We’re all about the ballsy predictions here at ETB. We’re always analyzing and second-guessing other “expert” picks, but we’ll put our balls on the table, too. Crystal balls. You can look at them, but you most definitely cannot touch them. Look with your eyes, not with your hands. Only we can harness the power of these magical balls. In the days leading up to Sunday’s NFL action, we both gaze into the void, transcend this earthly plane, feel the force and post the daring predictions that present themselves.
They’re probably all going to come true, but one or two of them may not. You had better believe we’ll be bragging about them when we nail it. Repeatedly. In your fat, supple face. And if/when we miss, it’ll be like it never happened. You’ll forget about it. Hey, look at me–you will forget about our misses.
It’s the latest edition of ETB’s NFL Crystal Ball, where we never pull a Homer Simpson.
1. Adrian ‘Purple Jesus’ Peterson is going to be limited in his return this week, likely registering 15 or fewer touches. He still manages to earn his keep for fantasy owners, doing his best Barry Sanders impersonation against Detroit in the Metrodome: 110 total yards and a score.
2. Selvin Young says that he’s ready to go full bore this week. Travis Henry is still doing his best Bo and Luke Duke impression by avoiding the long arm of the law for yet another week. Henry also says that his PCL is good to go. None of it matters. whichever Denver running back you start this week, it will be the wrong one. And if you start both, Cecil Sapp will score. You will wake up in the middle of the night on Monday cursing Mike Shanahan’s name.
3. In his three career games against Tampa Bay Reggie Bush has 30 rushing attempts for a grand total of 0 TDs and 45 rushing yards (1.5 YPC). He does, however, have 21 receptions for 128 yards in those games. Those in non-PPR leagues should consider leaving Bush on the bench because he’s going to finish with 15 rushes for 35 yards and 6 receptions for 40 yards with 0 TDs.
4. We’re Tony Scheffler fans at ETB. He’s extremely athletic with good hands, both of which were on full display on that fantastic TD reception last week. He also has a good rapport with QB Jay Cutler from their days as second stringers last season. Tony has been a solid option for the last six weeks, recording 3-6 receptions every game and grabbing 2 TDs. Playing at Oakland this week he’ll snag 6 more balls for 70 yards and another score.
5. Since that breakout, 179-yard performance in Week 4 (a game he didn’t start), Justin Fargas has been one of the lone bright spots in an otherwise anemic Raiders offense. He clearly thrives in Oakland’s zone blocking scheme as a one-cut runner. Playing against a Broncos defense that allows 146.7 rushing yards a game Fargas delights again fantasy owners with over 100 yards on the ground and a score.
6. Marc Bulger is out and Gus Frerotte is in. Again. I have a gut feeling we’ll see Brock Berlin for a couple of plays at some point, but the story on offense for St. Louis will be Steven Jackson. He’s eager to get over the injuries, prove his worth and make some contributions to this struggling team. He will also be leaned on and respond with 25 carries for 105 yards, 5 receptions for 30 yards and 1 TD.
7. He sure put a scare into me with that mysterious neck sprain in Week 12, but Joseph Addai is not on the injury report and ready to roll this weekend. He finished with 16 carries and 4 receptions for 107 total yards at Jacksonville in Week 7, but Addai fares a tad better this Sunday at home: 20 carries for 90 yards, 3 receptions for 20 yards, 1 TD.
8. Albert Haynesworth could be the most valuable defensive player in the NFL this season and he’s expected to return from a hamstring ailment this week. Houston comes to town with 64 points in the last three weeks, but their rushing game is stopped dead on Sunday. The Texans finish with fewer than 80 total rushing yards on the day.
9. Bigger names in better offenses like Randy Moss and Terrell Owens are getting all the media attention, but Larry Darnell Fitzgerald, Jr is on one hell of a tear himself. Fitzy is clearly Kurt Warner’s favorite target and has 5 TDs, 25 receptions and 323 yards over the last three weeks to show for it. Playing at home against Cleveland he catches 8 passes and scores 2 TDs.
10. With Alex Smith out and the entire San Francisco passing game struggling, Vernon Davis has been leaned on more and more in recent weeks. He’s getting plenty of looks, especially in the red zone. With the 49ers receivers struggling and facing a suspect Carolina defense, Davis makes a strong play this week by catching 5 passes for 60 yards and a TD.
1. With the best starting safety you’ve never heard of, Arizona’s Adrian Wilson, out for the season, Derek Anderson & Co. have a field day in the desert. With his spot already secured in ETB’s upcoming All-Fantasy Football Breakout Team, Anderson can relax and do what he does best–hook up with his Pro Bowl talent at WR and TE all game long. The former sixth-round pick throws for over 325 yards, finds Braylon Edwards twice in the endzone, and helps Kellen Winslow, Jr. achieve double digits in receptions for the second week in a row.
2. He recorded his first career game of at least 7 receptions last week against the Packers, and versus the soft Minnesota secondary, Calvin “Megatron” Johnson gets his first multi-touchdown game by hauling in two TD catches.
3. In a Battle of Gunslingers in Dallas Thursday night, Brett Favre and Tony Romo take turns picking apart the opposing defenses… and Favre, the NFL’s version of grizzled Roland of Deschain, emerges the winner. Favre goes for 353 yards, 4 TDs, and 1 INT, while Romo counters with 329 yards, 3 TDs, and a fumble lost. Packers win it and go to 11-1.
4. ESPN’s Monday Night Football “color commentator” Tony Kornheiser reads five pre-written commentaries during the Patriots/Ravens game. None of them are interesting or insightful.
5. This might be the last legitimate chance for the winless Miami Dolphins to stave off the inevitable and put one in the victory column. The 2-9 NY Jets seem ripe for the picking with an offensive line in shambles, a young quarterback, and a defense losing more and more confidence by the week. The Dolphins are in even more disarray, though: on offense they’re trotting out a rookie QB, a banged-up and depleted bevy of RBs, and no WRs worth mentioning. Another week, another loss: Jets 16, Dolphins 10.
6. Rookie RB Kolby Smith follows up his 150-yard, 2-TD effort last week against the Raiders with another strong performance against the Chargers. His team loses, but Smith still goes over 120 combined yards and scores another one. By the way, with this loss the Chiefs pretty much have no chance of making the playoffs, and will not entertain any thoughts of pushing Larry Johnson back onto the field until training camp.
7. The Colts embarassed the Jacksonville Jaguars back in Week 7, dominating them from start to finish to the tune of a 29-7 final score that could have been much worse. The 8-3 Jags return the favor by hanging with Indy through three quarters, then get a big play on defense that sets up Josh Scobee for what turns out to be the game-winning FG.
8. LenDale White has pulled a Dumpy Davenport on his owners these past three weeks, totaling just 84 rushing yards with 0 TDs and 1 fumble lost over this stretch. The Texans are giving up about 120/per on the ground, but White’s poop-smear campaign continues at home; give him 21 carries for 64 yards and another score-less afternoon.
9. There won’t be more than 28 total points scored at Solider Field this weekend when the Chicago Bears welcome the New York Giants to town.
10. Frank TV gets canceled. Network executives cite that drawn-out, not-funny impersonation of John Madden aired on FOX’s Thanksgiving pregame show as a major contributing factor. When asked for comment, the Senior VP of Programming briskly says “It was a mistake, ok? A bad, bad mistake. We have learned that television programming strictly centered around a fat man doing impersonations is not such a great idea. We apologize to the American public for exposing them to Frank TV.”