We're sure that all of our advice this season has allowed your team to have already sewn up a playoff spot, but in case you face a must-win situation this week, here's how we think...
We’re sure that all of our advice this season has allowed your team to have already sewn up a playoff spot, but in case you face a must-win situation this week, here’s how we think things will go.
Oakland at Atlanta: Falcons QB Michael Vick will have no problems bouncing back from last week’s nightmare. Even though Atlanta’s pass defense is solid, Raiders QB Kerry Collins (909 yards, nine TDs in his past three games) could have another strong performance in a game that has shootout possibilities. With games against Tennessee in Week 15 and Kansas City in Week 16, Collins is also a good pickup for the future.
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New Orleans at Dallas: Cowboys RB Julius Jones (429 rushing yards, five TDs in his past three games) is the no-brainer start of the week. We’ll also give the go-ahead to New Orleans’ big three of QB Aaron Brooks, RB Deuce McAllister and WR Joe Horn. We also like WR Donté Stallworth as a sleeper pick.
Cleveland at Buffalo: Bills RB Willis McGahee should push the 150-yard mark and score multiple TDs. Back-to-back 100-yard, two-TD games make Browns WR Antonio Bryant hard to keep on the bench.
N.Y. Giants at Baltimore: Either Jamal Lewis (ankle, status likely to be a game-time decision) or Chester Taylor is a great start for the Ravens at running back. Replace Giants RB Tiki Barber if you can.
Indianapolis at Houston: Play all the regulars in a game that could see both teams score in the 40s.
Chicago at Jacksonville: RB Fred Taylor‘s TD drought will end as the Jaguars steer QB Byron Leftwich away from the Bears’ opportunistic secondary. Unlike brother Julius, Chicago RB Thomas Jones will get very little done.
Cincinnati at New England: Bengals QB Carson Palmer has nine TD passes in the past three weeks, including five against the tough defenses of Pittsburgh and Baltimore, but he’s still a risky start on the road against the Patriots. New England RB Corey Dillon will have another big day.
Seattle at Minnesota: If healthy, Vikings RB Onterrio Smith (groin) promises to dominate the Seahawks’ awful run defense. Minnesota’s defense isn’t too scary either, so insert Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck back into your lineup.
N.Y. Jets at Pittsburgh: The Jets’ commitment to the running game makes it impossible for us to recommend counting on WR Santana Moss or QB Chad Pennington for the rest of the season. New York’s strong run defense makes it a good week to bench carries-sharing Steelers RBs Duce Staley and Jerome Bettis.
Miami at Denver: In a must-win game, expect the struggling Broncos to pull out all the stops. They can’t afford to risk losing any late leads, so they’ll try to run up the score. The Dolphins’ offense has been better lately, but WR Chris Chambers is likely to struggle against CB Champ Bailey.
Detroit at Green Bay: Lions RB Kevin Jones, who’s averaging 6.3 yards per carry over his past four games, will continue to produce. The Packers are in a race for the NFC North title, so all the regulars will continue to get plenty of opportunities. Green Bay RB Ahman Green is due for a big game, and the Lions are capable of allowing it to happen.
St. Louis at Carolina: The uncertainty around Rams RB Marshall Faulk (knee) makes rookie RB Steven Jackson worth a start. The Panthers’ red-hot triple threat of QB Jake Delhomme, RB Nick Goings and WR Muhsin Muhammad is in for another productive outing.
San Francisco at Arizona: The Cardinals’ defense is about the only option is this dud matchup. If you’re desperate, Arizona RB Larry Croom could get you some points.
Tampa Bay at San Diego: With a two-game division lead, expect Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer to revert to his conservative style by feeding RB LaDainian Tomlinson. The Bucs’ secondary is on fire, making this a good week to jump off the Drew Brees bandwagon. Tampa Bay RB Michael Pittman will struggle, but QB Brian Griese will get chances.
Philadelphia at Washington: The Redskins’ defense has allowed just 352 total yards over the past two games, but don’t you dare bench Eagles QB Donovan McNabb, WR Terrell Owens or RB Brian Westbrook (averaging 136 total yards in past four games while scoring eight TDs). Despite a strong game last week, Washington RB Clinton Portis is a risky start.
Kansas City at Tennessee: Play all the regulars as two sieve-like defenses will turn this into a Monday night scoring fest.
Got a question about fantasy football? Send them to Jerry Faull: firstname.lastname@example.org, or Jerry Faull, Seattle Times Sports, 1120 John St., Seattle, WA 98109. His look at fantasy football will appear each Thursday during the NFL season.