By Al Squatrito
Panthers vs. Ravens
Rumors have it that Head Coach John Fox may no longer be the coach of the Carolina Panthers in 2011, I’m sure that doesn’t bother him too much as the Panthers look dreadful in 2010. Matt Moore is on i.r., DeAngelo Williams just went on i.r., T Jeff Otah, and LB Thomas Davis have also subdued to injury reserve. Julius Peppers, one of the best defensive players for the Panthers was traded to the Bears last year for a six-year contract. The Panthers will look to play third string quarterback Tony Pike on Sunday when they will be home hosting the Baltimore Ravens. Ray Rice was making some noise to the media this week saying, “Big game is coming where the numbers will be great.” Ray Rice no doubt has the talent of elite running backs in the NFL but hasn’t put it all on display as consistently as he had in his rookie season last year with the Ravens. Coaches want to keep players healthy as long as they can and if they can secure a win without wearing down their star players, they will do just that. The Panthers rank 27th against the run and are surprisingly 5th against the pass, maybe that’s why Ray Rice thinks, knows he will have a monster day against them this week. Start Rice with confidence this week and look at Joe Flacco to take a back seat and watch his running game take off all game. I would bench Flacco if I had Eli Manning, Shaun Hill, Vince Young, Carson Palmer, Troy Smith, Jon Kitna, Matt Cassel, or Mark Sanchez on my bench. I know the Ravens will have plenty of opportunities to score this week, but their defense and run game is all they will need to take this game over. I wouldn’t start any Carolina Panther this weekend unless you’re season is already over and you wanted to make some sort of sick joke out of it. There may be a shutout in Bank of American Stadium in week 11.
Bengals vs. Bills
If the Bengals lose at home this weekend to the Buffalo Bills I would assume none of the players inside that locker have any respect for their head coach. Marvin Lewis is certainly on the hot seat as his team swept the division last year and made it to the playoffs. If the Bengals lose this week it will mark their seventh straight loss in a row. Ouch. That is the main reason why I don’t think they will lose at home even though they are devastated with a 2-7 record. Their schedule is one of the toughest in the NFL this season. Should we give them some………….sympathy? I expect Cedric Benson to have his best day of the season on Sunday playing against the worst rushing defense in the league. Fred Jackson should play decently well against the Bengals as they give up 4.3 yards a carry on the ground, but I think the Bengals defense will play a bit better this week to prevent a 7th straight loss, despite giving up 329.3 yards a game. The Bills are giving up 373.7 yards a game. I don’t think Ryan Fitzpatrick, Steve Johnson, or Lee Evans will have a great day in fantasy because the Bengals secondary is one of the best in the NFL regardless of what the stats say. I don’t think Terrell Owens will have the best day this weekend because the Bills run game is dreadful so the Bengals will shift more to the run game and may play with a lead. I also feel as though Ochocinco needs to start playing more consistent. It is very ugly inside the Bengals locker room right now, if Ochocinco doesn’t get more balls thrown his way, it can only get uglier. I like the Bengals to finally get a win and show us why they were a playoff team last year.
Cowboys vs. Lions
Finally the Cowboys get a win and show-off their talent on both sides of the ball by beating the Giants last weekend. They got a solid win without Tony Romo behind center. With the Lions keeping games within arm’s reach they still broke the NFL record for most road losses in a row with 25. Their run defense on the road has been horrific and Felix Jones is starting to emerge for the Dallas Cowboys. Defensive end Cliff Avril is also in danger of missing a second straight weekend for the Lions with a thigh injury and if it’s one thing the Lions have going for them on defense this year, it is their front four. They have been playing lights out football and compete with the elite front fours in the NFL. This would be a significant loss for the Lions this weekend if Avril is a no go. Jahvid Best still suffers from turf toe on both feet while they will monitor his carries and give fullback Jerome Felton some of the load. I like Jerome Felton as a low-end flex play this week if you can take a risk. Jahvid Best should have a decent day in ppr leagues as the Cowboys seem to give up a lot of yards to running backs in coverage. I love Dez Bryant as a number two wide receiver this week with huge upside and I think Roy Williams will have a solid game against his former team, along with former quarterback Jon Kitna. Skies the limit on terms of fantasy points for both teams. Jason Garrett is 1 and 0 as a head coach and I think he keeps it going to 2 and 0 this week at home.
Jaguars vs. Browns
What an exciting finish it was last weekend for the Jags vs the Texans with a Hail Mary bomb caught by Mike Thomas at the end of the game. That may have been the biggest bang for your buck all season long at the closing seconds of regulation. I like the Jags to win again at home this weekend against the Browns. The Browns can definitely keep this game close with the Jags defense letting up 4.3 yards a carry and ranked at 2t against the run. The Jags pass defense is ranked at 28 but don’t forget they play Peyton Manning twice a year. The Jags pass defense can make some plays and I think they will against rookie quarterback Colt McCoy this week. I just want Colt McCoy to surprise me once more and show me he can get a win on the road as a rookie, I don’t see that happening. Peyton Hillis will have a monster game and Ben Watson should be a solid start as well. Pocket Hercules (MJD) has picked it up after a slow start, and David Garrard has been playing consistently well, scrambling for extra yards, and making plays with his legs. They are both strong number one plays this week in fantasy as the Browns are ranked 20th against the run and 23rd against the pass. I think the Jags should win this game by 10 points.
Chiefs vs. Cardinals
Arrowhead Stadium is supposed to be the hardest place to play at in the NFL and the Cardinals have lost to the Chiefs the last three times they have played in Arrowhead, but Derek Anderson can give them a chance to win in week 11 (Editors Note- Derek Anderson?). The Chiefs are 4 and 0 at home and will look to be 5 and 0 as former offensive coordinator for the Cardinals takes on his old team. Concerning for the Chiefs however is their rushing attack has slowed down as they averaged 2.1 yards a carry on 51 attempts last week against the Broncos defense who currently ranks 30th overall against the run. This is why stats sometimes lie as teams can be mentally ready to play well and have a good game plan going into their upcoming battle. If the Chargers are expected to take over the AFC West division, they are going to have to win some games, but the Chiefs and Raiders who are currently on top of the division will have to lose too. Beanie Wells says he feels better now than he did before his knee surgery but I still wouldn’t start him unless you are desperate this week. I like to see it to believe it even though he is a tenacious athlete but Tim Hightower is averaging over 4 yards a carry and has looked better. Larry Fitzgerald knows how to dominate AFC teams and I expect him to have a great day this weekend. Don’t forget Derek Anderson (Editors Note- Derek Anderson again?) went to the Pro Bowl in 2007, the Cardinals aren’t going to be tricked too much by the Chiefs this weekend and I expect them to keep it close in Arrowhead. Dwayne Bowe should keep up his solid play and should be started in all formats.
Vikings vs. Packers
What a perfect game for Brett Favre to be his last. It probably won’t happen unless he gets injured, but don’t the Vikings have to evaluate Tavaris Jackson going forward? If the Vikings lose they are definitely out of the playoffs, what’s the point in seeing Favre finish out the rest of the season? Logically, from a coaching standpoint, you have to evaluate your possible quarterback of the future at a time like this. Forget the Favre legacy because it will no longer be about that anymore. I don’t think the Vikings have a chance to beat the Packers this weekend despite the fact that the Vikings defense will play their hearts out in a close game. The Packers defense isn’t too shabby either, and Clay Mathews is in the hunt to win MVP this year. Donald Driver may be a game time decision with a thigh injury but we will know more going into pregame warm ups. I consider James Jones a must start as he had a breakout game two weeks ago with 123 yards and a touchdown. I hope you listened to me and picked him up in your league as he is now owned in 41 percent of fantasy leagues. I think Brandon Jackson is a decent flex play this week just because Aaron Rodgers can always move the ball and will setup scoring opportunites for Jackson. Sidney Rice may be activated for the Vikings this week which of course can only help, but that has yet to be determined. I expect Visanthe Shiancoe and Adrian Peterson to have the best days in fantasy for the Vikings because they are the only two players on their offense that will allow the Vikings to get a win. They are their best playmakers period. Oh yea I almost forgot about Percy Harvin, expect another solid game from him. I like the Packers to win by 4 points but if Favre becomes a double agent again, they can easily lose by 13.
Jets vs. Texans
The Jets almost lost to the Browns in overtime last weekend but that still doesn’t mean they aren’t one of the best teams in the NFL. The Patriots lost to the Browns a few weeks back so there. The Jets pass defense has been put into question a little bit this season, not that they are playing bad, but expectations are very high. They are currently ranked 16 against the pass this season but have only let up 16.7 points a game to their opponents. It is going to be a tough win to pull out as a Texan on the road this weekend, but if there are a few teams that can do it against the Jets, I consider the Texans to be one of them. The Texans run offense has been the best in the NFL this season while their passing attack has taken a back seat, but that doesn’t mean they can’t sling the ball around with the rest of them. The Texans did beat the Colts on opening day to show the world they can also compete with the best, this is one of the reasons why I think they can beat the Jets on Sunday. The stats say the Jets win by 7 points but I tend to think differently it will be within a field goal’s reach. I would like Ladanian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene this week if the Texans pass defense wasn’t ranked dead last or if the Jets are up so much that they just pound the ball to close the game out, but I don’t see that. There are so many options to go to on the Jets’ offense that I would only guess to stick with the hot hand and say that Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller are great plays this weekend. Also Braylon Edwards should have a fairly decent game. I think Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter will be key factors in this game for the Texans and can be plugged into fantasy lineups for some solid points. Johnson will be covered by Revis, but it’s hard to sit him unless you have great depth. I expect the Texans to start off slow but change the pace as the game goes along and possibly get the win. This is a going to be a great game.
Steelers vs. Raiders
What a revenge game this will be eh? The Raiders are going into this game watching film on last year’s win at Heinz Field. The Raiders are playing with confidence and are averaging 4.9 yards a carry while the Steelers are only giving up 2.8 yards a carry. This is going to be a dog fight and Namdi Asomugha should be back in the lineup to improve the Raiders defense comes Sunday. This is a game that will show us that speed kills because that is one thing the Raiders have going for them heading into week 11. I personally believe Bruce Gradkowski gives the Raiders the best chance to win but the Raiders are sticking with Jason Campbell’s hot hand. I like the Steelers to win this game at home but I wouldn’t be surprised if they lost again. Zach Miller is back healthy and I expect him to do great things for the Raiders as well as Louis Murphy. The raiders are getting healthy. The Pittsburgh Steelers pass defense is ranked 26th in the league and Troy Polamalu will be playing hurt if he plays at all this weekend (listed as questionable). This is going to be a low scoring game and a great one to watch. I think Rashard Mendenhall has potential for the best fantasy day out of all the Steelers. Hines Ward will be back and ready to play and can also be a factor as a solid number three wide receiver this week. I like the Raiders upsetting the Steelers again this year in week 11.
Titans vs. Redskins
The Titans got smoked last weekend at Miami giving them their first home win and lost to the Dolphins with their third string quarterback in. That’s not very thrilling to see as a Titans fan going into week 11 facing an embarrassed Redskins team who got waxed on Monday Night by Ron Mexico, A.K.A. Mike Vick. His jersey was sent to the Hall of Fame after the win. The Titans rank 25th against the pass and I think Donovan is going to have to take advantage of that while the Titans rush defense ranks 9th overall. Still I believe Mike Shanahan will get things going for his team through the air and ground this weekend and I don’t think the Titans will pull this win out despite the fact that the Redskins pass defense is one of the worst in the league. One minute you love Vince Young, and the next minute you scratch your head. I don’t know what they will be playing for this weekend but I know the Redskins will be playing to redeem their last week’s loss. That is why I like the Redskins on the road this weekend. I think Keiland Williams is a good fantasy start and I believe Santana Moss will be a fantasy sleeper this weekend and should be started in all formats. Chris Johnson and Randy Moss should put up solid numbers this weekend, but don’t expect either one of them to carry your fantasy team on its shoulders. I like the Redskins to win 20-17.