Tennessee @ Cleveland
Tennessee played Oakland strong for 3 quarters last week, but came up on the short end of a 34-25 loss. In that game Tennessee had strong defensive performances from LB’s Keith Bullock and Brad Kassell, as usual. Cleveland was just the remedy Houston needed to finally get a win on the season. In a losing effort Browns LB Andra Davis had another strong performance. Keep an eye on rookie FS Brodney Pool who had his best day as a pro with 4 tackles and 3 assists.
There are rumblings out of Cleveland that its time to sit QB Trent Dilfer in favor of the rookie Frye, but those rumblings are from rookie WR Braylon Edwards, not head coach Romeo Crennell. Cleveland RB Reuben Droughns was arrested for drunk driving this week, and his status for this week's game is uncertain at this time. Tennessee will pound the rock in the 4 th qtr and the Cleveland LB should benefit. If RB Droughns misses Sundays game, Cleveland may abandon the run, which will cause the Tennessee LB’s to score below their season average.
Best Bets – Tennessee – LB Keith Bullock- Cleveland – LB Andra Davis
Solid plays - Tennessee – DL Kyle Vanden Bosch - Cleveland – DB Chris Crocker
Others to Consider - Tennessee – LB Brad Kassell- Cleveland – DB Daylon McCutcheon
Oakland @ Kansas City
Oakland had a nice game out of its defensive playmakers last week, even though it led for most of the day. MLB Danny Clark had the best of all the Raiders defensive playmakers with 7 tackles, 5 assists and a sack. There was even a Warren Sapp sighting Sunday with 5 tackles, 1 assist, a forced fumble and 2.5 sacks. Kansas City vs. the Chargers trailed 21-3 at the half, and never could get the game any closer than 7 points. Kansas City’s leading tackler was middle linebacker Kawika Mitchell with 8 tackles and 2 assists.
Oakland will look to get an early lead so its RB Lamont Jordan can put the game away in the second half, but Kansas City has plans of its own to use its RB’s to burn some clock and keep the ball out of Raiders QB Kerry Collins hands. Both teams Lbs could put up huge numbers if both teams have success running the ball, and the score stays close. If not, look for the Safeties to have nice afternoons.
Best Bets – Oakland LB Kirk Morrison - Kansas City – LB Derrick Johnson
Solid plays – Oakland LB Danny Clark - Kansas City – DB Greg Wesley
Others to Consider – Oakland DB Stuart Schweigert - Kansas City – LB Kawika Mitchell
Atlanta @ Miami
Atlanta was on bye last week, but had a decisive win in week 7 on Monday night vs. the Jets. In that game 2 nd yr LB Demorrio Williams was outstanding with 9 solo tackles an assist and a sack. Miami traveled to Baton Rouge to play the Saints and left town with a 21-6 victory on the legs of Ronnie Brown and another stellar defensive performance. LB Zach Thomas was held to only 2 tackles, but that was more New Orleans having to throw on every down, and abandoning the run early, which causes poor LB stats.
But Zach Thomas owners should not fear, because the # 1 rushing team in the league in attempts and total yards is next on the schedule for the Dolphins, the Atlanta Falcons. Zach Thomas as well as fellow LB Channing Crowder should have lights out numbers at the end of this contest. Miami will also look to run RB’s Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown and Falcons Lbs Brooking and Demorrio Williams could also have strong statistical days.
Best Bets – Atlanta – LB Keith Brooking - Miami – LB Zach Thomas
Solid plays – Atlanta – LB Demorrio Williams - Miami – LB Channing Crowder
Others to Consider – Atlanta – DB DeAngelo Hall - Miami – DL Jason Taylor
Detroit @ Minnesota
Detroit was in a dog fight with Chicago for 1 st place in the NFC North division, with the Bears winning the game in OT on Jeff Garcia pass which was intercepted and returned for a TD. Not exactly the way you draw it up, but the Bears will take it, and the Lions have to be kicking themselves for letting this opportunity get away from them. Lions LB Earl Holmes led the way defensively with 8 solo tackles, but overall no other Detroit player did much, production wise. Minnesota off the heals of the best win of the season a week ago, coming back from 17 down to beat the Pack, crumbled this week to the Carolina Panthers. In that game the Vikings lost QB Daunte Culpepper for the season with 3 different ligament tears in his knee.
Both teams are coming off devastating losses, but the loss of Culpepper could be an emotional letdown carried over this week. The Lions will have a much easier time running the ball this week than last week vs. the Bears, and expect all the Vikings playmakers to have even more statistics now that they lost their QB, who was the glue that kept that offense on the field.
Best Bets – Detroit – LB Earl Holmes - Minnesota - LB Sam Cowart
Solid plays – Detroit – DB Kennoy Kennedy - Minnesota - DB Antoine Winfield
Others to Consider – Detroit – LB Boss Bailey - Minnesota - DL Kevin Williams
San Diego @ NY Jets
San Diego was impressive on defense stopping the high powered Chiefs running game and knocking RB Priest Holmes out of the game with a concussion. San Diego mammoth rookie LB Shawne Merriman who stands 6’4” and 272 lbs had 2 sacks from his LB position and 4 tackles including one that forced a fumble. The Jets were on bye last week, but in week 7 lost starting WLB Eric Barton for the season. 2 nd yr LB Mark Brown has been solid in his absence and looks to continue to put up nice stats, now that he is starting.
San Diego is a superior team and will eventually run down the Jets front four, but not before DL’s Abraham and Ellis rack up some nice tackle numbers. Jets LB Jonathon Vilma could be the top scoring LB this week, outside of Dolphins LB Zach Thomas playing Atlanta. The Chargers DB’s will be strong plays, but watch out for SS Terrance Kiel who is currently listed as questionable this weeks, after leaving last weeks game.
Best Bets – San Diego –LB Donnie Edwards - NY Jets – LB Jonathon Vilma
Solid plays – San Diego –DB Terrance Kiel - NY Jets – DL John Abraham
Others to Consider – San Diego –LB Shanwne Merriman - NY Jets – DL Shaun Ellis
Carolina @ Tampa Bay
Carolina literally destroyed Minnesota in week 8, and could have crushed their spirit as well, knocking Daunte Culpepper out for the season. The Panthers amassed over 450 yards of offense while holding the Vikings to less than 300 and only giving up 13 points. None of the Panthers defensive players had impressive games, as the Panthers offense kept them off the field most of the afternoon. Tampa Bay just isn’t the same team without starting QB Brian Griese and it showed in week 8. Chris Simms threw for 264 yards on 24 attempts, but 78 of that came on one play when WR Joey Galloway turned a short pass into a long TD. Tampa Bay had nice outings from DB Ronde Barber and LB Derrick Brooks in the loss to the lowly 49ers.
Tampa Bay looks like they will fade down the stretch as the Panthers are turning it on at the right time. Expect the Panthers to control the clock again this week, as the Bucs offense will have a hard time moving the chains against the stout Carolina D. Tampa Bay LB’s Brooks and Quarles could both have big afternoons in what looks like another losing effort. Morgan is always a strong play when you sit him, so don’t.
Best Bets – Carolina – LB Dan Morgan - Tampa Bay - LB Derrick Brooks
Solid plays – Carolina – LB Will Witherspoon - Tampa Bay - LB Shelton Quarles
Others to Consider – Carolina - DL Julius Peppers - Tampa Bay - DB Ronde Barber
Houston @ Jacksonville
Houston finally got in the Win column last week, but don’t look for any streak to continue traveling to Jacksonville this week. LB DaShon Polk had another nice outing in place of injured Kailee Wong, and could be the Jay Foreman of the new Texans defense. Jacksonville ran for over 200 yards, and lost last week to the Rams who also put up 200+ yards on the ground in the win. The Jags MLB Mike Peterson had 10 solo tackles and a sack in the losing effort.
Houston’s only chance to stay with Jacksonville is to stop RB Fred Taylor, and to run D Davis 35 times and salt the clock with even the smallest of leads. Both are unlikely so look for the Jags to run Taylor early and often, and wear out the inexperienced front seven of the Texans. But while doing so, the Texans defensive playmakers should have nice stats.
Best Bets – Houston – LB Morlon Greenwood - Jacksonville – LB Mike Peterson
Solid plays – Houston – LB DaShon Polk - Jacksonville– LB Darryl Smith
Others to Consider – Houston – DB Dunta Robinson - Jacksonville– DB Deke Cooper
Cincinnati @ Baltimore
Cincinnati handed Green Bay another loss, and picked Brett Favre off 5 times in route to a 21-14 win. The Bengal’s defense was outstanding with S Kevin Kaesviharn
leading the way with 8 tackles, 2 assists. LB Landon Johnson also had a strong outing with 9 total tackles. Baltimore without its 2 defensive stalwarts actually let the Pittsburgh Steelers 19-17 with 2:27 remaining, but missed its defensive MVP’s on the final drive when Big Ben led the Steelers right down the field and K Jeff Reed ended the game with a 37 yard FG to give the Steelers a 20-19 victory.
Baltimore will once again be without the services of LB Ray Lewis who is out again this week with a thigh injury. But the Ravens will get back DB Ed Reed to shore up its secondary. The Baltimore offense will have a hard time getting on track playing against their former DC and now Bengal’s head coach Marvin Lewis. Lewis has the Bengal’s D playing great ball, and he is even finding ways of passing notes to WR Chad Johnson’s locker to motivate the animated WR, without causing friction between the two. Expect LB Tommy Polley to have another solid game filling in for Ray Lewis, and for Thurman to get back on track for the Bengal’s.
Best Bets – Cincinnati – LB Odell Thurman - Baltimore – DB Will Demps
Solid plays – Cincinnati – DB Kevin Kaesviharn - Baltimore – DB Ed Reed
Others to Consider – Cincinnati – DL Justin Smith - Baltimore– LB Tommy Polley
Chicago @ New Orleans
Chicago now leads the NFC North with a 4-3 record after its OT thrilling victory over the Detroit Lions last week. Chicago CB Charles Tillman intercepted Lions QB Jeff Garcia and returned it for a TD to end the game. The Bears had 6 players with 6 tackles or more, and Bears SLB Hunter Hillenmeyer had an inspiring 7 tackles. New Orleans had 5 players with 7 tackles or more vs. the Dolphins and this trend may continue as poorly as their offense is playing. The Saints were soundly beaten 21-6 at their home away from home in Baton Rouge.
This game looks like a mismatch with the Saints offense as bad as it's been vs. the Bears stellar defensive squad, but the great equalizer figures to be the Bears offense. The Bears won’t run away from many teams, and New Orleans should be able to stay close enough in this game, to not have to pass on every down in the second half. New Orleans rookie Josh Bullocks has taken over the SS position due to the injury of Dwight Smith and has been a lone bright spot on the Saints defense. The biggest disappointment from a fantasy stand point has to be Saints DL Charles Grant inability to get to the QB or make enough tackles to be a solid weekly play. Expect him to get going this week vs. the Bears.
Best Bets – Chicago – LB Brian Urlacher - New Orleans - DB Josh Bullocks
Solid plays – Chicago – LB Lance Briggs - New Orleans - DL Will Smith
Others to Consider – Chicago – DB Mike Brown, DB Charles Tillman - New Orleans - DL Charles Grant
Seattle @ Arizona
Seattle was on bye in week 8, but was able to steal a win in week 7 over the Dallas Cowboys. Trailing virtually the whole afternoon, Seattle tied the game with 50 seconds remaining, then picked off a pass and returned it inside Dallas territory and kicked the winning FG as time expired. In that performance Hawks DL Grant Wistrom had his best game of the season with 7 tackles, 2 assists, and a sack. Arizona wasn’t as fortunate vs. the Cowboys last week, getting crushed 34-13 at Texas Stadium. Cardinals DB Adrian Wilson was spectacular in that game though with 8 solo tackles, a sack and a couple of pass defense.
Seattle with a week off to game plan for the Cards should have an easy time as Arizona lost starting WR Anquan Boldin for several weeks, and look to bring back QB Kurt Warner from injury. . Arizona will have to pass most the game to stay with the Hawks, but figure the Hawks to blitz and get to the Cardinals QB on several occasions to give their playmakers a chance to put up some stats. . On defense Arizona LB Karlos Dansby and DB Adrian Wilson could have strong games with Shaun Alexander and Co. running 30+ times in this game.
Best Bets – Seattle – DL Grant Wistrom - Arizona – LB Karlos Dansby
Solid plays – Seattle – DB Michael Boulware - Arizona – DB Adrian Wilson
Others to Consider – Seattle – LB Lofa Tatupu - Arizona – DL Bertrand Berry
NY Giants @ San Francisco
In remembrance of owner Wellington Mara the Giants dominated division rival Washington 36-0. In that game DL’s Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora combined for 8 tackles and 3 sacks, while LB Antonio Pierce continued his assault on opposing RB’s with 7 tackles, 4 assists and an interception. San Francisco upset the Tampa Bay Bucs on what is described as a head scratcher of a game. The 49ers never trailed in this game, with LB Derek Smith leading the way defensively with 5 tackles, 1 assist, and a pass defense.
This game on paper looks like a complete mismatch, and it will be worse than that on the field. The Giants will roll into San Francisco and beat up the 49ers leaving town with a win. The Giants are too balanced on offense with RB Tiki Barber and WR Plaxico Burress, and strong at all 3 layers of the defense. The Giants have 2 solid pass rushing ends, a stud middle linebacker in Pierce and Gibril Wilson at strong safety. But for fantasy purposes the 49ers LB’s may outscore everyone with the heavy dose of Tiki pounding the line of scrimmage, which is sure to come.
Best Bets – NY Giants - DLMichael Strahan, DL Osi Umenyiora - San Francisco – LB Derek Smith
Solid plays – NY Giants – LB Antonio Pierce - San Francisco – DB Tony Parrish
Others to Consider – NY Giants – DB Gibril Wilson - San Francisco – LB Julian Peterson
Pittsburgh @ Green Bay
Pittsburgh escaped last Monday night with a win over the reeling Ravens, but have bigger concerns with the knee of QB Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben is questionable and did not practice Wednesday. If Ben is unable to go, journeyman QB Charlie Batch is going to start over previous backup Tommy Maddox. That could be a welcome sight for the maligned Packers defense. Green Bay was on the short end of a 21-14 loss to the Cincinnati Bengal’s, thanks in large part to Brett Favre’s 5 interceptions. But as always Nick Barnett was lights out with 8 tackles and 4 assists.
Green Bay at home used to be an automatic W for the Pack during the Brett Favre regime, but injuries and a porous defense have changed all that. Pittsburgh should be able to stroll into Lambeau and leave with the win. Expect more carries from Steelers RB Willie Parker this week, which makes Barnett and DB Mark Roman strong plays again.
Best Bets – Pittsburgh – LB James Farrior - Green Bay – LB Nick Barnet
Solid plays – Pittsburgh – DB Troy Polamalu - Green Bay – DB Mark Roman
Others to Consider – Pittsburgh – DB Ike Taylor - Green Bay - Dl Aaron Kampman
Philadelphia @ Washington
Philadelphia was once again beaten up in the first half, and yet again unable to come back in the 4 th quarter and get a win. This time Denver led the Eagles 28-7 at the half, before finishing with a 49-21 victory. Eagles LB Jeremiah Trotter was a bright spot with 10 solo tackles and an assist. No other Eagle had more than 4 tackles on the afternoon. Washington was just taken behind the woodshed last week in NY, getting beaten down 36-0. The Giants took away Santana Moss and put 8 men in the box and forced Skins QB Mark Brunell to find someone else to beat them. That strategy worked and expect to see much more of it in the weeks to come.
Philadelphia shouldn’t have any trouble getting off to a strong start vs. the Skins, but will eventually need a running game to salt the clock in the 4 th quarter or Washington could hang around long enough to pull the upset as they have done on several occasions already this season. Expect Trotter to have another big game, but look at for Redskins DB Ryan Clark who had a team leading 11 solo tackles and an interception to have another solid start. .
Best Bets – Philadelphia – LB Jeremiah Trotter - Washington – LB Lemar Marshall
Solid plays – Philadelphia – DB Michael Lewis - Washington – DB Ryan Clark
Others to Consider – Philadelphia – DB Brian Dawkins - Washington – LB LaVar Arringon
Indianapolis @ New England
Indianapolis was on bye in week 8, and had 2 weeks to prepare for the SB Champs. New England welcomed back LB Tedy Bruschi after missing the first 7 games. Bruschi was a welcome addition, and allowed fellow LB Mike Vrabel to be more involved, not having to fight the constant double teams he has faced in Bruschi’s absence. Critics of the Colts have pointed to the teams they have beaten en route to their 7-0 start.
New England will be fired up at home to welcome the undefeated Colts, and send them back to Indianapolis with their first loss of the season. Is this another tease from the Colts to their fans, or are they going to get it done this time at Foxboro vs. coach Bill. All of these questions will be answered next Monday Night, but one thing is for sure, both teams LB’s should score plenty as both teams want to establish a running game. Colts SS Bob Sanders is questionable with a wrist injury, but sources say he wouldn’t miss this game for anything.
Best Bets – Indianapolis – LB Cato June - New England– LB Tedy Bruschi
Solid plays – Indianapolis– LB Gary Brackett - New England– LB Mike Vrabel
Others to Consider – Indianapolis – DB Bob Sanders (questionable) - New England– DB Asante Samuel
Open Date: Buffalo, Dallas, Denver, St. Louis