Minnesota @ Green Bay
The Vikings sport the leagues leading rusher, as well as the single game record holder for rushing yards in RB Adrian Peterson. Is there any doubt their game plan coming into this contest with Green Bay. The Vikings defense played better a week ago, without Antoine Winfield, which is a surprise as he is their best cover corner and leading tackler from the secondary position. Winfield is questionable this week, but a must start if he plays.
Green Bay is sitting atop the NFC alongside the Cowboys with a 7-1 record. The Packers are keeping games close, and winning them down the stretch. Something this team did very little of early last year. The Packers have one of the worst rushing attacks in the NFL, and are playing one of the best rush defenses in Minnesota. Expect Brett Favre to throw it early and often.
Jacksonville @ Tennessee
Jacksonville ran into a buzz saw last week vs New Orleans. Still without their starting QB, the Jaguars could be in a world of trouble this week vs. Tennessee’s defense. Like Minnesota, Jacksonville has to run the ball and play great defense to have any chance to win. Expect another big game from Tennessee DL Albert Haynesworth, and LB David Thornton.
Tennessee ran the ball 43 times a week ago, and would love to do the same thing this week against the Jaguars. But the Jacksonville D is solid against the run, so Tennessee will have to pass more than 110 yards to win this week. Expect a low scoring affair with the Jags safeties Reggie Nelson and Sammy Knight the best IDP plays of this game.
Denver @ Kansas City
Denver was embarrassed last week by Detroit, 44-7. QB Jay Cutler was injured in that game, and isn’t a lock to play this week. Kansas City has an aggressive set of DL, that will make life hard on whoever lines up behind center. Start DL Jared Allen and LB Donnie Edwards as you normally would.
Kansas City is going to be without starting RB Larry Johnson, and the chiefs are not that great running the ball with a healthy Johnson. Denver is one of the worst teams against the run, so you know Kansas City will make an attempt to establish the run, before trying to go up top. Denver LB DJ Williams should have a strong day in this scenerio.
Buffalo @ Miami
Buffalo have won 4 of their last 5 games, after a slow start to begin the season. QB JP Losman has gotten WR Lee Evans involved in the offense, which have opened up running lanes for RB Marshawn Lynch. Miami’s D has looked aged and out of sync as of late.
Miami is winless and coming off its bye week. The extra rest may get LB Zach Thomas back, but likely wont be enough to get their first victory of the season. The Dolphins OL isn’t stellar, so expect the Buffalo DL to come up big in this one.
St. Louis @ New Orleans
The Rams are the other winless team, and also coming off bye week, but like Miami, may keep the game close early, but will come up short in the end. The Rams welcome back RB Steven Jackson, but he likely won’t get a full load this week. New Orleans may be without DL Charles Grant this week. S Josh Bullocks maybe the Saints best IDP option.
After a rough 0-4 start, New Orleans has reeled off 4 wins in a row. This week will be #5 vs. the winless Rams. New Orleans is finally protecting Drew Brees up front , and in return he is finding receivers down field. RB Reggie Bush is also very active in this offense, which creates mismatches all over the field. No Rams defender is worth starting this week.
Cleveland @ Pittsburgh
Cleveland gets another crack at Pittsburgh again after a 34-7 trouncing in week 1. But this time Cleveland has a QB, and are coming into this game with momentum after an OT victory a week ago. The Browns will have a hard time running the ball, but are so good passing, they may just chunk it 50 times. Expect another strong game out of Pit LB James Harrison, rushing off the corner.
Pittsburgh ran the ball 39 times a week ago for only 90 yards, a 2.9 avg. Expect the same kind of commitment this week, with much better results against the Browns defense. But don’t let that fool you into not starting the Browns secondary plays. Expect a big game from the Browns safeties.
Philadelphia @ Washington
Philadelphia is 0-3 in the division, so it goes without saying this is a must win for the 3-5 Eagles. Philly was not sharp on offense a week ago, and McNabb turned the ball over 3 times. Expect the Redskins to blitz McNabb, and force him into costly mistakes again this week. Brian Westbrook caught 14 passes a week ago, almost all the dump off variety. This will make LB Rocky McIntosh and London Fletcher 2 of the top scoring LB’s this week.
Washington isn’t exactly lighting up the scoreboard either, offensively. The skins barely survived the 1-8 Jets last week, needing OT to win. Washington has to run Clinton Portis to have any chance in this game. Philly FS Brian Dawkins returned last week, and had a respectable first game back. Expect more this week from the talented Eagle DB.
Atlanta @ Carolina
Atlanta is hoping to keep a trend alive this week vs Carolina. The Panthers have yet to win at home, which is surprising with a 4-4 record. The Falcons have no identity on offense, and have no business winning this game against a talented Panther team. Expect Atlanta to have to throw late to stay in the game, and big games from S Chris Harris, and LB Jon Beason.
Carolina is playing roulette at Qb. Is it Vinny or is it David Carr. Well at time of press, Vinny is taking snaps with the first string, which makes Carolina WR Steve Smith a threat again, as Smith has yet to connect with QB David Carr. Expect Falcons CB DeAngelo Hall to make himself a factor.
Cincinnati @ Baltimore
Cincinnati is a terrible football team right now, and could be without WR Chad Johnson this week. WR Chris Heny returns from suspension, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. The Baltimore secondary will be tested, as the Bengal’s often abandon the run, when they do not have early success. Ravens DL Terrell Suggs is a strong play this week, both vs. the run and sacking the QB.
As ESPN commentator Steve Young said after last Monday night’s game, the Ravens offense is a JV unit at best. Baltimore is ineffective in the passing game, but it may not matter this week, as Cincinnati is very weak in the middle of that battered defense. Expect a heavy dose of RB Willis McGahee, and for LB Landon Johnson to once again be the best fantasy option.
Chicago @ Oakland
Chicago should be well rested after last week’s bye, and ready to start their playoff run. If that is going to happen, they cannot lose games to teams like Oakland. The NFC is so average, even a team like Chicago can back into the post season, if they get on a role. Chicago has to run Cedric Benson and avoid turnovers, to win comfortably. All 3 Raider LB’s are strong plays this week, even Robert Thomas, who had 9 solo tackles last week.
Oakland’s best offensive weapon right now looks like backup RB Justin Fargas, who has 104 yards and a touchdown last week, on 23 carries. Fargas may actually get the start this week, and if he is effective once again, Bears LB Lance Briggs will have an outstanding statistical day.
Dallas @ NY Giants
Dallas gets its biggest test since losing to New England a few weeks back. The Cowboys scored 45 pts on the Giants D, on opening weekend, but this NY defense is much improved since week 1. Expect this to be a much lower scoring contest than the previous meeting. As usual, start LB Antonio Pierce, Db Gibril Wilson, and the Giants trio of DE.
Dallas has improved defensively since week 1 as well. They may finally have both of their starting corners, starting for the first time this season. Dallas also gets a boost up front with DT Tank Johnson seeing his first action of the season. Dallas best plays on defense may be Mr. Horse Collar himself, Roy Williams, and LB Demarcus Ware.
Detroit @ Arizona
Detroit is playing solid football right now, and they have a 6-2 record to show for it. The Lions can beat you through the air or on the ground, so they let you pick your poison. What are you going to take away, or the way they see it, give us. Arizona hopes to have LB Karlos Dansby back this week, and really need All-pro safety Adrian Wilson to start making plays again.
Arizona has a solid passing offense, when QB Kurt Warner is protected. The Lions weakness on defense is their secondary, so it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what the game plan is. DB Fernando Bryant is someone you should be looking at this week if you need Bye week help.
Indianapolis @ San Diego
San Diego’s run defense was exposed last week, and Indianapolis was watching. Why leave Manning in the pocket taking hits from LB Shawne Merriman, if RB Joseph Addai can win you this ball game running the ball. Expect the usual suspects for San Diego’s defense to step up this week, LB’s Merriman, Wilhelm and Cooper.
San Diego has to feature LT and continue to feed him the rock even if early on, its not there. LT is too big a weapon to abandon late in games. Chargers HC Norv Turner is a smart guy, though many debate that very topic. Expect LT to get 30-35 touches this week, and LB Gary Brackett and S Bob Sanders to race to get him.
San Francisco @ Seattle
San Francisco is 2-6 and lost to 2-6 Atlanta last week. As Bill Parcells says, you are what you are, and the 49ers are a below average football team. That being said, they may get RB Frank Gore back this week, which will help take the pressure of QB Alex Smith to have to make plays. As always, start LB studs Lofa Tatupu and LB Julian Peterson. DL Darryl Tapp and CB Marcus Trufant are also a strong plays.
Seattle may be on the verge of benching Shaun Alexander and just passing 40+ times a game. The Hawks best offensive options are WR DJ Hackett and WR Bobby Engram. Why not get the ball in those play makers hands, and let them win you a game. Expect a solid day from the 49ers secondary, and never bench rookie LB Patrick Willis.
Bye – New England, NY Jets, Tampa Bay, Houston