Monday Morning Takeaway -- Wild Card Round fantasysharks.com 11 Months
Cincinnati 13, Houston 19
The scoreboard indicates a tight ball game but this thing was never close, as Cincinnati was dismantled by an inspired Texans defense. Andy Dalton looked timid in the pocket leading to a pathetic stat line reading 127 yards, one interception and zero touchdowns.
AJ Green has been the Bengals most prolific playmaker all year, and did finish this game with a respectable five receptions for 80 yards. However, Green was not targeted the entire first half while being overthrown on a clear cut touchdown. Better luck next year Bengals fans.
Struggling to score points over the final two weeks of the regular season, the Texans reasserted their offensive attack. It always starts with Arian Foster who methodically compiled 140 yards and one touchdown on 32 carries, also tacking on 34 yards through the passing game. Houston then utilized Owen Daniels up the seam to keep the defense honest while cruising to a first round win.
Green Bay 24, Minnesota 10
Aaron Rodgers had a very pedestrian game as the Vikings defense did a solid job limiting the QB1. Even more disturbing was Rodgers spreading the ball around, finding 10 different players, negating the fantasy value of all Green Bay pass catchers.
Most alarming was seeing John Kuhn punching in two Green Bay touchdowns. Although the select few who went out on a limb and started DuJuan Harris, will be elated by his 100 yards and a touchdown, his day could have been much, much better. Those of us who reserved Harris should be looking for a better option with the league's best run defense up next.
We should also recognize the Packers defense which is suddenly healthy after the prolonged absence of Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews. This was no more evident than holding Adrian Peterson to 99 yards after getting torched for over 400 the past two meetings.
The obvious revelation coming out of this game was the insertion of Joe Webb into the starting lineup after Christian Ponder was ruled inactive due to an elbow injury. It's an enormous task for any backup quarterback to step in and lead his team during the first round of the playoffs. Oh by the way, you're facing the Green Bay Packers. Needless to say the team flamed out, including Adrian Peterson who finished with 99 yards rushing. Peterson's already talking about 2,500 yards next season and Vegas has him at a 2-1 favorite to get it done.
Indianapolis 9, Baltimore 24
Throughout the season, I've become more-and-more impressed by the play of Vick Ballard. This week, facing a rejuvenated Ravens defense, Ballard ran with patience, excellent vision, power and speed, totaling 91 yards on 22 carries. He's also proven to be a prolific receiver out of the backfield. Ballard will definitely become a player on my "watch list" heading into our draft preparation.
Of course, Andrew Luck is simply amazing, but the other rookie of intrigue has been wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. Growing all season, should have Hilton pegged as a mid WR3 next season.
Is it just me, or is it alarming to watch Ray Rice split carries nearly 50-50 with backup Bernard Pierce? Ever worse, was Rice being out produced by Pierce on the ground. He also lost goal line carries to both Pierce and fullback Vonta Leach. We must also be reminded the Ravens have long considered Rice unable to handle goal line looks taking a back seat to Willis McGahee and later Ricky Williams. Still a rock solid RB1, in 2013 Rice should be drafted behind the likes of Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin.
Boy, what a game for Anquan Boldin, who finished with 145 yards and a touchdown. He's very tough to trust on a week-to-week basis, but when the big man gets rolling he looks unstoppable.
Seattle 24, Washington 14
As with every week of the season, Marshawn "Beast Mode" Lynch continues to be the leading fantasy point producer on the Hawks roster. This week he proved that once again, repeatedly demoralizing the Skins tacklers after being caught in the backfield only to rip off big gain after big gain. He'll be a top five pick come next draft.
Russell Wilson showed the moxie of a nine year veteran, never losing his poise, despite falling behind 14-0 in the early first quarter. His composure in the face of adversity should excite confidence for the remainder of the postseason run, and into 2013.
Robert Griffin III came out on fire, scoring two unanswered touchdowns, the first to Evan Royster and the second to Logan Paulsen. On those same two series, Alfred Morris looked unstoppable ripping through the 6th ranked Seattle rush defense. However, it was all downhill after that as Griffin would aggravate his knee injury, finishing the game with a Blaine Gabbert-esque 84 yards, one interception and one fumble lost. With a full offseason to heal, RGIII will be back to QB1 status come week one of next season.