Buffalo @ New Orleans
Buffalo lost starting outside LB Takeo Spikes for the year with a torn Achilles and that will prove to be a costly blow to the Bills chances of making a run at this years playoffs. Spikes is the heart and soul of the Bills defense and will certainly be missed. But as they say, every setback is an opportunity for someone else to step up, and LB Angelo Crowell should benefit the most from Spikes injury. Crowell had 4 tackles and 4 assists in limited action last week, and could easily outperform those stats in the coming weeks. New Orleans also lost a key veteran to its defensive backfield, Jay Bellamy with a torn rotator cuff. New Orleans is currently carrying 5 safeties, so the position will be filled in house.
Buffalo wants to pound RB Willis Magahee all afternoon and shorten the game, while New Orleans will attempt to run the ball, but will have to pass to penetrate the Bills defense. Last week New Orleans coach Jim Haslett sat his whole starting LB corps midway through the game, after a rough early start. Haslett was certainly sending a message of things to come if things don’t improve . This is primary reason no Saints LBs were listed below.
Best Bets - Buffalo - LB London Fletcher - New Orleans - DL Charles Grant
Solid plays - Buffalo - DB Terrance McGee - New Orleans - DL Darren Howard
Others to Consider - Buffalo - LB Angelo Crowell - New Orleans - DB Dwight Smith, DL Will Smith
Denver @ Jacksonville
Denver is coming off a huge win vs. the KC Chiefs on Monday night, but potentially lost CB Champ Bailey for this weeks game with a injured hamstring. Bailey has not practiced this week and looks to be a game time decision, so you may want to look elsewhere if you were counting on Bailey as one of your DB’s. Jacksonville won a thrilling game in OT vs. the Jets this past weekend, but the IDP fantasy story in this game was LB Jonathon Vilma with 10 tackles and 3 assists, and DL John Abraham with 8 tackles, 2 assists, a sack, and a forced fumble.
Denver is a different team at home and could lay another egg like the way they did the first time they traveled to Florida in week 1 vs. the Dolphins. Jacksonville hopes to attack the Broncos with a balanced offense and keep those speedy LB's guessing on every play. The story of this game defensively will be can Jacksonville contain Denver’s speed at LB and take advantage of young cornerbacks if Champ Bailey is unable to play.
Best Bets - Denver - LB DJ Williams - Jacksonville - LB Mike Peterson
Solid plays - Denver - LB Al Wilson - Jacksonville - DL John Henderson
Others to Consider - Denver - LB Ian Gold, DB Nick Ferguson - Jacksonville - DL Marcus Stroud
Detroit @ Tampa Bay
Detroit coming off a bye had 2 weeks to prepare for the undefeated Bucs. They way they played in week 2, they may need a month to prepare for this red hot team. Tampa Bay is a surprisingly undefeated at this juncture, riding their new workhorse Cadillac Williams up and down victory lane. In Detroit’s last game, it should be noted LB Earl Holmes and DB Terrance Holt had impressive stats that could be repeated in the near future.
Detroit will have to use its size at WR to create mismatches to have any chance to win this game. Tampa will continually blitz Lions QB Joey Harrington to take pressure off its secondary. Tampa LB Shelton Quarles is having a huge year to date, outperforming Derrick Brooks thus far, but don’t get carried away and trade the farm for him, as he is 34 years old and could break down at any time.
Best Bets - Detroit - LB Earl Holmes - Tampa Bay - LB Shelton Quarles
Solid plays - Detroit - DB Terrance Holt - Tampa Bay - LB Derrick Brooks
Others to Consider - Detroit - LB Boss Bailey - Tampa Bay - DB Ronde Barber
Houston @ Cincinnati
Houston is as bad as any team in the NFL right now. They are coming off a bye in which they fired their offensive coordinator. Cincinnati is 3-0 and is firing on all cylinders both on offense and defense right now. Middle linebacker Odell Thurman is the real deal and is this years Jonathon Vilma. Safety Madieu Williams is as good as advertised and these two are the difference between having a loss and an undefeated season to date.
Cincy will have its way with Houston on both sides of the ball. Cincty LB Brian Simmons is on the verge of being a cap casualty next year with his average play and the impressive play of LB Landon Johnson and David Pollack. The Houston LB's should have a productive day, as the Bengal’s will be running Rudi to salt the clock in the 4th quarter.
Best Bets - Houston - LB Kalie Wong - Cincinnati - LB Odell Thurman
Solid plays - Houston - DB CC Brown - Cincinnati - DB Madiu Williams
Others to Consider - Houston - LB Morlon Greenwood - Cincinnati - LB Landon Johnson
Indianapolis @ Tennessee
Those that think Indy is in a slump on offense don’t understand their strategy to get to the Super Bowl. Dungy and Company want to shorten the game, running Edge and keeping its defense off the field. This is their prefect recipe for success. In years past, Indy would score so quickly its defense would be right back on the field. Their opponents wouldn’t score as quickly and by the time the 4 th quarter rolled around, they were out of gas and usually gave the game away. Tennessee is better than expected, especially DL Kyle Vanden Bosch who leads the league in sacks through 3 weeks.
Indy will continue to feature RB Edge James and force teams to stop him, before they air it out. Colts DL Dwight Freeney is having a monster year and is opening things up for his mates along the Indianapolis DL. Tennessee under new OC Norm Chow has turned a rushing offense, into a more balanced attack. LB's Brackett and Bullock figure to lead the way again statistically, but don’t count out either teams Top DL from having another huge game.
Best Bets - Indianapolis - DL Dwight Freeney - Tennessee - LB Keith Bullock
Solid plays - Indianapolis - LB Gary Brackett - Tennessee - DL Kyle Vanden Bosch
Others to Consider - Indianapolis - DB Bob Sanders - Tennessee - DB Lamont Thompson
San Diego @ New England
San Diego finally got a check in the Win column this past Sunday. The way they ran LT through the Giants surprisingly strong defense to date, was impressive. New England went into Pittsburgh last week and stole a win from Big Ben and Co. But the win was a costly one for New England, as they lost standout SS Rodney Harrison to a season ending ACL/MCL tear, which could end his career.
San Diego hopes to repeat its offensive performance from a week ago, and should be able to handle the Patriots on offense. New England is a tough place to play, but San Diego has the perfect ingredients for the upset, a strong running game and a TE no Patriot LB can cover. New starting SS Guss Scott will need help covering Chargers TE Antonio Gates.
Best Bets - San Diego - LB Donnie Edwards - New England - DL Richard Seymour
Solid plays - San Diego - DB Terrance Kiel - New England - DB Guss Scott
Others to Consider - San Diego - LB Randall Godfrey - New England - LB Monty Beisel
Seattle @ Washington
Seattle had a cakewalk game vs. the Cardinals a week ago, without Arizona QB Kurt Warner to keep the game close late. Seattle was able to run its workhorse RB Shaun Alexander to the tune of 140 rushing yard and 4 rushing TD’s. Washington is coming off a bye week, and an emotional high with its last minute come from behind win over the Dallas Cowboys in week 2. Washington is also a surprising 2-0 on the young season.
Seattle will have a much tougher time running the ball on the stout Redskins defense, and will be forced to go to the air to get into scoring position. Washington will hope to stay close to the high powered Seahawks, and steal a win in the end as they did 2 weeks ago. Washington LB Marcus Washington is coming off a 9 tackle game, 3 assist game and could very well duplicate that feat again this week.
Best Bets - Seattle - DB Michael Bouleware - Washington - LB Marcus Washington
Solid plays - Seattle - LB Jamie Sharper - Washington - DB Sean Taylor
Others to Consider - Seattle - DB Ken Hamlin - Washington - DL Cornelius Griffin
St. Louis @ NY Giants
The Rams are one of the toughest teams in the league to figure out. They lose opening weekend to the 49ers, killing many suicide pools for owners. Then they win 2 straight heading into New York. The Giants on defense have looked impressive until last week where they couldn’t wrap up Chargers RB LT.
This game figures to feature lots of offense, and the team who is able to play the best defense down the stretch will get the W. Do not be alarmed by Giants LB Antonio Pierce and Michael Strahan’s play a week ago. The Giants DTs played so poorly, that the Chargers consistently picked up huge chunks running right up the gut, eliminating Strahan’s opportunities. The Giants DT were also pushed all over the field and the Chargers OL were in LB Antonio Pierce’s face on virtually every play. Start your studs this week, especially Pierce and Strahan.
Best Bets - St. Louis - LB Chris Clairborne - NY Giants - LB Antonio Pierce
Solid plays - St. Louis - DB Adam Archuletta - NY Giants - DL Michael Strahan, DL Osi Umenyiora
Others to Consider - St. Louis - LB Dexter Coakley - NY Giants - DB Gibril Wilson
NY Jets @ Baltimore
The Jets lost a heartbreaker to Byron Leftwich and the Jacksonville Jags a week ago in OT, 23-20. But that is nothing compared to the loss of Jets QB Chad Pennington. Pennington is coming off shoulder surgery and unfortunately for his owners, he tore the rotator cuff again, most likely requiring season ending surgery or weeks if not months of rest. Baltimore is coming off a bye, and is still without its starting quarterback Kyle Boller.
This figures to be an ugly, sloppy, defensive struggle, as both teams have had trouble moving the ball on average defenses. These 2 defenses are two of the toughest in the league to score on and points in this contest will definitely be at a premium. Both teams LB's should score plenty as both teams want to run the ball and keep its QB out of 3 rd and long. This game will come down to QB play, and the QB who turns the ball over the fewest times, should win the contest.
Best Bets - NY Jets - LB Jonathon Vilma - Baltimore - LB Ray Lewis
Solid plays - NY Jets - DL John Abraham - Baltimore - DB Ed Reed
Others to Consider - NY Jets - DB Kerry Rhodes - Baltimore - DB Will Demps
Dallas @ Oakland
Dallas looked awful in its win over the 49ers a week ago, allowing Wr’s Brandon Lloyd and Arnez Battle to look like Randy Moss and Jerry Porter. This week the pokes will see the real Randy Moss and Jerry Porter when they visit Oakland. Oakland is winless in its first 3 contests, and stupid penalties and untimely turnovers is the main reason for their slow start.
Oakland WR Randy Moss has a vendetta against the Cowboys who passed on him in the NFL draft a few years back. Moss has made them pay each time he faces them, and this week should be no different with the Cowboys CB play shown last week. Dallas is much better on defense than it showed a week ago, and will need a stellar performance to keep the Raiders winless. Both teams defensive backfields should be busy, but Dallas will run Julius Jones repeatedly, so Lbs Kirk Morrison and Danny Clark should have nice statistical games.
Best Bets - Dallas - LB Dat Nguyen - Oakland - LB Kirk Morrison
Solid plays - Dallas - DB Roy Williams - Oakland - LB Danny Clark
Others to Consider - Dallas - DB - Anthony Henry - Oakland - DB - Charles Woodson
Minnesota @ Atlanta
Just when you thought the Minnesota offense missed Randy Moss, Daunte Culpepper and Co. lit up the scoreboard, even without injured WR Nate Burleson. The Vikes did play the defensive challenged Saints last week, so don’t get too excited about their offense just yet. Atlanta played ball control and used its short passing game to get a win in Buffalo a week ago. Atlanta did have a Ed Hartwell sighting last week as the LB finished his afternoon with 5 solo tackles, and 3 assists.
Atlanta is much better than the Saints on defense, so Culpepper better be patient if the Vikings are going to have any success on Sunday. Atlanta will continue to use Vick in the same capacity as a week ago, hoping to limit his exposure to big hits and keep him upright in the pocket. Expect a heavy dose of RB’s Dunn or Duckett and Vick rolling out to throw the underneath stuff to his TE Crumpler and WR Michael Jenkins. Minnesota Safety Darren Sharper missed last weeks contest and is questionable again this week.
Best Bets - Minnesota - DL Kevin Williams - Atlanta - LB Keith Brooking
Solid plays -Minnesota - DB Antoine Winfield - Atlanta - DL Patrick Kerny
Others to Consider - Minnesota - LB Sam Cowart - Atlanta - LB Ed Hartwell
Philadelphia @ Kansas City
Philadelphia was in a dogfight last week with the Raiders and had to use injured K David Akers to kick the winning FG, even with a bum hamstring on his plant leg. Kansas City is better off just throwing the tape of their Monday night game away, and starting over from scratch. QB Trent Green repeatedly threw balls at his receivers feet, and the Chiefs defense was pathetic vs. the run, and the pass vs. the Bronco’s.
Philadelphia QB Donovan McNabb has a hernia that will require surgery. The Eagles are hopeful he can play with the pain this season and opt for surgery in the off season. The success of the Eagles season hangs in the balance of how much pain McNabb can handle. You better believe Chiefs HC Dick Vermeil is going to bring some pressure and try and get McNabb out of the game to give his Chiefs their best shot at winning. Chiefs LB Derrick Johnson is the top point producer on their defense and he plays strong side LB. Pretty rare for a SLB to lead its team in tackles.
Best Bets - Philadelphia - LB Jeremiah Trotter - Kansas City - LB Derrick Johnson
Solid plays - Philadelphia - DB Michael Lewis - Kansas City - DB Sammy Knight
Others to Consider - Philadelphia - DB - Brian Dawkins - Kansas City - LB Kawika Mitchell
San Francisco @ Arizona
San Francisco LB Julian Peterson guaranteed a win vs. the Cowboys last week, then was injured and taken out of the game, and had nothing to do with the final outcome. Unfortunately for him the Cowboys came from behind and won the game, and he had to answer questions on his bold guarantee even though the 49ers were a 6 point underdog at home. Arizona lost starting QB Kurt Warner for this week and possibly several more with an injured groin. Backup QB Josh McCown proved to be virtually worthless, passing 10 for 23, with 97 yards passing and an interception.
The 49ers have looked better on offense than the Cardinals have without their starting QB Kurt Warner, and both defenses have allowed teams to move the ball right down the field and score on them at will. Which ever team can force the other into FG attempts, instead of TD’s, will give their team the best chance to win the game.
Best Bets - San Francisco - DB Tony Parish - Arizona - DB Adrian Wilson
Solid plays - San Francisco - Julian Peterson (questionable) - Arizona - LB Karlos Dansby
Others to Consider - San Francisco - LB Derek Smith - Arizona - LB Orlando Huff
Green Bay @ Carolina
Green Bay played a solid game vs. Tampa Bay last week at home, and still lost 17-16. Their running game is terrible, and QB Brett Favre is a turnover machine so far this season, adding 3 more interceptions last week. Carolina is a surprising 1-2, losing to both the Saints and the Dolphins, and beating the New England Patriots for their lone victory. The Panthers had high expectations coming into this season, and if they lose here, they will have a huge road ahead of them to get into the postseason.
Both of these teams are underachieving thus far, and this game is certainly not what the executives at ABC thought it would be when they put out the schedule. Panthers WR Steve Smith gets a chance at some revenge vs. the Packers, as he was lost for the season last year on Monday night vs. this very opponent. Both teams middle linebackers figure to fill up the stat sheets, as both teams will try and establish the run early and often. Carolina’s weak side LB Will Witherspoon is questionable this week, after missing last weeks contest, or he would be Carolina’s best bet.
Best Bets - Green Bay - LB Nick Barnett - Carolina - LB Dan Morgan
Solid plays - Green Bay - DB Nick Collins - Carolina - DL Julius Peppers
Others to Consider - Green Bay - LB Robert Thomas - Carolina - LB Will Witherspoon (questionable)
Open Dates – Chicago, Cleveland, Miami, Pittsburgh