completions in thirteen attempts, for 28 yards in the opening two quarters.

A frustrated Osi Umenyiora was seen scolding his teammates on the sideline during the first as the defensive end seemed to be, like many Giants this season, left without answers as to why his team can often look so good at some points, and during others, as bad as it showed against the Broncos, this season.

After punting on its first possession of the game, Denver drove deep into New York territory on its next two trips, but settled for field goals each time. The first, a 26-yarder from Matt Prater, gave the Broncos a 3-0 lead with 2:28 left in the first quarter. Prater then made it 6-0, Denver, from 32 yards out, with 10:46 remaining in the opening half.

The Broncos would score on their next two possessions though, to take control of the game. A fumble by Giants’ running back Danny Ware was recovered at the New York 38-yard line by safety Brian Dawkins (who used to plague the Giants for years as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles before coming to Denver this season).

The Broncos took advantage quickly, needing just four plays to find the end zone, as Denver wide receiver Brandon Marshall (team-high 6 catches for a game-high 86 yards) made a nice leaping, one-hand grab on a pass from quarterback Kyle Orton (18-28, 245 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) for a 28-yard gain. Three plays later, rookie running back Knowshon Moreno (Ware‘s fellow Georgia alum, who racked up a game-high 88 yards on 19 carries), scored on a one-yard touchdown plunge to put the Broncos comfortably ahead, 13-0, with 7:17 left in the half.

A 15-yard facemask penalty on Giants’ cornerback Corey Webster put Denver in field goal range on the Broncos next possession, allowing Prater to connect again, on a 47-yard field goal, 3:28 before halftime, to give Denver 16-0 lead, a margin the Broncos would take into the locker room.

The Giants showed signs of getting back in the game on both sides of the ball in the third quarter. They held Denver scoreless in the period and mounted scoring drives the first two times they touched the ball in the quarter.

But, each of those possessions ended in field goals (third-quarter kicks of 39 and 52 yards from Tynes) rather than touchdowns, something that Coughlin pointed to as the last blown chances for the Giants to come away victorious. “We came away with field goals rather than touchdowns.” he said, “Which could have given us some gas un our tank… and a chance to win.”

The Giants went quietly in the final quarter after Tynes’ second field goal trimmed the Broncos’ lead to 16-6 with 31 second remaining in the third period.

Denver took the ensuing possession 64 yards, finishing a nine-play drive in 5:16 on a 17-yard touchdown pass from Orton to wide receiver Brandon Stokley, who caught a pass wide open over the middle and scored untouched, to put the Broncos up 23-6, with 10:15 left in the game.

Prater closed the scoring, finishing his perfect night with his fourth field goal, a 24-yarder, with 5:02 remaining.

History has been traditionally unkind to NFL road teams traveling on a short week, distances of at least as long as the Giants’ trip to Denver. However, Coughlin didn’t blame the schedule makers. He said his team’s meetings, preparation, and organization during the week were all fine. He simply concluded, “We played very poorly tonight, there was no excuse for it… no short week, none of that stuff... We just did not play well.”

Coughlin came back to losing the battle at the line of scrimmage, particularly losing the battle with the running game on each side of the ball. “That’s where football starts,’ he said. “Stopping the run and running the ball.”

That issue for the Giants was evident by the play calling. Although New York had a slightly higher yards per carry average (3.6 to 3.5), the Broncos, who were in control, were able to rush the ball 40 times (for 138 yards) out of 68 offensive plays. In sharp contrast, the Giants, playing catchup, were forced to abandon their running game earlier than they had originally planned, rushing just 16 times in 56 offensive plays.

The loss was a big missed opportunity for New York, which could have been playing Dallas (8-3, Thanksgiving Day winners over Oakland) for first place in the NFC East at home next week.

Giants’ running back Brandon Jacobs said of his team’s overall effort, “We didn’t want it bad enough.” He remains optimistic though, despite the Giants’ fifth loss in six games, saying, “We’ve got a lot of talent and we know at some point it’s going to pick up. We’ve got to really get our engine going for the next couple of weeks.”

They still may, but as Coughlin alluded to, the Giants must now hope there’s enough gas in the tank for that engine to get them where they’d still like to go.

Seven & Out – Week #12

Seven & Out – Week #12
By Michael – Louis Ingram
PHILADELPHIA (BASN/FRO): We interrupt this Seven & Out to throw down on some thanks -and some giving; and a reminder that there is a place for all God’s creatures – right next to the mashed sweet potatoes, collard greens and gravy!!!
(Burp – excuse me);
Okay, hand me a napkin – new shooter coming out…
DUELING DUOS:  A record that hadn’t been topped since 1964 was surpassed twice on Sunday.  The Chicago Bears tandem of wide receiver JOHNNY MORRIS (77) and Pro Football Hall of Fame tight end MIKE DITKA (59) combined for 136 catches through the first 10 games of the 1964 season.  In 1995, the Detroit Lions wide receiver duo of HERMAN MOORE (73) and BRETT PERRIMAN (63) equaled that total.
(Somewhere Wayne Fontes is smiling; and the police are still looking for Scott Mitchell – for stealing that money that should’ve gone to getting Barry Sanders some real help!)
During the Indianapolis Colts’ 17-15 win against Baltimore in yesterday’s 1:00 PM ET game, wide receiver REGGIE WAYNE (76 catches through 10 games) and DALLAS CLARK (65) combined for eight catches, establishing a record of 141 combined catches through the first 10 games of the season.
(Everyone knows he’s good; but no one ever says how great Reggie Wayne really is!)
Later on Sunday, the New England Patriots wide receiver combo of WES WELKER (79) and RANDY MOSS (63) combined for 20 catches in a 31-14 win over the New York Jets in a 4:15 PM ET contest, giving the pair 142 combined receptions through 10 games to surpass the hours-old record set earlier in the day by Wayne-Clark.
(If he hasn’t already, Welker should name his first/next kid Randy)
The most combined receptions by teammates in the first 10 games of a season in NFL history:
2009 New England Patriots
WR Wes Welker (79) & WR Randy Moss (63)
2009 Indianapolis Colts
WR Reggie Wayne (76) & TE Dallas Clark (65)
1964 Chicago Bears        
WR Johnny Morris (77) & TE Mike Ditka (59)
1995 Detroit Lions
WR Herman Moore (73) & WR Brett Perriman (63)
2007 Cincinnati Bengals
WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (76) & WR Chad Ochocinco (59)
1994 Minnesota Vikings
WR Cris Carter (77) & WR Jake Reed (58)
MANNING STREAK CONTINUES:  Indianapolis quarterback PEYTON MANNING passed for 299 yards against Baltimore.  Manning, who has 3,171 passing yards this year, has now thrown for at least 3,000 yards in 12 consecutive seasons, the most to start a career in NFL history.
(The best just keep getting better…)
SUCCESS ON THE ROAD:  Three teams successfully defended their undefeated road records yesterday to improve to 5-0 away from home: Arizona (21-13 win at St. Louis), Indianapolis (17-15 win at Baltimore) and New Orleans (38-7 win at Tampa Bay). 
(Give Arizona credit for doing a 180 degree turnabout on road games; they’ve gone from terrible – to terror…)
With three 5-0 road teams, the 2009 season is now tied for the most ever.  There have been three other seasons in which three teams started 5-0 on the road (1983, 2001, 2007).  All three of this year’s 5-0 road teams are in first place in their respective divisions.
(But I see only one of those teams in Miami come February – The Indianapolis Colts)
DRIVE TIME UPDATE:  Sustaining drives on offense has long been an indicator of NFL success.  This year, the top five NFL offenses in yards per drive have a combined record of 40-10 (.800).  Four of those five teams currently sit atop their respective divisions – Indianapolis, New England, New Orleans, and Dallas.
The NFL’s two remaining undefeated teams, the Colts (36.9 yards per drive) and Saints (34.7), rank first and third in the category.
The top NFL offenses in average yards per drive in 2009:
Indianapolis Colts*  
New England Patriots*   
New Orleans Saints*  
Pittsburgh Steelers
Dallas Cowboys*  
* Division leader
T-WHOA!:  Buffalo wide receiver TERRELL OWENS posted a season-high 197 receiving yards in the Bills’ 18-15 loss at Jacksonville.  Owens’ 98-yard touchdown reception, the longest in team history, gives him 25 career 50-yard touchdowns from scrimmage (rushing or receiving), tying him with Pro Football Hall of Famer LENNY MOORE for the fourth-most in NFL history.
(Yet we know scumbags like Skip Bayless constantly lobby against Owens and his inevitable first ballot inclusion into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Again – the man has never committed any criminal offense, but is made a caricature by the likes of invertebrates like Bayless & Ed Werder, who Owens said was a straight up liar; and was not proven to be wrong; one can only imagine the discussion in that smoke-filled room!)
The players with the most 50-yard touchdowns from scrimmage (rushing or receiving) in NFL history:
Jerry Rice
Randy Moss*
Lance Alworth
Terrell Owens*
Lenny Moore
* Active
WHAT A CATCH:  New England wide receiver WES WELKER had 15 catches for 192 yards in the Patriots’ 31-14 win over the New York Jets.  Welker has 302 receptions in his first 40 games with the Patriots and is the first player in NFL history to record 300 catches in the first 40 games with a new team.  The previous record for the most receptions in a player’s first 40 games with a new team was 269 by Denver’s LIONEL TAYLOR. 
The players with the most receptions in their first 40 games with a new team (rookies and veterans):
WR Wes Welker
WR Lionel Taylor
WR Anquan Boldin
WR Terance Mathis
RB Marshall Faulk
WR Tom Fears
(Here’s the unfairness in it all; some fantasy football asswipe will make a case for Welker as a HOF receiver; but won’t do the research to make a similar argument for Harold Carmichael, Harold Jackson – or Lionel Taylor).
As always, gang – once the point is made, don’t throw a seven – or you will…crap out!

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