by Greg Talcott
- Drew Brees: The Saints have one hell of an offense… unfortunately they have no defense whatsoever. This of course is one of the best things Brees owners can hear because their only chance of winning is to score an absurd amount of points each week. This Sunday, Brees returns to San Diego where there is always a little extra motivation to stick it to his former team. The Chargers have the third worst pass defense in the NFL which bodes well for Drew Brees, even if the Saints do lose the game 63-56.
- Matthew Stafford: The Lions may not be able to win the division, but they will be able to score points. Stafford is developing nice chemistry with Marvin Jones Jr., and have the third ranked passing offense in the league this season. This week they go against the Bears, who have a deceptively ranked top 10 pass defense. When you look at the teams and passing offenses the Bears have played YTD (Phi, Hou, Dal), you have run oriented teams with young, inexperienced QB’s; Stafford is anything but. Look for the Bears to revert to the mean as Stafford piles up the yards this week.
- Matt Ryan: Ryan continues to play well through three weeks, and draws a questionable pass defense this week in Carolina at home. The Panthers have not been challenged by an offense as talented as Atlanta yet this year, so their number 5 ranking vs the pass may be inflated. Likewise, Atlanta has hardly faced “Murderer’s Row” when it comes to defenses. Something has to give this week and I lean toward Ryan being able to produce.
- Cam Newton: After getting hammered by the Vikings defense last week, Cam is no doubt very happy to see Atlanta on the schedule. Newton has been underwhelming so far this season and is due for an offensive eruption against the league’s 4th worst pass defense.
- Andrew Luck: While this is where I rank Luck YTD, you simply can’t risk starting him in the ridiculous London game. The amount of travel associated with this game is to much of a variable, not to mention it is a division game. Consider this a placeholder.
- Aaron Rodgers: Bye week, but he seems to be finding a rhythm, especially with Jordy Nelson. After the bye, I think Rodgers has moved back to top 5.
- Ben Roethlisberger: The Steelers were on the receiving end of an epic beat down from the Eagles last week. As bad as the Steelers defense was, there is no excuse to produce 3 points on offense with that roster. Pittsburgh welcomes Kansas City this week for the Sunday night game and I am willing to bet that the Steelers come out with a statement game to show last week was an anomaly.
- Philip Rivers: This is 1 part favorable match up against the Saints’ Swiss Cheese defense, and 1 part Philip Rivers actual ability. Historically, Rivers tends to put up his numbers in chunks and lacks consistency from week to week so this week is a prime opportunity to pad his stats. Additionally, while other QB’s could be placed here, most of them like Jameis Winston are turnover machines. Rivers is the safe pick here.
- Carson Palmer: Palmer turned in one of his typical crap games that comes seemingly out of nowhere. One week removed from Buffalo making Ryan Fitzpatrick look like Warren Moon; Palmer throws 4 picks (a couple weren’t his fault) and the Cardinals drop a game they should have won against the lowly Ryan brothers. While the Cardinals are at home, they are facing a challenge from the Rams so Palmer is not assured of a big game. That said, this game has become a must win for the Cardinals and I would expect Arians to have them ready to play.
- Kirk Cousins: This is a “kiss your cousin” pick at this slot, and part of it is a home game against St. Mary’s School of the Blind, err, Cleveland Browns. The Browns are their same dreadful selves and Cousins is playing for a contract so he needs to make the most of his opportunities to show he is the man long term for the Redskins. By no means is Cousins a top 10 QB, but you have to look at him or someone like Brian Hoyer against Detroit or Trevor Siemian against Tampa Bay this week given the ugly match ups for people like Eli Manning (Minnesota) or Jameis Winston (Denver).
Cutler’s Corner: Did you see Tony Romo on the sidelines with a headset last week? Did you see Jay Cutler listening to what appeared to be his IPod last week? Pathetic. However, Bear fans got the best news they have heard since Jay Cutler was given an undeserved and unwarranted contract extension. Coach Fox announced that Cutler’s job was no longer guaranteed which represents step 1 in cutting that albatross from their necks in the offseason. Cutler’s dead money against the cap is 2 million next year, and while Virginia McCaskey is a notorious cheapskate, even she will have to accept parting ways with the worst QB in the league. The Bears proved last week they can lose just as easy, and cheaper with Brian Hoyer as they can with Cutler. The difference is Hoyer genuinely cares and puts forth his best effort every time. While his best isn’t all that good, it is better than Cutler. Add to that the fact Hoyer actually has the ability to make facial expressions and you instantly have someone fans will be happier with running the team. Now maybe Cutler has some disorder where he lacks the nerve and muscle connections in his face to make any type of recognizable expression outside of total apathy and we shouldn’t make fun of such ailments. On the other hand, he may just not care since this is just a job and he gets paid either way. Regardless, the Bears may be slowly inching their way back to respectability and relevance since there is now way Ryan Pace or John Fox thought they could win with Cutler and they were just biding their time. Whether or not the Bears get a championship caliber QB in the future is TBD, but at least they won’t have a guaranteed loser.