By Alan Squatrito
Falcons vs. Packers
Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers faceoff to give their team a chance of honing in on the first seed playoff spot for the NFC. The Falcons are 18-1 at home but play a hard to stop Green Bay Packers team that has won four straight games in a row. Green Bay Packers’ Clay Mathews has 11.5 sacks in 2010 while the Atlanta Falcons offensive line has only allowed 14 sacks on the season. Michael Turner has been on a role averaging 4.3 yards on the ground and giving the Falcons a much needed balanced attack while the Packers have a devastating passing threat that can score at will from anywhere on the field. The Packers are giving up 4.5 yards a carry to their opponents and are ranked 17th against the run. If Turner can get going early throughout this game the Falcons can come out on top. Sometimes when quarterbacks are great enough, they can open up the run game, Aaron Rodgers is one of those great quarterbacks and Brandon Jackson can have a solid day racking up decent stats against a team that lets up an average of 19.2 points a game. The Packers on the other hand let up an average of 14.6 points a game. Aaron Rodgers quarterback rating is 95.7 while Matt Ryan’s rating is 92.9. The last two stats seem to be the most important factors to me when deciding the outcome of this game. With two elite teams face one another it’s really all about that one or two turnover differential that makes or breaks the outcome of the game. Who is going to make that special play on defense or on special teams to give their team the win? You might as well flip a coin in this one but I like the Packers to go on the road and pull out a win. It would be more of a surprise to me if the Falcons won despite their home record of 18-1. I like Aaron Rodgers as a true number one of course, Greg Jennings as a number one, and Brandon Jackson as a nice flex. Donald Driver, James Jones, and Jordy Nelson can all make a play. James Jones has the most upside while Driver can be a solid number two. Nelson is more of a flex risk. I think Tony Gonzalez will have a solid game and be Matt Ryan’s crutch throughout. Start Tony G. with confidence along with Roddy White and Michael Turner. I see the Packers winning this game 35-24.
Giants vs. Jaguars
The 6-4 New York Giants stay at home to play the 6-4 Jaguars. We are familiar with the Jaguars playing inconsistent while the Giants have been playing inconsistent football as of lately. The Giants will be playing this game without wide receivers Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith. Eli Manning is good enough of a quarterback to make the right throws, however the big breaking tackle ability may not exist this weekend for the Giants wide outs. I can’t picture one of their wide receivers taking full control of a game as we have seen in the past before from Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks. Brandon Jacobs has been given the nod to start over Ahmad Bradshaw, but it’s not like Bradshaw won’t get his fair share of touches against the Jaguars who rank 19th against the run. The Jags are 28th against the pass and let up an average of 27 points a game to their opponents. I would start every wide receiver from the Giants with confidence. There is no excuse as to why they should lose this game even though they play down to their opponents at times. Maurice Jones-Drew is listed as questionable going into Sunday’s game with an abdominal injury but I would be very surprised if Pocket Hercules didn’t suit up and play. The Jaguars rank 19th in total offense and 27th in total defense despite their hard to believe 6-4 record. I think the Jaguars are going to keep it close this weekend and I picture David Garrard as a solid number 2 quarterback. Garrard has been using his feet to run for first downs and scramble, this is actually the one and only reason why the Jags have a chance of beating the New York Giants on Sunday. Maurice Jones-Drew is still a must start and will definitely play well against the Giants if he does in fact play Mike Thomas and Mercedes Lewis are solid starts in fantasy this week as well. I see the Giants winning this game 28-24.
Bills vs. Steelers
The Bills are the worst rushing defense in the NFL. Will the Steelers consider that truth when they face one another comes Sunday? It doesn’t really matter. There is no way Ryan Fitzpatrick plays well against the Steelers for all four quarters. The Steelers are letting up 16 points a game while the Bills are letting up 27. The Bills are playing with confidence and have won two games in a row but the Steelers are going to blow the steam out of their hot air balloon comes Sunday. I think Hines Ward has a bounce back game and will be targeted a lot while Rashard Mendenhall is a must start. The only fantasy player I would start for the Bills this Sunday is Steve Johnson, this guy is serious. I see the Steelers winning this game 31-13.
Browns vs. Panthers
Yawn! Nah just joking, the Browns are finally fun to watch and it will be a pleasant day to live through watching the Browns potentially blowing out their opponent. That’s right ladies and gentleman Peyton Hillis who is nicknamed The Great White Water Buffalo surely knows how to carry his team on his shoulders. The Browns defense has also been playing very well and has some young talented players on their team. The Panthers rank 24th against the run and they play their old quarterback Jake Delhomme this weekend. I’m sure Jake will have a few tricks up his sleeve and take advantage of his former team at home. The Carolina Panthers rank dead last in offense in the NFL and I don’t think they will be fixing that stat any time soon comes Sunday. Start Peyton Hillis with confidence and start their defense if you can still pick them up! I started them in a lot of my fantasy leagues this week and was foolish enough to plug them in over the Jets on Thanksgiving. That’s ok, the Browns defense is amped up to simply dominate. Don’t start any Panthers this week as they are on the road and still dead last in offense while only totaling 252 yards a game. I picture this game to be a blowout 24-6, Browns win.
Texans vs. Titans
The Titans are imploding with their 5 and 5 record and Vince Young being forced on I.R. also does not help. Coach Fisher won’t let this get the better of the team however and still plans to play the Texans tough. It’s not going to matter how well he plans though, Kerry Collins will not be playing in this game and Rusty Smith will get his first start of his NFL career. Good news is that the Texans are one of the worst pass teams in the NFL but the bad news is they played their hearts out against the Jets in week 11 but were defeated in a close battle. The Texans have an awful taste in their mouths and they are going to wash it out this weekend at home as they pulverize the Titans. The Texans are 4-6 and have lost three straight games in a row, I do not picture them losing a fourth with the Titans not going to be able to play their best football with third string quarterback Rusty Smith getting the nod. The Texans beat the Colts opening day and in my book they are one of the better teams in the NFL with one of the worst head coaches. The Titans rank 26th against the pass and Matt Schaub is going to prevent you from dropping him this weekend if you give him the start find it in your heart to give him one more chance because he is going to explode along with Andre Johnson. I picture Arian Foster having a solid day still, but Schaub and Andre will have the best day. Look for Joel Dreessen (TE) to get a lot of yards and is a solid tight end start this weekend. I think Randy Moss can actually get some decent numbers this weekend (in garbage time). Chris Johnson will still manage to get his but I don’t picture him scoring more than once. I like the Texans in this game 35-16.
Redskins vs. Vikings
Well, what i can say about this game? Too old men (Donovan McNabb and Brett Favre) are going to battle one another and take their time doing it. Both teams struggle to move up and down the field at will and like to take their time moving the chains. The Vikings seem to have gotten a little bit of a spark with Brad Childress no longer coaching the team and Sidney Rice will be back for his second straight week. The Redskins are one of the worst passing defenses in the league and this will fare well with Favre this weekend as they will go on the road and get a solid win. Favre may even say something after the game about wishing Sidney Rice was with the Vikings all year, but regardless he is a shell of his former self this season, along with their defense. The Vikings defense will come to play this Sunday and I still are an elite defense. They just haven’t put it all together consistently this season and they have been tired out a lot because they are always on the field (hint hint). Brett Favre needs to rebound and not turn over the ball; I think he has a chance of playing flawless football this weekend. I don’t picture Keiland Williams having a great day on the ground as the Vikings rush defense is ranked 7th overall. I barely see him as a flex start even though I unfortunately have to start him in two leagues. The good thing is that he will get a lot of touches. We shall see what happens. Santana Moss can be in for a solid game as the Vikings pass defense has more holes in it than their run defense. I like Sidney Rice in this game a lot and I think him and Favre will rekindle their love on the field from last season and squeak out a win. I like the Vikings in this game 17-10.