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Football Meteorology For NFL Week 8

By Jeff Risdon

The commentary this week will be brief. My eyes are dilated for medical reasons and I cannot focus on the screen for long, so this week it’s just the picks.

Last Week: 11-4. Another sunny forecast raises the season record to 69-36-1

Gambling Update: Two of my three wagers paid off, bringing a $1500 return. Unfortunately the biggest bet did not, so the week was a net loss. I also miscalculated last week’s total in my favor, so the news got even worse. The virtual account now sits at $13,500 after starting with $10K. 

Thursday Night

San Diego at Denver (-7.5)

Best game of the weekend is the first one. The Chargers will keep it close, but too much Denver firepower.

Broncos 33, Chargers 28

Sunday Games

- Detroit Lions vs. Atlanta Falcons (+3.5)

This game is in London, which takes away Atlanta’s home field advantage. The Lions are beaten up all over the offense, but their defense should be enough to win against Matt Ryan not playing in the Georgia Dome. Should be enough. Get up early for this 9:30 AM ET kickoff.

Lions 21, Falcons 20

- Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints (-1)

Green Bay is coming off a spectacular October, while the Saints threw away a road win in Detroit despite being the better team. Desperation trumps relaxation, somehow.

Saints 33, Packers 28

- Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals (-2.5)

The marquee Sunday game pits two 5-1 teams. I trust Carson Palmer more than Nick Foles, and I think Arizona’s defense does enough to slow down the Philly offense to get the close win.

Cardinals 26, Eagles 24

Chicago Bears at New England Patriots (-6.5)

The Bears are much better on the road, and the Patriots will not handle their passing game. When the Bears are right, they are very good. They get it right this week against all the odds. At least that’s what the gut tells me.

Bears 24, Patriots 20

- Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals (-1.5)

The Bengals have been lousy since opening 3-0, which included a win in Baltimore. The Ravens return the favor, thanks in part to Cincy not having A.J. Green or Rey Maualuga. I’ll put $500 on the visitors getting points.

Ravens 27, Bengals 17

Buffalo Blls at New York Jets (-2.5)

Interesting that the Jets are favored despite being the clearly inferior team. Apparently the Percy Harvin effect is expected to elevate New York. I can see the bounce working this week.

Jets 20, Bills 17

- Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans (+1.5)

The Titans will start rookie Zach Mettenberger at quarterback…against J.J. Watt. “Mett” will find some success down the field but will also throw a couple of ridiculous INTs that give the game to the Texans.

Texans 30, Titans 28

- St. Louis Rams at Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5)

It took the Rams two once-in-a-blue-moon trick plays to beat the Seahawks last week. The bag is empty on the road, though I do worry about a KC letdown from their big win in San Diego.

Chiefs 28, Rams 20

Miami Dolphins at Jacksonville Jaguars (+5.5)

The Jaguars improving defense gives them a real chance to win two in a row. Miami is wildly unpredictable, so good some weeks and so bland in others. I see a fallback after the big win in Chicago.

Jaguars 24, Dolphins 22

Minnesota Vikings at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2.5)

The Bucs would be my 32nd ranked team if filling out a power poll. Minnesota isn’t much higher, but they’re definitely better enough to win on the road.

Vikings 17, Buccaneers 16

- Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers (+4.5)

Stunning stat of the week: the Seahawks have just one QB hurry in the fourth quarter of their 6 games. I think they remedy that drought in Carolina, though Cam Newton could make them pay. I think Carolina cutting Charles Godfrey sends a message that gets through, enough for them to cover. $500 on the home team +4.5

Seahawks 21, Panthers 17

- Oakland Raiders at Cleveland Browns (-7)

The Browns lost to a winless team last week. Oakland is winless, so this would seem to be a great chance for them to break the vicious circle of losing. It wouldn’t surprise me at all, but I’ll go with the safer pick here. Cleveland is my survivor fantasy pick this week, a tough one to select if you’ve used Kansas City or Dallas already.

Browns 27, Raiders 24 

- Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers (+3.5)

Not often the Steelers are home dogs, but it’s hard to see their defense slowing down the awesome Indy attack with Luck & Co. Pittsburgh’s offense will find some success but not quite enough.

Colts 36, Steelers 31

Monday Night

- Washington at Dallas Cowboys (-9.5)

I applaud Washington changing from Kirk Cousins to Colt McCoy at QB, but Dallas is a tough place for him to break in. It’s Washington’s defense that will be the problem in this one. Dallas wins big, for $1000.

Cowboys 37, Ethnic Slurs 20 

Betting recap

Dallas -9.5 for $1000

Carolina +4.5 for $500

Baltimore +1.5 for $500

Bonus college picks

Michigan State 30, Michigan 13

Utah 25, USC 24

Mississippi State 28, Kentucky 27

Ohio 24, Western Michigan 20


Fantasy Football Week 8 Rankings

By Neema Hodjat

Stars of Week 7

QB: Peyton Manning, DEN: 22-26, 318 yards, 4 TDs

RB: DeMarco Murray, DAL: 28 carries, 128 yards, 1 TD

WR: Demaryius Thomas, DAL: 8 catches, 178 yards, 2 TDs

TE: Antonio Gates, SD: 3 catches, 61 yards, 1 TD

With apologies to Russell Wilson and his brilliant performance against the Rams (especially from a fantasy perspective), Peyton Manning gets the nod as the top QB this week. Manning now leads the NFL in all-time TD passes, and makes the thought of 600 TDs appear as a realistic possibility. All four guys mentioned here have also made the weekly honor roll earlier this season (in some cases more than once prior), so not much to add about them other than to say that you should be thankful if you have them on your roster. 

Week 7 Takeaways – A Closer Look 

Each week we take a closer look at a handful of performances and sort out what such performances mean going forward.

- Russell Wilson, QB - SEA:23-36, 313 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs (7 carries, 106 yards, 1 TD)

Analysis: After observing the Seahawks’ performance for their first six games, it’s become clear that the team has fallen off a bit from last year. Not a shock, as once you sit on the mountaintop, there’s only one direction to go. So how does this affect Russell Wilson’s fantasy value? Well, bad news for Seahawks’ fans is great news for Russell Wilson’s owners – Wilson will be cut loose much more this season out of necessity. Entering the season, Wilson straddled the QB1/QB2 line, and now he should be viewed as a must start QB1. With the Seahawks D down this season compared to last year, Wilson will need to do more to help the Hawks win games. Thus, more value for his fantasy owners. 

- Tre Mason, RB – STL: 18 carries, 85 yards, 1 TD

Analysis: Last week I suggested Tre Mason as an RB to pick up off the wire. Hopefully you made the move! He will likely be the number one player for waiver claims this week, and with good reason. Mason was among the lottery-ticket group I had mentioned in my draft guide, and now his owners are about to cash in on the prize. Ironically, he’s likely to be this year’s Zac Stacy. From watching the film, Mason simply has more talent than Stacy, and it’s becoming clear that Jeff Fisher and his staff are well aware of this. Look for Mason to hold onto the top RB spot, with Stacy and Cunningham mixing in for carries as well. But Mason has the most value of this group, and he’s the one to own. He should be viewed as an RB2 until further notice.

- Ronnie Hillman, RB - DEN: 14 carries, 74 yards, 2 TDs

Analysis: Hillman was covered in this spot last week, and due to a second straight strong performance, this time against the 49ers, we need to take another look at where things stand. In addition to securing the lion’s share of the carries for the Broncos, Hillman continues to be a weapon in the passing game as well. At this point, Hillman needs to be elevated into clear RB2 status, and he should remain ahead of Montee Ball on the depth chart even when Ball returns.

- Denard Robinson, RB - JAC: 22 carries, 127 yards, 1 TD           

Analysis: Musical chairs for the Jaguars’ RB spot continued this weekend against the Browns, with Denard Robinson getting his turn. Unlike his predecessors, Robinson actually did something with his chance, clearing the 100 yard plateau with ease. While Robinson’s performance was encouraging, I would still advise you to remain cautious with expectations. The Jags’ still have a putrid O-line, and that won’t change over the course of this season. I have Mason clearly ranked as the better add, but Robinson should also be added in all leagues. As of now, view Robinson as an RB3/flex option, with potential to move up if future performance merits such a bump. His upcoming matchup with the Dolphins will be a tough one, however.

- Doug Baldwin, WR - SEA: 7 catches, 123 yards, 1 TD

Analysis: The out-of-nowhere Percy Harvin trade last week sent shockwaves throughout the NFL, while also through the fantasy world to a lesser extent. Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of the trade is Doug Baldwin. He assumes the role of top WR for the Seahawks, and with the Hawks returning to a more traditional offense (like they ran last season), Baldwin’s role will trend upwards. Expectations for Baldwin should be somewhere in the WR3 range for the rest of the season. If he’s somehow available in your league, grab him now.

- Sammy Watkins, WR - BUF: 9 catches, 122 yards, 2 TDs

Analysis: Sammy Watkins had a fantastic game against the Vikings this past Sunday, which included catching the game winning TD with only seconds remaining. I wrote earlier in the season that you should be careful to rely too much on rookie WRs, and Watkins so far has hammered this point home. To illustrate the point, let’s take a look at his yardage totals each week (with the week in parentheses): (1) 31 yards, (2) 117 yards, (3) 19 yards, (4) 30 yards, (5) 87 yards, (6) 27 yards and (7) 122 yards. Sure, we can expand the analysis to look at TDs and targets, but we refrain from doing so for simplicity (but note that adding TDs and targets would not change the analysis here). The point here is that Watkins will continue to have great games, mixed in with quiet games and a handful which would rank in between. As the season goes on, Watkins should get a bit more consistent, but as talented as he is, we’re still talking about a rookie. In a nutshell, Watkins should be viewed as a WR3. Next season, he’ll move up from there. 

Rapid Fire Pickups 

Each week we throw out potential free agent pickups from each position for deeper leagues, in each case 1) someone who has NOT been referenced above, and 2) a player available in most leagues. 

QB:                  Ryan Tannehill, MIA

RB:                  Bryce Brown, BUF (he’s the better option than Anthony Dixon)

RB:                  Isaiah Crowell, CLE

WR:                 Davante Adams, GB

WR:                 Martavis Bryant, PIT

TE:                  Tim Wright, NE

Week 8 Rankings

Quarterbacks

1. Peyton Manning

2. Aaron Rodgers

3. Russell Wilson

4. Andrew Luck

5. Drew Brees

6. Tom Brady

7. Philip Rivers

8. Nick Foles

9. Tony Romo

10. Jay Cutler

11. Carson Palmer

12. Matthew Stafford

13. Cam Newton

14. Alex Smith

15. Joe Flacco

16. Ryan Tannehill

17. Matt Ryan

18. Ben Roethlisberger

19. Brian Hoyer

20. Kyle Orton

Running Backs

1. DeMarco Murray

2. Marshawn Lynch

3. Arian Foster

4. Matt Forte

5. Jamaal Charles

6. Le'Veon Bell

7. LeSean McCoy

8. Andre Ellington

9. Eddie Lacy

10. Ben Tate

11. Lamar Miller

12. Justin Forsett

13. Giovani Bernard

14. Ahmad Bradshaw

15. Joique Bell

16. Ronnie Hillman

17. Branden Oliver

18. Shane Vereen

19. Jerick McKinnon

20. Mark Ingram

21. Alfred Morris

22. Tre Mason

23. Darren McFadden

24. Doug Martin

25. Chris Ivory

26. Denard Robinson

27. Trent Richardson

28. Darren Sproles

29. Steven Jackson

30. Bishop Sankey

31. Reggie Bush

32. James Starks

33. Isaiah Crowell

34. Anthony Dixon

35. Khiry Robinson

Wide Receivers

1. Demaryius Thomas

2. Jordy Nelson

3. Antonio Brown

4. Dez Bryant

5. Randall Cobb

6. Golden Tate

7. Jeremy Maclin

8. A.J. Green

9. Julio Jones

10. T.Y. Hilton

11. Emmanuel Sanders

12. Brandon Marshall

13. Mike Wallace

14. Alshon Jeffery

15. Julian Edelman

16. Andre Johnson

17. Kelvin Benjamin

18. Steve Smith Sr.

19. Michael Floyd

20. DeSean Jackson

21. Vincent Jackson

22. Sammy Watkins

23. Terrance Williams

24. Doug Baldwin

25. Pierre Garcon

26. DeAndre Hopkins

27. Percy Harvin

28. Roddy White

29. Torrey Smith

30. Keenan Allen

31. Brandin Cooks

32. Kendall Wright

33. Andre Holmes

34. Brian Quick

35. Larry Fitzgerald

Tight Ends

1. Julius Thomas

2. Rob Gronkowski

3. Greg Olsen

4. Antonio Gates

5. Jimmy Graham

6. Martellus Bennett

7. Delanie Walker

8. Jordan Reed

9. Dwayne Allen

10. Travis Kelce

11. Jordan Cameron

12. Owen Daniels

13. Zach Ertz

14. Jason Witten

15. Heath Miller

- Neema Hodjat is the fantasy sports expert for RealGM.  He can be reached via email at nhodjat@gmail.com and followed on twitter at @NeemaHodjat.


NFL Team Rankings, Week 7

By Christopher Reina

Our NFL Team Rankings are based entirely on the The Trench Counter, which is an objective formula measuring average yards per pass and run on both offense and defense, along with first downs registered and given up, turnovers for and against, and total penalty yards. 

Over time, The Trench Counter rankings begin to closely resemble the standings but goes even further to determine which teams are truly the best when on the line of scrimmage. 

The chief aim of the Trench Counter is to take the subjective out of the equation and even the somewhat fluky nature of teams actually scoring points, which is of course the whole point on a game-by-game basis.

The Baltimore Ravens held onto the top slot in the rankings after another blowout win against an NFC South team, while the Miami Dolphins recorded a convincing win at the Chicago Bears and now rank No. 2.

The Denver Broncos and Dallas Cowboys, meanwhile, jumped up to No. 5 and No. 6 from No. 11 and No. 8 respectively.

The Indianapolis Colts continue their winning streak and now rank No. 7 after coming in at No. 14 last week.

Week 7 Rankings

1. Baltimore Ravens: 7.4
2. Miami Dolphins: 6.0
3. Green Bay Packers: 4.8
4. San Diego Chargers: 4.8
5. Denver Broncos: 4.5
6. Dallas Cowboys: 4.5
7. Indianapolis Colts: 4.1
8. Arizona Cardinals: 3.6
9. New Orleans Saints: 3.5
10. Seattle Seahawks: 3.0
11. Detroit Lions: 2.9
12. Chicago Bears: 2.7
13. San Francisco 49ers: 2.7
14. Cincinnati Bengals: 1.1
15. Philadelphia Eagles: 0.7
16. Washington: 0.3
17. Kansas City Chiefs: 0.3
18. New England Patriots: 0.2
19. Cleveland Browns: -0.6
20. Houston Texans: -0.7
21. Pittsburgh Steelers: -1.9
22. New York Giants: -2.1
23. Buffalo Bills: -2.3
24. Minnesota Vikings: -3.0
25. Carolina Panthers: -3.6
26. Tennessee Titans: -4.1
27. Atlanta Falcons: -4.3
28. Jacksonville Jaguars: -4.9
29. New York Jets: -6.2
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: -7.2
31. Oakland Raiders: -8.0
32. St. Louis Rams: -8.5



$.10 After NFL Week 7

The Cowboys avoid a let down, Seattle loses again, Jaguars get their first win, Denver dominates San Francisco, an interesting day for the NFC North and the Percy Harvin trade.


Football Meteorology For NFL Week 7

The Broncos host the 49ers in the matchup of the week, while other intriguing games include Lions/Saints, Bengals/Colts, Bears/Dolphins, Chargers/Chiefs and Cowboys/Giants.


Fantasy Football Week 7 Rankings

On Joe Flacco, Ronnie Hillman, Andre Holmes, Mohamed Sanu, Jace Amaro and the positional rankings for Week 7.


NFL Team Rankings, Week 6

The Chargers and 49ers moved into the top-3 behind the Ravens, while the Cowboys' big win moved them into the top-10 and dropped Seattle from No. 1 to No. 9.


$.10 After NFL Week 6

Sunday provided one of the more entertaining days of NFL action in a long time. Several games came down to final possessions, including one where neither team won.


Football Meteorology For NFL Week 6

This weekend's slate features a host of home underdogs, making this a challenging forecast. It's getting to the time of the season where teams have either refuted or confirmed preseason expectations, and it's time to put those summer concepts aside.