RisersPanthers at Ravens 9/28/14
Quarterbacks: Cam Newton looked like the player who won the 2015 MVP in Week 10 against the Dolphins. Newton has struggled some this season at times as he worked off the rust of an offseason shoulder surgery. However, against the Dolphins, Newton was brilliant. He threw for four touchdowns on 254 yards and he added 95 yards rushing. It was vintage Newton. If this is the Newton we are going to see down the stretch, Carolina must be considered a Super Bowl contender again.
Running Backs: It may be Jamaal Williams’ time in Green Bay. The Packers’ fourth-round pick was thrust into his first heavy action after Ty Montgomery and Aaron Jones were injured. Williams had 10 carries all season with his last coming in Week 5. He had 67 yards in Week 10. Because of the injuries and his response, we may see more of Williams on Sunday against Baltimore.
With Devonta Freeman suffering his second concussion of the season in a Week 10 win over Dallas, Tevin Coleman got his work. The shifty Coleman had 83 yards on 20 carries. He is expected to play more Monday night against Seattle with Freeman still recovering. Coleman was averaging eight rush attempts a game this season.
Wide Receivers: Drew Stanton is trying to do what Carson Palmer did in Arizona. He is getting the ball to Larry Fitzgerald. The venerable Fitzgerald had 14 targets against Seattle’s strong secondary. In Week 10. Fitzgerald’s targets numbers were a combined 12 targets the past two games that Stanton replaced Palmer in combined. Fitzgerald’s previous target high is 15 this season. It is a strong bet Fitzgerald’s target doubles will be high again Sunday at Houston.
Keep an eye on Brandon LaFell in Cincinnati against Denver, which has been vulnerable against the pass lately. LaFell had 19 targets in Week 10 after having two the week before. He hasn’t had more than eight all season.
Tight Ends: Vernon Davis’ late-career revival is continuing in Washington. As the season develops, the more Jay Gruden the 33-year-old Davis more involved. He had 11 targets in Week 10. It was the most of any tight end in the NFL. The week before, Davis had nine targets. He had a total of 13 targets in the previous four weeks combined.
Quarterbacks: Miami’s Jay Cutler wasn’t facing the Oakland Raiders’ pass defense in Week 10 and it showed. After he returned from a ribs injury with a strong 311-yard passing performance against the Raiders, Cutler swooned against Carolina in a Week 10 loss. After completing 81 percent of his passes against the Raiders, Cutler completed just 59 percent of his throws against the Panthers. Tampa Bay does not have a great defense, so perhaps Cutler can thrive again in Week 11.
Running Backs: Adrian Peterson’s touch count went down in Week 10 and that is a good thing. He had 22 touches in a Week 10 loss to Seattle. He had 39 touches against the 49ers the week before. Peterson had 29 touches with the Saints this year. He has 99 touches in four games since being traded to the Cardinals. Peterson, 32, is clearly the Cardinals’ top option. That probably won’t change this season. But getting him closer to 20 than 40 touches is a probably a good thing for Peterson and the Cardinals. So, Peterson’s falling is a good thing.
Wide Receivers: Doug Baldwin wasn’t a big part of the game plan (even though he had one of the plays of the game). He was targeted six times. In the three previous games, Baldwin was targeted a total of 34 times. Because Baldwin produces consistently, I’d be surprised if his target downturn continues against Atlanta on Monday night.
Tight Ends: Jack Doyle has been a consistent target of Jacoby Brissett in Indianapolis this season. However, against Pittsburgh Doyle’s targets went down. He had just five. He had 41 targets combined in the previous four games. He had before five targets just once this season. Like Baldwin, I would think Doyle’s Week 10 dip was not the norm. Expect him to be a bigger part of the Colts’ game plan when they return from their bye in Week 12 against the Titans.