New England @ NY Giants
The Patriots pursuit of perfection should meet little resistance from the Giants. The one thing that could impact the Patriots passing game is the wind in New York. The Patriots will play for 60 minutes unless the game is over early.
According to head coach Tom Coughlin, the Giants will play to win the game, and not sit their starters. But common sense says if this game is over early, they will rest their starters for the second half, as their first playoff game is next week. The Patriots defensive players are probably the best plays this week, as they have the most to play for, while its uncertain how many Giants will play, and for how long.
Seattle @ Atlanta
Seattle has wrapped up a playoff berth with the NFC West division title. They have little to gain by playing, but have struggled at home as of late. But there is concern, since their first playoff game will be in Seattle. The Falcons defense will continue to play hard as they are playing for a job next season.
The Atlanta offense as bad as it is, will play to win this game, and try and give their fans a glimmer of hope going into next season. Its unsure how many Seattle defensive players will play 60 minutes, but DL Patrick Kerney could have a huge half against the Falcons offensive line.
New Orleans @ Chicago
The Saints have slim playoff hopes. They need to win this game and for both Minnesota and Washington to both lose. Since this game is an early game, they will not know their playoff fate until the end of the day. Chicago will play all its IDP regulars, so Charles Tillman and Brian Urlacher are strong starts
Chicago is still trying to figure out their QB situation for next season. Kyle Orton played admirably a week ago, but the Bears need to see more from him this final week. New Orleans defense has been a disappointment this season. Other than their defensive ends showing up week to week, their safeties are the only viable starters from this unit.
San Francisco @ Cleveland
San Francisco has been the biggest disappointment in the NFL this past season. Many thought the 49ers were going to improve on last season, and get into the playoffs. But the QB play was awful from the get go, though their recent 3rd stringer has been the best of the bunch. The Browns defense should be intact this week, and expect a nice game from their secondary.
Cleveland still has a shot at the playoffs, if Indianapolis beats Tennessee. So expect Cleveland to play this game for 60 minutes on both sides of the ball. The 49ers have been out of contention for some time, but that hasn’t stopped rookie LB Patrick Willis from being the top scoring LB in the NFL.
Detroit @ Green Bay
Detroit is playing for pride. The late season swoon ended their playoff hopes, but they have something to build on for next season. RB Kevin Jones is out for the season with a torn ACL, but Detroit wasn’t likely to run much this week anyway. The Packers will likely sit their key defensive personal this week, with nothing to play for.
Green Bay will likely play its backups on offense most of the game, but the way Aaron Rogers looked against Dallas a month ago, that might be a solid option for the Packers. Detroit LB’s Ernie Sims and Paris Lenon are considered strong starts this week.
Cincinnati @ Miami
Cincinnati has nothing on the line as far as the playoffs next week, but HC Marvin Lewis is coaching for a job next season. Expect the Bengal’s to come out firing to win this game. The Dolphins defense will play tough, but injuries have ran sacked this unit. Joey Porter will likely get after Bengal’s QB Carson Palmer at his outside LB position, as well as DE Jason Taylor.
Miami has a new sheriff in town, and his name is Bill Parcells. Parcells has already visited Dolphins practice and he is looking closely at this last game for players for next season. Cincinnati DE Justin Smith is playing for another contract, so he will be a strong start this week against the Dolphins.
Buffalo @ Philadelphia
Buffalo is now out of playoff contention, but they have several reasons to play their starters in the team’s final game. First their coach wants to win every game. Second the Bills need to see what they have at the QB position, and decide whether they need to bring in a veteran for next season, and finally some of these guys are playing for jobs next season. The Eagles DL Trent Cole should be a solid option in this game.
Philadelphia will also play most of its starters in this contest. QB Donovan McNabb maybe playing his last game in an Eagle uniform, so he wants to put on a show. This team needs to know what it has at the LB position, as this position could be in for a major upgrade next season.
Carolina @ Tampa Bay
Carolina will once again start the rookie Matt Moore at QB, and he is virtually a lock to make next season’s roster as a backup. But Carolina needs to decide what it wants to do at RB for the future, so the running game may get more reps than usual, regardless of the score.
Tampa Bay will rest a lot of their starters as they play next week against the Giants at home. But Tampa doesn’t have a lot of depth right now, with so many players already on IR, so they will be forced to play some guys they would like to rest. The Panthers are not resting any of their defensive personal, so start them as you usually would, though DE Julius Peppers was put on IR this week.
Jacksonville @ Houston
Jacksonville has nothing to play for this week, but they are a physical team from top to bottom of this roster. So expect whoever plays for them, to play to please head coach Jack Del Rio. The Houston D will play as they normally would, though LB DeMeco Ryans has been a disappointment as of late.
Houston has nothing to gain but confidence for next season, and they want to win this game, as a building block for their future. They want to see if Darius Walker is a viable option at RB next season, or if they need to burn a high draft pick on a back. Expect Jags rookie LB Justin Durant to play most of the game, and be a significant scorer in this contest.
Minnesota @ Denver
Minnesota has to have this game and a Washington loss to make the playoffs. Though the Vikings had control over its own destiny if it could have beaten the Redskins last week, they clearly need Dallas to show up and give them a late Christmas gift. The Denver D has all hands on deck this week, and LB DJ Williams should be one of the strongest plays at the LB position.
Denver took a step back this season record wise, but this is a building block type of season for QB Jay Cutler. The young signal caller is getting much needed experience and looks to be the most promising of the 3 first round QB’s drafted 2 seasons ago. With Minnesota needing this game, expect EJ Henderson to continue his dominant ways for the Viking defense.
Kansas City @ NY Jets
Kansas City had a disastrous season, but the did manage to get Larry Johnson locked up for the future, and know their teams major weakness, the offensive line. The Kansas City defense played decent most of the year, but still need a run stuffing defensive tackle as well as a ball hawking free safety to be one of the upper echelon defenses in the league.
The Jets have solved their middle linebacker dilemma of the future, with rookie David Harris. But the biggest question on defense is what to do with LB Jonathon Vilma next season. Vilma is a standout 4-3 linebacker, but the Jets don’t look to be going back to that defense, so Vilma could be on the trade block this off season. Would the Jets be willing to move him to division rival New England? Not a chance.
St Louis @ Arizona
St Louis is another disappointment this season. They had high expectations, but the loss of RB Steven Jackson and the multiple injuries along their offensive line was too much to bear. The Cardinals defense took a couple of steps forward, with the stellar play of DT Darnell Dockett and LB Karlos Dansby.
Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner may be starting his last game for the Cardinals. This team needs to be playing Matt Leinart next season, so expect the veteran to light up his former team, to audition for a starting job somewhere in 2008. The Rams need a lot of help on their defense next season. A pass rush, a couple of outside LB’s, and better corner play, just to name a few.
San Diego @ Oakland
San Diego needs to rest LT this week, but will likely continue to play QB Phillip Rivers, as he needs all the reps he can get leading into the playoffs. The Raiders defense needs more playmakers along the defensive line as well as better play from middle linebacker Kirk Morrison. Morrison has been disappointing as of late for fantasy owners.
Oakland looks to be starting rookie QB JaMarcus Russell this week, so regardless of who is playing for the San Diego defense, they are likely to have success. The Charger defense has been solid as of late, but safety is still a position of concern with the blitz schemes the Chargers run.
Dallas @ Washington
Dallas has nothing to play for as a result of the Green Bay loss last week to Chicago. The Cowboys Head Coach says he wants 14 wins this season, which will be a franchise record. But few think he will keep Tony Romo in the game past the first couple of series. WR Terrell Owens is out for this game, but WR Terry Glenn is likely to play in his first game of the season.
Washington only needs to win this game to get into the playoffs. The Redskins caught a break when Dallas wrapped up home field through the playoffs a week ago. Expect the Redskins to play all out for 60 minutes, as they have no room for error. All regular Redskin starters are solid options with so much on the line this week.
Pittsburgh @ Baltimore
Pittsburgh needs to rest some players this week for their playoff game next week. The Steelers lost starting running back Willie Parker a week ago, and don’t want to lose anymore starters heading into the playoffs. The Ravens are decimated with injuries along their defense. LB Bart Scott is expected to play inside, so he is a nice plug in this week.
Baltimore will once again play rookie QB Troy Smith to get the young signal caller some much needed experience. The Ravens are likely to bring in a veteran next season, to take the place of Steve McNair who is likely to retire. Most of the Steelers starting defense will be sitting the 2nd half of this game, so it may be wise to look elsewhere for starting players this week.
Tennessee @ Indianapolis
Tennessee has to win this game to get into the post season. The Colts don’t need this game and maybe resting their starters for most of the contest, but there is word out of Indy, that if Marvin Harrison plays, Peyton Manning may play more than just a half. Keep that in mind if you plan on starting any Titan defenders.
The Colts have locked up a Bye in the playoffs, and can’t catch the Patriots so they are likely to rest most of their defensive starters. So it’s wise to look elsewhere for production this week. Expect no more than a half from any defender in this game.