Aaron Gleeman

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A.P. 1, Neck Beard 0

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Adrian Peterson showed Monday night that he can be both human and effective, leading the Vikings to their fifth straight win despite being bottled up by the Bears' defense for much of the game. Peterson managed just one long run, but his one-yard touchdown tied the game in the third quarter and he turned a botched handoff into what proved to the game-winning score in the fourth quarter, bouncing back after a career-worst performance against the 49ers in Week 14.

Peterson gets a relatively tough matchup against the Redskins in Week 16, so his chances of winning the rushing title despite missing 2.5 games and not starting until Week 8 are looking somewhat slim (he trails Willie Parker by 39 yards and is also 33 yards behind LaDainian Tomlinson). Purple Jesus does have a favorable matchup against the Broncos in Week 17, but the Vikings may have locked up a playoff spot by then and could choose to rest him.

Meanwhile, Kyle Orton's neck beard proved once again that it does not possess magical powers. Orton went 11-of-12 dumping the ball off to running backs, but was just 11-of-26 for 123 yards when he tried to connect with wide receivers and tight ends. His one decent chance for a big play came late in the fourth quarter when he had Bernard Berrian deep for a potential game-tying score, but Orton's off-balance lob was picked off by Darren Sharper at the goal line to end things.

While Tarvaris Jackson improbably improves to 7-2 as a starter this season and Orton reminds everyone why the Bears benched him in the first place, here are some other notes from around football …

* X-rays on Tony Romo's bruised thumb came back negative Monday and it sounds like he'll suit up Saturday night against the Panthers. No word yet on whether Jessica Simpson will make the trip to Carolina, although my hope is that she decides to watch the game on NFL Network instead. Cowboys fans probably agree, because for whatever reason the two worst games of Romo's career have come with a famous blonde singer rooting him on from a luxury suite.

Wearing a pink Romo jersey and a bucket full of makeup, FOX had Simpson on camera for about half of Sunday's game and play-by-play man Joe Buck refused to stop talking about her long after color commentator Troy Aikman had clearly grown tired of the topic. I'm not so sure that the world is ready for Bryant Gumbel and Chris Collinsworth following suit, although perhaps anything that takes Gumbel away from butchering the actual call of the game would be a positive thing.

Romo's ugly 13-of-36 performance can certainly be blamed largely on his thumb problems, but it's also worth noting that he started the game 0-of-6 even before all the hand-flexing began to take place and made some horrendous decisions forcing the ball into coverage regardless of how hurt he was. Plus, the Eagles' defense also deserves plenty of credit for putting pressure on him throughout and making some big plays in the secondary. He carries quite a bit of risk in Week 16.

* Justin Fargas has racked up 883 total yards and four touchdowns in eight games since grabbing hold of a prominent role in the Raiders' offense back in Week 8, including 96 total yards and a score Sunday. Unfortunately, he exited the loss to the Colts in the fourth quarter with a right knee injury that has been diagnosed as a sprained MCL. The good news is that Fargas cracked the 1,000-yard mark prior to suffering the injury. The bad news is that he's now done for the year.

Fargas will miss the final two games, leaving Dominic Rhodes and LaMont Jordan to fight over carries. Unlike Jordan, Rhodes has at least some chance of being in the team's long-term plans, so he's the favorite to grab the bulk of the workload. Unfortunately, the Raiders finish up the year with games against the Jaguars and Chargers, meaning that their backfield doesn't figure to produce a whole lot of fantasy value regardless of how the touches are divvied up.

* Jeremy Shockey's leg injury Sunday night was almost immediately diagnosed as a fractured fibula (plus ankle damage) and the Giants wasted no time placing him on season-ending injured reserve Monday. Shockey's ability to stretch the field has vanished over the past two seasons and he managed just a single 100-yard game over his last 30 outings, but his loss is still a big blow to New York's passing game and playoff chances.

In addition to Shockey being out, Plaxico Burress is still limited by ongoing ankle problems, Sinorice Moss left Week 15 with a back injury, and Steve Smith is still trying to shake the rust off after missing 11 games with shoulder and hamstring injuries. That leaves Amani Toomer as Eli Manning's healthiest target, but he was held without a catch against the Redskins. Rookie fifth-round pick Kevin Boss will take over for Shockey as the Giants' pass-catching tight end.

* Coach Tony Dungy said Monday that the Colts would "ideally" like to have Marvin Harrison play in a game before the playoffs begin, but team president Bill Polian announced later in the day that Harrison has been ruled out for Week 16. "His knee has healed," Polian said. "It's a matter of conditioning now and until we can put him out there for 60 plays a game, he won't play." The odds remain strong that Harrison will sit until the Colts' first playoff game next month.

Note: I'll be hosting my weekly "live chat" today at 2:00 p.m. EST, so please feel free to stop by and ask some questions. Whether it's wondering about who to pick up off the waiver wire or seeking help on playoff decisions, I'll do my best to provide good answers while (mostly) ignoring the hundreds of questions about Romo's love life. Click here for details.

Two-Minute Drill: Coach Tony Dungy said Monday that he won't rest his starters in Week 16 against the Texas, fearing that the Colts would be flat for their first playoff game … Meanwhile, Tampa Bay has clinched the NFC South title, but coach Jon Gruden said Monday that he won't rest his starters in Week 16 against the 49ers because the Bucs could still claim the No. 3 playoff seed … John Clayton of ESPN reported Monday that undrafted rookie Matt Moore will "probably" start the Panthers' final two games over Vinny Testaverde … After throwing five passes in spot duty Sunday, No. 1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell is once again expected to see action off the bench in Week 16 … Chris Henry returned Monday after serving his four-game suspension, but likely won't have much of a role over the final two weeks … Interim coach Emmitt Thomas said Monday that Chris Redman remains the starter despite an ugly Week 15 that included four completions to Falcons receivers and two completions to Bucs defenders … Crazy Stat of the Day: Ridiculously underrated Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha has been thrown at a grand total of 27 times in 14 games and has allowed just nine catches all season.

Red Zone: Coach Sean Payton said Monday that he's "optimistic" about Reggie Bush's (knee) chances of returning in Week 16 against the Eagles, potentially bringing the Aaron Stecker bandwagon to a screeching halt … Minnesota's win Monday night eliminated the Bears, Lions, Cardinals, and Eagles from playoff contention, meaning that (among other things) Roy Williams (knee) won't be returning in Week 17 … Coach Mike Holmgren said Monday that D.J. Hackett (ankle) is hoping to practice this week and could return Sunday against the Ravens … Terry Glenn is scheduled to have his surgically repaired knee drained later this week and hopes to make his season debut Saturday night against the Panthers, but likely won't have a big enough role to be a fantasy option until next season … Coach Brian Billick said Monday that he expects Kyle Boller to start Sunday against the Seahawks despite a concussion and rookie backup Troy Smith's solid relief work … Michael Turner injured his shoulder Sunday, which explains why it was third-stringer Darren Sproles putting up big garbage-time numbers while mopping up for LaDainian Tomlinson.


Aaron Gleeman is Rotoworld's senior baseball editor and contributes to NBCSports.com's Hardball Talk blog. Also find him at AaronGleeman.com and on Twitter.
Email :Aaron Gleeman


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