Written By: Josh Crocker – Follow Josh on Twitter @jccrocker
– Kaepernick @ LA –
If you’re in a championship game and streaming QB’s, you’ve probably leaned on Kaepernick at least once by now. At this point in the season we’ve seen, more than once, that Kaep can deliver. He has the upside to make a real difference in your matchup and unless snow is on the ground there’s a reliable floor as well. Last week in an extremely negative script, and in a game where Hyde didn’t get a lot going, Kaep still did fine. To be fair, the Falcons have been a target to stream against because their secondary can be had, and because opponents usually are trying to claw their way out of a hole which is exactly where Kaep found himself. The 49ers didn’t make it out of that hole but Kaep still did right by people who started him, and had a passer rating of 95.9 on the way.
This week he’ll be facing a tougher Rams secondary. However, I don’t think they’re a matchup we should shy too far away from. While they aren’t giving up huge yardage totals (about 230 ypg) over the last 5, they have been giving up a lot of TD’s. Russell Wilson had 3 in Week 15, Matt Ryan had 3 the week before, Gostkowski did a lot of week for the Pats, and then we had a 4 TD game from Drew Brees. Brees, in fact, is the only QB on the season to score a rushing TD against the Rams. On the season only SF, ATL, and CLE are allowing more passing TD’s than the Rams. That trend probably has something to do with the Rams’ ability to stop the run, but we’ll take the points for whatever reason.
Mr. Kaepernick will be on the road, and not favored to win. However, we know negative game scripts aren’t really a problem for Kaep. Neither is the road for that matter. Even if the team only lives up to their expected team total of 22, we can expect that a large part of that offensive pie will belong to Kaep. Last but certainly not least, the chance of awful, awful, Windy City weather in LA is pretty much zero, and not expected to change.
– Barkley v Washington –
Unfortunately for Matt Barkley, he faced off against the Packers in the week that they figured out their run game, and they were able to edge out his Bears by a narrow margin of three points. On the bright side Barkley was given an opportunity to drop back 43 times and completed 30 of said attempts, compiling 362 yards in Alshon’s welcome back party. It looked like a difficult day for pass-catchers due to the cold. On the other side of the same field Aaron Rodgers was only able to complete 19 of 31, although I’m not sure I’d put the blame on him. The ball was probably a little rough on the hands at what felt like -3 at kickoff. I have to believe that that had a role in bringing Barkley’s adjusted yards per attempt down into the 6’s, and his passer rating out of the 90’s for the first time in 3 weeks. He was also picked off 3 times, which isn’t like Barkley. This is the same secondary that took the ball from Russell Wilson 5 times the week before.
The Redskins offer a secondary that is ranked 22nd against the pass by DVOA. Interestingly, although Washington’s rush defense is much worse than that of the Packers, they’re also allowing more pass attempts and completions. Washington is allowing the QB’s they face a passer rating of 94.2 on the season and 98.7 in the last 3 weeks. That success, and the scoring their offense does may have something to do with why teams are attacking Washington through the air, passing the ball over 60% of the time. This feels like a game where a number of scripts favor the Barkley play. If the Redskins can’t stop Howard, I think there are some productive deep ball and play-action opportunities. If the Redskins come out and light up the Bears defense, we may see Barkley throw it 40 times again. This matchup feels like a good opportunity for Barkley
The Bears are home underdogs for Week 16, with their guests expected to win by 3.5. The total is a moderately high 47, which only leaves the Bears about 21 points. We can at least say that Washington opponents have done better than that since Week 10 when they held an unimpressive Vikings offense to 20. The weather figures to be tolerable at 25 degrees. The wind shouldn’t be a problem if it stays where the forecasters have it now, at 8 mph.
Matt Moore looked surprisingly good in his game against the Jets. The Jets secondary is one of the worst in the league, although they do have a competent front line. This week Moore faces a less forgiving Bills team that’s allowing the 25th most points to opposing QB’s. Roethlisberger, in a horrible weather game was held to 220 yards. Carr had better luck with 260 and a couple of TD’s. Moore may be my #3 if you’re willing to play a guy who’s this green in your championship game. If I we are talking about a 2QB league I’d feel pretty good about Moore
Joe Flacco has been hot lately but cooled against the Eagles. The big factor there, to me, looks like the lack of volume. In the previous two games, on his hot streak he threw the ball 47 and 52 times. Flacco sees the Steelers in Week 16. Against the Steelers teams aren’t attempting an exceptional number of passes and they aren’t allowing many points to the QB. It’s fair to say that they haven’t seen a lot of quality opponents, but the few good QB’s they’ve seen haven’t had big days against them.
Blake Bortles is playing at Tennessee, in championship game week. He may have the best matchup of the week. Sigmund Bloom likes to say that sometimes you have to ask yourself what mistake you can live with. I could live with Kaepernick laying an egg after the games he has played well in. I don’t think I could really forgive myself for putting Bortles in at such a critical juncture in the season.
Written By: Josh Crocker – Josh can be found on Twitter @jccrocker