Houston @ Tennessee
Houston was able to move the ball in the air a week ago, but RB Ron Dayne had some trouble running the ball. Tennessee is one of the best run defense’s in the league, so this trend may continue with the Texans another week. The Texans game plan should be to throw to WR A.J. Johnson early, forcing the Titans to put the extra safety in coverage, rather than in the box. LB Keith Bulluck had an impressive start last week, with 11 solo tackles, but can he string together 2 solid games in a row?
Tennessee was brutal on offense last week, and QB Vince Young was the main reason why. The Titan QB is no where near the player he was a year ago, and as a result the wins are harder to come by this season. Tennessee must establish a running game, or they have no shot at winning this week. Expect RB Lendale White to have 20 + carries and the Texan LB’s Morlon Greenwood and DeMeco Ryans to benefit most.
Jacksonville @ Indianapolis
Jacksonville is a game back of the Colts, and are looking for revenge, from their early season loss to the Colts. The Jags are a physical offense, and want to pound the ball at the undersized Colts defense. This game hinges on who wins this battle. Jacksonville is patient with their running game, thus Colts LB Gary Brackett and S Bob Sanders huge plays.
Indianapolis will once again be without WR Marvin Harrison, but they did get a weapon back last week, WR Anthony Gonzales. This addition stretches the Jags secondary, and keeps them from keying exclusively on WR Reggie Wayne and RB Joseph Addai. QB Peyton Manning will need to protect the ball to win, so expect shorter passes, and the Jags safeties to be the best plays once again this week.
San Diego @ Kansas City
The Chargers have not played very well this season, and are still in first place in the AFC West. San Diego needs to start a run now to have momentum heading into the playoffs.
For that to happen, LT needs to get on track now, and build each week leading up to the playoffs. Former Charger, now Chief’s LB Donnie Edwards is looking forward to playing his former team. Edwards has been worth the money the Chiefs are paying this year, regardless of his age. Edwards and DL Jared Allen should be the top scoring players this week for KC.
Kansas City 3rd string rookie RB Kolby Smith went for 150 rushing yards and two scores last week. The Chief’s game plan is to run him 30 times again this week, as long as the game is close enough for them to do so. As a result, LB Matt Wilhelm, Stephen Cooper, and Shawne Merriman are the Chargers top plays.
Atlanta @ St Louis
Atlanta jumped out to a 10 point lead last week, only to see the Colts trash them in the 2nd half. Atlanta needs to jump out again to a big lead, or St Louis may blow them out of the building. Atlanta will run the ball, because that is what they do best. St Louis will stop the run, with LB Will Witherspoon, because that is what he does.
St Louis hopes to rebound from last weeks bumbling loss. QB Mark Bulger should be good to go to start the game, but any hit could be the end of his afternoon with another concussion. The Rams will rely on RB Steven Jackson to pound the Falcons defensive front. Atlanta LB Michael Boley is coming of a 3 sack performance and is turning into a Julian Peterson clone. Expect another big game from Boley and the Falcons LB corps. .
Miami @ NY Jets
LB Zach Thomas visited a specialist this week, in hopes he can return for Week 13’s match up with the Jets. LB Channing Crowder has benefited the most in his absence, but will shift back to his natural weak side position if Zach does return. The Dolphins MLB should have a big day against the Jets, whoever that may be come game time.
The Jets LB situation looks promising for the rest of the year with rookie LB David Harris taking over for injured Jonathon Vilma. Harris is more suited to play the 3-4 defense, and has excelled in this role. Vilma has never been the same, since the switch from the 4-3 2 seasons ago. Another solid option this week is DE Kenyon Coleman.
Detroit @ Minnesota
Will the real Detroit Lions please stand up? Detroit which was 6-2, is now 6-5, losing its last 3 games. Even though last weeks final score was close, this game was never really in doubt. The good news, the Lions best strength, its passing game, happens to be their next opponent’s biggest weakness. The last time these 2 teams played, Cedric Griffin, Antoine Winfield and Darren Sharper were the highest scoring Vikings. What do these 3 all have in common? They are all part of the Vikings secondary.
Minnesota hopes to have rookie RB Adrian Peterson back this week, but RB Chester Taylor will continue to play a key part in this weeks game plan. The Vikings have no passing game, so they need all hands on deck to run the ball this week. This game lines up perfectly for the Lions top two scoring LB’s, Paris Lenon and Ernie Sims to have huge games.
Seattle @ Philadelphia
Seattle will be without starting WR DJ Hackett for a few weeks, but could get back RB Shaun Alexander this week. Seattle must stay balanced on offense, to keep their gimpy QB Matt Hasselbeck on his feet. The Eagles will bring the kitchen sink at the QB, if they do not respect the run. Top plays for Philly this week are LB Omar Gaither and FS Brian Dawkins.
Philadelphia went back and forth with New England last week, and had the ball inside the Pats 30 yard line with 3 minutes to go, with a chance to take the lead or kick a tying FG. The Eagles backup QB made a mistake, overthrowing his receiver, and thus ending any chance of an upset. How will the Eagles respond this week, after playing so well a week ago, only to still lose? Smart money says they play well again, knowing they can compete with anyone, if they play their game. And their game is running Brian Westbrook and throwing him the ball out of the backfield. Seattle will have its hands full stopping this, but it sets up LB’s Julian Peterson and Lofa Tatupu for big games.
Buffalo @ Washington
Buffalo will once again be without RB Marshawn Lynch, and could be without their 2nd string RB as well. So what will they do? Throw to WR Lee Evans is the smart move, and they will attempt to do just that. Washington LB Rocky McIntosh has been disappointing as of late, and may not be a smart play this week, against the Bills passing game. That being said, there is no way you can bench LB London Fletcher. Top plays for the Bills will be Angelo Crowell and CB Terrence McGee
The tragic loss of Washington FS Sean Taylor will be felt by everyone in the stadium this Sunday. Taylor was one of the best FS in football, and his impact was more than just on the field. Taylor was said to be a leader of the defense, as well as a player who was turning his life around. Thoughts and prayers go out to the Taylor family. Sean was fun to watch and he will be missed.
San Francisco @ Carolina
The top scoring LB in the huddle scoring is Patrick Willis. Quite possibly the top scoring LB the 2nd year in a row will be a rookie, which is a bit surprising, after DeMeco Ryans earned that honor a year ago. . Willis is coming off a 18 tackle performance and should be a candidate for the top scoring LB again this week. Other great starts this week are DB Michael Lewis, and CB Nate Clements.
Carolina has a stud rookie LB of their own. Jon Beason didn’t start the season as the middle linebacker in Carolina, but once he got the job, he isn’t giving it back. Beason is a must start vs the 49ers rushing attack this week. Others to consider are CB Richard Marshall, and S Chris Harris.
Denver @ Oakland
Denver is clearly the more talented team, but in this rivalry you can throw out the records. There has been bad blood since the Raiders owner fired current Denver HC, many years ago. Denver needs this game, in order to put themselves in position for the playoffs. Denver knows the Raiders rush defense is poor, and have the Offensive line up front to make holes for whoever they want to run the ball. This strategy makes LB Kirk Morrison and Thomas Howard great plays this week. Another to consider is DB Michael Huff.
Nothing Oakland would like more than to knock rival Denver out of the playoffs, and they have a chance to give them a serious setback with a win this Sunday. The Raiders are a mess on offense, but they are still very competitive defensively. This week the offense will be asked to not lose the game, which makes running the ball, that much more important. LB DJ Williams is a must start, but another to consider is S Hamza Abdullah, who has had 4 impressive weeks in a row.
Cleveland @ Arizona
The Arizona secondary has taken two major hits in the past week. SS Adrian Wilson will have surgery this week to repair his Achilles tendon, and CB Eric Green suffered a season ending groin injury. Filling in for Wilson should be Oliver Celestin, and Antrel Rolle will continue to start in place of Green.
The most improved team in the NFL is the Cleveland Browns, and it isn’t even close. The Browns offense is top 5, while there defense is slowing but surely improving from week to week. Last week, the Browns welcomed back LB D’Qwell Jackson and he had a huge afternoon with 10 solo tackles, 2 assist and an interception. CB Leigh Bodden is another great play this week vs. the pass happy Cardinals.
NY Giants @ Chicago
The Giants are starting to look similar to last years team which also started 6-2 and tanked the 2nd half of the season. Last weeks drumming by the Vikings was surprising and embarrassing, considering it was without RB Adrian Peterson in the lineup. The Giants must be mistake free on offense, while being aggressive at the same time. Expect the usual suspects for the Bears defense, LB Lance Briggs, LB Brian Urlacher, as well as CB Charles Tillman.
Chicago may have saved their season with a dramatic overtime victory over the Bronco’s in week 12. The Bears lost starting running back Cedric Benson with a season ending ankle injury, and Adrian Peterson, will take his place. Peterson wasn’t as effective as Benson, but he is a better target out of the back field. The Giants will give Peterson extra attention, with LB Antonio Pierce being the primary beneficiary. More best bets for the Giants this week are DE Osi Umenyiora, DE Michael Strahan and DB Gibril Wilson.
Tampa Bay @ New Orleans
With a 2 game lead over the Saints in the Division, Tampa Bay could put itself in great position for this division crown, with a win this week. The Bucs need a healthy Jeff Garcia to pull this game out, and will have to run the ball to keep the Saints high powered offense on the sidelines, as much as possible. Expect both Saints safeties Roman Harper and Josh Bullocks to be solid options this week.
This is a must win game for New Orleans, if they want any shot at winning this division. Expect the Saints to come out aggressive and try and jump out to a big lead early, and keep the pedal on the gas for 60 minutes. The Bucs best options this week are CB Phillip Buchanon, S Jermaine Phillips, and LB Derrick Brooks.
Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh
Cincinnati is coming off an impressive win to the now struggling Titans. Cincinnati was able to get Chad Johnson going early, and his 3 TD effort sparked the huge win. The Bengal’s have 3 solid receiving weapons, but they are also running a 2 back system. Expect the Bengal’s to be aggressive against the Steelers and test their secondary. A potential sleeper this week is CB Ike Taylor.
Last weeks game vs. the Dolphins was an embarrassment to the Steelers organization. First of all they were only able to muster 3 pts against the hapless Dolphins, and the main reason was terrible field at Heinz Stadium. The Steelers hope to get WR Santonio Holmes back, as he is an effective weapon, and opens up things for the rest of the offense. Bengal’s LB Dhani Jones was once again effective last week, and should be a solid option again this week, along with S Madieu Williams.
New England @ Baltimore
New England coach Bill Belichick seems to have a man crush on FS Ed Reed of the Ravens. Is this the ground work for a future signing, or just a mind game out of the Pats head coach. Reed may very well have a fantasy impact in this game, but since he hasn’t done much this season, its’ probably not a wise move to start him. Reed is a prime example of the difference between a NFL great and a player with very little fantasy value.
Baltimore will have to run the ball against the Pats, to have any shot to win this game. The Pats know this, and their philosophy is to take the single thing you do best away and make you beat them with something else. That being said, the Patriot LB’s are not the best against the run, but could be very productive eventually making the stop. Another Pat to consider is CB Asante Samuel who is coming off a 2 INT game, returning one for a TD against the Eagles last week.