By: Alan Squatrito
Philadelphia Eagles Vs. Atlanta Falcons
The last time these two teams met (December 6, 2009) the Falcons got hammered by the Eagles 34-7 in the Georgia Dome. Things have changed drastically since then. Donovan Mcnabb was behind center for the Eagles and Matt Ryan was only in his second year in a basic offensive system. Now it’s time to let things fly. This time around the Falcons are looking for revenge. Although it won’t be easy, the Falcons have Michael Turner Burner in the backfield and he is at full health. LeSean McCoy had a great game against the 49ers last weekend but the Atlanta Falcons have the 8th best rush defense in the league and it will be hard to pound the ball on them for four quarters. Wait, but that’s not all. The Atlanta Falcons also lead the NFL with 10 interceptions on the season and give up an average of 14 points a game. They are also on top of their division in the NFC South (3-1). This isn’t the same team as they were last year. Look for Michael Turner, Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez and sleeper wide receiver Harry Douglas to have an impact on Sunday’s game. Plug them in your lineups accordingly and try to avoid starting Kevin Kolb if you can this week. Brent Celek will have the best day in Fantasy Football for the Eagles.
New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The New Orleans Saints are coming off of a loss to the Arizona Cardinals last weekend, and they are the laughing stock of the NFL because of it! Who would have thought Drew Brees would have thrown three interceptions to Max Hall’s one interception last week? I couldn’t have told you that were going to happen but I can tell you that the Saints will bounce back in week 6 despite the fact that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are playing great football and that the Saints almost lost to the 0-5 Carolina Panthers two weeks ago at home. Drew Brees is a competitor and if he is not going to have a running game anymore, so be it. Look for Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson to step up big and place Tampa Bay’s 9th ranked passing defense down the stat list post victory. I also like Colston or Shockey to reach pay dirt this weekend, maybe even both. A part of me wants to say this game can go down to the wire but than the other part of me says get serious. This is a divisional game and Brees and the Saints 7th overall pass defense is going to show us why they were Super Bowl champs last year. Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Williams should continue to impress the fantasy stat sheets and look for Earnest Graham and the rest of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers running backs to play an honest game.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Houston Texans
Can Matt Cassel do damage to an already damaged Houston Texans secondary which ranks 28th against the pass? Will Dwayne Bowe drop any more key passes this game? The Houston Texans opened up the season by beating the Indianapolis Colts. They have all the confidence in the world despite that they are going up against the 6th overall rushing defense as well as the 2nd overall scoring defense (giving up 14 points a game), the Kansas City Chiefs. Those stats are going to slide down this week! The Texans took a beating last weekend against the Giants while the Chiefs had another week to prepare for the Texans who average 370 yards of offense per game. Kansas City Chiefs offense is ranked 24th overall. The Texans haven’t been playing up to their potential while the Chiefs have been surprising everyone in the league thus far this year but I think they are going to come back down to earth this weekend away in Reliant Stadium. Look for the Chiefs to play it close with the Texans early on like they did last week against the Colts, but the Texans will pull away with a victory at home this week. Peyton Manning didn’t get throw for a touchdown last week but his receivers have been failing him this whole season and need to step their game up. With Owen Daniels no longer on the injury report list, the Texans are going to open things up early and often against the Chiefs at home, giving the fans something to cheer about. Look for Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter, Jacoby Jones, and Owen Daniels to catch everything their way and open up the Texans running game up in the second half. Dwayne Bowe should have a comeback game and should be a solid number 2 wide receiver start. Tony Moeaki is also another nice option to have this weekend at the tight end position as the rookie seems to be a big target and a security blanket for Matt Cassel. As good as Jamaal Charles is, I see him picking up a bunch of nice yards, but I don’t see him scoring a touchdown, it is possible however. Don’t quote me.
Green Bay Packers vs. Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins had a week off to prepare for the Packers in week 6 but will it be enough? The Dolphins got crushed by the Patriots in week four 41-14 and Chad Henne threw 3 costly interceptions. Aaron Rodgers suffered from a concussion in last week’s loss to the Washington Redskins (16-13), but they are optimistic that he will play vs. Miami on Sunday. Unless the Dolphins can get to Rodgers early in the game it will be another long day for the Dolphins. Chad Henne can’t play any worse than his previous performance so look for him to have a bounce back game. Playing solid football for 60 minutes will be Chad Henne’s real challenge while staying upright for a full 60 minutes will be Aaron Rodgers biggest challenge. Miami’s defense ranks 7th overall with 9 sacks in four games while Green Bay’s defense ranks 13th overall with 21 sacks in five. Look for Aaron Rodgers to get rid of the ball quickly in the first half to acclimate to the Dolphins pressure as the Dolphins will look to blitz a lot early. Jermichael Finley is out for the season and talks have been made about Greg Jennings getting the ball more often in their offensive game plan. Look for James Jones, Greg Jennings, and Jordy Nelson to pick up the slack for the loss of Jermichael Finley. Davone Bess should be a solid flex or number three wide receiver start in fantasy this while Brandon Marshall looks more like a low end number 1 must start this week. Charles Woodson will be lined up against him.
Baltimore Ravens @ New England Patriots
Dirty or not, Bill Belichick is one of the best Head Coaches of all time, and it will go down that way in the books, but was getting rid of Randy Moss a good idea? That is yet to be seen. Bill Belichick has a history of getting rid of big name guys for other athletes to come in, step up, and do a great job replacing those previous players, this move may be a little too bold. Brandon Tate is supposed to fill the duties of the Super Freak at the number 1 wide receiver position and it is going to be a tough task. Brandon is very explosive at 6 feet tall, running a 4.5 forty, but he is still very unproven and it can come back to haunt them now, tomorrow, or in the playoffs if they make it. To alleviate the duty of filling the shoes of Randy Moss, everyone on that offense is going to have to take a bigger role. Look for the Patriots to use double tight end sets in offense as a base while Danny Woodhead (RB) will be used like Kevin Faulk out of the backfield, only he runs a 4.3 forty! At 5 feet 9 inches tall look for Danny Woodhead to turn some heads and becoming a future flex player to start in your lineups each week. The Patriots will always be a passing team even if they have Chris Johnson running the ball. This is supposed to be a revenge game for the Patriots as they got plastered by the Ravens in the playoffs last year 33-17. This game was played without Wes Welker however. The Patriots did beat the Ravens earlier on in the season in 2009 (27-21) but that was with Wes Welker and Randy Moss. That was also before the Ravens started establishing themselves on offense. Now the Ravens have the best pass defense in the league, Ed Reed is expected to come back, and Anquan Boldin has been acquired from the Arizona Cardinals as the Ravens number one receiver. This game could get ugly with the Ravens offense finally coming out last week. Ray Rice ran for 159 yards with two scores against the Patriots the last time they played. Look for the Ravens to utilize the play fake a lot to take advantage of the boots the Patriots are shaking in from last year’s diesel performance by Ray Rice. Anquan Boldin should be a great start while Derrick Mason can be a sleeper one, I still expect Ray Rice to have a monster game and carry the load while Tom Brady will be taking notes on who will be his new go to guys of the future. Aaron Hernandez (TE) seem to be the only safe start while you can’t say no to plugging in Wes Welker or Brandon Tate as a number 2 and 3 receiver. Look for Danny Woodhead to make a fantasy impression and keep an eye on him if you haven’t picked him up already.
St. Louis Rams vs. San Diego Chargers
Would you believe me if I told you that the San Diego Chargers are 0-2 in their division? Say What? The last time the Raiders beat the Chargers before week 5 in the 2010 season was seven years ago in 2003……..they play two games against one another each season. Excuse me? Not to worry, the San Diego Chargers aren’t getting worse, they are getting better. The San Diego Chargers are used to starting the season off slow and the word on the street is that two-time pro bowler offensive tackle Marcus McNeill is back and ready to play despite contract disputes. But wait, there’s more! Did you draft Vincent Jackson in any of your leagues this year? Me too, he has been breaking my heart all season long but sometimes you’ve got to make sacrifices in order to fill your fantasy team up with studs. I hope you didn’t drop Vincent Jackson just yet because he is going to report to the San Diego Chargers and will be able to play by week 12! That’s right ladies and gents, just enough time to get warm and ready for the playoffs, V-Jack is back! Malcom Floyd is still going to get his before his return and expect him to be a great fantasy start this weekend against the Rams. Antonio Gates is a no brainer start as well. Did you know Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd are both amongst the top 5 wide receivers in the NFL in terms of yards per game? Ryan Mathews should be a solid number two running back this week and Steven Jackson is at full health so he should be ready to rock as well. Danny Amendola and Mardy Gilyard are going to be rookie Sam Bradford’s go to guys this week and probably from here on out through the 2010 season………….yikes. Expect Bradford to struggle against the third best pass defense in the NFL. I like the San Diego Super Chargers to beat the battered Rams while they are still down from last week’s loss. If they score a touchdown in the game at all this weekend it will probably be Steven Jackson td during garbage time. 38-10 final, Chargers win.
Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Well, it’s about that time for Big Ben to let it all hang out. That’s right! Two-time Super Bowl quarterback Big Ben is back and ready to drop it like it’s hot. The Pittsburgh Steelers welcomed Big Ben back with open arms and it is a pleasant surprise to come back to a 3-1 team. Ben doesn’t even have to do much this week as they play the Cleveland Browns who are supporting rookie quarterback Colt McCoy in his first NFL start. Regardless, he will do plenty. Expect Mike Wallace to blow up this game as he will take over the real number one receiving duties. There will be plenty to go around for Hines Ward, Heath Miller, and Rashard Mendenhall too. The Browns are going to rely on Peyton Hillis way too much in this game but if there is anyone who has potential to run on the Steelers defense, it’s Hillis. Pitt’s D can bring the pain and so can Hillis. They don’t call Hillis “The Great White Buffalo,” for nothing. I still don’t think he is going to fair too well against the Steelers defense considering the fact the Browns are going to be one dimensional with Colt McCoy getting his first start but hey, you never know. I just hope Hillis doesn’t’t reinjure himself or make a lingering injury worse because he is all the Browns got with Jerome Harrison now on the Philadelphia Eagles, Seneca Wallace in a boot (ankle injury), and Jake Delhomme who should get the boot also has an ankle injury. Expect the Steelers to roll the Browns at home this week.
Seattle Seahawks @ Chicago Bears
The Seattle Seahawks are in a division that seems to have a better running game than they do passing but teams are throwing all over them. When the Seahawks got trampled over by the Rams 20-3, Steven Jackson only had 70 yards rushing yards on 22 carries. The Seahawks seem to look good one week and terrible the next week. They beat the Chargers and they demolished the 49ers on opening day. Then they don’t even put up a decent game against the Rams nor the Denver Broncos, I feel the same thing is going to happen this weekend as they play in Soldier Field. With Coach Lovie Smith and Mike Martz doing what they do best on offense and defense, the Chicago Bears are on top of their division for a reason. Despite the fact that they should have lost to the Lions on opening day, they still have been playing solid football this year and Julius Peppers has been tearing down the house. The Chicago Bears are ranked third against the run and 16th against the pass. The Seahawks just acquired Marshawn Lynch from the Buffalo Bills and he should give them a spark in the running game but Matt Hasselbeck isn’t the leader he once was, at least when he’s not when he plays on the road. I expect Jay Cutler and friends to throw all over the 28th passing defense in the league and chalk up another win for the books. Look for Mike Williams to have a better game than he has in last two outings, he is at a full go this weekend. Johnny Knox should move the chains as usual and I expect Devin Hester to surprise Chicago fans with a bomb for a score or maybe Devin Aromashodu comes back and stretches the field. I think Greg Olsen is a good start and Matt Forte could have a decent game if he gets involved in the passing game. I would rely heavily on Marshawn Lynch if the Seahawks want to have a chance in this game.
Detroit Lions @ New York Giants
Calvin Johnson landed on his shoulder last weekend against the Rams and said he couldn’t go back in the game if he had to. Calvin still seems to be careless with his body when he tries to make a play, but I still can’t see him sitting this weekend against the Giants. At least throw him out there so he is a decoy and draws double coverage all game. Regardless I see him playing and getting a few shots to make a score. I can picture the Giants bumping him and his tender shoulder at the line of scrimmage and getting Calvin Johnson mad. Calvin Johnson will then transform into Megatron and do some considerable damage. Will it be enough to win the game? Maybe not, however the Lions are playing very solid football and they aren’t the Lions from old. The Giants have been playing their A+ game the last two games and I’m curious to see how long they can keep that up. The Giants have a tendency to “play down to competition.” If that is the case expect this to be the Lions to be the sleepers of the week. Expect Nate Burleseon and Tony Scheffler to have a solid game while Brandon Jacobs is a good flex start this week if the Giants win. The Giants defense ranks number one against the pass and they are 9th against the run, that could give backup quarterback Shaun Hill and the rest of the Lions a tough game. I still like the Lions to keep this one close as they have with all of their opponents this season.