Uffsides NFL Week 12 preview: Broncos vs. Patriots

The biggest game of the NFL Week 12 slate is the Sunday Night Football showdown between the Broncos and Patriots, as Peyton Manning and Tom Brady face off for the 14th time in their Hall of Fame careers. Matt Ufford and the Uffsides crew preview Week 12’s games and make their picks.

His latest too-little-too-late comeback did little to assuage worries that he won’t be a plus player prior to September 2017 – if then. We know the secondary is outrageously bad, but at some point Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan are going to have to have good games on the same day if they want to win another game this season.

WMU does have to replace its two most disruptive defenders in the front seven; rush end Keion Adams and weakside linebacker Robert Spillane combined for 28.5 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, five passes defensed, and five forced fumbles. They were a two-man havoc rate.

Still, ends Eric Assoua and Nathan Braster combined for 13.5 TFLs of their own, and linebackers Asantay Brown and Caleb Bailey combined for 17.5. It appears there’s plenty of attacking talent to go around, and that’s before mentioning the five three-star linebackers moving to Kalamazoo this fall.

Poor Ike Taylor took his lumps in man coverage against Calvin Johnson, but he hung tough and freed the rest of his mates to take advantage of Matt Stafford’s non-Megatron mediocrity. Pittsburgh has probably dug themselves too deep a hole to make a realistic playoff push, but with four division games in their final six they aren’t buried yet. If nothing else, the last two weeks have restored some well-deserved Steeler pride.

It only took Fleck until his second season to start getting the offense figured out. WMU improved from 121st in Off. S&P+ his first year to 42nd, 22nd, and 25th, respectively, over his final three years.

The defense, however, took longer. WMU ranked 93rd in Def. S&P+ in 2017, and while there was clear, definitive improvement last year despite turnover, the Broncos were still only 69th.
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Crabtree remains on the injury report for the second week in a row because of his ankle

Michael Crabtree, Oakland Raiders, ankle, (Q): Crabtree remains on the injury report for the second week in a row because of his ankle. He played last week after being limited in practice daily and was on the field for 88 percent of the team’s offensive snaps, leading the team in receptions while posting over 100 yards. It’s pretty safe to say he isn’t being held back because of the ankle. After another week of daily limited practices, Crabtree is expected to play against the Bills. It is a late game however (4:05 p.m. ET) so fantasy owners should verify his status before kickoff.

T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts, back, (Q): Hilton returned to practice Wednesday after sitting out the Colts’ early practice this week with a back injury. On Thursday, the day of the team’s first formal injury report, Hilton was listed as limited, but he upgraded to full on Friday and Saturday. Despite the questionable tag, he is expected to play Monday night against the Jets.

Maybe it’s success in the passing game, maybe it’s lack of consistency in the run game, but either way, after last week I can’t imagine trusting Rawls as anything more than a flex play this week against the Panthers. Carolina has allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs since Week 2, is fifth against the run the past four weeks and has given up 100 total yards to opposing running backs just once since a Week 7 bye.

Until last week’s goose egg, Brandin Cooks hadn’t received fewer than five targets in a game since his rookie season. Expect him to rebound this week.

Brandin Cooks and Michael Thomas, Saints: Thomas is easy. He’s as hot a wideout as there is in the NFL in a good matchup, but Cooks is a gut call. After last week’s zero-reception debacle for Cooks, I expect Drew Brees to force-feed him the ball (and the Lions not to make the same mistake the Rams did, bringing double-coverage to Cooks every play and leaving many other players exposed).

There’s a zillion great stats that show how awesome Brees is at home fantasy-wise, so here’s just one: He’s averaging 27.6 percent more yards per pass attempt at home this year than on the road. In the four home games since their Week 5 bye, Cooks and Thomas as a tandem have gained 604 yards and scored six touchdowns (that’s 75.5 yards and 0.8 touchdowns per player per game). To put that in perspective, if you extrapolate it over a 16-game season, each player would have 1,208 yards and 12 touchdowns. Yeah, you’re starting both guys.