I spend all week watching game film: hours and hours of footage. And I have a passion for fantasy football. So it was only natural that I took the next step and put pen to paper, so to speak, and jotted down my fantasy thoughts as I went along. I'll continue to do so each week during the NFL season. Enjoy!
• Ben Roethlisberger's play deserves MVP consideration. As I studied him last week against the Browns, I felt he had a perfect game from a decision standpoint. Not one time did I feel he threw the ball to the wrong receiver, and his decisions to run when he did were based on great coverage. He will continue to be a huge threat doing both, which means major fantasy points. In Week 14, if Pittsburgh goes into New England at 10-2 and hands the Patriots their first loss, with Big Ben playing well like he has been, the Steelers will be the best team in football and Roethlisberger will be the league MVP.
• Vince Young or Jay Cutler? The more I study them, the more evidence I see that Young will always be a threat to run and make a play once in a while, but he will never be the consistent guy you will need from the pocket. One thing that confirms this for me is his footwork. Footwork for a quarterback, and for that matter all players, is the key to success. As I study Young, I noticed that he is very sloppy in that area, I believe there are two reasons for that. The first is bad habits and the second is that his footwork is a reflection of his eyes. Because he is limited in reading and understanding coverages, he panics and therefore, his footwork gets sloppy. I do feel he made some of his best throws last week, but they came against prevent looks. When the Jags blitzed, he was lost! Does he still need time? Yes, but the Titans could be an elite team if they had better quarterback play.
Now when you put Cutler under the microscope, one thing is clear: while neither signal-caller has a big-time wide receiver, having a stud wideout doesn't affect your physical ability to make certain throws and you still must be able to read coverages. Cutler has amazing skills when it comes to throwing the ball. He has great anticipation when he throws and has a great grasp of coverages, although at times he gets caught making a mistake by misreading something or trusting his arm too much. He has massive upside, and if he had a defense like Young's and a more consistent running game, the Broncos would be a playoff team. If the Titans had drafted Cutler, they would be a powerhouse!
• With Adrian Peterson's injury, Chester Taylor becomes the man, and although he does not have Peterson's running skills, he is very good. He has great feet, excellent vision and is a hard runner. He also plays every down, something Peterson did not do because he was not ready to play on third down -- a down which is very hard for backs to learn because of all the blitzing. Taylor is also very fresh, so I expect big thing from him.
• The Redskins have become an old-fashioned hammer offense because they have no one special at wide receiver and the guys they do have keep getting hurt. They have been forced to run the ball more and because of that, the Redskins have made an effort to call stretch plays, which is the style of run that best suits Clinton Portis. If the Redskins can control the game by running it and throw when they want, they can be very good. If they can't, they struggle.
• The Browns offense is and will stay very explosive, and Derek Anderson will continue to be dangerous. Don't let the last half of Sunday's game versus Pittsburgh discourage you. As I studied them, they are playing beyond their years of experience. If you add up the games between Anderson, Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow, you don't even get five years of experience. They will get back on track this week against the Ravens.
• What will the Colts offense do with all these injuries? Well, I went back and looked at their last matchup against the Chiefs in the playoffs, and to slow down the Chiefs' pass rush they ran a lot of sprint draws and P-10 and P-11. If you want to know what those runs are, or how they use them, watch the NFL Matchup show at 8:30 a.m. ET on Sunday on ESPN and we will show you. So here is my point: I think the Colts will control the game with their rushing attack and Peyton Manning will be ready to strike the second the Chiefs make a mistake; you can get plays on the Chiefs' defense running it or throwing it. You just have to be patient.
• The Lions may never have that explosive offense everyone was expecting this season, and the main reason is they just do not have the offensive line to get it done. As I have studied them this year, more and more people feel that if you play coverages that keep them from throwing the deep ball, you can get to Jon Kitna with your down four. In addition, you can break them down with certain pressures because their offensive line and running backs are not the best at pass blocking. This week, I would not expect them to be explosive, because the Giants can get pressure with their front four and they can blitz.
• The Chiefs made a change at quarterback, going from Damon Huard to Brodie Croyle. But was it the right move? Well, after watching Huard the past couple of weeks, he had become a quarterback who, for whatever reason, got tunnel vision. He would look for Tony Gonzalez only, so I think the change will help K.C.
Merril Hoge is an analyst for a wide variety of NFL programs on television and ESPN Radio. Check him out Sunday on "NFL Matchup" at 8:30 a.m. ET on ESPN and on "ESPNEWS Fantasy Insider" with Matthew Berry from 11 a.m. to noon on ESPNEWS. He also will be on "NFL Live" on ESPN at various times throughout the weekend.