Peyton Manning – DEN vs. GB
If there was ever a 6-0 start to a season that raised eyebrows, the 2015 Denver Broncos would fit the bill. Denver has ridden its defense to an unblemished record, an accomplishment that has been marred by the whimsical play of Peyton Manning. The arm strength of the future first-ballot Hall of Famer has been palpable with passes fluttering in the air that seemingly take forever to come down. Despite one of the most dynamic wide receiver duos in football with speedster Emmanuel Sanders and behemoth Demaryius Thomas, the passing-game Gary Kubiak envisioned he was inheriting has been a mere mirage. Facing a stout Green Bay defense this week, it will be difficult to lean on Peyton Manning and the Denver pass-game.
Jay Cutler – CHI vs. MIN
Stringing together three consecutive impressive starts vs. mediocre pass defenses (Oak, KC, and DET), Jay Cutler and the Bears’ offense faces a tougher task this weekend with the Vikings coming to town. As we’ve yet to see Cutler’s turnover mantra come to fruition this season, I think this is a weekend you’ll begin to see an uptick in the Bears total number of turnovers (currently at eight). Despite coming off the bye with a healthy Alshon Jeffery, a date with the divisional-foe Vikings and their 11th ranked pass-defense poses a larger threat.
Colin Kaepernick – SF @ STL
After posting 20 + fantasy points in weeks 6 and 7, the Seahawks stymied Kaepernick and the 49ers offense holding them to
81passing yards and 142 total yards. It doesn’t get much easier for Kaepernick and the middling 49ers offense as they travel to St. Louis to take on a ferocious Rams front-7 who stifled the Browns offense last week. Unable to rely on Carlos Hyde, who has been playing through a stress fracture in his foot, the Rams defense won’t have to stack the box in anticipation of a run-first offense, effectively closing the passing-lanes for the erratic Kaepernick. In what has been a tumultuous season in San Francisco, don’t expect this offense to get in-sync anytime soon.
Throughout his career, Reggie Wayne has solidified himself as an iron-man at the Wide Receiver position. Sunday night’s win over the Broncos marked the 189th consecutive game Wayne has played in, trailing Tim Brown’s top mark of 199. Now the 13 year veteran’s streak will come to a halt as an MRI has confirmed an ACL tear in his left knee.
On a play late in the 4th quarter, Andrew Luck was under pressure in the pocket and rushed a throw that ended up low and behind Wayne. While Wayne attempted to reach back to make the grab, he tweaked his left knee. He needed medical assistance to get off the field and was visibly emotional on the sidelines before eventually heading the locker room. The Colts were weary of a torn ACL and a Monday MRI has confirmed their worst fears. The Colts will need more consistent production from the stone-handed Darrius Heyward-Bey and vertical receiver, T.Y. Hilton. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of the Colts pursuing a WR in advance of the October 29th trade deadline. Hakeem Nicks, Josh Gordon, and Kenny Britt are among the biggest names that could potentially be available via trade.
The Broncos unleashed an even three-headed running attack in last night’s game vs. the Raiders. Knowshon Moreno received 11 carries, Montee Ball had 12, and Ronnie Hillman toted it nine times. But, that’s not to say there was a method to the madness for the divided workload. After the game, Hillman went on record to clarify the root cause for determining who would carry the “rock.”
Early in the 4th quarter, Hillman appeared to score on a 19 yard run, but was ruled down at the 1-yard line. After the Broncos called a timeout, the three Denver running backs huddled around and decided to leave it to rock, paper, scissors for who would get the crack at a goal line TD. Hillman threw rock, whereas Moreno and Ball both put up scissors. Hillman took the ensuing 1-yard carry into the end zone and the rest was history.
The Broncos RB situation will be something to keep an eye on as the season progresses, but don’t go pointing to Hillman’s 1-yard TD run as a sign of things to come in the Denver backfield.