Last week, the NFL kicked off on Thursday, thanks to, well, Thanksgiving. Of course, the same thing happened this week, though, to be honest, we're not really sure why.
So with the first game of week 13 already in the books — an "epic" 13-7 contest between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Baltimore Ravens — we figured this was just as good a time as any to pass along our MTV News Fantasy Football preview.
With the final week of the fantasy regular season upon us, here's what we know: Block Entertainment, the squad run by Yung Joc and the Block, is clearly the team to beat. They've compiled a league-best 10-2 mark, and come into week 13 riding a seven-game winning streak. They're also already a mortal lock for the playoffs, and will look to inflict some serious psychic damage on whomever they square off against in the postseason (see "Block Is A Lock For Playoffs: Fantasy Football Week 12 Recap").
Of course, we're not really sure who they'll be playing, as the rest of the playoff picture is murky at best, thanks to five relatively lousy teams who just keep hanging around. At the moment, Cool & Dre's squad is the #2 seed, thanks to their slim lead atop the Crunchtime Firing Squad Division. (Though they have the same record as Paul Wall's Lone Star Monsters, 6-5-1, they've scored more points and therefore hold the edge over their division rivals.) Paul's probably not sweating it much, because he's currently sitting as the #3 team in the playoffs, with Method Man's, um, juggernaut, the final team in.
On the outside looking in is Liz Hernandez's squad, who at 6-6 needs a win against Team Block — coupled with a Meth loss — to make the postseason, and Tyrese "Black Ty" Gibson's team, which needs to beat Wall this week to have a shot at playoff glory.
So as we enter the final week, there's still plenty at stake. Let's try to forget that game that happened Thursday night, as we gaze deep into the crystal ball for our week 13 preview.
Like we just said, this is the make-or-break game of the week, with the winner advancing to the playoffs and the loser hanging up the virtual spikes for the year. Of course, you've got to question Tyrese's rather unique coaching strategy of keeping injured (and out for the season) QB Donovan McNabb in his starting lineup, especially with Ravens' main man Steve McNair — who, you know, only put up 15 fantasy points Thursday night against Cincinnati — gathering dust on his bench. But, hey, Ty's always been unpredictable. On the other side of the ball, Wall will look to cannon-armed (and comically unreliable) QB Jon Kitna and the Jaguars' running back tandem of Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew to guide him to the postseason.
With Joc and Block already focused on taking home the league championship, can MTV News' own Hernandez rally her troops and score the upset? Well, she got off to a rocky start Thursday night, thanks to another ho-hum effort from Bengals' RB Rudi Johnson (47 rush yards, 17 yards receiving, five total fantasy points), and she'll pin her postseason hopes on the legs of RB Steven Jackson and the middle fin... — uh, we mean arm — of QB Michael Vick. Meanwhile, Team Block can pretty much kick back and let fantasy stud LaDainian Tomlinson do everything. Hey, it's worked all season.
After a disappointing 2006 season, Luke looks to close things out with three straight wins. He put the right foot forward Thursday night, jumping out to a 9-0 lead over Cool & Dre thanks to Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson (eight catches for 91 yards). His quest will undoubtedly only be further aided by C&D's decision to keep RB Ronnie Brown — and his fractured left hand — in their lineup. But they do have Colts' QB Peyton Manning going up against a porous Titans defense, so all could still end up, well, cool for the Miami sound machines.
With Meth looking to sew up a spot in the postseason, he couldn't have asked for a better opponent than Lil Wayne's free-falling squad, who've dropped three straight and are already eliminated from the playoffs. Method certainly learned his lesson last week, when he benched Seahawks' RB Shaun Alexander (and his 20 fantasy points) and missed out on a shot at knocking off Block Entertainment. On the other side of the ball, Wayne can play the role of the spoiler with big days from RBs Larry Johnson and Laurence Maroney and Michael Irvin's favorite QB, Tony Romo.
So, will Hernandez sneak her way into the playoffs? Will Tyrese leapfrog Wall in the Crunchtime Division? Will Lil Wayne even bother paying attention this week?
Get the answers to all of those questions — plus a playoff preview — right here on Tuesday.