Cleat Geeks

Cover 3: Week 7

Last week, I was hoping the Thursday night game was just a preview for the rest of the week since it was so exciting. Well, this week is the opposite. After Thursday Night Football this week, I just need to see some good football. I NEED it! Those who know me know that both of my teams are on bye this week, so can I just sit back, relax, and not worry about a specific team winning. There are quite a few games that I am excited to see this week, for a variety of reasons, and I picked three of them to preview for you here.

Fantasy Jackpot Game of the Week—New Orleans Saints vs Indianapolis Colts

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After frustrating starts to the season for both teams, each have some things to be confident about heading into week seven.

After knocking off the undefeated Falcons on Thursday night last week, the Saints have found some confidence on offense as they prepare for the Colts. They also have had a few extra days to rest to prepare for this game. Against the Falcons, the passing attack found success. Drew Brees finished the game 30/39 for 312 yards and a touchdown. He proved that he didn’t need Jimmy Graham anymore, and passed to tight end Ben Watson to help him have a breakout game of 10 catches for 127 yards and a touchdown. Brees spread out the remaining targets with three others getting four catches apiece. While the passing-game was strong, the running-game struggled. Ingram ran for only 46 yards, which equaled only 2.3 yards per carry. Luckily for Ingram owners, his night was salvaged since he fell into the end zone twice for two touchdowns. The Saints should be able to find success against the Colts, who give up 409 yards per game currently, 113 of them coming on the ground. The biggest problem for the Colts’ defense so far has been the lack of a pass rush. If you give Drew Brees time, you know he will find the open man and make a perfect pass. I think the Colts will try to blitz Brees early, but he will find his guys for plenty of open passes. We all know the guys to own on the Saints: Brees, Ingram, Watson, Snead, and Cooks. Snead has developed into a great second receiver for Brees, He should be able to find himself in space here, and I think he finds the end zone. The Colts defense so far has given up nine receiving touchdowns to opposing wide receivers, and that number will grow on Sunday.

Even though the Colts lost to the Patriots, and had one of the most embarrassing plays in NFL history, I think they had plenty of great moments that they should be able to build off of. Andrew Luck returned from his shoulder injury to throw for 312 yards, three touchdowns, and most importantly ZERO interceptions! This was easily his best game of the season since he threw multiple interceptions in every other game he had played this season. He has a talented receiving core to throw to: Hilton, Moncrief, Johnson, Dorsett, Allen, and Fleener. He even has Gore and Bradshaw who can be great pass-catchers out of the backfield. If Luck can continue to play like he did last week, it will open up the defense. That is exactly what it did against the Patriots as Gore’s yards per rush was an even six yards. Even though the Saints’ defense played well last week, make no mistake, they are not a great defense. They give up an average of 422 total yards, 139 of them coming on the ground. This should allow Gore to continue his strong running, which will also set up the play action for Luck. I see Hilton having the best game out of his receiving options, with Moncrief right behind him. This is one of those games where I could see both teams getting 400+ total yards.

 

“Bad Blood” Game of the Week—New York Jets vs New England Patriots

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The “Bad Blood” game of the week should come as no surprise if you looked at the schedule this week. This AFC East matchup will be a hard-fought battle with the victor sitting atop the division. The Patriots currently lead the league with the highest points per game (36.6), while the Jets are leading the league with the fewest points allowed (15). Tom Brady be will seeing a familiar face as All-Pro CB Darrelle Revis left the Super Bowl champions this off-season to return to “Gang Green”.

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The Jets have struggled at times, but they have looked pretty legit overall as they look to get win number five on Sunday. Starting at quarterback for them this season has been Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has played pretty well. Last week he threw for 253 yards with two touchdowns and an interception against the Redskins. He also surprisingly added 31 yards on the ground. His favorite targets have been Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, who finished with 111 and 59 yards last week. Each of them also caught a touchdown, which Decker has done every game he has played in this season. Marshall has failed to do so only one time, but he has also played in one more game than Decker. The Jets have really done their damage offensively on the ground. Chris Ivory has ran over defenses for 460 yards in only four games. He has been running with purpose, and anyone trying to get in his way should think again.

Like I’ve said a million times, the Patriots are playing angry. If I were the Jets, I would just keep my mouth shut and come to play. Well that is not the Jets way of course, and during the week, they said that preparing for Brady is no different than preparing for Cousins. I’m sure Brady doesn’t appreciate the comparison. Look for Brady to come out strong and get Gronk and Edelman involved early. This also one of those game where Dion Lewis should be able to shine, if his abdominal injury doesn’t limit him. It will be tough to run against this strong Jets defensive front, but Lewis’ speed out of the backfield should help him get into open space, especially in the receiving game. Overall, we know what this offense is, and it will be the defense that needs to play well for them. They have missed Darrelle Revis in the secondary and Vince Wilfork anchoring the defensive line. If the Patriots are able to plug the holes and limit Ivory, that is how they will win this game.

 

Must-Watch Showdown—Dallas Cowboys vs New York Giants

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This NFC East matchup will be one of the first rematches of the season. Last time these two teams played in week one, it was an ugly end for the Giants. Tony Romo led a his team down the field to score with seven seconds left to give his team the win by only one point. This time around, both teams look very different.

Last time, Tony Romo saved the day. This time, the Cowboys will be without him. With Romo out with a broken collar bone, Weeden took over as quarterback. After not winning any games, the team made the switch to Matt Cassel during the bye-week. There were rumblings of other offensive changes too. Running back Christine Michael will definitely be NS_29CowsVikes71SP.jpgseeing an expanded role in the offense going forward, and he has the chance to completely take over if he takes advantage of the opportunity. The running-game has been missing this year for the Cowboys since DeMarco Murray left for the Eagles and the offensive line has been a bit banged up at times. It sounds like the Cowboys will also be without Dez Bryant, who hurt his foot against the Giants week one. He has been more active, but next week seems to be a more likely date for his return. Defensively, the Cowboys look to have both of their pass-rushers in the lineup together for the first time this season. Greg Hardy made his Cowboys debut against the Patriots two weeks ago, and recorded two sacks on five QB hits. Rookie Randy Gregory is the other pass rusher who is expected to return after his high ankle sprain. If they both play, Eli Manning will be feeling pain, just like Hardy said he wanted.

The Giants are coming off an embarrassing performance and loss against the Eagles last Monday night. Before that game, they were playing much better and were winning games. While Eli Manning has been strong for most of this season, Odell Beckham Jr. has struggled, and that might have to do with his hamstring injury. He only has 128 receiving yards in second-halfs this season, which ranks 72nd in the NFL. To put that into perspective, he had AT LEAST 100 receiving yards in the second half of each of the last three games of the 2014 season. It could be his hamstring, and it could be the “Madden Curse”, I don’t really know. If OBJ continues to struggle, look for slot receiver Dwayne Harris to see more targets as he faces his former team. Over the course of this season, Harris has gradually been seeing more targets, and he has carved out a nice role with this team. This team has all of the makings to be one of the better ones in it the league, but there are a few things that need to happen: 1) Protect Eli so he has time to make the right decision; 2) OBJ needs to be aggressive and finish games; 3) Jennings, Vereen, and Williams need to be more decisive when running the ball, and they need to show a burst of speed; and 4) The secondary needs to play much, much better.

 

Who do you think will win this game? Do you think the Jets will pull off the upset against the Patriots? What did you think of this week’s Cover 3? You can post your questions, answers, and comments down below, or talk to me over on Twitter. If you mention that you read the Cover 3 article, I’ll be sure to give you a shout-out!

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