Minnesota @ Carolina
Minnesota losing 17-0 at the half last week to the Green Bay Packers came storming back in the second half with 23 points to beat the Packers 23-30. The Vikings players said their coach Mike Tice gave a stern speech at halftime and it was the motivation they needed to beat the pack. Minnesota CB Fred Smoot had an active afternoon with 8 solo tackles, half his season total to date. Carolina was on bye last week.
Minnesota hopes to rides last weeks momentum into Carolina, but that will be no easy task. Carolina has struggled this season, but they haven’t made the mental mistakes on both offense and defense the Vikings are known for. Carolina LB Dan Morgan injured his shoulder in week 6, but says he is playing this week. Start him if you have no alternative, but one pop could end his afternoon early. Vikings LB EJ Henderson is starting inside in the 3-4 defense Minnesota is playing and outplaying fellow inside LB Sam Cowart.
Best Bets – Minnesota – LB EJ Henderson - Carolina – LB Dan Morgan
Solid plays – Minnesota – DB Corey Chavous - Carolina – LB Brandon Short
Others to Consider – Minnesota – DL Pat Williams - Carolina – LB Will Witherspoon
Green Bay @ Cincinnati
Green Bay lost week 7 after leading 17-0 at the half, but this was nothing compared to the loss of another WR, Robert Ferguson for 2-4 weeks, and starting RB Ahman Green for the season. Cincinnati struggled in its first true test of the season against the Pittsburgh Steelers. This was suppose to be a defining game for Marvin Lewis’s new defense, but they were shredded for 27 points, and 227 rushing yards.
Green Bay is running out of offensive weapons to be competitive, even with gunslinger Brett Favre still at quarterback, and that is taking a toll on the Green Bay defense. Packer LB Nick Barnett was limited to only one solo tackle, his lowest output of the season, and as good as he is, he is likely to wear down if he plays 35 + minutes a game. Cincinnati is healthy on offense and their defense will attempt to regroup after last weeks poor performance. Bengal’s rookie LB Odell Thurman continues to put up impressive numbers and is a must start each week.
Best Bets – Green Bay – LB Nick Barnett - Cincinnati – LB Odell Thurman
Solid plays – Green Bay – DB Mark Roman - Cincinnati - DB Kevin Kaesviharn
Others to Consider – Green Bay– DL Aaron Kampman - Cincinnati – LB Brian Simmons
Arizona @ Dallas
Arizona trailed Tennessee last week 10-0 and scored the final 20 points of the game to double the Titans 20-10. In that game the Cardinals defense was impressive. Arizona LB Karlos Dansby continues to put up monster stats, and the best on his team at the strong side LB position, which is extremely rare in today’s NFL. Dallas is coming off a heartbreaking loss in a game in which they led for 59 minutes. Drew Bledsoe would love to have his last pass back, which was intercepted by Seattle and led to the game winning FG for the Seahawks on the next play.
Arizona will have a hard time running the ball on the Cowboys defense and will have to pass to set up the run. Dallas should have no problem moving the ball inside the 20’s, but will need to come away with touchdowns, not field goals to put this game away in the 3 rd quarter. Dallas hopes to get LB Dat Nguyen back this week, but I wouldn’t recommend using him until he has shown he can stay healthy and he can produce with improved LB Bradie James roaming the middle as well.
Best Bets – Arizona - LB Karlos Dansby - Dallas – DB Roy Williams
Solid plays – Arizona - DB Adrian Wilson - Dallas – DB Anthony Henry
Others to Consider – Arizona - DL Bert Berry - Dallas – LB Bradie James
Chicago @ Detroit
Chicago sports a top 3 defense and currently leads the NFC North division with a 3-3 record after its 10-6 victory over the Baltimore Ravens a week ago. The Lions defeated the Cleveland Browns in week 7, and also have a 3-3 record giving the winner of this game sole possession of first place in the division. Bears CB Nathan Vasher grabbed 8 of his 18 tackles to date in last weeks victory.
The Bears have given up a league low 68 points at this point in the season but will have to deal with Lions QB Jeff Garcia this week, as he took over for struggling Joey Harrington and lead the Lions to the 13-10 win over the Cleveland Browns. Chicago wants to run the ball with Thomas Jones and turn this game into a 2 and a half hour affair. Detroit has to stay balanced to compete, or the Chicago defense will eat them alive.
Best Bets – Chicago – LB Brian Urlacher - Detroit – DB Kennoy Kennedy
Solid plays – Chicago – LB Lance Briggs - Detroit – LB Earl Holmes, LB Boss Bailey
Others to Consider – Chicago – DB Mike Brown - Detroit – DB Terrance Holt (questionable)
Cleveland @ Houston
Cleveland is struggling to score points and its defense has been on the field way to long in the first 7 weeks of the season. HC Romeo Crennell is well on his way to turning the mindset of this franchise around, but the Browns need players, not just pep talks. Houston is now the laughing stock of the league, with a winless record (0-6), and not competitive in most of its games. Some thought this was a break out year for Carr and the Texans, but the defense is pathetic and the OL is even worse.
Cleveland is going to try and run RB Ruben Droughns and prevent QB Trent Dilfer from making a mistake to cost the Browns the game. The Texans need to get star WR Andre Johnson healthy, and continue to try and shore up its defense. Browns DT Orpheus Roye leads all DT with 32 solo tackles to date, after recording 8 last week. Texans LB Morlon Greenwood’s production should start to rise as the season wears on.
Best Bets – Cleveland – LB Andra Davis - Houston - LB Morlon Greenwood
Solid plays – Cleveland – DB Daylon McCutcheon - Houston - DB Dunta Robinson
Others to Consider – Cleveland - DL Orpheus Roye - Houston - DB CC Brown
Washington @ NY Giants
Washington is not sneaking up on anyone these days, which is what makes their 52-17 victory over the 49ers that much more impressive. Sure San Francisco is starting a rookie QB, and he continues to turn the ball over, but the Skins offense is starting to put up huge numbers. RB Clinton Portis got his first rushing TD of the season, along with his second and third in week 7. The NY Giants are another beast of the NFC East who is playing great football right now, and with Eli at the helm that should continue for many many seasons.
NY Giants owner Wellington Mara passed away this week at the age of 89. You can bet the hometown Giants will be inspired to play for their lost leader vs. their division rival. Washington has the defense to slow Eli and Co. and expects to do just that and try and steal the game at the end. The skins must first get through the emotion of the first quarter and keep the game within reach to have any chance. NY Giants LB Carlos Emmons may miss this game with what is being called a pectoral tear.
Best Bets – Washington –LB Marcus Washington - NY Giants – LB Antonio Pierce
Solid plays – Washington –LB Lavar Arrington - NY Giants – DB Gibril Wilson
Others to Consider – Washington –DL Cornelius Griffin - NY Giants– DL Michael Strahan
Jacksonville @ St. Louis
Jacksonville is coming off a bye in week 7, but was able to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers in week 6, who was playing QBTommy Maddox, instead of Ben Roethlisberger. St. Louis just seems to have one distraction after another. Their HC Mike Martz has now decided he will not return this season because of a heart valve issue he is dealing with, and there is speculation his days in St Louis could be over because of his disputes with management.
Rams DT Damione Lewis was ejected for punching a Saints OL in the groin, and he could be suspended, as his fine has not been decided at press date. Jacksonville hopes to have gotten healthy with the bye week, and with 2 weeks to prepare for the Bulger-less Rams, they should have an effective game plan to stop the explosive Rams offense. St. Louis DB Adam Archuleta is currently the 2 nd highest scoring DB, after a down year in 2004. Rams DL Leonard Little may miss his second game in a row, while mourning the death of his younger brother.
Best Bets – Jacksonville – LB Mike Peterson - St. Louis – DB Adam Archuleta
Solid plays – Jacksonville – LB Darryl Smith - St. Louis – DL Anthony Hargrove
Others to Consider – Jacksonville – DB Deke Cooper - St. Louis – LB Pisa Tinoisamoa
Oakland @ Tennessee
Oakland got Randy Moss back last week, but rode RB Lamont Jordan to victory with 122 rushing yards and 3 rushing touchdowns vs. the Buffalo Bills. Oakland has offensive talent no question, but their play calling has forced too many three and outs, putting a lot of pressure on their defense. It looks like last weeks game plan was to eat the clock with Jordan and keep its defense fresh in the second half. Tennessee started backup QB Billy Volek in place of injured Steve McNair and he played so poorly he was relieved by third string QB Matt Mauck.
Raiders HC Norv Turner is a bright offensive mind, but his defensive play calling has been suspect at best. He is finally giving the offense a chance to stay on the field more using Jordan, and giving his defense a rest. Oakland LB Kirk Morrison is currently challenging Bengal’s LB Odell Thurman for Defensive ROY honors. Tennessee LB Keith Bullock and DL Kyle Vanden Bosch continue to put up impressive numbers and that will continue for the rest of the season.
Best Bets – Oakland– LB Kirk Morrison - Tennessee – LB Keith Bullock
Solid plays – Oakland– LB Danny Clark - Tennessee – LB Brad Kassell
Others to Consider – Oakland– DL Derrick Burgess - Tennessee – DL Kyle Vanden Bosch
Miami @ New Orleans
The Miami/Kansas City game was played on Friday night and the Chiefs flew in early that day. Some thought the Chiefs would have problems staying focused with the distractions of the last minute plane trip and moving the game up a few day, but they dominated the Dolphins 30-20. New Orleans jumped out to a 14-0 lead and led 17-7 in the fourth quarter, then did what they always do, fall apart when the game is on the line. The defense was terrible, as they couldn’t stop the Rams without starting QB Marc Bulger, and both starting Wr’s Issac Bruce and Tory Holt.
Miami should win this game on the legs of Ronnie Brown and the LB play of rookie Channing Crowder and Zach Thomas, but Miami HC Nick Saban will have a huge impact on this game as well. Saban will out coach Hasslet and his defense is superior which should be the difference. Rookie LB Channing Crowder has dominated since taking over the starting weak side LB position. Get him in your lineup if you own him
Best Bets – Miami – LB Zach Thomas - New Orleans – LB Courtney Watson
Solid plays – Miami – LB Channing Crowder - New Orleans – DL Charles Grant
Others to Consider – Miami – DL Jason Taylor - New Orleans – DL Will Smith
Kansas City @ San Diego
The emotional Chiefs HC Dick Vermeil had to be complaining about getting off his routine having to travel and play in Miami last Friday night. The chiefs may have been inconvenienced but they got the benefit of having the weekend off, which had to bring Vermeil to tears. San Diego is coming off a gut wrenching loss, in which their RB failed to crack the end zone after finding it for the previous 18 straight games.
Do not fear that the Chiefs LB’s perfromance from a week ago, as the Dolphins only ran the ball 14 times the whole game which limited their opportunities. San Diego will run LT with success all afternoon and the Chiefs defensive fantasy studs will put up huge numbers as a result. Also start Chargers LB Donnie Edwards and Randall Godfrey as the Chiefs will run their 2 headed monster all after noon as well.
Best Bets – Kansas City – LB Derrick Johnson- San Diego – LB Donnie Edwards
Solid plays – Kansas City – DL Jared Allen - San Diego – DB Terrance Kiel
Others to Consider – Kansas City – LB Kawika Mitchell - San Diego – LB Randall Godfrey
Philadelphia @ Denver
Philadelphia held Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson to 7 yards on 17 carries which averages to less than half a yard per carry, his lowest output of his career. Certainly the Bronco’s have studied that game plan to prevent that from happening to Tatum Bell and Mike Anderson this week. Denver’s defense gave up two fourth quarter touchdowns to the Giants and it cost them the game. You can bet they have watched that film over and over and over again.
Philadelphia uses the short passing game as a substitute for their running game, and its been very effective for them. Philly ran for only 14 times a week again and threw it 54 times. The Denver LBs will have to play in coverage more this week than any other and it could hurt their stats, as stopping the run is instant production for the LB position. Expect rookie CB Darrent Williams to continue to put up nice fantasy points as teams are picking on him opposite of pro bowl CB Champ Bailey.
Best Bets – Philadelphia - LB Jeremiah Trotter- Denve r- LB Al Wilson
Solid plays – Philadelphia - DB Michael Lewis -Denver - DB Darrent Williams
Others to Consider – Philadelphia - DB Brian Dawkins - Denver - LB Ian Gold
Tampa Bay @ San Francisco
Tampa was on bye in week 7, but steam rolled the Dolphins in week 6, 27-13. The Bucs lost starting QB Brian Griese in that contest for the rest of the season with a blown out knee. Backup QB Chris Simms came in and threw 6 for 10 for 69 yards in mop up duty. San Francisco was humiliated by he Washington redskins 52-17 and rookie QB Alex Smith may be going back to the bench in favor of Ken Dorsey.
Tampa Bay is hoping the bye week gave Carnell Williams the rest he needed to heal so he can get back on the field as soon as possible. But against the punchless 49ers, Tampa HC Jon Gruden may sit him another week as they shouldn’t need him to get the W this week.
Continue to start Lbs Derrick Brooks and Shelton Quarrels as they are both strong starts this and every week.
Best Bets – Tampa Bay – LB Shelton Quarrels - San Francisco – DB Tony Parrish
Solid plays – Tampa Bay – LB Derrick Brooks - San Francisco – DB Mike Adams
Others to Consider – Tampa Bay – DB Ronde Barber - San Francisco – LD Derek Smith
Buffalo @ New England
Buffalo was run over by the Oakland Raiders. In this game Randy Moss was effective as a decoy as his presence was felt down the field in double coverage even when the Bills were getting gauged by the run. New England was on bye last week, and lost SS Rodney Harrison’s replacement, SS Gus Scott for the season. The Patriots are expected to get back LB Tedy Bruschi this week, though its not a definite he is playing, even if he suits up.
Buffalo has been improved on offense since Kelly Holcomb took over at QB, but the offense is featured around RB Willis Mcgahee, and he was held to 50 yards on 16 carries last week. For Buffalo to have any chance to win they have to keep Pats QB Tom Brady off the field, and put pressure on him on virtually every snap of the ball on defense. The Pats hope Bruschi is the lift they need to get back on track.
Best Bets – Buffalo – LB London Fletcher - New England – LB Tedy Bruschi (questionable)
Solid plays – Buffalo– LB Angelo Crowell - New England – LB Mike Vrabel
Others to Consider – Buffalo – DL Aaron Schobel - New England – DB Duane Starks
Baltimore @ Pittsburgh
Baltimore was beat by the Bears last week 10-6, and its now obvious that they are pretenders this season, and not super bowl contenders as many writers thought this past preseason. Pittsburgh missed the loss of QB Big Ben in week 6, but he was back in week 7, and he was effective enough to get the W for the Steelers. The Ravens are still at least a week away from getting its starting QB Kyle Boller back, and that has caused the defense to wear down.
Ravens LB Ray Lewis and DB Ed Reed are both out this week vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night football. Keep an eye on LB Adalius Thomas and DB Will Demps as both should have solid games. This game features two of the best defenses in the league, but the difference in the game is the Steelers offense is superior, and their defense is just as solid. Start your studs this week, outside of Lewis and Reed.
Best Bets – Baltimore – DL Terrell Suggs - Pittsburgh – LB James Farrior
Solid plays – Baltimore – LB Adalius Thomas - Pittsburgh – DB Chris Hope
Others to Consider – Baltimore – DB Will Demps - Pittsburgh – DB Troy Polamalu
Open Date: Atlanta, Indianapolis, NY Jets, Seattle