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  Rushing Matchups  

Week 16 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.


Chicago Bears Passing Offense at Green Bay Packers Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

Kyle Orton was under center vs. Green Bay back in week 13 - recent history won't tell us much about Rex Grossman's chances this week. Grossman provided a spark to the offense last week (9/16 for 93 yards, 0 TDs and 1 interception) in poor conditions, but he was hardly a fantasy stud. The Bears are all about running the ball and playing great D, no matter who is under center. However, this week, Grossman has a great matchup in which to build his confidence.

Green Bay was abysmally bad vs. the lame Ravens' passing attack last week, giving up an incredible 19/27 for 253 yards, 3 TDs and 0 interceptions to Kyle Boller, of all people! They have a mere 1 interception and only 3 sacks over the past 3 weeks, but have averaged 138 net passing yards allowed per game in that span - mostly because their rush D is so pathetic that teams don't need to throw the ball much. Green Bay's defense has imploded.

Advantage, Chicago - this is as easy a matchup as Chicago could have found for Grossman to see his first 2005 start.

Weather: The forecast for Lambeau Field calls for a high of 31F and a low of 24F with a 30% chance for wind/rain/snow. This game is scheduled for a 5 PM start, so the temperatures will rapidly fall towards the low end of the range, and the wind chill usually makes things feel even colder. Playing in such cold temperatures isn't optimum for the passing game - if the wind kicks up, it will be even worse for Grossman and Favre. Owners of Bears and Packers will want to check a short-term forecast to see what wind conditions are likely to be at game-time.

CHI Injuries: RB Bryan Johnson (Questionable), RB Cedric Benson (Questionable), WR Muhsin Muhammad (Probable)
GB Injuries: LB Robert Thomas (Questionable), DB Nick Collins (Probable)


Cincinnati Bengals Passing Offense vs Buffalo Bills Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

Carson Palmer bounced back from his poor game vs. Cleveland in week 14 with 28/39 for 274 yards, 3 TDs and 2 interceptions last week vs. Detroit. He's thrown for 3 TDs in 3 of his last 4 games, and is the 7th ranked fantasy QB during the last 3 weeks with 63/104 for 594 yards, 7 TDs and 3 interceptions during that span. T.J. Houshmandzadeh is the 6th ranked fantasy WR during those weeks, with 17/202/4 while Chad Johnson has snagged 18/175/1 in that sam time frame (24th ranked fantasy WR). The Bengals are on fire heading into the stretch run.

The Bills' pass D is mediocre this year, averaging 206.8 passing yards allowed per game to date (19th in the NFL), with 17 passing scores surrendered to date. Over the past 3 weeks, they've been blasted, though, with an average of 318.3 passing yards surrendered per game, and 11 total TDs (rushing and receiving) given away in that span. Last week, Jake Plummer bombed them for 20/37 for 259 yards, 2 TDs and 0 interceptions. Nobody is afraid to attack the Bills through the air at this point in the season.

This is a great matchup for the Bengals.

Weather: The forecast for Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati calls for a high of 46F with a low of 34F and a 50% chance for precipitation - the moisture could fall as rain, sleet or snow in those conditions. Footing and ball handling will suffer for both teams if things get really wet around game time. Owners of Bengals and Bills will want to look at a short-term forecast for Cincinnati at the end of the week when deciding on their lineups.

CIN Injuries: RB Chris Perry (Out), WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (Probable), TE Reggie Kelly (Questionable)
BUF Injuries: none


Kansas City Chiefs Passing Offense vs San Diego Chargers Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

Trent Green hit San Diego for 31/43 for 347 yards, 2 TDs and 0 interceptions back in week 8, and has tossed 2 300+ yards-passing games since then (Weeks 12 and 14). However, he's been up and down over the last 3 weeks, with a low of 15/28 for 176 yards, 0 TDs and 1 interception last week vs. the Giants, and a high of 20/32 for 340 yards, 1 TD and 0 intercepitions vs. Dallas during week 14. Over the past 3 weeks, he's the 11th ranked fantasy QB in the land with 51/83 for 769 yards, 3 TDs and 3 interceptions, but realize he's been very inconsistent in recent weeks.

San Diego is not impressive in this phase of the game, allowing an average of 237 passing yards per game this season (28th in the NFL), with 18 passing scores coughed up to date. Over the past 3 weeks, they've coughed up 251 passing yards per game on average, including last week's totals of 26/45 for 336 yards, 1 TD and 2 interceptions allowed to Peyton Manning.

Green has been up and down, but he's got a great matchup to work with this week.

Weather: The forecast for Arrowhead Stadium calls for a high of 46F with a low of 30F and a 30% chance of precipitation. In this venue, swirling winds and snow are possible, which could make passing the football problematic - fantasy owners considering starting Chargers or Chiefs will want to look at a short-term forecast at the end of the week before making the final decision on their lineups.

KC Injuries: RB Larry Johnson (Probable), RB Tony Richardson (Probable), WR Eddie Kennison (Questionable), TE Jason Dunn (Probable), TE Kris Wilson (Questionable)
SD Injuries: none


Miami Dolphins Passing Offense vs Tennessee Titans Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

Gus Frerotte aggravated his index finger (throwing hand) injury last week, and his status this week is up in the air as of mid-week. He said of the injury "I just keep hurting it and it just won't heal while we're still in season." - not exactly encouraging words for Frerotte owners. If Frerotte can't play, Sage Rosenfels will step in - the up-and-down Rosenfels was up last week, with 6/13 for 99 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions in relief of Frerotte (who tossed 8/16 for 76 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception before leaveing the game). One consistent fantasy performer during the second half of the season has been Chris Chambers, who has amassed 27/393/4 during the last 3 weeks to lead the NFL at his position in fantasy points per game - he handled 4/34/1 last week. Marty Booker led the team last week with 2/65/1 to his credit.

Tennessee's pass D is awful, allowing a league-worst 29 passing TDs this season while giving up an average of 205.2 yards per game (18th in the NFL). Last week, Matt Hasselbeck lit them up for 21/27 for 285 yards, 3 TDs and 0 interceptions - it's like that most weeks for this lame secondary.

Advantage, Miami.

Weather: The forecast for Opa Locka FL calls for a high of 76F and a low of 60F with a 30% chance for rain on Saturday. If the moisture falls thickly around game time, footing and ball handling could be trickier than usual for both teams.

MIA Injuries: QB Gus Frerotte (Questionable), RB Ronnie Brown (Questionable), WR Wes Welker (Questionable)
TEN Injuries: LB Robert Reynolds (Questionable), DB Andre Woolfolk (Questionable)


San Diego Chargers Passing Offense at Kansas City Chiefs Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

Drew Brees lit up the Chiefs for 25/43 for 324 yards, 3 TDs and 1 interception during the last matchup (week 8), and LaDainian Tomlinson also tossed a score (1/1 for 17 yards and a TD). 26/44 for 341 yards, 4 TDs and 1 interception was the damage inflicted on K.C., all told. Brees led his team to a 26-17 upset of the previously undefeated Colts last week, tossing 22/33 for 255 yards, 1 TD and 2 interceptions - he's racked up 74/107 for 694 yards, 5 TDs and 3 interceptions passing during the past 3 weeks, hooking up with Keenan McCardell often (14/206/2), while leaning heavily on TE Antonio Gates (23/203/2) - these 2 are the receivers to own (and start) from San Diego's squad.

Kansas City has given up an average of 252 yards passing per game over the past 3 weeks, with 10 TDs (rushing and receiving) given away - they are playing horrible defense in both phases of the game of late. Last week, Eli Manning hit for 17/32 for 186 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception against the Chiefs (but they were busily handing over 34/223/2 to the Giants' RBs). The Chiefs have been soft in this phase all year, ranking 31st in the NFL averaging 243 passing yards allowed per game, with 24 passing scores surrendered to date. Nobody is afraid to throw the ball at these guys.

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

Weather: The forecast for Arrowhead Stadium calls for a high of 46F with a low of 30F and a 30% chance of precipitation. In this venue, swirling winds and snow are possible, which could make passing the football problematic - fantasy owners considering starting Chargers or Chiefs will want to look at a short-term forecast at the end of the week before making the final decision on their lineups.

SD Injuries: none
KC Injuries: DL John Browning (Probable), DL Eric Hicks (Questionable), LB Shawn Barber (Questionable), DB Jerome Woods (Questionable)


Seattle Seahawks Passing Offense vs Indianapolis Colts Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

Matt Hasselbeck tore apart the Titans last week, with 21/27 for 285 yards, 3 TDs and 0 interceptions - the scores were shared out among 3 of his top 4 pass catchers (Bobby Engram led the team with 6/95/0 but was frozen out in the TD department), with 6/72/1 going to Darrell Jackson, 4/53/1 going to TE Jerramy Stevens, and 3/31/1 alloted to Joe Jurevicius. It was a strong performance, and brings Hasselbeck into the showdown with Indianapolis on a roll.

However, the Colts may not care to actually contest this game, as they have already locked down home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, and have several key defenders dinged up. Coach Dungy is going to rest anybody who is injured, and won't want to reveal his defensive schemes to a likely Super-Bowl opponent. Look for a vanilla defensive effort with a lot of backups in the mix. Key pass rushers like Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis won't see much, if any action, and S Bob Sanders may sit out the regular season due to a back complaint.

Advantage, Seattle.

Weather: Qwest Field in Seattle expects a high of 54F and a low of 41F with a 60% chance for precipitation on Saturday. If the rain falls thickly around game time, footing and ball handling will be trickier than usual for both teams.

SEA Injuries: WR Darrell Jackson (Questionable)
IND Injuries: DL Josh Thomas (Probable), DL Corey Simon (Questionable), DL Montae Reagor (Questionable), DL Robert Mathis (Doubtful), LB Cato June (Doubtful), DB Nick Harper (Probable), DB Gerome Sapp (Questionable), DB Bob Sanders (Questionable)


St. Louis Rams Passing Offense vs San Francisco 49ers Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

Marc Bulger was under center the last time these teams met - Jamie Martin and Ryan Fitzpatrick have proven that they are not nearly as effective as Bulger since then. As of mid-week, Bulger has been lost for the season to IR. Said Coach Vitt "Marc's tried to throw for the last week and a half, and it's just not there. In fact, it's still swollen up. ... Marc is a warrior. He's got a lot of courage. I think the biggest regret at the end of the day is that I only got to spend (eight) quarters with him." As of Wednesday, the starter for this week at QB is up in the air, as Ryan Fitzpatrick has struggled mightily lately (57/105 for 467 yards, 1 TD and 7 interceptions during the last 3 weeks) but Jamie Martin hasn't been stellar, either (8/11 for 58 yards, 0 TDs and 0 interceptions in that span). With such poor QB play, Holt and Bruce have dropped to 23rd and 61st among fantasy WRs over the past 3 weeks - Holt snagged the only available TD with 19/186/1 in that span.

The 49ers defense is usually good medicine for opposing passers, though, ranking dead last in the NFL allowing an average of 277.6 passing yards per game, with 26 thrown scores given up to date. During their past 3 games, they've coughed up 264.6 passing yards per game, including 21/40 for 216 yards, 0 TDs and 0 interceptions handed over to Jacksonville last week. The 49ers pass D stinks.

This is a great matchup for the Rams, regardless of which struggling QB gets to stand under center.

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

STL Injuries: QB Marc Bulger (Out), RB Steven Jackson (Probable), WR Isaac Bruce (Probable)
SF Injuries: LB Saleem Rasheed (Probable), DB Shawntae Spencer (Probable), DB Ahmed Plummer (Out)


Carolina Panthers Passing Offense vs Dallas Cowboys Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Jake Delhomme had an efficient afternoon vs. the Saints last week, with 13/21 for 176 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception. He's put up 51/81 for 560 yards, 4 TDs and 3 interceptions during the last 3 weeks (14th best fantasy QB in the land during that time-frame) - Steve Smith is his go-to receiver, with 18/253/2 during those 3 games (5th best fantasy WR in the land).

Dallas' defense has been horrible over the last 3 weeks, giving up 1104 total yards in that span (368 yards per game), and 10 TDs (rushing and receiving). They have averaged 215 passing yards surrendered per contest, and were blown up for 12/20 for 163 yards, 4 TDs and 0 interceptions by the Redskins last week. They have a mere 2 interceptions and 3 sacks in the last 3 games - not much in the way of pass-pressure or coverage is going on among the Dallas defenders. The entire defense is collapsing.

This is a good matchup for the Panthers.

Weather: The forecast for Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte calls for a high of 55F and a low of 43F with a 20% chance of precipitation. It sounds like a great day for football is on tap in the Carolinas this weekend.

CAR Injuries: RB DeShaun Foster (Probable), RB Brad Hoover (Probable)
DAL Injuries: DB Anthony Henry (Probable)


Denver Broncos Passing Offense vs Oakland Raiders Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Jake Plummer was very efficient the last time these teams faced off, with 16/22 for 205 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions on the day. Rod Smith led the team in receptions (5/50/1) and scoring, while Ashley Lelie led in yardage (3/76/0). Lelie has been deficient in the scoring department this year, with 34/641/1 (52nd in fantasy points per game at his position), while Rod Smith has been his usual productive self (79/1003/6 to rank 16th among all fantasy WRs in points per game). Last week, Plummer (20/37 for 259 yards, 2 TDs and 0 interceptions) was very in tune with Smith (11/137/1 receiving) - rookie TE Wesley Duke hauled in the other score (1/1/1).

The Raiders run in the middle of the NFL pack this year in this phase, allowing an average of 199.4 passing yards per game (16th in the NFL) with 19 TD receptions allowed to date. They have surrendered an average of 147.3 passing yards per game over the past 3 weeks, with a mere 1 interception in that span (7 sacks to their credit). Last week, rookie Charlie Frye managed 21/32 for 198 yards, 0 TDs and 1 interception against this squad.

The Broncos are playing at home, and need the win to cement their playoff position - the Raiders are circling the bowl, waiting for the end to come. Advantage, Denver.

Weather: Mile High stadium should see a high of 54F and a low of 36F on Saturday, with a 0% chance for precipitation. Wind is almost always some sort of factor in this venue at this time of year - owners of Raiders and Broncos will want to check a short term forecast to eyeball probable wind conditions before setting their lineups.

DEN Injuries: RB Kyle Johnson (Probable)
OAK Injuries: LB Danny Clark (Probable), DB Fabian Washington (Probable), DB Charles Woodson (Out)


New Orleans Saints Passing Offense vs Detroit Lions Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Todd Bouman had a rough start to his tenure as the Saints' starting QB, with 17/34 for 193 yards, 1 TD and 4 interceptions passing - playing his first game under center in years vs. Carolina (the division's top team) wasn't an easy task, though. Bouman is in the process of getting up to speed as the starter after months of taking very few snaps with the first team while Aaron Brooks was the star QB. Donte Stallworth was far-and-away his preferred target, with 12 chances for 5/102/1, while Joe Horn saw only 3 passes come his way (1/6/0). Horn is struggling with a sore hamstring again, and he's obviously not coming open very often. Keep an eye on his practice status this week - but realize even before the passing of the torch to Bouman, Stallworth was becoming the top WR in this stable.

The Lions average 197.1 passing yards allowed per game this season (15th in the NFL), but have coughed up an average of 220.6 per game over the past 3 weeks, with 9 TDs (rushing and receiving) given away - they are in a downward spiral to close the season. Last week, Carson Palmer bombed them for 28/39 for 274 yards, 3 TDs and 2 interceptions. There just isn't much fight left in this unit.

Bouman has a good matchup to work with this week - we'll see if he can get up to speed.

Weather: This game will be played in the Alamodome - weather won't be a factor in the outcome.

NO Injuries: WR Az-zahir Hakim (Questionable)
DET Injuries: DL Cory Redding (Probable), DL Shaun Rogers (Probable), LB Nate Wayne (Questionable), DB Dre Bly (Probable)


Oakland Raiders Passing Offense at Denver Broncos Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

"There's a lot of things around the quarterback that have taken place in each of the last two games that we, obviously, have to do better so that they have a chance to do the things that they can do." Coach Norv Turner, speaking about the disaster known as the Raiders' offense.

Kerry Collins was under center vs. Denver back in week 10 (26/50 for 310 yards, 2 TDs and 3 interceptions during the 31-17 loss) - and he's under center again this week, ready to suffer "a lot of things" that the Raiders "have to do better" this week at Mile High Stadium. Rany Moss led the team with 6/87/1 that week - he also led the team in scoring last week with 1/28/1 during the Raiders' 9-7 loss to mighty Cleveland. Collins has "racked up" 36/70 for 368 yards, 2 TDs and 2 interceptions in his last 2 games (he was benched for 1 game out of the last 3). The Raiders just haven't come together in this phase of the game - rather, they've fallen apart.

Denver surrendered 22/35 for 202 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions to Buffalo last week, while they revamped their secondary in the wake of Darrent Williams' injury. Over the past 3 weeks, they've allowed an average of 233.6 passing yards per game, with a mere 3 sacks in that span. Obviously, the Broncos' pass D is not playing terribly well lately. This season, the Broncos average 238.4 passing yards allowed per game (29th in the NFL), with 20 TDs surrendered to date - they haven't been very good all year long.

Collins did well against Denver last time these teams met, and they are soft enough that he might get back on track this week - he has a good opportunity to do so, anyway.

Weather: Mile High stadium should see a high of 54F and a low of 36F on Saturday, with a 0% chance for precipitation. Wind is almost always some sort of factor in this venue at this time of year - owners of Raiders and Broncos will want to check a short term forecast to eyeball probable wind conditions before setting their lineups.

OAK Injuries: RB Omar Easy (Probable), RB Lamont Jordan (Doubtful), WR Randy Moss (Probable), TE Courtney Anderson (Doubtful)
DEN Injuries: DL Courtney Brown (Probable), LB Keith Burns (Probable), LB Ian Gold (Probable), DB Darrent Williams (Out)


Tennessee Titans Passing Offense at Miami Dolphins Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Steve McNair continues to be productive, with 23/38 for 310 yards, 2 TDs and 0 interceptions last week (2/13/0 rushing) - he hit Drew Bennett for both scores (8/93/2) while Ben Troupe led the team in receiving with 6/116/0 - the passing game is the brightest spot on the entire Titans' team right now. McNair is the 12th ranked fantasy QB in the land over the last 3 weeks, with 63/101 for 738 yards, 2 TDs and 0 interceptions to his credit. He's not a world-beater anymore, but he's had his moments during 2005.

The 'Phins are 23rd in the league vs. the pass this year, giving up 211.5 yards per game in this phase (with 19 thrown TDs surrendered to date). Over the past 3 weeks, they've been very vulnerable, allowing 248.3 passing yards per game (they do have 11 sacks in that span), including 28/42 for 327 yards, 2 TDs and 0 interceptions to Brooks Bollinger last week. They have not played a solid game in this phase of the game during the past 3 weeks.

McNair is finding some of his old mojo now that Drew Bennett and Ben Troupe are back in the line-up - Miami's pass D is soft. Advantage, Tennessee.

Weather: The forecast for Opa Locka FL calls for a high of 76F and a low of 60F with a 30% chance for rain on Saturday. If the moisture falls thickly around game time, footing and ball handling could be trickier than usual for both teams.

TEN Injuries: RB Chris Brown (Questionable), RB Travis Henry (Questionable), RB Jarrett Payton (Questionable), WR Drew Bennett (Questionable), TE Erron Kinney (Questionable)
MIA Injuries: LB Channing Crowder (Questionable)


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

Before we go any further, realize that this is a monster game for both teams - Atlanta absolutely has to have a win here if they are to have a shot at a wild-card slot in the playoffs, and for Tampa Bay the only way they can clinch a playoff spot this week (several scenarios in play) is to beat Atlanta. In the warm-weather Raymond James Stadium, expect both teams to throw down as if there is no tomorrow - because for the 2005 season, there really isn't a tomorrow for either squad.

The last time these teams faced off, in week 11, Michael Vick had his best game as a passer this season, with 21/38 for 306 yards, 2 TDs and 0 interceptions (4/17/0 rushing). Since then, he's regressed back to his usual form, with 42/90 for 524 yards, 1 TD and 5 interceptions and 15/109/2 rushing - his legs have saved him from tumbling out of the top 20 among fantasy QBs - he's 16th in fantasy points per game over the last 3 weeks. In the arctic Soldier field, Vick could scrape up 13/32 for 122 yards, 0 TDs and 2 interceptions - there's wind in outdoor stadiums!

Speaking of outdoor stadiums, Tampa lurks waiting for the Falcons at home in Raymond James Stadium this week - they sport the leagues' 8th ranked pass D, giving up an average of 183.4 passing yards per game, and only 12 passing scores to date (tied for 2nd-least in the NFL). However, last week, these guys were shelled for 20/31 for 258 yards, 3 TDs and 0 interceptions by Tom Brady and company - not very impressive. Over the past 3 weeks, Tampa has surrendered an average of 220.3 passing yards per game, with 5 interceptions and 5 sacks - they are pretty mediocre in this phase to close the season.

Tampa's pass D has not been great recently, but neither has Michael Vick. Even though Vick tore up Tampa last time around the block, we see this as a fairly even matchup.

Weather: The forecast for Tampa calls for a high of 69F with a low of 57F and a 20% chance for rain - Raymond James Stadium should be a nice play to play football on Saturday.

ATL Injuries: none
TB Injuries: DL Anthony McFarland (Questionable), LB Marquis Cooper (Questionable), DB Juran Bolden (Probable)


Buffalo Bills Passing Offense at Cincinnati Bengals Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Ever wonder why Eric Moulds gets so mad about J.P. Losman? Could it be because when Kelly Holcomb is under center, he sees the ball? Week 13 (a "Losman" week), Moulds saw 2 passes come his way, and got into trouble for complaining, sitting out week 14 on suspension. In week 15 (a "Holcomb" week), Moulds sees 12 passes and leads the team with 9/110/0 receiving. Hmmm...

Anyway, this week, it appears that Kelly Holcomb will start again as J.P. Losman's shoulder is ailing - Holcomb threw for 22/35 for 202 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions last week (the TD went to Joe Burns, 1/19/1). Lee Evans converted 7 opportunities to 2/5/0 receiving last week - not too good on Evans' part.

Cincinnati plays a gambling style of pass D, ranking 21st in the NFL allowing an average of 210.4 passing yards per game, but ranking 1st in the NFL with 30 interceptions. They lead the NFL over the past 3 weeks with 7 interceptions to their credit (vs. 8 TDs given up, rushing and receiving) - meanwhile, they averaged 238 passing yards allowed per contest in that span. Last week, Detroit managed 19/28 for 215 yards, 2 TDs and 3 interceptions vs. this bunch.

Holcomb should find ways to pile up yardage against the Bengals, but he'll probably throw some interceptions, too - this one looks about even from where we sit.

Weather: The forecast for Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati calls for a high of 46F with a low of 34F and a 50% chance for precipitation - the moisture could fall as rain, sleet or snow in those conditions. Footing and ball handling will suffer for both teams if things get really wet around game time. Owners of Bengals and Bills will want to look at a short-term forecast for Cincinnati at the end of the week when deciding on their lineups.

BUF Injuries: QB J.P. Losman (Probable), TE Ryan Neufeld (Out)
CIN Injuries: DL Jonathan Fanene (Probable), DL Carl Powell (Out), DL Bryan Robinson (Out), LB Nate Webster (Questionable), LB Odell Thurman (Questionable)


Detroit Lions Passing Offense at New Orleans Saints Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Jeff Garcia couldn't get much going in this phase last week, with 13/21 for 138 yards, 1 TD and 3 interceptions before being benched for dog-house dweller Joey Harrington. Harrington responded with one of his tantalizing flashes of talent, hitting 6/7 for 77 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions. Charles Rogers showed a glimpse of what he can do if he wants to, with 3/71/1 to lead the team - Roy Williams handled the other TD with 3/27/1. With nothing to play for except individual goals, it'll be interesting to see how the Lions perform this week. Joey Harrington gets one more shot at redemption, having been given the starting nod over the declining Garcia at mid-week.

New Orleans' pass D ranks 5th in the NFL allowing an average of 178.9 yards per game this season, but part of that high ranking is due to their pathetic rush D that hand over 130+ yards per game - among the worst rush defenses in the NFL. The Saints have given up 18 passing scores this season, which isn't particularly strong (the Bears lead the league with 8 scoring throws allowed), and have coughed up 8 TDs rushing and receiving over the past 3 weeks, with a mere 2 sacks and 2 interceptions during that span. They aren't pressuring opposing passers with their rush or in coverage - that's a bad combination. They've handed over 186.3 passing yards per game during that 3 week span, including last week's mark of 13/21 for 176 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception given up to Jake Delhomme.

Two struggling teams face off in this matchup - if Harrington can bring his "A" game to this matchup, then we think this is a fairly even matchup. But realize that Harrington playing with his "A" game is a fairly infrequent event.

Weather: This game will be played in the Alamodome - weather won't be a factor in the outcome.

DET Injuries: RB Kevin Jones (Questionable)
NO Injuries: DL Darren Howard (Out), LB Sedrick Hodge (Questionable)


San Francisco 49ers Passing Offense at St. Louis Rams Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Tim Rattay started for the 49ers during their week 1 victory vs. St. Louis. Alex Smith has lost in every game he's played this year, and has 0 TDs vs. 10 interceptions to his credit (56/120 for 585 yards, 0 TDs and 10 interceptions to date in 2005). Ryan Leaf managed 2 passing TDs in his first season (111/245 for 1289 yards, 2 TDs and 15 interceptions); Akili Smith had 2 in his first year as well (80/153 for 805 yards, 2 TDs and 6 interceptions) - the big question is, can Alex Smith match Ryan Leaf's and Akili Smith's TD total in his first season? That's the nicest way we can highlight Smith's "performance" during 2005 without resorting to unkind language. Smith tossed 8/24 for 123 yards, 0 TDs and 1 interception last week - it was his "best" game of the year, considering that the last time he cracked 100 yards passing he also tossed 3 interceptions (16/24 for 185 yards, 0 TDs and 3 interceptions vs. mighty Arizona).

The Rams average 221.9 passing yards allowed per game to date, with the 3rd-most passing scores allowed (25). They have done much better lately, with 124 passing yards given up per game over the last 3 weeks (but they have still lost all 3 games) - Brunell, Brad Johnson and Mike McMahon haven't needed to pass much considering how soft the Rams' rush D has been lately. We're not convinced that the Rams have suddenly become a dominant pass D (they have a mediocre 3 interceptions and 5 sacks over the past 3 weeks) - teams are simply electing to run the ball at St. Louis.

This is a matchup between two struggling teams - Smith has been horrible, but the Rams are not tough in this phase, more often than not. We call it an ugly but even matchup.

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

SF Injuries: RB Kevan Barlow (Questionable), RB Frank Gore (Questionable)
STL Injuries: DL Leonard Little (Probable), LB Pisa Tinoisamoa (Probable), LB Chris Claiborne (Out), DB Jerome Carter (Probable)


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

Before we go any further, realize that this is a monster game for both teams - Atlanta absolutely has to have a win here if they are to have a shot at a wild-card slot in the playoffs, and for Tampa Bay the only way they can clinch a playoff spot this week (several scenarios in play) is to beat Atlanta. In the warm-weather Raymond James Stadium, expect both teams to throw down as if there is no tomorrow - because for the 2005 season, there really isn't a tomorrow for either squad.

Chris Simms was quiet and conservative the last time these teams clashed (week 11) with 11/19 for 118 yards, 0 TDs and 1 interception - Michael Clayton led all receivers with 3/48/0 that day. Last week, Simms put up a pedestrian 21/34 for 155 yards, 0 TDs and 0 interceptions vs. the reborn Patriots' secondary. He's hit for 53/82 for 416 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions during the past 3 weeks, to rank 32nd among fantasy QBs in points per game. There just isn't much going on for Tampa in this phase right now.

Atlanta coughed up 11/26 for 105 passing yards, 0 TDs and 1 interception to the Bears on an arctic and windy night in Chicago last week - Chicago isn't known for explosive passing performances this year, ranking 31st in the NFL with an average of 124.9 passing yards per game during 2005. This year, the Falcons are 12th in the NFL averaging 192.4 passing yards given up per game, and they have allowed 14 passing scores to date. They are a mediocre bunch more often than not.

Two sub-par units lock horns in this matchup - neither one looks like they hold an edge over the other from where we sit.

Weather: The forecast for Tampa calls for a high of 69F with a low of 57F and a 20% chance for rain - Raymond James Stadium should be a nice play to play football on Saturday.

TB Injuries: TE Anthony Becht (Questionable)
ATL Injuries: DL Antwan Lake (Questionable), DL Brady Smith (Doubtful), DB Keion Carpenter (Questionable), DB Allen Rossum (Questionable)


Arizona Cardinals Passing Offense vs Philadelphia Eagles Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Kurt Warner is out for the season due to a knee injury, which means we'll see some combination of Josh McCown and John Navarre this week - McCown is set to start, but coach Green has shown no compunction about pulling him/setting him on the bench when he struggles, so there is no way to know which QB will actually see the most snaps. Neither one is very good, either - McCown is 31st in the NFL this season in fantasy points per game, with 105/190 for 1241 yards, 6 TDs and 9 interceptions in 9 appearances, while Navarre has 14/24 for 174 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception to his credit in 2 appearances (50th fantasy QB in fantasy points per game). Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald will have to see some action as the Cardinals barely try to run the ball anymore, but we're not enthused with their chances for a big game with McCown or Navarre under center.

The Eagles aren't stellar in this phase of the game, averaging 207.9 passing yards allowed per game this year (20th in the NFL), with 21 passing TDs given up to date. Over the past 3 weeks, they have only 1 sack and 4 interceptions while allowing an average of 174.6 passing yards per contest - last week, Ryan Fitzpatrick was benched and Jamie Martin came in - they combined for 18/35 for 127 yards for 1 TD and 1 interception vs. the Eagles.

Arizona is in flux in this phase, and neither of their remaining signal callers is very impressive - the Eagles have been tough on opposing passers lately. Advantage, Philadelphia.

Weather: Sun Devil Stadium expects a high of 75F with a low of 48F and a 0% chance for rain on Saturday - weather conditions shouldn't be an issue for either team.

ARI Injuries: none
PHI Injuries: DL Juqua Thomas (Probable), DB Sheldon Brown (Questionable)


Baltimore Ravens Passing Offense vs Minnesota Vikings Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Kyle Boller has had a rough season, but we have to give credit were credit is due - part of a professionals' job is winning the games you should win, and Boller did that and then some last week, with 19/27 for 253 yards, 3 TDs and 0 interceptions during a 48-3 embarrassment of Green Bay on Monday Night Football. He was accurate and poised all night long, and utilized his best weapons (Todd Heap had 9/110/2; Derrick Mason saw 5/97/0) while mixing in some supporting players, too (2/24/0 to Mark Clayton, 1/13/1 to Randy Hymes, and 2/9/0 to Jamal Lewis). It was the most complete game we can remember seeing from Boller. If he can keep it up, he'll be worth something in fantasy circles.

Minnesota is no Green Bay, though - they've gotten very stubborn on the defensive side of the ball in the second half of the season, and have allowed only 3 TDs (rushing and receiving) in the last 3 weeks, with 6 interceptions and 6 sacks, while averaging only 160 passing yards allowed per game. Last week, they lost to Pittsburgh but it wasn't the secondary's fault - Ben Roethlisberger could only muster 10/15 for 149 yards, 0 TDs and 0 interceptions (this was the first game he didn't throw at least 1 TD all year long).

If Boller can pull off a repeat performance (or better last week's numbers), then we'll start to wonder if he may have finally turned the corner to respectability as a pro QB - but Minnesota won't make it easy for him.

Weather: The forecast for M and T Bank Stadium calls for a high of 50F with a low of 34F and a 40% chance of precipitation on Sunday. As this game is to start at 8:30 PM, the temperatures will be on the low end of the scale, and any precipitation is likely to be slushy snow or ice - footing and ball handling will be trickier than usual in cold, wet conditions. If the wind gets going, the passing games will suffer even worse - owners of Vikings and Ravens will want to check a short-term forecast at the end of the week before setting their starting lineups.

BAL Injuries: RB B.J. Sams (Questionable), TE Darnell Dinkins (Questionable), TE Daniel Wilcox (Questionable)
MIN Injuries: LB Keith Newman (Out), DB Corey Chavous (Probable), DB Fred Smoot (Probable)


Cleveland Browns Passing Offense vs Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Trent Dilfer was the starter vs. Pittsburgh in week 10 - recent history won't tell us much about Charlie Frye's chances this week. Frye has been quietly efficient in recent weeks, with 50/76 for 562 yards, 3 TDs and 2 interceptions passing, with 21/36/1 rushing - all that lands him at 15th in the NFL in fantasy points scored at his position over the past 3 weeks. Not too shabby for a youngster. With 21 targets over the past 3 weeks, Antonio Bryant is by far his favorite receiver (Bryant has hauled in 12/197/0, 30th in the NFL at his position in fantasy points per game during that span). Cleveland's passing game is modestly effective at this point of the season.

Pittsburgh allows an average of 203.0 passing yards per game this season (17th in the NFL), but they are tied for second-least passing scores surrendered to date, with 12 given away in 14 games. Over the past 3 weeks, the Steelers have allowed only 179.3 passing yards per game, much better than their season average, and they crushed Brad Johnson last week (16/30 for 143 yards, 0 TDs and 2 interceptions) - this unit is getting hot just as the season draws to a close.

Pittsburgh will give Frye a stern test on Saturday.

Weather: Browns Stadium expects a high of 40F with a low of 33F and a 30% chance for precipitation on Saturday. At this time of year, precipitation could mean rain, sleet or snow (with high winds thrown in, too). Owners of Browns or Steelers will want to check a short term forecast at the end of the week before setting their starting lineups - conditions could be very bad for this game.

CLE Injuries: QB Charlie Frye (Probable), TE Steve Heiden (Probable), TE Aaron Shea (Probable)
PIT Injuries: DL Travis Kirschke (Questionable), LB Clint Kriewaldt (Probable), LB Andre Frazier (Doubtful), DB Chidi Iwuoma (Probable), DB Deshea Townsend (Probable)


Dallas Cowboys Passing Offense at Carolina Panthers Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Drew Bledsoe has been battling turnover problems lately, with 53/102 631 yards, 5 TDs and 5 interceptions over the past 3 weeks (18th fantasy QB during that span). He was ineffective vs. the Redskins last week, scraping up 16/29 for 153 yards, 1 TD and 3 interceptions - TE Jason Witten led the team with 4/41/1, but nobody else got over 26 yards receiving during the game. Dallas' line allowed 7 sacks last week, and they are now tied for 6th-worst in the NFL with 40 sacks surrendered to date. Bledsoe isn't particularly mobile or elusive - the team has to protect him better or their offense will crash and burn like it did last week vs. Washington.

The Panthers are 9th in the NFL with 35 sacks to date, and can generally bring a lot of heat on opposing passers when Mike Rucker is available to team up with Julius Peppers - however, Rucker has been limited by a leg injury recently and the team had 0 sacks vs. the Saints last week. They average 192.3 passing yards allowed per game this season (11th in the NFL) and have 13 passing scores allowed in 14 games. Last week, they ripped off 4 interceptions vs. the Saints (17/34 for 193 yards, 1 TD and 4 interceptions allowed) - over the past 3 weeks, the Panthers have 6 interceptions and 7 sacks vs. 3 TDs allowed (rushing and receiving), while averaging 151.6 passing yards given up per game - these guys are really tough during these final weeks of 2005.

Dallas will have their hands full with the ferocious Panthers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

Weather: The forecast for Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte calls for a high of 55F and a low of 43F with a 20% chance of precipitation. It sounds like a great day for football is on tap in the Carolinas this weekend.

DAL Injuries: none
CAR Injuries: DL Mike Rucker (Probable)


Indianapolis Colts Passing Offense at Seattle Seahawks Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Colts don't need this game, and with the undefeated season by the boards, coach Dungy is going to be cautious with his starters. "We'll probably map it out beforehand and really have a script and stick to it," Dungy said on Monday. "What that script will be, I'm not sure yet." Coach Dungy did indicate that Jim Sorgi would see playing time on Saturday, and we know that Marvin Harrison is out for the rest of regular season due to a hand injury that needs to be rested (broken bone in his hand). Brandon Stokely is likely to see more action with Harrison sidelined. So, the question for fantasy owners becomes this: is a half of Peyton Manning as good as a full game from whoever you have backing him up?

The Seahawks have only allowed 3 TDs in the last 3 weeks (rushing and receiving combined), and have 5 interceptions and 8 sacks in that span (their total of 45 sacks leads the NFL this season). The Colts have been uncharacteristically porous vs. the pass rush lately, with 4 sacks given up to San Diego last week 3 surrendered to the Jaguars - that's 43.75% of their season total of 16 sacks allowed in the last 2 weeks. Have defensive co-ordinators found a chink in their armor? The loss of T Ryan Diem won't help matters any. Expect the Seahawks to come after whoever is taking snaps on Sunday. They have averaged 172 passing yards allowed per game over the last 3 weeks, but were blasted for 24/39 for 336 yards, 2 TDs and 0 interceptions by the Titans last week - it was an unpleasant surprise for the Seahawks, and looks like an anomaly, not a trend.

This is a tough matchup for the Colts.

Weather: Qwest Field in Seattle expects a high of 54F and a low of 41F with a 60% chance for precipitation on Saturday. If the rain falls thickly around game time, footing and ball handling will be trickier than usual for both teams.

IND Injuries: QB Peyton Manning (Probable), WR Marvin Harrison (Questionable)
SEA Injuries: DL Chartric Darby (Questionable), LB Kevin Bentley (Probable), DB John Howell (Questionable), DB Andre Dyson (Out), DB Kelly Herndon (Out)


Jacksonville Jaguars Passing Offense at Houston Texans Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The last time these teams faced off, back in week 9, Byron Leftwich was the starting QB, so the series' recent history won't tell us much about David Garrard's prospects this week. Over the past 3 weeks, David Garrard has posted 58/95 for 582 yards, 3 TDs and 1 interception passing, with 17/72/2 rushing - that makes him the #4 fantasy QB in the land during that time-frame. He's not posting gaudy passing numbers, but his ability to scramble (especially in goal-line situations) is adding enough fantasy "oomph" to make him a formidable starter right now. Jimmy Smith has seen 32 targets during the past 3 weeks, and converted them to 17/221/2 to rank 14th among fantasy WRs in that span. He's the #1 fantasy WR on this team now that Garrard is calling the shots.

The Texans' defense has suddenly found their game (now that Dan Reeves has been called in to "evaluate" talent for management) - they have only allowed 3 TDs (rushing and receiving) over the past 3 weeks, and have racked up 10 QB sacks during that span of time. Their 3-week average of 211.6 passing yards given up per game is 10 yards per game better than their season average of 221.6 passing yards allowed per game, and they've been much stingier with points lately (22 passing scores allowed to date this year). The Texans are playing at the top of their abilities right now, even though the Cardinals hit them for 25/38 for 301 yards, 2 TDs and 2 interceptions last week.

Just looking at the teams' records, you might expect this to be a pushover game for the Jaguars - but that isn't the case. Expect to see a tough fight for Garrard and company on Saturday down at Reliant Stadium.

Weather: The forecast for Reliant Stadium calls for a high of 73F and a low of 49F with a 30% chance for rain. If the rain falls for a prolonged period, the stadium's retractable roof can be closed - weather shouldn't be a huge factor in this matchup.

JAX Injuries: QB Byron Leftwich (Out), RB Greg Jones (Probable), RB Rich Alexis (Questionable)
HOU Injuries: DL Gary Walker (Probable), DL Robaire Smith (Probable), DL Junior Ioane (Doubtful), LB Frank Chamberlin (Questionable)


Minnesota Vikings Passing Offense at Baltimore Ravens Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Brad Johnson had a bad game last week, with 16/30 for 143 yards, 0 TDs and 2 interceptions when the dust settled. He's also failed to throw a TD pass in the past 2 weeks, making him a disappointing fantasy start lately (as the Vikings' receivers have been). 49/78 for 545 yards, 2 TDs and 2 interceptions in his last 3 outings slots Johnson at #27 among fantasy signal callers during that time span - there isn't much exciting coming out of Minnesota in this phase of the game, folks.

Baltimore's pass D has been hard-nosed lately, with 10 sacks and 4 interceptions vs. 1 TD (rushing and receiving) during the past 3 weeks, while averaging 178.6 passing yards allowed per contest. They crushed Brett Favre and company last week, with 22/44 for 209 yards, 0 TDs and 3 interceptions on Green Bay's box score at the end of the game. The Ravens' pass D is getting nasty just as the year closes.

Advantage, Baltimore.

Weather: The forecast for M and T Bank Stadium calls for a high of 50F with a low of 34F and a 40% chance of precipitation on Sunday. As this game is to start at 8:30 PM, the temperatures will be on the low end of the scale, and any precipitation is likely to be slushy snow or ice - footing and ball handling will be trickier than usual in cold, wet conditions. If the wind gets going, the passing games will suffer even worse - owners of Vikings and Ravens will want to check a short-term forecast at the end of the week before setting their starting lineups.

MIN Injuries: TE Jermaine Wiggins (Questionable)
BAL Injuries: DB Dale Carter (Questionable)


New England Patriots Passing Offense at New York Jets Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Tom Brady connected for 27/37 for 271 yards, 0 TDs and 0 interceptions the last time he played the Jets - Troy Brown was the favored receiver that day, with 5/64/0 (7 players pulled in passes from Brady during that game). With 76/106 for 858 yards, 5 TDs and 2 interceptions passing (11/42/1 rushing) during the past 3 weeks, Brady is the top fantasy QB in the land in points per game during that time-frame. He's red hot. In typical New England fashion, though, Brady is spreading the ball around to so many different receivers that none of them are outstanding in fantasy terms - David Givens leads the pack over the last 3 weeks with 14/222/1 (20th at his position in fantasy points per game during that span).

The Jets have a solid pass D, ranking 3rd in the NFL with an average of 172.4 passing yards allowed per game this season, with 13 passing scores surrendered to date. They have averaged 168 passing yards allowed per game over the past 3 weeks, including the 14/29 for 175 yards, 2 TDs and 1 interception alloted to Miami last week. They are a sound unit - the best facet of the Jets' team.

This is a tougher-than-usual matchup for Brady, even though he dominated the Jets last time around the block.

Weather: The forecast for the final Monday Night Football broadcast on ABC calls for a high of 40F with a low of 27F and a 10% chance of snow at Giants Stadium. It'll be cold and possibly windy during the game - owners of Jets and Patriots will want to check a shorter-term forecast at the end of the week before setting their starting lineups. Conditions aren't likely to be optimum for passing the football late at night in this venue at this time of year.

NE Injuries: QB Tom Brady (Probable)
NYJ Injuries: DL Shaun Ellis (Questionable), DL Dewayne Robertson (Questionable), LB Mark Brown (Questionable), DB Oliver Celestin (Probable)


New York Giants Passing Offense at Washington Redskins Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Eli Manning was sub-par the last time he faced off against the Redskins in week 8, with 12/36 for 141 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception vs. Washington (Amani Toomer led the team with 2/43/0, while Shockey handled the TD with 3/29/1 to his credit). The third member of this trio, Plaxico Burress, managed 4/42/0 that day. Over the past 3 weeks, Manning has put up 57/107 for 650 yards, 2 TDs and 7 interceptions, but he took better care of the ball than is usual lately last week with 17/32 for 186 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception. Amani Toomer (with 5/69/1 last week to lead the team) has racked up 12/131/1 in that span, while Plaxico Burress has hauled in 8/118/0. Toomer is emerging as a worthwhile #3 WR at this point in the season (he ranks 32nd in fantasy points per game during the last 3 weeks). As usual, Jeremy Shockey sees plenty of chances to catch the ball (33 targets for 15/160/0 during the last 3 weeks).

Washington throttled Drew Bledsoe (another QB struggling with INTs lately) last week, allowing 16/29 for 153 yards, 1 TD and 3 interceptions to the Dallas starter. They average 163 yards passing allowed over the past 3 weeks, and have a league-leading 12 sacks in that time-frame. With only 30 sacks in 14 games, you can see that the Redskins have really turned up the heat on opposing passers lately. The Giants have only allowed 25 sacks this year, in the bottom 1/3 of the NFL - they aren't terribly susceptible to the pass rush. The Redskins are playing very intense, solid football in this phase of the game.

Manning has been struggling, and the Redskins' fans and secondary won't make it easy on him this Saturday - advantage, Washington.

Weather: FedEx Field expects a high of 47F and a low of 35F with a 20% chance of precipitation on Saturday - that's pretty nice weather for this time of year. Weather shouldn't be a huge issue for either team if the forecast holds up.

NYG Injuries: none
WAS Injuries: LB Lavar Arrington (Questionable), DB Matt Bowen (Probable), DB Shawn Springs (Probable), DB Carlos Rogers (Questionable)


Philadelphia Eagles Passing Offense at Arizona Cardinals Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Mike McMahon was down again last week, with 15/28 for 97 yards, 1 TD and 3 interceptions when the dust settled. He's posted 33/70 for 348 yards, 1 TD and 5 interceptions in the last 3 games he's played - not too good, folks. Needless to say, the Eagles' receivers aren't exciting with such poor quarterbacking in play. Greg Lewis led the team with 4/26/0 receiving last week - Yawn.

David Carr could only muster 22/30 for 150 yards, 0 TDs and 1 interception vs. Arizona last week - but we're talking the Texans, here. No surprise there. The Cardinals average 196 passing yards allowed per game this season (14th in the NFL), with 14 passing scores given away to date. Over the past 3 weeks, they've only given up 141.6 passing yards per game, with a league best 7 interceptions and a respectable 6 sacks. Arizona is playing some scrappy football in this phase of the game to close the season.

The Eagles are struggling to move the ball, while the Cardinals are making things miserable for the opposing QBs lately - advantage, Arizona.

Weather: Sun Devil Stadium expects a high of 75F with a low of 48F and a 0% chance for rain on Saturday - weather conditions shouldn't be an issue for either team.

PHI Injuries: QB Mike McMahon (Probable), RB Lamar Gordon (Questionable)
ARI Injuries: DL Darnell Dockett (Questionable), LB Karlos Dansby (Probable), DB Eric Green (Probable), DB Antrel Rolle (Doubtful), DB Lamont Reid (Doubtful)


Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Offense at Cleveland Browns Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Ben Roethlisberger was on the sidelines watching Tommy Maddox and Charlie Batch play the last time these teams met - recent history won't tell us much about his chances on Saturday. His injured thumb is always a worry, and he gutted it out for 10/15 for 149 yards, 0 TDs and 0 interceptions last week - but since the phenomenal 386 yard, 3 TD and 3 interception performance against Cincy 3 weeks ago, he's been held under 200 yards passing per game, and last week he missed throwing a TD for the first time in any game he's played to date (he did sneak one in, though, with 6/7/1 on the ground). Other than Hines Ward (2/11/0 last week, but 14/173/3 receiving over the past 3 weeks - 12th best fantasy WR in the land during that span), you'll want to look elsewhere for your fantasy receivers.

Cleveland has held their last 3 opponents to only 102.6 net passing yards per game on average - Kerry Collins managed 132 yards passing last week, Carson Palmer could only scrape up 93 the week before, and Garrard had 116 yards gross 3 weeks ago. That's some stout pass D, folks, especially against an elite QB like Carson Palmer. The Browns now rank 4th in the NFL vs. the pass, giving up 177.2 passing yards per game (with 17 passing scores surrendered, though) - they are playing up to the top of their abilities right now, as you can see.

This is a tough matchup for the Steelers' wounded QB and company.

Weather: Browns Stadium expects a high of 40F with a low of 33F and a 30% chance for precipitation on Saturday. At this time of year, precipitation could mean rain, sleet or snow (with high winds thrown in, too). Owners of Browns or Steelers will want to check a short term forecast at the end of the week before setting their starting lineups - conditions could be very bad for this game.

PIT Injuries: QB Tommy Maddox (Probable), QB Ben Roethlisberger (Probable)
CLE Injuries: DL Orpheus Roye (Questionable), DB Antonio Perkins (Probable), DB Ray Mickens (Questionable)


Washington Redskins Passing Offense vs New York Giants Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Mark Brunell was so bad the last time he faced New York (11/28 for 65 yards, 0 TDs and 1 interception), that Patrick Ramsey was inserted into the lineup (3/6 for 62 yards, 0 TDs and 0 interceptions). The Redskins crashed and burned during week 8, to the tune of 36-0. It was an awful game to be a Redskins' player. Last week, though, it was all good in this phase as Brunell bombed the Cowboys for 12/20 for 163 yards, 4 TDs and 0 interceptions - TE Chris Cooley was a fantasy monster with 6/71/3 (Mike Sellers handled the other score, with 1/3/1). Cooley has scored 4 TDs in his last 3 games, by the way, and is the hottest fantasy TE in the land with 15/154/4 over the past 3 weeks.

The Giants held Trent Green to 15/28 for 176 yards, 0 TDs and 1 interception last week, and average 153.6 net passing yards allowed per game over the last 3 weeks - they are second in the NFL during that span with 11 sacks to their credit (8th in the NFL this year with 37 sacks to date). The Chiefs run in the middle of the NFL pack with 28 sacks given up to date. The Giants are on top of their game in this phase lately, playing much better than their season average of 218.6 passing yards allowed per game would indicate.

Washington comes into this game moderately hot in this phase, while the Giants are playing pretty well, too. This looks like a tougher-than-usual matchup for Brunell (he had a terrible game the last time he saw these guys, remember).

Weather: FedEx Field expects a high of 47F and a low of 35F with a 20% chance of precipitation on Saturday - that's pretty nice weather for this time of year. Weather shouldn't be a huge issue for either team if the forecast holds up.

WAS Injuries: none
NYG Injuries: DL Reggie Torbor (Questionable), DL William Joseph (Doubtful), LB Carlos Emmons (Doubtful), LB Antonio Pierce (Out)


Green Bay Packers Passing Offense vs Chicago Bears Passing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Brett Favre put up 58 passes the last time the Packers played the Bears, in week 13, hitting 31/58 for 277 yards, 0 TDs and 2 interceptions. 58 passes, and no TDs - that's a familiar sight for beleagured Favre owners during the second half of this abysmal Green Bay season - Favre hit rock bottom vs. Baltimore last week with 14/29 for 144 yards, 0 TDs and 2 interceptions before being benched in favor of rookie Aaron Rodgers (8/15 for 65 yards, 0 TDs and 1 interception). Favre has tossed 66/118 for 591 yards, 0 TDs and 5 interceptions in his last 3 games, and has looked just terrible in recent weeks. His receivers aren't going up for the balls and fighting for receptions, either - Green Bay's whole offense is circling the bowl. Stick a fork in them, they're done.

The Bears rank first in the NFL in pass D, allowing an average of 166.1 passing yards per game, with only 8 passing TDs given up this season (1st in the NFL). They have 4 interceptions and a modest 4 sacks over the past 3 weeks, while allowing an average of 182.6 passing yards per game in that span - last week, Michael Vick could only muster 13/32 for 122 yards, 0 TDs and 2 interceptions vs. these guys.

Brett Favre and company are playing abysmally bad, and the Bear's top pass D will make them look even worse on Sunday.

Weather: The forecast for Lambeau Field calls for a high of 31F and a low of 24F with a 30% chance for wind/rain/snow. This game is scheduled for a 5 PM start, so the temperatures will rapidly fall towards the low end of the range, and the wind chill usually makes things feel even colder. Playing in such cold temperatures isn't optimum for the passing game - if the wind kicks up, it will be even worse for Grossman and Favre. Owners of Bears and Packers will want to check a short-term forecast to see what wind conditions are likely to be at game-time.

GB Injuries: RB Samkon Gado (Out), WR Robert Ferguson (Questionable), TE Bubba Franks (Questionable)
CHI Injuries: DL Ian Scott (Questionable), LB Brian Urlacher (Probable), LB Hunter Hillenmeyer (Questionable), DB Mike Brown (Questionable), DB Todd Johnson (Questionable)


Houston Texans Passing Offense vs Jacksonville Jaguars Passing Defense (Bad Matchup)

David Carr played one of his best games this season against the Jaguars back in week 9, with 22/30 219 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions (1 of 2 games this year he's been past 200 yards passing during a game). Andre Johnson (9/91/0) and Corey Bradford (5/71/1) led the team in receiving during that game. Carr was workmanlike last week, with 22/33 for 150 yards, 0 TDs and 1 interception last week - Andre Johnson led the team with 7/51/0 on the day. However, this week (as every week), the offensive line's poor pass blocking (64 sacks allowed this season) is bound to be an issue this week.

The Jaguars have generated 10 sacks during the past 3 weeks, and are tied for 3rd in the NFL this year with 42 sacks to their credit. They sacked Carr 6 times they last faced the Texans, and hit him on almost every passing play. Arizona had a relatively modest 3 sacks of Carr last week, but everybody in the league knows that the Texans are susceptible to pass pressure in a big way. Expect the Jaguars to make Carr's life miserable this week. They are the 6th best pass D in the land this season, averaging 179.4 passing yards surrendered per game, and have coughed up 204 per game over the past 3 weeks, with 4 TDs (rushing and receiving) handed over during that span. Last week, youngster Alex Smith could only muster 8/24 for 123 yards, 0 TDs and 1 interception passing vs. Jacksonville.

This is a bad matchup for Carr.

Weather: The forecast for Reliant Stadium calls for a high of 73F and a low of 49F with a 30% chance for rain. If the rain falls for a prolonged period, the stadium's retractable roof can be closed - weather shouldn't be a huge factor in this matchup.

HOU Injuries: RB Domanick Davis (Questionable), WR Andre Johnson (Probable)
JAX Injuries: DB Rashean Mathis (Probable)


New York Jets Passing Offense vs New England Patriots Passing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Brooks Bollinger tossed 15/37 for 135 yards, 0 TDs and 1 interception the last time he faced the Patriots - not too impressive. However, since then he's found a rhythm in the game, hitting 28/42 for 327 yards, 2 TDs and 0 interceptions vs. Miami last week, and 57/105 for 581 yards, 3 TDs and 1 interception (12/78/0 rushing) during the past 3 weeks - he's the 13th best fantasy QB during that span of time. He's not a fantasy stud yet, but if he continues to improve each week he might get there.

The Patriots are in no mood to let people improve, however. They have given up only 1 TD during the last 3 weeks, and have 11 sacks and 4 interceptions during that span, while averaging 133.3 passing yards allowed per game (they average a mere 161.6 total yards allowed per contest during that 3 week span). Last week, Chris Simms eked out 21/34 for 155 yards, 0 TDs and 0 interceptions during the 28-0 Tampa loss. New England's much-maligned defense is suddenly looking, well, Super.

This is a very tough matchup for the Jets' young starter.

Weather: The forecast for the final Monday Night Football broadcast on ABC calls for a high of 40F with a low of 27F and a 10% chance of snow at Giants Stadium. It'll be cold and possibly windy during the game - owners of Jets and Patriots will want to check a shorter-term forecast at the end of the week before setting their starting lineups. Conditions aren't likely to be optimum for passing the football late at night in this venue at this time of year.

NYJ Injuries: RB Derrick Blaylock (Probable)
NE Injuries: none




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