Coach Rod: "No, whatever to you."
That's how Rod Marinelli dealt with a reporter who pressed for an answer this week when Coach Rod wouldn't name a starting QB. First of all, "Whatever to you," is pretty much a "I give up" comeback, the kind of thing you say when you're stumped. It's like saying, "But still," when somebody has a better argument. Secondly, what's the mystery here? The Lions brought in Duante Culpepper and gave him all the practice reps. There's no doubt he'll be starting Sunday. Between Jim Coletto's comment about Drew Stanton "embarrassing himself" if he plays and the Culpepper signing, it's obvious the Lions have decided they made a mistake using a second round pick on Stanton. They've apparently given up on this year's second round pick, LB Jordan Dizon, who wasn't even on the active roster for the Bears game. Brilliant.
Now I realize Marinelli didn't draft those guys, that's on Matt Millen. But Marinelli's the guy who refuses to play the young players, prattling on about making them earn their spot. I don't know how that serves the franchise well when the team is winless and going nowhere. This isn't about earning spots any more. It's about deciding if any of these players you've drafted have a future with the team. Can Dizon be a starting LB next year, or do we need to draft someone else? Can Stanton be the starter in the near future, or do we need to look for yet another free agent QB? We'll never find out if those guys sit on the bench. I'm not sure what Rod Marinelli is trying to accomplish, but he's not succeeding... unless he's trying to get fired. Hopefully William Clay Ford will wake up long enough to make the move we all know is coming sooner or later: canning Coach Rod. I'm not going to hold my breath.
Jason: And to think, you mocked me when I told you Coach Rod reminded me a heckuva lot of Marty Mornhinweg. Both remind me of Henry Winkler in "The Waterboy."
Ernie Sims: Wh-wh-wh-why don't ya just come up with some new plays?
Coach Rod/Marty: I tried. I think I have a mental block.
DeAngelo Williams vs. Oakland
The Raiders can't stop the run to save their lives and Williams should be getting the bulk of the carries with Jonathan Stewart nursing an injured angle.
Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Detroit
Does this need an explanation?
Tim Hightower vs. San Francisco
It's getting to the point where Hightower should be in your starting lineup every week. He's taken the starting job from Edgerrin James and he's in an offense that scores a ton of points.
Chad Pennington vs. Seattle
He's quietly put up solid numbers this year and when the match up is right he's money for 200 yards and two TD's. This is the right match up.
Bernard Berrian vs. Green Bay
Look who's finally coming alive. Just when you thought he was a flash-in-the-pan in Chicago, Berrian is really gelling with Gus Frerotte. Most teams are looking to stop Peterson first, so Berrian should get loose for some big gains.
Santonio Holmes vs. Indianapolis
Holmes might have turned a corner along with the entire Steelers team last week. Funny thing about this choice is, I think if Byron Leftwich plays instead of Ben Roethlisberger, Holmes will have an even bigger day.
Jeff's Risk/Reward Players
Matt Forte vs. Tennessee
Forte has been putting up solid totals all year, regardless of the defense, and Ryan Grant had some success running on the Titans last week. However, Rex Grossman may be starting and that's not good for any Bears skill-position players.
Calvin Johnson vs. Jacksonville
Yes, he's been on fire the last few weeks, but I see no way Culpepper gets the offense down well enough in a week to keep the Lions moving against a team desperate for a win to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Matt Jones vs. Detroit
Jones is about as hit-or-miss as they come. If the Jags bother to throw the ball, and that's a big "if" given the Lions brutal run D, Jones will be the main target.
Jason's Risk/Reward Picks
Joe Flacco at Houston
I was mocked unmerciful for picking Joe up in my fantasy league. Of course, Joe still sucked and I cut him, but I picked him up again, so who's laughing now, swine? He's been hot and Houston can be burned on D. But then again... it's Joe Flacco.
Steve Slaton vs. Baltimore
The Ravens are number one against the run right now, but sometimes big time players play big against tough odds. Plus, he has bulletin board material from Ravens LB Bart Scott. He said Houston is a different team from the first time they played b/c of Slaton. "He's confident now," said Scott. "And he just might be dumb enough to think he can run on us."
The entire New York Jets Offense vs. St. Louis
Hall of Fame quarterback, two good running backs and two good wideouts. Yet every week they either disappear or run the other team off the field. Flip a coin. I have no clue what they'll do against the Rams.
Jeff's Players to Avoid as if They've Been Dipped in Ebola
Joseph Addai vs. Pittsburgh
Addai has struggled to do anything against lesser defenses. The Steelers are not a lesser defense and they just held Clinton Portis in check last week.
Edgerrin James vs. San Francisco
See the Tim Hightower entry above.
Matt Cassel vs. Buffalo
The Bills need this game badly if they're going to stay in first place in the AFC East. I think they're going to sit on the passing game and force the Patriots to win it with BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Kevin Faulk.
Players to Avoid Like Their Name is Bubba Franks
Rex Grossman vs. Tennessee
Even if he starts, it's Rex Grossman.
Daunte Culpepper vs. Jacksonville
No way he's picked up the offense in one week and he can't possible be in shape. If even he makes it through the game without sending for some takeout consider it a victory.
Marques Colston at Atlanta
Every week they say he's ready to contribute. I haven't seen a shred of proof yet. You might get it this week, but I'd sure wait to see it until you put him in the starting lineup.
Michigan State (-9.5) vs. Purdue
Jeff: I think the Boilers have enough speed on offense to give MSU problems, but don't be fooled by last week's performance against Michigan. The Wolverines have some of the worst safeties and linebackers on earth, which allowed Purdue to convert a million third downs. Sparty will score at will, Ringer will have 200+ yards and the seniors go out with an easy win in their final home game. Bonus pick: take the over at +/- 53.
Jason: Last week was Joe tiller's final feather in the cap. MSU should move the ball all day long and have success on defense. 38-14 MSU.
Minnesota (-7.5) vs. Michigan
Jason: If Steven Threet plays Michigan could flirt with covering, but without him they are in big trouble in the Metrodome.
Jeff: QB Steven Threet is highly unlikely to play (thanks to a cheap shot to the head from Purdue last week) and Nick Sheridan is absolutely awful. The Gophers get the Little Brown Jug for only the third time in the last 22 years.
Jacksonville (-6.5) at Detroit
Jeff: I know the Jags are coming off back-to-back losses to Cleveland and Cincinnati and I know the Lions nearly beat the Bears in Chicago last week, but things are not going to be pretty with the corpse of Daunte Culpepper at QB.
Jason: Until Culpepper found his way into the starting lineup, I had designs on the Jags falling to two winless teams in two weeks. Like Jeff said at the top, why not Stanton? Give him a quarter to see if he's actually an embarrassment.
Jeff's NCAA Picks
Illinois (-7.5) at Western Michigan (at Ford Field)
Western might be good for a MAC team, but there's no way the Broncos stop Juice Williams and Arrelious Benn from scoring at will.
Oklahoma State (+3.5) at Texas Tech
OK, I was wrong about the Red Raiders last week. But Tech is due to blow a game, especially since they're the media darling. Okie State can score with Tech and is coming in way under the radar thanks to a loss to Texas a couple weeks ago. Take the points.
Kansas (+1.5) at Nebraska
I'm not sure why the Jayhawks are getting points against a team as bad as Nebraska. That should be a warning sign. I don't care. Nebraska stinks.
Jason's NCAA Picks
Penn St. (-7.5) at Iowa
Iowa is tough, but not nearly tough enough to stay within 10 points of a Penn St. team with two weeks to prepare.
LSU (+3.5) vs. Alabama
First week of the BCS always has a shakeup. Might as well be the #1 team going into Baton Rouge. Oh yeah, Miles wants to beat Saban bad.
Boston College (-3.5) vs. Notre Dame
The Eagles love to beat Notre Dame.
Jeff's NFL Picks
Kansas City (+15) at San Diego
That line is just too big and the Chargers are just too inconsistent.
Carolina (-8.5) at Oakland
Did you see the Raiders last week? I have never seen such an inept offense. They won't play that poorly again, but the Panthers are much better defensively than Atlanta.
New York Jets (-8) vs. St. Louis
Steven Jackson says he's going to try to play, but that can't save the Rams terrible defense on the road against a Jets team that's finding ways to overcome Brett Favre's lousy play.
Jason's NFL Picks
Tennessee (-3) at Chicago
It's a risky pick if Orton is the QB, and solid with Grossman.
Oakland (+8.5) vs. Carolina
That's a lot of points to give a home team entertaining a team travelling across the country. And yes, I do know the Raiders lost at home last week 24-0. They'll bounce back.
New Orleans (+1) at Atlanta
A shootout between Drew Brees and Matt Ryan? I'll take Brees.
Jeff's Lock of the Century
Atlanta (-1) vs. New Orleans
The Falcons are a much better team at home and should be able to score at will against the Saints. I see a big fantasy day for Michael Turner and Matt Ryan.
Last Week: 4-5
Lock of the Century: 5-2
Jason's Lock of the Century
Illinois (-7.5) at Western Michigan (at Ford Field)
Big Ten defenses can't stop Juice Williams. A MAC team will? I think not.
Last Week: 5-4
Lock of the Century: 4-2-1