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  Rushing Matchups  

Week 19 Passing Matchups

[CAR] [CHI] [DEN] [IND] [NE] [PIT] [SEA] [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.


Indianapolis Colts Passing Offense vs Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Peyton Manning didn't have much trouble with the Steeler's secondary the last time he saw them (November 28th, on Monday Night Football), tossing 15/25 for 245 yards, 2 TDs and 1 interception during the 26-7 victory. Marvin Harrison (4/128/1) and TE Bryan Fletcher (3/28/1) handled the scoring receptions on that occasion.

Since then, Harrison has sustained a hand injury, but it appears that he's healed up enough to play at full tilt this week. Manning coasted into the playoffs with a mere 36/59 for 457 yards, 1 TD and 2 interceptions during the final 3 weeks of the regular season, but the Colts were intentionally resting him for long stretches of those games - he's knowledgable and intense enough that the "rust" factor (which we saw with Byron Leftwich last week) isn't a worry, frankly. The Colts sport a passing offense that saw Manning produce 305/453 for 3747 yards, 28 TDs and 10 interceptions this season, with most of the passes going to Harrison (82/1146/12) and Reggie Wayne (83/1055/5), helped out by TEs Dallas Clark (37/488/4) and Bryan Fletcher (18/202/3).

Pittsburgh gave up 25/41 for 263 yards, 1 TD and 2 interceptions to Cincinnati's backup QB (mostly) last week. They were mediocre vs. opposing passers throughout 2005, averaging 198.0 passing yards given away per game (16th in the NFL) with 15 TDs handed over over 16 games. To close the regular season, the Steelers gave up an average of only 152.3 passsing yards per game over the final 3 weeks (with 11 sacks to their credit in the final 3 games).Pittsburgh does pressure the opposing passer, ranking 3rd (tie) in the NFL with 47 sacks to their credit - but the Colts are 1st in the NFL with a mere 20 sacks given up all year long. However, Indianapolis slipped at pass protection to close the regular season, handing over 8 sacks during the final 3 games (4 of them to San Diego when the Colts' first team was still in play for 4 quarters). RT Ryan Diem is struggling to get on the field due to a MCL sprain, and his absence may explain some of the OL's leakiness during the final weeks of the regular season.

The Colts sport the league's premier pocket passer, while the Steelers bring a so-so unit to the dance. The home-team has the edge in this matchup - advantage, Colts.

Weather: This game will be played in the RCA Dome - weather conditions won't be an issue for either team indoors.

IND Injuries: QB Jim Sorgi (Probable), WR Brandon Stokley (Probable), WR Marvin Harrison (Probable), TE Bryan Fletcher (Probable)
PIT Injuries: DL Kimo von Oelhoffen (Probable), DL Travis Kirschke (Probable), LB Joey Porter (Probable), LB Clark Haggans (Probable), LB James Harrison (Doubtful)


New England Patriots Passing Offense at Denver Broncos Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Tom Brady had to carry the team vs. Denver during their first matchup (week 6), as both Corey Dillon and Kevin Faulk were sidelined for the game. He responded with 24/46 for 299 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions (just falling short in the loss 20-28). Patrick Pass (6/89/0), along with WRs Deion Branch (7/87/0) and David Givens (7/58/1) handled the bulk of the receptions that day - 4 other players caught 1 reception apiece (including TE's Daniel Graham (1/5/0) and Ben Watson(1/6/0)).

Brady continues to carry the team - he put up 334/530 for 4110 yards, 26 TDs and 14 interceptions during the regular season, and tossed 15/27 for 201 yards, 3 TDs and 0 interceptions last week vs. Jacksonville. The guy is the Patriot's offense this year, as the RBs have struggled A). to stay healthy and B). to contribute to the offensive effort more often than not. Last week TE Ben Watson led the charge with 5/91/1, while the other 2 TDs went to Troy Brown (1/11/1) and David Givens (1/3/1) - each week, somebody different rises to the forefront of the Patriots' talented and diverse receiving corps.

Denver has not played well in this phase of the game for most of the season, giving up an average of 227.7 passing yards per game (#29 in the NFL) with 20 passing scores allowed over 16 games. They tied for 28th in the NFL with only 28 sacks all year long (Seattle was #1 with 50, as a reference). However, the Broncos closed regular season with 8 sacks (and 2 interceptions) vs. 3 TDs given up (rushing and receiving) - the heat on opposing passers was turned up during the final weeks of the regular season. In the closing 3 weeks of regular season, the team averaged 167.6 net passing yards allowed per game. The secondary got good news last week when DB Darrent Williams declared himself recovered from a groin injury that had sidelined him for several weeks - the Broncos will be deeper than usual in the secondary coming into this contest.

The Patriots' passing attack is elite, while the Broncos defenders are at best mediocre and sometimes sub-par - advantage, New England.

Weather: The forecast for Mile High Stadium calls for a high of 59F with a low of 39F and a 0% chance for precipitation. The game will begin near sunset, local time (8:30 PM ET, 6:30 PM MT), so look for the temperatures to be nearer to the low end of the scale throughout the game. The wind can be a big factor at this time of year in Denver, although the conditions for this game don't appear to be worrisome at mid-week (the forecast calls for abundant sunshine all day on Saturday). The weather should be pleasant for this game, it appears.

NE Injuries: QB Tom Brady (Probable), RB Heath Evans (Probable), RB Patrick Pass (Probable), RB Corey Dillon (Probable), TE Daniel Graham (Probable), TE Christian Fauria (Probable)
DEN Injuries: DL Courtney Brown (Probable), LB Al Wilson (Probable), LB Keith Burns (Probable), DB Darrent Williams (Probable)


Washington Redskins Passing Offense at Seattle Seahawks Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Way back in week 4, these teams battled to a 17-17 tie during regulation, and witnessed Washington cashing in during the OT period with a Nick Novak field goal (he's no longer with the team now that John Hall is healthy) - it was a hard-fought contest at Fed Ex Field. This week, the Seahawks will host the Redskins at Qwest Field and they are looking for payback.

Mark Brunell was effective the last time he saw Seattle, with 20/36 for 226 yards, 2 TDs and 1 interception - however, he's been less-than-impressive over the past 3 weeks, with an awful 7/15 for 41 yards, 0 TDs and 1 interception performance last week and only 23/51 for 294 yards, 3 TDs and 3 interceptions over the past 3 weeks. He claims his sprained MCL isn't bothering him, but his numbers say something else. 9 completions in a game is his high-water mark over the last 3 weeks - needless to say, owning Santana Moss, Chris Cooley and Mike Sellers was not exciting during the wild card round of the playoffs (Moss "led" the team with 2/18/0 receiving).

Seattle sported the league's 25th ranked pass D this season, allowing an average of 222.4 yards per game and 18 passing scores over 16 contests. They coughed up 308.6 passing yards per contest during the final 3 weeks of the regular season - not too good. However, they were first in the NFL with 50 sacks (recording 5 during the final 3 weeks of the regular season while resting key players for much of that stretch) - Washington was 10th in the NFL this season allowing 31 sacks. Last week, Tampa Bay managed 2 sacks during the game - there is a potential vulnerability here for Seattle to exploit, as Brunell has a MCL sprain in one knee and he wasn't the most mobile guy in the NFL before the injury, either.

Seattle's secondary is suspect, and one of their starting CBs, Andre Dyson, is battling through an ankle injury right now. Even with their impressive 50-sack season, this looks like a good matchup for Brunell and company, on balance.

Weather: The forecast for Qwest Field calls for a high of 46F with a low of 29F and a 60% chance for precipitation. This game is slated for 4:30 PM ET (1:30 PM PT), so the temperature should be nearer to the high end of the day's range at game time. If the precipitation comes down thickly around game time, footing and ball-handling will be more difficult issues than usual for both teams.

WAS Injuries: WR James Thrash (Questionable)
SEA Injuries: DL Joe Tafoya (Questionable), LB D.D. Lewis (Questionable), DB Marcus Trufant (Questionable)


Denver Broncos Passing Offense vs New England Patriots Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The last time these teams clashed (week 6 during the NFL regular season), Jake Plummer was superb, with 17/24 for 262 yards, 2 TDs and 0 interceptions. The Patriots are the visitors again during this round - Rod Smith owned the Patriots back then, with 6/123/1 receiving on the day.

Since the early clash, Denver has piled up a 13-3 record and claimed the crown in the highly competitive AFC West - Jake Plummer finished the regular season with 277/456 for 3366 yards passing, with 18 TD throws and only 7 interceptions. He tossed 47/80 for 618 yards, 2 TDs and 1 interception during the final 3 weeks of the regular season (including an 8/14 for 91 yards, 0 TD and 0 interceptions cameo vs. San Diego during week 17). Rod Smith led the team with 85/1105/6 receiving this year, followed by Ashley Lelie who notched 42/770/1 during the campaign. Smith rolls into this game with 17/239/1 to his credit during the final 3 games of the regular season (#16 WR in fantasy points per game during that span) - he's been a solid fantasy performer more often than not this season.

New England's injury-shattered secondary struggled for much of 2005, ranking 31st in the NFL vs. the pass, giving up an average of 231.4 passing yards per game, while ranking 23rd in the NFL with only 33 sacks over 16 games. However, during the closing 3 weeks of the season, New England turned up the heat, generating 13 sacks and 1 interception vs. 4 TDs allowed (rushing and receiving) - last week, they racked up 6 sacks (4.5 by DE Willie McGinest) and 1 interception vs. Jacksonville - their pass rushers are peaking in intensity just as the playoffs unfold. Denver gave up only 23 sacks all year long, though (3rd-least in the NFL) - they aren't very vulnerable to pass pressure.

New England has turned up the heat in recent weeks, but the Broncos hold home-field advantage, and they are good at pass-protection. On balance, we see this as a neutral matchup between a hot defense and a skilled offense.

Weather: The forecast for Mile High Stadium calls for a high of 59F with a low of 39F and a 0% chance for precipitation. The game will begin near sunset, local time (8:30 PM ET, 6:30 PM MT), so look for the temperatures to be nearer to the low end of the scale throughout the game. The wind can be a big factor at this time of year in Denver, although the conditions for this game don't appear to be worrisome at mid-week (the forecast calls for abundant sunshine all day on Saturday). The weather should be pleasant for this game, it appears.

DEN Injuries: TE Jeb Putzier (Probable), TE Stephen Alexander (Probable)
NE Injuries: DL Jarvis Green (Probable), LB Matt Chatham (Probable), DB Artrell Hawkins (Probable)


Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Offense at Indianapolis Colts Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Ben Roethlisberger had a tough time making much happen the last time he visited the RCA Dome, with 17/26 for 133 yards, 1 TD and 2 interceptions to his credit back on November 28th. Hines Ward handled the score (3/28/1) while Cedrick Wilson led the team in receiving yardage (3/44/0) - it wasn't an exciting day to own a Steeler receiver, as you can see.

Last week, Roethlisberger tossed 14/19 for 208 yards, 3 TDs and 0 interceptions - his injured thumb didn't cause problems for him in the wild card round. He entered the playoffs coming off a poor game vs. Detroit (7/16 for 135 yards, 0 TDs and 2 interceptions), but bounced back in the first round of the playoffs. The bottom line, as far as we can tell, is that as long as his thumb fracture doesn't get aggravated during the course of a game, he'll play like the efficient, accurate QB we've come to expect. But you should realize that the thumb injury on his throwing hand is a definite "X" factor. Cedrick Wilson (3/104/1) led the team in receiving last week, while Willie Parker (3/41/1) and Hines Ward (2/10/1) handled the other scoring tosses.

The Colts ranked #15 vs. the pass during regular season, allowing an average of 196.9 passing yards per game (with 17 TDs given up over 16 games in this phase). They were 5th in the NFL with 46 sacks all told (and they rested DL Robert Mathis, Montae Reagor, Dwight Freeney and Corey Simon during the season finale, which may have cost them the top spot in the league (50 sacks, held by Seattle). During the final 3 weeks of the season (when the team was mostly resting starting personnel), the Colts put up 6 sacks. Pittsburgh was mediocre at protecting their signal callers this year, tying for 15th in the NFL with 32 sacks allowed - there is a vulnerability here for the Colts to attack.

Roethlisberger is a warrior, and has fought through the thumb injury to be productive during the playoffs. Indy brings a decent but not excellent pass D to the table - this matchup looks pretty even from where we sit.

Weather: This game will be played in the RCA Dome - weather conditions won't be an issue for either team indoors.

PIT Injuries: QB Ben Roethlisberger (Probable), RB Jerome Bettis (Probable), WR Quincy Morgan (Out)
IND Injuries: DL Robert Mathis (Probable), DL Montae Reagor (Probable), DL Corey Simon (Probable), DL Josh Thomas (Probable), DL Dwight Freeney (Probable), LB Cato June (Probable), DB Bob Sanders (Probable), DB Dexter Reid (Probable)


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

Jake Delhomme suffered a miserable outing vs. Chicago the last time these teams met, during week 11, with 22/38 for 235 yards, 0 TDs and 2 interceptions when the dust settled. He was sacked 8 times, led by Adewale Ogunleye's 3 sacks (Alex Brown racked up 2 during the game) - Steve Smith, with 14/169/0 to his credit, was the only Panther worth starting during week 11.

However, to close the regular season Delhomme tossed 41/72 for 599 yards, 5 TDs and 2 interceptions (with 1/2/1 rushing) to rank 2nd among all fantasy QB's in points per game during the final 3 weeks of the regular season. He also tossed 15/22 for 140 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions in Giants' Stadium last week - hitting Steve Smith for 10/84/1 (out of 11 chances - Smith is grabbing everything that comes his way right now). 4 other playesr split the 5 receptions that weren't caught by Smith. Delhomme-to-Smith is the connection that gives defensive coordinators nightmares.

Chicago was surprisingly soft in this phase of the game to close the regular season, averaging 221.3 passing yards allowed per game over the final 3 weeks, with only 4 sacks (they did pull down 6 interceptions, though). They were #5 vs. opposing passers during the regular season, giving up only 179.5 passing yards per game on average, with 10 passing scores surrendered over 16 games. They were tied for 8th in the NFL with 41 sacks - it appears that the drop-off during the closing weeks was due to the Bears' commanding lead in the NFC North (11-5 vs. Minnesota's 9-7). The Bears were 7-1 in Soldier Field, by the way - they enjoy a big boost from the home crowd.

Delhomme and company hope that the offensive linemen do a better job against the Bear's front 7 this week - but even if they do hold off the Bears' pass-rushers to some extent, this matchup looks awfully tough for Carolina.

Weather: The forecast for Chicago's Soldier Field calls for a high of 40F and a low of 35F with a 20% chance for precipitation. This game is to start at 4:30 PM ET (3:30 PM CT) - temperatures should be mild for most of the contest, if a bit brisk. Wind can often be an issue in this venue at this time of the year - but the mild forecast of "partly cloudy weather" doesn't bode for a lot of wind during this particular game. If the forecast holds up, weather conditions won't be a huge deal for either squad.

CAR Injuries: RB Brad Hoover (Questionable), RB DeShaun Foster (Questionable), WR Ricky Proehl (Probable)
CHI Injuries: none


Seattle Seahawks Passing Offense vs Washington Redskins Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Way back in week 4, these teams battled to a 17-17 tie during regulation, and witnessed Washington cashing in during the OT period with a Nick Novak field goal (he's no longer with the team now that John Hall is healthy) - it was a hard-fought contest at Fed Ex Field. This week, the Seahawks will host the Redskins at Qwest Field and they are looking for payback.

Matt Hasselbeck tossed 26/38 for 242 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions during the game, hitting favorite targets Bobby Engram (9/106/0) and Darrell Jackson (7/55/1) for the bulk of the yardage and the score - it was the last game that Jackson would play in until week 15 due to a knee injury sustained during the game. During the closing weeks of the regular season, Hasselbeck tossed 44/56 for 529 yards, 5 TDs and 0 interceptions (including a cameo appearance vs. Green Bay in week 17) - that's what we call "efficiency" (78.6 completion percentage during that span) and "taking care of the ball". Seattle's offense is on a roll, and they expect #1 WR Darrell Jackson to be available for this contest - but even if he isn't, Bobby Engram (67/774/3 during regular season) and Joe Jurevicius (55/694/10) will present a credible threat to pass. Don't forget that TE Jerramy Stevens hauled in a TD per game from week 14-16 before resting in the season finale (he was the #4 fantasy TE during that span with 12/120/3 to his credit). Seattle can burn you in a lot of ways in this phase of the game.

Washington coughed up 25/38 for 198 yards, 0 TDs and 2 interceptions to Chris Simms last week (but Edell Shepherd dropped a sure TD in the end-zone) - they were opportunistic but they didn't shut down Tampa's young signal caller. Washington was #9 in total yards allowed per game this year (297.9 per contest), while ranking #10 vs. opposing passers (averaging 192.6 passing yards given up per game, with 15 passing scores allowed in 16 games). They stayed right on pace during the final 3 games of regular season, averaging 193 passing yards allowed per game, with 12 sacks and 6 interceptions during that span - last week, they added 3 sacks and 2 interceptions. This defense is very stubborn in the passing phase of the game.

Seattle has a high-octane passing offense, but the Redskins are on fire and it's largely due to their stellar defensive play. This is a tougher-than-usual assignment for Hasselbeck and company.

Weather: The forecast for Qwest Field calls for a high of 46F with a low of 29F and a 60% chance for precipitation. This game is slated for 4:30 PM ET (1:30 PM PT), so the temperature should be nearer to the high end of the day's range at game time. If the precipitation comes down thickly around game time, footing and ball-handling will be more difficult issues than usual for both teams.

SEA Injuries: none
WAS Injuries: DL Cornelius Griffin (Probable), DB Shawn Springs (Probable)


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

Kyle Orton tossed 15/26 for 136 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception when these teams clashed during week 11 - of course, Rex Grossman has assumed the starting job in Chicago, so Orton's experiences of Carolina are largely moot at this point.

Grossman's numbers since ascending to the top spot again: 9/16 for 93 yards, 0 TDs and 1 interception in relief of Orton week 15; 11/23 for 166 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception vs. Green Bay. He sat out the season finale vs. Minnesota (he blew out his knee on that Metrodome turf back in '04). Since we don't have a lot of tape, data or anything else on Grossman '05-'06, here's what we will say: Eli Manning (first time starter in playoffs: 10/18 for 113 yards, 0 TDs and 3 interceptions vs. the Panthers); Byron Leftwich (first-time starter in the playoffs: 18/31 for 179 yards, 0 TDs and 1 interception, benched); Chris Simms (first time starter in the playoffs: 25/38 for 198 yards, 0 TDs and 2 interceptions) - we'll leave off Carson Palmer's painful experience. You see the point - the learning curve is tough for young guys who've been playing for several games (only part of the year, in Simms' and Leftwich's case) - with only 1 1/2 games of regular season action under Grossman's belt this year, a playoff game is a tall order, folks.

Carolina crushed New York last week, holding Eli Manning to the numbers noted above and relegating Plaxico Burress to 0/0/0. The Panthers smacked down the most complete domination of another team in the playoffs that we can remember over the past 2 decades. They averaged 182.6 net passing yards allowed per game during the final 3 weeks of the regular season, and threw down 11 sacks with 6 interceptions and 6 fumble recoveries, vs. 5 TDs allowed in the final 3 weeks. They were #9 vs. the pass over last season, averaging 191.1 passing yards given up per game, and handed over 15 thrown TDs in 16 games. These guys are peaking right now, folks.

This is a bad matchup for the Bears - only Muhsin Muhammad's familiarity with the Panthers' defenders might help Grossman out of this deep hole.

Weather: The forecast for Chicago's Soldier Field calls for a high of 40F and a low of 35F with a 20% chance for precipitation. This game is to start at 4:30 PM ET (3:30 PM CT) - temperatures should be mild for most of the contest, if a bit brisk. Wind can often be an issue in this venue at this time of the year - but the mild forecast of "partly cloudy weather" doesn't bode for a lot of wind during this particular game. If the forecast holds up, weather conditions won't be a huge deal for either squad.

CHI Injuries: RB Bryan Johnson (Questionable)
CAR Injuries: LB Brandon Short (Questionable)




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