- It’s easy to look at the NFL defensive statistics and get excited about Jon Kitna’s matchup this week against the Vikings. Minnesota, after all, ranks last in the NFL at defending the pass. However, lost in the stats is the fact that when they play at home, the Vikings have done a bang-up job of holding QBs in check. Of the 15 passing scores Minnesota has allowed this year, a mere four have happened in the Metrodome. Bottom line: Kitna probably won’t finish with more than 275 yards and one touchdown, so wipe that silly grin off your face Kitna owners.
- No team in the NFL knows how to contain Petyon Manning better than the Jaguars. Jacksonville has held Manning to one passing touchdown or fewer in four of their last five games versus Indy. Never bench him, but lower your expectations for Manning this week.
- The loss of All-Pro safety Adrian Wilson has sucked all the life out of the Arizona secondary. The Cardinals have allowed QBs to post an average of 293 yards passing and two touchdowns over the last three games. Derek Anderson should be in your lineup and perform quite well.
- Over the last two week’s Ben Roethlisberger’s production has plummeted. For a stretch, he was rewarding owners with multiple touchdowns each game with respectable passing yardage to boot. Now he’s put up just one TD in his last two outings. Is it time to bench him? Not with the Bengals coming up next. Big Ben should have little difficulty finding his rhythm against a Cincinnati defense that has allowed the second-most passing scores this year. Roethlisberger has thrown multiple TDs in four of his last six meeting against the Bengals.
This Week’s Sleepers: Vince Young, Kurt Warner and Tarvaris Jackson
- Give Maurice Jones-Drew a “get-out-of-jail-free card” on his poor performance last week against the Bills. He has historically performed well against the Colts. In three career meetings with Indianapolis, Jones-Drew has tallied four touchdowns. In two of those games, he exceeded 100 yards rushing. Bank on a minimum of 75 yards and a score this week.
- Fast Willie Parker has been a major source of frustration for fantasy owners over the second half of the season. But let me talk you down from the edge of that cliff. Parker has been the nemesis of the Bengals, toasting them for huge yardage and touchdowns. In his last three games versus Cincinnati, he’s averaged 142 total yards per game with five touchdowns. Parker has four 100-yard games against the Bengals, more than versus any other team. He seems like a lock for 120 yards and his first TD in five weeks.
- If you’re starting Kevin Jones this week against the Vikings, you’d better start praying that Jones is an active part of the passing game. In his last three games versus the Purple, Jones has -3, 8 and 15 yards rushing respectively. Amazingly, he’s averaged less than a yard per carry in those three games. The good news is he’s managed to exceed 40 yards receiving the last two times out against Minnesota, but that might not be enough to convince you to start him.
- LaDainian Tomlinson has been dull at Arrowhead in recent years. In his last four trips to KC, LT has failed to put up more than 66 yards on the ground. Fortunately, he has managed to find the endzone. He’s posted three scores those four games. Still, keep your expectations in check. A 160-yard, three-touchdown performance is unlikely.
This Week’s Sleepers: Selvin Young, Fred Jackson, Jamal Lewis and Adrian Peterson (CHI)
- The news that Marvin Harrison might miss the remainder of the NFL regular season is a boost for Reggie Wayne owners. Wayne has been relatively consistent this season with Harrison on the sideline. Be aware though that this week’s opponent, the Jacksonville Jaguars, typically hold Wayne out of the endzone. He has only scored in one of his 11 career games against the Jags. On the bright side, he does have two straight 100+ yard games versus Jacksonville. I’m predicting the trend will hold up and Wayne will finish with around 110-120 yards and zero TDs.
- Joey Galloway has absolutely tormented the Saints throughout his career. Get this: Since coming to the Bucs, Joey G has faced New Orleans six times. In those games, he’s scored nine TDs overall and posted at least one in every meeting. In his last three games against the division rival, he’s averaged 114 yards receiving. It looks like QB Jeff Garcia (back) will be a game-time decision. That’s a bit of a concern, but his replacement would be Luke McCown, who has a decent arm. Look for the duo to hook up for a long score.
- There’s a clear trend when you look at the historical numbers of Bengals wideouts versus the Steelers defense. In a nutshell, Chad Johnson does very little. T.J. Houshmandzedah and Chris Henry are big-time performers. In his last five games against Pitt, Johnson has failed to score and hasn’t exceeded 59 yards receiving. Over the same five-game stretch, Houshmanzedah has posted six TDs. Oddly enough, it’s Henry who’s had the most success against the Steelers, putting up three scores and averaging 96 yards in his last two outings.
This Week’s Sleepers: Chris Henry, Anthony Gonzalez, Bobby Engram, Joe Jurevicius and Sydney Rice
- Fantasy owners looking for a sneaky TE play this week should consider adding Arizona’s Leonard Pope to their lineup. Pope has become a more important part of the Cardinals offense. Although his production has dipped over the last two weeks, he could be primed for a bounce back this week against the Browns, who have given up more fantasy points to TEs than any team this season.
This Week’s Sleepers: Leonard Pope, Heath Miller and Eric Johnson
- Arizona’s Neil Rackers was the goat of Week 12, but don’t abandon him just yet. He faces the Browns this week in what should be one of highest-scoring games of the week. Cleveland has ceded double-digit points to kickers in three of their last four games.
- Detroit’s Jason Hanson can usually be counted on for a decent performance when he takes the field against the Vikings. He’s put up seven or more points in five of his last six meetings against the Vikes. Play him with confidence.
This Week’s Sleepers: Neil Rackers, Jason Elam and Robbie Gould
- In past years when a defense goes up against the Colts, it’s a good idea to move that defense to the bench. That’s not necessarily the case anymore. Indianapolis QB Peyton Manning has been turning the ball over with regularity (nine interceptions in his last four games). Perhaps even more surprising is teams have been pressuring him every week. Over the same four-game stretch, Manning has been sacked 11 times. Play the Jacksonville Jaguars if you normally would.
- Owners who are playing the role of spoiler this week might consider taking a chance on the Atlanta Falcons defense. Atlanta will go up against the Rams, who will start error-prone QB Gus Frerotte. Frerotte fumbled away last week’s game against the Seahawks. He also started three games this season and threw nine interceptions. With Frerotte under center, the Falcons have excellent potential to score a defensive touchdown.
This Week’s Sleepers: Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This Week's Six-Pack: Modelo Especial
Origin: Mexico City, Mexico
Appearance: Modelo Especial comes in a clear bottle with a foil seal that covers the bottle cap. This gives the beer a premium look. It pours to a golden yellow color and is capped by a reasonably-sized head that fades in a near instant.
Smell: It’s difficult to detect much aroma, but the predominant characteristic here is sweet malt with a slight hint of skunk.
Taste: Modelo doesn’t taste as sweet as it smells. Unfortunately, the first flavor that hits your mouth is that famous (or infamous) skunk that is found in a lot of Mexican beers. On the positive side, there are some other qualities that mask this skunk and make it more tolerable. In particular, the beer features a doughy/bready flavor that’s detectable in the aftertaste.
Mouth-feel: This is generally a light-bodied beer, though it has slightly more heft than traditional beers in this category.
Drinkability: If you can get past the skunk, it’s a reasonably crisp beer. However, be sure to drink it ice cold.
Last Call: Modelo Especial offered everything I’ve come to expect from a south of the border beer. It has a funk to it that is hard to miss. On the bright side, there’s more to Modelo than say Corona. In the case of Modelo, you don’t need a lime to cover up the beer. Choose it over Corona next time you’re in a Mexican restaurant. Otherwise don’t feel too bad if you skip this one. Two stars out of five.
Next Week's Six-Pack: Smuttynose Winter Ale