Report: Florida State's Bowden to retire


TALLAHASSEE — Legendary Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, who built one of college football’s greatest dynasties in 34 seasons with the Seminoles, plans to announce his retirement Tuesday morning, sources close to the situation told

Bowden, whose 388 career victories trail only Penn State’s Joe Paterno as college football’s winningest coach, met with FSU president TK Wetherell and athletic director Randy Spetman on Monday morning. According to sources, Bowden was given two options: return to FSU in 2010 as an ambassador to the program, in which he would have little input in the day-to-day operations of the program, or retire after the Seminoles’ upcoming bowl game.

Sources told that offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher, who was named Bowden’s eventual successor near the end of the 2007 season, has agreed to contract terms to replace Bowden after this season. The school’s booster organization would have owed Fisher $5 million if he didn’t replace Bowden by January 2011.

Bowden, 80, led FSU to national championships in 1993 and ’99 and 14 consecutive top-five finishes in the Associated Press top 25 poll from 1987 to 2000. But the Seminoles finished 6-6 after last week’s 37-10 loss at No. 1 Florida, which was the third time in four seasons that FSU lost six games.


Biggs: Urlacher's comments don't play well with Lovie

LAKE FOREST, Ill.—Bears coach Lovie Smith wasn’t thrilled with the remarks linebacker Brian Urlacher made publicly about his struggling team over the weekend, but the coach acknowledged there isn’t a lot he can do about it.

Urlacher was critical of the Bears’ identity in remarks to Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports, and also seemed to take some shots at running back Matt Forte while he watched the team get dismantled 36-10 by the Minnesota Vikings.

“Look, I love Jay (Cutler), and I understand he’s a great player who can take us a long way, and I still have faith in him,” Urlacher said. “But I hate the way our identity has changed. We used to establish the run and wear teams down and try not to make mistakes, and we’d rely on our defense to keep us in the game and make big plays to put us in position to win. Kyle Orton might not be the flashiest quarterback, but the guy is a winner, and that formula worked for us. I hate to say it, but that’s the truth.”

As far as the Bears’ last-ranked rushing offense, he seemed to point his commentary at the play selection of offensive coordinator Ron Turner and Forte, the second-year back who has struggled.

“Now we’re gonna run that (expletive)!” Urlacher said of a run play in the fourth quarter. Earlier, discussing a botched screen pass, he said, “You know why that doesn’t work? We don’t make anyone (expletive) miss. I guess I just don’t realize what great tacklers these (opposing defenders) are. They’re amazing.”

Those are not words that are going to go over well in Halas Hall. Remember, ex-Bear Bobby Wade said on the eve of training camp that Urlacher had called Cutler a word that rhymes with wussy, one that we don’t condone at the National Football Post. So does that make these remarks a coincidence?

“I think right now at this stage, everyone is frustrated with where we are and everybody will speak their mind,’’ Smith said. “Brian Urlacher is a team guy, like all of our players are, and they will voice their opinion. I would like all comments to be positive toward what we’re doing but guys have a chance to voice their opinion. I can’t do a whole lot about that, I just know that brian is a team player. He’s behind everything that we’re doing.”

Teammates were not sure what to make of the most recent hullabaloo.

“The identity of losing we’re not happy with,” said Olin Kreutz. “If that’s what he means.”

Yeah. Something like that.

Follow me at Twitter: BradBiggs

Biggs: Giants will be without Pierce for rest of year

When the New York Giants announced that linebacker Antonio Pierce would be sidelined indefinitely with a bulging disc in his neck, they meant until next season, at least.

Pierce was placed on season-ending injured reserve today, the result of what he thought was a stinger suffered more than a month ago in a home loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Pierce had an MRI on Nov. 22 that revealed the true nature of the injury, and he sought a second opinion from Dr. Robert Watkins in California, according to Mike Garafolo of the Newark Star-Ledger.

There is no scheduled surgery for Pierce at this point, although that has not been ruled out. Next year will be the final year of his contract and now things are up in the air for the 31-year-old. Chase Blackburn is expected to replace him the rest of the season, but Garafolo pointed out that Jonathan Goff could see some action in the near future.

This much is known, the Giants’ defense has been a shell of itself without Pierce.

Follow me at Twitter: BradBiggs

Jets' Sanchez limited during practice with sore left knee

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — New York Jets rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez was limited during the team’s light practice Monday with a sore left knee, but should play against the Buffalo Bills in Toronto on Thursday.

Coach Rex Ryan said Sanchez had some soreness in the knee after he tweaked it in the Jets’ 17-6 win over Carolina on Sunday. Sanchez downplayed it, saying he woke up Monday and the knee was fine, showing no concern that it might hamper him.

“It felt really good,” Sanchez said. “The training staff looked at it this morning, stretched me out and we went through the walkthrough, pretty seamless. It feels fine. We’ll see how it goes as the week goes on and make sure we take it slow and be smart about it.”

Ryan said he thought Sanchez would be able to play against the Bills without any major limitations, despite the quick turnaround.

“I know he’s sore, so we’ll see how that goes,” he said. “It is a short week … but he finished the game. I thought he was still moving around pretty good, so hopefully he’ll be 100 percent when we play.”

Sanchez said he missed no snaps in Monday’s practice, but Ryan listed him as limited anyway.

“I think it’s appropriate to put him there because he did miss some time during the game,” Ryan said. “And, he does have some soreness there.”

Ryan also characterized the injury as a tweak without going into details.

“The tweak is good because nobody knows what that is, so tweak,” he said. “I think he tweaked his knee. There’s obviously no major damage, so that’s the first thing.”

With the Jets leading 14-3 Sunday, Sanchez scrambled to the sideline on first-and-10 from New York’s 46 when he was tackled by Richard Marshall after an 8-yard gain. He went down, grabbing at the leg and giving the Jets a scare. He missed the next four offensive plays before returning and finishing the victory.

“I thought it almost looked like it scared him and that’s why I was like, ‘Just breathe. You’ll be all right,” Ryan said. “We’re fortunate that that’s probably what it was more than anything.”

Warner to see an opthalmologist for post-concussion symptoms

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner says he plans to see an opthalmologist about lingering post-concussion symptoms that kept him out of Sunday’s 20-17 loss at Tennessee.

Warner says he’s having hard-to-describe issues with his eyes, a condition he hoped would subside last week but never did. He says the Cardinals medical staff told him before Sunday’s game he shouldn’t play and he agreed.

The decision ended Warner’s string of 41 consecutive starts.

He sustained the concussion in the second quarter of Arizona’s 21-13 victory at St. Louis and didn’t play in the second half of that game.

The Monday Tavern

What can the Houston Texans do to avoid the curse of the Colts? Building a large lead in the first half and then watching it disappear, as they did Sunday against the Colts, takes a toll on a team, on the coaching staff and, most of all, the fans.

Did anyone who watched the game actually think the Texans were going to win it? I know Matt “I love me some Texans” Bowen was not optimistic in spite of the big lead. Bowen, for all of his kind acts, is a tough guy, and he knows the Texans are not tough. That’s what made our bet so strange from my viewpoint — how could a tough guy not see that a team isn’t tough? We all make mistakes about teams (me with the Giants), so not seeing the Texans’ lack of toughness is understandable. But now it’s in full force for the world to see, and head coach Gary Kubiak has an enormous challenge getting his team back and believing in his ability as they travel to Jacksonville. Technically, they’re still alive in the playoff race, but we all know my fat butt is headed to Amsterdam to see Springsteen because the Texans have no chance to regroup. I’m already working on my sight-seeing itinerary while in Amsterdam.

Successful teams all have one thing in common: They get their personality from someone on the team, whether it’s the quarterback or a defensive leader. There is always a strong force in the locker room that is a talented player along with naturally talented leader. There is a sense of determination coming from the leader, and right now the Texans are void of this kind of player. Matt Schaub is a very good quarterback, but he doesn’t have the charisma or leadership skills to take over the team. He cannot command, but he can play effectively, which is fine. He’s very much like former Bucs</a> quarterback Vinnie Testaverde in terms of not being the leader of the team but a good player nonetheless. The Texans must draw their toughness from other sources, and that will be their challenge in the offseason because right now it’s not in their locker room.

The Saints changed their personality last offseason with their determination to run the ball and have a physical camp, and it has paid dividends. The Texans need to closely examine the Saints’ course of action and how they repaired their lack of toughness and follow suit. They have a great offensive system that can score points, but they must add an element of toughness because winning football requires tough-minded people — just like our man Matt Bowen.


1. Houston forced the Colts into just six third downs all day. Six. Most teams get 12 per game, and yet the Colts had 28 first downs. Hard for a defense to get off the field if you can’t get into a third down.

2. The Colts are now three games up with five to play for home field advantage through the playoffs. Beating the Texas without Dwight Freeney was remarkable, but Robert Mathis picked up the slack, pressuring Schaub all day.

3. The 49ers entered the season only wanting to throw the ball sparingly, but that proved to be a bad plan. Yesterday, without a running game, they threw the ball well without turning it over. They had only one penalty for the day and were 50 percent on third downs. They let the Jags lose the game by committing two turnovers and missing two field goals.

4. Jay Cutler is not the only thing wrong with the Bears right now. They allowed the Vikings to have 83 plays and gain over 500 yards. The Bears are not good enough at many positions.

5. How come no one ever mentions Philip Rivers in the MVP race? What more can a player do to help his team win? He was great yesterday with his third 300-yard passing day of the season.

6. The Bengals learned something on their West Coast trip: When playing an inferior opponent, just protect the ball, be sound and don’t make mistakes. They managed the game against the Browns correctly, and although it might not have been pretty, it was effective.

7. Does anyone but Yahoo Dave think the Jets have a chance to make the playoffs? I’m just asking.

8. Jake Delhomme has the worst luck of any quarterback. Throwing the interception to Darrelle Revis was a one-in-a-million shot. For whatever reason, interceptions follow Delhomme around.

9. I admire how hard and physical the Redskins play, even though they’re playing for a lame-duck coach and have no playoff possibilities. They are not an easy team for any offense, and I fully expect them to upset either the Cowboys or the Giants. The Eagles, who beat the ‘Skins twice, are my favorite to win the NFC East.

10. I’ve seen enough of Michael Vick and the wildcat for the Eagles. But I have not seen enough of Jason Avant, a really good player with toughness to make those inside catches.

11. The Dolphins have lost too many players to be a playoff contender now. Once Ronnie Brown went down and then Jason Ferguson, they lost two core players. The Fins do not have enough skill on offense to compensate for losing Brown.

12. Tonight this should be a great game as the Patriots are going to have to prove they can win on the road and the Saints want to prove they’re the best team in the NFL. It will be a great chess match, but when you have two very smart coaches, these games normally come down to which team is playing with sound fundamentals and execution. Winning at this time of year requires not making mistakes and being sound — so don’t look for anything fancy from the Patriots. They’ll just do their jobs.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

For a detailed Patriots-Saints analysis, check out this article from Bleacher Report.

Eli Manning says injury not affecting play

By BARRY WILNER, AP Football Writer

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Despite the New York Giants’ recent slump and his own mediocre performances, quarterback Eli Manning says a stress reaction in his right foot is not affecting his play.

Manning developed the injury while dealing with another problem on the bottom of his foot during a win Oct. 4 at Kansas City. The Giants were 4-0 after that victory, but are now 6-5 as Manning has struggled in recent weeks, even though his inflamed arch has healed.

On Monday, he said his latest health issue has not been a factor on the field.

“In the games it doesn’t bother me and I don’t think about it. This is not something I am overly concerned with,” Manning said. “It has been the same for probably the last three to four weeks, it’s nothing new. I can go out and practice and do all I need to do.”

Manning doesn’t believe he would eventually need surgery on his foot.

“It’s one of those things that time and rest is probably the biggest thing,” he said. “Having the weekend and the bye week and off week helped some. Time to rest it is helpful. It is not something I think will linger or bother me.”

Manning also said he has no pain when walking and there are no concerns that the stress reaction can lead to him being sidelined for any of the remaining five games.

“It is frustrating, kind of one thing leading to another. When you have to go to the training room and get treatment, it throws your schedule out of whack. It kind of pushes things back. I am a guy who doesn’t like to be in a training room. That’s been probably the biggest annoyance trying to deal with it.”

The Giants play Dallas (8-3), Philadelphia (7-4) and Washington (3-7) in the next three weeks and pretty much need a sweep of those games for any chance to the win the NFC East. They beat the Cowboys in Week 2, their most impressive victory of the year, and also won the season opener against Washington. New York lost to Philadelphia 40-17 a month ago in perhaps its worst game of the season.

Right now, the Eagles and Packers lead the wild-card race by one game over the Giants and Falcons. Atlanta has lost to New York, so the Giants have the edge there.

“There’s got to be a sense of urgency,” Manning said. "We don’t have time to kind of figure out and slowly become a better team and make strides. We’ve got to make a jump, a jump back to playing good football.

“Sometimes you will falter, and we have a lot. But we are still capable of beating teams and playing at a high level.”

Manning and defensive end Justin Tuck said the players have held a few meetings during the season, but not since they lost at Denver 26-6 on Thanksgiving night. Tuck noted such meetings are “valuable when it works. Obviously we didn’t (get results) because we lost a few games here.”

Manning recognizes that the message among teammates needs to be the same, meetings or not.

“Stick with each other,” he said. “We know we have lot of people doubting us now and there are probably reasons for them to. If we want to pull this out and make a run … it’s about the players coming together and trusting each other and going out there and doing it.”

Falcons' Ryan ruled out for game against Eagles


Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan will not play in Sunday’s game against Philadelphia Eagles, coach Mike Smith said Monday afternoon.

Ryan experienced a turf toe injury early in Sunday’s victory against Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Smith said Ryan will spend this week rehabilitating the injury and would not offer a forecast beyond that.

Veteran Chris Redman, who stepped in for Ryan against the Buccaneers, is expected to get his first NFL start since 2007.


Big Ben, Warner make a statement by sitting out

I was surprised as anyone when I found out on Saturday that Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger was going to sit on Sunday night against the Ravens in one of the biggest games that Pittsburgh would play in this season. Primetime, against its biggest rival and in a game that carried huge playoff implications.

But, Big Ben, like Arizona’s Kurt Warner—another franchise QB—decided to sit out a huge game on the team’s schedule.

And both the Steelers and Cardinals lost.

Would there have been a different outcome if we saw Roethlisberger and Warner under center on Sunday? Possibly, but that is beyond the point, because neither of these QBs played.

And, by doing so, both Roethlisberger and Warner both have made statements to their teams and the league that concussions are a major issue. And the league is going to have to listen up—because these two are jersey sellers. They aren’t guys who run down on coverage teams in the kicking game, and they aren’t guys who earn their paycheck by blocking on punt protection.

No, these guys are huge names that warrant huge game checks every week—and they shut it down at a crucial point of the season.

Yes, I read the comments from the post-game locker room by Roethlisberger’s teammate Hines Ward, who said in the NBC interview, “It’s almost a must-win. I could see some players or teammates questioning, like ‘It’s just a concussion. I’ve played with a concussion before.’ It’s almost like a 50-50 toss-up in the locker room: Should he play? Shouldn’t he play? It’s really hard to say. I’ve been out there dinged up; the following week, got right back out there. Ben practiced all week. He split time with Dennis Dixon.”

But, Ward wasn’t finished, going on to say, “And then to find out that he’s still having some headaches and not playing and it came down to the doctors didn’t feel that they were going to clear him or not, it’s hard to say. I’ve lied to a couple of doctors saying I’m straight, I feel good when I know that I’m not really straight.”

From my point of view, the comments were out of line from a player that I have the utmost respect for as a competitor. We can’t judge Big Ben, and we can’t judge Warner—who is now questionable for Sunday night’s game against Minnesota—because you can’t diagnose the severity of a head injury at this level—or the effects it will have down the road.

Was it a big game that Roethlisberger missed? Of course it was, but winning in this league requires the rest of the team to handle adversity and to find a way to win when your stars are out. The Steelers didn’t do that last night.

As I have written before here at the NFP, players will lie and they will hide the fact that they don’t feel right when they step on the field with concussions. The way the league has handled it isn’t great, but this is a two-way street folks—and the players themselves are as a much a part of the problem as the league office. I know I did it, and I know plenty of players who went out onto that field when they should have been on the sidelines, or even better, at home relaxing instead of taking more unwanted hits.

Plus, how many more will it take? DeSean Jackson of the Eagles went down yesterday with a concussion, and Redskins QB Jason Campbell said he “blacked out” after a hit he took late in the game against Philly.

Does that sound safe? No chance.

And that’s just it. The big names seem to be taking a stand. Sure, the unknown guys—the bottom of the roster guys—will always risk their own safety by playing after a concussion in fear of losing their jobs. But when Roethlisberger and Warner—preempted by Eagles RB Brian Westbrook—sit, instead of risking their health, the league will have to take notice.

In fact, I actually think that both Roethlisberger and Warner made the right call. And if Warner doesn’t think he is ready to face Favre and the Vikings on Sunday night, then, oh well, Matt Leinart will have to play and play to win.

Because if it is a knee, ankle or shoulder injury, that is what we would be saying. Instead, we see guys—teammates—starting to question if a guy is tough because he has headaches.

Come on people, the NFL is built on violent collisions, and if you—as a player—think that you aren’t ready to take another hit, then the team, the owner and the fans will just have to move on.

Because both Roethlisberger and Warner just took a stand on their own health.

Follow me on Twitter: MattBowen41

Listen to Bowen and Bunting discuss the Vikings, Vince Young’s drive and the Texans on The Cover 2 Podcast.

The Fantasy Hit List

Let’s get right to it today. Fantasy playoffs are right around the corner, so this is a very big week for all of us. Time to dig deep. If you need any motivation, click HERE.

MBP Award (Most Beastly Performance)

Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers Quarterbacks Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers

At the risk of starting an all-out assault in the comments section, this week’s MBP Award is going out to two players who will be linked forever (thanks, Ted Thompson).

Rodgers lit up the Lions on Thanksgiving by completing 28 of 39 passes for 348 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions (124.7 QB rating) in a 34-12 victory.

Not to be outdone, Favre torched Chicago on Sunday for 392 yards (32 of 48) and three touchdowns, with no interceptions (112.5 QB rating) as the Vikings rolled to a 36-10 win.

In standard scoring leagues, Rodgers is currently the No. 1-ranked fantasy quarterback and is averaging a rock-solid 24.7 points per week. Favre currently ranks fourth, averaging 20.9 points per week.

Either way, if you’re starting one of these two studs, the likelihood of you making the fantasy postseason is very, very good.

Players on the rise

Terrell Owens WR Buffalo Bills: Don’t look now, but T.O. has rejoined the ranks of the fantasy relevant. Sunday’s stat line (5-96-1 on five targets) gives the wide receiver 17 receptions for 378 yards and two touchdowns with 26 targets over his past three games. Owens has found the end zone in three of his last four contests (he had a 29-yard rushing touchdown against Houston in Week 9) and is averaging 14.7 fantasy points per week during that span (standard scoring). Look for T.O. to continue the trend as the Bills play two of the NFL’s worst passing defenses (Kansas City, Atlanta) in the next four weeks.

Don’t give all the credit to Owens just yet as quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s move to the starting spot has had a tremendous impact. Fitz has been under center the past two games, which includes T.O.’s 197-yard outburst against Jacksonville in Week 11. Fitzpatrick is averaging 271.5 yards with two passing touchdowns over his past two games. Don’t look to him as a reliable fantasy starter yet since he’s also tossed three interceptions in his last two outings.

Justin Forsett RB Seattle Seahawks: I’m not going to lie, I love watching this kid play football. I don’t care if it came against the lowly St. Louis Rams — Forsett’s 22 carries for 130 yards and two touchdowns not only had a major fantasy impact in Week 12, it also should have been a clear sign that head coach Jim Mora cannot go back to lackluster running back Julius Jones when he’s fully recovered from his lung contusion.

Forsett brings explosiveness to an offense that’s in desperate need of some more firepower. And for those of you who thought his Week 12 numbers against a team like St. Louis were a fluke, think all the way back to Week 11 when Forsett racked up 89 total yards (eight receptions) and a touchdown at the hostile Metrodome in Minnesota.

Next Four Games: San Francisco, at Houston, Tampa Bay, @ Green Bay

Vince Young QB Tennessee Titans: If you didn’t get a chance to watch V.Y.’s 99-yard drive to beat the Cardinals, do yourself a favor and catch the replay on NFL Network this week because it truly is must-see television. Young completed 62.8 percent of his passes for a staggering 387 yards and one touchdown in the Titans’ thrilling 20-17 comeback win over Arizona.

Young has now won five straight games since taking over for the ineffective Kerry Collins to lead Tennessee back into the playoff hunt. Not only that, the former Texas Longhorn is averaging 16.0 fantasy points per week during that same span. Those numbers won’t win you a fantasy title, but they sure as hell can provide some serious support to a team in need of quarterback help.

If you like Vince Young, you should also check out…

Josh Freeman QB Tampa Bay Buccaneers: In the four games Freeman has played since replacing Josh Johnson (who replaced Byron Leftwich), he’s averaging 194.2 yards per game with seven touchdown passes and five interceptions. The good news here is that Freeman has thrown a TD in all four starts. Again, he won’t win you a fantasy title, but he can definitely step into the lineup if you’re in a jam.

Jamaal Charles RB Kansas City Chiefs: Most of us were calling for the Chiefs to bench the ineffective Larry Johnson about two weeks into the season due to his inability to produce anything other than a three-yard carry. It wasn’t just because L.J. was so ineffective, it was because Kansas City has a real talent in Jamaal Charles.

The second-year back out of Texas has been on a terror over the last three weeks, averaging 108.6 total yards per game, with three touchdowns. Charles is now averaging an impressive 5.2 yards per carry on the season and brings some much-needed speed to an offense in desperate need of playmakers.

Next Three Games: Denver, Buffalo, Cleveland

Percy Harvin WR Minnesota Vikings: If you still aren’t convinced the Vikings made the best move of the offseason by bringing in quarterback Brett Favre, look no further than the recent production of rookie Percy Harvin. We’ve all seen wideout Sidney Rice killing it in 2009, but did you know that the speedster from Florida is averaging 79.2 receiving yards with three touchdowns over his past four games? Not only that, but Harvin is seeing an average of 6.8 targets per game over his past five outings, which gives a guy with his explosiveness and open-field speed more than enough opportunities to post some respectable fantasy numbers.

Another Viking flying below the radar is tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, who is currently trailing only Vernon Davis of the San Francisco 49ers in touchdowns among tight ends, with eight. Shiancoe has hauled in 13 receptions over the past two weeks and has found the end zone seven times in his last eight games. He currently ranks seventh in scoring among tight ends in standard scoring formats.

For those of you in need of a wide receiver…

Check out Philadelphia Eagles wideout Jason Avant. The fourth-year receiver out of Michigan stepped up big when DeSean Jackson went down with a concussion Sunday, catching five passes for 94 yards in the Eagles’ 27-24 win over the Redskins. With all of the attention being paid to players who suffer concussions this season, D-Jax could very well be out for next Sunday’s game at Atlanta. That would mean plenty of snaps for a reliable wideout who is matched up against one of the league’s worst passing defenses.

Falling down the boards

Chad Ochocinco WR Cincinnati Bengals: 14 receptions for 200 yards and zero touchdowns.

That would be a very nice fantasy performance if the stat line you just read reflected what Ocho had produced this weekend against the Cleveland Browns.

Instead, that’s the grand total of what Cincinnati’s top wideout has racked up over his last four GAMES. Keep in mind that two of those matchups came against the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, so it’s not time to start panicking just yet.

Ochocinco has a date with the Lions in Cincinnati this Sunday and then another soft matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 16. Be cautious. If he doesn’t get the job done this weekend, fantasy owners may need t
o rethink their strategy heading into the playoffs.

Marshawn Lynch RB Buffalo Bills: Do yourself a favor and don’t consider Lynch as anything but a flex option in deeper fantasy leagues moving forward. The Buffalo running back has rushed for an extremely disappointing 278 yards in eight games with only one stinking rushing touchdown while averaging a Joe Fortenbaugh-like 3.1 yards per carry. Think of it this way: If you’re 6 feet tall and can get to the hole and fall forward, you just picked up two yards. Lynch has somehow found a way to hit the hole, run for three more feet and THEN fall forward.

Not good enough in the world of fantasy football, especially for a guy playing with a banged-up shoulder who just watched backup Fred Jackson post 116 total yards and two touchdowns against a tough Miami defense.

Matt Ryan & Michael Turner QB/RB Atlanta Falcons: Despite battling back to beat the Buccaneers 20-17 and keep their playoff hopes alive, the Atlanta Falcons are in bad shape right now.

Quarterback Matt Ryan completed just two of three passes for 15 yards before exiting Sunday’s win in the first quarter with a toe injury to his right foot. No official word on Ryan’s status for this weekend’s showdown with Philadelphia has been released as head coach Mike Smith said the team would have a better feel for where Ryan is at on Wednesday.

Running back Michael Turner carried 12 times for 33 yards (2.8 YPC) before reinjuring his ankle and leaving the game in the third quarter. While no official word has been released on Turner at this point, the chances of him playing Sunday are not very good. Even if he can find a way to go, he won’t be operating at anywhere near 100 percent.

Sit tight, Turner and Ryan owners — but don’t hold your breath.

New York Giants: They were up last week after putting on an impressive offensive display in Week 11 against the Atlanta Falcons. But now, they’re heading south for the winter.

After posting just six measly points at Denver on Thanksgiving, Eli Manning and Co. are looking at the following schedule to close out 2009:

Week 13: Dallas Cowboys (14th in total defense, 16.5 points per game)

Week 14: Philadelphia Eagles (10th in total defense, 20.7 points per game)

Week 15: @ Washington Redskins (8th in total defense, 18.6 points per game)

Week 16: Carolina Panthers (12th in total defense, 23.3 points per game)

Week 17: @ Minnesota Vikings (9th in total defense, 18.5 points per game)

As an Eagles fan, I love it. As a fantasy owner, I’m dreading it.

Monday night mania

MNM is back for another week and possibly the biggest Monday night football game of the year as the New England Patriots travel to the Big Easy to take on Drew Brees and the Saints.

For the newbies, here’s how it works. I’m giving away a free NFP t-shirt to whoever can pick the winner of tonight’s game AND get the closest in guessing the total number of points that will be scored in the game. All you have to do is leave a comment below with your guess.

Example: New Orleans and 55

Check back tomorrow morning in the comments section where I will post the winner.

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh