Archive for September, 2003

The S is Gone in Saints

Thursday, 25 September, 2003

by Zack Cimini
Notjustagame.com

The Saints were thought to be a solid team for years to come, and than all of the sudden they?ve dropped to the bottom of the league. So what is going on in New Orleans?

No one knows the problem, but obviously they haven?t got over their late season collapse last season. Their crucial disappointing losses to Cincinnati and Carolina cost them a playoff spot, and started up plenty of questions. How could a team lose to those two teams? All they needed to do was win one and they would have had a playoff spot clinched.

During that season they had plenty of ups and downs. Aaron Brooks has been inconsistent since that late season collapse, but has showed plenty of upside during his career. They arguably have the most talent on offense in the whole league, but still can?t do anything with it. Deuce McAllister has had an all right start to the season, but isn?t playing as well as he should. Their two star wide receivers haven?t played together. Last season they both were able to play on a high level every week, now it?s only one of them each week.

The biggest reason though for their decline is their defense. They haven?t been able to stop anyone, and are the worst tackling team in the NFL. You would think things would be different, especially for the football coach that they play for. Instead it hasn?t changed and this week is a must win for them.

They will be playing against an undefeated Colts team, with a 1-2 record. If they go to 1-3 don?t be shocked to hear Jim Haslett?s name in the rumor mill. Maybe he is the problem with this team. His coaching style is different, and a lot of times players don?t adjust to it.

There wasn?t a problem with his style a few years ago, so that idea is hard to believe. The problem is that the Saints aren?t playing football, and they are losing games themselves. Too many crucial mistakes, and poor play have plagued this team, and it needs to end now. Aaron Brooks needs to lead this team, and get them rolling. A win over a team like the Colts is something that could do it.

Analysis and Preview

Thursday, 25 September, 2003

By Zack Cimini
Notjustagame.com

When?s Michael Vick coming back? The Atlanta Falcons are desperately waiting for his return, and will likely need a heroic effort from him to get into things. Soon to be free agent Doug Johnson has played so horrible that he probably won?t get another shot in the NFL next season. He has showed absolutely no ability in the pocket, and the only target he can hit is his tight end in Alge Crumpler. The Falcons were hoping that they could be at least .500 and not have to rush Vick back. Instead their season is hanging on thin ice this week against a talented Carolina Panthers team. Their defense is another negative, and if doesn?t change it won?t matter how well Vick plays when he returns.

How about the Arizona Cardinals bouncing back? After being totally destroyed a week earlier the Cardinals managed to pull this one out. The Cardinals don?t deserve to thank their fans, but the 106-degree weather helped out a lot. This team has plenty of talent and should win five to six games this season.

Miami fans had to be proud on how their team responded. Their dominating performance over Buffalo put them back into things in the tight AFC. We?ll see if they can sustain solid play, or end up hitting a speed bump.

Well here is a preview of week four

Philadelphia vs. Buffalo
This is going to be an extremely tough game for Buffalo. The Eagles are coming off of a bye week, and know that this is a must win game. Buffalo is coming off of a tough loss, and will likely be without running back Travis Henry. That means Bledsoe will be throwing a lot. If he throws anything like he did last week than the Bills are going to be in trouble.

Cincinnati vs. Cleveland
Kelly Holcomb came through in the clutch and will have the starting job for at least another week. Surprisingly the Bengals have the best duo of wide receivers in the league, and have played competitive football. If Cleveland struggles on offense like they have the first three weeks, than this will be a great chance for them to win their first game.

Arizona vs. St. Louis
The Rams blew another football game, and if it wasn?t for Cedrick Wilson the Rams could be 0-3. Dave McGinnis is probably the hardest working coach in the NFL, and he will have his team ready this weekend. The Rams need to get back on track in a hurry, or Mike Martz?s job will be in jeopardy.

San Francisco vs. Minnesota
Minnesota has calmed down a little bit this season and has taken over games with an effective running game. Their ball control offense has been effective, and Moe Williams has been the reason why. San Francisco is coming off of a very disappointing loss, and it goes to show that you need to score touchdowns in this league. Having a kicker is great, but you want him on the field only to kick extra points. The 49ers need this game just as bad as the rest of their NFC West opponents.

Tennessee vs. Pittsburgh
This rivalry was one of the best in football a few seasons ago. Now they?re both in separate divisions but we all know that they still have bad blood. The Titans are building for a great year, and the Steelers think they?re going to do the same. So expect a great, hard fought, fight to the finish football game.

New England vs. Washington
Patrick Ramsey is on his way to a Pro Bowl year, and he deserves to thank Steve Spurrier and Lavernues Coles. Coles has came in and made an instant presence on the field, and has thrived in Spurrier?s system. The Patriots have been quiet this season, but are quietly 2-1. There are so many teams to talk about in the AFC that everyone is forgetting about the Patriots. Well if they win this week, they will be mentioned again.

Jacksonville vs. Houston
Two weeks in a row the Texans hung around for the first half, and then folded in the second. This should be a defensive game, so expect Kris Brown to be on the field a lot. The Texans need more from running back Stacey Mack, who has failed to become a threat out of the backfield.

Kansas City vs. Baltimore
Jamal Lewis vs. Priest Holmes, what can you say? They are the two best running backs in football, and both want to prove it against each other. The way both defenses are playing though, it could be up to the quarterbacks. The Ravens secondary is very shaky, and Trent Green should be able to exploit it.

San Diego vs. Oakland
When a player comes out and speaks that usually doesn?t, that means something. Rich Gannon was one angry quarterback after Monday Night, and is obviously trying to send a message to this team. One year ago they were ripping a part teams, and now they are getting it handed to them. This is not the game you want to be playing in if you are the San Diego Chargers.

Dallas vs. NY Jets
Bill Parcells is back up in New York again, and it will likely end with another win. When you can?t run the football you?re not going to win, and that is the Jets problem right now. Testaverde did a solid job last week, but they relied on him too much. Eventually a quarterback is going to make a mistake, and it happened in a crucial point in last week?s game. People are saying that Curtis Martin is done. He needs more carries before we can justify that. Quincy Carter has been erratic in his short career, and will need to be consistent in the pocket for them to win this one.

Detroit vs. Denver
Jake Plummer has had two of the best first quarters from a quarterback in the last two weeks. Plummer looks like he should have another fine week, against a horrible Lions defense. Detroit is just struggling on both sides of the football, and are hurting even more without Andre Goodman.

Atlanta vs. Carolina
This is a statement week for the Carolina Panthers. Both of their wins so far have been tight games, but good teams win those types of games. Stephen Davis has been the train so far this season, and will ride the whole year out for Carolina.

Indianapolis vs. New Orleans
The Colts have waited forever for a second receiver to step up, and Reggie Wayne finally did it. Peyton Manning has calmed down in the pocket, and the Colts are letting their defense win them games. It?s a great game plan this week, because the Saints always hurt themselves.

Green Bay vs. Chicago
This is going to be one of those horrible Monday Night games to watch. The Bears are by far the worst team in the league, and the Packers aren?t too far behind. Green Bay just hasn?t got their team chemistry down yet, and we all are wondering if they ever will. Last week was supposed to be an easy win for the Packers, so don?t count out Chicago.

Week Three Preview

Friday, 19 September, 2003

by Zack Cimini
Notjustagame.com

Week three presents some great matchups, including on Monday night when the Raiders play the Broncos. It is also the first week that teams will have byes, and those teams are Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas, and Carolina. The Jets, Cardinals, Chargers, Browns, Bengals, and Jaguars are all trying to avoid 0-3 starts. With their matchups though all six of them will probably fall to 0-3. Well here is a preview of each game this weekend.

New York Jets vs. New England
The Patriots bounced back very well against the Eagles, and Testaverde knows he is in trouble this week. Last week the Patriots sacked McNabb several times, and we know how hard it is to sack McNabb. Both teams have a very weak running game, except when the Patriots use Kevin Faulk. So it?ll likely come down to Tom Brady and Vinny Testaverde throwing the football.

Kansas City vs. Houston
Houston played tough against the Saints, but fell apart in the middle of the third quarter. This week they face a Chiefs team that is rolling, but the Chiefs better not overlook the Texans. Priest Holmes will likely only touch the football 10-15 times a game, so look for Tony Richardson and Larry Johnson to carry the load. If the Texans are going to have any chance to win this game, than they are going to need to keep the Chiefs offense off of the field. That means Stacey Mack will have to be effective.

Tampa Bay vs. Atlanta
Usually when these two teams get together, it turns into a great game. This one though could be a blow out in the Buccaneers favor, if the Falcons don?t bring their defense. One thing the Falcons have on their side is that they know the Buccaneers are going to throw the football. If the Falcons can play defense than this one will come down to the last seconds.

Pittsburgh vs. Cincinnati
Don?t be surprised to see the Bengals pull this one out. Their defense has played very well, and we all know that Tommy Maddox can?t go a game without making a couple of mistakes. Add to the fact that Jon Kitna has developed a very nice chemistry with his receivers, spells trouble for the Steelers.

Minnesota vs. Detroit
Week one Joey Harrington looked fabulous, and then he returned with a horrible outing against the Packers. Developing consistency is always a problem for young quarterbacks, but Harrington has the tools. The Lions should be able to spread the Vikings defense out now that they have Az Hakim back. The Vikings talented offense is just too much though, and in the end the Vikings should win comfortably.

New Orleans vs. Tennessee
The Titans had it put to them last week in Indianapolis, and now they come into this week a banged up team. The Saints finally played to their ability, and we?ll see if they can keep it up this week. When Steve McNair plays injured he seems to carry this team better, but he?ll need to get more effort out of Eddie George. As far as the Saints go, they?ll just need another great game from Deuce McAllister.

Jacksonville vs. Indianapolis
In only a year Tony Dungy has transformed the Colts into a defensive team. They look very impressive this way, and it has taken a lot of pressure off of Peyton Manning. Edgerrin James seems back to 100 percent, and the Colts look like they are ready to get back too the playoffs. The Jaguars look like they need a change, and Byron Leftwich seems to be the answer.

St. Louis vs. Seattle
The Seahawks enjoyed their first bye week against the Cardinals last week. All the Seahawks had to do was sit back and watch the Cardinals turn over the football. This week will be a little bit different, but their defense should cause some problems for Marc Bulger. Bulger showed last week that he has a hard time with blitzes, so expect the Seahawks to throw in plenty of blitz packages. We?ll see if Bulger can handle the pressure now that he knows he is the starter until he loses it.

NY Giants vs. Washington
Both of these teams like to light it up with their offenses, so this will be another classic shoot out. Wasn?t it just two years ago that the NFC East had some of the worst ineffective offenses in the league? You have to like the Giants in this game, just because of what happened to them on Monday Night. But Steve Spurrier has this team running and gunning on offense, so it should be a great game.

Green Bay vs. Arizona
People are already forgetting that Emmitt Smith is on the Cardinals. It is hard to remember when you?re on a team that can?t win more than four games in a season. This could be one of the games the Cardinals can win, especially if Favre has one of his erratic games. The key will be Ahman Green, who?ll likely have a huge day against the Cardinals defense.

Baltimore vs. San Diego
David Boston and Reche Caldwell are out, and the Chargers have yet to see LT have a great game. The Chargers defense isn?t helping out either, as it is one of the worst in the NFL. That means Jamal Lewis can add to his two game total and have a great shot at breaking OJ Simpson?s record.

Cleveland vs. San Francisco
I?d give Kelly Holcomb until halftime to do something on the field, or Tim Couch will be out there coming into the second half. Butch Davis can?t stand losing, and has always said Couch will get the chance if Holcomb folds. This game has a Terrell Owens day written all over it.

Buffalo vs. Miami
The Bills have a shot at separating themselves by two games from everyone in their division. They?ll need a little help from the Jets, but they can take care of the other half themselves. Drew Bledsoe has always played well against Miami, and won twice last year against them. This is a must win for the Dolphins, and they can ill afford to have stupid turnovers. The Bills feed off of turnovers and will capitalize on them. This is the game of the week.

Oakland vs. Denver
Steve Beurelein will likely start for Denver, but don?t expect that to affect the Broncos offense. Beurelein has been around for a while, and knows the system better than Jake Plummer. So if anything he adds more to the offense this week against the Raiders, but expect Clinton Portis to touch the ball 30-35 times. Oakland almost lost last week, and could be headed to 1-2 if they don?t start playing football.

Week Two Wonders

Thursday, 18 September, 2003

by Zack Cimini
notjustagame.com

Here are this week?s wonders.

Quarterbacks

Vinny Testaverde:
The Jets game was so ineffective that Testaverde had to throw the football over 50 times. People are doubting Curtis Martin, but he has just had a rough start to the season. There won?t be another game that Testaverde throws for over 300 yards.

Jon Kitna:
Kitna always tests fantasy football owners. He is always good for four to five great fantasy football games, but you never know when it?s going to happen. This week it happened against a solid Raiders defense. The Bengals have a talented group of receivers, so Kitna should be an effective fantasy backup quarterback.

Brad Johnson:
Here is another quarterback that threw way more than he usually does. The Buccaneers are getting absolutely no production from the ex Cardinal running backs, and it?s putting the burden on the shoulders of Johnson. He did what he could do but the Buccaneers are going to be in trouble, if he has to throw to win games.

Running Backs

Trung Canidate:
Canidate finally showed signs that fantasy football owners have been looking for. But it is obvious that the Redskins are going to use Betts just as much. Canidate could be a Warrick Dunn type player if he would get some catches out of the backfield.

Moe Williams:
Williams has had two great games to start off the season, but don?t jump on his wagon just yet. Onterrio Smith saw his first action of the season, and stole a little of the spotlight away from Williams. If Smith continues to shine, expect more and more carries to go to him. Williams is still a very solid option though, because he will get you touchdowns. 150 yards is a little too much for Williams, I?d expect him to get around sixty to eighty total yards a game.

Wide Receivers

Dallas Clark:
Sure he is a great young tight end, but people are talking too much about him too early in his career. The Colts still have Marcus Pollard, and most of Clark?s yardage last week came on one catch. Clark will be a great one in the future but not now.

Dane Locker:
The third receiver in the Rams offense usually puts up solid stats. Locker is playing the Az Hakim role right now, but he isn?t as dynamic as Hakim. Locker probably had his best game of the season last week, and isn?t even worth considering even if you are desperate at wide receiver.

Week Two Analysis

Thursday, 18 September, 2003

By Zack Cimini
Notjustagame.com

How about the Washington Redskins? That fun n gun offense is working out great for them, and for many fantasy football teams as well. Their division rivals in the Giants and Eagles both suffered losses, and now they are on top of the division. With the way the Eagles offense is looking, it might be a race just between the Giants and Redskins. You can?t count out the Cowboys either, especially if Quincy Carter can play consistent.

The main focus on week two was horrible special teams play. It cost the Giants and Buccaneers their games. It has to be hard on players, when their kicker comes out and can?t come through, especially in these two situations. Both offenses drove their teams down the field for touchdowns, and the pressure wasn?t even on the kickers. All Martin Grammatica had to do was make a routine extra point, and all Matt Bryant had to do was kick a football off. It wasn?t like they were on the field to kick a 52-yard field goal as time expired.

Of course you can?t forget Cedric Wilson?s bonehead mistake. Before the play even happened he knew that he didn?t have time to run all over the field. There really was no excuse for what he did, and that type of mistake kills teams. You can bet if that had been Terrell Owens, he would have gone straight down.

Offensively, Jamal Lewis was by far the fantasy football player of the week. His fantasy football points has to be the highest ever for a running back. In our league the person that had Lewis received 51 points for his performance. It was a good thing I didn?t play that team this week.

What did you all think of Marc Bulger?s performance? In my opinion it wasn?t that great, but he got the job done and won the game. Early on he struggled, but he managed to play better in the second half. The game turned around once Marshall Faulk broke off a 20 yard run, and they started running it more. Warner definitely still deserves a shot, but it doesn?t look like he?ll get it.

There has been a great change up in the AFC. Coming in everyone thought Miami, Oakland, and Tennessee were the powerhouses. Well Buffalo, Kansas City, and Indianapolis are proving that they are the teams to be reckoned with. It is going to be one of the best years ever to watch a playoff race, because the AFC is loaded.

Week One Wonders

Thursday, 11 September, 2003

By Zack Cimini
Notjustagame.com

There weren?t too many surprise players in week one. Two of the big ones came from Arizona, and we?ll break down a couple of others.

Quarterbacks

Jay Fiedler: His three touchdown passes equaled a career game high. If Chris Chambers can continue to be a deep threat, he may have a few more this season. In all reality though, the Dolphins will get back to using Ricky Williams as a horse.

David Carr: His yardage total was normal, but there won?t be too many weeks that you see him not throw an interception.

Jeff Blake: Blake?s performance was outstanding, and he should have a top ten season statistically as a quarterback. His won?t have another game like this, but if he stays healthy he will put up great numbers.

Running Backs

Moe Williams: Williams carried the load for the Vikings, but don?t expect him to get over twenty carries again. The Vikings are going to break in Onterrio Smith this week, and also use Doug Chapman more.

Wide Receivers

Anquan Boldin: Obviously it?ll be hard for Boldin to ever do what he did in week one again. A receiver has that type of performance, once every three years. One thing is obvious, is that Jeff Blake found his go to guy. Keep an eye on Bryant Johnson, because he will get more playing time as well. If Boldin continues to burn teams, they will double him, and that?ll give Johnson plenty of looks.

Jermaine Lewis: Talk about a player that keeps bouncing from team to team. When he scores touchdowns, they are always on big plays. He could stay a threat until Jimmy Smith returns from his suspension.