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This sports blog is written by some hardcore, opinionated Chicago fans who are not afraid to express their opinions.  We’re going to tell you what’s what in the sporting world, who’s doing well and who deserves a beating.  This blog will be updated every few days or so, so check back periodically to find out what’s up in the sporting world.

October 15, 2009

Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em: Fantasy football advice

By Brian Thomas

Staff Writer

Do you play fantasy football? Do you ever have trouble making decisions about who to start or who to sit? How often do you make the wrong decision? Maybe I can help you make the right decisions about who to start and who to sit. I will reveal some possible sleepers and reveal the busts for week six.

First things first: the four teams that are off due to bye weeks are the Cowboys, the Colts, the Dolphins and the 49ers.

QB’s

Start ‘Em

Ben Roethlisberger

Big Ben played the Detroit Lions last week and threw the ball over the field. I don’t see why it should be any different thins week for Ben and the Steelers as they take on the Cleveland Browns, who finally got their first win last week.

Jake Delhomme
Donovan McNabb returned from his injury last week and destroyed the Buccaneers’ secondary all day. If Delhomme is ever going to turn his season around and get things together I see him doing it in this game against one of the worst teams in the NFL.

Sit ‘Em

Brett Favre
Favre had a great week against the Rams and he really has the offense rolling right now. Then again, that was against a poor Rams team and this week he has to play Ray Lewis and that Baltimore defense.

Joe Flacco
Flacco had a poor performance last week against the Bengals defense. He threw two costly interceptions and only had one touchdown. He has to play the Minnesota defense who, on the year, has six interceptions and has had great success pressuring the quarterback, messing up the timing he has with his receivers.

RB’s

Start ‘Em

Ryan Grant
Grant is coming off of a bye and is well rested. He also gets to play the Detroit Lions this week. Rashard Mendenhall ran all over the Lions early last week and I’m expecting the same from Grant against them this week.

Knowshon Moreno
Moreno looks to be the No. 1 running back in Denver for the second consecutive week. He had a good week last week against New England, despite the fact that he had no touchdowns. He matches up well against the Chargers, who, before going into their bye week, gave up a career game to Rashard Mendenhall.

Sit ‘Em

Cadillac Williams
Being a running back on the Buccaneers is a problem. They are always down a lot of points and can never get the running game started. Derrick Ward is also back and they will be splitting carries.

Tim Hightower
In a pass-first offense in Arizona, Hightower gets very limited opportunities with the ball. They very rarely run the ball as a team, not even to run the clock down at the end of the game. The only way Hightower touches the ball is if Warner throws it to him.

WR’s

Start ‘Em

Roddy White
White came out of the bye week and looked to be on the same page with Matt Ryan. He torched the 49ers defense all game long with 210 receiving yards and two touchdowns. He plays the Bears at home so look for another big week.

Jeremy Maclin
What a week for the rookie. He had 142 receiving yards as well as two touchdowns. He started last week due to Kevin Curtis’ injury and did he ever take advantage of his opportunity. Look for him to put up big numbers again this week as he might be becoming a favorite target for McNabb. And did I mention that they are playing the Raiders?

Sit ‘Em

Calvin Johnson
Johnson seems to be battling an injury right now and may not play, and even if he plays this week he will not be at full speed. He is also playing the Packers, who have very good coverage corners. I would sit Johnson this week and take a chance on someone else.

Vincent Jackson
Last week the Denver Broncos shut down Randy Moss, holding him to a mere 36 yards receiving. The Broncos will do the same thing to Jackson. He will have trouble getting open, so I am not expecting a big day from him.

TE’s

Start ‘Em

Antonio Gates
He is off of his bye week and he’s playing the Broncos on Monday night. As I said, the Broncos will shut down Vincent Jackson and that will leave Gates open. As he has shown us, no one can cover him, especially after the performance he had against the Steelers two weeks ago. Look for a big game from Gates.

Kellen Winslow
I was wrong about Winslow last week and he went off in the Buccaneers’ passing game. He was the only bright spot for that mess of an offense as he put up the team’s 14 points. He is their most reliable target in the passing game; it just depends on if quarterback Josh Johnson can get him the ball.

Sit ‘Em

John Carlson
Since week one, Carlson has disappeared from the Seahawks passing game. T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Nate Burleson have emerged as top wide receivers, and they have become Hasselbeck’s favorite targets.

Owen Daniels
Cincinnati shut down Todd Heap last week, holding him to only 41 yards receiving. I see them doing the same thing to Owen Daniels this Sunday.

Defenses

Start ‘Em

Eagles
They are playing the Raiders who always struggle to put points on the board. JeMarcus Russell is not getting the job done so look for the Eagles to pick him a couple times. They already have nine interceptions on the year.

Sit ‘Em

Titans
The Titans have given up double digits to everyone they have played. They just gave up 31 points to Peyton Manning and the Colts. It doesn’t get easier for the Titans because they have to play Brady and the Patriots. The Patriots are going to put some points on the board. They will look to rebound from their loss to the Broncos and they never lose two games in a row.

Kickers

Start ‘Em

Nate Kaeding
The Chargers will move the ball against the Broncos all game and if they can’t score a touchdown they will have no problem letting this guy kick a field goal for three points.

Sit ‘Em

Mason Crosby
The Packers are playing the Lions. A great offense playing a poor defense like that will result in touchdowns and very few field goals for Green Bay. It will be a day of extra points for Mason Crosby.

If you have any last-minute lineup decisions that are keeping you up at night, post your questions in the comment area at the bottom of this blog, and Brian will post a response before kickoff of the early games on Sunday!  If nothing else, this will give you someone else to blame — besides yourself — if you lose this week …

October 5th, 2009

To be or not to be at the Bears game

By Mike Hammersley

Copy Editor

When my dad told me we’d be going to the Bears’ game Oct. 4, I was ecstatic. As for him, not so much.  “Sometimes it’s better to watch the game from home,” he said.

Better? From home? Blasphemy! How could it possibly be better? Going to Soldier Field, the Mecca of Chicago sports, is everyone Bears fan’s dream, right? So I decided to take all factors into account and make a sensible conclusion.

We walked into the admittedly ugly “spaceship,” as one writer called it, that is Soldier Field and I was immediately floored by how many fans were there 45 minutes early like me.  You’d think they were handing out free cars to the first 10,000 fans.  As we walked into the stadium, we were met by fans who had already done a little tailgating, and by tailgating I of course mean drinking. There were at least three groups of college guys yelling “BEARS!” at every turn, which was obnoxious, but funny at the same time.

I had asked my dad beforehand where our seats were, and he replied, “Right behind the end zone.” I know you’re thinking, “Wow, great seats!” Yeah, me too. Until we walked into the upper-upper deck and went, as Chris Berman would say, “Back back back back back… gone!”

We sat in the second-to-last row.

The game started, and I have to admit, seeing the plays from way up in the sky was pretty cool. You get to see the entire field, so you realize those people at home who scream at their TV saying, “He was wide open!” are idiots, because you see that there was a safety just outside the picture.   The scoreboard was almost impossible to see from our seats, and they make the advertising space so big that the actual down and yardage get smushed, making it hard to see. Also, they take forever to update the yardage, which gets annoying.

The atmosphere is surreal. I loved seeing all the characters at the Bears game. From saluting the beer man whose name was literally Major Taylor to harping on the lone Lions fan in the stadium who sat right behind us, I had a good time.   There was one man in particular who sat in front of us who really cracked me up. He was one of those long-time Bears fans who has seen so much go wrong with the team that he can’t help but hate some of it. He spent the entire game screaming at Ron Turner, the Bears’ offensive coordinator who is notorious for calling run plays up the middle, every time the Bears kept the ball on the ground. He made sarcastic remarks every time the Bears failed to get a first down, reminiscing of the team’s old offensive woes.

But he was a true Bears fan. He knew what players deserved the credit. Every time they punted, he let out a booming “Best Bear ever!” in honor of Brad Maynard, who lived up to his name by pinning the Lions inside the 20 three times.

The good part about having everyone around you is that the roar of the crowd adds a ton to the game. You don’t really get it from home; all you get is a slight noise increase. But when everyone around you is going nuts, when you’re giving high-fives to people you’ve never met before out of sheer joy, you’re having a great time.

Although being there was great, I felt like a malfunctioning Jack-in-the-box from the amount of times I had to stand up and down for people to come through or for a third down situation. One guy came back and forth five times with two beers in his hand, and I kept wondering how he kept his balance each time and shied away when he passed me, hoping he wouldn’t sway and spill booze on me.  Even though it felt like 20 Catholic church services in a row, my legs somehow made it through and I actually enjoyed standing some of the time.

Surprisingly, the food was excellent there. My cheeseburger was above average, my dad’s hot dog was decent and the fries were sublime. Not what I was expecting. I guess you have to make your food good when you only have eight home games per year.

Now on to the other factors. While my experience was great, without the perfect weather it would have been considerably worse. Standing up and down in frigid or rainy weather while listening to the guy in front of me complain every play would have been a bad headache.

The nature of the game was also perfect. The Bears played even with the Lions, going into halftime tied 21-21. They proceeded to pull away in the second half and take the game 48-24. The game was high-scoring, close and a rout all at the same time.   Admittedly, there were a few drives in a row where the Bears couldn’t get those 10 yards and punted, leading to another “BEST BEAR EVER” and more defense. That made me angry. So, if the weather is bad and the Bears are failing, I can realize my dad’s biggest fear; the Bears game could be a complete bust.

But, if you are a Bears fan at all, then you MUST go to Soldier Field and see them play at least once in your lifetime. It’s absolutely electric.  If you had all the money and means of transportation in the world, I would recommend going to the games up until about late October, when it gets too cold for comfort and too risky a venture to outweigh the benefits of holing up in a cozy basement with some close friends and all the food you could want.