By: C.J. Doon
Following the Patriots 24-23 loss to the Seahawks on Sunday, second-year cornerback Richard Sherman found a dejected Tom Brady walking off the field and decided to say a few choice words for the three-time Super Bowl champion.
“Me and (safety Earl Thomas) walked up to him and said, ‘We’re greater than you. We’re better than you. You’re just a man — we’re a team.”
Sherman, who is emerging as a shutdown corner in his second season, also tweeted a picture of himself shouting at Tom Brady with the caption “U Mad Bro?” plastered across the image. “That’s the Brady Bunch,” Sherman said, referring to the Patriots’ offense. “This is a defense. We’ve got 11 players out there to play great ball, and we’re never going to let one man beat us. It’s not just about one man.”
The Patriots are now 3-3, and find themselves locked in a four-way tie for the AFC East division title. Before the season, the Patriots were thought to be an absolute shoe-in to return to the Super Bowl, but after a disappointing start, players and fans are left wondering if the team will even make the playoffs.
Staying in the AFC, the Baltimore Ravens received a big bump to their Super Bowl chances in their 31-29 victory over the Cowboys on Sunday. Cornerback Ladarius Webb and All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis each suffered season-ending injuries, severely crippling Baltimore’s defense. There is speculation that Lewis, who turned 37 in May, could be done not only for the season, but possibly his career.
In other news, how about another round of applause for Robert Griffin III! The Redskins’ rookie QB has done it again, this time against the 4-1 Minnesota Vikings in front of a raucous crowd at FedEx Field. Griffin III amassed 320 all-purpose yards, two touchdowns, and sealed the victory with a thrilling 76-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter that brought house down in D.C.
Santana Moss, known to be quite the speedster himself, gushed about Griffin’s speed, saying “When Robert gets in top gear, it’s like watching a track meet. And he ain’t coming in second.”
After suffering a serious concussion last week against the Falcons, the Baylor grad delivered one of his most brilliant performances to date, and continues to amaze NFL fans across the league. After six games, he has emerged as one of the most popular players in the league, and it’s not hard to see why. He has a mix of remarkable talent and breathtaking speed, and according to 12-time sportswriter of the year Rick Reilly of ESPN, he’s a pretty nice guy to boot.
With that bit of NFL news, let’s jump right into this week’s edition of Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em!
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers – Big Ben has been at his best this season, averaging 19.5 points per start at quarterback, including a 31-point performance against the Raiders. However, in the last two weeks, Roethlisberger has seen a slight dip in production. In Thursday night’s shocking loss to the Titans, Roethlisberger only put up 17 points against a defense that had allowed multiple touchdown passes in every game this season. The good news is Ben and the Steelers take on the Cincinnati Bengals this weekend, who surrendered 230 yards passing and two touchdowns to a 129-year-old rookie quarterback by the name of Brandon Weeden. If a guy who lived to see the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge can torch the Bengals defense, I expect big things from Big Ben on Sunday.
Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams, WRs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers –Josh Freeman and the Bucs dismantled the hapless Chiefs on Sunday, thanks to the performances of veteran wide receivers Jackson and Williams. The duo combined for 8 catches, 179 yards, and three touchdowns, en route to a 38-10 victory. While it might be tough to trust the Buccaneers’ offense – a unit that produces fewer than 314 yards/game – it’s hard to ignore that kind of production from these two wide-outs. The news only gets better, as the Bucs host the 1-5 New Orleans Saints this week, who give up 456 yards/game, the worst such statistic in the NFL.
Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans – Chris Johnson in your starting lineup?! Stop the presses! You might think I’m crazy for even suggesting Johnson appear on your team at this point, and given my latest string of Start ‘Em picks at running back – Rashard Mendenhall, Jackie Battle, and Donald Brown to name a few – you would be right. But hear this: the Bills own the worst rush defense in the NFL, allowing 173.5 yards/game to opposing running backs, and have given up nine rushing touchdowns on the season. For those of you out there that spent a first round pick on the maligned running back from Tennessee, now’s your chance to cash in!
Shonn Greene, RB, New York Jets – No my friends, this is not a typo. Yes, I’ll admit, Greene was fantastic on Sunday, rushing for 161 yards on 32 carries with three touchdowns en route to 34 fantasy points, the most by anybody not named Aaron Rodgers or RG3 in Week 6. But here’s the thing: it’s not going to happen again. The Jets rushing attack was sputtering all season before Greene’s breakout performance against the Colts, who allow the fourth most rushing yards to opposing running backs with a whopping 159 yards/game allowed. This week the Jets take on the 3-3 New England Patriots, with the top spot in the AFC East on the line. The Patriots are coming off an embarrassing loss to the Seahawks, but don’t let that fool you into thinking New England won’t be ready to take on one of their most hated rivals. I did a little research (shocking, I know) and I found that since 2007 – the Patriot’s undefeated regular season – head coach Bill Belichick owns a remarkable 15-3 record in games following a New England loss. Look for the Patriots to play inspired football on Sunday, and hold the Jets rushing attack at bay.
Alex Smith, QB, San Francisco 49ers – To put into perspective just how awful Smith’s performance against the Giants was on Sunday, consider this: Smith’s backup, Colin Kaepernick, threw for nearly half as many yards (82 vs. 200) on 23 fewer attempts, had a higher passer rating, and produced 3 fantasy points vs. Smith’s 2. Looks like we have a quarterback controversy in Cali!
All kidding aside, Smith, who led the league in passer rating entering Sunday’s game against the defending champs, showed his true colors Sunday against a Giants’ defense that finally lived up to its potential. Big Blue’s vaunted pass rush only had eight sacks entering Sunday’s contest, but was able to bring Smith down four times and force three interceptions, two by safety Antrel Rolle. This Thursday night, Smith and the Niners host the giant-killers known as the Seattle Seahawks, who are coming off a 24-23 victory over the New England Patriots that saw Seattle’s D intercept Tom Terrific not once, but twice. Seattle’s defense ranks fourth in the league in yards/game allowed, so don’t expect to see Smith lighting up the scoreboard in San Francisco.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks – As much as it pains me to say this, you must bench “Beast Mode” this week. Lynch has been very consistent this season, averaging 12.8 points per start, but has only found the endzone twice this season. Up next for the Seahawks are the San Francisco 49ers, who are coming off a loss to the Giants where they allowed 100 yards rushing and a touchdown to a single running back, Ahmad Bradshaw, for the first time under head coach Jim Harbaugh. Although that may be a sign of a slowly deteriorating Niners defense, I expect San Francisco’s front seven to return to same physical play that made their defense so intimidating through the first few weeks of the season.