By: Al Squatrito
Bills vs. Browns
The 5-7 Browns will go on their second road game in a row and try to beat the 2-10 Buffalo Bills in the cold . The Bills have been one of those teams that have been playing as hard as they can to show the world they are better than your average college football team but are 2-10 for a reason, or several. They have the worst rushing defense in the NFL and the only two teams that have a chance of being worse are the Cardinals and the Broncos. The Bills can play you tough at home and are coming off of a brutal loss to the Vikings in week 13. I picture Peyton Hillis and Fred Jackson putting their teams on their shoulders and having the most value for fantasy owners come Sunday. I think the Bills get their third win at home because Jake Delhomme is starting the Browns and the Browns are playing on the road for consecutive weeks. Ryan Fitzpatrick will be a very risky start this weekend especially since it is supposed to rain and snow in Buffalo. I like the Bills to win this one 19-16.
Panthers vs. Falcons
The 1-11 Carolina Panthers host the 10-2 Atlanta Falcons at Bank of America Stadium this Sunday. This is probably the worst game to watch this weekend unless you are an Atlanta Falcons fan. The Falcons have only allowed 6 rushing touchdowns against them this season while the Panthers only hopes of scoring is on the ground. Luckily they are home, but they rank 27th against the run and are 8th against the pass. That doesn’t mean Matt Ryan isn’t going to throw on them; he just might not throw all day on them and why should he? The Falcons are a run first team anyway and that’s all they have to do in this game. Michael Turner is the best start on the team fantasy wise while Jonathan Stewart is the only player worth starting for the Panthers. I don’t see Matt Ryan throwing more than a touchdown pass in this game and can be slightly risky if you need a lot of points from him. I picture the Falcons taking it easy but winning in this one. I like the Falcons to win 20-13.
Lions vs. Packers
The 2-10 Detroit Lions will host the 8-4 Green Bay Packers at Ford Field on Sunday. The Lions haven’t been getting any calls thrown their way and last week they got another unfortunate bogus call against them when the called Ndamukong Suh for a penalty for unnecessary roughness on Jay Cutler for throwing a forearm to his head while rushing for a first down. Ed Hochuli made a huge mistake giving the Bears a first down as they scored on the next play to make it 24-20 which was the final. This is twice in a row now that the Bears beat the Lions on two bogus game ending calls. Jay Cutler becomes a rusher when you pass the line of scrimmage which means unless you slide, anything goes. Also, looking back on the instant replay you will notice that no forearm blow was given out to Jay Cutler by Ndamukong, it just looked that way in regular time. Ndamukong Suh got fined 15,000 dollars for a penalty he did not even commit! What a shame. Ed Hochuli may be a good ref, but when it comes down to it he can make some pretty poor decisions. Regardless, the week must go on and the Lions will have their hands full once again as they will try to keep the game close with Drew Stanton to start for his second game this season. Running back James Starks ran tough last week and got the bulk of carries last week vs the 49ers. It will be interesting to see if the Packers will have some sort of running game going into the playoffs, with Starks I believe they will. Starks may be their savior and is the best waiver wire pickup in fantasy leagues this week. This is a nice matchup for Starks. Calvin and Javid Best seem to be noteworthy starts this weekend while Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, and James Starks are your noteworthy fantasy players you may want to plug-in your fantasy lineups this week. James Starks will get the bulk of carries for the Packers. I see the Packers beating the Lions on the road, 31-24.
Jaguars vs. Raiders
The Jacksonville Jaguars (7-5) will host the Oakland Raiders (6-6) this Sunday at home while the Raiders are coming off an astonishing win last weekend against the Chargers. These are two run first teams that know how to pound the rock. Maurice Jones-Drew has 100 yards rushing in his last five outings while Darren McFadden (Run DMC) is averaging 4.9 yards a carry and is leading his team to victories along with backfield partner Michael Bush. This should be a great battle between the two teams who are both in the playoff hunt. The Jags have the slightly better passing game while Garrard’s quarterback rating is 92.6 and Jason Campbell’s is only 78. However this game is going to be won and lost inside the trenches and I picture Garrard keeping some drives alive running for first downs throughout the game. Jacoby Ford, Darren McFadden, and Michael Bush seem to be the only fantasy players you could start for the Raiders while Maurice Jones-Drew is a must start and Garrard, Mike Sims-Walker and Mike Thomas are possible options for the Jaguars. Sims-Walker will probably be lined up against Nhamdi Asomugha so you may want to look elsewhere. I like the Jaguars because they are home this weekend and they better beat the Raiders if they want to stay in first place in the AFC South. I think the Jaguars win this game 24-20.
Vikings vs. Giants
The 8-4 Giants will travel to Minnesota to take on the 5-7 Vikings. Ever since Leslie Frazier has taken over they have been on a roll winning two straight games, maybe they can make it three as the Vikings have matched up well against the Giants in the past with Eli under center. This is an interesting matchup for Eli Manning and the Giants run game as the Vikings are fourth against the rush while the Giants run game is at its best right now with a legit two-headed monster. I still think the Giants are going to be able to run the ball on the Vikings because the Giants can pass against anyone, opening up the run. The Vikings aren’t a team to naturally score a lot of points early in a game against a great opponent so the Giants run game should fare well. I like Sidney Rice, Adrian Peterson, and former Giant Visanthe Shaincoe to do some damage against the Giants at home while Eli Manning seems like a shaky start considering his record against the Vikings (from previous games). However, the Vikings pass defense is where they remain vulnerable on defense and one would assume Eli should have a decent day against them with Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith both returning for this matchup. I think Eli, Hakeem, Brandon Jacobs, Steve Smith, and Ahmad are all number two starts this week in fantasy while Adrian, Shiancoe, and Rice have more upside. I like the Vikings in this game to upset the Giants at home because their defense is playing well and they have nothing to lose. Vikings 23-21.
Steelers vs. Bengals
The 9-3 Steelers take on the 2-10 Bengals but their records are definitely misleading as they matchup very well with one another and the Bengals should not be counted out. The Bengals have lost 9 games in a row! Holy smokes! Still, the Bengals just played the former Super Bowl champs at home last weekend and will be on top of their game this weekend against the Steelers, you better believe it. The Steelers played a huge game last weekend to be on top of their division and are a little beat up post the Ravens matchup. This is going to be a slug match for four quarters but I think the Bengals are going to slip away with the win in the end through a turnover or special teams play that decides the game. Mike Wallace, and Rashard Mendenhall seem to be the only fantasy players you can have faith in this weekend for the Steelers. I think Rashard has the most upside while Wallace is a step behind him. Carson Palmer can’t play any worse and the Bengals have nothing to lose, but you still can’t rely on him. I can’t picture the Bengals losing ten straight even though it is possible. Terrell Owens is the only fantasy option you should feel confident about this weekend. OchoCinco played better last week and isn’t a terrible flex this weekend. I like the Bengals to win this game 17-14.
Redskins vs. Buccaneers
The 5-7 Redskins will host the 7-5 Buccaneers home at Fed Ex Field on Sunday and it may be another ugly loss for the Skins. The Redskins have been falling apart ever since the Lions beat them and Donovan McNabb was pulled for the two-minute drill in the fourth quarter. Their offensive line isn’t playing well and deserves a lot of the blame. Albert Haynesworth should change his nickname to Big Baby while he will be suspended for the rest of the season. This Skins team is in turmoil and Mike Shanahan may have lost the locker room. Ryan Torain is expected to be back and provide a spark for the Redskins zone running scheme but who really knows as James Davis and Keiland Williams are still expected to see touches. Don’t put too much faith in Torain in his first game back and still sharing carries.
The Buccaneers on the other hand have a young team that are rallying around each other and will bring their A game to Washington this week as they are in the playoff race. I like Mike Williams who is a contender to be the rookie of the year this season. LeGarrette Blount should have a huge fantasy day in this matchup against the skins terrible Run D ranked 28th. The Redskins are also brutal against the pass ranked 29th so Mike Williams and Josh Freeman both should be successful. I like the Buccaneers in this game because they have everything going for them while the Redskins have everything going against them. The Buccaneers will win this game 21-20.