Chris Wesseling

The Morning After

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Shootout at San Diego

Monday, November 07, 2011


Much like Pedro Martinez in his prime, Aaron Rodgers has an array of throws in his repertoire that the rest of the league’s quarterbacks just can’t match. The rare power thrower with pinpoint accuracy and mobility, Rodgers led the Packers to four touchdowns and a field goal on their first six offensive drives at San Diego. Along the way, Rodgers broke a tie with Hall of Famer Steve Young with an eighth consecutive game posting a passer rating of at least 110 while becoming the first quarterback in NFL history with 2,600 yards and 24 touchdowns through the first eight games of the season.

No player in history has boasted a higher completion percentage (72.5) or passer rating (129.1), and Rodgers’ 9.9 YPA is the highest average in modern history. Per the Boston Globe, only Sid Luckman (10.86 in 1943), Otto Graham (10.55 in ’53), and Norm Van Brocklin (10.14 in ’54) have posted higher marks. Rodgers has made a mockery of the mid-season MVP race, playing quarterback at a level never before seen in the NFL.  

“I think it’s a natural progression for a quarterback to gain more and more confidence as you move on -- not only in the offense but playing with the same perimeter players,’’ coach Mike McCarthy said before Sunday’s game. “So there’s a lot of confidence between the quarterback and the perimeter players and even more so with the protection unit as far as picking things up, making sure he has a good pocket. And he has great confidence, not just in one receiver, but it’s the whole group. I think you’re really seeing what happens when you get to that point.’’

As ColdHardFootballFacts.com points out, the 2010-11 Green Bay Packers are the first team in NFL history to win 14 consecutive games without trailing in the fourth quarter. The 1942-43 Redskins were the previous record-holders with a 13-game streak.

Rodgers piled up a league-high 38 fantasy points in the shootout at San Diego, besting Philip Rivers and Vincent Jackson with 33 and 32 respectively. Continuing his season-long struggles, Rivers threw a pair of pick-sixes and a career-high third interception while also taking a back-breaking intentional grounding penalty with the game on the line. Rivers’ 14 interceptions are already more than he’s had in any season since 2007 and three more than any other quarterback in the league. While Tony Romo has the reputation for coming up short in crunch time, Rivers is now 2-9 in fourth quarter comeback opportuntities since 2010.

“I’m not the first quarterback that’s fought through this thing, and I certainly won’t be the last,” Rivers said Sunday night. You fight through a slump. A home-run hitter keeps swinging, and a 3-point shooter keeps shooting.” Although Rivers did suffer a sternum injury back in Week 2, he has repeatedly refuted speculation that his health is a factor. His fantasy value hinges heavily on scoring system. Rivers is a top-eight fantasy QB in leagues that don’t penalize for turnovers versus 15th in standard-scoring formats.

Game Balls

Eli Manning not only one-upped Tom Brady in Foxboro, he did it without Hakeem Nicks and Ahmad Bradshaw -- his two best offensive weapons. Proving to be elite as the best fourth-quarter passer in the league this season, Eli guided touchdown drives of 80 and 85 yards in the final seven minutes of the game. It was the fifth fourth-quarter, game-winning drive for Manning since Week 3.

The performance ended New England’s streaks of 18 home wins against NFC teams, 20 consecutive regular-season home wins (fourth-longest in history), and Brady’s 31 consecutive regular-season home wins (longest in history). Before Sunday, Brady hadn’t lost a regular-season home game since the 2006 season. Locked in as a QB1, Eli is seventh at his position in fantasy points while on pace for a career-high 4,754 yards and a 30:12 TD-to-INT ratio.

In many ways, DeMarco’s Murray’s 186 total yards against a Seahawks defense previously allowing just 3.5 yards per carry was more impressive than his franchise record breaking 253 yards in his first start. Displaying a better than advertised burst while hitting holes decisively, Murray’s two 100-yard games in three weeks match the career total of injured starter Felix Jones. His 466 yards are the most by a Cowboys back in a three-game span in franchise history. Murray has also joined ex-Broncos runner Mike Anderson as the only rookies in history with a 250-yard game and a 135-yard outing in a three-game span. His current average of 6.7 yards per carry is the highest mark for a rookie since Bo Jackson in 1987. It’s clear now that the Cowboys are simply a better team with Murray in the lineup. He’s not giving up the lead-back job even when Jones returns.

Don’t let Matt Ryan’s 120.7 passer rating versus the Colts fool you. Julio Jones saved him from another shaky performance with a spectacular diving 50-yard bomb in triple coverage and a short slant that turned into an 80-yard score by out-running Indy’s defense. Jones is the first rookie receiver since the merger with a 50-yard touchdown and an 80-yard touchown in the same game. He’s going to end up giving A.J. Green a run for his money as the top rookie receiver after all.

For the second time in three weeks, Arian Foster and Ben Tate both cleared 100 yards in a blowout victory. Foster now has six consecutive games with at least 100 yards from scrimmage, averaging 160 per week while finding the end zone a half-dozen times. Despite missing the majority of the first three games, Foster is fifth among fantasy backs on the season while Tate is sitting at No. 20. Boosted by a mauling offensive line, the Texans boast the most dangerously efficient ground attack in the NFL.


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Chris Wesseling is a senior football editor and Dynasty league analyst for Rotoworld.com. The 2011 NFL season marks his fifth year with Rotoworld and his third year contributing to NBCSports.com. He can be found on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.
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