RB Start: Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills
After recommending Jackson as a start last week, I'm going right back to the well with him again. He had his best line of the season against Detroit, rushing for 133 yards on 25 carries with a TD and catching six passes for 37 yards adding a second score.
Two fumbles (one lost) are disconcerting, but not a reason to panic, certainly not this week anyway as C.J. Spiller will be on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.
The Bills got overexcited with the success of Fitzpatrick, but are now re-embracing their ground game roots.
Jackson is a second half runner who gets stronger with an increased workload. He averaged 21 rushing yards more per game (77) in the final eight weeks of last season than he netted in the opening eight.
With Cincinnati now 2-7 and coming off a sixth straight heart wrenching defeat, a lackadaisical effort on Sunday would not surprise.
Forte ran for 69 yards in Week 10, shockingly his second highest total of the season. He's averaging just 47 yards per game on the ground, and accrued 35 percent of his 470 total in one week (166 at Carolina in Week 5). Take away that week and he's barely cracking the 30-yard barrier.
It's hard to pin the blame on him as he's rarely given an opportunity to succeed. Forte has only gotten 20 or more carries in two weeks, and under 15 carries in six weeks.
Offensive coordinator Mike Martz will give up on the running game before it even gets a chance to click. Not to say that 'clicking' is a likely outcome, as the offensive line rarely wins the battle upfront. Right now his greatest attribute is a receiver out of the backfield (30 receptions), but his involvement has been limited with the recent incorporation of Greg Olsen into the game plan.
The Dolphins rush defense is on the decline (16th), but this week presents an opportune matchup to climb the ladder.
QB Start: Kyle Orton, Denver Broncos
Orton has been the second most productive passer in the NFL thru 10 weeks, behind only the record-setting pace of Philip Rivers. He's on pace to finish with 622 pass attempts (the record is 691 by Drew Bledsoe) and his low for attempts in a game is 29. Despite an overly active arm, his proficiency has not taken a hit.
Orton has yet to post a negative TD/INT rate in any game (16:5 rate on the season). He is not opposed to spreading the wealth, hitting six receivers for three or more receptions in Week 8, and five more in Week 10.
Against a suddenly streaking San Diego team, the Broncos will be forced to the air to keep pace—likely in comeback mode.
The Chargers boast the league's third-ranked pass defense, but kind scheduling in the first six weeks aided their standing (KC, JAX, SEA, AZ, OAK, STL). They allowed 253 yards on 10 completions to Vince Young in Week 8, so they can certainly be exploited.
Despite his bizarre contract extension (with stipulations), the luster on McNabb is gradually fading.
McNabb has thrown at least one interception in seven straight weeks and 11 total during that span. To exacerbate matters, he's orchestrated just one multiple touchdown game all season (last week after falling behind 35-0). McNabb connected on 76 and 71-yard touchdown bombs against Philadelphia, but that's not characteristic of the 'Skins offense. His yards per pass attempt have only surpassed 7.5 in two of 10 games this season.
The Titans corners play a similar style to the Eagles, but Tennessee will rely on the front four to get pressure (27 sacks) rather than heavy blitzing. They rank 25th in yardage allowed, but have intercepted 14 passes against 11 touchdowns. Expect McNabb to be bated into apparent 'rhythm' throws on more than one occasion.
WR Start: Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles
After a pair of quiet performances, Maclin rebounded with a four reception 79-yard effort and a touchdown in a thrashing of Washington. His 48-yard acrobatic TD grab was his seventh score of the season (tied for fifth).