|Cleveland @ Baltimore
Cleveland is coming off a disappointing loss a week ago vs Pittsburgh, after squandering a 21-6 lead. Cleveland has a potent offense that can test any defense, even Baltimore. The Browns will likely have to move the ball in the air, to sustain drives vs. this defense, but will run to keep the pass rush off their QB. Ravens safety Dawan Landry is a solid option, as is LB Ray Lewis in this match up.
Baltimore is changing to QB Kyle Boller this week, who tends to make more mental mistakes with the football. This change is due in large part to the ineffectiveness of starter Steve McNair. Cleveland doesn’t have a challenging defense, but Baltimore doesn’t pose much of a threat offensively. Expect the Ravens to run RB Willis Magahee, and throw the ball vertically, rather than just the short passes McNair tended to do. Browns CB’s Eric Wright and Leigh Bodden are solid plays, as is LB Leon Williams.
San Diego @ Jacksonville
San Diego escaped a week ago, and many fans are very upset with coach Norv Turner even after a big win over the Colts. QB Phillip Rivers isn’t developing like the Chargers envisioned when they brought in the former stand out coordinator. Any other HC but Turner would run LT 30 times a game, as he gets better with more carries. But as last week proved, that just isn’t in the cards for the Chargers offense. Jacksonville will load the box, and force Rivers to beat them. LB Mike Peterson isn’t likely to have another 14 total tackle performance, but should be considered a strong play, along with safeties Reggie Nelson and Sammy Knight.
Jacksonville hopes to get starting QB David Garrard back this week, and will likely need his versatility to escape the kind of pressure the Chargers defense is likely to bring. Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson broke the single game record a few weeks back on this Charger defense, so you can expect the Jags to run it 40-45 times this week. Expect continued stellar play from LB Matt Wilhelm, as well as another solid outing from DB Clinton Hart.
Miami @ Philadelphia
Miami is still winless and turning the QB reigns over to rookie John Beck. Some may question why you would throw the young kid in vs. the blitz happy Eagles, but the Dolphins need to see what they have in this kid, and decide if they have their QB of the future on their roster. This being said, Beck has a strong arm, and is a smart guy. Expect vertical passes to the WR’s , as well as dump offs to the backs out of the back field. Eagles DB Brian Dawkins continues to improve after missing half the season thus far. DL Trent Cole is a must start this week.
Philadelphia saved its season a week ago, with a win over the Redskins. Expect the Eagles to extend their winning streak to 2, with a win over the Dolphins. The Eagles will continue to use Brian Westbrook in the passing game, which will make the Dolphins LB’s strong plays this week. At time of press, there is no word on Zach Thomas availability this week.
Oakland @ Minnesota
Oakland has to be getting close to letting the rookie start at QB. This team is virtually out of playoff contention already. RB Justin Fargas will again carry the rock, and the Oakland QB, will continue to turn over the ball. Expect another big game from Viking LB EJ Henderson.
Minnesota welcomes Tavaris Jackson back at QB, but loses rookie sensation RB Adrian Peterson. RB Chester Taylor takes his place, and probably wont be feed the ball with the same regularity as Peterson. Regardless the Vikings are not a passing team, which means their opponents LB’s will score heavily, in the match up.
Kansas City @ Indianapolis
Kansas City will again be without RB Larry Johnson, and there will also be a change at QB this week. Brodie Croyle will get his shot at the starting QB position, and will likely use TE Tony Gonzales more than QB Damon Huard did. This being the case, the Colts will use a corner, most likely Marlin Jackson over the TE. Expect a productive day out of Jackson.
Indianapolis suffered another major injury this week, as DE Dwight Freeney is now lost for the year, with a foot injury. This injury will cause the Colts to have to put up more points, in order to win games, which will mean more shoot outs. Thus making the Chiefs secondary a strong play this week.
Carolina @ Green Bay
Carolina is once again starting Vinny Testaverde at QB, which opens up the deep passing game. As Bill Parcells once said, Vinny can still make all the throws. This puts pressure on the Packers secondary. Carolina will also attempt to run the rock 30 + times, so the Packers LB’s and DE’s are strong plays this week.
Green Bay finally has a RB who can be depended on to move the chains. This new element to the Packers offense makes this team balanced, and harder to stop. The Carolina LB’s are strong starts every week, but with RB Ryan Grant getting 20 touches out of the backfield, expect this week to be better than most.
NY Giants @ Detroit
The Giants lost a big game at home last week. Is this the same team as last year that started 6-2, then, finished 8-8. This week should give us a hint. My opinion, the Giants defense is much better than a year ago, and won’t let this team miss out on the playoffs again this year. Expect a big game from RB Brandon Jacobs, to ease the pressure off of Eli and the gimpy WR corp. LB’s Ernie Sims and Paris Lenon are again strong plays.
Detroit has all the talent in the world at the WR position, and an OC that loves to chunk it early and often. This combined with RB Kevin Jones questionable at best, could lead to a big passing game for QB Jon Kitna. The Giants secondary is the weakness of this team, so Detroit is certain to exploit that. Expect a strong game from the Giants DE, as well as safety Gibril Wilson, who will be in coverage most of the day.
Tampa Bay @ Atlanta
Tampa Bay was effective in Week 9 vs. the stout Cardinal run defense, and should be able to duplicate that feat this week vs. the Falcons. The real question is, can the Tampa Bay OL, contain the Falcons pass rush? John Abraham has 6 sacks on the year, and will no doubt be licking his chops in this weeks match up.
Atlanta has been just good enough offensively to squeak out wins over Carolina and San Francisco in its last two games. Tampa Bay is a more complete offense, than either of these teams, and should stretch the field with WR Joey Galloway, and pound the rock with Earnest Graham and Michael Bennett. The Buc’s LB’s are always the top plays for this defense.
New Orleans @ Houston
New Orleans was embarrassed a week ago by the winless St. Louis Rams, and will look to get back in the win column this week. Expect them to attempt to take their frustration out on the Texans. The Texans defense revolves around fantasy standouts at each level of the defense, DL Mario Williams, LB DeMeco Ryans and DB CC Brown.
Houston is finally getting WR Andre Johnson back, as well as QB Matt Schaub. Will these two have any chemistry together after such a long layoff? That may be the biggest question of this match up. Houston will try and run the ball a bit, but the passing game is their best option to keep this game close. Expect solid outings from the Saints DB’s Josh Bullocks, and Roman Harper.
Arizona @ Cincinnati
Arizona was impressive a week ago over the previous 6-2 Detroit Lions. Their defense welcomed back LB Karlos Dansby, and he didn’t disappoint. Dansby finished the game with 4 solo tackles, 2 interceptions and a forced fumble. Also worth mentioning is Calvin Pace’s 1.5 sacks, and 7 total tackles, giving him 27 total tackles in the last 3 games.
Cincinnati didn’t score an offensive touchdown a week ago, but still won with 7 FG’s from their place kicker. The Bengal’s defense played inspired football, holding the Ravens to one late mop up TD. LB Landon Johnson and Leon Hall led the way last week, each with over 7 total tackles.
Pittsburgh @ NY Jets
The Pittsburgh LB corps were the teams top 3 tacklers a week ago. Clark Haggans with 8, Larry Foote with 7, and James Harrison with 5. This trend isn’t likely to continue, as the Jets will have to pass the ball, to stay competitive this week, which means the Steelers secondary should be the strong play.
The Jets defense got a week off to lick its wounds from the choke job it displayed in week 9 vs. Washington. But this defense better be ready from the opening kickoff, or they will be run out of the building. Jets LB David Harris is coming off a 24 tackle performance in week 9, and has a staggering 41 total tackles in the Jets last 2 ball games.
Chicago @ Seattle
Chicago returns previous starter, turned back up, back to starter, QB Rex Grossman back to the lineup this week. The Bears tried to throw down the field more with Rex, who averaged 20 yard per completion in relief duty of injured QB Brian Griese. Expect this trend to continue this week, and for the Bears to attempt to exploit the Seattle secondary. Reserve LB Kevin Bentley had 10 total tackles in relief of injured LB Leroy Hill last week. .
Seattle is coming off a 24-0 victory at the expense of the San Francisco 49ers last Monday night. The Seahawks are a different offense with possession WR DJ Hackett in the lineup. He creates mismatches with LB’s over the middle, and is too quick for a safety to cover in the slot. Expect the Seahawks to continue to exploit this match up until a corner is lined up over him. DB Charles Tillman and Adam Archuleta are strong plays this week.
St Louis @ San Francisco
The Rams are no longer winless thanks to an inspired effort a week ago against the New Orleans Saints. The Rams could make it 2 straight this week vs. the hapless 49ers. The Rams didn’t run Steven Jackson as much as some expected, as they are trying to bring him back slowly to avoid another setback. Expect WR Tory Holt to light up the 49ers secondary. DB Michael Lewis is a strong play this week.
San Francisco is turning the QB reigns to backup Trent Dilfer, to provide a spark to this offense. The 49ers haven’t been able to get RB Frank Gore going, and aren’t likely to have much success this week either. So they will continue to use the short passing game to attempt to move down the field. As a result, LB Will Witherspoon is once again a great start.
Washington @ Dallas
The Redskins gave the Eagles new life in the division a week ago, after Dallas all but shut the door on their season the previous week. The Redskin offense had its first receiving TD of the season by a wide receiver last week. Amazing it took 9 games to finally accomplish that feat. The Dallas D only has to look back to 2005, after dominating the game for 56 minutes, letting up and Washington beating them deep on 2 long TD drives to steal the game at the end. Don’t expect any let up from these Cowboy defenders.
Washington is entering this game without CB Carlos Rogers, and FS Sean Taylor, so expect Dallas QB Tony Romo to carve up this make shift secondary. Dallas will also run the ball to salt the clock, which is when LB London Fletcher will get the majority of his stats. Other strong starts are SS Laron Landy and LB Roger McIntosh.
New England @ Buffalo
The only thing that can stop the Patriots offense is the Patriots offense. The only thing we haven’t seen yet, is will this offense be sluggish after a week off of hearing how good they are, by the local media. Buffalo isn’t a great football team, but as you remember, that didn’t stop them from playing inspired defense vs Dallas a few weeks back. Expect this same kind of effort Sunday night.
Buffalo may be without RB Marshawn Lynch in this match up, which is the last thing they needed heading into this game with New England. The Bill have hung their hat on the legs of Lynch, and his solid play has opened up play action pass with WR Lee Evans down the field. This loss could be huge, as if the Bills can’t run the ball, Evans is likely to be the main focus of the Bills offense.
Tennessee @ Denver
Tennessee QB Vince Young is not having anywhere near the success he enjoyed a year ago. Is this the rest of the league catching onto to his play, with game tape now, or just poor play from the young signal caller? Either way, Tennessee is a shocking 6-3, tied with Jacksonville for 2nd in the division, only 1 game behind the Colts. Expect the Titans to run Lendale White and for Vince Young to get going on the ground this week vs one of the worst rushing defenses in the league.
Denver is close to getting WR Javon Walker back. He still isn’t a lock to play this week, but could be a game time decision. The Bronco’s need his big play ability to stretch the field. The Bronco’s will use RB Selvin Young to keep the Titan defense honest. Tennessee wants to regain its #1 ranking against the run this week, after relinquishing that a week ago to the Jacksonville Jags. Expect improved play from the LB position, and LB Keith Bulluck’s resurgence to continue this week.