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.
V for Vendetta – Week 4 by Slim Gaede
Steelers at Ravens
PIT-BAL remains the nastiest rivalry in football, and both enter this matchup with 2-1 records (tied for 1st place in AFC North). With Cincy and Cleveland struggling in the realms of the winless (we’ll get to this one), this game means even more in terms of gaining a stranglehold on the division.
Enter now the embarrassment factor – BAL protested Trump’s SOBs comments this week by completely refusing to show up in London. It seems they’re only capable of playing on American soil, but in a game they were favored, against a lousy Jacksonville offense, and the worst QB in the NFL (supposedly), BAL lost 44-7. Former Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco threw for 28 yards in the game – 28! A defense which dominated in Weeks 1 and 2 allowed 4 passing TDs to Blake Bortles and well over 100 rushing yards. Now, John Harbaugh’s guys have no choice but to makeup for this ridiculous performance back at home.
The Steelers lost to the pathetic Bears at Soldier Field, in a game where the defense only allowed three receptions to wide receivers. This OT loss should be a motivator moving forward, but I’m seeing some serious issues with this offense, which was projected to be the AFC’s best by most experts. In two of their three games, Big Ben’s boys failed to reach 20 points, and we know this defensive unit, while opportunistic, won’t win PIT many games. Now, on the road in a hostile environment, the pressure mounts even more. The good news – nobody expects “Flucco” to put up over 20 points either, so the Killer Bs should come out on top.
Jack Del Rio (OAK HC) at Denver
The AFC West might be the sickest division in football this season. These teams hate each other, and they’re all going to beat up on one another. Oakland visits the Mile High City in a huge matchup, as we expect KC to win Monday night, which means the loser of this game falls two games out of first place already.
For Jack Del Rio there will always be extra motivation in this matchup. Del Rio’s emergence in Oakland has lifted this franchise, but I guarantee he won’t forgot where he came from. He was hired as Denver’s Defensive Coordinator in 2012, then took over Interim Head Coaching duties in 2013 when John Fox was sidelined. Despite his allegiance to the Broncos, it never appeared Del Rio was in the long term plans. After being hired as Oakland’s HC in 2015, this rivalry only added another chapter.
The Raiders sit in a similar position as the teams above – they were embarrassed on national TV Sunday night when they were beat down in D.C. They cannot afford a repeat performance – this is the team many picked to challenge the Patriots for a Super Bowl berth this season. Del Rio has split his four games against his old franchise thus far, and make no mistake about it – Week 4 games don’t get much bigger than this!
Cincinnati at Cleveland
The battle for last place begins! These teams are both bad, but Cincy finally showed signs of life at Green Bay, and probably should have come away with the upset victory. After two weeks, we all buried the Bengals, and for good reason – zero touchdowns in two home games. Andy Dalton was bad Andy Dalton the first two games, but finally figured some things out last week. When I say “some things” I mean he remembered just throw it to AJ Green! Simple strategy, and expect we’ll see 15 or so targets Green’s way again. Marvin Lewis’s job is on the line this week – a loss to CLE and 0-4 start could finally be the end.
Cleveland entered 2017 with zero intention to win games. The sole purpose in that dysfunctional organization is gaining the #1 overall draft pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Well, that’s what we thought anyways. However, the Browns have been very competitive, even while being mistake prone along the way. Rookie DeShone Kizer has been volatile, but he’s shown promise and no fears. The roster still looks like a mess, but this team plays hard.
It feels like these teams could be flip-flopping expectations. If Cleveland pulls out a win, we could start seeing this young team grow into a weekly competitor instead of an automatic win for opposing teams. Another loss, especially to the Browns, could ice Marvin Lewis and send this veteran team into a nose dive. I have no idea what happens in this one, but we will definitely learn something about both squads. If I was a Cincy fan, I would be quietly rooting for a loss. This franchise needs new leadership.