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The diabolical duo
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Batman and Robin. Starsky and Hutch. Jordan and Pippen. Cutler and Marshall?

Meet Jay Cutler, a quarterback who plays the game with about as much emotion as a pile of bricks. His hobbies include not smiling and being unfriendly.

And then there's Brandon Marshall, a talented receiver with a more decorated police record than Robert Downey Jr. in the 1990s. Always quick to wear out his welcome, Marshall has played for three different teams in his last four seasons.

If George Costanza is the jerk store's all-time best seller, Cutler and Marshall can't be far behind in the rankings.

Doesn't exactly seem like a match made in heaven, does it?

Well, it's working. And not just a little bit ... this thing is huge.

The Chicago Bears are 7-1 for the first time since 2006 and Marshall and Cutler are a big reason why (having an amazing defense probably doesn't hurt, either).

Having Cutler and Marshall on your fantasy team is like ordering a Baconator at Wendy's. You hate yourself for doing it, but it tastes sooooo good.

Let's start with Cutler. When he's not plotting ways to ruin Christmas at the Grinch's house, Cutler is usually scoring touchdowns. In eight games this season, he's thrown for 12 of them. That puts the seventh-year QB on pace for his highest touchdown total since 2009.

Cutler's 85.3 quarterback rating is a bit deceiving. Half of his eight interceptions this season came in a brutal Week 2 loss versus Green Bay. Take that game out of the equation and Cutler's rating improves to 95.2, good for eighth-best in the NFL.

The Vanderbilt product isn't known for his accuracy (61 percent completion percentage for his career), but lately, he's been pretty sharp. Over his last two contests, Cutler has completed an astounding 70.4 percent of his throws for 415 yards. His QB rating over that span is a sparkling 109.7.

Marshall has been even more impressive. Sunday against Tennessee, he swallowed up three touchdown receptions for 122 yards. It was Marshall's fourth 100-yard performance of the season and the third he's had in his last five games.

After Sunday's 30-point outburst, Marshall moved into a tie with A.J. Green for first among fantasy wide receivers in points scored. For the season, Marshall now has 797 yards on 59 catches. Only Reggie Wayne of the Indianapolis Colts has racked up more receiving yards than Marshall. The 59 receptions ranks fourth behind Wes Welker, Percy Harvin and Wayne.

Marshall should be able to blow away his old career highs of 1,325 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns this season. At this rate, Marshall will finish the year with 1,594 receiving yards, which would be the second-highest receiving total by a player in the last nine years.

It's no secret that touchdowns make the fantasy world go round. When Marshall was with the Miami Dolphins, he didn't score many of them (just nine in two seasons), but that was because Matt Moore and Chad Henne were under center.

With the more established Cutler at the helm, things have been much easier for Marshall. The two have already hooked up for seven touchdowns this season, the most Marshall has had in a season since 2009, when he played for the Denver Broncos.

James Jones and Green lead the league in touchdown receptions with eight apiece, but neither player has endured a bye week yet, so they've both played one more game than Marshall has.

What makes the dynamic between Cutler and Marshall even more fascinating is their history. The two actually played together in Denver for a three-year stretch at the beginning of their careers.

As Cutler's go-to guy in 2008, Marshall exploded for a career-high 104 catches en route to his first Pro-Bowl invite. Cutler also earned an invite to the Pro Bowl that season by throwing for a career-best 4,526 yards.

After that season, the Broncos shipped Cutler to the Bears for Kyle Orton, leaving Marshall behind in Denver. In 2010, Marshall was sent packing, too, this time to Miami for a couple of second-round picks.

Somehow their paths have crossed again in the Windy City. Maybe this is fantasy destiny.

For both Cutler and Marshall, 2012 has been about reaching untapped potential. Cutler has always had the size and strength to compete in this league, it just never seemed like he cared.

Marshall's combination of height (6-foot-4), speed (4.52-second 40-yard dash) and leaping ability (37-inch vertical) are almost unparalleled in the NFL. He just hasn't had the right quarterback until now.

As unbearable as it must be for many fantasy owners to watch them succeed, the Cutler-to-Marshall combination has been fantasy gold this season.

I guess Karma must be taking the year off.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Jesse Pantuosco at jpantuosco@sportsnetwork.com.

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