The annual Turkey Day Tripleheader is upon us, and unfortunately, two of the three matches appear to be mismatches (at least on paper). The most intriguing game of the day is the evening contest in Philadelphia between the Arizona Cardinals and the Eagles. The outcome of this game hinges on the physical well-being of Eagles’ RB Brian Westbrook and the mental well-being of Eagles’ QB Donovan McNabb, who was unceremoniously (and inexplicably) benched during Sunday’s loss at Baltimore. Sure, McNabb has played poorly lately, and his explanations of how it takes him awhile to warm up and get into the flow of a game sound lame. Still, to throw an inexperienced QB such as Kevin Kolb into the fray in a game your team needs to win to stay in the thick of the playoff hunt seemed like a desperation move by Eagles’ head coach Andy Reid.
How will McNabb respond now that he’s been named the starter again? Many claim that McNabb’s psyche is fragile, that he can’t take the heat of playing in front of the often-hostile home crowd, etc. I don’t buy any of that. Even though McNabb had a “horrible” game in the overtime tie with the Bengals (compounded by his post-game admission that he didn’t realize a regular season NFL game could end in a tie), he still managed to pass for over 300 yards. Last weekend he was up against the Ravens’ Defense, one of the top units in football. Yes, the Giants made the Ravens look like a college team the previous weekend, but they were playing at full strength. With an injured RB Brian Westbrook, the Eagles obviously aren’t. Putting a new QB into the lineup doesn’t cure what currently ails the Eagles - until Westbrook is healthy again, the Eagles’ Offense will continue to struggle no matter who’s taking the snaps.
With that in mind here are the fantasy-relevant players in the three Thursday games:
Tennessee at Detroit - While I don’t begrudge the Lions their tradition of hosting a Thanksgiving Day game, part of me wishes this were the game on the NFL Network rather than the Arizona-Philly matchup. Still, there are some interesting story lines here. Detroit’s Offense is capable of putting up points; unfortunately, their Defense is even more capable of giving them up, which has kept them winless to this point. How will Tennessee react now that they’ve been knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten? Will LenDale White pay attention long enough to run over the Lions’ awful Defense? Titans who should be in starting lineups include QB Kerry Collins, RBs White & Chris Johnson, TE Bo Scaife, WRs Justin Gage & Brandon Jones, K Rob Bironas, and the Defense. The only Lions worth starting are RB Kevin Smith (Questionable - shoulder), if he’s able to play, and WR Calvin Johnson.
Seattle at Dallas - With QB Tony Romo back at the helm the Cowboys are beginning to show signs of why many people (including The Sherpa) picked them to win the Super Bowl this season. With all of the turmoil they’ve been through this season, it’s hard to believe the Cowboys are 7-4 and right in the thick of the NFC wildcard race. A win in this game probably allows the Cowboys to get into the playoffs by splitting their last four games (which still won’t be an easy feat with a schedule of Pittsburgh, the NY Giants, Baltimore, and Philadelphia). Seattle’s season has been ruined by injuries, especially those to QB Matt Hasselbeck and his receiving corps. The only Seahawks worth starting this week are RB Julius Jones and TE John Carlson. Cowboys who should be started this week include Romo (Probable - finger), RB Marion Barber, TE Jason Witten (Probable - ribs), WRs Terrell Owens & Roy Williams, K Nick Folk, and the Defense.
Arizona at Philadelphia - In spite of their bad outing against the Ravens last weekend, the Eagles’ Defense has been among the top in the league over the course of the season. Unfortunately, the Offense has sputtered with RB Brian Westbrook at less than full health, the Defense has been spending more time on the field, and the results are predictable. That trend will likely continue this week, as Westbrook probably won’t be at full strength once again after receiving 14 carries on Sunday against the Ravens, then having a short week to recover. Cardinals to start this week include QB Kurt Warner, RB Tim Hightower, and WRs Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, & Steve Breaston. Eagles to start include QB Donovan McNabb, TE L.J. Smith, and WRs DeSean Jackson & Kevin Curtis. If I had healthier options, I would advise against starting Westbrook this week.
Tags: The Sherpa