Cleat Geeks

Cover 3: Week 11

 

Entering week 11, there are only 11 teams that have a winning record. This is the lowest since 1990. There are also 11 teams that have a 4-5 record. I don’t have anymore facts with 11 in them, but I thought those two were interesting enough. The point of those two facts is that the playoff spots are still clearly up for grabs! I wouldn’t be surprised to see a team make the playoffs with a losing record. In fact, that could easily happen in the AFC South. All of the 4-5 teams are playing this week, so it’ll be interesting to see which teams will fight their way up to .500, and which teams fall closer to ending their season. With all of this excitement, with teams in must-win mode, this should be a great week of football to watch, excluding that Thursday Night Football game. I picked out three of the games that I’m excited to watch this week, and I categorized them as either a fantasy-friendly game, a rivalry game, or just a really good game to watch that has a lot of importance!

 

Fantasy Jackpot Game of the Week—Oakland Raiders vs Detroit Lions

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This week’s “Fantasy Jackpot” is between two bad defenses. Both the Raiders and the Lions are giving up 400+ yards per game this season along with 26+ points.

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The Raiders enter this game 4-5, and this is mostly because of their offense. Second-year quarterback Derek Carr has taken control of this team and has led them to 384 yards per game. He has 300+ yards passing in each of the past three games, and he should have no trouble making it four straight on Sunday. His two favorite targets this year has been Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. Both of these guys have 50+ receptions on 80+ targets. Both Cooper and Crabtree also average 81 and 71 yards per game, respectively. The main running back for the Raiders this year has been Latavius Murray. He has been a little inconsistent, but still averages 90 total yards per game. With the Lions giving up 400.7 yards per game, and 124.1 on the ground, this should give all of the Raiders I mentioned chances to score on Sunday.

The Lions go back home after a big divisional win against the Packers last Sunday. The offense had some glimmers of hope, so they should be motivated to play against a defense this week that frankly is not very good. The Raiders give up 419.9 total yards with 304.6 coming through the air. This is good news for Stafford and the Lions. Although he has passed for 300+ yards only once this season, Stafford did look better last week. He should be able to find his receivers open down field in this game. Calvin Johnson is due for a big game. He has 80+ receiving yards in the last four games, and that has been with the rest of the offense not playing very well. Golden Tate, who has 44 catches on the season, should also see plenty of looks. The tight end, Eric Ebron, should also be in for a big game since the Raiders give up the third-most fantasy points to tight ends in the league. They also have given up a tight end touchdown in each of the past four games. Running back seems to be a bit of a mess for the Lions this season, but Joique Bell should get chances near the goal line in this game, and Theo Riddick will get plenty of catches out of the backfield.

 

“Bad Blood” Game of the Week—Green Bay Packers vs Minnesota Vikings

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This week’s “Bad Blood” Game is between two teams that have one of the oldest rivalries in the NFL. This will the 110th meeting between the two teams; the Packers lead the all-time series 58-49-2. Whoever wins this game will have the top spot in the NFC North.

The Packers enter this game 6-3 after dropping their past three games. While the defense has played surprisingly well, the offense has been atrocious. Rodgers has averaged 259.6 in those three games, but don’t let that fool you, he has not been good. There have been some bad drops and terrible officiating that have contributed to his numbers the past two games, but he has been off. While some has been his fault, the receivers have also played really bad. They have looked incredibly slow and have not been able to get open. Defenses have started to just play man defense, because the receivers can’t even beat that, then they are able to blitz and stack the box too. This has caused the running game to be non-existent. Starks has been the better rusher between him and Lacy, but neither have played great since the offensive line has struggled to create holes to run through. Combined with all of this poor play, the play-calling has also been an issue. Head Coach Mike McCarthy was forced to give up his play-calling duties this season to Tom Clements. Well, Clements has not called the best plays either. I’m definitely not saying that going back to McCarthy is the answer, but it seems like Clements is not the answer either.

The Vikings currently sit atop the NFC North alone, and they look to create more separation between them and the Packers on Sunday. After starting the season 2-2, they have won their last five games. The argument against the Vikings is that none of those five teams have a winning record. We will see what the Vikings are really made of after their next four games: vs GB, at ATL, vs SEA, at ARI. During their winning streak, Adrian Peterson has averaged 117.8 yards on the ground. His production combined with the emergence of wide receiver Stefon Diggs are the reasons why the Vikings offense is moving the ball. We know Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are angry and motivated, so controlling the clock with Peterson on the ground may be the way to go for the Vikings in this game. He traditionally has played the Packers very well; he has averaged 142.8 rushing yards in the past five meetings.

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This is a big game for both teams. The Packers need the win to right the ship and regain confidence in themselves. The Vikings need it to make a statement and separate themselves from the rest of the division. This matchup has usually been close, and I’m sure we will see that again this week.

 

 

Must-Watch Showdown—Indianapolis Colts vs Atlanta Falcons

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The “Must-Watch Showdown” this week is between two teams that have a lot to play for. If the season ended today, both teams would be in the playoffs, but they have lost three of their last four games. They both had a much-needed bye-week last week, so we should see two prepared, highly-motivated teams in this game.

The Colts enter this game tied for the top spot in the division, but are missing their starting quarterback for the foreseeable future. Andrew Luck suffered kidney and abdominal injuries against the Broncos in week nine, and it seems like he will be out for at least a few more weeks. Replacing him will be veteran Matt Hasselbeck who got wins in the two games he started earlier this season. He is a smart quarterback who is not as physically gifted as Luck, but will make better decisions than him. In his previous games he has shown that he likes throwing to the tight ends and big-bodied receivers, like Andre Johnson, more than Luck typically does. Going up against a defense that gives up the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs, Frank Gore should be in for a big game. Coach Pagano said recently that the team will no longer be limiting Gore’s carries. He has 20+ carries in the past two games, and it sounds like he will easily get to 20 again in this game. The Colts’ defense, who gives up 402.3 yards per game, will be in for a tough task as they face Julio Jones and the Falcons.devonta-freeman-nfl-atlanta-falcons-dallas-cowboys-850x560

The Falcons have really struggled lately, but they hope they get back on track after their bye-week. Although Matt Ryan’s stats have been pretty good the past four games, his poor play is one of the biggest reasons for their recent struggles. He has averaged 311.5 passing yards in those four games, but he has struggled to finish drives. Luckily for him, he has a good matchup against the Colts this week. He should be able to pass all over, and his top receiver will clearly be Julio Jones. Tight end Jacob Tamme may be in for a good game as well. He has a little extra motivation since he spent his first four years in the NFL with the Colts. This is also a great matchup for running back Devonta Freeman. He is obviously having an amazing season and seems to be matchup-proof, but this is a good matchup with a Colts defense that gives up 114.9 rushing yards per game.

This is must-win for both teams because of their recent struggles. The Falcons are doing everything they can to get one of the NFC Wildcard spots, while the Colts are desperately trying to stay on top of the AFC South.

 

What did you think of this week’s Cover 3? Who do you think will win between the Colts and the Falcons? You can post your questions, answers, and comments down below, or talk to me over on Twitter @FantasyFlurry. If you mention that you read the “Cover 3” article, I’ll be sure to give you a shout-out!

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