Everything you need to know: Week 8
You can’t blame St. Louis for supposedly gauging the interest of a certain 44-year-old gray-haired gunslinger. The Rams already have the second-lowest attendance in the NFL. Considering the franchise’s upcoming Monday night home game coincides with Game 3 of the World Series at Busch Stadium, it’s going to be slim pickings at the Edward Jones Dome. Might as well give your fan base, at least what’s left of it, a glimmer of hope that Kellen Clemens won’t be under center.
Who’s ready for Week 8 action?! A preview of this weekend’s slate:
Last week’s record: 8-7 (My bad)
2013 record: 70-37
Dallas Cowboys at Detroit Lions
The lowdown: Entering last week’s showdown versus Philadelphia as one of the worst-ranked resistances in the NFL, the Cowboys defense proved its merit against the Eagles, holding their divisional rivals to a lone field goal in a 17-3 victory. Granted, this resurgence came against Nick Foles and Matt Barkley, the latter who appeared to be a cross of Shane “Footsteps” Falco and a monkey with a Nerf football at the zoo, but beggars can’t be choosers. Dallas will get a chance to demonstrate Week 8 was no fluke confronting a Detroit offense averaging 294.7 pass yards per game, fifth-most in the league.
The Lions fell short to the Bengals last weekend, and the secondary continues to be an issue, giving up 282 yards per game (28th in the NFL). However, there was a big sigh of relief in Motown following Sunday’s contest, as Calvin Johnson illustrated no lingering effects from a knee injury, hauling in nine catches for 155 yards (including this ridiculous Hail Mary grab) in defeat. With the backfield receiving presence of Reggie Bush, combined with the emergence of Kris Durham, Joseph Fauria and Joseph Fauria’s celebrations, the Lions are an unstoppable force through the air. If the defense can hold up its end of the bargain, watch out.
Key injuries: DAL RB DeMarco Murray – Knee (Probable); DET WR Calvin Johnson – Knee (Probable), DET TE Brandon Pettigrew – Hamstring (Questionable)
Line: Detroit -3, 51 points
Fantasy impact: In substitution duty of DeMarco Murray, Joseph Randle handled himself well, posting 93 total yards. Detroit has been generous to opposing rushers this season, allowing 80 yards on the ground and another 36 in receiving. A plethora of injuries across the NFL RB landscape, merged with six teams on Bye, make Randle a decent Flex play in Week 8, even if Murray plays a small role on Sunday.
TV: FOX – 1:00 PM EST
The Cowboys win if… Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams exploit Detroit’s secondary, the Dallas front line encumbers Bush from doing much of substance.
The Lions win if… Matthew Stafford has another banner day (seven touchdowns in last two games), a Ndamukong Suh cheap-shot leads to the following: “And now warming up on the Dallas sidelines, Kyle Orton…”
Prediction: Lions 27, Cowboys 20
Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs
The lowdown: Don’t misconstrue this as patronage for Brandon Weeden, but has Jason Campbell ever been the solution to a team’s problems? Dude is 31-40 as a starter with a pedestrian 60.8 completion percentage. I know the defense is a wrecking crew and Cleveland has a better-than-average offensive line…but the Browns don’t think they can actually make the playoffs, do they? I suppose you can make a case that they’re two games out of the division; I would counter they’re just a loss away from the cellar, with remaining battles against Kansas City, Baltimore, Cincinnati, New England and Pittsburgh (twice). Maybe we should give Cleveland some slack for hoodwinking Indianapolis into trading a first-round pick for Trent Richardson, although that’s forgetting the team just spent the third overall pick on the running back a season ago, followed by their second first-round pick on…Weeden. Cleveland’s the best.
If you’re wondering when Alex Smith’s stink-bomb is going to come, this may be the juncture. The Browns secondary is suffocating quarterbacks to a league-low six yards per attempt and allowed only nine touchdowns (four of which derived from Matthew Stafford two weeks ago). I know Smith is lauded for his guidance and management, and the Kansas City receivers don’t do him any favors, but the Chiefs need a little more production than hitting 58 percent of intended targets (26th in the NFL) if they plan on going far in the playoffs.
By the way, to whoever created the Andy Reid as Kool-Aid Man GIF: you’re doing the Lord’s work, friend.
Key injuries: KC WR Dwayne Bowe – Groin (Questionable), KC TE Anthony Fasano – Ankle – Probable; CLE RB Willis McGahee – Knee (Probable)
Line: Kansas City -9, 39 points
Fantasy impact: Unless it’s Jamaal Charles or Jordan Cameron, keep all Cleveland and Kansas City entities on the bench. Kansas City’s secondary should give Josh Gordon fits, and Dwayne Bowe simply lacks the looks in his direction to be a consistent fantasy force.
TV: CBS – 1:00 PM EST
The Chiefs win if… KC continues its lights-out routine on D (league-best 11.6 points per game), Smith stays out of trouble.
The Browns win if… For real, you’ve seen how bad Richardson has been for Indy, right? That trade is as close to victory as the Brownies will get the rest of the season.
Prediction: Chiefs 20, Browns 14
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots
The lowdown: The Pats are atop the AFC East, but not all is well in Foxborough. New England has lost two of its past three, and needed a last-minute miracle to upend New Orleans in Week 6. Rob Gronkowski is back in the mix and flashed little rust in his season debut last week, snagging eight catches (albeit on 17 targets) for 114 yards. Moreover, Stevan Ridley has turned in consecutive admirable outings after stumbling out of the gate. However, with a porous defensive line (127.1 rushing yards allowed, second-worst in football) and Tom Brady failing to build rapport with his new receiving corps (more on this in a moment), the Patriots are more vulnerable than their record indicates.
This fallibility offers a chance for the Miami Dolphins to insert themselves in the playoff conversation, though the Fins have experienced similar struggles. After a promising start, the Dolphins have lost their last three ballgames, including a heartbreaking 23-21 defeat to the Bills in Week 7. Miami has a decent foundation, and Ryan Tannehill is quietly developing into a solid arm under center. Even so, if the Dolphins hope to make that next step, the defense has to raise its level of execution (20th in points allowed) and Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas have to give Tannehill some semblance of help from the backfield, as the duo is averaging a meager 78 rushing yards per contest. Facing New England’s front seven, it’s an opportunity Miller and Thomas can’t afford to miss.
Key injuries: MIA WR Brandon Gibson – Shoulder (Questionable), MIA LB Dannell Ellerbe – Shoulder (Questionable); NE WR Danny Amendola – Concussion/Groin (Questionable)
Line: New England -7, 44.5 points
Fantasy impact: Just short of the halfway mark of the 2013 campaign, Brady is 21st in total quarterback points, extremely disconcerting considering the Patriots’ Bye isn’t until Week 10. Brady’s 55.4 completion percentage is a career-low and he’s on pace for his fewest touchdown passes since 2001 (his first season as starter). It sounds blasphemous, but keep Brady on the fantasy pine.
TV: CBS – 1:00 PM EST
The Dolphins win if… Mike Wallace hands in a stellar day vs. a strong-but-wounded New England secondary, Brady’s connection with receivers is still off.
The Patriots win if… Ridley stays strong with the rock, Brady…I’m sorry, but can we address the ridiculousness of the illegal-push call? Not the call, but the coverage of the “event.” Wait, Bill Belichick got caught doing something prohibited? How is that news? And do you really think he didn’t know it was a rule? Anyone who has read David Halberstam’s wonderful The Education of a Coach knows the meticulousness of Belichick, so let’s not play the ignorance card. If anything, the story should be Rex Ryan outfoxing Belichick. To paraphrase the great Ellis Redding, “I'd like to think that the last thing that went through Belichick’s head, other than that hoodie, was to wonder how the hell Rex Ryan ever got the best of him.”
Prediction: Patriots 23, Dolphins 20
Buffalo Bills at New Orleans Saints
The lowdown: Good luck trying to figure out this Bills squad. Buffalo’s three wins have come by a whopping six points. Yet before casting condemnation, the deficit in the Bills’ four losses has been a touchdown or less. So, in theory, one could make the case Buffalo, with a few favorable bounces, could be undefeated, and in that same breath, winless. This is why I don’t bet on NFL games anymore. (But for those who do – legally, of course – apparently I’m still first overall in picking close games, so be sure to check out our FOX NFL predictions here.)
Seattle and San Francisco are garnering most of the attention as Super Bowl favorites from the NFC, yet New Orleans belongs in this stratum as well. The return of Sean Payton has restored the Saints high-octane ways, averaging 397.7 total yards per game (sixth-best in the NFL). What makes this team a contender, however, is the facility of its defense. Under the direction of new coordinator Rob Ryan, the Big Easy resistance is quashing opponents to 17.2 points per contest, fourth-lowest in the league. Flaunting dexterity on both sides of the ball, New Orleans will be a tough out in January.
Key injuries: BUF RB C.J. Spiller – Ankle (Questionable), BUF LB Manny Lawson – Hamstring (Doubtful); NO TE Jimmy Graham – Foot (Questionable)
Line: New Orleans -13, 49 points
Fantasy impact: C.J. Spiller is no longer viewed as the catalyst for the Bills offense, playing in just 14-of-68 snaps in Week 7. Worse, there’s a chance Spiller might be on the sidelines this weekend in order to give his injury a breather. Enter Fred Jackson, who’s found the end zone five times and is averaging 4.4 yards per carry. Concededly, this comes with a HUGE asterisk, as Jackson admitted to aggravating his left knee against the Dolphins. Nevertheless, he is envisioned to continue playing through the pain, and with only Tashard Choice as a possible siphon, Jackson should be ready to roll against a so-so New Orleans front seven.
TV: CBS – 1:00 PM EST
The Bills win if… Spiller ends up suiting up and going nuts, Jimmy Graham can’t go for the Saints.
The Saints win if… They still have that Brees guy, right? Yes? In that case…
Prediction: Saints 37, Bills 13
New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
The lowdown: Man, was that Monday night game rough. To think Josh Freeman A) hit 37.7 percent of his passes B) had a 6.1 QBR C) was only the fifth quarterback since 1960 to have 50 pass attempts and fail to surpass 200 yards and D) had 16 overthrows – a record since the stat began to be logged eight years ago– and the Giants only beat the Vikings 23-7? I’d say it’s understandable why Gotham’s not exuding confidence in the boys in blue.
Not that the City of Brotherly Love is behind the Eagles at the moment. Chip Kelly’s offense has been relatively effective, ranking third in the league with 425.3 total yards per game, and is only a game behind in the NFC East standings. Alas, while Philly has racked up the yards, putting numbers on the scoreboard has been a different matter, as its 24.1 points are 10th out of 16th NFC teams. Furthermore, the Eagles’ three victories have come against squads with a collective 3-17 record. Can Philadelphia insert itself as a legit competitor, or is its achievement strictly predicated on a feeble schedule?
Key injuries: PHI QB Nick Foles – Concussion (Doubtful), PHI QB Michael Vick – Hamstring (Probable); NYG RB Brandon Jacobs – Hamstring (Doubtful), NYG CB Corey Webster – Groin (Questionable)
Line: Philadelphia -5, 51.5 points
Fantasy impact: Those viewing Eli Manning as a possible start this weekend must have serious bye-week issues or are hurting something fierce at the position. Despite Manning’s atrociousness this year, the G-Men QB offers upside in Week 8. The Eagles are giving up the second-most passing yards in the NFL at 311.6 a pop. Manning’s lack of end-zone excursions since Week 1 could keep owners at bay, but this play is not as much of a gamble as perceived.
TV: FOX – 1:00 PM EST
The Giants win if… Just remember, the Eagles are an injury away from Matt Barkley as starting quarterback.
The Eagles win if… Just remember, the Giants have Eli and his 15 interceptions as starting quarterback.
Prediction: Giants 34, Eagles 33
San Francisco 49ers at Jacksonville Jaguars
The lowdown: It was bad enough we sent over Pittsburgh and Minnesota to London in Week 4. Now we’re dispatching Jacksonville? C’mon, enough people hate America as is, we don’t need the Brits turning on us.
On the heels of rushing for 22 yards or less in five of his first six games, Colin Kaepernick finally got going on the ground last week, taking 11 attempts for 68 yards and a score. It may seem trivial, yet with Kaepernick’s accuracy, or lack thereof (56.6 percent, 28th in the NFL), he needs to be doing work with his legs to offset this flaw.
Helping Kaepernick’s cause has been the rejuvenation of Frank Gore, who, following just 60 combined yards in the first two weeks of the season, has averaged 97.4 yards per outing in the last five games. And it doesn’t hurt that the Niners defense, in spite of numerous injuries and the sabbatical of Aldon Smith, is one of only eight teams holding opponents to fewer than 20 points per game.
As for the Jags…Justin Blackmon is looking like the real deal, but after that, it’s bupkis for this lineup. Maurice Jones-Drew might have some gas left in the tank, yet it’s hard to tell behind such a putrid offensive line. Prizes for those that can name three players on the defense. Blaine Gabbert is healthy, but the team is sticking with Chad Henne. All of which is roundabout way of saying Jacksonville is looking at 0-7 after Sunday’s London soiree.
Key injuries: SF WR Mario Manningham – Knee (Out), SF DT Justin Smith – Shoulder (Questionable); JAX WR Justin Blackmon – Hamstring (Probable), JAX WR Cecil Shorts – Sprain SC Joint (Questionable)
Line: San Francisco -17, 40.5 points
Fantasy impact: Cecil Shorts did not sustain further injury from Week 7, but the receiver admitted to playing in immense pain. Considering the Jags take on a stout 49ers defense, as well as, you know, they’re the Jags, not big on Shorts’ outlook. Throw in the possible discombobulation of playing overseas and I’d stay away from this move.
TV: FOX – 1:00 PM EST
The 49ers win if… The Niners front seven contains MJD, Kaepernick takes care of the pigskin.
The Jaguars win if… Tampa Bay notches its first W of the season.
Prediction: 49ers 28, Jacksonville 14
New York Jets at Cincinnati Bengals
The lowdown: The Bengals have emerged victorious in tough battles with New England, Green Bay, Detroit and Pittsburgh, yet struggled against lower-tiered teams like Buffalo and Cleveland. Andy Dalton has made vast strides in his completion percentage (65.9 percent versus 60.2 percent in his first two years) and yards per game (274.9 compared to 220.8); sadly, the Red Rifle seems limited in air forays beyond 10 yards and his stats appear more of a byproduct of A.J. Green’s talent than his own skill. The Cincinnati defensive front is one of the best in football, but the overall merit of the resistance is hazy following the season-ending injury to corner Leon Hall. In short, this is a team that could go 12-4 or 9-7 and no one would be surprised.
Before the season, 9-7 seemed like a pipe dream for the Jets; now it’s a distinct possibility. As much has been made of Geno Smith’s erraticism, the rookie signal caller has steadily progressed in October, finding pay dirt five times versus three interceptions (compared to 5/8 ratio in September). His accuracy leaves much to be desired, and he’s not running as much as initially assumed. Smith’s athleticism has alleviated these woes for the time being, and he’s competent enough at QB to give the Jets a realistic shot at New England for the division crown.
And while we’re here…what the hell, Jets? I was hoping New York would completely come unglued this fall, leading to the firing of Rex Ryan and subsequent FOX Sports 1 hiring of the ebullient coach as a studio host. Successively, the FS1 brass would realize my wit and baby blues are built for the camera, pairing me with Ryan on a studio show, and after tapings, Ryan and I would raise havoc on the town. Frankly, there’s still time to make this dream a reality.
Key injuries: CIN CB Leon Hall – Achilles’ Tendon (IR), CIN CD Terence Newman – Ankle (Questionable); NYJ WR Santonio Holmes – Hamstring (Doubtful), NYJ TE Jeff Cumberland – Hamstring (Questionable)
Line: Cincinnati -7, 41 points
Fantasy impact: Following his first conquest with Gang Green, Chris Ivory has become a scorching-hot addition in the roto realm. While I’m generally a proponent of Ivory, going to have to rain on this parade, at least in terms of Week 8 production. The former Tiffin Dragon needed 34 attempts to hit 104 yards, his role in the receiving arena is almost nonexistent and the Jets take on a Bengals resistance containing rushing adversaries to the seventh-lowest fantasy output. I do think Ivory takes the reins as New York’s primary back. Unfortunately, that sentiment doesn’t translate to a start in your lineup this weekend.
TV: CBS – 4:05 PM EST
The Jets win if… Ivory and Bilal Powell keep the Bengals offense off the field, Dalton scuffles against a resilient secondary.
The Bengals win if… Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson force Smith into multiple errors, Ryan skips the game to set-up shop at Skyline Chili.
Prediction: Bengals 21, Jets 17
Pittsburgh Steelers at Oakland Raiders
The lowdown: An underwhelming Pittsburgh team traveling to Oakland, one of the more underwhelming franchises of the past decade, pitting two of the most unattractive offenses against each other. Eesh. I pray no one outside the Steel City and Bay Area has to watch this monstrosity.
He doesn’t have much to work with, and Oakland’s shabby defense often puts him in situations where he has to abandon the run. Even factoring in these detriments, don’t think Terrelle Pryor is a suitable starting quarterback. I suppose there’s room for growth; he is just 24 years old, and, again, I don’t know if any field general could succeed in such surroundings. Unfortunately, it’s hard to spin five touchdowns versus eight turnovers, and subtract Pryor’s 112 rushing yards from Week 1, and his terrain output is a more modest number.
But if the Silver and Black harbor aspirations of knocking off the Steelers, it will be on the soil where Pryor and the Raiders make their mark. Pittsburgh has been parsimonious on ventures from the sky, retaining adversaries to 197.5 pass yards per game (fourth-lowest in the league). Against the run? Not so much, ranking 19th with 109.3 rushing yards allowed. Darren McFadden has looked good off the bye week, making this the key matchup of the ball game.
Key injuries: OAK CB Tracy Porter – Shoulder (Questionable); PIT LB Jarvis Jones – Concussion (Probable)
Line: Steelers -2.5, 40.5 points
Fantasy impact: Fresh off a toilsome two-game stretch, Ben Roethlisberger gets a respite against a Raiders defense giving up the fifth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks in the AFC. Roethlisberger’s 66.5 completion percentage is his second-best mark in his 10-year career, and though the yardage accumulation was down last week, the Pittsburgh signal caller averaged 326 yards in his previous four outings.
TV: CBS – 4:05 PM EST
The Steelers win if… Le’Veon Bell continues to emerge as a sound back, the Steelers defense overwhelms McFadden.
The Raiders win if… Roethlisberger and his receivers can’t get on the same page…um… Sebastian Janikowski kicks seven field goals? This is not going to be a pretty one…
Prediction: Steelers 23, Raiders 17
Washington Redskins at Denver Broncos
The lowdown: The once-a-week nature of the NFL schedule lends itself to exaggeration from the previous game's outcomes, as a win sprinkles nothing but praise and spurs hope for the rest of the season while a loss puts the rest of the fall's forecast in doubt. Keeping this sentiment in mind, the Broncos, still very much the Super Bowl favorite in the AFC, have to be questioning the virtue of their defense. With the return of All-Pro linebacker Von Miller, the Denver resistance was imagined to be a wrecking ball against the Colts. Instead, Indianapolis lit up the Orange Crush for 39 points, with Andrew Luck finding the end zone four times and the Colts rushing game notching 121 yards. Worse, the revered Champ Bailey re-injured his left foot, and is expected to miss multiple weeks. Considering the Broncos rank last in the NFL in pass yards surrendered, it's not an absence they can afford.
We would be remiss in failing to mention Washington's own defensive troubles. Washington is giving up 30.7 points per game, fourth-worst in football. Most of this damage has come on the soil, conceding a league-high nine rushing scores and 126.2 yards per game. Both teams have high-octane offensives, yet the postseason fruition of each lies in the defense, a fickle proposition at the moment.
On the bright side, a teed-off Peyton Manning and a suddenly-revitalized Robert Griffin III against two exploitable defenses! Mentioned above, while I don’t condone gambling…58 points? If I was a gambling man, and I’m not, that over looks pretty enticing. You know, if I was in to that sort of thing.
Key injuries: DEN WR Wes Welker – Ankle (Questionable), DEN LB Wes Woodyard – Neck (Probable); WAS WR Leonard Hankerson – Foot (Questionable)
Line: Denver -13, 58 points
Fantasy impact: Jordan Reed faces a Denver defense surrendering the seventh-most points to the tight end position this season. Granted, Miller’s return strengthens the Broncos presence over the middle, yet the loss of Bailey to a unit already relinquishing the most receiving yards in the league negates this asset. With six teams on bye and Jimmy Graham ailing, Reed warrants a start in most leagues.
TV: FOX – 4:25 PM EST
The Fighting Shanahans win if… RG3 proves that last week’s dividends were no fluke, Denver secondary continues to struggle.
The Broncos win if… Miller can be more of active over the middle than in his season debut last week, Fumblin’ Ronnie Hillman stays on the sidelines.
Prediction: Broncos 45, Fighting Shanahans 30
Atlanta Falcons at Arizona Cardinals
The lowdown: Remember when Carson Palmer was supposed to bring stability to the Arizona backfield? Yeah, about that – the 2002 Heisman winner has eight touchdowns versus 13 picks (second only to Eli Manning) and a 60.5 completion percentage (19th). I started last week’s preview with this rant, but it bears repeating – can we please ship Larry Fitzgerald to a serviceable quarterback before his prime is up? He’s already 30, and Palmer’s 10-yard underthrows have to be accelerating his aging process. I’m afraid if he sees one more wounded duck in his direction, Fitzgerald will retire on the spot. Not a fan of implementing hashtags in not-Twitter atmospheres, but feel like this circumstances calls for such action…#FreeFitzgerald.
Somewhat of an ominous forecast in the ATL as well. Simply too many offensive injuries to foresee a quick turnaround. Sure, Harry Douglas submitted a career day as a proxy for the Dirty Birds last week (seven grabs, 149 yards, touchdown), although getting a third of that production is a likely expectation going forward. Additionally, we tend to view Matt Ryan as a respectable arm, a sentiment the numbers support. The game logs speak a different story, with a disconcerting inconsistency presented. Things could improve with Steven Jackson and Roddy White nearing return, but coupled with a feeble defense (26.2 points surrendered, 23rd in the league), the Falcons will be far from an intimidating foe.
Key injuries: ARZ LB Karlos Dansby – Quad (Questionable), ARZ RB Rashard Mendenhall – Toe (Questionable); ATL RB Steven Jackson – Hamstring (Questionable), ATL WR Roddy White – Ankle (Doubtful)
Line: Arizona -2.5, 45 points
Fantasy impact: A matchup with Atlanta’s defense should serve as platform for second-year receiver Michael Floyd to shine. In his last four games, the Notre Dame product has hauled in 20 catches off 32 targets for 250 yards and a score. Somewhat flabbergasting is that Floyd has only one fewer catch on the season than Fitzgerald. As a WR3 or Flex play in deeper leagues, give Floyd a go.
TV: FOX – 4:25 PM EST
The Cardinals win if… Palmer curtails his passes to the wrong team, Arizona’s feast-or-famine secondary gets its fill.
The Falcons win if… Ryan puts on his game-manager hat, the Falcons defensive line hassles Palmer.
Prediction: Falcons 28, Cardinals 27
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
The lowdown: Amazing that the Vikings were a playoff team last year, isn’t it? I know Antoine Winfield’s gone and Harrison Smith’s hurt, but most of the integral components from 2012 remain. The armchair analysis could point to Adrian Peterson’s decreased output (131.1 yards per game last season to this fall’s 85.2 mark), but that would be a misnomer, as AP is actually ahead of last year’s torrid pace. The Christian Ponder/Matt Cassel/Josh Freeman trifecta from hell probably has something to do with it, but it wasn’t like Ponder was a paragon of success last fall. So what’s the catalyst for this downfall? KARMA. Moral of the story: never trust a man with the name “Zygi.”
Jarrett Boykin was poised to see a steady stream of balls in replacement of Randall Cobb last week. In wake of Joe Haden blanketing Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley’s injury, Boykin turned into the de facto No. 1 target for Aaron Rodgers and didn’t disappoint, hauling in eight receptions for 103 yards and a touchdown. What the 23-year-old lacks in speed is countered with good route running, a physical build and sure-handedness. Taking on a Minnesota defense that is yielding 301 receiving yards per game (fourth-most in the NFL), Boykin has another prime opportunity to twinkle. With James Jones likely out again this week, Boykin’s performance is imperative for a Cheeseheads victory.
Key injuries: GB WR James Jones – Knee (Doubtful), DB TE Jermichael Finley – Neck (Out); MIN QB Josh Freeman – Concussion (Doubtful), MIN LB Chad Greenway – Wrist (Questionable)
Line: Green Bay -10, 47 points
Fantasy impact: Andrew Quarless has been getting some run on the waiver wire with the possibility of Finley missing the rest of the season, yet the Green Bay backup has done little to showcase he’s ready for such responsibility. In replacement of Finley in Week 3, Quarless pulled in only three catches for 21 yards. Perhaps he will receive a handful of red-zone looks, but it would have to be a deep league to warrant consideration.
TV: NBC – 8:30 PM EST
The Packers win if… Rodgers works around his beat-up receiving corps, GB offense goes to town on a Minnesota defense yielding 30.2 points per contest (fourth-highest in NFL).
The Vikings win if… Peterson goes for 250 yards and four scores. Even then, game is still in doubt.
Prediction: Packers 27, Vikings 16
Seattle Seahawks at St. Louis Rams
The lowdown: Sorry, I know it helps search engine optimization, but I refuse to acknowledge a certain 44-year-old gray-haired gunslinger. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not above playing dirty for page views. After all, CAN TIM TEBOW SAVE THE ST. LOUIS RAMS?!?! See? That sentence just drove another 10,000 people to this article. But with The One Who Shall Not Be Named? We went through this song and dance in 2007! I know you’re desperate St. Louis, seeing how Kellen Clemens is your quarterback and everything, but if rousing excitement is your end game, you can at least give TIM TEBOW a call.
If you get a chance, take a gander at Seattle’s remaining schedule. Aside from battles with San Francisco and New Orleans, nothing pops up as mildly threatening. I know, I know. “On any given Sunday,” save the platitude buddy. If the Seahawks go 1-1 in those matchups, not out of the realm of possibility this squad goes 14-2. With a top-notch running game, Russell Wilson transforming from field general to straight-out solid quarterback and the league’s best defense, why wouldn’t this happen? Very impressive, not only with parity more universal than ever, but….MAYBE I lied about that whole betting ordeal from above. And, in theory, if one did, perhaps, make a bet, it might have concerned a certain team’s over/under win total…I’ve said too much…
Key injuries: STL QB Sam Bradford – Knee (IR), STL CB Cortland Finnegan – Hamstring (Questionable); SEA WR Percy Harvin – Hip (Doubtful)
Line: Seattle -11.5, 42.5 points
Fantasy impact: Surmounting a charge against Seattle’s front seven is not a fantasy-friendly endeavor. However, for those struggling to find an injury or bye-week replacement, St. Louis back Zac Stacy does have 210 rushing yards in his last three games, including strong performances against tough defenses in Carolina and Houston. As a flex play, owners could do a lot worse than implementing Stacy into the lineup.
TV: ESPN – 8:30 PM EST
The Seahawks win if… Marshawn Lynch cashes in on a Rams defense giving up the third-most rushing yards in the league, Seahawks defense preys on Clemens.
The Rams win if… Seriously, they considered Brett Favre over TIM TEBOW? (That’s right, Favre and Tebow in the same sentence. I know, I’m a sell-out.)
Prediction: Seahawks 24, Rams 7