Tennessee @ Indianapolis
Tennessee QB Steve McNair threw for 343 yards last week vs. the 49ers, and Keith Bullock led all players with 7 solo tackles and 5 assists in the Titans 33-22 victory. Indianapolis is flirting with destiny this year after reaching 11-0. The Colts ran through and passed over the Steelers defense en route to a 26-7 win. Colts DB Bob Sanders led all players with 9 tackles.
Tennessee vs. Indy is a mismatch on paper, but the Titans can throw the ball, and get to the passer which are 2 ingredients to keeping up with the Colts. Tennessee LB Keith Bullock and Peter Sirmon should have nice days attacking Edge James, while Bob Sanders for the Colts looks to improve on last week numbers vs. the Titans offense.
Best Bets – Tennessee – LB Keith Bullock - Indianapolis – LB Gary Brackett
Solid plays – Tennessee – DL Kyle Vanden Bosch - Indianapolis – LB Cato June
Others to Consider – Tennessee – LB Peter Sirmon - Indianapolis – DB Bob Sanders
Minnesota @ Detroit
Minnesota is one game out of the wildcard race with last weeks 24-12 victory over the Cleveland Browns. Minnesota is also 4-0 since QB Daunte Culpepper went out and Brad Johnson replaced him. Vikings DB Antoine Winfield continues to impress with 9 more tackles last week. Detroit was once tied with Chicago for the division lead but has lost 4 of 5 games since that point. The only bright spot on the Lions defense from a fantasy perspective this yr has been DB Kennoy Kennedy.
Detroit fired their head coach after the Thanksgiving day massacre in Detroit, but the GM should have been fired instead. The Lions since that firing have replaced young QB Joey Harrington with aging QB Jeff Garcia, which says the interim coach wants to win games now even if Garcia won’t be with the team next season. Minnesota needs this victory to have any chance at the post season, but lost DT Kevin Williams for at least 2 weeks with a knee injury.
Best Bets – Minnesota - DB Antoine Winfield - Detroit – LB Earl Holmes
Solid plays – Minnesota - LB Sam Cowart - Detroit – DB Kennoy Kennedy
Others to Consider – Minnesota - DL Pat Williams - Detroit – LB Boss Bailey
Green Bay @ Chicago
Green Bay continues to find ways to lose games, and last week was no exception. The Packers led 14-10 at halftime and 14-13 entering the fourth quarter and couldn’t keep Mike McMahon and Co out of the FG range not once, not twice but three times to preserve the win. Rookie DB Nick Collins was impressive with 6 solo tackles and a sack. Chicago is thanking its lucky stars for last week victory after the Tampa Bay PK missed a chipshot 34 yard FG to tie the game late in the 4 th quarter.
Chicago’s defense has been spectacular this season and comparisons have been made to the 85 Bears defense. Many categories are eerie similar at this point in the season. The Bears DL has been playing amazing the last 2 weeks with DE’s Alex Brown and Adewale Ogunleye combing for 9 sacks. Look for that trend to continue this week vs. the makeshift Packers OL.
Best Bets – Green Bay – LB Nick Barnett - Chicago – LB Brian Urlacher
Solid plays – Green BayDL Aaron Kampman - Chicago – LB Lance Briggs, DL Alex Brown
Others to Consider – Green Bay – DB Mark Roman - Chicago – DB Mike Brown
Jacksonville @ Cleveland
Jacksonville lost starting QB Byron Leftwich for 4-6 weeks and possibly the season with a broken ankle in the first offensive series in last weeks game against the Arizona Cardinals. Jacksonville’s defense was just too much for the Cardinal offense, especially their LB corp. Cleveland was doubled up 24-12 in week 12 vs. the Vikings and as usual Andra Davis led the way with 9 total tackles.
Jacksonville will run the ball more with Leftwich out of the lineup, including more runs from the QB, position. This will lead to the Jags defense spending less time on the field, and the Cleveland LB corps even more opportunities to produce. Cleveland will also attempt to run, but will have to pass to stay in this game, and the Jacksonville DL should benefit in the fourth quarter.
Best Bets – Jacksonville – LB Mike Peterson - Cleveland – LB Andra Davis
Solid plays – Jacksonville – DL John Henderson - Cleveland – LB Ben Taylor
Others to Consider – Jacksonville – LB Daryl Smith - Cleveland – DB Chris Crocker
Atlanta @ Carolina
Atlanta took Detroit behind the woodshed on Thanksgiving day to the tune of 27-7, and the 7 points they gave up with a tipped ball, that happened to fall perfectly into WR Roy Williams hands. The Falcons defense has been impressive lately, especially Demmorrio Williams in his role as weak side LB. Carolina stole a game in Buffalo, 13-9 without its middle linebacker Dan Morgan. The Panther defense was swarming giving up only 3 field goals.
Carolina LB Dan Morgan is listed as doubtful on Wednesdays injury report and if he plays he will likely be a game time decision. Both of these teams will run the ball, and this figures to be a quick game, with few clock stoppages. The winner of this game will have a leg up in the division, so expect all the playmakers to step up including DL Julius Peppers who is finally starting to put up respectable sack numbers.
Best Bets – Atlanta – LB Demorrio Williams - Carolina – LB Will Witherspoon
Solid plays – Atlanta – LB Keith Brooking - Carolina - DB Morlon McCree
Others to Consider – Atlanta – DB DeAngelo Hall - Carolina - DL Julius Peppers
Houston @ Baltimore
Houston has the worst record in the NFL, and just displayed the worst defensive performance in recent memory. The Texans gave up a 24-3 lead to a rookie QB in his first action of the year at home. Baltimore is a laughing stock when many thought they were a playoff team. QB Kyle Boller returned last week, but was ineffective until the game was decided. The Ravens lost yet another defensive force when FS Will Demps was sidelined for the season.
Baltimore is still without standout LB Ray Lewis and DB Ed Reed and this defense is a shell of itself with those two in the lineup. Both are questionable again this week, and KFFL is reporting both have progressed significantly and both could play this week. Houston had success passing last week to WR Andre Johnson and will attempt to do so again this week. Expect a big game out of Ravens DL Terrell Suggs, as David Carr is again one of the most sacked QB’s in the league.
Best Bets – Houston – LB Morlon Greenwood - Baltimore – LB Tommy Polley
Solid plays – Houston – LB DaShon Polk - Baltimore – DL Terrell Suggs
Others to Consider – Houston – DB Dunta Robinson - Baltimore – LB Bart Scott
Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh
Cincinnati looks like the Colts of 2004. Their offense is explosive, but their defense is shaky, and not solid enough to finish the deal vs. good teams. Pittsburgh is coming off a loss to Indianapolis where they were exposed on offense. You stop the Steelers running game and you stop the Steelers, and on defense, play the corners physical and you can burn them when they try and retaliate.
This game could very well decide the division. These 2 teams are going in different directions since the Steelers beat the Bengals earlier in the year. Pittsburgh LB James Farrior is back, and will be a force in this game, as will the Bengals stud players at each level of the defense. This game will be decided by a which defense plays the best and at the end a defensive touchdown could decide the outcome.
Best Bets – Cincinnati – LB Odell Thurman - Pittsburgh – LB James Farrior
Solid plays – Cincinnati – DB Kevin Kaesviharn - Pittsburgh – DB Troy Polamalu
Others to Consider – Cincinnati – DL Justin Smith - Pittsburgh – LB Larry Foote
Dallas @ NY Giants
Dallas is coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Bronco’s in OT, but the story of this game was the strong play of both defenses. The Cowboys were held to 2.7 yards per carry, and the Broncos were held to a little more than 3 before a 50+ yard run in OT. New York like the Cowboys are disappointed in their FG kicking from a week ago, but what Matt Bryant did was remarkable. The Giants kicker single handedly lost the game for the G-men with 3 misses in the final minute of regulation and OT.
Both of these teams are tied at 7-4 and currently lead the division. The Cowboys placed middle linebacker Dat Nguyen on IR this week, and this could be the end of his career. Bradie James is now the force in the middle for Dallas, and Kevin Burnett will be given every opportunity to start in James old spot. The Giants defense has been impressive the past few weeks, especially DL’s Michael Strahan, and Osi Umenyiora. Start your studs in this match up and you won’t be disappointed.
Best Bets – Dallas – DB Roy Williams - NY Giants – LB Antonio Pierce
Solid plays – Dallas – LB Bradie James - NY Giants – DLMichael Strahan, DL Osi Umenyiora
Others to Consider – Dallas – LB Demarcus Ware - NY Giants – DB Gibril Wilson
Tampa Bay @ New Orleans
Tampa Bay was the latest victim of theMonsters of the Midway defense from Chicago. The Bucs had a chance to tie the score with a short FG, but their kicker shanked the kick and the Bears held on for a 13-10 victory. New Orleans is coming off only its 3 rd victory of the season, but you wouldn’t know it after watching them celebrate the victory after the game. The Saints rookie DB Josh Bullock lead all tacklers with 10 tackles and MLB Ronald McKinnon had another fine game.
Tampa Bay is the superior team and should win this game easily, but few things are coming easy since QB Brian Giese went down to injury. The Bucs D was solid last week, but has been shaky for the month prior to that. Tampa Bay should have a rushing advantage with Carnell Williams, which should lead to more opportunities for McKinnon. You can bet the Saints DL will get to QB Chris Simms at least once.
Best Bets – Tampa Bay - LB Derrick Brooks - New Orleans - DL Will Smith
Solid plays – Tampa Bay - LB Shelton Quarles - New Orleans - LB Ronald McKinnon
Others to Consider – Tampa Bay - DB Jermaine Phillips - New Orleans - DL Charles Grant
Buffalo @ Miami
Buffalo lost to Carolina in the closing minutes and couldn’t rally to take the lead in the end. Its certain the Bills miss the leadership of former QB Drew Bledsoe, and releasing him likely cost them a division title in the weak AFC East. Miami followed a simple game plan last week, run its two headed monster of Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown and throw the ball to WR Chris Chambers. The Dolphins DL Jason Taylor had 3 huge sacks last week, to go along with 6 solo tackles.
Buffalo and Miami are both 4-7 and out of the playoff race, but don’t think this game doesn’t matter to either coach. Miami is trying to feature RB Ricky Williams late in games to be able to deal him in the off season, while Buffalo is trying to get QB JP Losman as much experience as possible going into next season. Bills LB London Fletcher is on a tear right now with 11 more solo tackles to go along with 5 assists.
Best Bets – Buffalo - LBLondon Fletcher - Miami – LB Zach Thomas
Solid plays – Buffalo - DB Lawyer Milloy - Miami – LB Channing Crowder
Others to Consider – Buffalo - DL Aaron Schobel -Miami – DL Jason Taylor
Arizona @ San Francisco
Arizona was crushed last week vs. the Jaguars even without their starting QB. Cardinals coach Denny Green is extremely disappointed in the offensive and defensive line play this year. Sure QB Kurt Warner threw for 300 yards again, but with no running game the Cardinals are 1 dimensional which leaves their defense on the field more than they should. San Francisco was beaten a week ago by the Titans and look to be vying for the top overall pick again in next years NFL draft.
Both of these teams are looking to the future at this point, but both coaches want wins to either save their job or give their team confidence in their system. SF LB Julian Peterson had once of his best games of the season last week, and Cardinal DB Adrian Wilson is clearly the best defensive player on the field for Arizona.
Best Bets – Arizona – DB Adrian Wilson - San Francisco – LB Derek Smith
Solid plays – Arizona – DL Chike Okeafor - San Francisco – LB Julian Peterson
Others to Consider – Arizona – LB Karlos Dansby - San Francisco – DB Mike Adams
Washington @ St. Louis
Washington lost a heart breaker in OT, in a game they led by 10 at the start of the 4 th quarter to the surging Chargers. The Redskins defense was stout intercepting Drew Brees 3 times, but had no answer for RB Ladanian Tomlinson who rushed for 184 yards and 3 touchdowns. A star was born in St. Louis with rookie QB Ryan Fitzpatrick leading the Rams back from an improbable 24-3 deficit midway through the 3 rd quarter to a 27-24 win. The Rams defense finally stopped letting the Texans score long enough for the rookie to bring them all the way back.
Washington and St. Louis are both 5-6 and both 2 games out of the wildcard picture, so the loser of this game is virtually out for the playoffs. The Rams will probably start the rookie again at QB, but Washington will have film on him and he will practice all week as the starter with more pressure this time around. Expect the Rams to run RB Steven Jackson, and that bodes well for the Washington LB core.
Best Bets – Washington – LB Lemar Marshall - St. Louis – LB Pisa Tinoisamoa
Solid plays – Washington – LB LaVar Arrington - St. Louis – DL Anthony Hargrove
Others to Consider – Washington – DL Cornelius Griffin -St. Louis – DB Jerome Carter
NY Jets @ New England
New York could be the worst team in the NFL. They just lost to previous 2-8 New Orleans team at home. The Jets DL has been disappointing the past month with Shaun Ellis and John Abraham looking like they are playing in mud while LB Jonathon Vilma makes plays all around them. New England lost to Kansas City and looks to be the worst team in either conference to back into the playoffs because the AFC East only has 1 team with a winning record.
This game could be a rout as the Jets can’t run the ball with New England putting 8 and sometimes 9 men in the box to stop RB Curtis Martin, and QB Brooks Bollinger isn’t savvy enough to beat the makeshift secondary. New England looks to be without Corey Dillon again this week, which could make the secondary for the Jets appealing options this week. Ty Law will get the chance to go back to New England to play his old team for the first time. Expect him to try and show the Pats they made a mistake letting him leave in free agency.
Best Bets – NY Jets – LB Jonathon Vilma - New England - LB Tedy Bruschi
Solid plays – NY Jets – DL John Abraham - New England - LB Mike Vrabel
Others to Consider – NY Jets – DB Kerry Rhodes, DB Ty Law - New England - DB Eugene Wilson
Denver @ Kansas City
Denver played a nail bitter on Thanksgiving Day, and needed an unexpected long run from RB Ron Dayne in overtime to get the victory. Denver held the Cowboys rushing attack to 2.7 yards per carry, with D.J. Williams leading the way with 8 tackles. Kansas City is riding the LJ Express right now, and keeping its defense off the field which keeps the Chiefs in games.
Denver is playing like the second best team in the NFL right now and currently have the second best record. Their defense is lights out vs. the run, and Wilson, and Gold should have excellent games vs. Larry Johnson. Chiefs LB Derrick Johnson and DB Greg Wesley should also excel attempting to stop the Denver RBBC. This games figures to be high scoring, as both teams have impressive offenses, but the difference is the Bronco’s equally strong defense.
Best Bets – Denver – LB Al Wilson - Kansas City – LB Derrick Johnson
Solid plays – Denver – LB Ian Gold - Kansas City – DB Greg Wesley
Others to Consider – Denver – DB Darrent Williams - Kansas City – DB Eric Warfield
Oakland @ San Diego
Oakland continues to struggle on offense and WR Randy Moss certainly doesn’t look healthy. Miami ran the ball rather effectively on the Oakland defense giving up 145 yards and 2 Tds to the Dolphins RBBC. San Diego had a terrible time throwing on the Redskins D, but LT was able to run right through them for 184 yards and 3 TD’s. On defense The Chargers held RB Clinton Portis to 3 yard a carry average and held QB Mark Brunell under 200 passing yards.
Oakland traveling to San Diego is a nightmare match up for this defense. LT should have a very big day on the ground, and both Oakland Lbs should be very active. Oakland will throw it early and often, as the Chargers secondary is the weakness of this team. Expect a lower than average game from LB’s Edwards and Foley, and another nice game from CB Drayton Florence
Best Bets – Oakland - LB Kirk Morrison - San Diego – LB Donnie Edwards
Solid plays – Oakland - LB Danny Clark - San Diego – LB Steve Foley
Others to Consider – Oakland - DB Stuart Schweigert - San Diego – CB Drayton Florence
Seattle @ Philadelphia
Seattle struggled on defense giving up big play after big play to the Giants, and were bailed out by 3 missed field goals at the end of regulation and overtime. Seattle’s bend but don’t break defense broke down the stretch, with CB Marcus Trufant racking up 11 solo tackles. Philadelphia ran RB Brian Westbrook for a total of 117 rushing yards and held Brett Favre to 171 passing yards. The Eagles defense was impressive.
Seattle will have its hands full in this game even though the records don’t reflect this should be much of a contest. The Philly D at home is lights, and previously held Ladanian Tomlinson to a total of 7 yards on 17 carries. Alexander will run early and often and Jermeiah Trotter will have a huge game stopping him.
Best Bets – Seattle – LB Lofa Tatupa - Philadelphia – LB Jeremiah Trotter
Solid plays – Seattle – DB Marquand Manuel - Philadelphia – DB Michael Lewis
Others to Consider – Seattle – DB Michael Boulware - Philadelphia – DB Brian Dawkins