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Week 5 Passing Matchups

[ARI] [ATL] [BAL] [BUF] [CAR] [CHI] [CIN] [CLE] [DAL] [DEN] [DET] [GB] [HOU] [IND] [JAX] [MIA] [NE] [NO] [NYJ] [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.


Indianapolis Colts Passing Offense at San Francisco 49ers Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

Peyton Manning owners, rejoice! The defense that allowed 32/46 for 385 yards, 2 TDs and 0 interceptions to Josh McCown and the Cardinals last week lines up across from Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and company. Start your Colts and smile, you lucky Indianapolis owners.

San Francisco - last in passing TDs allowed so far this year (11). Last in average passing yards allowed per game (368.2). They are horrible, and this week they figure to have an ineffective offense going 3-and-out more often than not with rookie Alex Smith appearing in his first NFL start. Frankly, this matchup is extremely ugly for the 49ers.

The only question is how long the Colts will keep Manning on the field before calling in Jim Sorgi.

Weather: The forecast for Monster calls for a high of 67F and a low of 56F with a 20% chance of rain. It should be a great day to play a game of football.

IND Injuries: RB Dominic Rhodes (Questionable), RB James Mungro (Doubtful), TE Ben Utecht (Doubtful)
SF Injuries: LB Julian Peterson (Questionable), DB Derrick Johnson (Questionable), DB Ahmed Plummer (Out)


Arizona Cardinals Passing Offense vs Carolina Panthers Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Josh McCown showed us what he could do against the league's worst pass defense last week (32/46 for 385 yards, 2 TDs and 0 interceptions). Anquan Boldin (8/116/1), Larry Fitzgerald (7/102/1), Marcel Shipp (5/52/0) and Bryant Johnson (4/50/0) all broke through the 50 yards-receiving barrier during McCown's first start of the season. It was a good night to own Boldin or Fitzgerald, and the 52 receiving yards helped out Shipp owners, too.

Now, we'll get to see what McCown and company can do against a below average pass defense. Carolina allows an average of 226 passing yards per game (23rd in the NFL) and has coughed up 7 passing scores so far (in the middle of the NFL pack). Brett Favre stormed to 28/47 for 303 yards, 4 TDs and 1 interception against these guys Monday Night, much of it during the final quarter of play. The Panthers just haven't controlled the secondary very effectively this year. They are also not generating much in the way of sacks, with a mere 4 sacks to their credit so far during 2005.

McCown has a hot hand, and a stable of talented wide-outs - with home field advantage he has a good shot at a decent game vs. Carolina's below average secondary.

Weather: The weatherman says that Sun Devil Stadium will see a high of 96F with a low of 71F and a 30% chance of rain. As this stadium does double-duty (Sun Devils' and Cardinals' home stadium), the turf is more worn than is usual in other venues - if the rain comes down heavily during the game, footing and ball-handling could be issues for both teams.

ARI Injuries: QB Kurt Warner (Out), RB Harold Morrow (Probable), RB James Jackson (Questionable), WR Reggie Swinton (Probable), TE Teyo Johnson (Probable)
CAR Injuries: DL Kindal Moorehead (Questionable), DL Kemp Rasmussen (Questionable), LB Adam Seward (Questionable), DB Mike Minter (Probable), DB Chris Gamble (Questionable)


New Orleans Saints Passing Offense at Green Bay Packers Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Aaron Brooks scored a rushing TD last week (7/33/1) to go with his 15/26 for 172 yards, 0 TDs and 0 interceptions passing. Joe Horn was sidelined by his sore hamstring last week (he tried to go but wasn't able to get past warmups) -allowing Donte Stallworth a chance to shine with 8/129/0 on 11 targets. TE Ernie Conwell cooled off last week, with only 3 targets for 1/5/0. The Saints rank 13th in the NFL averaging 222 passing yards per game so far during 2005, and Brooks is the 14th fantasy QB to date with 72/127 for 938 yards, 2 TDs and 5 interceptions passing and 16/104/1 rushing. Brooks needs to cut down on the turnovers and start pushing the ball into the end-zone if he is to climb into the top ten among fantasy signal callers.

Jake Delhomme notched 17/24 for 206 yards, 2 TDs and 0 interceptions against the Packers on Monday night. Green Bay has been allowing quite a bit of scoring to opposing QBs, surrendering 9 passing scores to date (3rd most in the NFL) and managing only 1 interception as a team over 4 games. They are tied for 24th in the NFL with 6 QB sacks to their credit - not much is going right for the Packers' pass defense. They aren't pressuring opposing passers enough, they aren't creating turnovers, and they aren't blanketing opposing receivers. Bottom line - the Packers field a sorry pass defense this season.

Brooks has some quality weapons at his disposal (especially if Horn can return to the field this week), but he's had some trouble finding them in the end-zone so far - meanwhile, the Packers don't do much right when it comes to defending against the pass. The Saints enjoy an edge in this matchup, but if Horn can't go come game time this matchup becomes fairly even.

Weather: Lambeau Field expects a high of 55F with a low of 34F and a 20% chance of precipitation. It should be a nice, cool afternoon to play some football.

NO Injuries: RB Aaron Stecker (Questionable), WR Az-zahir Hakim (Questionable), WR Joe Horn (Questionable), TE Shad Meier (Questionable)
GB Injuries: DL Aaron Kampman (Probable), LB Nail Diggs (Out), DB Al Harris (Probable), DB Earl Little (Questionable)


Philadelphia Eagles Passing Offense at Dallas Cowboys Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Donovan McNabb has been an outstanding fantasy starter over the past 3 weeks, with three 300+ yard outings, including last week's 33/48 for 369 yards, 3 TDs and 1 interception effort vs. Kansas City. The Eagles average 356.5 net passing yards per game this year, with 11 thrown TDs to McNabb's credit. Both numbers are tops in the league. Terrell Owens is the top ranked fantasy WR around, with 32/506/4 this year on 59 targets (he had 20 targets for 11/171/1 last week) - RB Brian Westbrook and TE L.J. Smith are 28 targets behind Owens as the 2nd most valuable receivers on the squad with 31 targets for 22/268/3 for Westbrook and 31 for 26/265/2 for Smith. The Eagles are firing on all cylinders in the passing game, folks.

Dallas' once-feared secondary has become sub-par during 2005 - they rank 22nd in the land allowing 225 passing yards per game this year, and have given away 7 passing scores in 4 games. Last week, Kerry Collins threw for 13/23 for 218 yards (right on pace for this secondary) but didn't manage to toss a score (0 TDs, 0 interceptions). The Cowboys are tied for 5th in the league with 12 QB sacks, so you can't say that the big guys up front aren't doing their part. The secondary just isn't covering the opposing receivers very well so far during 2005.

The Eagles sport the best pass attack in the NFL right now, while the Cowboys are sub-par in this department. Advantage, Philadelphia.

Weather: The forecast for Texas Stadium calls for a high of 78F with a low of 53F and a 20% chance or rain. It should be a great day to play a football game.

PHI Injuries: QB Donovan McNabb (Probable), WR Terrell Owens (Probable)
DAL Injuries: none


Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Offense at San Diego Chargers Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Ben Roethlisberger hit 12/28 for 216 yards, 2 TDs and 0 interceptions vs. the Patriots during their week 3 showdown. He's been consistently right around that neighborhood all season, with 35/60 for 688 yards, 6 TDs and 0 interceptions to his credit after 3 games (he's the 7th ranked fantasy QB in points per game to date). He may not put the ball up as much as other QBs, but when he does throw Hines Ward (19 targets for 12/219/4) and Antwaan Randle El (14 targets for 7/220/1, a whopping 31.4 yards per catch) make good things happen. As a team, the Steelers are the 14th ranked passing attack in the NFL averaging 220.3 yards per game (with 6 scores via passing so far).

San Diego fields the 26th ranked pass defense in the land this year, averaging 248.5 yards allowed per contest (6 passing scores surrendered to date). They are tied for 10th in the league with 10 sacks to their credit (Pittsburgh has given up a mere 5 sacks to date, though, tied for 4th in the NFL). Last week, the Chargers disrupted the Patriots' rhythm, holding Tom Brady and Matt Cassel to 21/36 for 239 yards, 1 TD and 2 interceptions - the Chargers' secondary is nothing special, but they did hold up fairly well last week.

Roethlisberger and company don't put the ball in the air very often, but he usually enjoys solid results when the ball is in the hands of Hines Ward or Antwaan Randle-El. San Diego plays mediocre-to-sub-par pass defense from week to week - the edge flows to Pittsburgh in this matchup.

Weather: The forecast for Qualcomm Stadium calls for a high of 79F with a low of 62F (this game is to be played Monday night, so temperatures will be nearer the low end of the spectrum), with a 20% chance for rain. The weather should be typical of beautiful Southern California on Monday night, meaning perfect conditions for a football game.

PIT Injuries: RB Duce Staley (Probable), RB Jerome Bettis (Probable), WR Sean Morey (Probable), WR Hines Ward (Questionable)
SD Injuries: LB Steve Foley (Questionable), DB Hanik Milligan (Questionable), DB Bhawoh Jue (Questionable)


Seattle Seahawks Passing Offense at St. Louis Rams Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Seattle has the 8th-ranked pass attack at this point in the year, averaging 252.2 passing yards per game (5 TDs thrown so far this year). Matt Hasselbeck tossed 26/38 for 242 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions last week and ranks 11th among all fantasy QBs in fantasy points per game after 4 weeks with 87/137 for 1011 yards, 5 TDs and 3 interceptions - he's playing consistently solid football.

One concern for the Seahawks is the status of WR Bobby Engram, who played most of the game last week with cracked ribs. He's an essential part of what they are doing this year, with 34 targets for 27/316/0 to date (9 targets for 9/106/0 last week), so if he can't play, it would be a blow to the team. He's been very consistent with 9, 8, 8, and 9 targets during the first 4 games. Darrell Jackson remains the headliner, with 42 targets for 29/376/2 to date (14th best fantasy WR this so far). As of mid-week, it looks like Engram is very questionable to play (his backup Joe Jurevicius would be likely to start in the #2 role if Engram can't go). Darrell Jackson has a bone bruise in his right knee that flared up on Monday and swelling in the joint has increased early in the week. Right now, he's doubtful to play and he will be held out of practice - coach Holmgren said "With rest, we think it will get better. But no one can tell me how long." Peter Warrick would likely team with Jurevicius as a starter if Jackson is also out on Sunday. Stay tuned to the late-week injury reports to see if Jackson is upgraded later in the week.

St. Louis was shredded by Eli Manning and company last week to the tune of 19/35 for 296 yards, 4 TDs and 0 interceptions. They field the league's 27th ranked pass defense allowing an average of 255 passing yards per game (8 TDs given up to date). They are generating a decent pass rush so far, with 10 QB sacks in 4 games (tied for 10th in the NFL) - Seattle hasn't been overly susceptible to pass pressure, though, ranking 7th (tie) in the NFL with only 6 sacks surrendered to date. The Rams are fairly giving to their opponents this year so far.

Hasselbeck has a polished corps of veteran receivers to throw at, while the Rams are struggling at defending the pass right now. Advantage, Seattle.

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

SEA Injuries: WR Bobby Engram (Doubtful), WR Darrell Jackson (Doubtful)
STL Injuries: LB Dexter Coakley (Probable), DB Chris Johnson (Probable)


Tennessee Titans Passing Offense at Houston Texans Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Titan's pass game is in the middle of the NFL pack, ranking 16th in the league averaging 212.8 net passing yards per game, with 5 TDs tossed to date. McNair threw 28/37 for 220 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception last week, linking up with 3 TEs for the majority of receptions (7/42/0 for Erron Kinney, who leads the TE cadre with 23 targets for 21/177/0 receiving this year; Bo Scaife, who hauled in 7/39/1 last week, and Ben Troupe snagged 4/34/0). 4 other players had 2 receptions each, including WRs Brandon Jones (2/22/0) and Drew Bennett (2/20/0).

Houston surrendered 25/34 for 276 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions to Carson Palmer and company last week, slightly more than their 25th ranked average of 230 passing yards per game. They have given up only 4 passing scores this season, but the Texans have failed to generate a single interception so far. They are tied for 29th in the NFL with a paltry 4 sacks to their credit as a team. This isn't a feared secondary, folks.

The Titans are developing a lot of young receivers this year, and have a modest attack as a result. Houston does not field an intimidating pass defense, though - we like the veteran McNair against this soft and not-very-aggressive secondary.

Weather: The forecast for Reliant Stadium calls for a high of 82F with a low of 56F and a 20% chance for precipitation. Both teams will need to stay well-hydrated if the temperatures are near the high at kickoff, or cramping could become an issue.

TEN Injuries: WR Drew Bennett (Questionable), WR Courtney Roby (Questionable), TE Erron Kinney (Questionable), TE Ben Troupe (Questionable)
HOU Injuries: DL Gary Walker (Out), LB Jason Babin (Out), DB Phillip Buchanon (Probable)


Atlanta Falcons Passing Offense vs New England Patriots Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Atlanta rushing attack is so lethal that the Falcons don't need to pass the ball very much. As a result, they rank 30th in the NFL averaging 119.2 passing yards per game at the 1/4 point of the season, with 4 passing scores in 4 games. Vick is expected to play despite tweaking his knee last week - the injury has been evaluated and found to be minor as of mid-week. He has hit 44/77 for 495 yards, 4 TDs and 2 interceptions so far this season - the highest ranked Falcon receiver at his position is TE Alge Crumpler, with 13/158/1 to date (10th among all fantasy TEs so far). The most targeted Falcon WR is Brian Finneran, with 19 targets for 14/135/1; Michael Jenkins is second with 16 targets for 9/162/1.

The Patriots' injury-ravaged secondary is teetering on the brink of collapse. They coughed up 19/24 for 248 yards, 2 TDs and 0 interceptions to Drew Brees and company last week. They are tied for 19th in the league with only 7 sacks, and allow an average of 207.5 passing yards per game (17th in the NFL), with 7 passing scores given up and only 1 interception generated through 4 games. The Patriots don't scare opposing passers this year. They desperately need Randall Gay and Tyrone Poole to get back in the game - keep an eye on their injury status as the week progresses.

While the Falcons don't figure to throw the ball too much in this game, when they do call a pass play Vick should enjoy good results.

Weather: Conditions inside the Georgia Dome's air conditioning should be perfect during the game.

ATL Injuries: QB Michael Vick (Probable)
NE Injuries: DL Marquise Hill (Questionable), DL Richard Seymour (Questionable), LB Tully Banta-Cain (Questionable), LB Matt Chatham (Questionable), DB Chad Scott (Questionable), DB Duane Starks (Questionable), DB James Sanders (Questionable), DB Randall Gay (Questionable), DB Tyrone Poole (Questionable)


Buffalo Bills Passing Offense vs Miami Dolphins Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Buffalo's passing game is next-to-last in the NFL averaging 91.8 net passing yards per game, with only 1 passing score over 4 games this season. They are 25th in the league with 11 sacks surrendered so far. Getting the picture? To say the Bill's passing game is very limited right now would be an understatement. Kelly Holcomb gets the start this week over a struggling J.P. Losman. Losman is 32nd at his position after 4 games with 46/95 for 433 yards, 1 TD and 2 interceptions (19/102/0 rushing). Needless to say, the Bills receivers are very unexciting in fantasy terms right now (Josh Reed, at #78 among all fantasy WRs, actually leads the team with 10/115/0 to his credit - Moulds and Evans are 97th and 88th, respectively). Stay far away from this attack, folks. Losman has gotten the early hook for Kelly Holcomb the last two weeks (5/9 for 27 yards, 0 TDs and 0 interceptions hasn't helped the Bill's cause much, though). Miami allowed 19/35 for 285 yards, 3 TDs and 1 interception to the Panthers before their bye week - not exactly an outstanding performance by the secondary. They are currently 19th in the NFL allowing an average of 217.7 passing yards per game, with 6 passing scores given up in 3 games. The Dolphins are still a work in progress as far as pass defense is concerned.

Two weak units face off in this game - we see this one fairly even in this divisional rivalry.

Weather: The forecast for Ralph Wilson Stadium calls for a high of 56F with a low of 39F and a 30% chance for rain. If the precipitation falls heavily during the game, footing and ball-handling could become issues for both teams.

BUF Injuries: WR Roscoe Parrish (Doubtful), TE Tim Euhus (Questionable)
MIA Injuries: LB Junior Seau (Questionable)


Carolina Panthers Passing Offense at Arizona Cardinals Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Jake Delhomme played well against the Packers last week, with 17/24 for 206 yards, 2 TDs and 0 interceptions to his credit on a night when Steve Smith was uncharacteristically quiet (2/12/0). Keary Colbert led the wide receivers with 4/52/0, while TEs Michael Gaines (2/42/1) and Kris Mangum (2/4/1) hauled in the TDs. Right now, Delhomme is the 19th ranked fantasy QB in the land with 66/116 for 857 yards, 6 TDs and 4 interceptions through 4 games. Steve Smith is the 6th ranked fantasy WR in points per game despite the bad game last week. The Panthers average 197.2 passing yards per game (22nd in the league) with 6 passing scores to their credit so far.

Arizona ranks 8th in the NFL allowing an average of 186 passing yards per game, with only 3 passing scores surrendered to date. However, they lost CB Antrel Rolle for the season last week, and his replacement David Macklin was knocked out of the game in Mexico City - the secondary is starting to get a little thin in Arizona. The lame 49ers could only muster 17/31 for 160 yards, 0 TDs and 1 interception during their chances on Sunday Night.

The Panthers bring a measured and efficient (but not particularly explosive) passing game to the table, while Arizona plays solidly vs. the pass most weeks - with home-field advantage at the defense's back to help make up for their injury woes, we call this one even.

Weather: The weatherman says that Sun Devil Stadium will see a high of 96F with a low of 71F and a 30% chance of rain. As this stadium does double-duty (Sun Devils' and Cardinals' home stadium), the turf is more worn than is usual in other venues - if the rain comes down heavily during the game, footing and ball-handling could be issues for both teams.

CAR Injuries: RB Stephen Davis (Probable), RB Rod Smart (Questionable)
ARI Injuries: LB Gerald Hayes (Out), DB David Macklin (Questionable), DB Raymond Walls (Questionable), DB Antrel Rolle (Out)


Chicago Bears Passing Offense at Cleveland Browns Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Kyle Orton is a rookie QB - he is on the steep part of the NFL learning curve right now, folks. His season totals of 46/88 for 440 yards passing, 1 TD and 6 interceptions tells you all you need to know about this passing attack (Orton is 34th among all fantasy QBs in points per game at this point, top WR Muhsin Muhammad is 28th at his position with 16/198/1 receiving on 33 targets - he's the one Bears receiver worth considering as a starter.) At least the offensive line is giving Orton solid pass protection (only 5 sacks surrendered to date, tied for 4th in the NFL).

Cleveland ranks 30th in the NFL allowing an average of 278.7 passing yards per game, with 5 TDs allowed to date. They went into the bye week off a strong performance vs. Indianapolis, when they held Peyton Manning scoreless (19/23 for 228 yards, 0 TDs and 1 interception) - the Browns have their defense moving in the right direction, anyway.

Orton is struggling to find his bearings, while the Browns are striving to climb out of the NFL cellar in this department. Home field advantage flows to the Browns. It's tough to know which Browns team will show up: The one that ranks 30th in the league for passing yards or the one that held Manning down. We're calling it a neutral matchup.

Weather: Cleveland Browns Stadium expects a high of 56F with a low of 45F and a 30% chance for rain. If there is a lot of rain around or during game-time, footing and ball-handling could be issues for both teams.

CHI Injuries: QB Rex Grossman (Out), TE Desmond Clark (Probable)
CLE Injuries: DL Orpheus Roye (Questionable), LB Matt Stewart (Questionable)


Houston Texans Passing Offense vs Tennessee Titans Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

David Carr showed signs of life last week, with 17/26 for 174 for 1 TD and 0 interceptions. That's the good news. The bad news is that the TD went to fantasy nobody FB Moran Norris (1/4/1), and none of his receivers caught enough passes to break 100 yards receiving (Jabar Gaffney led the charge with 6/88/0). Andre Johnson remains ridiculously underutilized with 3/38/0 last week, and only 20 targets for 10/76/0 receiving in 3 games. We'd stay far away from this squad until Carr starts hitting his wide receivers with something approaching decent numbers.

The Titans rank 24th in the NFL this season allowing 227.2 passing yards per game, and they are generous in the red-zone, coughing up 10 passing scores to date (2nd most in the NFL). Peyton Manning and company sliced them up for 20/27 for 264 yards, 4 TDs and 0 interceptions last week. About the only bright spot for the Titan's pass defense is their pass rush, which has generated 10 sacks to date (10th in the NFL), led by the rejuvenated Kyle Vanden Bosch (5 sacks to his credit). The Texans are extremely vulnerable to the pass rush, with a whopping 20 sacks given up in 3 games (including 7 to Cincinnati last Sunday).

The Titans have a strength (pass rush) to play off against a glaring weakness of the Texans' offensive line (pass protection). Carr hasn't done much of anything thus far but this might be a chance for him to break out of his funk. We're calling this one pretty even.

Weather: The forecast for Reliant Stadium calls for a high of 82F with a low of 56F and a 20% chance for precipitation. Both teams will need to stay well-hydrated if the temperatures are near the high at kickoff, or cramping could become an issue.

HOU Injuries: TE Matt Murphy (Probable)
TEN Injuries: DL Albert Haynesworth (Questionable), DL Travis Laboy (Questionable), DB Vincent Fuller (Out)


San Diego Chargers Passing Offense vs Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Brees hit 19/24 for 248 yards, 2 TDs and 0 interceptions vs. New England last week - he's been playing very effective football in recent weeks, and currently ranks 21st among all fantasy signal callers in fantasy points per game, with 71/104 for 823 yards, 6 TDs and 3 interceptions so far. TE Antonio Gates is the top fantasy TE in the land with 18/280/1 in 3 games; WR Keenan McCardell has been a scoring machine with 27 targets for 18/268/5 over 4 games (he's the 9th ranked fantasy WR in the NFL after 1/4 of the season). If you have Gates or McCardell, they are a definite starter in almost any conceivable situation, while Brees is a quality back-up/bye week stand-in heading into the middle of the season.

Pittsburgh coughed up 31/41 for 372 yards, 0 TDs and 1 interception to Tom Brady and company during their week 3 showdown. They field the league's 20th ranked pass defense in the land after 3 games, averaging 220 passing yards allowed per game - but they have only surrendered 2 passing scores so far. It's not easy to ring up 6 pointers vs. the Steelers. They are tied for 3rd in the NFL with 14 sacks in only 3 contests - Pittsburgh brings a very intense pass rush to the table week in and week out. San Diego is tied for 7th in the NFL allowing only 6 sacks to date, though - their OL is doing a good job of pass-blocking (and run-blocking, too).

Pittsburgh deploys an attacking style of pass defense that is tough to score on, while the Chargers bring a lot of weapons and experience to the dance - that sounds about even to us.

Weather: The forecast for Qualcomm Stadium calls for a high of 79F with a low of 62F (this game is to be played Monday night, so temperatures will be nearer the low end of the spectrum), with a 20% chance for rain. The weather should be typical of beautiful Southern California on Monday night, meaning perfect conditions for a football game.

SD Injuries: RB Darren Sproles (Questionable), TE Ryan Krause (Questionable)
PIT Injuries: LB James Farrior (Probable), LB Joey Porter (Questionable), LB Clark Haggans (Out), DB Deshea Townsend (Probable), DB Ricardo Colclough (Probable), DB Ike Taylor (Questionable)


Tampa Bay Buccaneers Passing Offense at New York Jets Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Brian Griese threw for 22/39 for 302 yards, 2 TDs and 3 interceptions last week, ranking 7th among all fantasy QBs during week 4. He's the 24th ranked fantasy QB this season, with 73/116 for 790 yards, 6 TDs and 6 interceptions so far - last week was his biggest game of the year. Michael Clayton has seen 26 targets for 17/196/0 so far this year (2/11/0 last week); Galloway leads the corps with 30 targets for 17/316/3, ranking 13th among all fantasy WRs so far. The Buc's passing offense ranks 24th in the league averaging 185.5 passing yards per game (with 6 total TDs thrown to date, all tossed by Griese).

The Jets rank 4th in the NFL vs. the pass, allowing an average of 168.2 passing yards per game, with 3 scores given away to date. However, don't be too impressed - their rush D is so soft that teams are electing to emphasize the run over the pass when facing the Jets. Be that as it may, in fantasy terms the result is this: most QBs aren't having big days when they face off against the Jets.

Griese isn't the flashiest QB in the league, and the Buccaneers won't need to rely on his arm very much this week. We think this matchup looks pretty even from where we sit.

Weather: The forecast for Giants' stadium calls for a high of 61F with a low of 48F and a 60% chance for rain. If the precipitation falls heavily during the game, footing and ball-handling will likely become issues for both teams (this field sees double duty as the home field of both New York teams - the turf is more worn than other NFL stadiums as a result).

TB Injuries: RB Cadillac Williams (Questionable), WR Michael Clayton (Probable)
NYJ Injuries: LB Eric Barton (Questionable)


Baltimore Ravens Passing Offense at Detroit Lions Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Last week we saw Anthony Wright pass for 15/21 for 144 yards, 0 TDs and 1 interception, with 5/54/0 going to top receiver Derrick Mason. Mason is the 25th ranked fantasy WR this year, with 21/213/1 so far - TE Todd Heap is 16th at his position with 13/133/0 to date. There aren't many fantasy points to go around when your current QB has thrown 59/92 for 570 yards, 2 TDs and 4 interceptions over 2 1/2 games of action (Wright is 31st among all fantasy QBs this year so far). The Ravens rank 17th in the league averaging 212 passing yards per game as a team, but are next-to-last with only 2 passing scores this season.

22/39 for 302 yards, 2 TDs and 3 interceptions was the book on Brian Griese last week against the Lions' secondary. It was an atypically poor outing for the squad, which averages 201 passing yards allowed per game so far during 2005 (3 scores given up). The loss of starting CB Fernando Bryant last week contributed to the melt-down - it's fair to say the Lions are not playing at the top of their game right now.

The Ravens field an anemic pass attack, while the Lions are usually above-average. Advantage, Detroit.

Weather: This game will be played at Ford Field - inside the dome, weather won't be a factor.

BAL Injuries: QB Kyle Boller (Out), RB Alan Ricard (Questionable), TE Todd Heap (Probable)
DET Injuries: DL Cory Redding (Probable), DL James Hall (Questionable), LB Alex Lewis (Questionable), DB Andre' Goodman (Questionable), DB Keith Smith (Questionable), DB Vernon Fox (Questionable)


Cincinnati Bengals Passing Offense at Jacksonville Jaguars Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Carson Palmer is at the helm of the league's 7th ranked passing attack, averaging 260.8 yards per game. He's tossed 9 TDs so far, tying the Bengals for 2nd in the league in passing scores to date. With quality targets like Chad Johnson (36 targets for 26/374/3, 8 for 7/67/0 last week) and T.J. Houshmandzadeh (30 for 20/248/1, 10 targets for 8/105/0 last week), it's hard to go wrong. On an "off" week, Palmer connected for a total of 25/34 for 276 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions. He's really hot. Houshmandzadeh has a bruised hand that could be troublesome this week - watch how he does as far as practicing/injury status as Thursday and Friday roll around.

The Jaguars field a tough secondary that ranks 2nd in the NFL allowing an average of 136 net passing yards per game (4 TDs given up and 5 interceptions generated so far this season). They are tied for 10th in the league with 10 sacks to their credit to date (Cincy is tied for 4th with only 5 allowed this year, though). Last week, Jake Plummer threw for 19/26 for 136 yards, 2 TDs and 0 interceptions vs. Jacksonville - they usually don't give up that many passing scores, but the yardage was dead on pace. The Jaguars do a good job from front to back in this phase of the game.

Palmer and company make up one of the league's elite passing attacks, while the Jaguars sport a top-tier pass defense. Even with a strong passing game, this is a tough matchup for the Bengals.

Weather: Alltel Stadium should see temperatures ranging from a high of 84F to a low of 72F on Sunday, with a 60% chance of rain. If the rain falls heavily at game time, footing and ball-handling could be issues for both teams.

CIN Injuries: RB Rudi Johnson (Probable), WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (Questionable)
JAX Injuries: DL John Henderson (Probable), DL Marcus Stroud (Probable)


Cleveland Browns Passing Offense vs Chicago Bears Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Coming into their 4th game of the season, Trent Dilfer and company rank 5th in the NFL in passing yards per game (267.3 on average), with 4 scores in 3 games. Dilfer is 9th in fantasy points per game at his position, with 69/104 for 822 yards, 4 TDs and 2 interceptions. Antonio Bryant leads the WR corps with 25 targets for 15/172/0 receiving, Braylon Edwards has seen 16 passes for 9/166/1 to date. TE Steve Heiden has 15/11 for 148 yards and 2 TDs (he ranks 6th among all fantasy TEs in points per game).

The Bears got shredded by Carson Palmer and company for 3 passing scores before they went on bye (16/23 for 169 yards, 3 TDs and 0 interceptions) - they didn't go out on a high note. Although they still are a top 5 pass defense so far during 2005, averaging only 175 yards allowed per game (4 scores to date). They have managed 7 sacks over 3 games (Cleveland has only given up 4 sacks, though, 3rd-best in the league). On balance, the Bears have a very good pass D that had an off week vs. Cincinnati in the scoring department.

Two solid squads face off in this game - it looks to be a tough matchup for the Browns.

Weather: Cleveland Browns Stadium expects a high of 56F with a low of 45F and a 30% chance for rain. If there is a lot of rain around or during game-time, footing and ball-handling could be issues for both teams.

CLE Injuries: WR Josh Cribbs (Questionable)
CHI Injuries: LB Joe Odom (Out), DB Mike Brown (Probable), DB Jerry Azumah (Probable)


Dallas Cowboys Passing Offense vs Philadelphia Eagles Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Dallas' passing offense ranks 9th in the NFL after 4 games, averaging 247 passing yards per game (7 scores tossed to date). Drew Bledsoe is the 4th ranked fantasy QB so far, with 74/124 for 1062 yards, 7 TDs and 3 interceptions to his credit (with 10/24/1 rushing). He has off pace last week, though, tossing 11/26 for 212 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception vs. Oakland. Jason Whitten snagged 5/49/0, while Terry Glenn managed 2/64/0 and Patrick Crayton made a nice play with 1/63/1 - there were less fantasy points to spread around amongst the Dallas receivers last week than we've become accustomed to early in 2005.

Philadelphia's pass defense is ranked 10th in the NFL, allowing an average of 189 yards per game, with 4 TDs surrendered in 4 games (and 6 interceptions generated by the secondary). They are usually hard-nosed vs. the pass - last week Trent Green and company mustered 19/30 for 221 yards, 2 TDs and 2 interceptions against this secondary. Brian Dawkins is their top DB, as usual, with 18 tackles, 1 assist, 3 sacks 1 interception, 1 forced fumble and 7 passes defensed - he's been busy.

Two solid squads clash in this divisional rivalry - we think the Cowboys have a tough matchup here.

Weather: The forecast for Texas Stadium calls for a high of 78F with a low of 53F and a 20% chance or rain. It should be a great day to play a football game.

DAL Injuries: none
PHI Injuries: DL Mike Patterson (Probable), DL Hollis Thomas (Probable), DL Trent Cole (Questionable), DL Darwin Walker (Doubtful), LB Jeremiah Trotter (Questionable), DB Sean Considine (Probable), DB Roderick Hood (Probable), DB Brian Dawkins (Questionable)


Denver Broncos Passing Offense vs Washington Redskins Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Broncos average 182.5 passing yards per game (25th in the NFL) and have 4 passing scores to their credit this season. Jake Plummer has been up and down in fantasy terms so far - last week he didn't throw for many yards (19/26 for 136), but he hit 2 TDs with 0 interceptions - the scores went to former TE/current OT Dwayne Carswell (2/3/2) on two tackle-eligible plays. Rod Smith led the receiving corps with 4/33/0 last week. Currently, Plummer ranks as the 22nd fantasy QB in the land, with 77/129 for 787 yards passing, 4 TDs and 3 interceptions over 4 games.

Washington ranks 16th in the NFL averaging 207 passing yards allowed per game, but they have only allowed 1 passing score to date. It's not easy to find the end-zone vs. Washington whether you are running or passing the ball. The Seahawks managed 26/38 for 242 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions last week - Washington comes into this game slightly off their usual pace. There is one area that the Redskins are failing to excel in - they have only 4 sacks so far this season, ranking 29th in the NFL in this category.

Washington is very tough in this phase of the game, while the Broncos range from mediocre-to-poor depending on the week and whether Plummer is hot or cold - advantage Washington.

Weather: Mile High Stadium expects a high of 75F with a low of 49F and a 20% chance of rain on Sunday. That sounds like ideal football weather to us.

DEN Injuries: WR Charlie Adams (Probable), WR Nate Jackson (Probable), TE Stephen Alexander (Probable)
WAS Injuries: LB Chris Clemons (Probable), DB Pierson Prioleau (Probable), DB Sean Taylor (Probable), DB Walt Harris (Questionable)


Detroit Lions Passing Offense vs Baltimore Ravens Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Joey Harrington was inconsistent again last week, looking pretty bad for most of the game but then engineering a strong drive at the end of the contest with Tampa. And then falling short at the end of that drive. He ended the day with 15/27 for 137 yards, 0 TDs and 0 interceptions (but had a TD to Marcus Pollard overturned on review - it was a very close call). There are still more questions than answers about Harrington - one thing to note if you are desperate for WR help is that Kevin Johnson is emerging as a consistent target for Harrington (14 targets in the last two games with 5 last week for 2/15/0) -with Charles Rogers on suspension, Johnson may see more action. Mike Williams will likely see more work as well. Roy Williams led the charge last week with 3/54/0 on 6 targets.

The Ravens dumped Brooks Bollinger (14/28 for 149 yards, 0 TDs and 0 interceptions) for 5 sacks last week, climbing out of the NFL cellar in that category (they now rank 24th in the league with 6 sacks to date). They are 11th in the NFL with an average of 190.3 passing yards surrendered per contest (3 scores allowed to date). Overall, this is a very hard-nosed unit.

Harrington lost the services of Charles Rogers this week to a 4 week league suspension, disrupting the WR corps. The Lions travel to Baltimore to face a tough defense that is playing well - this looks like a tough matchup for the Lions.

Weather: This game will be played at Ford Field - inside the dome, weather won't be a factor.

DET Injuries: QB Jeff Garcia (Out), RB Cory Schlesinger (Doubtful)
BAL Injuries: DL Anthony Weaver (Out)


Green Bay Packers Passing Offense vs New Orleans Saints Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Brett Favre and the receivers came to life on Monday night, as Favre led all fantasy QBs last week with 28/47 for 303 yards, 4 TDs and 1 interception. The big night pushed his TD total (9) above his interception total (8). Donald Driver saw 14 targets for 6/92/1, while David Martin, the stand-in for injured Bubba Franks, was second on the team with 5/53/1 receiving on 7 targets. Antonio Chatman (3/36/1) and TE Donald Lee (1/16/1) accounted for the other TDs on Monday night. Robert Ferguson hauled in 3/24/0. As a team, the Packers rank 10th in the NFL with an average of 246.2 passing yards per game, and have racked up 9 passing scores to date.

The Saints rank 6th in the NFL this year so far, allowing an average of 178.8 passing yards per game (with 5 TDs surrendered to date). Last week, they shut down the anemic Bill's signal callers, who managed 10/21 for 103 yards, 0 TDs and 1 interception against the New Orleans' secondary. The Saints are tied for 7th in the NFL with 11 sacks to date, while Green Bay is tied for 14th with 8 sacks allowed so far this year.

Favre bounced back in a big way last week vs. Carolina, while the Saints easily crushed journeyman J.P. Losman. Neither teams looks like they have a big edge over the other coming into this game although New Orleans has been playing tough pass defense.

Weather: Lambeau Field expects a high of 55F with a low of 34F and a 20% chance of precipitation. It should be a nice, cool afternoon to play some football.

GB Injuries: RB Ahman Green (Questionable), WR Terrence Murphy (Out), TE Bubba Franks (Questionable)
NO Injuries: LB James Allen (Questionable), LB T.J. Slaughter (Questionable), DB Fakhir Brown (Questionable), DB Mel Mitchell (Questionable)


Jacksonville Jaguars Passing Offense vs Cincinnati Bengals Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

20/34 for 240 yards, 1 TD and 2 interceptions was Byron Leftwich's stat line when it was all said and done last week. He was burdened with a totally ineffective rushing attack (11/12/0) and playing from behind, which is not the Jaguars' usual M.O. Jimmy Smith was, as usual, an effective weapon racking up 5/109/1 during the game - otherwise, there weren't many fantasy points to be had on this unit. Leftwich is ranked 20th among fantasy QBs this season, with 69/117 for 867 yards, 5 TDs and 3 interceptions (10/35/0 rushing); Smith is 8th among fantasy WRs with 32 targets for 17/329/4 to date. The Jaguars rank 20th in the NFL averaging 204 passing yards per game this season (5 total passing scores thrown so far, all tossed by Leftwich).

The Bengals' secondary has been vacuuming up passes at a frantic pace this season - they lead the NFL with 12 interceptions in 4 games. They are 12th in the NFL allowing 195.5 passing yards per game, and are locked in a tie for 1st in the league with only 2 passing scores given away to date. Last week, David Carr mustered 17/26 for 174 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions vs. the Bengals. It's hard to get much going against the Bengals in this department. They are in the middle of the NFL pack with 9 sacks so far (tie, 14th in the league).

The Bengals are tough to score on, and they go after the ball aggressively. The Jaguars have a sub-par passing attack - advantage Cincinnati.

Weather: Alltel Stadium should see temperatures ranging from a high of 84F to a low of 72F on Sunday, with a 60% chance of rain. If the rain falls heavily at game time, footing and ball-handling could be issues for both teams.

JAX Injuries: RB Derrick Wimbush (Probable), WR Cortez Hankton (Probable)
CIN Injuries: DB Madieu Williams (Questionable)


Miami Dolphins Passing Offense at Buffalo Bills Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Gus Frerotte hit 14/33 for 171 yards, 2 TDs and 1 interception against Carolina during week 3 - he wasn't very efficient, but made the throws that Miami had to have to win the game. After his team's first 3 games, Frerotte is the 18th ranked fantasy QB in points per game, with 58/112 623 yards, 5 TDs and 3 interceptions to his credit; Chris Chambers is 23rd at his position with 2/69/0 rushing and 14/154/1 receiving; TE Randy McMichael is 2nd with 15/150/3 - he's been the primary scoring threat among the receivers so far.

The Bill's rush defense is pathetic, so teams don't need to throw very much against their quality secondary. Last week, Aaron Brooks scored by running in a TD, but only threw for 15/26 for 172 yards, 0 TDs and 0 interceptions. That's been typical this year - the Bills have given up 121.2 passing yards per game (1st in the NFL) and 2 passing scores to date. As we indicated, that's partly due to their bad rush D, but it's also due to a decent secondary. In any case, don't expect the Dolphins to throw the ball a ton against the Bills unless their run D stiffens a lot on Sunday.

Frerotte hasn't been a world-beater in fantasy terms, and there is no reason to expect he'll have a big day this weekend. We call this a tough matchup for Miami (who are visiting their rivals in Buffalo).

Weather: The forecast for Ralph Wilson Stadium calls for a high of 56F with a low of 39F and a 30% chance for rain. If the precipitation falls heavily during the game, footing and ball-handling could become issues for both teams.

MIA Injuries: none
BUF Injuries: DL Ron Edwards (Out), DB Coy Wire (Questionable)


New England Patriots Passing Offense at Atlanta Falcons Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Patriots' rush attack is struggling mightily, leaving Tom Brady and company to pick up the slack. The Patriots rank 3rd in the NFL averaging 283 passing yards per game (only 4 passing scores so far, though). 19/32 for 224 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception was Brady's total last week before the game got out of hand and the Patriots gave Matt Cassel a taste of live NFL action (2/4 for 15 yards, 0 TDs and 1 interception). Patrick Pass led the team with 8 receptions (8/55/0) while WR David Givens racked up the most yards (6/66/0). Speedster Tim Dwight snagged the TD (2/41/1).

Atlanta is 9th in the league allowing an average of 187.2 net passing yards per game, with only 4 passing scores surrendered to date. They are bringing a ferocious pass rush to the field this year, ranking 1st in the league with 17 sacks to date. New England is not particularly susceptible to pass pressure, though, with only 6 sacks allowed to date (tie-7th in the NFL). Last week, Daunte Culpepper was nuked for 9 sacks and 2 interceptions (23/34 for 250 yards, 1 TD). The Falcons are nasty, folks.

Two strong squads face off in this game (despite New England's slow week vs. San Diego) - we think Brady has a tough matchup here.

Weather: Conditions inside the Georgia Dome's air conditioning should be perfect during the game.

NE Injuries: QB Tom Brady (Probable), RB Kevin Faulk (Out), WR Bethel Johnson (Questionable)
ATL Injuries: none


St. Louis Rams Passing Offense vs Seattle Seahawks Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

When a QB throws the ball 62 times in a game, good things are likely to happen for his fantasy owners - last week, Marc Bulger hit 40/62 for 442 yards, 2 TDs and 3 interceptions in the shoot-out loss to New York. 4 wide receivers got over 75 yards receiving (Shaun McDonald 9/121/0 with a long of 31, Dane Looker snagged 8/90/0 with a long of 23, Torry Holt hauled in 7/84/1 with a long of 22, and Kevin Curtis caught 6/78/0 with a long of 18). The Rams are moving the ball in chunks in this phase of the game. Bulger is the 2nd best fantasy QB after 4 games, with 113/175 for 1312 yards, 8 TDs and 6 interceptions to his credit.

WR Isaac Bruce (turf toe) and TE Brandon Manumaleuna (knee) are going to be held out until they are 100% according to coach Martz: "Brandon (Manumaleuna) is very close. I don’t know that he’ll play this week or not. If there is any risk at all, he won’t play. Same with Isaac (Bruce). We’ll move on and wait until they are completely ready to go." With TE Roland Williams out for the season and placed on IR Wednesday, Cam Cleeland (who played in St. Louis during '03-'04) was signed and he will step in at TE until Manumaleuna is ready for action (Cleeland will then be backup TE, most likely). Offensive lineman Blaine Saipaia is being switched to TE this week to provide some depth at the position. He's a utility lineman who would most likely be in at TE for run-blocking assignments.

The Rams rank 2nd in the NFL in passing offense after 4 weeks, averaging 299.5 passing yards per game (with 8 total passing TDs to date). They are very focused on the aerial game in St. Louis under coach Martz's guidance. Coach Martz is believed to be battling a heart infection (endocarditis) that has caused extreme fatigue over the last few weeks. He will not run practices this week - no word on whether he will coach on Sunday, just yet.

Seattle is stout vs. the pass, ranking 7th in the NFL allowing only 184.5 passing yards per game, with 5 scores given up over 4 games. Last week, Mark Brunell hit for 20/36 for 226 yards, 2 TDs and 1 interception vs. the Seahawks' secondary. They are tied for 7th in the NFL with 11 sacks to date - this is an area of concern for the Rams, as they rank 30th in the NFL with 16 QB sacks surrendered in 4 games. You can bet the Seahawks will get after Bulger during the game on Sunday.

Seattle has a strong pass defense and they can exploit an obvious weakness of the Rams (pass protection). The Rams have a high-flying offense and home-field advantage, though - this looks like a tough matchup between top-shelf units to us.

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

STL Injuries: WR Isaac Bruce (Doubtful), TE Brandon Manumaleuna (Questionable)
SEA Injuries: none


Washington Redskins Passing Offense at Denver Broncos Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Mark Brunell keeps finding just enough game to pull out a victory for the Redskins, but he hasn't been much of a fantasy start so far during 2005, ranking 17th among fantasy signal callers to date (48/84 for 587 yards, 4 TDs and 2 interceptions). Last week, he hooked up with Santana Moss 6 times for 87 yards (Moss was targeted 12 times) en route to 20/36 for 226 yards, 2 TDs and 0 interceptions (9th best fantasy QB last week), but the TDs went to TE Robert Royal (2/11/1) and HB Mike Sellers (1/4/1) - guys who were probably not starting for most fantasy squads.

Denver did without Champ Bailey last week, and they did just fine vs. Jacksonville (20/34 for 240 yards, 1 TD and 2 interceptions), grabbing more interceptions than TDs allowed. For the year, they rank 18th allowing 212.2 passing yards per game, with 4 passing scores surrendered in 4 games (4 interceptions generated to date).

Brunell is starting to click with Santana Moss, and he's finding the end-zone more often of late, but Denver is always tough at home and they don't give up much in the way of passing scores. Advantage, Denver.

Weather: Mile High Stadium expects a high of 75F with a low of 49F and a 20% chance of rain on Sunday. That sounds like ideal football weather to us.

WAS Injuries: none
DEN Injuries: LB Louis Green (Questionable), LB Patrick Chukwurah (Questionable), DB Nick Ferguson (Probable), DB Darrent Williams (Probable), DB Champ Bailey (Questionable), DB Roc Alexander (Questionable)


New York Jets Passing Offense vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers Passing Defense (Bad Matchup)

So, does Vinny Testaverde have any gas left in the tank? Long-suffering Laveranues Coles owners sincerely hope so - we're about to find out. He's a career 56.6 % passer with 3631/6420 for 44,475 yards passing 268 TDs and 255 interceptions over 18 seasons (so far) - you could say he has plenty of experience. Coach Edwards said the following upon announcing Testaverde as this week's starter "He's won here, he still has a live arm but we have to help Vinny. You can put in a new quarterback, it sounds real good but you have to play well around him. We didn't do that enough for Brooks in the game. That's no fault of Brooksy's. I have to get a spark in the team."

The Bucs are 3rd in the NFL vs. the pass, allowing an average of 158.8 yards per game this year, with only 2 passing scores surrendered so far. That's stout, folks. Joey Harrington managed 15/27 for 137 yards, 0 TDs and 0 interceptions against this bunch last week. There just aren't many fantasy points to be had when your players face Tampa.

Regardless of how ready Testaverde is to play, this is a tough matchup. With his limited number of repetitions in the system and little practice time with the receivers around him, we think the Jets have a long day ahead of them vs. Tampa.

Weather: The forecast for Giants' stadium calls for a high of 61F with a low of 48F and a 60% chance for rain. If the precipitation falls heavily during the game, footing and ball-handling will likely become issues for both teams (this field sees double duty as the home field of both New York teams - the turf is more worn than other NFL stadiums as a result).

NYJ Injuries: QB Chad Pennington (Out), QB Jay Fiedler (Out), RB Curtis Martin (Probable), RB B.J. Askew (Doubtful), WR Justin McCareins (Probable)
TB Injuries: DL Ellis Wyms (Probable), DB Dexter Jackson (Probable), DB Jermaine Phillips (Questionable)


San Francisco 49ers Passing Offense vs Indianapolis Colts Passing Defense (Bad Matchup)

San Francisco couldn't get their pass attack going at all last week, ending up with 17/30 for 160 yards, 0 TDs and 1 interception. Rookie QB Alex Smith saw limited action (6/10 for 34 yards, 0 TDs and 0 interceptions), but evidently 34 yards passing was enough to convince coach Nolan to elevate Smith to #1 in the lineup. So, this week a rookie QB on a struggling team will face one of the best pass-rushing defenses in the land. We'd stay far, far away from any San Francisco player this week.

The Colts have surrendered only 2 passing TDs this season (tied for least in the NFL), while ranking 21st in yards allowed (222.8 per game on average). They held Steve McNair to 28/37 for 220 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception last week, which is right on pace for this unit. They aren't dominating in terms of yards allowed, but it is tough to score on Indianapolis. The Colts are also regularly dumping opposing QBs - they are 2nd in the league with 15 sacks and have been pressuring opposing signal callers on most downs even when they don't manage a sack. San Francisco has given up 12 sacks over 4 games (26th in the league) - with a rookie under center, the Colts are bound to throw a bunch of blitz packages at San Francisco.

It could get ugly really quickly this week, folks. Welcome to the NFL Alex Smith, and good luck - you're going to need a ton of it. Advantage, Indianapolis.

Weather: The forecast for Monster calls for a high of 67F and a low of 56F with a 20% chance of rain. It should be a great day to play a game of football.

SF Injuries: WR Arnaz Battle (Questionable)
IND Injuries: DL Josh Thomas (Probable), DL Vincent Burns (Questionable), LB David Thornton (Probable), LB Gilbert Gardner (Out), DB Gerome Sapp (Probable), DB Joseph Jefferson (Doubtful)




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