1. Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Tennessee Titans
If Pittsburgh makes the Titans one dimensional, which is more than likely, look for this pass rush to be relentless towards Collins. Pittsburgh brings in its league-leading defense against the run, so don’t expect much from the White/Johnson combo. When this happens, look for the sacks and turnovers to pile up. Top fantasy play of the week.
2. Philadelphia Eagles vs. Washington Redskins
Is there any team in a worse (offensive) slump right now than the Washington Redskins? After their showing in Cincinnati, I don’t think so. Maybe the Giants. The Eagles come to town trying to keep their playoff hopes alive, and in order for that to happen, they’ll need their defense to step up once again, as they have the past two weeks. That shouldn’t be a problem.
3. Indianapolis Colts vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Colts are going for a playoff berth while the Jags are playing out the season. And if safety Bob Sanders is back for this game, as reports say he will be, it’ll add another dimension the Colts’ defense has been missing: a playmaker in the secondary. Look for Indy to be all over Garrard and Co., racking up a few sacks and interceptions in the process.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. San Diego Chargers
Both teams are desperate for wins to keep their respective playoff hopes alive, but San Diego is making the cross country trip that has been deadly to them all year. In their past two trips to the East Coast—Miami and Buffalo—the Chargers have forgotten to show up. Look for the Bucs to rally around the home crowd and get after Rivers while stopping Tomlinson. The result will be a solid fantasy stat line from Tampa.
1. Houston Texans vs. Oakland Raiders
The Russell-led Raiders have been pretty anemic all year, and the Texans are actually playing quite well on defense right now. Look for more of the same as defensive end Marion Williams and Co. make Russell’s life miserable.
2. San Francisco 49ers vs. St. Louis Rams
The Niners have been a completely different team since Mike Nolan and his nonsensical coaching philosophy left the house. Under Mike Singletary, the defensive unit has developed an identity, and they’re playing with more of a purpose. Led by stud LB Patrick Willis, look for this defense to make stopping Jackson a priority, while their blitzing package gets after Bulger.
Others with favorable matchups:
1. Baltimore Ravens vs. Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys offense is very explosive, but against better defenses they can be contained (see Pittsburgh game two weeks ago). Look for Ray Lewis and Co. to keep the running game in check and for Ed Reed to be a ball hawk in the secondary.
2. New England Patriots vs. Arizona Cardinals
Arizona is a very good offense—when the team’s at home. On the road, the Cardinals become quite average. Look for Belichick to put together a few schemes that force Warner into sacks and turnovers.
3. New York Giants vs. Carolina Panthers
The Giants are finally in their first must-win game of the season, and it’s only a must-win if Minnesota beats Atlanta earlier in the day. In what should be a cold night at the Meadowlands, look for this NY defense to get back to stopping the running game (won’t be easy) and applying pressure to the QB.