by Inside the Redzone Staff Writer/Editor – A.C. Lipstein
Jaguars vs. Bengals
TE Marcedes Lewis – One of the leagues’ top Tight Ends last year with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Lewis, will get his first TD of the year this week at home against the Cincinnati Bengals. Surprisingly the Bengals D is ranked #1 allowing a league low 275.5 yards per game to opposing offenses. The Bengals are ranked 3rd in pass defense and #7 in run defense. The stout Bengal defending will force Jaguars rookie QB Blaine Gabbert to check down often relying on his TE’s Lewis, Miller and Potter (Zack Miller is Questionable) more than ever. If MJD doesn’t get into a groove on the ground you can expect him to be used in the passing game too coming out of the backfield as pass option or in a designed screen pass play.
WR Jerome Simpson – The Bengals wideout ran into some legal trouble recently after some “wacky weed” was delivered to his home (maybe it was medicinal?). Despite that and only three catches in a win against Buffalo last week Simpson is ranked 3rd in receptions on the Bengals depth chart and is 2nd in receiving yards. But he’s the only top Bengals receiver to have not scored a touchdown….yet. The Jaguars D is still trying to find themselves with only 5 interceptions and just 1 forced fumble this year, the opposing rookie QB just might have a good day and so could Simpson.
Eagles vs. Bills
QB Michael Vick – Gets a rushing TD this week as the Eagles fly off to Buffalo. He’s thrown for 6 this year but hasn’t run any in.
TE Brent Celek – Has no receiving TD’s yet this year, He’s listed as suffering from an undisclosed illness. Could this be the week? Yes it is.
Buffalo scores often (#4 ranked offense) so I don’t see any “sleeper” TD’s from them. If you have a Bills player on your roster you should be starting them.
Saints vs. Panthers
The Panthers’ D is “riddled” with injuries and allowing an average of 28 points per game over the last 3 games so I don’t see any sleeper TD’s from the Saints. If you have a Saints player on your roster you need to start them this week.
Rookie QB Cam Newton is sniping ALL (4) of the Panthers’ rushing TD’s this year. You’d think this would be the week RB’s DeAngelo Williams or Jonathan Stewart mention something to the Rook about feeding their families too. Alas, with all the media hype and success Cam’s having he’s not about to change anything like “staying in the pocket Inside the Redzone”. So don’t look for “sleeper” rushing TD’s here. But there is one player who could still get in the endzone who hasn’t and that’s RB Stewart. Because he’s a versatile player who is used in both running and passing plays (ranked 3rd on the team for both) Stewart has a better chance of getting the ball from Newton in a “scoreable” situation. With the Saints D ranked 15th in total yards (allowing 348 per game) as well as giving up 24.5 points per game there’s some scoring and yardage upside for Stewart and possibly Williams in this one.
Raiders vs. Texans
WR Andre Johnson is out with a really bad hammy (minor surgery this week on it) so this should open the door for other receivers on the Houston Texans, if they can step up. As we know, no one player can fill Johnson’s shoes so it will be “receptions by committee” as Texans QB Schaub is forced to spread the ball around. Clearly TE Owen Daniels is a must start in this situation but who else from the wide receiving corps will step up? Will it be WR Kevin Walter or WR Jacoby Jones? Not likely. I expect those guys to be covered well (Jones is Questionable – Knee anyway) and why worry about the passing game when the Raiders D is so susceptible to the zone run that Houston will be deploying behind a healthy RB Arian Foster (RB Ben Tate is Questionable with a groin injury). With Foster running wild there is one guy who might be a sleeper. He’s hard to find on the roster because he’s so versatile and that’s FB/TE James Casey. Casey is 6’3″ and 243 pounds with good hands and good speed. From the 2009 Combine report: “Positives: Unique all-around athlete capable of contributing in various ways at the next level. Instinctive football player who simply makes plays. Good playing speed, though his actual 40 time (4.66) is questionable. Good initial burst off the line of scrimmage. Good agility to make defenders miss in the open field. Good toughness. Willing to absorb the hit to gain positive yardage, but more often dishes out punishment. Natural hands for the reception. Good hand-eye coordination. Secure ball-carrier.” If as I (and everyone else) suspect the Texans will be running the ball almost exclusively in this match-up don’t be surprised to see Casey catch one in the endzone on a goal line play. He’s already gotten 9 receptions and one rushing TD this year and this week I think he’ll add a receiving TD too.
Not to be outdone by the Texans running attack the Raiders are a rushing machine ranked #1 in the league with 178 yards per game average rushing. RB’s McFadden and Bush (Expected to play with a sore ankle) are certainly must starts this week. But who from the passing attack will show up this week? Suffering injuries that will either keep them out of the game or make them game time decisions include: WR Jacoby Ford (Questionable – hammy), WR Louis Murphy (Out – Groin), WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (Questionable – Knee), TE Kevin Boss (Questionable), TE Richard Gordon (Questionable – broken hand). With all the injuries in the receiving corps that leaves WR Derek Hagan, rookie WR Denarius Moore and TE Brandon Myers needed to step up this week. Hagan had a great pre-season and is already in double-digits in receptions (10) this year yet he’s not made it into the endzone. Is this his week? I think so, he’ll get one TD with broken coverage due to Texans focusing on the running attack and over-looking Hagan…if Ford and Heyward-Bey don’t start, otherwise, this touchdown could go to Moore too.