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With news this week of the unfortunate passing of Matt Cassel’s father, the status of the Patriots QB was left up in the air. Understandably everyone in New England would and should understand if Cassel missed the start against the Raiders. However, Matt Cassel has returned to practice and odds are he will start this Sunday against Oakland.
This is not just good news for the Patrtiots and their fans but, this is also fantastic news for fantasy owners who are lucky enough to be a Matt Cassel owner. I won’t slap a 100% guarantee on it but, I always go with my instincts and they say Cassel is in store for a great or even huge game this week.
If you know me then, a lot of my predictions are based on my gut feelings first, then statistical evidence second. In this situation, I am basing Matt Cassel’s potentially big game on the story of another AFC East QB. Once again, lets talk about Brett Favre.
In December of 2003, Brett Favre’s father died after suffering a heart attack while driving. This sudden tragedy was not just an unexpected and heartbreaking loss for the entire Favre family but, it also had the sports world buzzing with one question. Will Favre play in the next game and keep his consecutive games started streak alive? Favre’s father died on Sunday December 21st and the Packers next game was on Monday Night Football on December 22nd.
Favre addressed the media and said he would be starting. How did Brett Favre handle himself in that game? Favre had one of the best games for a QB all season with 399 yds passing, 4 TD, and zero INT. It marked the first and only time of the 2003 season that Favre threw for 300 yds in a game. Favre was seen as a hero and everyone admired him for his courage and strength.
The reason Cassel should be in any lineups this Sunday is because of the similarities between Cassel’s story and Favre’s. The obvious being that both of their father’s died before ther next starts. Another coincidence is the fact that both QB’s next starts after the death of their father’s were and are against the Oakland Raiders…on the road. So we have: a father who has passed away, facing the same team, and in the same stadium. That is three on the checklist and all gut feelings should tell you to play Cassel with full confidence.
Not to sound insensitive or crass but, a dead father to an NFL QB could be the same thing that a birthday or new born baby is to a baseball player.
What about it? It is true that Oakland has the 9th best pass defense in the NFL with just 193.9 pass yds allowed per game. On paper that looks great. However, paper can be thin and full of holes.
Even though their pass defense is top 10, their overall defense is ranked at 26th in the NFL with 352.6 total yds allowed. How is this possible? Well, when your defense allows 158.7 rush yds per game (30th in the NFL), then there is no more mystery to the question.
So that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Raiders can shut down any passing attack. I see it as teams knowing that the Oakland rush defense is terrible and they just choose to run it a lot more than they pass it and as a result, opposing QB’s do not have big games against them. That is the reason for such a “great” pass defense. They allow the least amount of pass yards only because teams choose not to throw against them. It’s not rocket science.
Besides, I wouldn’t bank on a huge game from Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk, or anybody else in our backfield these days.
Start Cassel this Sunday. You have my hunch and that is good enough. Remember all those times you didn’t go by your gut feeling and ended up regretting it? Don’t let my instincts go to waste.
Plus look for Randy Moss to stick it to his old team. We know there is bad blood between the Raiders and Moss so, I am sure Randy would love nothing more than to outshine the Raiders.