Minnesota @ Chicago
Minnesota going into their bye week (week 5), had more questions than answers about their team. Head Coach Mike Tice admitted he wasn’t doing his job, yet ownership was sticking by him. QB Daunte Culpepper has been banged up and it is still not public the extent of his injuries. Chicago figured to get a win coming off their bye week, played poorly in their loss to the Browns and to make matters worse may have lost starting RB Thomas Jones for this week.
Culpepper’s health is definitely a concern for the Vikings, and the Chicago defense will give him fits all day. Chicago LB Brian Urlacher is back and the Bears defense is once again one of the best in the NFL. DB Mike Brown when healthy is one of the best safeties in the league. The Minnesota defense is underachieving to date after bringing all the big name free agents this off season.
Best Bets – Minnesota - DL Kevin Williams - Chicago – LB Brian Urlacher
Solid plays – Minnesota- DB Darren Sharper - Chicago – DB Mike Brown
Others to Consider – Minnesota- DB Antoine Winfield - Chicago - DB Charles Tillman
NY Giants @ Dallas
NY was on bye in week 4, and was most likely tuned into the Dallas vs Philly game. Dallas buried the Eagles with scoring drives on every possession in the first half but one, a 4 th and 1 at the Eagles 1, where Julius Jones failed to reach the end zone. Dallas showed off its new young defensive play makers and completely shut down the Eagles even without middle linebacker Dat Nguyen last week.
NY was the highest scoring offense in the league going into their bye week, and Dallas is averaging around 24 pts a game as well. This game has the makings of a shoot out where the defense who forces a turnover late could decide the outcome. Look for improved play from Dallas ILB Bradie James and for NY MLB Antonio Pierce to be all over whichever RB Dallas plays this week. Keep in mind Dallas RB Julius Jones is questionable, and this could force the Boys to the air more than HC Bill Parcells would like.
Best Bets – NY Giants – LB Antonio Pierce - Dallas – LB Bradie James
Solid plays – NY Giants – DB Gibril Wilson - Dallas– DB Roy Williams
Others to Consider –NY Giants – DL Michael Strahan- Dallas – DB Anthony Henry
Carolina @ Detroit
Up and down Carolina was back on the upswing this past weekend, beating Arizona. Carolina LB Dan Morgan left the game with a knock to his head and missed two possessions, before returning. Detroit as terrible as it was all afternoon, still took Baltimore behind the wood shed, defeating the reeling Ravens 35-17.
Carolina should easily rattle Joey Harrington, and run wild on the Lions defense, but you just don’t know which Panther team is going to show up. Detroit is terrible on offense right now, unless you give them 4 turnovers (2 in the red zone), like Baltimore did last week. Look for Detroit to try and run Kevin Jones and keep the Carolina front 4 off their quarterback.
Best Bets – Carolina – LB Will Witherspoon - Detroit – LB Earl Holmes
Solid plays – Carolina – LB Dan Morgan - Detroit– DB Kennoy Kennedy
Others to Consider – Carolina – DB Marlon McCree- Detroit – DB Terrance Holt
Cincinnati @ Tennessee
Cincinnati coming off its first loss of the year, to Jacksonville last week, will no doubt be motivated to get things in order this week vs. Tennessee. Star WR Chad Johnson is already complaining about not getting the ball enough. Tennessee is just undermanned this year and can not compete on a weekly basis even with OC Norm Chow calling the plays.
Tennessee is just the medicine Cincinnati needs to get back on track, and this game should be a blowout. One good thing for fantasy owners is the Titans LB's will be active in run support all afternoon. Cincinnati DL and DB should also have a huge day rushing the QB and breaking up passes.
Best Bets – Cincinnati– LB Odell Thurman -Tennessee - LB Keith Bullock
Solid plays – Cincinnati– DL Justin Smith - Tennessee - LB Brad Kassell
Others to Consider – Cincinnati– DB Kevin Kaesviharn- Tennessee- DL Kyle Vanden Bosch
Washington @ Kansas City
Washington again played 4 strong quarters of football, but this time they were not as fortunate against the Bronco’s in the final quarter. The Redskins first loss of the season surprisingly came in week 5, when most thought they would be buried already in the NFC East division. Kansas City coming off a bye, had to answer questions all week about not being able to finish off the Eagles when they held a big lead going into halftime of week 4.
Expect Washington to get a heavy dose of Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson as the Chiefs try and keep its defense off the field late in the game. Washington QB Mark Brunell is having a nice rebound season and as long as the Skins are in the hunt for the playoffs, he will continue to start at quarterback. LB Marcus Washington is the rare SLB who leads his team in tackles thus far. Start your studs in this match up and you will not be disappointed.
Best Bets – Washington- LB Marcus Washington - Kansas City – LB Derrick Johnson
Solid plays – Washington - DB Sean Taylor - Kansas City – LB Kawika Mitchell
Others to Consider – Washington- DL Cornelius Griffin- Kansas City – DB Greg Wesley
Atlanta @ New Orleans
Atlanta had the defending Champs right where they wanted them. A tie game at their house in the 4 th quarter even without Michael Vick. But surprising the Falcons defense couldn’t force the Pats into a punt and get the ball back, and New England kicked a FG with no time left to win the game. New Orleans' upset of Carolina in week 1, was nothing more than a fluke. The Saints took their traveling circus to Green Bay and left without their RB Deuce McCallister, torn ACL, and their pride losing 52-3 to the previously winless Packers.
Atlanta gets a bye week this week vs. the Saints and should have their way with New Orleans regardless if Vick plays or not. New Orleans is awful on defense, and without WR Joe Horn, worse on offense right now. Atlanta lost MLB Ed Hartwell with a torn Achilles and he is done for the season. LB Keith Brooking and Demorrio Williams will pick up the slack in his absence.
Best Bets – Atlanta – LB Keith Brooking - New Orleans – DB Dwight Smith
Solid plays – Atlanta – LB Demorrio Williams - New Orleans – LB Colby Bockwoldt
Others to Consider – Atlanta – DB Deangelo Hall, DL Patrick Kerney - New Orleans – LB Courtney Watson
Jacksonville @ Pittsburgh
Jacksonville handed the Bengals' their first loss of the year by a strong defensive performance and a resurgent RB Fred Taylor. Taylor shredded the stout Bengal defense for 132 yards an 24 carries. Pittsburgh coming off its bye, had an entertaining dog fight with San Diego on Monday Night, which they won 24-22.
Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger hyper extended his knee on the final drive and could be out this week. At press time he is questionable, and this injury will go a long way determining the final outcome of this game. RB Jerome Bettis is back, and he will give Jacksonville all it wants in the 4 th quarter of this game. Expect the middle of the Jags and Steelers defense to be productive on game day, and for both middle linebackers to lead the way in scoring.
Best Bets – Jacksonville - LB Mike Peterson- Pittsburgh – LB James Farrior
Solid plays – Jacksonville - DL John Henderson - Pittsburgh – LB Troy Polamalu
Others to Consider –Jacksonville - LB Darryl Smith- Pittsburgh – DB Chris Hope
Miami @ Tampa Bay
Miami coming off a disappointing loss to the Bills has its work cut out for them this week traveling to Tampa Bay to face a Bucs team that is coming off its first loss of the season to the Jets. New York 3 rd string QB Vinny Testaverde and the legs of Curtis Martin led the Jets to the win. Tampa Bay was without standout RB Carnell Williams in the match up, but is offering no excuses for the loss.
Miami gets troubled RB Ricky Williams back this week, and he could spell Ronnie Brown throughout the game to keep him fresh. Williams is down 20 lbs from his previous playing weight, but with 4 weeks off he should have fresh legs. Tampa Bay LB Derrick Brooks finally showed up and had a nice statistical day. DL Simeon Rice should be licking his chops at the chance to face QB Gus Frerotte and that porous OL this week.
Best Bets – Miami – LB Zach Thomas - Tampa Bay – LB Shelton Quarles
Solid plays – Miami – DL Jason Taylor - Tampa Bay – LB Derrick Brooks
Others to Consider –Miami – DB Tebucky Jones - Tampa Bay – DL Simeon Rice
Cleveland @ Baltimore
Cleveland was impressive beating the Bears last week, but did give up 137 yards on the ground to RB Thomas Jones in the win. Baltimore is atrocious on offense right now and can’t get a running or passing game going. Baltimore was embarrassed 35-17 to Detroit, and turned the ball over 4 times in that contest. It doesn’t matter how good your defense is, they can’t continue to keep teams out of the end zone when you turn it over inside your own 25.
This is a revenge game for Browns fans as they still hate former Brown and Raven owner Art Modell for taking their team to Baltimore a decade ago. You can bet Cleveland will be fired up and ready to knock Baltimore in the mouth from the coin flip on. Expect huge days out of both inside LB’s Andra Davis and Ray Lewis, as well as both safeties playing in the box helping in run support.
Best Bets – Cleveland – LB Andra Davis - Baltimore – LB Ray Lewis
Solid plays – Cleveland – LB Ben Taylor - Baltimore– DB Ed Reed
Others to Consider – Cleveland – DB Chris Crocker - Baltimore– DB Will Demps
NY Jets @ Buffalo
New York signed Vinny Testeverde last week, and on Sunday he led them to victory over the previous undefeated Tampa Bay Bucs. Testeverde was not spectacular, but efficient enough to keep the defense honest and allow RB Curtis Martin to get going. Buffalo also started a new quarterback last week, Kelly Holcomb, and he lead them to a 20-14 win over the Dolphins.
Both teams will come into this game with confidence in their new QB, but the defenses will determine the outcome of this game. Buffalo before losing Takeo Spikes was one of the best in the league a year ago. The Jets are a fast and furious bunch that pressures the QB well, and stops the run. Expect a tight game until a defensive play sets up the winning points.
Best Bets – NY Jets– LB Jonathon Vilma - Buffalo – LB London Fletcher
Solid plays – NY Jets– DL John Abraham - Buffalo – LB Angelo Crowell
Others to Consider – NY Jets – DL Shaun Ellis - Buffalo – DB Nate Clements
New England @ Denver
New England went to Atlanta and defeated the Vick-less Falcons in their back yard. The team that was embarrassed by San Diego in week 4, regrouped and played a strong game to show everyone they still have some life left. Denver since week 1, has been the hottest team in the league. The Bronco’s knocked off previous unbeaten Washington, and showed former RB Clinton Portis they have replaced him with Tatum Bell.
New England is a difficult team to judge right now. The way they rebounded in Atlanta makes you think they are back, but against a very tough Denver defense, Brady and Co. will have rough sledding in the mile high city. Denver features the fastest trio of LB's in the league, and Ian Gold and Al Wilson can both cover the TE and RB out of the backfield, meaning they never come out of the game on defense.
Best Bets – New England– DB Gus Scott - Denver – LB Al Wilson
Solid plays – New England– LB Monty Beisel -Denver – LB Ian Gold
Others to Consider –New England – LB Rosevelt Colvin - Denver – DB Darrent Williams
San Diego @ Oakland
San Diego and Pittsburgh went right down to the wire, but San Diego couldn’t get the 2 pt. conversion to put the Chargers up by 3, and left the door open for Big Ben to drive his team down to kick the winning FG as time expired. Oakland is coming off a bye, where they got their first win of the season at home vs. the Cowboys in week 4.
San Diego is a better team than Oakland and they come into this game healthy, so there is no reason why they can’t put the Raiders away early and use LT to chew some clock in the 4 th quarter. Oakland’s LB's should have a great day statistically, but it could be a nightmare match up. Chargers LB Donnie Edwards is an obvious stud, but Randall Godfrey is putting up nice numbers thus far this year and is a possible free agent on some waiver wires.
Best Bets – San Diego – LB Donnie Edwards - Oakland – LB Kirk Morrison
Solid plays – San Diego – DB Terrance Kiel - Oakland – LB Danny Clark
Others to Consider – San Diego -LB Randall Godfrey- Oakland – DB Charles Woodson
Houston @ Seattle
Things just keep getting worse and worse for the Texans. On the first play from scrimmage last week, Houston lost its top wide out Andre Johnson with an apparent calf injury. He is listed as questionable this week and could miss several games. Seattle did what they never do, beat St Louis. Now that they have that monkey off their back, they should contend for the division title.
Seattle without its top 2 wide receivers last week, and most likely again this week should feast on the Texans this week. Houston is the only winless team in the NFL, and its not surprising when you let players like LB’s Jay Foreman and Jamie Sharper walk, for unproven replacements. Expect RB Shaun Alexander to have a field day, and for the Texans LB's and SS to have a solid statistical game trying to stop the workhorse Alexander.
Best Bets – Houston – LB Morlon Greenwood - Seattle – LB Lofa Tatapu
Solid plays – Houston– DB C.C. Brown - Seattle – DB Ken Hamlin
Others to Consider – Houston– LB Kaliee Wong - Seattle - DB Kelly Herndon
St. Louis @ Indianapolis
St. Louis lost its swagger in their division losing to their rival Seattle for the first time in 2 seasons. The Rams will be without head coach Mike Martz indefinitely, and the offense is sure to feature more running game and Steven Jackson as a result. Indianapolis is the last undefeated team in the NFL, but they have yet to be tested to date.
The Rams offense is explosive enough to test the Colts strong defense, but the Colts offense will look to get on track vs. the porous Rams defense. This game has the makings of a shoot-out, but it could be a blow-out instead, leaning the Colts way. Expect LB's Brackett and June to have strong days, but the key to the Colts victory may be SS Bob Sanders play.
Best Bets – St. Louis – LB Pisa Tinoisamoa- Indianapolis –LB Gary Brackett
Solid plays – St. Louis – DB Adam Archuleta - Indianapolis –LB Cato June
Others to Consider – St. Louis – DL Tony Hargrove - Indianapolis –DB Bob Sanders, DL Dwight Freeney
Open Date: Green Bay, Philadelphia, Arizona, San Francisco