Ravens hoping road success continues against Patriots in rematch of last season’s AFC title game
For the second year in a row the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots will face off with a spot in the Super Bowl on the line when the two teams kick things off in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game at 6:30 p.m. ET on CBS. The Ravens lost 23-20 to the Patriots in Gillette Stadium in last year’s AFC title game, as wide receiver Lee Evans couldn’t hold onto a potential game-winning touchdown in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter and kicker Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal that would have sent the game into overtime.
Texans looking for first-ever divisional playoff win in rematch with Patriots
The Houston Texans make their second trip to Foxboro, Mass., in a little more than a month to face the New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional Playoffs Sunday at 4:30 p.m. ET on CBS. Coming off of their Wild Card win over Cincinnati, Houston is hoping things go much better at Gillette Stadium this time than they did back on Dec. 10 when New England thoroughly dominated the Texans 42-14 on “Monday Night Football” to close out Week 14.
Two of the NFL’s best meet as the 49ers try to end the Patriots’ seven-game winning streak
The San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots face off tonight at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC in what could potentially be a preview of Super Bowl XLVII. The 49ers (9-3-1) are trying to hold Seattle off for the top spot in the NFC West, while the Patriots (10-3) could potentially knock Houston from the top of the standings in the AFC. This also is a matchup of one of the league’s top defenses in San Francisco trying to slow down a New England offense that’s been lighting up the scoreboard most of the season.
AFC East nighttime clash caps off Thanksgiving Day trifecta of games
The New England Patriots look to build on their three-game lead in the AFC East as they take on the New York Jets in MetLife Stadium at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC. The Patriots have won four games in a row, a streak that started with a 29-26 overtime victory against the Jets in Foxboro back in Week 7. The Jets snapped a three-game losing streak last week with a 27-13 win in St. Louis. Their record is 4-6 and they can ill afford another loss, especially in divisional play, if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Pierre Garcon, Brandon Myers, Brandon Lloyd updates
This is the last of the bye weeks. It’s all up to health and strategy from here on out to get you to a fantasy football championship. Here are some updates on injured players, their status for the Week 11 games or the outlook for their replacements.
Who should you sit in Week 7? Well, with six teams on bye this week, every fantasy owner’s roster depth is sure to be tested. With players like Matt Ryan, Peyton Manning, Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez and many others not available, chances are you might be starting some unfamiliar faces. That said, here are a few names we would advise you to sit in Week 7, if at all possible.
What can the New England Patriots do for you this fantasy season? Check out Athlon Sports' team report as we break down the rookies, veteran players to watch and avoid, fantasy playoff schedule and more to help you get ready for the 2012 season.
Inside the Locker Room
with Shalise Manza-Young, Boston Globe
• Inside the Locker Room
With Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post
Is there another receiver outside of Brandon Lloyd worth drafting?
Memo to fantasy leaguers considering a Broncos wide receiver not named Brandon Lloyd: Enter at your own risk. In fact, don’t. Don’t run the risk of drafting a Denver receiver before the late rounds. Instead, take an 11th-hour flyer on Eric Decker and hope for the best. One given in the aftermath of John Fox’s hiring is that his wideouts will block in the running game. So Decker, 6'3" and 220 pounds, figures to emerge as a starter. After Decker, Eddie Royal, who has yet to match his big-time production as a rookie in Mike Shanahan’s system, could be worth a late-late-round flyer because of his return ability, and 2010 first-rounder Demaryius Thomas could be a sleeper if he can rebound from a torn Achilles.
What attachment does the new coaching staff have to Tim Tebow?
John Elway, now calling the Broncos’ personnel shots, has been very matter of fact about it: He believes Tim Tebow is a good football player, but isn’t convinced Tebow is, or ever will be, a good quarterback. Tebow, for all his college accomplishments and physical tools, finds himself in a position in which many young quarterbacks often fail. It’s called a new coaching staff, one that will bring a new philosophy and terminology. But while Tebow wasn’t drafted by Elway or Fox, he has one thing going for him — Mike McCoy. McCoy, who worked with Fox in Carolina, was retained from McDaniels’ staff as the offensive coordinator. And let’s face it, it’s not like the Broncos have a lot of other options, what with Kyle Orton expected to be traded in the near future.
Is Knowshon Moreno going to get a shot at being the No. 1 back for the Broncos?
Knowshon Moreno has spent his first two NFL seasons in a gray area between draft-day bust and so-so starter. With a new coaching staff aboard — one that loves to run the football — those various shades of gray figure to turn to black and white. That’s a nice way of saying Moreno needs to earn his keep … or else. Being Josh McDaniels’ first-ever No. 1 draft pick entitled him to a certain status, but that’s ancient history with John Fox calling the shots. Fact is, Moreno, at 210 pounds, give or take, doesn’t profile as Fox’s kind of tailback. There’s no doubt the Broncos will try to get bigger and more durable at the position. Moreno was advertised as a home-run hitter but has only five runs of 20-plus yards in 429 career carries. It’s not time to write him off, but make no mistake, he’ll be on a short leash in training camp. If he can just stay healthy for a change, maybe he can be the player McDaniels envisioned. But there were serious question marks before the new regime arrived, much more so now that Fox and his staff are in place.
• Fantasy Playoff Run — Weeks 14-16: CHI, NE, @BUF
Two of the first three playoff games are at home, and then Broncos owners get to travel to the 32nd-ranked rush defense that resides in Buffalo. Granted, the Bills drafted defense with their first four picks, but they still allowed 15 yards more per game than the 31st-place team (Denver). Knowshon Moreno, Willis McGahee and whoever else is driving the offense should be good title-game matchups.
• Athlon Best Bets
Sleeper: Willis McGahee, RB Deep-Sleeper: Eric Decker, WR Overvalued: Brandon Lloyd, WR Top Rookie: Von Miller, LB Bounce-Back: Elvis Dumervil, DL Top IDP: Elvis Dumervil, DL
• Try to Avoid
John Fox is a run-first head coach, and the tight end was never a staple of his offenses in his nine years in Carolina. The position eclipsed 700 yards only once and never went past six TDs in a season. WAIT UNTIL: NEVER
• Draft Class Fantasy Impact
The transition from Josh McDaniels to John Fox certainly played a role in Denver’s draft. McDaniels accumulated some impressive offensive talent but never found the right pieces on defense. The Broncos used four of their first five picks to improve a woeful defense, including impact players in Von Miller and Rahim Moore. Tight end is a glaring weakness that was addressed by adding Julius Thomas and Green. Both players are capable of starting this season.