The revenge factor in pro sports is commonly overlooked – athletes love nothing more than sticking it to their old teams. Revenge cannot be measured by statistical analysis, but one thing experienced DFS players know – revenge is real! Football and basketball provide the perfect setting for one player to make the ultimate difference in any given game.
Each week this article will explore certain players, coaches, and teams with something extra to play for. I am not necessarily advising everyone to play these guys, but the extra motivation will be there, so these plays are something to consider.
Falcons at Patriots
We all know – ATLANTA BLEW A 28-3 3RD QUARTER LEAD IN THE SUPER BOWL – it’s old news! This Super Bowl rematch has a different feel, and we can talk about 28-3 all week, but this particular game serves as a must-win for both teams. If you want to discuss amazing comebacks and blown leads, let’s talk about Sunday – Atlanta blew a 17-0 2nd quarter lead AT HOME against MIAMI! Embarrassing! Oh, don’t forget (with some help from awful officiating) New England overcame a 14-0 road deficit against the Jets.
The defending NFC Champions enter at 3-2, but home losses to Buffalo and Miami stress the instability of this team. I predicted a 9-7 season for Atlanta – you cannot blow the biggest lead in Super Bowl history and have your dreams crushed like that and simply put it behind you and move forward. Sports don’t work that way! The devastation of the biggest choke in sports history never goes away.
The biggest issue in Atlanta is the mediocre production from what was the league’s top offense last season. Funny part about the situation is all the crap everyone gave 2016 Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan – the collapse was blamed on his play calling. Enter 2017 OC Steve Sarkisian, still gifted with as much offensive talent as any team in football. Simply put – this offense sucks! MVP Matt Ryan’s numbers are pedestrian, and Julio Jones has yet to reach the end zone. Missing Shanahan yet?
New England benefitted from possibly the worst call in NFL history in its comeback victory in New York Sunday, and they continue to be torched by opposing QBs. I have no doubts they’ll put up big numbers offensively, but Belicheck still hasn’t figured out his defense. Unless they improve, the Pats aren’t going anywhere, and this matchup provides multiple challenges. At 4-2, New England needs to win this game to keep pace with Buffalo.
Is this finally the game the MVP breaks out? Can Julio beat Malcolm Butler and finally put points on the board? With the Falcons implied to score the most points on the slate, I feel like we’re being trapped into loving Ryan, Julio, and Freeman. I tend to believe only things I have seen, and I have yet to see these guys do anything this year. I could easily be wrong – this Patriot defense is straight up poo emoji – but I’ll go with my gut in DFS this week.
James Harrison vs Cincinnati
Harrison may not be enshrined in the Hall of Fame after his career ends, but he’ll always be known as one the toughest, baddest dudes of his generation. He will be remembered as a life-long Steeler prodigy, but this undrafted free agent from Kent State actually played the 2013 season in a Cincy uniform. Now you remember…
The 39 year old in his 15th season registered only two of his 82.5 career sacks in Cincy, and if you recall Hard Knocks that season, he never cared for the Bengals franchise, coaches, or locker room in general. This man screams Steeler from his core, and he’ll be looking to inflict some pain on the team that nearly derailed the latter portion of his illustrious career.
This Pittsburg defense has played extremely well in 2017 – a major upgrade from past years. Harrison played his first game of the year Sunday in KC, and helped hold the league’s best offense to 13 points. It’s no coincidence! Even at his advanced age, Harrison utilizes his incredible strength, quickness, and body control to destroy opposing QBs. Expect at least one sack from him, and don’t be afraid to roster this defense with confidence.
John Fox (Bears HC) vs Panthers
Fox appears to be in a tough spot. Coming into the season, he appeared to be a dead man walking with this bad roster and rookie QB – who wasn’t expected to play much. But instead, the Bears have won two games, been very competitive, and rank in the top 10 in rushing and defense. They are not extremely talented by any means, but they play hard and battle for 60 minutes. With the beginning of the Mitch Trubisky era, Fox may find himself coaching Chicago in 2018 if the young Tar Heel shows some improvement these last 10 games.
Fox went 46-18 in his previous stint in Denver, including an AFC Championship in 2013 – very impressive numbers (with some help from Peyton Manning). Does anyone remember his nine years in Carolina (2002-10)? The Panthers were up and down so many times under Fox, but his overall 73-71 record is nothing to laugh at considering what he had to work with (Jake Delhomme). He posted a 12-4 season along with two 11-5 campaigns, including a magical 2003 NFC Championship run. Barring a late kickoff out-of-bounds, maybe Carolina upsets New England in OT?
I keep bringing this up, but I firmly believe NFL coaches take these revenge matchups seriously. Todd Haley absolutely paid attention in his play calling last week, and walked out of Arrowhead giving everyone the finger (not literally, I don’t believe). Don’t tell me that game didn’t mean everything to him.
Now we have old man Fox, possibly coaching for his job, facing another matchup where is squad sits as a heavy underdog. The Panthers have a tendency not to show up sometimes, and Chicago plays tough. I expect this game to be very close, with the young Bears going all out to win one for their coach. Extra motivation is no joke! Da Bears…