By: Al Squatrito
Bengals vs. Saints
The 2-9 Bengals will host the 8-3 Saints on Sunday in hopes to prevent a nine game losing streak. Two non-bound playoff teams have already upset the New Orleans Saints this season, (Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns) and the Bengals aren’t going down without a fight. The Bengals secondary is still a bit banged up and it is going to be a tough to get a win against former Super Bowl champs but it is still possible. The Saints rank number one against the pass so it smells like Cedric Benson may have a solid outing against a rush defense who gives up 4.2 yards a carry. Reggie Bush will be back for his second straight game and this will be a good game for him to shake off some rust while the Bengals rush defense is giving up a miserable 4.5 yards a carry. I wouldn’t start any Saints running backs with confidence but I consider Bush and Chris Ivory both decent flex starts. I think Ochocinco has a good game and is a solid number 2 wide receiver and Carson Palmer is a solid number two quarterback at home. The Bengals can’t play any worse and have nothing to lose. This can be a trap game for the Saints. I like the Bengals to upset the Saints 31-28 at home.(Editor’s note- He picks the Bengals every week!)
Lions vs. Bears
The 8-4 Bears take on the 2-9 Lions as the Bears have been on a hot streak, silencing the critics. The Lions can’t find any luck at quarterback this season as Matt Stafford and Shaun Hill will remain sidelined for the game. Third String quarterback Drew Stanton will get the start. Calvin Johnson’s fantasy matchup this weekend may seem less desirable as usual with Stanton starting and the Bears only giving up 8 passing touchdowns on the season. On the contrary the Bears have given up 9 touchdowns if you consider the touchdown that was taken back on opening day against the Bears an actual touchdown which I do. Also, if its anything that the Lions have going for them on offense it’s Calvin Johnson and you better believe Drew Stanton will be looking his way early and often in this matchup. There are talks of Jahvid Best being ready to play but I am sure they will use their running backs by committee come Sunday. Calvin seems to be the only player you can start against the Bears this weekend along with Pettigrew as a low number 2 tight end. Mike Martz has been talking Johnny Knox up a lot lately and has mentioned taking more shots down the field. Johnny Knox and Devin Hester may both have a solid outing. I can’t help but to love Matt Forte as well in this matchup who blew the Lions up on opening day but I don’t think he will have as good as a game in week 1 because the Lions are home and are better against the run when they are home. I like the Bears to win this game 28-20.
Packers vs. Niners
The 4-7 49ers will travel to Green Bay to take on the 7-4 Packers. The 49ers are a game out of first place in NFC West Division but still have yet to found their identity back from last season. Their defense has finally started to play like the world has seen in previous games but their offense has been kind of suspect. Frank Gore has been placed on injured reserve while the 49ers are a run first team. Luckily, the 49ers signed veteran running back Brian Westbrook and drafted rookie Anthony Dixon who will share the load going forward. On paper this looks like one of the best teams in the NFL playing one of the worst teams in the NFL and for the most part that stands true on two legs. However, the 49ers are starting to play the kind of football they know they can play. The Niners give up 3.6 yards a carry to opposing offense while the Packers do surprisingly average 4.0 yards a carry but they are ranked 23rd in total rushing offense. The 49ers have played pass happy offense New Orleans close this season losing 25-22 in their home opener but it’s going to take a little bit more this Sunday on the road against Green Bay. This game is going to be won and lost in the trenches and if the 49ers can get their run game going early and often they have a slight chance to upset the Packers. The Packers are giving up an average of 15 points to their opponents per game and the chances of the 49ers winning are unlikely, but it can still happen. I like Anthony Dixon and Brian Westbrook in fantasy leagues this week. They will get plenty of touches while Dixon will get the goal line carries. You still have to plug Vernon Davis in your lineups as the captain was seen almost crying on Monday before they played the Cardinals because he wanted to win so badly. He is due for a turnaround game and averages a touchdown every time the 49ers play the Packers. Aaron Rodgers is going to tear it up as usual and I think James Jones may have the best day out of all of the receivers. I like the Packers winning this game 20-13.
Chiefs vs. Broncos
Wow the Denver Broncos are falling apart! They have been accused of cheating and Coach Josh McDaniels was hesitant to come forward about the situation right from the start. The Broncos are also giving up an average of 29 points a game! They are making the Panthers and Cardinals defense starting to look pretty good and that is just sad. Jamaal Charles or Jam Chaz has been averaging 6.3 yards a carry while Matt Cassel has the fourth best overall quarterback rating at 99 and leads his team on top of their division with a 7-4 record. The Chiefs are 5-0 at home and I don’t think they are due for a letdown this week. Jam Chaz may have his best day on the ground as the Broncos rank 30th against the run. Coach Todd Haley and Josh McDaniels did not shake hands after the first game they played where the Chiefs were handed a blowout loss. This is a revenge game for the Chiefs as they seem to have put all the pieces together. As for Denver, all their pieces are falling apart and will continue to do so. I like Dwayne Bowe, Jam Chaz, Matt Cassel, and Dexter McCluster to make an impact in this game and boss the Broncos defense around. I like Kyle Orton as a low-end number 1 quarterback with some risk while Brandon Lloyd is going to be zoned in on all game. Lloyd seems like a risky number one this weekend. I like the Chiefs to blast the Broncos away at home 41-24.
Dolphins vs. Browns
The 4-7 Cleveland Browns travel to Miami to take on the 6-5 Dolphins who have only won one home game thus far this season. Jake Delhomme will probably get the start against the fourth ranked pass defense. Jake just isn’t a quarterback you can trust and he doesn’t give his team the greatest chance of winning but if they establish the run well enough to set up the play action, it is possible to pull out a victory. Still, I don’t think that is going to happen especially since the Dolphins have been giving up 3.8 yards a carry but Peyton Hillis is still a reliable fantasy running back for this Sunday as he is all the Browns truly have. I like the Dolphins to stick with their running game as they did last game and keep that moving forward throughout the remainder of the season. I think Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown are solid flex starts this weekend against the 21st overall rush defense. I like the Dolphins to win their second home game of the season 24-20.
Vikings vs. Bills
Why so serious? Steve Johnson has been the best waiver wire pickup this season and consistently finds himself in the end zone game in and game out. The Vikings defense lacks consistent pass coverage and they can be vulnerable once again comes Sunday, but they have been playing well for new Head Coach Leslie Frazier. The Vikings were one of the best teams in football last year and they have failed to be one of the better teams thus far in this season, they have only showed a few glimpses. I think we see another one of those glimpses this Sunday at home and continue their winning streak. With or without Adrian Peterson, the Bills are still dead last against the run. Sidney Rice will start his second game this season and he won’t be the one being double covered this time around. Percy Harvin will open up some space for Sidney and he will look like his former self this Sunday. Fred Jackson is a risky number two running back this week while Steve Johnson has the most upside. I like the Vikings to dominate the Bills for four quarters and win with ease. I see the Vikings winning 24-13.
Redskins vs. Giants
The Giants are that type of team that play up to competition and play down to competition. The Giants are clearly the better team but Mike Shanahan will find a way to keep the Redskins in the game throughout. The Giants pass rush is one of the best in the league against one of the worst offensive lines in the league when it comes to passing downs. I expect this to be the main difference in the game which gives the Giants the edge. I like Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs to have solid fantasy numbers while Easy E (Eli Manning) can have a solid day himself. The Redskins rank 29th in the league against the pass and are ranked 26th against the run. The Giants should blow the Redskins out of the water but it is possible the Redskins keep it within 7. I am scared to start any running back from the Redskins this week as it seems to be running back by committee over there. I like the Giants winning this one 21-17.
Titans vs. Jags
The Tennessee Titans seem to be one of the few teams that are currently self-destructing. Vince Young was placed on injured reserve after his outburst two weeks ago and Jeff Fisher may be coaching for another team in 2011. The Titans were accused of playing dirty the last time they played the Jags (which was on Monday night) and David Garrard left the game with a concussion. This game has revenge written all over it. Kerry Collins can get it done and gave their team a 13-3 record a few years back but this is when their defense was ranked 5th overall and only gave up 14.6 points a game. The Titans defense is ranked 24th overall in 2010 and gives up 19.8 points a game. I expect some chemistry in the air with Randy Moss and Kerry Collins because Randy Moss is simply due and the Jags aren’t the greatest team in the league defending the pass. I think the Jags to go on the road and win this one because David Garrard has been playing better despite the fact that he gave up a huge fumble last week that practically lost them the game, but he is running the ball for first downs and keeping their offense on the field while their defense is on the sideline resting. Maurice Jones-Drew is on a hot streak right now ever since their left guard got back on the field and he will explode once again comes Sunday. I like the Jags to win this game 31-24 and keep their first place spot in the AFC South.