It's Thursday night football with my favorite team playing a crucial divisional game at home. I'm excited about it, so let's jump right into it.
Last week I went 7-9 straight up, which is terrible. I believed in some 0-2 teams and they all let me down. My fault for thinking they might show more effort. I'll write more about that tomorrow. I'm 29-19 on the season straight up.
San Francisco (1-2) @ St. Louis (1-2) 8:30 PM
It's a huge game for both teams because they're each coming off two consecutive losses and neither team has a lot of momentum heading into this divisional game. A win puts you at 2-2, which is respectable. A loss sets you back with a 1-3 record and that will make it difficult to bounce back to get into a playoff spot.
I think the big problem for the Rams the last couple of weeks is they are too conservative on offense. Sam Bradford has a big arm, but he relies on the short passing game too much. With WRs like Tavon Austin and Chris Givens on the team, they should try to throw it down the field more. Austin's the fastest guy on the field. Let him run. I'm tired of watching the five yard dump offs. Since the Niners are missing some key players (especially their best pass rusher Aldon Smith), I'm hoping the Rams take advantage by going for some big plays down the field. They have to. The conservative play calling isn't working.
I think the Rams figured out the 49ers style of play last year and they can match them in terms of their physicality. Frank Gore had 58 yards on 23 carries last year when the Rams won 16-13 in OT in St. Louis (their first game ended up in a tie so they played nearly 10 quarters of football). He's not the type of back that hurts the Rams. Demarco Murray hurt the Rams because he's a faster back who hit the holes quickly. Gore doesn't have that ability anymore. I also think that these teams know each other so well that neither team will run that well.
The biggest question mark for me heading into this game is what Niners offense will show up? They looked awesome in week one in beating the Packers 34-28, but against the Seahawks and Colts they combined for just 10 points in those two games. I think their issue is an obvious one; the lack of WRs that can stretch the field. Anquan Boldin is just a possession WR at this point in his career and has been a non-factor the last two weeks. With Vernon Davis banged up (may not play) who can put fear in the Rams? I know Colin Kaepernick is getting the blame, but to me he's still a dynamic QB that is a difference maker. I don't think it's his fault when they do a poor job of giving him weapons. They really miss Michael Crabtree in the passing game. His injury may be the most significant of any player on any team this season.
I'm a Rams fan that is picking my team to win. I think it will be a close game where the home field advantage will definitely help. The win is far from a sure thing, but I have to believe in my team because this is the biggest game in their year and if they can't get up for this one then I'm afraid they may be on the path to 5 or 6 wins instead of the 8 or 9 wins I was hoping for. Games like this are pivotal for a team's success and they can't afford to let the opportunity pass them by. It also helps knowing that a win can cause a lot of problems for their biggest rival. Rams 20-17
Fantasy Football Five Thoughts for Week 3
1. It's been a rough year for RBs like Ray Rice, CJ Spiller, Stevan Ridley, Frank Gore, David Wilson and some others who may have gone in round one or two in your fantasy draft. Rice and Spiller are both banged up. If you own them in fantasy leagues and you're dealing with byes starting this week what do you do? In most cases you have to start them because there just aren't that many other options. I was all in on Ridley before the year and he's been a total letdown. I hope he turns it around soon.
2. Who would have thought that heading into week four of this season, the Jets would be 2-1 and the Giants would be 0-3? Not only that, but the Jets fantasy players are doing better too. Bilal Powell has been a nice sleeper at RB while Stephen Hill and Santonio Holmes both had big games last week at WR. As for the Giants, David Wilson has been a letdown all year while the entire offense sucked last week as they were shut out.
3. I think the Colts are on the path to being an elite offense. With a great young QB in Andrew Luck, the addition of a star RB like Trent Richardson, plus a WR group with Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton they have a lot of weapons. I think Coby Fleener will improve at TE as the season goes on too. They can score on anybody. That doesn't mean Luck is going to be putting up Peyton Manning numbers just yet, but in the years to come they will be a force to be reckoned with.
4. The Chiefs are looking impressive as a 3-0 team, but other than star RB Jamaal Charles (a top 3 RB in my opinion) and their defense I don't think they have any other regular starters. Their star WR Dwayne Bowe only has 9 catches in three games with one TD. Last week he only had one catch. It's weird because they have a short passing game and he's WR who isn't known for his speed, so it would make sense that they would go to him more. WR Donnie Avery has been a nice surprise, but I don't know if he can sustain his production. QB Alex Smith is an efficient QB who knows how to manage a game. That doesn't mean he'll lead your team to fantasy success, though.
5. Finally, it's time to talk about Adrian Peterson. I love watching him play. Who doesn't? Despite my admiration for him, I didn't like hearing him talk about 2,500 rushing yards in the preseason because I thought it was too unrealistic. Since he has 281 yards after three games (93.7 yards per game) he would need 2,229 yards in 13 games. Trust me it's not happening. What the Vikings need more than anything right now is a win and to do that their passing game needs to improve quickly. If the passing game improves then Peterson will have more lanes to run because defense will have to worry about the pass more. As long as Christian Ponder continues playing like an average QB, I don't think defenses will stop their gameplan of stuffing the line to slow down Peterson. He's still an elite fantasy RB, but I think some of the expectations heading into this season were a bit much for him.
I'll be back tomorrow with my picks for the rest of this week's games.