If you’re still hanging in there and reading these articles at this point, you’re either starting your fantasy playoffs or a lock to be in them. So congrats on making it this far.
First off, my apologies for missing my RB column this week. I was in fact with the mighty Metallica and and my old friends in Machine Head on Monday as they tore through Boise.
You can imagine what my head felt like the day after.
Speaking of hangover migraines, what the hell has happened to the mighty steel curtain? Four losses in a row, including ones to Kansas City and Oakland. Did I miss hell freezing over? If I still lived in Phoenix I could answer that myself. Should we be more surprised that the Raiders upset both Pennsylvania teams?
Okay, on to week 14…
–Team Defense Start and Sit – Week 14–
Plug and Play
|Solid defensive option||If they are on your bench, leave ‘em there||Reasonable risk/reward option|
Thursday Night Football
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
After four sad losses in a row, the Steelers need some life, but they’ll have to do it without their defensive spark plug (Troy Polamalu ) and potentially their offensive steed, (Hines Ward ). That said, Pittsburgh never loses to the Browns in Cleveland, so it’s a safe bet they’ll be hungry and angry. Any small chance they have at getting into the playoffs hinges on a win this week. The Steelers defense should be a solid play, the Browns, yeah, 'nuff said.
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons
The high flying Saints offense has been in some nail-biting games this season against teams they should dominate. They beat the Falcons in Week Eight, but it came down to the wire, and the Falcons still managed to put up 27 points. Drew Brees is not going to score 30 points every week. For Atlanta, they may be without QB Matt Ryan and RB Michael Turner again. New Orleans should stay undefeated.
Detroit Lions at Baltimore Ravens
The Lions will have to go with Daunte Culpepper this week at QB, as Matthew Stafford is hurt. The Ravens have been struggling since the bye, so the game should be closer than it may look. Still Ray Rice alone should score enough to win the game.
Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears
Suddenly interception prone Jay Cutler gave up 4 INT in a Week One loss to the Packers. I don’t expect four giveaways this time, but I do see Green Bay’s defense scoring a defensive TD. Aaron Rodgers has his team rolling right now, and the Bears will probably play more like the Cubs this week.
Seattle Seahawks at Houston Texans
I’d almost always go with the Texans in this matchup, but the loss of both Steve Slaton and Owen Daniels may prove too much. Without Daniels they are 0-4, now their pass receiving RB is gone too? I think the Seahawks will find a way to win this one, especially if they take advantage of Nate Burleson and Justin Forsett and their defense can man up. This is only their second matchup ever.
Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts
Is this it? Is this the week the Colts get knocked out of the undefeated column? The Broncos are hard to nail down this season. Last week’s win was a convincing one, but it came against the Chiefs. I don’t like either defense this week, despite the potential for a low scoring game. neither team coughs up many turnovers, nor do they create many.
Miami Dolphins at Jacksonville Jaguars
The battle of Florida part deux. The Dolphins are on my black list. I pick them to upset the Pats early in the season and they lose, last week I pick the Pats and Miami wins by one freaking point. I hope they break a fin this week against the marginal play of the Jaguars. However, I’ll go with coach Tony Sporano’s 5-0 December win streak.
Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs
One might look at this game as the weekly snooze fest, but the Bills are more talented than their record suggests. Terrell Owens is playing for another contract, and Matt Cassell is coming back from last week’s mid-game benching. I don’t expect a barn burner, but it could be fun. Look for the Bill’s defense to score some points this week.
Cincinnati Bengals at Minnesota Vikings
This for me is the toughest game of the week to call. Both teams have great defenses this season, and both should be played this week. I think we may see the Vikings face their first two game losing streak. Adrian Peterson has struggled lately, which may force Favre to rely on his aging arm. The Bengals secondary, which is 6th-best this season, combined with their 4th-ranked rush defense has me leaning towards a Cincy win.
Carolina Panthers at New England Patriots
This is exactly what Tom Brady and the Patriots need to get back on track, a team geared towards the run and a game played at home. New England has lost three of four, and it seems implausible that it would continue again this week. Look for Brady to come out gunning. The Panthers are a team that can easily turn the tables though.
New York Jets at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I think this game hinges on the Jets defense. If Rex Ryan’s crew can rattle Josh Freeman , I think turnovers will be the decisive factor in Tampa. The big question on offense is how QB Kellen Clemens will play in place of Mark Sanchez . If Clemens struggles like he did last week, the Jets could be looking at an upset.
St. Louis Rams at Tennessee Titans
The Titans’ Achilles heel this season is its pass defense, but the arm of Kyle Boller is not likely to cause many Tennessee fans to lose sleep. As long as the Titans' rush defense continues to be solid, and if they can keep Steven Jackson in check, this should be another win Tennessee. But overconfidence could lead to an upset.
Washington Redskins at Oakland Raiders
The Raiders seem to tank after big wins, and the Redskins are more desperate right now. I think the Redskins defense will prove the difference in this battle of under-performing teams. It will be interesting to see how Washington’s newest tailback, Quinton Ganther , will perform against a weak rush defense. The skins win if they can avoid another fourth quarter meltdown.
San Diego Chargers at Dallas Cowboys
Dallas vaulted to the top of their division despite last week’s loss to the Giants. Meanwhile, the Chargers continue their traditional late season win streak. The Cowboys are better at home, but will it be enough to stop Dallas? The San Diego defense gave up 23 points to Cleveland last week. If they play that sloppy again, Dallas will move to 9 – 4. This game could be come a shoot out deep in the heart of Texas.
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants
This may be the game of the week: two division rivals facing off with the Giants really needing a win to stay in the playoff hunt with Dallas and these Eagles. I think the game may come down to a Philly defensive play, perhaps an Asanti Samuel pick of Eli Manning . Brian Westbrook could be back for this game against the G-men.
Monday Night Football
Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers
The Cardinals are coming off one of their season’s best wins against a nearly undefeated Vikings team. This week would seem like easier pickings, but the 49ers have always played Arizona tough and have had their share of upset victories, including the season opener this year. Cards QB Kurt Warner has been on fire lately with a 120 passer rating, and all the gears seem to be clicking right now. Look for a good game, but ultimately a Cards win.
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