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  Rushing Matchups  

Week 11 Passing Matchups

[ARI] [ATL] [BAL] [BUF] [CAR] [CHI] [CIN] [CLE] [DAL] [DEN] [DET] [GB] [HOU] [IND] [JAX] [KC] [MIA] [MIN] [NE] [NO] [NYG] [NYJ] [OAK] [PHI] [PIT] [SD] [SEA] [SF] [STL] [TB] [TEN] [WAS]


PLEASE NOTE: This does NOT replace the Cheatsheet ranking. The Cheatsheet rankings are the final say on where we see a player for that week. The Matchup Breakdowns are simply one more tool in the box when it comes to helping choose your lineup.

Also note, just because a player has a "bad" matchup, it does NOT mean he's not a starter in your league. If Peyton Manning is playing the toughest pass defense in the league, that just means he's got a tough matchup that week. He's also your starter unless you're loaded at QB. In the same way, if the worst QB on your roster has a "great" matchup that week, it doesn't necessarily mean he's your starter. It means we think he'll fare better than normal that week.

Bottom line is that the cheatsheets are the final say.


Green Bay Packers Passing Offense vs Minnesota Vikings Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

Brett Favre had a strong afternoon vs. the soft Vikings' secondary the last time these teams met, during week 7 - he threw for 28/36 for 315 yards, 2 TDs and 0 interceptions during the game. Donald Driver was the top receiver that day, with 8/114/1 (Antonio Chatman caught the other TD with 5/31/1). Last week, with Samkon Gado providing a solid running game, Favre hit 26/39 for 252 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception to lead the Packers to an upset over Atlanta. Donald Driver was target #1 with 14 chances for 10/114/0 - Bubba Franks (5 for 4/34/0) and Donald Lee (5 for 3/31/0) were the numbers 2A and 2B for Favre last week.

Minnesota forced a lot of turnovers from Eli Manning last week (4 interceptions), but still gave up 23/48 for 291 yards and 1 TD - they are the league's 26th ranked secondary allowing 230.8 passing yards per contest this year, and are tied for 3rd-most TDs allowed in this phase with 16. Over the last 3 weeks, Minnesota had laid down for 853 yards passing (1146 yards total) and 9 TDs rushing and receiving. Not too good, huh?

Favre did well against these guys a few weeks back, and now he has a reconstituted rushing offense to support the passing game. He should have a solid outing in front of the Lambeau faithful on Monday Night Football.

Weather: The Monday Night Football matchup at Lambeau Field should start closer to the forecast low of 28F at 9 P.M. (a high of 50F is expected during the day). With only a 10% chance for rain/sleet/snow, footing shouldn't be a problem on Monday night, but when the temperature gets below freezing the football is harder to grip and handle in general - and fingers can stiffen up in the cold, of course. Owners of Vikings and Packers will want to take a look at a shorter-term forecast later this week before pulling the trigger on their starters for week 11.

GB Injuries: RB Tony Fisher (Questionable), WR Robert Ferguson (Questionable), TE David Martin (Questionable)
MIN Injuries: DL Spencer Johnson (Doubtful), DB Fred Smoot (Out)


New Orleans Saints Passing Offense at New England Patriots Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

Aaron Brooks had a tough time vs. the Bears 2 weeks ago, tossing 16/26 for 170 yards, 1 TD and 2 interceptions on the day (3/-6/1 rushing). Donte Stallworth hauled in the TD (3/37/1), while Nate Poole led the team in yards with 1/42/0. With only 170 yards passing to spread around, it was a pretty forgettable afternoon for the Saints' receivers in general. Joe Horn has managed only 9/126/0 during the team's last 2 games (50th among all fantasy WRs in points per game during the last 3 weeks).

The Patriot's injury situation among the DBs continues to worsen, as this week Randall Gay was placed on IR (marking the 6th DB to land on IR this season for the team). They have struggled vs. the pass this season, ranking 31st in the NFL allowing an average of 255.1 yards per game, and they are tied for dead last in the league with 18 passing scores given away to date. Over the past 3 weeks, the team has averaged 309.3 passing yards allowed per contest (and they are dead last in total yards allowed during that span, with 1284 given up during 3 games), including 25/47 for 360 yards, 2 TDs and 1 interception given up to Gus Frerotte last week. They have only generated 2 sacks in their last 3 games, and are tied for 30th in the NFL with only 13 sacks this entire season. The Patriots aren't generating much pass rush pressure, and their injury-depleted DB corps is finding pass coverage to be an issue. That's a bad mix for a pass D, folks.

The Saints' offense is erratic this season, but they won't see a more favorable matchup this year.

Weather: Gillette Stadium expects a high of 49F and a low of 33F with a 30% chance for precipitation on Sunday. If the moisture falls thickly around game time (it could be rain, sleet or snow at this time of year) footing and ball handling could be larger issues than usual for both teams.

NO Injuries: WR Donte Stallworth (Questionable), TE Ernie Conwell (Questionable)
NE Injuries: DL Jarvis Green (Questionable), LB Monty Beisel (Questionable), DB James Sanders (Questionable)


Seattle Seahawks Passing Offense at San Francisco 49ers Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

Matt Hasselbeck tossed 17/29 for 243 yards, 1 TD and 2 interceptions last week, targeting Bobby Engram 11 times (6/70/0), Joe Jurevicius 7 times (3/27/0), and Jerramy Stevens 6 times (4/49/0) - with Darrell Jackson on the sidelines, expect a similar breakdown again this week. D.J. Hackett pulled in the TD with 2/78/1 on 2 targets to lead the team in yards and TDs last week.

The 49ers are the league's worst pass defense, allowing an average of 280.1 passing yards per game, with 17 passing scores given up to date (tied for 2nd-most allowed in the league). Dreadful wind conditions held Kyle Orton to 8/13 for 67 yards, 0 TDs and 1 interception last week, yet the 49ers still average 183.3 passing yards allowed per game over the past 3 weeks, including the downward-skewing total of 67 from last week. These guys are weak!

The Seahawks have watched Shaun Alexander score 5 times in the last 2 games, so they haven't needed to rely on Hasselbeck's arm that much - the 49er's defense is bad all the way around, so it's possible the Seahawks won't need to throw much again this week. However, when they do toss the ball, good things should happen against the door-mat 49ers' secondary.

Weather: Monster Park expects mild weather on Sunday - 66F for a high, with 51F for a low with a 10% chance for precipitation. Weather shouldn't be a huge factor in this matchup if the forecast holds up.

SEA Injuries: WR Darrell Jackson (Out)
SF Injuries: LB Saleem Rasheed (Doubtful)


Arizona Cardinals Passing Offense at St. Louis Rams Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Kurt Warner hit the Rams for 29/42 for 327 yards, 0 TDs and 1 interception during their week 2 contest (Anquan Boldin led all receivers with 8/119/0; Larry Fitzgerald was next with 4/70/0). Last week, Warner did everything he could to lead his team to victory, with 29/45 359 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions - in the absence of Anquan Boldin and Bryant Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald was strong with 9/141/1, while LeRon McCoy hauled in 6/70/0 in the course of Warner's huge game. Over the past 3 weeks (2 starts for Warner), the Cardinal's signal caller has thrown for 58/93 for 693 yards, 2 TDs and 3 interceptions - there has been no lack of yardage and receptions since Warner got back in the game.

The Rams have given up an average of 224.5 passing yards per game over the past 3 weeks (2 games), including last week's total of 17/29 for 243 yards, 1 TD and 2 interceptions allowed to Matt Hasselbeck. They are tied for next-to-last in passing scores surrendered so far this season, with 17 allowed, and rank 27th in the NFL handing over an average of 240.9 passing yards per contest. As you can see, they are sticking close to their cellar-dwelling season average over recent weeks. The Rams defense doesn't scare anybody this season.

Warner has been hot since he got back under center - the Rams are soft vs. the pass and were very giving to Warner the last time these teams met - advantage, Arizona. If Anquan Boldin can play this week, this becomes a "great" matchup for the Cardinals - right now, we're classifying it as a "good" matchup.

Weather: This game will be played in the Edward Jones Dome - weather won't be a factor indoors.

ARI Injuries: WR Anquan Boldin (Questionable), WR Bryant Johnson (Out), TE Eric Edwards (Probable)
STL Injuries: DB Travis Fisher (Questionable)


Buffalo Bills Passing Offense at San Diego Chargers Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Kelly Holcomb was knocked out of the game last week, allowing J.P. Losman to display his chemistry with Lee Evans (he hit Evans for 2 scores while throwing 9/16 for 137 yards, 2 TDs and 0 interceptions: Evans had 3/66/2 receiving on the day). Eric Moulds led the team in receptions, with 5, but was last in yards gained, with only 26 yards to his credit. Coach Mike Mularkey was non-committal about his probable starter on Sunday as of mid week, saying "I think he's [Holcomb] better today, but not totally clear. We'll see for Wednesday...I think it's going to come down to a couple things. First of all, Kelly's health; let's see how he is. And we all are in the process of studying San Diego, seeing how extensive they are and what they do defensively." Holcomb has tossed 24/39 for 288 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception during his appearances in the Bills' last 2 games. We think he's leaning to Losman but look for official word here soon.

San Diego does not field a top-flight pass D, ranking 30th in the NFL allowing an average of 248.6 passing yards per game, with 12 TDs given up in this phase to date. Over the past 3 weeks (2 games), the Chargers have averaged 251.5 passing yards surrendered per game, and they have generated 0 interceptions in that span (7 sacks in 2 games, though). The Chargers are 3rd in the NFL with 27 sacks to date, while the Bills have allowed 21 sacks (in the middle of the NFL range from 6-46 sacks allowed by the 32 teams this season). Brooks Bollinger, who struggled mightily vs. Carolina last week, tossed 11/20 for 106 yards, 2 TDs and 0 interceptions vs. San Diego two weeks ago.

Buffalo's quarterback position is unsettled as of mid-week, but San Diego does not field a feared secondary - whoever gets the nod for the Bills should enjoy success vs. San Diego's lame pass defenders.

Weather: Qualcomm Stadium expects typically mild Southern California weather on Sunday - 73F for a high, 52F for a low, with a 0% chance for rain. Conditions are expected to be great for the fans and the teams.

BUF Injuries: QB Kelly Holcomb (Questionable)
SD Injuries: DL Shawne Merriman (Questionable), LB Steve Foley (Questionable), LB Randall Godfrey (Questionable), DB Terrance Kiel (Questionable)


Houston Texans Passing Offense vs Kansas City Chiefs Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

David Carr is still standing and starting for the Texans. This is a notable achievement, given that he has been sacked 46 times to date, and hit on nearly every passing play. He is one tough customer, there is no question about that. However, it's hard to be a fantasy star with linemen and linebackers draped all over your shoulders - his best game this season came vs. Jacksonville, 22/30 for 219 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions (his only game over 200 yards passing this year, by the way), and Carr has yet to throw more than 1 TD in any game this season. Amazingly, given the constant pressure he has faced, he has thrown more TDs (8) than interceptions (6) - but 8 TDs isn't going to get you to the fantasy playoffs. Look elsewhere for your fantasy QB. None of the Texans got over 50 yards receiving last week - Jabar Gaffney hauled in Carr's lone TD pass (2/29/1).

Kansas City's secondary is not feared in the NFL - they allow an average of 248.1 passing yards per game this year (29th in the NFL) and are tied for last with 18 passing scores surrendered to date. Over the past 3 weeks, they have averaged 217 passing yards allowed per contest, including last week's total of 13/22 for 162 yards, 2 TDs and 0 interceptions surrendered to the Bills. K.C. has generated 3 sacks in their last 3 games, and has a total of 16 this year (near the bottom of the NFL).

Carr and company limp along like an old Yugo in this phase of the game, while the Chiefs dwell in the NFL's cellar vs. the pass. We're no fans of the Houston passing game, but this is a relatively good matchup for the Texans.

Weather: Reliant Stadium expects a high of 73F and a low of 46F with a 30% chance for rain on Sunday. If the weather looks too nasty, the Texans can always close the retractable roof - weather probably won't be a huge factor in this matchup.

HOU Injuries: RB Domanick Davis (Questionable), WR Andre Johnson (Probable), WR Jerome Mathis (Questionable)
KC Injuries: DL John Browning (Probable), DL Carlos Hall (Questionable), DL Ryan Sims (Out), DB Dexter McCleon (Questionable), DB Jerome Woods (Out)


Jacksonville Jaguars Passing Offense at Tennessee Titans Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Matt Jones, not Ernest Wilford, was the rookie who shone last week for Jacksonville, with 5/117/1 receiving vs. the Ravens (Wilford had 1/10/0 before jamming his shoulder in the 4th quarter) - Jimmy Smith was the other contributor with 3/43/0 to his credit. Leftwich totaled 16/30 for 211 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions last week - he's tossed 53/86 for 642 yards, 4 TDs and 1 interception over the past 3 weeks, to rank 13th in fantasy points per game among QBs. He's consistently right around 200 yards passing week in and week out (tossing for 213, 218, and 211 yards per game over his last 3 starts).

Tennessee's injury-depleted secondary coughed up 18/34 for 272 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception to Trent Dilfer before the bye week, and has averaged 252 passing yards given up per game over the last 3 weeks (2 games), with 2 interceptions and only 2 sacks (tied for the least sacks during that span) to their credit in that time-frame. The Titans are tied for last in the NFL with 18 passing scores surrendered to date, while averaging 210.6 passing yards given up per game (17th in the NFL).

Jacksonville is consistently productive in this phase of the game, while Tennessee has been very soft vs. the pass this season, especially when it comes to TDs allowed. Advantage, Jacksonville.

Weather: The Coliseum in Nashville expects a high of 53F with a low of 30F and a 10% chance for rain on Sunday - a cool, crisp day is on tap for the Titans/Jaguars contest.

JAX Injuries: RB Fred Taylor (Doubtful), WR Ernest Wilford (Probable), WR Cortez Hankton (Probable), WR Jimmy Smith (Questionable)
TEN Injuries: LB Rocky Boiman (Questionable), LB Peter Sirmon (Questionable), DB Andre Woolfolk (Questionable)


Kansas City Chiefs Passing Offense at Houston Texans Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Trent Green struggled last week, with 23/40 for 220 yards, 0 TDs and 3 interceptions vs. the Bills' excellent secondary. The top K.C. receiver during the loss was Tony Gonzalez (8/81/0), followed by RB Larry Johnson (5/46/0) - it was not a good week to start a Chief receiver. Over the past 3 weeks, Green has tossed 76/118 for 802 yards, 3 TDs and 3 interceptions, good for 16th among all fantasy QBs, but last week he was overpowered by the Bills.

The good news for Green is that this week he plays the horrid Houston Texans. They have 0 interceptions over their past 3 games. They have given up an average of 225.3 passing yards per game during that span, with a total of 1056 yards and 8 TDs rushing and receiving surrendered. Last week, Peyton Manning dissected the Texans for 26/35 for 297 yards, 3 TDs and 0 interceptions. There just isn't much this squad does right.

Green and company have a very good matchup to exploit this week.

Weather: Reliant Stadium expects a high of 73F and a low of 46F with a 30% chance for rain on Sunday. If the weather looks too nasty, the Texans can always close the retractable roof - weather probably won't be a huge factor in this matchup.

KC Injuries: WR Samie Parker (Questionable)
HOU Injuries: DL Gary Walker (Probable), DB Demarcus Faggins (Doubtful), DB Jason Simmons (Out)


Miami Dolphins Passing Offense at Cleveland Browns Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Gus Frerotte finally had a strong game on Sunday (25/47 for 360 yards, 2 TDs and 1 interception), but ended up with an injured index finger on his throwing hand. Frerotte said the following on Monday about his prospects for playing this week, "I don't know. We'll see. It's just day-to-day at this point." Coach Saban commented on Monday "It didn't affect him in the game, but he has a significant amount of swelling in it." If Frerotte can't play, the team would turn to Sage Rosenfels (a journey-man backup with 21/49 for 391 yards, 3 TDs and 3 interceptions in limited duty during a 4-year career with Miami). Some observers felt that Rosenfels played the best of any QB in training camp this past off-season.

Whoever starts will throw to "decent" WRs Chris Chambers (6/69/2 last week) and Marty Booker (5/102/0) and TE Randy McMichael who snagged 7/81/0 last week. The three form a solid trio of targets for the Miami signal callers.

The Browns are mediocre at defending vs. the opposition's passing game, allowing an average of 211.7 passing yards per game this season (19th in the NFL) with 10 scores given away to date. Over the past 3 weeks, the team has averaged 189.3 net passing yards given up per contest, with 18/27 for 223 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions surrendered to Pittsburgh last week. They bounce around in the middle of the spectrum from week to week.

The Dolphins' passing attack may be in the hands of a journeyman this week, and they'll be playing in a hostile stadium. The Browns don't dominate opposing quarterbacks, though, and rarely manage to sack them (ranking 32nd in the league with only 11 sacks as a team this year). This looks like a good matchup for the visiting Dolphins.

Weather: The forecast for Cleveland Browns Stadium calls for a high of 45F with a low of 39F and a 30% chance for precipitation. If the moisture falls thickly around game time (it could be rain, sleet or snow at this time of year) footing and ball handling could be larger issues than usual for both teams.

MIA Injuries: QB Gus Frerotte (Questionable)
CLE Injuries: DB Daylon McCutcheon (Probable)


New York Giants Passing Offense vs Philadelphia Eagles Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Eli Manning had an off-week last week - all the bounces went Minnesota's way, including some tipped passes that turned into interceptions. When it was said and done, Manning had a horrible stat line (23/48 for 291 yards, 1 TD and 4 interceptions). Amani Toomer saw as many targets as Plaxico Burress last week (12), putting up 6/61/1 vs. Burress' 3/50/0, while Jeremy Shockey had 9 balls come his way (5/55/0). Toomer has come back from the forgotten over the past 3 weeks, with 11/142/1 to his credit (44th among all fantasy WRs during that span).

Philadelphia's defense has been truly dreadful over the past 3 weeks, with a league-leading 11 TDs (rushing and receiving) given up during that span - they have coughed up 1098 total net yards during that time-frame, including an average of 235.6 passing yards per contest. The Eagles have only 1 interception during the past 3 games. Last week, Drew Bledsoe hit them for 17/24 for 196 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception.

The Eagles' defense hasn't been playing well recently - meanwhile, Eli Manning struggled in his latest appearance. With home-field advantage behind the offense, we give the Giants the nod in this matchup.

Weather: The weather service says that Giants Stadium can expect a high of 53F with a low of 38F and a 30% chance for rain on Sunday. If the moisture falls thickly around game time, footing and ball handling will be more difficult than usual (this field does double-duty, hosting both the Jets and the Giants, which means the turf is pretty chewed up at this stage of the season - seeing a lot of mud in the middle of the field during damp conditions is usual in this venue). Also, gusty autumn winds can make passing and kicking accurately more difficult.

NYG Injuries: WR Tim Carter (Questionable), WR David Tyree (Questionable), TE Jeremy Shockey (Questionable)
PHI Injuries: DL Ndukwe Kalu (Probable), LB Keith Adams (Probable), LB Jeremiah Trotter (Probable), DB Michael Lewis (Probable), DB Brian Dawkins (Probable), DB Roderick Hood (Probable)


Oakland Raiders Passing Offense at Washington Redskins Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Kerry Collins crossed the 300 yards passing barrier last week, with 26/50 for 310 yards, 2 TDs and 3 interceptions to his credit - it was the 2nd time this season he's thrown for 300+ yards, and only the 2nd time he's thrown more interceptions than TDs (183/333 for 2367 yards, 14 TDs and 6 interceptions throwing this season, ranking 8th among all fantasy QBs in points per game). Last week, Jerry Porter (10 targets for 3/27/0), Randy Moss (11 targets for 6/87/1) and Doug Gabriel (11 targets for 5/58/1) were Collins' favorite WRs to throw the ball. Collins is a solid fantasy QB this year.

The Redskins' secondary was torched by Chris Simms and company last week to the tune of 15/29 for 279 yards, 3 TDs and 0 interceptions. They average 231.3 passing yards surrendered per game over the past 3 weeks (with 1062 total yards and 9 TDs, rushing and receiving, given away in that span), which is a lot more yards per game than their season average would indicate (9th in the NFL averaging 182.1 net passing yards given up per contest). The Redskins' defenders are moving in the wrong direction vs. opposing passers.

Collins has a lot of quality targets to throw the ball to, and a defense that doesn't slow down most opponents, leading to a lot of passing attempts. The Redskins have regressed vs. the pass lately - advantage, Oakland.

Weather: The forecast for Fed-Ex Field calls for a high of 54F with a low of 36F and a 30% chance for precipitation. If it rains (or sleets, or snows) hard around game time, both teams could have more trouble than usual with footing and ball-handling.

OAK Injuries: RB Omar Easy (Questionable), WR Randy Moss (Probable)
WAS Injuries: DL Joe Salave'a (Probable), DL Philip Daniels (Probable), DL Cornelius Griffin (Questionable), DB Omar Stoutmire (Probable), DB Sean Taylor (Questionable)


St. Louis Rams Passing Offense vs Arizona Cardinals Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

The last time the Rams clashed with the Cardinals, during week 2, Marc Bulger tossed 18/29 for 216 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception vs. the Arizona secondary. Torry Holt (4/70/1) and Isaac Bruce (5/64/0) led the charge among the receivers that day. Last week, with the 3 "big guns" (Bulger, Holt, Bruce) back in the lineup, Bulger tossed 28/40 for 304 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception. He hit Holt for the score (4/45/1) - 9 Rams caught at least 1 pass last week, with Marshall Faulk leading the team (5/54/0). Bulger's definitely back in the saddle.

Since their week 2 contest vs. St. Louis, the Cardinals have run in the middle of the NFL pack vs. the pass, giving up an average of 203.4 passing yards per game (13th in the league) and 11 passing scores to date. They made the erratic Joey Harrington look pretty good last week, laying down for 22/32 for 231 yards, 3 TDs and 0 interceptions - in fact, Arizona has 0 interceptions and 10 total TDs (rushing and receiving) allowed over the past 3 weeks, with an average of 195.3 net passing yards surrendered - the Cardinals are mediocre at their best.

The Rams have a high-octane attack with their key personnel rounding back into form/returning from injury, while the Cardinals are merely adequate - advantage, St Louis.

Weather: This game will be played in the Edward Jones Dome - weather won't be a factor indoors.

STL Injuries: RB Marshall Faulk (Probable)
ARI Injuries: LB Karlos Dansby (Questionable), LB Lance Mitchell (Questionable), DB Antrel Rolle (Out)


Washington Redskins Passing Offense vs Oakland Raiders Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Mark Brunell got back to throwing TDs last week (after a 2-week drought), notching 23/35 for 226 yards, 2 TDs and 2 interceptions vs. the Tampa Bay secondary. David Patten (9 targets for 3/24/0), Santana Moss (6 for 4/79/0) and Chris Cooley (6 for 6/66/0) led the team in targets - Mike Sellers picked up his 5th TD reception (6th TD) this season with 1/7/1 receiving during the game - he's a favorite red-zone target for Brunell this year. Hopefully, Brunell can keep building on his momentum and throw some more TDs this week.

Oakland didn't do much to slow down the efficient Jake Plummer last week, giving up 16/22 for 205 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions to the Broncos. They have averaged 199.3 passing yards allowed per game over the past 3 weeks, and have generated 0 interceptions in 3 games. This year, the team is 23rd in the NFL averaging 218.6 passing yards allowed per contest, with 12 TDs given away to date - Oakland fields a sub-par unit (their best CB, Charles Woodson, is out with a broken leg).

Washington's passing attack is starting to regain it's swagger, while the Raiders flounder about somewhere between mediocrity to substandard play depending on the week. Advantage, Washington.

Weather: The forecast for Fed-Ex Field calls for a high of 54F with a low of 36F and a 30% chance for precipitation. If it rains (or sleets, or snows) hard around game time, both teams could have more trouble than usual with footing and ball-handling.

WAS Injuries: RB Ladell Betts (Questionable)
OAK Injuries: DL Bobby Hamilton (Doubtful), LB Danny Clark (Probable), DB Renaldo Hill (Probable), DB Charles Woodson (Out)


Cleveland Browns Passing Offense vs Miami Dolphins Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Romeo Crennel insists that the Browns are Trent Dilfer's team this year, although he does want to get Charlie Frye some playing time "at some point" this season. Said Crennel "If there were a large group of players who felt that maybe there should be a different quarterback, then you could lose the locker room. But I don't think that's the case. I think this locker room has a lot of confidence in Trent and is united with the quarterback." Dilfer has thrown for 47/93 for 710 yards, 3 TDs and 2 interceptions during the past 3 weeks (19th fantasy QB in points per game during that span), including last week's 17/34 for 253 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception performance vs. Pittsburgh. Antonio Bryant (5/82/1) was one of three players to crack through 50 yards receiving (Reuben Droughns, 4/67/0, and Braylon Edwards, 2/64/0, were the others). Bryant has 12/259/1 during the last 3 weeks, to rank 14th among all fantasy WRs in fantasy points per game during that span.

Miami coughed up 21/36 for 275 yards, 2 TDs and 2 interceptions to Tom Brady last week. Over the past 3 weeks, the Dolphins average 202.3 passing yards allowed per game (compared to their season average of 204 per contest, 14th in the NFL). The Dolphins have slapped down 11 sacks in the past 3 games, tied for 2nd-most in the NFL during that time frame (currently tied for 4th in the NFL with 26 sacks this season) - the Browns have surrendered 19 sacks to date, which is about average this year.

Dilfer can expect a lot of pressure from the Dolphins this week - if his OL can hold up, he'll have a decent shot at a respectable game. We think this looks like a fairly even matchup between 2 developing units.

Weather: The forecast for Cleveland Browns Stadium calls for a high of 45F with a low of 39F and a 30% chance for precipitation. If the moisture falls thickly around game time (it could be rain, sleet or snow at this time of year) footing and ball handling could be larger issues than usual for both teams.

CLE Injuries: RB William Green (Doubtful), WR Josh Cribbs (Probable)
MIA Injuries: none


Dallas Cowboys Passing Offense vs Detroit Lions Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Drew Bledsoe struggled to get much going for most of the game vs. Philadelphia, but burned them late in the game and ended up with 17/24 for 196 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception. Keyshawn Johnson snagged 5/56/0 while Terry Glenn was stifled for most of the game (2/31/1) - Peerless Price made a nice 58 yard reception early in the game, showing his chemistry with Bledsoe is alive and well. 36/48 for 416 yards, 2 TDs and 1 interception are Bledsoe's totals over the past 3 weeks (2 games) to rank 23rd among fantasy QBs - he's cooled off as we head into the 2nd half of the season.

The Lions haven't been stout in this phase of the game lately, with an average of 232.6 passing yards allowed per game over the last 3 weeks, and 0 interceptions to their credit. They have been mediocre all season, giving up an average of 205.3 passing yards per contest (15th in the league), with 12 passing scores surrendered to date. Last week, Kurt Warner torched the Lions' secondary for 29/45 for 359 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions.

Bledsoe and company have been pretty quiet lately, while the Lions have been getting worse at defending the pass - that sounds about even to us.

Weather: Texas Stadium is expected to have near-perfect weather this weekend, with a high of 67F and a low of 45F with a 20% chance for rain. Weather shouldn't be a big factor in this matchup if that forecast holds up.

DAL Injuries: WR Patrick Crayton (Doubtful), TE Brett Pierce (Probable)
DET Injuries: LB Boss Bailey (Questionable), LB Earl Holmes (Doubtful), LB Teddy Lehman (Out), DB Andre' Goodman (Probable), DB Dre Bly (Out)


Minnesota Vikings Passing Offense at Green Bay Packers Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Daunte Culpepper was in the lineup the last time these teams met (week 7) - recent history won't tell us much about Brad Johnson's prospects vs. Green Bay, as he was on the bench at that time. Mewelde Moore (currently nursing a wrist injury) had 4/60/1 receiving that day; Marcus Robinson also snagged a score with 3/60/1. Brad Johnson has compiled 45/80 for 442 yards, 3TDs and 0 interceptions since assuming the helm from Daunte Culpepper. He isn't a fantasy standout, but he's not a disaster, either. Travis Taylor (16 targets for 7/55/0), Troy Williamson (12 for 5/73/0) and Nate Burleson (12 for 5/36/1) have been his top WRs over the past 3 weeks, but Marcus Robinson leads them all in fantasy points (9 for 6/100/1).

The Packers' secondary ranks 11th in the league allowing an average of 189.2 passing yards per game this season, but they are tied for 3rd-most passing scores given up with 16 surrendered to date. Over the past 3 weeks, the Pack has paced 157.6 passing yards allowed per game, including last week's 20/30 for 209 yards, 2 TDs and 0 interceptions given up to Michael Vick. They are a mediocre bunch, on balance.

Johnson provides a steady but unspectacular passing game for Minnesota, while the Packers are so-so vs. the passing game this year. Sounds like an even matchup to us.

Weather: The Monday Night Football matchup at Lambeau Field should start closer to the forecast low of 28F at 9 P.M. (a high of 50F is expected during the day). With only a 10% chance for rain/sleet/snow, footing shouldn't be a problem on Monday night, but when the temperature gets below freezing the football is harder to grip and handle in general - and fingers can stiffen up in the cold, of course. Owners of Vikings and Packers will want to take a look at a shorter-term forecast later this week before pulling the trigger on their starters for week 11.

MIN Injuries: RB Mewelde Moore (Probable), RB Moe Williams (Out)
GB Injuries: DL Corey Williams (Doubtful), LB Robert Thomas (Questionable)


New England Patriots Passing Offense vs New Orleans Saints Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Tom Brady played well vs. the Dolphins last week, tossing 21/36 for 275 yards, 2 TDs and 2 interceptions during the game. Over the past 3 weeks he has notched 57/90 for 739 yards, 6 TDs and 2 interceptions to rank 9th among all fantasy QBs in points per game. With the Patriots' running game struggling to produce more often than not, the team has had to rely on Brady's arm to win games this season. Last week Deion Branch (10 targets for 5/82/0) and Troy Brown (8 for 3/36/0) were the most targeted WRs in the absence of David Givens (sidelined due to injury). TE Ben Watson (in the absence of Daniel Graham, sidelined by injury) was targeted 5 times for 3/37/2. Keep an eye on Givens' status for this week - when healthy, he's usually #2 among the WRs. Also, realize that the Patriots lost another DB to IR this week - Brown may well be asked to start doing double-duty on offense and defense starting this week.

New Orleans held rookie starting QB Kyle Orton to 12/26 for 137 yards, 1 TD and 2 interceptions during their most recent game (week 9). Over the past 3 weeks (2 games), the Saints have averaged 142.5 passing yards allowed per game (Gus Frerotte managed 168 yards passing vs. New Orleans during week 8) - they haven't seen top-tier QBs during their recent matchups, as you can see. Over the course of the season, the Saints are ranked 5th in the NFL allowing an average of 167.8 passing yards per game, with 11 scores given up to date (17 sacks as a team to date, 23rd in the NFL). These guys are pretty stout vs. the pass, overall.

Brady and company form one of the more feared attacks in the NFL, but the Saints are not turnstiles in this department - we think this looks like a fairly neutral matchup.

Weather: Gillette Stadium expects a high of 49F and a low of 33F with a 30% chance for precipitation on Sunday. If the moisture falls thickly around game time (it could be rain, sleet or snow at this time of year) footing and ball handling could be larger issues than usual for both teams.

NE Injuries: QB Tom Brady (Probable), RB Corey Dillon (Questionable), RB Patrick Pass (Questionable), RB Kevin Faulk (Doubtful), WR Troy Brown (Questionable), WR Tim Dwight (Questionable), WR David Givens (Questionable), TE Daniel Graham (Questionable)
NO Injuries: LB T.J. Slaughter (Questionable), LB Courtney Watson (Questionable), DB Dwight Smith (Questionable)


New York Jets Passing Offense at Denver Broncos Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Reports in the New York press early in the week indicated that Brooks Bollinger, despite his dreadful 11/21 for 98 yards, 0 TD and 4 interceptions performance vs. Carolina (after his 11/20 for 106 yards, 2 TDs and 0 interception performance relieving Vinny Testaverde the week before), will get the starting nod again this week vs. Denver. The team is waiting for Jay Fiedler's shoulder to heal completely, and the word is he's still 1-2 weeks away from resuming the starting job. Bollinger has looked good one week and terrible the next - we'll see which QB shows up to start/audition for his next job vs. Denver this week.

The Broncos rank 28th in the NFL vs. the pass this season, giving up an average of 247.9 yards per game, with 14 thrown TDs handed over to date. Last week, Kerry Collins hit the secondary for 26/50 for 310 yards, 2 TDs and 3 interceptions (the Broncos have 5 interceptions and 6 sacks in their last 2 games, while averaging 273.5 passing yards allowed per game). The Broncos are tied for 26th in the NFL with only 14 sacks this season, but over half of their sacks have come in the last 2 games, so it looks like they are turning up the heat on opposing passers in recent weeks. Bollinger was sacked 3 times last week, and the Jets lost key RT Jason Fabini for the season this week due to a torn pectoral muscle suffered in the game on Sunday.

The Jets' OL is in turmoil and hasn't protected their passers very well this season in general (allowing the 3rd-most sacks in the NFL this season with 31 given away). Bollinger isn't a guy we can recommend but the Broncos haven't been strong in this area either.

Weather: Mile High Stadium expects a high of 61F and a low of 39F with a 0% chance of rain on Sunday. A very mild day is on tap out on the high plains this Sunday - weather isn't expected to be a huge factor in this matchup.

NYJ Injuries: QB Jay Fiedler (Out), RB Curtis Martin (Probable), RB B.J. Askew (Questionable), RB Derrick Blaylock (Out)
DEN Injuries: DL Courtney Brown (Probable), DB Champ Bailey (Probable), DB Sam Brandon (Probable)


Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Offense at Baltimore Ravens Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

18/30 for 177 yards, 2 TDs and 1 interception was Ben Roethlisberger's total passing the last time he faced the Ravens' secondary, back during week 8. However, as of mid-week it is unclear if Roethlisberger will be able to play this week (Charlie Batch is out with a broken throwing hand) - Tommy Maddox could be under center for the Steelers this week if Roethlisberger's scoped knee won't let him get in the game. The early word this week is that if Roethlisberger is able to successfully participate in practice later in the week, then he'll probably start on Sunday. On Wednesday, coach Cowher indicated that the team is simply not ready to indicate whether Roethlisberger will go on Sunday or not - because nobody knows yet: "It's going to be a day-to-day assessment. I can't answer. I'm not going to give you a long-term diagnosis on him, and he's not going to give you a long-term diagnosis on him. We're going to assess this thing day to day. That's where we're at with it, and I'll keep you guys updated with it as we go through the week." All we can say is stay tuned...

Baltimore coughed up 16/30 for 211 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions to the Jaguars last week, and have averaged 198.6 passing yards allowed per game over the past 3 games (only 1 interception and 6 sacks generated during that time-span). They are far away from the squad that built the season average of 168.4 passing yards allowed per game - the Ravens are slipping badly in this phase of the game.

Pittsburgh's passing attack is in turmoil and may be manned by the 3rd-string QB this week (or a gimpy Roethlisberger), and the Steelers will have to make things work in a hostile venue. Look for them to lean on the rushing attack (as usual) and pass sparingly. When the ball is in the air, though, good things may happen as the Ravens' defense just isn't playing up to its usual lofty standards. On balance, we're calling this a neutral matchup at mid-week - there are just too many unknowns for us to determine which team has the edge.

Weather: M and T Bank Stadium should see a high of 54F with a low of 41F on Sunday, with a 30% chance for rain. If the rain comes down thickly at game time, footing and ball handling could be bigger issues than usual.

PIT Injuries: QB Ben Roethlisberger (Questionable), QB Charlie Batch (Out), RB Duce Staley (Probable), RB Jerome Bettis (Probable), RB Willie Parker (Questionable), TE Jerame Tuman (Questionable)
BAL Injuries: LB Ray Lewis (Out), DB Samari Rolle (Probable), DB B.J. Ward (Questionable), DB Dale Carter (Questionable), DB Ed Reed (Out)


San Francisco 49ers Passing Offense vs Seattle Seahawks Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Wind conditions were terrible at Soldier field last week, but anytime a team plays an entire game (holding the ball for 31:06) at this level and manages 1 pass completion, that team has serious problems. The 49ers are that team, folks. Given the dearth of effective quarterbacking on this squad, we advise you to do everything in your power to avoid starting a 49er QB or receiver until someone shows us an inkling of potential under center.

Seattle runs in the middle of the NFL pack, averaging 211.4 passing yards allowed per game this season (18th in the NFL) - last week, Marc Bulger and company put up 28/40 for 304 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception against the Seahawks - but San Francisco is not within a country mile of St. Louis, folks.

Seattle isn't outstanding vs. the pass, but they won't be challenged by the anemic 49ers - this matchup is more about how bad the 49ers are right now than how good the Seahawks' defense is. The Seahawks are just average, but that ought to be plenty enough.

Weather: Monster Park expects mild weather on Sunday - 66F for a high, with 51F for a low with a 10% chance for precipitation. Weather shouldn't be a huge factor in this matchup if the forecast holds up.

SF Injuries: RB Maurice Hicks (Probable), RB Fred Beasley (Questionable), WR Arnaz Battle (Doubtful), TE Billy Bajema (Questionable), TE Brian Jennings (Questionable)
SEA Injuries: DL Marcus Tubbs (Questionable), LB Jamie Sharper (Out)


Tampa Bay Buccaneers Passing Offense at Atlanta Falcons Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Chris Simms grows more confident and comfortable each week, and last week he eliminated the interceptions that had plagued him during his first 2 starts, tossing 15/29 for 279 yards, 3 TDs and 0 interceptions in the course of his team's 1 pt. victory over Washington. Joey Galloway has been on fire since Simms got under center, with 20/363/3 over the past 3 weeks (3rd in fantasy points per game during that span). Ike Hilliard caught a TD last week for the first time in years, seeing 8 targets for 3/37/1 last week.

The Falcon's pass D ranks 16th in the NFL this season, allowing an average of 208.6 passing yards per contest, with 10 TDs surrendered to date. They have averaged only 173.5 passing yards given away over their last 2 games, though, including the 27/40 for 256 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception allowed to the Packers last week. The Falcons are tied for 7th in the NFL with 25 sacks to date, but have only managed 1 sack during their last 2 games - they've slacked off in this department lately.

Simms is growing into an impressive starting QB - in this division rivalry game, he'll face off against an improving Atlanta squad in their own house. Atlanta can bring a strong pass rush to bear (but they haven't been sacking the opposing QBs much in recent weeks). We think the two units are pretty evenly matched.

Weather: This game will be played in the air-conditioning at the Georgia Dome - weather won't be a factor.

TB Injuries: RB Michael Pittman (Probable), WR Michael Clayton (Questionable)
ATL Injuries: DL Chad Lavalais (Probable), DL Brady Smith (Probable), DB Keion Carpenter (Probable), DB Kevin McCadam (Probable)


Atlanta Falcons Passing Offense vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Michael Vick strung together consecutive 200+ passing performances over the past 2 weeks, and he threw 20 or more completions in both of those games. With 20/30 for 209 yards, 2 TDs and 0 interceptions last week (7/24/1 rushing), he ended up the 2nd ranked fantasy QB in the land last week. Brian Finneran followed up his 11 targets for 8/92/1 with 6 for 4/50/0 last week - Alge Crumpler has seen 8 targets both of the last 2 weeks, for 6/65/0 and 5/40/0, respectively. Warrick Dunn (6/52/1) and Roddy White (2/22/1) accounted for Vick's TD passes last week.

Tampa Bay allowed 23/35 for 226 yards, 2 TDs and 2 interceptions to the Redskins last week, and have averaged 154.6 passing yards allowed per game over the past 3 weeks. They are the 4th ranked pass D in the NFL this year, averaging 165.8 passing yards allowed per game, with a league-low 5 thrown TDs given up to date. They slipped a little last week, but the Buccaneers are still fielding an elite NFL pass defense.

Michael Vick has elevated his passing game during the past couple of weeks, but he'll face a tough challenge this weekend when Tampa visits the Georgia Dome.

Weather: This game will be played in the air-conditioning at the Georgia Dome - weather won't be a factor.

ATL Injuries: RB Fred McCrary (Probable), WR Michael Jenkins (Probable), WR Roddy White (Probable)
TB Injuries: DL Greg Spires (Questionable), DB Dexter Jackson (Questionable), DB Will Allen (Doubtful)


Baltimore Ravens Passing Offense vs Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Like we said last week, Kyle Boller has never impressed us as an NFL-quality starter, and his 19/33 for 142 yards, 0 TDs and 3 interceptions last Sunday did nothing to change our opinion. The 4 sacks surrendered by the OL last week were partly due to Boller's indecisiveness - he held the ball too long, and took a lot of hard shots.

During week 8, Anthony Wright was under center, so recent history won't tell us much about this week's matchup for Pittsburgh's secondary. In our opinion, Boller isn't a huge upgrade over Wright (25/42 for 252 yards, 1 TD and 2 interceptions vs. Pittsburgh) - every defensive coordinator knows the template for defending Boller: rush him, hit him, force bad passes for interceptions (he has thrown 20 TDs and 24 interceptions in his career, with 0 TDs and 4 interceptions to his credit this year). Pittsburgh ranks 20th in the NFL this season allowing an average of 214.2 passing yards per game, but they have only given up 6 passing scores to date. Trent Dilfer posted 17/34 for 253 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception vs. Pittsburgh last week. The Steelers have 25 sacks this season (tied for 7th in the NFL), with 5 sacks over their last 3 games - Baltimore has allowed 24 sacks to date (tied for 9th-most in the NFL).

The Steelers will make things tough for Boller this week.

Weather: M and T Bank Stadium should see a high of 54F with a low of 41F on Sunday, with a 30% chance for rain. If the rain comes down thickly at game time, footing and ball handling could be bigger issues than usual.

BAL Injuries: RB Musa Smith (Questionable), TE Daniel Wilcox (Probable)
PIT Injuries: LB Andre Frazier (Probable), LB Joey Porter (Probable), LB James Farrior (Questionable), DB Deshea Townsend (Probable), DB Mike Logan (Doubtful)


Carolina Panthers Passing Offense at Chicago Bears Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Steve Smith had his first sub-100 yard receiving game in 5 weeks last week (3/34/0) - every time he's been held under 100 yards receiving this year, he has rebounded for 100+ yards and multiple TDs during the next game. With 58/937/9 to his credit through 9 games, he's a must start every week, despite the disappointing outing last week. Jake Delhomme is the 14th ranked fantasy QB over the past 3 weeks, with 42/68 for 676 yards, 5 TDs and 2 interceptions to his credit during that span - he managed 10/20 for 119 yards, 1 TD and 2 interceptions last week during an off game. We expect both Delhomme and Smith to enjoy better outings this week. The Jets (last week's opponent) do deploy a top-ten pass D this season, despite their dismal win-loss record.

Last week's dismal 1/13 for 28 yards, 0 TDs and 1 interception performance by Cody Pickett demonstrated just how bad things are in San Francisco, folks. Of course, the Bear's top-ten secondary had something to do with that, too - they are currently 3rd in the NFL allowing an average of 158.4 passing yards per game this season, with only 7 thrown scores surrendered to date. The Bears deploy a solid pass defense week in and week out.

Delhomme and Smith come into this game a little cool, while the Bears are white hot. With the home-field advantage at Chicago's back (and the swirling winds at Soldier Field in the equation, too), we think this looks like a tough matchup for the Panthers' dynamic duo.

Weather: The forecast for Soldier Field calls for a high of 43F with a low of 33F and a 10% chance for rain. Sounds like a great day for a football game is on tap in the Windy City - as game time approaches, owners of Panthers and Bears will want to glance at wind conditions forecast for Chicago - as we saw last week, the gusty winds at Soldier Field can adversely affect both the passing and the kicking games.

CAR Injuries: RB Stephen Davis (Probable), TE Kris Mangum (Questionable)
CHI Injuries: DL Israel Idonije (Questionable), DB Nathan Vasher (Probable)


Chicago Bears Passing Offense vs Carolina Panthers Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Kyle Orton continues to play within his limits and manage the passing game well - he has tossed 37/70 for 434 yards, 2 TDs and 3 interceptions during the past 3 games, including last week's 8/13 for 67 yards, 0 TDs and 1 interception vs. San Francisco last week (wind conditions were brutal last week, causing problems for both QBs - Cody Pickett managed only 1 completion all day long). He's not going to win fantasy games for anyone, though, and his limitations are hampering WR Muhsin Muhammad, too (1/3/0 last week).

Carolina's pass D has been mediocre, allowing an average of 214.6 passing yards per game this season (21st in the NFL) with 11 scores surrendered to date. Last week, they made life miserable for Brooks Bollinger, though (11/21 for 98 yards, 0 TDs and 4 interceptions). Over the past 3 weeks, the Panthers average 158 passing yards allowed per game, with 6 interceptions and 12 sacks during that span (tied for the most interceptions and most sacks during that time-frame) - the Panthers are getting nastier in this phase as they begin their playoff push.

Orton is limited by his inexperience and a run-oriented offense, while the Panthers are becoming pretty nasty vs. the pass at the half-way point. This looks like a tough matchup for the youngster.

Weather: The forecast for Soldier Field calls for a high of 43F with a low of 33F and a 10% chance for rain. Sounds like a great day for a football game is on tap in the Windy City - as game time approaches, owners of Panthers and Bears will want to glance at wind conditions forecast for Chicago - as we saw last week, the gusty winds at Soldier Field can adversely affect both the passing and the kicking games.

CHI Injuries: QB Rex Grossman (Out), RB Cedric Benson (Out), WR Bernard Berrian (Doubtful)
CAR Injuries: LB Vinny Ciurciu (Questionable), DB Mike Minter (Probable), DB Thomas Davis (Questionable)


Cincinnati Bengals Passing Offense vs Indianapolis Colts Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Carson Palmer tossed 19/26 for 248 yards, 2 TDs and 0 interceptions vs. Baltimore before the Bengals' bye week. He hit Chad Johnson for 5/91/0; and threw 5/61/0 to T. J. Houshmandzadeh - they led the team in receptions and yardage that week. However, Chris Henry (3/17/1) and Tab Perry (1/8/1) hauled in the scores during the contest. Palmer is the 2nd ranked fantasy QB in the land through 9 games, with 205/293 for 2285 yards, 18 TDs and 5 interceptions to his credit - Johnson is 7th among fantasy WRs in fantasy points per game with 53/808/5 in 9 games played, and his side-kick Houshmandzadeh is 17th in points per game with 37/461/2 in 7 games played. They are the primary targets on one of the top 5 passing attacks in the land - start them if you've got them.

The Colts' secondary has not been creating turnovers in recent weeks, with 0 interceptions over the past 3 weeks - however, they have only allowed 190 passing yards per game during that time span. The team ranks 8th in the NFL averaging 173.9 passing yards allowed per game this season, with 9 thrown TDs surrendered to date. Last week, David Carr managed 16/25 for 138 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions vs. Indianapolis. They also lead the league in sacks, with 31 generated in 9 games. Any way you slice it, the Colts' defense is tough.

Palmer and company comprise an elite passing attack, but the Colt's defense is not a pushover vs. the pass - we think this is a tough matchup between top teams.

Weather: The forecast for Paul Brown Stadium calls for a high of 43F with a low of 34F and a 30% chance for precipitation. If the moisture falls thickly around game time (it could be rain, sleet or snow at this time of year) footing and ball handling could be larger issues than usual for both teams.

CIN Injuries: RB Rudi Johnson (Probable)
IND Injuries: DL Josh Thomas (Questionable), DL Vincent Burns (Questionable), LB Cato June (Probable), LB Keith O'Neil (Questionable), LB Rob Morris (Questionable), DB Joseph Jefferson (Probable), DB Jason David (Probable), DB Michael Doss (Probable), DB Bob Sanders (Questionable)


Denver Broncos Passing Offense vs New York Jets Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Jake Plummer has tossed only 3 interceptions during his first 9 games, and over the past 3 weeks (2 games), he's thrown for 38/57 for 514 yards, 5 TDs and 0 interceptions to rank 2nd in fantasy points per game at his position. Rod Smith has hauled in 10/126/2 during those games (9th among fantasy WRs in points per game); Ashley Lelie has 6/157/0 to rank 32nd. The Denver offense is firing on all cylinders, folks - last week, Plummer had 16/22 for 205 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions to his credit (Smith grabbed the score with 5/50/1; Lelie led in yardage with 3/76/0).

The Jets' pass D ranks in the top ten this season, allowing an average of 169.3 passing yards per contest (7th in the NFL) with 7 passing scores allowed to date. Last week, they held Jake Delhomme and company to 10/20 for 119 yards, 1 TD and 2 interceptions; over the past 3 weeks, they have averaged 190.5 passing yards handed over (2 games). The Jets haven't generated many sacks this year, though, with only 1 in their last 2 games, and only 13 to date (tied for 30th in the NFL).

Denver is humming along playing very efficiently in the passing arena - but the Jets aren't pushovers in this phase. Two top units clash in this matchup - we call it a tough matchup for Denver.

Weather: Mile High Stadium expects a high of 61F and a low of 39F with a 0% chance of rain on Sunday. A very mild day is on tap out on the high plains this Sunday - weather isn't expected to be a huge factor in this matchup.

DEN Injuries: WR Darius Watts (Probable), WR Ashley Lelie (Probable)
NYJ Injuries: LB Kenyatta Wright (Questionable), DB David Barrett (Out)


Detroit Lions Passing Offense at Dallas Cowboys Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Joey Harrington looked great last week, with 22/32 for 231 yards, 3 TDs and 0 interceptions - so this is what he was supposed to be able to do with all the talent at WR... Roy Williams finally earned his game paycheck with 7/117/3 on the day. It was the first time this season he went over 100 yards receiving and his first multiple-TD game of 2005. However, the good performance did not earn Harrington's starting job back. "We named Jeff the starter a few weeks ago -- the week of the Cleveland game. Since then, I haven't changed my statement. Joey has played when Jeff got hurt. Joey, by the way, played a good game, his most productive game and efficient game of the year. He's been practicing pretty darn well since we made that announcement that Jeff was our starter for the Cleveland game." said coach Mariucci on Tuesday. So, the official stance is that Joey Harrington is starting by default, but not due to the coaches' choice. We'll see if Harrington can change Mariucci's mind by following up on his strong game with another convincing performance. Mike Williams was sidelined due to a foot injury last week, leaving Scottie Vines as the #2 across from Roy Williams - keep an eye on Mike Williams' injury status this week.

Dallas plays solid pass defense week in and week out - last week, Donovan McNabb and the league's #1 pass offense were once again frustrated by Dallas, limited to 21/39 for 183 yards, 0 TDs and 1 interception. They average 191.8 passing yards allowed per game this season, with 10 passing scores given up to date. Over the past 3 weeks, Dallas averages 160 net passing yards allowed per game (2 games). These guys are good.

Harrington is a streaky player, looking good one week and then tanking the next with regularity throughout his career. He found a rhythm last week, but has a history of not building on momentum. Dallas plays very well in this phase of the game, and they have home field advantage. This will be a tough test for Harrington - advantage, Dallas.

Weather: Texas Stadium is expected to have near-perfect weather this weekend, with a high of 67F and a low of 45F with a 20% chance for rain. Weather shouldn't be a big factor in this matchup if that forecast holds up.

DET Injuries: QB Jeff Garcia (Questionable), RB Paul Smith (Probable)
DAL Injuries: DB Anthony Henry (Questionable)


Indianapolis Colts Passing Offense at Cincinnati Bengals Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

26/35 for 297 yards, 3 TDs and 0 interceptions - Peyton Manning's totals last week vs. Houston. Marvin Harrison hauled in 7/108/1; Brandon Stokley snagged 6/73/1; Reggie Wayne had 8/72/0; and TE Dallas Clark pulled down 2/18/1. It was the second straight week that Manning has tossed 3 TDs in a game. Over the last 3 weeks, Manning is 1st in fantasy points per game at his position with 54/72 for 618 yards, 6 TDs and 1 interception over 2 games. 16/236/3 for Harrison (#2); 17/196/1 for Wayne (#8); 10/107/1 for Stokley (#29). Things look sort of like 2004 around here lately, don't they? Start them if you've got them.

The Bengals are tough on opposing passers, ranking 10th in the NFL allowing an average of 187.1 passing yards per game, with 7 TDs surrendered to date. They have slowed down on the interception front lately, with 5 over their past 2 games (still impressive, but not tops in the league during the past 3 weeks), and the defense as a whole has only allowed 2 TDs during that time-frame. They average 196.5 passing yards handed over per game during the last 3 weeks, including the 19/31 for 153 yards, 0 TDs and 0 interceptions that the Ravens managed during week 9.

The Bengals field a top-tier secondary, and they have home-field advantage at their back. The best QB in the league comes into town red-hot, though - we call this a tough matchup between elite units.

Weather: The forecast for Paul Brown Stadium calls for a high of 43F with a low of 34F and a 30% chance for precipitation. If the moisture falls thickly around game time (it could be rain, sleet or snow at this time of year) footing and ball handling could be larger issues than usual for both teams.

IND Injuries: WR Reggie Wayne (Probable)
CIN Injuries: LB David Pollack (Probable)


San Diego Chargers Passing Offense vs Buffalo Bills Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Drew Brees tossed 20/27 for 270 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception vs. the Jets - during the same game, Tomlinson rushed for 3 scores and grabbed Brees' TD pass. The San Diego offense is firing on all cylinders right now - Brees has 45/70 for 594 yards passing, 4 TDs and 2 interceptions over the last 3 weeks (2 games), to rank 4th among all fantasy QBs in points per game. Antonio Gates is the #1 fantasy TE in the land (18/277/3) during the same span, and he'd be the #1 receiver in a league that combines WR and TE into one position as well. Gates is the best receiver on the team by far, with 51/707/6 this year, followed by Keenan McCardell with 33/469/6 - nobody else on the receiving corps has more than 1 receiving score (RB Tomlinson does, with 28/264/2).

Buffalo's pass defense is one of the league's best, averaging only 157.9 yards allowed per game (2nd in the NFL) - they are tied for 2nd-least passing scores given up to date, with 6 surrendered. Over the past 3 weeks (2 games), the Bills have handed over only 173 passing yards per contest on average, with 3 interceptions and 9 sacks to their credit in those 2 games. The Bills are tied for 7th in the league to date with 25 sacks all told - the Chargers are 5th-best in the league with only 13 sacks surrendered to date (they aren't very vulnerable to pass pressure).

San Diego has a powerful, balanced offense with an all-world running back who demands a lot of attention - this makes finding an open receiver fairly easy for Brees. He's completing passes at 64.3% this season - almost 2 out of every 3 passes is completed. Buffalo is still pretty solid here and this looks like a tough matchup to us even though we like the Chargers.

Weather: Qualcomm Stadium expects typically mild Southern California weather on Sunday - 73F for a high, 52F for a low, with a 0% chance for rain. Conditions are expected to be great for the fans and the teams.

SD Injuries: RB Andrew Pinnock (Questionable), TE Ryan Krause (Out)
BUF Injuries: DL Sam Adams (Questionable), DB Terrence McGee (Questionable), DB Troy Vincent (Questionable)


Philadelphia Eagles Passing Offense at New York Giants Passing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Coach Andy Reid sounded pessimistic on Tuesday about Donovan McNabb's chances to play this week vs. the Giants, stating "I wouldn't bet on it. He doesn't look good today." In a telling move at the end of the Dallas/Philadelphia game, Mike McMahon was inserted to lead the team on a desperation drive for a field goal try, not Koy Detmer. If Reggie Brown hadn't dropped a near-perfect pass, the Eagles would have been in position for a chip-shot game-winner, too. McMahon's passes looked on target during his brief appearance and he has the reputation for possessing a very strong arm. On Wednesday, the team indicated that Mike McMahon will start for the team on Sunday. Speaking of McNabb, coach Reid said "He's not moving around very well right now." There is speculation as of mid-week that McNabb's groin injury has worsened and that he may have played his last game of the season.

The Giants were beaten last week, but it wasn't due to their defense, which allowed only 17/30 for 144 yards, 0 TDs and 0 interceptions to the Vikings' offense (the Giants have given up 400 total net yards during their past 3 games, with 0 offensive TDs allowed). In fact, they average 99.3 passing yards surrendered per contest over their most recent 3 games, and they have amassed 12 QB sacks during that span. The Giants' defense is playing at the top of their capabilities right now.

A journeyman QB in his first start of the season will have a very hard time handling the Giants on their home-field (this is a divisional-rivalry game to boot). The Giants lost their other owner this week, Preston R. Tisch - they absolutely destroyed the Redskins the weekend after the death of former co-owner Wellington Mara 3 weeks ago. This looks like a very tough matchup for the new Eagles' starter.

Weather: The weather service says that Giants Stadium can expect a high of 53F with a low of 38F and a 30% chance for rain on Sunday. If the moisture falls thickly around game time, footing and ball handling will be more difficult than usual (this field does double-duty, hosting both the Jets and the Giants, which means the turf is pretty chewed up at this stage of the season - seeing a lot of mud in the middle of the field during damp conditions is usual in this venue). Also, gusty autumn winds can make passing and kicking accurately more difficult.

PHI Injuries: QB Donovan McNabb (Out), RB Lamar Gordon (Probable), TE Stephen Spach (Probable), TE L.J. Smith (Questionable)
NYG Injuries: DL Reggie Torbor (Questionable), DL Justin Tuck (Questionable), DL Kenderick Allen (Questionable), DL William Joseph (Out), LB Carlos Emmons (Questionable), DB Shaun Williams (Questionable), DB William Peterson (Out)


Tennessee Titans Passing Offense vs Jacksonville Jaguars Passing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Tennessee's receiving corps was really beaten up heading into the bye week, essentially down to rookie WRs Courtney Roby and Roydell Williams, with TEs Erron Kinney and Bo Scaife representing the other healthy targets in QB Steve McNair's arsenal. There just aren't a lot of bullets left in McNair's gun, and it showed in week 9 when he tossed 10 of 18 completions to the tight ends Kinney (5/74/1) and Scaife (5/59/0) - Williams was the only other receiver with more than one catch (5/61/0). McNair's totals of 18/41 for 235 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception were respectable, given the limits of the personnel he has to work with right now. Veteran receiver Drew Bennett may attempt to play with a brace on his surgically repaired thumb this week. Said coach Fisher about Bennett's prospects "He has to be able to catch first. If he can't catch it would make no sense to put him on the field. So I really don't know at this point." As the Titans only use "out" or "questionable" on the injury report, don't expect to get any hints from the official NFL injury report on whether Bennett will play or not.

The Jaguars are #1 in the NFL vs. the pass, holding teams to an average of 156.4 passing yards per game this season (10 passing scores allowed to date). Over the past 3 weeks, they have averaged 162.3 passing yards allowed per contest, with 6 interceptions and 12 sacks to their credit (tied for most interceptions and most sacks during that time frame). They are 4th in the NFL with 26 sacks this season (Tennessee is in the middle of the NFL pack with 18 sacks allowed to date). The "great" Kyle Boller tossed 19/33 for 142 yards, 0 TDs and 3 interceptions vs. the Jaguars' secondary last week, and was sacked 4 times by Jacksonville.

McNair and his receiving corps have a long afternoon ahead of them vs. the Jaguar's top-ranked pass defense.

Weather: The Coliseum in Nashville expects a high of 53F with a low of 30F and a 10% chance for rain on Sunday - a cool, crisp day is on tap for the Titans/Jaguars contest.

TEN Injuries: WR Drew Bennett (Questionable), WR Tyrone Calico (Questionable), WR Sloan Thomas (Out), TE Ben Troupe (Questionable)
JAX Injuries: DL Marcus Stroud (Questionable), LB Patrick Thomas (Doubtful)




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