What we are talking about:
A pretty good start
Numbers not good
Get off the (expletive) field
You might have heard this, but Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are squaring off this week. And of course, this has been a big week for blogs and sports talk radio as they talk about the greatest rivalries of all-time. And you hear all of the rivalries you would expect. Bears vs. Packers. Red Sox vs. Yankees. Lakers vs. Celtics.
Which, come to think of it, shows that a lot of folks hate Boston sports teams.
My man Mike Coppinger even got into the mix with some great sports rivalries. And you can check that out right here. However, I say "posh" to all of those minor squabbles. Because how in the name of Zeus can we talk rivalries and not discuss the greatest rivalry in sports history:
Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart.
(And to pull back the curtain a touch, Coppinger has watched WWE pay per views at my house and has tickets to WrestleMania in New Orleans, so I feel this exclusion had to be the result of orders from above.)
But seriously, Michaels vs. Hart is probably the most intense of all sports rivalries. And I find it quite fitting that the latest episode in Brady vs. Manning will happen the same time as the WWE's Survivor Series on Sunday. Because one of the greatest matches between Michaels and Hart was the famed "Montreal Screwjob" during the 1997 Survivor Series. (Though, Patriots fans might believe a current screw job came last week in Carolina.)
I find all of this very fitting. The only question that remains is, who is HBK and who is Bret Hart in this instance? My humble opinion is Brady is more of the "Showstopper" while Manning takes on many of the same characteristics of Hart, who like Manning, was a legacy in his sport. Because that would make Archie Manning the Stu Hart of the NFL. The Manning Passing Academy could be considered the Hart Family Dungeon of football. Owen Hart, like Eli, lived in the shadow of his brother, but was a multi-champion in his own right. Yeah, I guess we have that figured out.
And while I'm on the subject, how come we can go back to the traditional Survivor Series matches? I know we get one, but I would love to see the Meta Powers of CM Punk and Daniel Bryan form a team to take on the Wyatt Family. Or even get together some of the best jobbers in the business to get in on the action. Why can't 3MB be involved some place here?
But you know what? Maybe that would be a great way to settle the Brady vs. Manning rivalry, is to have them fight Survivor Series-style. Maybe when Wes Welker scores a touchdown, it eliminates Danny Amendola. And then when Rob Gronkowski scores, there goes Julius Thomas. And then it works its way down to Brady vs. Manning one-on-one on the field.
Dare to dream. I think we'd have a better shot of John Cena being cheered by somebody older than nine-years old, than to see something like that.
Who else do I like and dislike this week? Let's proceed in what our homepage editor Patrick Crawley called the best use of a soap box in world history. Or something like that.
And without further ado ...
Sunday's game will feature passers with the most combined touchdown passes in NFL history, topping an October 2010 game between the Vikings' Brett Farve (504 at the time) and Brady (236 at the time).
BTW, I love the Tom Brady promo photo used by NBC. Our Daniel Jerimiah has said it looks like The Undertaker. Others have suggested Brady looks like Dexter. And I like both of them. But anybody think he's got some Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker?
Wes Welker's 672 receptions are the most over a six-year period in NFL history. His nine touchdown passes this year tie a career high. The last time he played a former team one season after leaving, Welker had 138 receiving yards against the Dolphins.
But don't think Danny Amendola isn't out to prove himself. He's lived in Welker's shadow since his time at Texas Tech, so he's going to be motivated to have a huge game. Danny Woodhead has 55 receptions and four receiving touchdowns this season to lead all NFL running backs in both categories. But everybody is only interested in talking about Welker.
Julius Thomas is tied with Jimmy Graham for the most touchdowns among tight ends with 10. That number ties Rob Gronkowski, Jerry Smith and Mike Ditka for the NFL record for most receiving touchdowns through the first 10 games of the season.
The Patriots are tough against the run, but you have to start Knowshon Moreno despite Montee Ball getting the majority of the goal-line looks. Moreno has too much trust from Manning. Ball would be a matchup play down the road.
Here are the running backs with the best playoff schedules: Matt Forte, Eddie Lacy, C.J. Spiller, Frank Gore, Alfred Morris, Ben Tate and Andre Brown. If you can, stash Dennis Johnson if Tate continues to be hobbled with injuries.
But even with all of the injury concerns, I would still get Ben Tate into my lineup. He's earned it, but just keep an eye out.
Frank Gore has a fantastic matchup this week against Washington who has become like the NFC version of the Jags. Gore failed to reach 70 yards for the first time since Week 3 last week. He won't make it two in a row.
Tony Romo has been at his best in the fourth quarter. He has the second-highest passer rating in the fourth quarter of any player with at least 30 attempts. He has seven fourth-quarter TDs, tied for the most in the league.
The Cowboys have the worst total defense and worst pass defense in the NFL. Eli Manning might be a nice start for the quarterback starved. Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle all had more than 100 yards against the Cowboys last time.
The Cowboys have allowed five touchdown passes in the last two roadies and have allowed the most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season.
Cam Newton's passer rating on third down of 111.9 is the NFL's highest. The Dolphins have been tough on quarterbacks, but you can't bench Newton, who is on pace to set career bets in completion percentage (63.2), touchdown passes (26) and passer rating (91.8).
Andrew Luck has yet to lose back-to-back games during his 26-game NFL career. Only two other quarterbacks whose careers have started after the AFL-NFL merger managed to avoid consecutive losses in their first 26 starts: Dan Marino and Kordell Stewart.
Yeah, if Luck wants to lead with that story while he's out courting ladies at the Slippery Noodle in downtown Indianapolis, he might want to just mention the Marino part.
Larry Fitzgerald has only one 100-yard receiving game this season, and only three since Week 1 of 2012. He had six in 2011. But I'm still starting him out of habit. Kind of the way I finished Dexter (finally).
Fun fact: Bruce Arians went 9-3 as the Colts interim coach last year and was the AP coach of the year. He will be the first NFL coach of the year to face his former team in the next season as head coach of another club.
ImageSorry, any time I hear the word "club" I have to think of "Sons of Anarchy" but I missed this week's episode as I was out of town. But since you will all read this over the weekend, I will have likely watched it on Friday night. So you can hit me up with your spoilers on Twitter. I won't mind.
ImageIf you haven't seen "Burning Love" on E!, you are missing out some quality television. I'm just impressed by the stars they have on the show from Jerry O'Connell to Adam Scott to Paul Scheer. And that's Adam Scott from "Parks and Recreation" not the Aussie golfer.
Among first-year undrafted players through their first four starts, Keenum's 99.0 passer rating ranks first, ahead of Warren Moon who had a passer rating of 80.5 in his first four starts.
Bobby Rainey is the first player since Edgerrin James to record at least 150 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown in a single game in a player's first 10 games to begin a career.
Reggie Bush and Calvin Johnson each have 1,000 yards from scrimmage. They are only one of five RB/WR duos to have 1,000 scrimmage yards through Week 11 in the last 15 seasons. Bush has only one rushing touchdown in his last six games, but he has at least 95 scrimmage yards in four of his last five games.
Matthew Stafford has thrown 101 career touchdown passes in 55 games, the fourth fastest to 100 in NFL history behind Dan Marino, Kurt Warner and Johnny Unitas. Peyton Manning was just behind Stafford. Funny, I expected the third one to be some mid-card guy like Marc Bulger. I'm actually shocked when it's like three Hall of Famers.
ImageAnd yes, Kurt Warner is a Hall of Famer. If you look at impact, there is no doubt Terrell Davis should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Jerome Bettis, not so much. Davis dominated his competition and was at his best during the playoffs. This is a playoff-driven league and why Brady is always viewed as a better quarterback than Manning.
ImageAnother popular sentiment is "can you tell the story of the NFL without this person" which I also like. And Davis is way more important to NFL history, unless you count botched coin-flips and one of the worst officiated Super Bowls in history. Seriously, what else is Bettis known for?
ImageI blame a lot of Terrell Davis' troubles on his nickname. Bettis had "The Bus" while Davis had the boring "TD". Davis is often compared to the short career of Gale Sayers, who of course, was known as the Kansas Comet.
Nelson has at least 85 receiving yards in consecutive meetings with the Vikings, and three touchdowns in the last two meetings.
No seriously, can somebody do the math for me on this one? I would really appreciate it. Wait, too late. The calculator spelled out the word, "start this guy."
Kendall Wright has nine consecutive games with over 50 receiving yards which is tied for third for the longest active streak. Only Demaryius Thomas (11) and Antonio Brown (10) are ahead of Wright. Swing over to the dislikes to see why Brown is on that side of the ledger.
ImageSpeaking of Titans, solid effort by Cal State Fullerton against USC on Tuesday night at the Galen Center in downtown Los Angeles. Despite being without the electric Alex Harris, the gutty Titans hung tough. See, Fullerton is the underdogs. USC; not so much.
Delanie Walker has become a solid tight end option in recent weeks, as he's scored a receiving touchdown in three of his last four games. The Raiders have allowed the seventh-most points to tight ends this year.
Alshon Jeffery has scored at least 10 fantasy points in six of his last seven games. The St. Louis FC is a tough matchup, but I can't bench Jeffery this year. Brandon Marshall and Jeffery are just 60 yards behind Thomas and Decker as the league's most prolific duo.
Vernon Davis has a receiving touchdown in three of his last four roadies. Washington has allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to tight ends over the last four weeks.
Alfred Morris is almost automatic to put up 90 scrimmage yards each and every week. Touchdowns are just a bonus at this point.
Garrett Graham had eight receptions for 82 yards and two scores in the team's 2012 game in Houston.
Jordan Cameron has struggled in his history against the Steelers, but Pittsburgh has allowed the 10th-most points to tight ends over the last month. I can't abandon Cameron now. We've come too far for this.
ImageI play in a number of leagues with just one running back and multiple flex spots instead. We've almost come to the point where this is going to be the standard operating procedure in NFL Fantasy.
Jarrett Boykin is targeted a ton by the Packers' backup quarterback Scotty T. He's worth a look in leagues where you are rewarded with points when a player does well. (Sorry, sometimes it can get repetitive writing the same phrases over and over again.)
You have two of the best quarterbacks in NFL history squaring off with Brady vs. Manning XIV. And then you have Josh McCown and Kellen Clemens squaring off in St. Louis. If I'm not mistaken, Brady and Manning are a combined 571 games over .500; and the other two not so much.
If you're one of those folks who hopes for the Los Angeles Rams to be reborn in 2015, you should take the tenor of the crowd after that barn burner.
The Bears are going to look so different next year, what with all of the free agents remaining. The biggest change, I have to believe, will be at quarterback as Jay Cutler will be replaced. McCown has played too well and Marc Trestman is way too good.
My big prediction for next season is Jay Cutler will be the quarterback of your Arizona Cardinals. He seems like he would be a pretty good fit with Bruce Arians. And no, I don't expect Carson Palmer to return to Arizona next year. Carson and I will be slamming beers at Wahoo's Fish Tacos next year.
McCown would be a nice sleeper for you, but the matchup is somewhat tough. St. Louis has allowed the tenth-fewest points to fantasy quarterbacks this year.
Tavon Austin had a career-high 138 receiving yards and two touchdowns against the Colts. But we need to see more consistency. I would like to play the St. Louis defense because he has the ability to pop one. But he's had fewer than 50 receiving yards in each home game this season.
Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III have regressed statistically this year. The completion percentage, passer rating and rush yards per game have gone down this season. But both can be trusted this week.
All of Kaepernick's 11 touchdown passes have gone to Anquan Boldin (three) and Davis (eight). Why not have Kaepernick run on every play?
A quarterback I don't like this week is RG3. And this has nothing to do with him being a Marvel guy. Well maybe a little. But you know what, I bet RG3 sees a lot of similarities between himself and his hero the Hulk. And no, this has nothing to do with Mike Shanahan looking like Thunderbolt Ross. Or maybe a little. But maybe all of RG3's teammates and luminaries are taking shots at him to get him real angry, like Tony Stark did to the Hulk? Interesting theory. I bench him against the tough 49ers defense.
Things do not look good for Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce. The Ravens average three yards per rush, which ranks next-to-last in the league. The Jets allow just 2.9 yards-per-rush, the lowest total in the league.
Rice showed signs of life in Chicago, but it was a one-week blip. Rice was able to take advantage of a banged-up defense, on a slippery field. You can't expect it to happen again.
If anybody will take Rice off your hands this week, you should be tempted to make that trade. I have to start him in one league as a flex starter. That's what it has come down to. I'd rather not start him at all.
There are times when you need to stick with your studs, even if you have a tough matchup. Ray Rice has not been a stud this year, and he probably won't be for the rest of the season.
Joe Flacco posted a 112.6 passer rating against the Packers in Week 6, a season-high for him. His passer rating has decreased in four consecutive weeks. Only three quarterbacks since 1960 have had their passer rating decrease in five consecutive games. Flacco can do it with a passer rating under 53.4 this week. We have faith in you, Joe!
What's the deal with Flacco, who was a Super Bowl champion just a year ago? There hasn't been a follow-up this bad since Franz Ferdinand released "You could have it so much better." Which is something the Ravens' management must be thinking right now.
The Ravens defense was destroyed in Week 1 by Manning, but the unit has allowed just 10 touchdown passes in the last eight games. They rank first in the NFL in red zone defense and have allowed one rushing touchdown his season. No team in league history has allowed fewer than two rushing touchdowns in a season.
So this, of course, means you keep Geno Smith, Chris Ivory and the rest of the Jets' curtain-jerkers on your bench. Funny, however. The Jets have very little fantasy value but are in line for a playoff spot right now.
Jerry Jones said Jason Garrett will return to coach the Cowboys next year. Why not? The Cowboys have been a .500 team during Garrett's run. That's about what the Cowboys fans expect, right? I'm not buying any of this nonsense. Nick Saban, everybody.
BTW, how has Monte Kiffin worked out in Dallas? Yes, I'm as surprised as you that a 73-year old coordinator fired by his own son hasn't made it work in Big D.
Lane Kiffin has endorsed Ed Orgeron for the head coach spot at USC. Is Lane trying to make sure Coach O doesn't get the gig? How dare he. But it looks like Eddie's job right now, and it's a much better choice than the notion of Jack Del Rio getting the gig.
ImageBut real talk USC fans; stop storming the field after wins. You should be better than that. You think Crimson Tide fans would do the same thing after a win over Kentucky? Seriously USC fan, you made yourself appear to be on the same level as San Jose State fans.
The Panthers have the NFL's top ranked scoring defense. They have not allowed more than 24 points in a game this season, and have not allowed a first-quarter touchdown all year.
Lamar Miller is going to continue to struggle with his offensive line banged up, and although I made fun of an owner who released him earlier this year, she's been proven correct.
Ryan Tannehill has been sacked 41 times this season, most in the NFL. He is on pace to be sacked 65 times, which would be the fourth-most in a single season since 1963. Seventeen of Tannehill's sacks have been in the fourth quarter.
The running backs with hardest schedule down the stretch include Miller, Ryan Mathews, Reggie Bush and Trent Richardson. So Richardson has a tough matchup and he's terrible at professional football? Good news all the way around.
Richardson's 1,327 rushing yards through 25 career games is tied with O.J. Simpson for the eighth-fewest by a running back drafted in the first three picks of the draft since 1967. In case you're wondering, the other names include Alonzo Highsmith, Bo Matthews, Ki-Jana Carter, Reggie Bush, Blair Thomas, Garrison Hearst and Ricky Bell.
Speaking of Bush, he has the hardest playoff schedule of any running back in the NFL. Well, not compared to Joique Bell (because they're teammates, you goofs).
Good news for Bush, he's promised not to fumble for the rest of the season. Oh, well, then that's all you had to say.
The Cardinals have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to running backs this year. Richardson has had fewer than six fantasy points in six consecutive games, with no touchdowns.
That can only mean Richardson will have a monster game, right? That's going to be our luck; Richardson will have his best game against his worst matchup.
Ryan Mathews has no touchdowns in his last three meetings against the Chiefs. And no touchdowns in 56 career touches at Arrowhead. But he has at least 70 scrimmage yards in each of his six career meetings.
Antonio Gates has one touchdown in his last six at Arrowhead Stadium. But he's had at least 55 receiving yards in five games in Kansas City. The Chiefs have allowed the fewest points to tight ends this year.
The Chargers defense is tied for last in the NFL with seven takeaways. They are the only team in the NFL without multiple takeaways in a game this season. Should they continue the skid against Alex Smith, they would tie the 2003-04 Oakland Raiders for the most consecutive games with one or fewer takeaways since 1950.
The thing about Alex Smith is that he's taken great matchups in the past and turned them into fantasy junk.
Joe Haden intercepted Andy Dalton on consecutive passes in Week 11. Only three players have intercepted a quarterback twice on consecutive passes since Week 13 of 2008. Wait, that doesn't seem nearly as uncommon as you would expect, right?
Speaking of low numbers, Haden has just 12 career interceptions. Mostly because quarterbacks avoid his side of the field the way Jeff Spicoli avoided Mr. Hand. ("Fast Times at Ridgemont High" has been on cable lately. Sue me.)
Ben Roethlisberger is 15-1 in his career against Cleveland, which is tied for the best record in a player's first 16 games against an opponent. The others are Brady against the Bills, Peyton against the Texans and Roger Staubach against the Giants.
But when you look at Haden's numbers, I really want to keep Antonio Brown on the bench where applicable. This is such a brutal matchup, Brown is more like a third-receiver this week. Emmanuel Sanders is a better option.
Matt McGloin became the first undrafted rookie quarterback to throw at least three touchdown passes without an interception in a single game in the common draft era (since 1967).
When you consider all the busts the Raiders have trotted out at quarterback in recent years, it figures an undrafted free agent would give the fans in Raider Nation hope.
Before you rush McGloin into your lineup, realize the Titans have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season.
Three quarterbacks have a league-high four rushing touchdowns this season. Can you guess who they are? Ah hell, I'll give you the two easy ones, Andy Luck and Cam. Who is the third?
Christian Ponder is tied with Luck and Newton with four rushing touchdowns this season. Are you kidding me? He hasn't thrown for more than 300 yards in 17 consecutive games but he's robbed A.D. of four touchdowns this year.
And if you want to be generous to give A.D. just three of those touchdowns, that's a significant drop. Plus when you figure how much Ponder has robbed A.D. this year just by being bad at NFL football, it's a pretty significant hit.
Seriously love all of the young guns of the Buccaneers this season. But have you thought about what Rainey and Mike James will end up doing to Doug Martin next year? We're looking at another backfield-by-committee situation.
Mark Sanchez has cornrows. Wow. No better way to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the "ButtFumble" on Friday. Wait, how do I not like this?
For the record, you can submit your fantasy questions to NFL Fantasy Live, Michael Fabiano or me on Twitter. But realize, NFL Fantasy Live has 100,000 followers, and Fabiano has 100,000. Me? Just four. See, the odds are better I will answer your question, so hit me up both via Twitter or via Facebook. And if you follow him on Sundays, he'll quote "The Wolf" from "Pulp Fiction" and then it's game on! Although, it's tough to catch me on Facebook. Twitter is your go-to. Also be sure to catch the latest "Dave Dameshek Football Program."