San Francisco @ Atlanta
San Francisco has all of its weapons back on offense, but you wouldn’t have known it a week ago. The 49ers will need time for QB Alex Smith to gel with the others on offense, but this week against Atlanta they won’t have to be on top of their game to win. Expect a heavy dose of whoever runs the ball for SF this week, and for the Falcons LB’s Michael Boley and Keith Brooking to benefit.
Atlanta gave New Orleans a scare a week ago. The Falcons had a decent day throwing the football, and hope to build on that this week. The 49ers secondary will get the most love this week, as they should have the most opportunities to rack up stats.
Cincinnati @ Buffalo
Cincinnati hasn’t been the juggernaut many thought on offense as of late. The loss of Rudi Johnson hasn’t helped, but Kenny Watson has run the ball quite well in his absence. The problem is the passing game, and Carson Palmer hasn’t been able to get Chad Johnson involved in the offense. Expect that to change this week. Buffalo LBs are always a strong start, but this week, don’t forget DL Aaron Schobel.
Buffalo will have JP Losman starting at QB, and the Cincinnati D better be prepared. Losman has this season to impress his coaches, or he could be out of a job in Buffalo. Losman has yet to do anything thus far, to show he should be starting, but with the injury to rookie Trent Edwards, the Bills have no choice. Like every team who plays Cincy, the Bills offense should rack up yards, and sustain drives. This is what makes LB Landon Johnson such a strong play each week.
Denver @ Detroit
The Denver corners were less than impressive last Monday night vs. Brett Favre and the Packers. Detroit has more talented receivers than Green Bay, but only Calvin Johnson is as fast as James Jones and Greg Jennings. Denver better shore up their secondary or this could be a long day for their defense, which is also one of the worst in the NFL vs the run. Definitely start LB Ernie Sims as well as LB Paris Lenon.
Denver QB Jay Cutler looks like a turnover machine for the Broncos. Last weeks lost fumble made 1 turnover in every game he has played so far. The Lions D will feast on this offense. LB DJ Williams is a must start. DL Jarvis Moss is out for the season.
Carolina @ Tennessee
Carolina looked impressive a week ago on its opening drive taking over 11 minutes to cap off the touchdown drive, but wasn’t able to do anything else the rest of the day. Qb David Carr is lining up under center this week, and the Tennessee defense will force several turnovers in this contest. Expect a heavy dose of the run, and for LB David Thornton to have another stellar performance.
Tennessee QB Vince Young is struggling mightily as of late, but he and the defense do just enough to record another W. Carolina will use their pass rush to keep Young in the pocket and stop the run. Expect LB Jon Beason and DB Chris Harris to lead the way for Carolina on defense.
San Diego @ Minnesota
San Diego is starting to look like one of the best teams in the NFL again. They hung 35 on Houston, before they got off the bus last week, and against the hapless Vikings offense, expect another Charger blowout. Luckily for Minnesota IDP homers, LB EJ Henderson and DB Antonie Winfield will fill the stat sheet for their fantasy owners.
Minnesota is in major flux without a true QB to make opposing defenses not load 8 or 9 in the box to stop RB Adrian Peterson. Peterson is likely to be heavily involved this week, but the Chargers defense will be waiting. Charger LB’s Matt Wilhelm and Stephen Cooper are strong plays this week.
Jacksonville @ New Orleans
Jacksonville escaped Tampa Bay last week with a 24-23 win, and were unable to run the ball very well, with a 3.0 average on 44 carries. But all of that changes this week. Expect the Jags to establish the run and gash them for chunks of yards at a time. The Saints safeties will have to play close to the line of scrimmage, and are strong plays this week.
New Orleans is starting to get back on track, offensively. Drew Brees hasn’t been sacked in 3 games, after getting dropped multiple times earlier in the season. New Orleans will have trouble running the ball this week, so rookie DB Reggie Nelson will be a factor in the passing game.
Washington @ NY Jets
Washington was the latest victim of the Patriots Express. The skins should just throw that game tape away, and start from scratch this week. Luckily they get a semi-bye in the NY Jets. The Loss of Jets LB Jonathon Vilma will be felt and the Redskins will run the ball with ease this week. LB David Harris is a strong play in place of Vilma.
The Jets are changing starting QB’s this week. Pennington is now out, and 2nd year player Kellen Clemens is in. The Jets woes can’t all be blamed on Pennington, but when you are 1-7, and the offense isn’t generating much of anything, a change maybe what this team needs. Clemens has a much stronger arm, but like any backup, should struggle early on. Washington has a solid secondary, and should wreck havoc on the Jets passing attack. DB Sean Taylor is a strong play.
Arizona @ Tampa Bay
Arizona is coming off bye week, and should be well rested. LB Karlos Dansby is likely out again this week on defense, which should lead to a strong performance from backup LB Monty Beisel. Also look for Gerald Hayes to be more productive, playing on more 3rd downs with Dansby, out of the lineup.
Tampa Bay on defense is a 2 man gang.LB’s Barrett Ruud and Derrick Brooks are head and shoulders more productive than anyone else on the Tampa D. DB Ronde Barber isn’t being picked on as much this year, which has made DB Phillip Buchanon a nice surprise thus far. Expect Buchanon to have yet another strong scoring day.
Green Bay @ Kansas City
Green Bay has turned into the Brett Favre show again, but what many aren’t seeing, is how well this defense is playing right now. A few weeks back, they held in check the Chargers offense, and a week ago, held Denver well below their average in yards per game. Expect another strong performance from LB Nick Barnett, and DB Atari Bigby is a poor mans Bob Sanders.
Kansas City is back to running LJ, throwing it to TE Tony Gonzales, and playing decent defense. This formula allowed them to get to the playoffs a year ago, and the success of their offense depends on the OL up front giving Huard time to find Gonzo, and opening holes for LJ. This game pits the top two high motor guys on defense in the same game. As always start DL Jared Allen and DL Aaron Kampman of Green Bay
Seattle @ Cleveland
Seattle is coming off Bye and hopefully they have figured out what the rest of the league would like to know. Who is QB Derek Anderson, and is he really this good. Anderson is a big, strong, kid, with an accurate arm. He has several playmakers in WR Braylon Edwards and TE Kellen Winslow to throw too, and he isn’t making terrible mistakes. Everything you could ask for in a QB. To stop the Browns, you must get to Anderson, and that is exactly what the Hawks will do. Expect big games from all 3 LB’s, especially a blitzing Julian Peterson.
Seattle RB Shaun Alexander looks old, and doesn’t hit the hole with any authority anymore. The Browns D isn’t great vs the run to begin with, and is missing LB Dqwell Jackson, so the Hawks maybe able to get by this week, with Alexander. Expect Browns LB Leon Williams to have a solid statistical day.
Houston @ Oakland
Houston is without starting QB Matt Schaub this week, and at time of print, WR Andre Johnson is also doubtful to play. Houston has enough other weapons to score points, but must play lights out defense, and keep their offense from having to score more than 3 TDs to win. As always the Oakland pair of LB’s Kirk Morrison and Thomas Howard are great plays, but so is DB Michael Huff. Oakland DL Tommy Kelly is out for the year, even though the weekly rankings listed him this week.
Oakland is starting QB Josh McCown this week for an ineffective Daunte Culpepper. McCown is a more talented passer, and could be more effective if he can prevent turnovers. Houston LB Demeco Ryans is a huge play this week, as well as DB CC Brown.
New England @ Indianapolis
To say New England is on a roll is the understatement of this decade. Any decade for that matter. The Pats have their foot on the gas, and are not letting up until the fat lady sings, or for opposing teams, until the final whistle of the game. Indy is going to have to be perfect in cover 2, and force Brady to go the length of the field. In hopes the pass rush on the fast turf in Indy, will eventually get to Brady and cause havoc. Expect DB Bob Sanders to be huge in this game.
Indianapolis has the weapons to score on anyone, and keep up with anyone scoring on their defense. But if WR Marvin Harrison is sidelined this week, Reggie Wayne will be taken out of the game by the Pats. This will force Manning to go to Dallas Clark, and rookie Anthony Gonzales. Now things doesn’t look as promising on offense for the Colts. The Pats wont bring the kitchen sink at Manning, as Manning to too smart for that, he will just hand off to Addai, and gash the blitz. As great as the Pats are, for IDP purposes, they do not have a definite strong play this week.
Dallas @ Philadelphia
Dallas heads to Philly, and tries to avenge 2 loses a year ago at the hands of the Eagles. Dallas started the season strong last year as well, only to see Philly take the division late. Expect this Dallas team to be focused on that fact, and a Eagle loss could hinder their chances at the post season. Dallas will have a balanced offense, and take what the Eagles give them. Expect another strong game from DL Trent Cole, even if it’s just in run support.
Philadelphia is right where they want to be. Well not exactly, but a year ago, they were in this same situation, and then beat up Dallas en route to another division title. QB Donovan McNabb looks almost 100%, and will test the Dallas secondary with Kevin Curtis on slants and deep patterns. Expect the Cowboys to have one of their safeties deep, and the other spying Brian Westbrook out of the backfield. Both Dallas safeties are nice plays this week.
Baltimore @ Pittsburgh
Baltimore is having trouble scoring points and their once dominant defense isn’t quite so stout as of late. Baltimore is coming off a bye week, with 2 weeks to prepare for the Steelers, but that should only keep the game close. Pittsburgh is the more talented team, and at home, should control this game on both sides of the ball.
Pittsburgh is a very balanced offense this year. If you stack the box to stop Willie Parker, Big Ben is going up top to Santonio Holmes or Hines Ward deep. If you put your safeties in coverage, Willie Parker gashes you with the run. Expect the Ravens to be arrogant enough to think they can stop the run with just their LBs, and make them the highest scoring IDP players this week.
Bye – Chicago, St Louis, Miami, NY Giants