Chicago @ Pittsburgh
Chicago’s defense was once again impressive holding the Packers to a singel TD while matching that score themselves. Chicago held Brett Favre out of the end zone and intercepted him twice, and also forced 2 fumbles. Pittsburgh gave up 38 points to the Bengal’s, but a few of those scores were the result of the Steelers offense turning the ball over 4 times, setting up short fields for the Bengals high powered offense.
Chicago traveling to Pittsburgh will have a hard time scoring on the Steelers defense, and as a result their win streak will come to and end this week. Chicago is likely to turn the ball over in their own territory at least once, setting the Steelers up in scoring position. Expect all the Bears linebackers to have strong games trying to slow down the Steelers rushing attack, and a better than average day from Steelers LB James Farrior and DB Troy Polamalu.
Best Bets – Chicago – LB Brian Urlacher - Pittsburgh – LB James Farrior
Solid plays – Chicago – LB Lance Briggs - Pittsburgh – DB Troy Polamalu
Others to Consider – Chicago – DB Mike Brown - Pittsburgh – LB Larry Foote
Tampa Bay @ Carolina
Tampa Bay’s defense intercepted New Orleans QB Aaron Brooks 4 times in route to a 10-3 victory. Buc’s CB Ronder Barber picked off three of those 4 balls and the Bucs held the Saints to under 300 total yards. Carolina was very impressive last week holding the top rushing team to 120 yards on the ground while picking off Atlanta QB Michael Vick twice.
Carolina has turned their game up a notch with the emergence of running back Deshaun Foster and his 131 yard rushing performance on 24 carries. Tampa Bay will be hard pressed to run on the Panthers defense, and as a result will have a hard time scoring. Carolina will open up the passing game with a steady diet of run, which make the Bucs LB tandem of Brooks and Quarles best bets this week.
Best Bets – Tampa Bay - LB Derrick Brooks - Carolina – LB Will Witherspoon
Solid plays – Tampa Bay - LB Shelton Quarles - Carolina – DB Marlon McCree
Others to Consider – Tampa Bay - DB Ronde Barber - Carolina - DL Julius Peppers
St. Louis @ Minnesota
St. Louis lost the game they had to have last week and are now basically playing for pride. The Rams defense was torched for 257 rushing yards and another 156 through the air to the Washington Redskins. But all was not lost, there was a Chris Claiborne
sighting in the box score with 7 solo tackles and an assist. LB Claiborne has been a huge bust this year for the Rams, so its nice to see some production even if it is in the tail end of the season. Minnesota held the hapless Lions offense to 220 total yards and improved their record to 5-0 since QB Brad Johnson took over the team.
The Rams interim coach wants to stick to the running game longer this week, but will be hard pressed not to chunk it 40 times to stay in the ball game with the Vikings. Minnesota’s defense has not been as advertised, but has been playing much better as of late. The Vikings playmakers on defense are in the secondary with Defensive backs Antoine Winfield and Darren Sharper. St Louis DB Jerome Carter has been a pleasant surprise filling in for Adam Archuleta with 6 tackles and an assist last week.
Best Bets – St. Louis – LB Pisa Tinoisamoa - Minnesota - DB Antoine Winfield
Solid plays – St. Louis – DL Leonard Little - Minnesota - DB Darren Sharper
Others to Consider – St. Louis – DB Jerome Carter - Minnesota - LB Sam Cowart
Oakland @ NY Jets
Oakland was no match for the San Diego Chargers offense or defense. The Raiders were held scoreless the last 2 and a half quarters of the game, after scoring 10 early points. Oakland on defense has been a joke as of late, with the exception of rookie LB Kirk Morrison who played in the middle last week. NY was held to a FG last week, and gave up 400 yards of offense and 16 points to the Patriots. FS Erik Coleman had a huge afternoon with 8 tackles and 5 assists.
Oakland is turning to QB Marques Tuiasosopo to lead them this week, hoping to light a spark in the offense. The problem with the offense isn’t necessarily Kerry Collins, so this may be only a one week experiment. The Jets defense should be able to bait Marques Tuiasosopo into some errant throws and both Safeties Coleman and Rhodes are considered nice plays. Morrison and safety Stuart Schweigert are also considered strong plays again this week for Oakland.
Best Bets – Oakland - LB Kirk Morrison - NY Jets – LB Jonathon Vilma
Solid plays – Oakland - LB Danny Clark - NY Jets – DB Erik Coleman
Others to Consider – Oakland - DB Stuart Schweigert - NY Jets – DB Kerry Rhodes
New England @ Buffalo
New England bounced the Jets 16-3 and returned RB Corey Dillon to the lineup last week. The Patriots defense benefited greatly by the return of a running game, as shown by the 38 to 22 minute advantage in time of possession. Buffalo exploded to a 23-3 lead heading into the 4 th quarter, then their defense collapsed giving up 3 TD’s in the final frame and lost 24-23 to the Miami Dolphins.
New England is the class of a poor AFC East, and should have its way with Buffalo this week. Corey Dillon alone gives the Pats a weapon they have not had in the running game in a month, and the Patriots patchwork D is starting to gel at the right time of the season. New England will throw more than they run, and Fletcher is due for a good game instead of the string of great ones, but will still be a best bet. The Patriots LB trio will dictate this game and force Buffalo to throw more than they would like.
Best Bets – New England - LB Tedy Bruschi - Buffalo - LB London Fletcher
Solid plays – New England - LB Mike Vrabel - Buffalo - DL Aaron Schobel
Others to Consider – New England - LB Rosevelt Colvin - Buffalo - DB Lawyer Milloy
Indianapolis @ Jacksonville
Indianapolis stomped a mud hole in the Tennessee Titans defense last week 35-3, and the game wasn’t nearly as close as the final score. The Colts could do no wrong, with each of its playmakers scoring and their defense equally impressive in the rout. Jacksonville loss of QB Byron Leftwich doesn’t look like its hurt the team with the play of David Garrard. Garrard is more mobile and makes plays with his feet Leftwich could never make.
Jacksonville at home is another test for the Colts perfect season. The Jags always play the Colts tough and match up well on defense with the spread offense the Colts run. Indianapolis is 2 wins away from securing home field advantage through out the playoffs in the AFC. Jacksonville is a divisional opponent standing in their way. This figures to be an exciting game, with the defense of the Jags keeping the game close. Expect DL John Henderson and Marcus Stroud to make a statement and allow former Colt and current Jag LB Mike Peterson to have a strong performance behind them.
Best Bets – Indianapolis – LB Gary Brackett - Jacksonville – LB Mike Peterson
Solid plays – Indianapolis – LB Cato June - Jacksonville – DL John Henderson
Others to Consider – Indianapolis – DL Dwight Freeney - Jacksonville – DB Rashean Mathis
Houston @ Tennessee
Houston the current holder of the #1 overall pick in next Aprils draft led the Ravens with a minute to go, and gave up the lead and the win in the final 6 seconds of the contest. Houston on defense is terrible, but allowing the Ravens offense to slice through your defense is a season low. Tennessee was dismantled by the Colts 35-3, but there was one bright spot on defense, Albert Haynesworth had 6 tackles and 3 assists from the defensive tackle position.
Houston doesn’t look like they are even trying to win games if you watch their defense play. And on offense they gave up 5 sacks, and turned the ball over twice, and couldn’t score a TD. Tennessee has some fight in them, as their head coach has them ready to play even if there isn’t much talent on the field. Tennessee DL Kyle Vanden Bosch had 2 sacks nullified for defensive penalties.
Best Bets – Houston – LB Morlon Greenwood - Tennessee – LB Keith Bullock
Solid plays – Houston – LB DaShon Polk - Tennessee – DL Kyle Vanden Bosch
Others to Consider – Houston – DB Dunta Robinson - Tennessee – DL Albert Haynesworth
Cleveland @ Cincinnati
Cleveland rookie QB Charlie Fry threw to fellow rookie Braylon Edwards for 2 scores. But that isn’t going to continue this season as Edwards tore his ACL in the game, and is done for the season. This game is something HC Romeo Crennell can build on for next season. Cincinnati had its strongest win of the season vs. the hated Pittsburgh Steelers. The Bengal’s defense forced 4 turnovers in route to a 38-31 victory.
Cleveland will again start Charlie Fry, but without a big play WR, out jumping Dbs for the ball, he is likely to get picked a few times in this game. Expect Cincinnati to have its way with the Browns on both sides of the ball, and win this game rather easily. Cleveland MLB Andra Davis was limited in practice Wednesday, Dec. 7, and is questionable for Week 14, with concussion symptoms. DL Orpheus Roye is coming off a huge game in which he racked up 7 tackles, 3 assists, and 2 sacks.
Best Bets – Cleveland – LB Andra Davis - Cincinnati – LB Odell Thurman
Solid plays – Cleveland – LB Ben Taylor - Cincinnati – DB Kevin Kaesviharn
Others to Consider – Cleveland – DL Orpheus Roye - Cincinnati – LB Landon Johnson
Washington @ Arizona
Washington is still fighting for a playoff spot after dismantling the Rams last week 24-9. The Skins confused the Rams rookie QB, into one interception, and also forced him to fumble in which they recovered. Arizona is coming off a win over San Francisco, 17-0, and had a nice day out of DB Eric Green who posted 6 tackles, 3 assists and an interception.
Washington is motivated to run Clinton Portis and that helps DB Adrian Wilson and the Cardinals LB score points. Arizona on the other hand has no running game to speak of and has to pass to move the ball. The Washington secondary will be tested especially rookie Carlos Rogers, and DB Sean Taylor will pick Warner in this game. Expect some nice offense, but little consistency from any single defensive player outside of DB Adrian Wilson.
Best Bets – Washington – LB Lemar Marshall - Arizona – DB Adrian Wilson
Solid plays – Washington – CB Charles Rogers - Arizona – LB James Darling
Others to Consider – Washington – DB Sean Taylor - Arizona – LB Karlos Dansby
San Francisco @ Seattle
San Francisco started QB Alex Smith again this week and it showed. The 49ers turned the ball over 4 times, 3 interceptions by Smith. The 49ers defense was strong vs. the run, but its secondary was torched for 354 yards to Kurt Warner and the Arizona Cardinals. Seattle’s defense single handedly beat the Eagles 21-0, and that is not counting the 21 points the offense scored to make the final score 42-0. The Hawks defense returned 3 turnovers for touchdowns.
San Francisco is outclassed in this match up, and Seattle is going to run Shaun Alexander 30 times to give him some carries they took away in last Monday nights early blowout, when he was done early in the 3 rd quarter. Expect the 49ers Lbs to score very well in this game, especially Derek Smith. San Francisco will have to pass to stay in this game, but LB Lofa Tatupu drops back in coverage and tackles the underneath stuff so he should still be effective in this match up.
Best Bets – San Francisco – LB Derek Smith - Seattle – LB Lofa Tatupu
Solid plays – San Francisco – LB Julian Peterson - Seattle – DB Marquand Manuel
Others to Consider – San Francisco – LB Shawne Spencer - Seattle – LB D.D. Lewis
NY Giants @ Philadelphia
New York won a huge divisional game at home they had to have over the Dallas Cowboys. Their bookend defensive ends Osi Umenyiora and Michael Strahan caused havoc all after noon collecting 3 combined sacks and were the difference in the game. Philadelphia was embarrassed and whipped at the same time last Monday night in prime time. The Eagles defense was not a factor, in this game.
New York needs this win vs. the Eagles to hold onto a 1 game division lead, and the Eagles have all but quit on the season. RB Brian Westbrook is out for the season, and they will be starting rookie Ryan Moats in his place. The Eagles offense gave up 3 defensive touchdowns to Seattle last week, and expect them to give the Giants at least one. The Giants will try and use this game as a statement game for the rest of their season, while Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid is evaluating players desire to compete even under these circumstances.
Best Bets – NY Giants – LB Antonio Pierce - Philadelphia – LB Jeremiah Trotter
Solid plays – NY Giants – DLMichael Strahan, DL Osi Umenyiora - Philadelphia – DB Michael Lewis
Others to Consider – NY Giants – DB Gibril Wilson - Philadelphia – DB Brian Dawkins
Miami @ San Diego
Miami is coming off a huge come from behind win in which their backup QB Sage Rosenfels passed for 272 yards and 2 Touchdowns in relief duty of starter Gus Frerotte. Miami trailed 23-3 entering the fourth quarter and the backup QB led them on 3 consecutive TD drives to win the game 24-23. San Diego is clicking on all cylinders right now, but all world RB Ladanian Tomlinson was knocked out of the final series of the first half, with a chest/back injury. He later returned to the game, and had 25 carries, but didn’t reach the end zone.
Miami LB Zach Thomas returned to practice Wednesday, Dec. 7, but wore a red non-contact jersey. Thomas is currently not listed on the Week 14 injury report. This is great news for owners needing the standout LB for the first week of their playoffs. And vs. the Chargers he expects to be a huge contributor to your fantasy stat sheet. Expect Chargers LB Shawne Merriman to get to the Miami QB at least once this game, and is a solid play this week.
Best Bets – Miami – LB Zach Thomas - San Diego – LB Donnie Edwards
Solid plays – Miami – LB Channing Crowder - San Diego – LB Shawnee Merriman
Others to Consider – Miami – DL Jason Taylor - San Diego – DB Drayton Florence
Kansas City @ Dallas
Kansas City defeated division rival Denver last week, with 140 yards and 2 touchdowns from Larry Johnson on the ground and 253 yards passing and 2 Tds from QB Trent Green. In a game the Chiefs had to have to stay in playoff contention, their defense stepped up with 2 timely interceptions, one in their own end zone, with the Bronco’s at their 10 yard line. Dallas was strong again on defense holding the Giants to 10 points, as 7 of the 17 points scored by the Giants were scored by the Giants defense.
The Dallas offensive line has been offensive since left tackle Flozell Adams went down a few weeks back. The Cowboys are starting a rookie 6 th round draft pick as their right tackle and a career backup as their left tackle, and have to give both help on virtually every passing play. Kansas City will attempt to run the ball, and Cowboys MLB Bradie James will be very active trying to shut them down. The Dallas defense should be the difference in this game.
Best Bets – Kansas City – LB Kawika Mitchell - Dallas – LB Bradie James
Solid plays – Kansas City – DB Greg Wesley - Dallas – DB Roy Williams
Others to Consider – Kansas City – LB Derrick Johnson - Dallas – LB Demarcus Ware
Baltimore @ Denver
Baltimore beat the Texans on the final play from scrimmage 16-15 in a game Kyle Boller led his team on a game winning drive. DL Terrell Suggs had a strong performance with 3 sacks, a forced fumble and 6 solo tackles. Denver QB Jake Plummer who only threw 4 interception in the first 11 games of the season, threw 2 last week vs. Kansas City which turned out to be the difference in their 31-27 loss. Denver LB Ian Gold was huge with 10 solo tackles in a losing effort.
Those waiting on Ray Lewis return for their playoffs can officially drop the Baltimore all-pro. Lewis had season ending surgery today to repair his hamstring that just couldn’t heal properly on its own. Ray Lewis was put on injured reserve by the team today. Bart Scott has filled in nicely at LB in Lewis absence and has another solid game last week with 7 solo tackles, 5 assists and a sack. Scott is a best bet again this week vs. the Bronco’s rushing attack.
Best Bets – Baltimore – LB Bart Scott - Denver – LB Ian Gold
Solid plays – Baltimore – DL Terrell Suggs - Denver – DB Darrent Williams
Others to Consider – Baltimore – LB Tommy Polley - Denver – LB Al Wilson
Detroit @ Green Bay
Detroit once again came out flat, even with the coaching change and immediately gave up an 80 yard bomb when QB Brad Johnson connected with WR Koren Robinson. The Lions defense gave up over 100 yards on the ground and over 250 through the air. That is a recipe for disaster when an offense can beat your defense with both the run and pass.
Green Bay is down to its 3 rd string RB and playing backup WR’s and TE’s each week, but Brett Favre and the Packers refuse to quit. Detroit looks like a team counting the days until the end of the season. The Lions lost starting FS Terrance Holt for the season, and have few playmakers left. Start DB Kennoy Kennedy if you own him, as he is one of the few players on the Lions who is still looking for contact.
Best Bets – Detroit – DB Kennoy Kennedy - Green Bay – LB Nick Barnett
Solid plays – Detroit – LB Boss Bailey - Green Bay - DL Aaron Kampman
Others to Consider – Detroit – LB Donte Curry - Green Bay – DB Mark Roman
New Orleans @ Atlanta
New Orleans held the Tampa Bay Bucs to 240 yards and 10 pts, but couldn’t muster more than a FG itself on offense, and lost 10-3. The Saints have overcome several obstacles this season early on, but have not been as fortunate playing strong defense and winning football games. Atlanta has to be disappointed with its showing vs. division rival Carolina. Their D couldn’t stop the run and gave up big plays in the passing game.
QB’s Michael Vick and Aaron Brooks are cousins, so expect inspired football by each of them, in what figures to be a high scoring game. Even though this may be the Saints version of the Super Bowl, playing in prime time for the last time this season and possibly next season as well, Atlanta has more to lose in this game. Expect the Falcons defense to step up and take control of this game.
Best Bets – New Orleans - LB Ronald McKinnon - Atlanta – LB Demorrio Williams
Solid plays – New Orleans - DB Josh Bullocks - Atlanta – LB Keith Brooking
Others to Consider – New Orleans - DL Charles Grant - Atlanta – DL Patrick Kerney