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  Rushing Matchups  

Week 15 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.


Denver Broncos Passing Offense at Buffalo Bills Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

Jake Plummer had a good game vs. the Ravens, with 19/33 for 236 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions - he got back to taking care of the football last week, and has amassed 52/86 for 674 yards, 3 TDs and 3 interceptions during the past 3 weeks (22nd fantasy QB in points per game during that span). Ever-reliable Rod Smith led the team in receiving with 5/64/0 last week, while Kyle Johnson pulled down the score (3/40/1) - Ashley Lelie kicked in 2/42/0 to the effort last week. The Broncos' passing attack isn't flashy, but they are effective.

The Bills rank 19th in the NFL this season, giving up an average of 202.8 passing yards per game, with 15 TDs surrendered to date. Tom Brady hung 30/40 for 336 yards, 2 TDs and 2 interceptions on them last week, though - Buffalo has given away an average of 292.6 passing yards per contest over the past 3 weeks (878 passing yards total) - they are imploding on both sides of the ball right now.

Plummer and company have a great matchup to exploit this week.

Weather: Ralph Wilson Stadium expects a high of 29F with a low of 23F and a 50% chance for sleet/ice/snow on Saturday. This game is to be played starting at 8:30 PM ET, so temperatures will be on the cold end of the scale and wind conditions could be a problem for both teams if a storm sets in - owners of Broncos and Bills will want to check a short-term forecast before setting their lineups this week. Heavy snow and high winds are not ideal conditions for passing/kicking games - although both of these teams play in cold-weather, outdoor home stadiums.

DEN Injuries: none
BUF Injuries: LB Lauvale Sape (Doubtful)


Indianapolis Colts Passing Offense vs San Diego Chargers Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

The Colts passing offense is virtually unstoppable, and Peyton Manning showed us that once again last week by ripping up the top-ten Jags for 24/36 for 324 yards, 2 TDs and 0 interceptions. Marvin Harrison put up 6/137/2 as the top receiver last week, Reggie Wayne was second with 4/81/0, and the TEs Brian Fletcher (3/31/0) and Dallas Clark (2/14/0) kept coverage loose with their pass-catching prowess. Nobody has found an answer for the Colts' offense this year (Jacksonville held them to 10 points week 2, but they couldn't handle them last week). If you have Manning, Harrison or Wayne on your team, they should be starting for you every week.

San Diego got surprised by the Dolphins last week, and they allowed 14/22 for 229 yards, 2 TDs and 0 interceptions to Gus Frerotte en route to the loss. their secondary hasn't been very good this year, averaging 231.1 passing yards allowed per game (27th in the NFL), with 17 passing scores allowed to date. Expect that number to go up after this week. With 38 sacks so far this year they are 4th in the NFL, but Indy is #1 in the league at pass blocking with only 12 sacks allowed to date (although Jacksonville did get an uncharacteristically high 3 sacks vs. Indy last week).

San Diego is in for a lot of trouble from Manning and company at the RCA Dome.

Weather: The Colts' home stadium is the RCA Dome - weather won't be an issue for either team during this matchup.

IND Injuries: none
SD Injuries: DL Luis Castillo (Questionable), DB Quentin Jammer (Questionable), DB Bhawoh Jue (Questionable)


Jacksonville Jaguars Passing Offense vs San Francisco 49ers Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

David Garrard did very well against the tough Colts last week, with 26/35 for 250 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions to his credit. He's thrown TDs in his last 2 games, and has posted 49/81 for 481 yards, 3 TDs and 1 interception passing with 18/106/2 rushing, to land in the top 10 among fantasy QBs during his first 3 weeks starting (10th fantasy QB in the land). The kid can really play - no wonder the Jags signed him to a big contract to keep him with the team. Jimmy Smith has been reborn since Garrard stepped in, with 18/221/2 during the last 3 weeks.

Garrard's upward trend should continue this week as he faces the dead-last 49ers secondary. They are last in TDs allowed, with 26. They are last in average passing yards allowed per game, with 283.4 per game to their "credit". They are tied for 23rd in the league with only 25 sacks, and have generated only 1 sack in the last 3 weeks (dead last in the NFL during that span). They've allowed an average of 311.6 passing yards per game over the past 3 weeks, and were shelled for 24/30 for 259 yards, 4 TDs and 1 interception by the Seahawks last week. What a sorry mess these guys are.

Advantage, Jacksonville.

Weather: The weather service expects a high of 61F with a low of 47F for Alltel Stadium - there is a 40% chance for rain, though. If the moisture falls heavily at game time, footing and ball handling will be more tricky than usual for both teams.

JAX Injuries: QB Byron Leftwich (Out), RB Rich Alexis (Doubtful)
SF Injuries: DL Bryant Young (Probable), LB Saleem Rasheed (Probable), DB Mike Adams (Questionable), DB Ahmed Plummer (Out)


Arizona Cardinals Passing Offense at Houston Texans Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Kurt Warner missed adding another 300+ yard passing game to his stats last week, but he still played a solid game with 25/41 for 255 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception against the Redskins' solid secondary. Larry Fitzgerald was shut down for the first time in 6 weeks, held without a score and not even near 100 yards receiving (4/23/0). While the Redskins' keyed on Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin burned them for 9/114/0 (17 targets) - #3 WR Bryant Johnson was second in receiving last week with 5/61/0. The Cardinal's attack is very potent in this phase of the game.

The Texans' pass D is sub-par, ranking 25th in the NFL this year allowing an average of 218.5 passing yards per game (with 20 TDs coughed up in 13 games). Over the past 3 weeks, they have averaged 221.3 net passing yards allowed per game. One thing that Houston has been able to do lately is sack the opposing QB - they have done it 11 times during the past 3 weeks, but they have generated only 1 interception during that span. The Cardinals have surrendered 34 sacks to date (10th-most in the NFL) - Warner will need to look out this weekend.

The Cardinal's passing attack is powerful, while the Texans are (on balance) sub-par. We think Arizona has an edge in this matchup.

Weather: The forecast for Reliant Stadium calls for a high of 54F with a low of 39F and a 30% chance for rain on Sunday. If the weather looks too nasty, the retractable roof can always be closed - conditions shouldn't be a huge factor for either team.

ARI Injuries: none
HOU Injuries: DL Robaire Smith (Probable), DL Gary Walker (Probable), DL Junior Ioane (Doubtful), DB Lewis Sanders (Probable)


Buffalo Bills Passing Offense vs Denver Broncos Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

J.P. Losman had a lot of trouble making plays last week, tossing 10/27 for 181 yards, 1 TD and 3 interceptions vs. the Patriots injury depleted secondary (the TD came in garbage time when the Pats were up 35-0). Losman just doesn't scare anybody - teams clamp down on the Bills' running game and dare him to pass, and he isn't getting the job done. The return of Eric Moulds to the lineup this week may help loosen up coverages (Lee Evans managed 4/83/0 in Moulds' absence last week), and the news on Wednesday is that Losman has an injured shoulder and will not start this week. Said coach Mularkey on Wednesday ""It's bothering him. That's why we wanted to give him the time off with everything, not just throwing. He's banged up elsewhere, too. Normal bumps and bruises, but with a quarterback it's magnified." Kelly Holcomb will get the nod vs. Denver and Moulds figures to do better than he has with Losman under center - Moulds and Holcomb worked well together earlier this season.

The Broncos' secondary took a blow last week when Darrent Williams, one of the DBs used regularly in the Denver rotation, suffered a groin injury and is now sidelined for several weeks. The Broncos rank 29th in the NFL allowing an average of 241.5 passing yards per game this year (19 passing TDs given up to date). Over the past 3 weeks, they have coughed up 244.3 passing yards per game (right on their sub-par pace), with 6 interceptions but only 3 sacks. Denver's pass defense is nothing special.

Two sub-par units face off in this matchup - Buffalo is struggling but this is a relatively good matchup for them.

Weather: Ralph Wilson Stadium expects a high of 29F with a low of 23F and a 50% chance for sleet/ice/snow on Saturday. This game is to be played starting at 8:30 PM ET, so temperatures will be on the cold end of the scale and wind conditions could be a problem for both teams if a storm sets in - owners of Broncos and Bills will want to check a short-term forecast before setting their lineups this week. Heavy snow and high winds are not ideal conditions for passing/kicking games - although both of these teams play in cold-weather, outdoor home stadiums.

BUF Injuries: QB J.P. Losman (Questionable)
DEN Injuries: DL Courtney Brown (Probable), LB Keith Burns (Probable), LB D.J. Williams (Probable), DB Sam Brandon (Probable), DB Darrent Williams (Out)


Carolina Panthers Passing Offense at New Orleans Saints Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Jake Delhomme had some interception problems the last time he faced the Saints (week 1), tossing 19/31 for 212 yards, 1 TD and 2 interceptions - as usual, his #1 target was Steve Smith, who saw 13 targets (out of 19 thrown to Panther WRs that day) for 8/138/1. Smith had the Saint's number early in the season. Last week, the two hooked up for 5/103/0 on 8 targets for Smith - Delhomme tossed 21/33 for 220 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception vs. the ultra-tough Buccaneer defense. Ricky Proehl was second-fiddle with 3/36/1 (5 targets) last week.

The Saints' pass D ranks 5th in the NFL this season, allowing an average of 180 yards per game - but they have handed over 17 passing scores to date. Part of the reason for the low yards-per-game average is that their rush defense is so bad that teams elect to run the ball at the Saints a lot. Anyway, over the past 3 weeks, teams have averaged 212 yards passing per game vs. this group - New Orleans has generated only 1 interception and 2 sacks during that span, tied for worst in the league in both categories. The bottom has fallen out of the Saints' season, and their defensive effort reflects this reality.

The Panthers are fighting for a division crown, and figure to bring their "A" game to this game, while it doesn't look like the Saints have an "A" game at this point. Advantage, Carolina.

Weather: The forecast for Tiger Stadium calls for a high of 55F with a low of 36F and a 40% chance for rain. If the rain comes down thickly at game time, field conditions may deteriorate causing problems with footing and ball-handling for both teams.

CAR Injuries: RB DeShaun Foster (Probable), TE Michael Gaines (Questionable)
NO Injuries: DL Darren Howard (Questionable), LB Sedrick Hodge (Questionable), DB Jason Craft (Questionable)


Detroit Lions Passing Offense vs Cincinnati Bengals Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Jeff Garcia is not the long-term answer in Detroit, but he's what they've got this year. Last week, that meant 13/24 for 112 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions. Roy Williams led the team with 4/53/1, nobody else got above 25 yards receiving. Garcia has tossed 44/83 for 392 yards, 2 TDs and 2 interceptions in his past 3 games, to rank 31st in the NFL at fantasy points per game at the QB position. Marques Tuiasosopo and Charlie Frye have better points-per-game averages than Garcia does. Enough said.

The Bengals rank 22nd in the NFL allowing an average of 210.4 passing yards per game, with 17 TDs given up in this phase of the game to date. They lead the league in TDs allowed over the past 3 weeks, with 10 surrendered (rushing and receiving), but they are tied for 2nd in the NFL with 6 interceptions during that span, and have 7 sacks. They are playing a gambling style of defense that is vulnerable to being scored upon. Last week, youngster Charlie Frye tossed 16/24 for 138 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception against this squad.

The Lions passing game is a mess, but this is a fairly good matchup for Garcia and company.

Weather: Inside Ford Field, conditions will be perfect - weather will be a non-factor.

DET Injuries: RB Shawn Bryson (Probable), RB Paul Smith (Questionable), RB Kevin Jones (Doubtful), WR Eddie Drummond (Questionable), TE Casey Fitzsimmons (Out)
CIN Injuries: DL John Thornton (Probable), DL Carl Powell (Doubtful), DL Bryan Robinson (Out), DB Ifeanyi Ohalete (Questionable)


Minnesota Vikings Passing Offense vs Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Brad Johnson has been solid since assuming the Viking's top QB job, racking up 52/76 for 609 yards, 5 TDs and 1 interception during the most recent 3 games (17th best fantasy QB in points per game during that span). Koren Robinson (13 targets for 9/192/1), Marcus Robinson (11 targets for 7/113/3), and Travis Taylor (12 targets for 7/92/0) have been his most consistently targeted receivers during those weeks, although TEs Jim Kleinsasser and Jermaine Wiggins have also seen their share of the action (7 targets in 2 games for Kleinsasser (6/37/0), 11 targets in 2 games for Wiggins (8/85/0)). Nobody did much last week against St. Louis, though, as Johnson only tossed 16/25 for 146 yards, 0 TDs and 0 interceptions vs. the Rams, with Marcus Robinson leading the team in yards with 1/49/0.

The Steelers are 21st in the NFL this season, averaging 208.5 passing yards allowed per game, with 12 TDs given up to date. Over the past 3 weeks, Pittsburgh has averaged 215.3 passing yards allowed per game, with only 1 interception (6 sacks) vs. 8 TDs allowed (rushing and receiving). Last week, the usually low-flying Kyle Orton managed 17/35 for 207 yards, 0 TDs and 0 interceptions vs. Pittsburgh - if Orton can top 200 yards passing vs. Pittsburgh, pretty much anybody in the NFL should be able to do it.

The Steelers' pass D is sub-par - expect Johnson to take advantage of them this week.

Weather: This game is scheduled for the Metrodome in Minneapolis - weather won't be an issue for either team during the game.

MIN Injuries: RB Mewelde Moore (Probable)
PIT Injuries: DL Brett Keisel (Probable), DL Travis Kirschke (Questionable), LB Joey Porter (Probable), LB Andre Frazier (Doubtful), DB Chidi Iwuoma (Probable), DB Deshea Townsend (Questionable)


New York Giants Passing Offense vs Kansas City Chiefs Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Eli Manning has struggled lately, with 69/128 for 808 yards, 3 TDs and 6 interceptions passing (7/23/1 rushing) during the past 3 weeks. He hit 28/44 for 312 yards, 1 TD and 3 interceptions last week vs. the Eagles - obviously, he needs to take better care of the football. Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer are 38th and 39th at their position during the past 3 weeks, with 12/193/0 and 13/124/1 receiving in those 3 games, respectively. Jeremy Shockey is the 4th best TE in the land during that span, with 22/254/1 to his credit, including last week's totals of 10/107/0. Shockey's been the best of the lot at his position, lately.

The Chiefs' secondary has been very poor this season, ranking 30th in the NFL with an average of 247.6 passing yards surrendered per game, with 23 passing scores allowed to date. However, over the past 3 weeks, they've been something of a riddle, with 6 interceptions (tied for 2nd-most during that span of time) and 9 sacks to their credit - but, they've allowed 268.3 net passing yards per game and 9 TDs total (rushing and receiving - tied for second-most TDs given away during that 3 week time-frame). They are playing an aggressive, pressuring style of defense but haven't been able to stem the bleeding when it comes to the score-board.

Manning has been struggling, especially in the turnover department, but the generous Chiefs should help him look respectable this week - advantage, New York.

Weather: The forecast for Saturday calls for a high of 38F and a low of 25F with a 20% chance for precipitations. If the winds aren't too gusty at game time, conditions at Giants' Stadium will be about as nice as they can be at this time of year.

NYG Injuries: WR Jamaar Taylor (Out)
KC Injuries: DL John Browning (Probable), DL Carlos Hall (Questionable), LB Shawn Barber (Questionable), DB Jerome Woods (Questionable)


Philadelphia Eagles Passing Offense at St. Louis Rams Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Mike McMahon clawed his way back to respectability last week (in real NFL terms, not fantasy terms) with 14/32 for 190 yards, 0 TDs and 0 interceptions. Considering his last-3-weeks numbers, though, will tell you what you need to know: 30/70 for 342 yards, 0 TDs and 2 interceptions in 3 games. Reggie Brown led the way receiving last week with 5/72/0, nobody else got more than 46 yards receiving (WR Brian McMullen, 2/46/0).

The Rams handed over only 16/25 for 146 yards, 0 TDs and 0 interceptions to Brad Johnson last week, but they have still given up an average of 194.6 passing yards per game over the past 3 weeks, with 9 TDs (rushing and receiving) surrendered vs only 1 interception during that time-frame. The team ranks 28th in the NFL allowing an average of 233.1 passing yards per game, with 24 passing scores given away (2nd most in the NFL to date) - they are very soft in this phase of the game.

We're not terribly excited about the Philadelphia passing game, but this is one of the easiest matchups McMahon will face.

Weather: The Rams play in the Edward Jones Dome - weather conditions won't be an issue for either team in this venue.

PHI Injuries: QB Mike McMahon (Probable), RB Lamar Gordon (Probable)
STL Injuries: DL Leonard Little (Probable), DB Ronald Bartell (Questionable)


Seattle Seahawks Passing Offense at Tennessee Titans Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Matt Hasselbeck was the star of Seattle's offense for once last week, annihilating the 49ers with 21/25 for 226 yards, 4 TDs and 1 interception - he looks great heading into the final weeks of the 2005 season. Bobby Engram grabbed 6/65/2 last week, Joe Jurevicius snagged 4/63/1 and Jerramy Stevens pulled down the other TD with 3/28/1 - did we mention that this week #1 WR Darrell Jackson is set to return to the lineup? Seattle's offense is on a roll, and can torch a defense either rushing the ball or passing it (or both).

The Titans' secondary is very giving when it comes to TDs - they are currently tied for most passing scores allowed through 13 games with 26 surrendered to date, while averaging 199.8 passing yards allowed per game. Over the past 3 weeks, they've handed over an average of 152 passing yards per game, including the Texans anemic effort of 17/26 for 116 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions from last week.

Hasselbeck and company should be able to do good things against the generous Titans.

Weather: Nashville expects a high of 43F with a low of 26F and a 10% chance for rain on Sunday - assuming the forecast holds up, the Coliseum should be a decent place to play football.

SEA Injuries: none
TEN Injuries: DL Travis Laboy (Questionable), LB Robert Reynolds (Questionable)


Chicago Bears Passing Offense vs Atlanta Falcons Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Kyle Orton threw for more than 200 yards for the first time in 6 weeks, and only the second time this season, last week, with 17/35 for 207 yards, 0 TDs and 0 interceptions. He hasn't tossed a TD in 2 weeks, though, and his numbers from over the last 3 weeks pretty much tell the tale - 37/80 for 409 yards, 1 TD and 2 interceptions. There just aren't a lot of fantasy points to go around among the Chicago receivers (Muhsin Muhammad led the way last week with 8/91/0). This is a night game going down in Soldier field, by the way - check probable wind conditions before even contemplating a Bears' receiver.

Atlanta's pass defense is mediocre this year, ranking 14th in the NFL with a 199.6 yards-allowed-per-game average (14 passing scores surrendered to date). They coughed up 27/46 for 219 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions to Aaron Brooks last week, and average 200 yards allowed per game over the past 3 weeks. They are very much a what-you-see is what-you-get pass D this year.

This is a neutral matchup for Orton and company.

Weather: The forecast for Soldier Field calls for a high of 25F and a low of 15F, with a 10% chance for precipitation. As this game is a Sunday night affair, the temperatures will be at the low end of the range, and in the Windy City, wind chill could make if feel even colder. The football gets hard and slick in such weather, and high winds can cause havoc with passing/kicking games in this venue. Owners of Falcons and Bears will want to check a short-term forecast before pulling the trigger on their lineups this week. Earlier this season, an entire game was played in Soldier Field with only 9 pass completions out of 26 attempts between 2 NFL teams(San Francisco vs. Chicago).

CHI Injuries: RB Bryan Johnson (Doubtful), RB Cedric Benson (Doubtful)
ATL Injuries: DL Antwan Lake (Questionable), DL Brady Smith (Questionable), DB Allen Rossum (Questionable)


Cleveland Browns Passing Offense at Oakland Raiders Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Charlie Frye is proving to be the pick of the rookie litter this year, with 16/24 for 138 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception last week and 29/45 for 364 yards, 3 TDs and 2 interceptions over the last 3 weeks. He's looked a heck of a lot better in his chances than Alex Smith. Anyway, over the last 3 weeks, Frye has targeted Antonio Bryant 19 times, and tossed the ball to Steve Heiden 13 times - Heiden has become his safety valve, and is ranked 13th in points per game at his position with 9/86/1 in that span; Bryant has snagged 9/127/0. New starter Dennis Northcutt (in for the injured Braylon Edwards) pulled down 3/29/0 last week and has seen 6 targets in the last 3 weeks (3 last week) for 6/91/1 - he's made the most of his chances.

The Raiders' secondary ranks 16th in the league averaging 200.6 passing yards allowed per game, with 17 passing scores given up to date. Over the past 3 weeks, they've coughed up 169 passing yards per game, with 9 total TDs (rushing and receiving) allowed while generating only 1 interception. Teams have been grinding it out on the ground vs. the Raiders recently, so the drop-off in passing yards allowed is not surprising.

Frye is off to a solid start, and he'll have an unspectacular defense to practice on this week - this looks like a neutral matchup to us.

Weather: McAfee Coliseum expects a high of 59F with a low of 43F and a 30% chance for rain on Sunday. If the rain falls steadily during the game, footing and ball handling could become problems for both teams.

CLE Injuries: QB Charlie Frye (Probable), RB Reuben Droughns (Probable), TE Steve Heiden (Questionable), TE Aaron Shea (Questionable)
OAK Injuries: DL Edward Jasper (Probable), DL Tommy Kelly (Probable), DL Ted Washington (Probable), LB Danny Clark (Probable), DB Jarrod Cooper (Probable), DB Chris Carr (Probable), DB Charles Woodson (Out)


Green Bay Packers Passing Offense at Baltimore Ravens Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Brett Favre hasn't been playing like Brett Favre lately. Over the last 3 weeks, he's tossed 67/122 for 618 yards, 1 TD and 5 interceptions (29th fantasy QB in the land during that span in points per game). He's lost another major cog in the passing offense as Bubba Franks has been ineffective or sidelined due his spinal column injury in recent weeks, but the 5 interceptions have been all about Favre forcing the ball. TE David Martin led the team in receiving last week with 5/38/0. Last week, we said Favre was in a "funk". Well, he's in a deep hole at this point - he's not a quality fantasy starter at this point.

The Ravens coughed up 19/33 for 236 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions to the Broncos last week, and have averaged 219 passing yards allowed per game over the past 3 weeks. Their season average is 183.5 passing yards allowed per game, but as the season has bumbled down to 4-9, the defense has become less and less effective. Right now, they are playing more like the Rams (28th in the NFL averaging 233.1 passing yards allowed per game) than the Ravens' team we've come to expect.

Favre is in a hole, the Ravens are sliding down to oblivion this season. The glare of Monday Night Football's lights might help elevate each teams' game, but from where we sit this looks like a battle of the bad - neither squad has an edge over the other.

Weather: The forecast for M and T Bank Stadium calls for a high of 38F with a low of 30F and a 10% chance for precipitation on Monday night. Both teams are familiar with cool conditions - as long as the winds don't kick up, weather shouldn't be a huge factor for either Green Bay or Baltimore.

GB Injuries: TE Bubba Franks (Questionable)
BAL Injuries: DL Anthony Weaver (Questionable), LB Adalius Thomas (Probable)


New Orleans Saints Passing Offense vs Carolina Panthers Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Aaron Brooks played fairly well the last time New Orleans met the Panthers (week 1), tossing 18/24 for 192 yards, 0 TDs and 0 interceptions. TE Ernie Conwell (now on IR) led the team with 6/71/0 that day, while Joe Horn was second with 5/66/0 to his credit. Brooks has been erratic all year long, and that's true over recent weeks, too - he hit Atlanta for 27/46 for 219 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions last week, but crashed and burned the week before tossing 18/34 for 215 yards, 0 TDs and 4 interceptions vs. Tampa. It's hard to predict when the guy will show up to play (240/431 for 2882 yards, 13 TDs and 17 interceptions to his credit this year). That's a moot point now as Brooks has been benched in favor or Todd Bouman. Donte Stallworth (11 targets for 5/43/0) and Joe Horn (9 targets for 5/54/0) led the team in receiving last week, while Az-Zahir Hakim handled the TD pass (4/32/1 out of 4 chances).

Carolina's pass D has been up and down this year, averaging 193 passing yards allowed per game, with 12 TDs surrendered to date. They handed over 20/27 for 138 yards, 0 TDs and 0 interceptions to Chris Simms last week. One thing the Panthers are doing well is sacking the opposing QB, having done so 10 times in the past 3 weeks (they haven't allowed a scoring pass during that span, either). Tampa is in the middle of the league with 30 sacks allowed to date - expect the Panthers to get after Brooks this week.

New Orleans is playing out the string, while the Panthers are playing for playoff position/seeding. Look for the Panthers to elevate their game against the division-rival Saints.

Weather: The forecast for Tiger Stadium calls for a high of 55F with a low of 36F and a 40% chance for rain. If the rain comes down thickly at game time, field conditions may deteriorate causing problems with footing and ball-handling for both teams.

NO Injuries: RB Aaron Stecker (Questionable)
CAR Injuries: DL Mike Rucker (Questionable), LB Dan Morgan (Probable), DB Ken Lucas (Probable)


New York Jets Passing Offense at Miami Dolphins Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Back in week 2, the Jets' offense hadn't been shredded by injuries yet - Chad Pennington and Curtis Martin were both starting and the team won 17-7 over Miami. A lot has changed since then - recent history won't tell us much of anything about this week's upcoming game. Brooks Bollinger had himself a good game against the Raiders last week, with 14/26 for 119 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions (6/56/0 rushing) - it wasn't a Warner-esque game, but his team did win 26-10. Justin McCareins hauled in the score and led the team in receiving with 4/45/1. McCareins has seen 18 balls over the last 3 weeks, while Laveranues Coles has been targeted 24 times - McCareins has been more productive fantasy-wise with 8/120/2 in that span while Coles has managed 10/101/0.

Miami handed over 35/52 for 279 yards, 2 TDs and 1 interception to Drew Brees last week, barely surviving his aerial assault. Over the past 3 weeks, they've coughed up 210.6 passing yards per game, with 9 TDs (rushing and receiving) given up - Lee Evans burned them for 3 receiving TDs 2 weeks ago. They are getting after opposing passers, with 12 sacks lately (2nd most in the NFL during the past 3 weeks) - they are tied for 4th in the NFL with 38 sacks to date. The Jets have gone through 4 QBs this season partly due to their poor pass blocking - they are 4th-worst in the league with 39 sacks allowed to date. Bollinger can expect to get hit often this week.

Miami's strength (pass rushing) plays against a Jet weakness (pass blocking), but their secondary is so weak that we think this game is about even.

Weather: The forecast for Dolphins' Stadium calls for a high of 82F and a low of 69F with a 30% chance for rain. If the moisture falls heavily at game time, footing and ball handling could be bigger issues than usual for both teams.

NYJ Injuries: QB Jay Fiedler (Out), RB Derrick Blaylock (Questionable), RB Curtis Martin (Out)
MIA Injuries: DL Keith Traylor (Questionable), LB Zach Thomas (Questionable), DB Reggie Howard (Questionable)


Tampa Bay Buccaneers Passing Offense at New England Patriots Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Chris Simms did enough to get his team past Carolina, but he wasn't impressive in fantasy terms, tossing 20/27 for 138 yards, 0 TDs and 0 interceptions on Sunday. He's thrown for 51/78 for 463 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions during the last 3 weeks - 33rd fantasy QB in points per game during that span - much like Troy Aikman, at this point Simms is a much better real-world QB than a fantasy QB. With 25 targets for 16/252/1 over the past 3 weeks, Joey Galloway is the only Tampa WR you should be considering as a fantasy starter right now. He's "The Man" for Simms right now.

New England's tattered secondary rattled J.P. Losman's cage last week, forcing him into a dreadful afternoon (10/27 for 181 yards, 1 TD and 3 interceptions - the TD came in garbage time with the Pats up 35-0). Over the past 3 weeks, they have averaged 200 yards passing given up per game, with 3 TDs (rushing and receiving) surrendered in that span. They are playing significantly better than their season ranking of 31st pass D in the land would indicate (248.8 passing yards given up per game, with 22 passing scores surrendered to date) - Buffalo did go into the game with one boot off, though, as Eric Moulds was suspended last week, allowing the Pats to concentrate on Lee Evans (7 targets for 4/83/0) - Losman threw less often than usual at Evans (9 targets each of the preceding 3 games). Simms has been steady and modestly productive since taking over in Tampa, while the Patriots have home-field advantage (a big factor this week vs. the warm-weather Buccaneers) and an improving but still suspect secondary - that sounds about even to us.

Weather: The forecast for Saturday at Gillette Stadium calls for a high of 38F with a low of 21F and a 20% chance for precipitation. The game is scheduled for 1:30 PM ET, so temperatures should be closer to the high end of the range - winter winds can be an issue in this venue - owners of Patriots and Bucs will want to pay attention to wind conditions before setting their lineups.

TB Injuries: none
NE Injuries: DB Artrell Hawkins (Questionable), DB Asante Samuel (Questionable), DB Michael Stone (Questionable)


Washington Redskins Passing Offense vs Dallas Cowboys Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Mark Brunell had a lot of trouble moving the ball on the Cowboys last time these teams played (week 2) - until, that is, the final 4 minutes of the game, when he hooked with Santana Moss for two long TDs (of 39 and 70 yards). Moss ended the day with 5/159/2, while Brunell compiled 20/34 for 291 yards, 2 TDs and 1 interception during the contest. He looked horrible last week vs. Arizona, with 18/28 for 122 yards, 0 TDs and 3 interceptions, and he's not been too hot over the last 3 weeks (49/76 for 472 yards, 2 TDs and 3 interceptions to rank 32nd in fantasy points per game at his position during that span). As Brunell has struggled, so have the Redskins' receivers, obviously - Santana Moss managed 7/56/0 last week to lead the team - not too good.

Dallas has allowed an average of 210.3 passing yards per game of late, including last week's totals of 20/32 for 340 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions handed over to Trent Green and company. The Cowboys sport the league's 13th ranked pass D, giving up an average of 194.3 passing yards per game with 12 TD tosses surrendered to date. They come into this contest back on their heels.

Brunell has not been impressive of late - meanwhile, the Cowboys aren't at the top of their game on the other side of the ball, either. This one looks fairly even from where we sit.

Weather: FedEx Field expects a high of 41F with a low of 19F and a 10% chance for precipitation on Sunday. As long as the winds don't start howling, weather conditions should be fairly nice in Washington on Sunday afternoon.

WAS Injuries: WR James Thrash (Probable)
DAL Injuries: DL Chris Canty (Probable)


Atlanta Falcons Passing Offense at Chicago Bears Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Michael Vick made a lot of key plays with his legs last week, but he also made some throwing the ball (12/23 for 231 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception) before a late hit injured his ribs and forced him out of the game. There was a beautiful long bomb to Roddy White that resulted in the TD (2/65/1 for White) and 3/94/0 to always-reliable Alge Crumpler. The mix of plays called really suited Vick's talents and allowed him to maximize his production (his 6/38/2 rushing made his fantasy owners happy, too).

The Bears are first in the NFL with only 8 passing TDs allowed to date, and rank second in the NFL with an average of 169.8 passing yards given up per game. Last week, Ben Roethlisberger was held to 13/20 for 173 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions, right on pace for this unit. Over the past 3 weeks, the Bears have surrendered 199.6 passing yards per game - they are a tough nut to crack. They have 37 sacks to date, 6th in the NFL - Atlanta has allowed 28 to date, smack in the middle of the NFL pack.

Vick's sore ribs aren't expected to keep him out of the game as of mid-week - this is a tough matchup for the Falcons' star, though. This is a night game at Soldier field, so wind could be a huge factor in the passing game - keep it in mind along with his health status.

Weather: The forecast for Soldier Field calls for a high of 25F and a low of 15F, with a 10% chance for precipitation. As this game is a Sunday night affair, the temperatures will be at the low end of the range, and in the Windy City, wind chill could make if feel even colder. The football gets hard and slick in such weather, and high winds can cause havoc with passing/kicking games in this venue. Owners of Falcons and Bears will want to check a short-term forecast before pulling the trigger on their lineups this week. Earlier this season, an entire game was played in Soldier Field with only 9 pass completions out of 26 attempts between 2 NFL teams(San Francisco vs. Chicago).

ATL Injuries: QB Michael Vick (Probable)
CHI Injuries: DL Ian Scott (Questionable), LB Hunter Hillenmeyer (Questionable), DB Todd Johnson (Questionable), DB Mike Brown (Doubtful)


Baltimore Ravens Passing Offense vs Green Bay Packers Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Kyle Boller threw for 23/39 for 251 yards, 1 TD and 2 interceptions vs. Denver, and his coach announced this week that the Ravens are still going to go with Boller (for 2005, at least). If there are any Boller owners considering starting him during the fantasy playoffs (a big if), at least you'll have a warm body on the field come Sunday.

Derrick Mason (6/53/0 receiving last week) is not thrilled with being eclipsed by Mark Clayton (7/105/1 receiving last week) in the Raven's scheme, and said so publicly this week, stating "For the last five games, I've been a glorified running back. Basically, I catch five- and six-yard routes. And that's not me. There has to be a point where you got to allow someone to go out there and use his abilities to make plays. That's what you brought me in for. You allowed me to do some things in the first half of the season, but now it seems like I'm the third option everywhere we go." Interestingly, Kyle Boller returned to the starting QB spot exactly five games ago.

The Packers limited Jeff Garcia to 13/24 for 112 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions last week, and have averaged a league-best 81.6 net passing yards allowed per game over the last 3 weeks. Kyle Orton and Mike McMahon were the other 2 QBs the last 3 weeks, but it is still notable that the Packers have been so stubborn in this phase recently. This season, they rank 1st in the NFL allowing an average of 163.3 passing yards per game to date - the last 3 weak opponents have something to do with this average.

The Packers have been playing very well in this phase, and face another lame QB this week - advantage, Green Bay.

Weather: The forecast for M and T Bank Stadium calls for a high of 38F with a low of 30F and a 10% chance for precipitation on Monday night. Both teams are familiar with cool conditions - as long as the winds don't kick up, weather shouldn't be a huge factor for either Green Bay or Baltimore.

BAL Injuries: RB Jamal Lewis (Questionable), RB Justin Green (Questionable), TE Todd Heap (Probable), TE Daniel Wilcox (Out)
GB Injuries: LB Robert Thomas (Questionable), LB Brady Poppinga (Out)


Cincinnati Bengals Passing Offense at Detroit Lions Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Carson Palmer had a bad game last week, tossing a mere 13/27 for 93 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception. T.J. Houshmandzadeh was the only decent WR start, with 6/53/1 to his credit (he's had 20/288/4 over the past 3 weeks, to rank 3rd in points per game at his position during that span). Bad games happen, folks - Carson Palmer is the 2nd best fantasy QB in points per game (and the best one still standing, as McNabb is out for the season) this year, with 287/426 for 3242 yards passing 27 TDs and 8 interceptions - he and Chad Johnson will be just fine during the final weeks of the season.

The Lions' pass D is in the top 10 to date, ranking 10th in the league averaging 191.5 passing yards allowed per game (with 16 passing scores given up to date). They held Brett Favre to 21/31 for 170 yards, 0 TDs and 1 interception last week, and have averaged 179 passing yards allowed per game over the past 3 weeks (they have given up more rushing than passing yards during that span). For whatever reason, teams don't do much in the passing phase vs. the Lions.

Palmer is an elite QB, while the Lions play tough pass D. The big worry is that Rudi Johnson will dominate the Lions so thoroughly that Palmer won't need to pass much, but in any case we see this is a fairly tough matchup between an excellent QB / Passing Game and a stout secondary.

Weather: Inside Ford Field, conditions will be perfect - weather will be a non-factor.

CIN Injuries: RB Rudi Johnson (Probable), RB Chris Perry (Out), TE Brad St. Louis (Probable)
DET Injuries: LB Donte Curry (Questionable), LB Earl Holmes (Doubtful), LB Boss Bailey (Out)


Dallas Cowboys Passing Offense at Washington Redskins Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Drew Bledsoe hit Washington for 21/36 for 261 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions the last time these teams met, only to see the D blow a 13-0 lead in the final 5 minutes of the game. His most productive receiver that week was Terry Glenn with 6/157/1 to his credit (Jason Witten was next with 4/35/0). Over the past few weeks, Bledsoe has been up and down wildly, tossing 22/34 for 332 yards, 3 TDs and 0 interceptions vs. K.C. last week (but he stunk up the joint 2 weeks ago with 15/39 for 146 yards, 1 TD and 2 interception to his credit vs. the Giants). Last week, Jason Witten (7/93/1) and Terry Glenn (6/138/1) had huge games, while Keyshawn Johnson just missed on some scoring opportunities and ended up with 3/35/0 on the day. TE Dan Campbell caught a rare pass (and TD, 1/1/1) when the Chiefs ignored him during a goal-line situation.

Washington managed to keep the high-flying Cardinals under 300 yards passing last week, but they still bled for 25/41 for 255 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception at the hands of Warner and company. Over the past 3 weeks, Washington has surrendered an average of 192.3 passing yards per game, in line with their 11th ranked season average of 192.5 passing yards given up per contest. However, the Redskins have only surrendered 11 scoring passes to date, which is among the least allowed in the NFL this year.

Bledsoe and company did well vs. Washington in the first matchup, and they come into the game hot. Washington has home-field advantage, and both teams need a win to stay in the playoff hunt. Expect a hard-fought game - we expect Washington and their fans to make things tough on the Cowboys this week.

Weather: FedEx Field expects a high of 41F with a low of 19F and a 10% chance for precipitation on Sunday. As long as the winds don't start howling, weather conditions should be fairly nice in Washington on Sunday afternoon.

DAL Injuries: none
WAS Injuries: LB Lavar Arrington (Probable), DB Matt Bowen (Probable), DB Walt Harris (Probable), DB Shawn Springs (Probable), DB Carlos Rogers (Probable)


Houston Texans Passing Offense vs Arizona Cardinals Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

David Carr was sacked 6 times last week. He has been sacked 61 times this year, and taken a ton of hard shots. How he stays on his feet week after week is a mystery, frankly. The Vikings, who have given up the 2nd most sacks this season with 49 are on their 2nd starting QB; St. Louis is 3rd with 43 sacks allowed and they are on their 3rd starting QB; the Jets are 4th on the list with 39 sacks allowed and they are playing their 4th starting QB. Carr is one tough customer.

However, because he spends more time staring at the sky than down the field, he isn't a very good fantasy QB. 17/26 for 116 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions were what he managed to toss last week when he wasn't picking himself up off the turf. Andre Johnson led the wide receiving corps with 3/27/0 (Domanick Davis led the team with 7/50/1). The bottom line here is that Carr doesn't have much opportunity to make plays in the passing game. The lack of opportunity has ruined the Texans' receiving corps for fantasy purposes.

The Cardinals have only 3 sacks (but 6 interceptions) to their credit over the past 3 weeks - they are the league's 17th ranked pass defense in terms of sacks generated this year with 28 to their credit. Expect that number to go up this week. Overall, they've been mediocre in this phase of the game, allowing an average of 200.8 passing yards per contest with 14 TDs surrendered to date. Last week, Arizona choked off Mark Brunell, holding him to 18/28 for 122 yards, 0 TDs and 3 interceptions.

The Texans line is so awful at pass protection that even a mediocre pass D like the Cardinals make for a formidable challenge to Carr and company.

Weather: The forecast for Reliant Stadium calls for a high of 54F with a low of 39F and a 30% chance for rain on Sunday. If the weather looks too nasty, the retractable roof can always be closed - conditions shouldn't be a huge factor for either team.

HOU Injuries: RB Domanick Davis (Questionable), WR Jabar Gaffney (Probable)
ARI Injuries: DL Darnell Dockett (Doubtful), LB Karlos Dansby (Doubtful), DB Eric Green (Probable)


Kansas City Chiefs Passing Offense at New York Giants Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Trent Green has been the QB we expected all year long during the past 3 weeks, with 55/81 for 916 yards, 4 TDs and 2 interceptions to rank 4th among all fantasy QBs in points per game during that span. Last week, he tossed 20/32 for 340 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions vs. the Cowboys, hitting Tony Gonzalez (5/94/0), Eddie Kennison (4/92/1) and Samie Parker (5/79/0) for the majority of the completions and yardage. Green is red hot right now.

The Giants' pass D has been sub-par early on, ranking 26th in the NFL this year with an average of 222 passing yards surrendered per game to date, and 13 scores surrendered so far. Last week journey-man Mike McMahon managed 14/32 for 190 yards, 0 TDs and 0 interceptions vs. Big Blue. But they have averaged 171.6 passing yards allowed per game over the past 3 weeks. This unit has raised their performance during the stretch run. Especially key of late has been the Giants' pass rush, which led the league over the past 3 weeks with 13 sacks to their credit (the team is now tied for 7th in the NFL with 36 sacks this season - 36% of that total was generated during the last 3 weeks). K.C. has allowed 27 sacks to date, in the middle of the NFL pack.

The Chiefs are hot, but so are the Giants. With home field advantage at the D's back, this one looks like a tougher than usual matchup for Green and company.

Weather: The forecast for Saturday calls for a high of 38F and a low of 25F with a 20% chance for precipitations. If the winds aren't too gusty at game time, conditions at Giants' Stadium will be about as nice as they can be at this time of year.

KC Injuries: none
NYG Injuries: DL William Joseph (Out), LB Antonio Pierce (Out)


Miami Dolphins Passing Offense vs New York Jets Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Gus Frerotte didn't get much support from his running backs back in week 2, the last time Miami played the Jets, and he was only mediocre passing the ball, with 20/43 for 177 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception. Since then, though, Frerotte has grown into his starting role, and Chris Chambers has become a high profile receiver again - the Miami passing attack (and the offense in general) is on a different, higher level coming into week 15 than they were coming into week 2. Last week, Chambers hauled in 8/121/2, and over the past 3 weeks he's seen 48 passes come his way (29/460/3) - it's not surprising that he's the #1 fantasy WR in the land with that many passes targeted his way. Randy McMichael has seen 19 chances during that span (second on the team), with 12/112/1 to show for it (9th best fantasy TE during that span). Frerotte has tossed 44/81 for 605 yards, 4 TDs and only 1 interception to rank 20th at his position in fantasy points per game during the past 3 weeks - he's been hot, for Gus Frerotte.

The Jets ruined Marques Tuiasosopo's debut last week, holding him to 14/26 for 124 yards, 1 TD and 2 interceptions - not surprising, as the Jets are 3rd in the NFL this season vs. the pass, allowing only 172.6 passing yards per game on average, with 11 passing scores surrendered to date. They have generated 9 sacks in the last 3 weeks. The secondary is the one team strength the Jets have left to lean on.

Frerotte and Chambers have been very much in synch of late, but this week they face a tough challenge vs. their division rivals.

Weather: The forecast for Dolphins' Stadium calls for a high of 82F and a low of 69F with a 30% chance for rain. If the moisture falls heavily at game time, footing and ball handling could be bigger issues than usual for both teams.

MIA Injuries: WR Bryan Gilmore (Questionable)
NYJ Injuries: DL Bryan Thomas (Probable), DL Shaun Ellis (Questionable), DL Dewayne Robertson (Questionable), DB Ty Law (Probable)


New England Patriots Passing Offense vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Tom Brady tossed 29/38 for 329 yards, 2 TDs and 2 interceptions en route to a 35-7 pasting of the Bills last week. In typical Brady fashion, 8 different receivers caught balls, led by the ever-reliable Deion Branch (5/83/0 last week; 15/176/0 over the past 3 weeks to rank 41st in the league among WRs). As always, the sharing of the ball kept any of the Patriots' receivers from truly shining - Troy Brown (6/45/1) and TE Christian Fauria (2/8/1) handled the TDs last week.

The Buccaneers rank 4th in the NFL vs. the pass this season, averaging 178 passing yards allowed per game, with only 9 passing TDs given up in 13 games (2nd least in the NFL to date). Jake Delhomme did slightly better than that last week, with 21/33 for 220 yards passing, 1 TD and 1 interception (the TD was the only one the Bucs allowed during the game). Over the past 3 games, teams have averaged 176.3 passing yards per game against Tampa - meanwhile, the Bucs have 6 interceptions (tied for 2nd most during that 3 week span) and 6 sacks vs. 2 TDs allowed (rushing and receiving). This group makes up one of the league's elite pass defenses.

Brady and company always seem to find a way to be productive, but it won't be easy against Tampa's stellar defense. Also keep an eye on Brady's health status.

Weather: The forecast for Saturday at Gillette Stadium calls for a high of 38F with a low of 21F and a 20% chance for precipitation. The game is scheduled for 1:30 PM ET, so temperatures should be closer to the high end of the range - winter winds can be an issue in this venue - owners of Patriots and Bucs will want to pay attention to wind conditions before setting their lineups.

NE Injuries: QB Tom Brady (Questionable), RB Corey Dillon (Questionable), RB Heath Evans (Questionable), RB Kevin Faulk (Questionable), RB Patrick Pass (Questionable), WR Bethel Johnson (Questionable), TE Daniel Graham (Questionable), TE Ben Watson (Questionable)
TB Injuries: DL Anthony McFarland (Doubtful), LB Marquis Cooper (Questionable), DB Juran Bolden (Probable)


Oakland Raiders Passing Offense vs Cleveland Browns Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

In a totally unsurprising development, the Raiders have announced that Kerry Collins is starting again this week. Now we don't have to keep typing Tuiasosopo week to week.

During his last 2 starts, Collins was no fantasy gem, with 43/77 for 462 yards, 1 TD and 3 interceptions. With his production down, Jerry Porter and Randy Moss have fallen to #34 and #61 among fantasy WRs over the past 3 weeks - we'll see if a week on the bench straightened up Collins or not as this game unfolds.

The Browns are 6th in the NFL this season averaging 182.2 passing yards allowed per game, but they have given up 16 passing scores to date. Over the past 3 games, they have been much stouter, with an average of 131.6 passing yards given up per game - but they've hemorrhaged 133.6 rushing yards per contest - teams are electing to take advantage of their poor rush D. Carson Palmer only needed 13/27 for 93 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception to sneak in a 23-20 win last week.

The Browns are not giving up a lot of passing yards per game (for whatever reason), but you can get in the end-zone on them fairly easily in this phase. Collins has been struggling mightily lately - this game may be a tough one for him.

Weather: McAfee Coliseum expects a high of 59F with a low of 43F and a 30% chance for rain on Sunday. If the rain falls steadily during the game, footing and ball handling could become problems for both teams.

OAK Injuries: RB Omar Easy (Probable), WR Randy Moss (Probable), TE John Paul Foschi (Questionable)
CLE Injuries: DL Orpheus Roye (Questionable), DB Leigh Bodden (Probable), DB Michael Lehan (Questionable), DB Ray Mickens (Questionable), DB Antonio Perkins (Doubtful)


Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Offense at Minnesota Vikings Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Pittsburgh got back to emphasizing the run last week (46/190/2), so Ben Roethlisberger's numbers got back to normal after his huge week 2 weeks ago (13/20 for 173 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions). In this offense, he's usually going to throw around 20 passes and land somewhere between 175-225 yards passing, with 1-2 TDs per game. One good thing about Roethlisberger this year is that he has tossed at least 1 TD in every start so far, with 2 or more TDs thrown in 6 out of his 9 games played to date. When Roethlisberger is tossing scores, they go to Hines Ward more often than not - Ward snagged 3/27/1 last week and has 59/819/10 receiving this year (Antwaan Randle El has 31/477/1 this year, Quincy Morgan has handled 8/119/1 to account for the other 2 scoring throws tossed to Steeler wideouts).

Minnesota's pass D has been up and down (down to start the season, but improving currently), ranking 24th in the NFL averaging 217.2 passing yards allowed per game, with 19 TDs surrendered in this phase to date. Over the past 3 weeks, they've been made of sterner stuff, giving up an average of only 177 passing yards per game, with a league-leading 9 interceptions during that span. They abused newbie Ryan Fitzpatrick for 26/45 for 235 yards, 0 TDs and 5 interceptions last week - the Vikings' secondary is smoking hot in this phase of the game.

Minnesota's gotten hot lately, and part of their streak is due to improved pass defense. Roethlisberger is a skilled QB, but he's nursing an injured thumb on his passing hand and has to play in a hostile venue this week - this looks like a tough matchup for Pittsburgh.

Weather: This game is scheduled for the Metrodome in Minneapolis - weather won't be an issue for either team during the game.

PIT Injuries: QB Ben Roethlisberger (Probable), RB Jerome Bettis (Probable), WR Hines Ward (Probable)
MIN Injuries: DL Kevin Williams (Probable), LB Keith Newman (Out), DB Fred Smoot (Probable)


San Diego Chargers Passing Offense at Indianapolis Colts Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Drew Brees played very well vs. the Dolphins last week, hitting 35 completions on 52 attempts for 279 yards, 2 TDs and 1 interception - his usual suspects, Antonio Gates (13/123/1) and Keenan McCardell (7/58/1) handled the TDs and saw 24 targets between the two (8 for McCardell and 16 for Gates). Brees has tossed 74/118 for 654 yards, 4 TDs and 4 interceptions during the past 3 weeks to rank 14th in fantasy points per game at his position during that span - he comes into Indy red hot.

The Colts are no pushovers on defense this year, though, with an average of 189.3 passing yards allowed per game (9th in the NFL) and 13 passing scores surrendered to date. They've only given up 3 TDs (rushing and receiving) over the past 3 weeks, while averaging 193.6 passing yards allowed per contest during that time-frame. Last week, David Garrard managed 26/35 for 250 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions passing against the Colts. The Colts are tied for 2nd in the NFL with 40 sacks this season (7 during the last 3 weeks), while San Diego has only given up 23 (low on the NFL range; from 12-61 to date).

Two top units clash in this contest - with the raucous RCA Dome crowd behind the Colts, we think Brees and company are in for a tough fight.

Weather: The Colts' home stadium is the RCA Dome - weather won't be an issue for either team during this matchup.

SD Injuries: RB LaDainian Tomlinson (Questionable), WR Reche Caldwell (Questionable)
IND Injuries: DL Josh Thomas (Probable), DL Corey Simon (Questionable), DL Robert Mathis (Doubtful), LB Rob Morris (Probable), LB David Thornton (Probable), LB Cato June (Questionable)


St. Louis Rams Passing Offense vs Philadelphia Eagles Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Ryan Fitzpatrick is a rookie QB, and he looked like one last week, with 26/45 for 235 yards, 0 TDs and 5 interceptions when the dust settled. Word at midweek is that Marc Bulger's shoulder isn't close to being 100%, and that he may not make another start this season - with the Rams out of playoff contention, we expect them to continue with Fitzpatrick to work on his development (in particular, right now, his reads of the opposing defense, which the coaching staff is emphasizing for him this week). Torry Holt (10/95/0) and Isaac Bruce (5/66/0) were his most productive targets last week (no surprise there).

The Eagles' pass D picked off Eli Manning 3 times last week to keep their team in the game, but gave up 28/44 for 312 yards and a TD, too. Over the past 3 weeks, they've averaged 187 passing yards allowed per game, compared to their season mark of 214.1 - it's fair to say they've been up and down in this phase of the game lately. They haven't been getting sacks enough lately, with only 2 sacks in 3 weeks.

Fitzpatrick will have his hands full with the ball-hawking, blitzing Eagles. They will force him to make quick reads, not a strength of any rookie QB.

Weather: The Rams play in the Edward Jones Dome - weather conditions won't be an issue for either team in this venue.

STL Injuries: QB Marc Bulger (Out), RB Arlen Harris (Doubtful)
PHI Injuries: none


Tennessee Titans Passing Offense vs Seattle Seahawks Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Steve McNair tossed 18/30 for 208 yards, 0 TDs and 0 interceptions last week, but most of the yardage was put up by the running backs - TE Ben Troupe led the TEs and WRs with 3/28/0, and there was a rare Tyrone Calico sighting (2/20/0) in the boxscore. McNair has been mediocre of late in fantasy terms, with 63/104 for 771 yards, 3 TDs and 1 interception over the past 3 weeks.

The Seahawk's pass D has been playing extremely well of late, with 10 sacks and 6 interceptions during the last 3 weeks (an average of 168 passing yards allowed per game, with only 2 total TDs allowed in that span). They are the league's top defense in terms of sacks generated this year, with 44 - the Titans run in the middle of the NFL pack with 26 sacks surrendered to date. Look for Seattle to pressure McNair a lot on Sunday. Last week, rookie Alex Smith managed a mere 9/22 for 77 yards, 0 TDs and 1 interception passing against the Seahawks.

This looks like a tough matchup for McNair and company.

Weather: Nashville expects a high of 43F with a low of 26F and a 10% chance for rain on Sunday - assuming the forecast holds up, the Coliseum should be a decent place to play football.

TEN Injuries: QB Steve McNair (Questionable), RB Chris Brown (Questionable), RB Travis Henry (Questionable), WR Sloan Thomas (Questionable), WR Roydell Williams (Out), TE Erron Kinney (Questionable), TE Ben Troupe (Questionable)
SEA Injuries: LB D.D. Lewis (Questionable), DB Andre Dyson (Out), DB Kelly Herndon (Out), DB John Howell (Out)


San Francisco 49ers Passing Offense at Jacksonville Jaguars Passing Defense (Bad Matchup)

For whatever reason (some stories this week circulated that Alex Smith's small hands are causing him problems holding the regulation NFL football), Alex Smith is a disaster in his first year starting. He may get better (most rookies do) but right now, he's struggling mightily at this level. 9/22 for 77 yards, 0 TDs and 1 interception just isn't acceptable at the end of a pro season unless you are playing in some very adverse weather conditions, which just wasn't the case last week. The rookie is not playing anywhere close to well, and the fantasy prospects of the entire 49ers' offense are going to be awful until he gets going.

Jacksonville got torched by Peyton Manning last week (24/36 for 324 yards, 2 TDs and 0 interceptions), but Alex Smith is no Peyton Manning. Expect the Jags to look more like the 8th ranked pass D in the land (averaging 185 passing yards allowed per game to date) against the smoking ruins of an offense that San Francisco has to offer.

Advantage, Jacksonville.

Weather: The weather service expects a high of 61F with a low of 47F for Alltel Stadium - there is a 40% chance for rain, though. If the moisture falls heavily at game time, footing and ball handling will be more tricky than usual for both teams.

SF Injuries: RB Kevan Barlow (Questionable), WR Arnaz Battle (Questionable)
JAX Injuries: DB Rashean Mathis (Probable)




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