WR Start: Sidney Rice, Minnesota Vikings
It didn't take long for Rice to get back in the swing of things.
In just his third game back from a serious hip injury, he caught five balls (six targets) for 105 yards and two touchdowns. Even without Harvin by his side, he appeared close to his old "freak of nature" self, beating double-teams with relative ease and overmatching defenders with the ball in the air.
Rice saw 14 targets in his first two games with Brett Favre at quarterback, so regardless of who's behind center he'll receive plenty of traffic.
The Giants secondary has not looked sharp in recent weeks, frequently looking confused and blowing downfield assignments. The Redskins were unable to make them pay for their transgressions, but the Vikings will.
With the rust shaken off, and apparently fully healthy, Rice is set to make a major splash in the final four weeks.
There's no questioning Welker's high level of performance over the past four weeks: 28 receptions for 317 yards and four scores. Nevertheless, don't except a full-blown return to Moss era form.
Will Wes Welker have over 100 yards vs the Bears?
In the three weeks prior he was held under five receptions and below 40 yards in each contest, and he was held out of the end zone between week three and week ten.
The Pats don't possess a feared field stretcher (Brandon Tate) to open up the inside for Welker. It hasn't stopped him lately, but makes his job exponentially more difficult.
Expect the Chicago pass defense (13th) to get aggressive with him at the line and limit his ability in space, especially in the red zone. The Bears held another excellent slot receiver, Davone Bess, to one reception for nine yards in week 11.
Welker is still Tom Brady's number one option (97 targets) but there's a lot of footballs to go around between tight ends and backs in that offense.
QB Start: Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
The "gunslinger" has performed brilliantly the last two weeks posting QB ratings of 146.2 and 117.0. While Cutler's pass attempts are on the decline, his decision-making has improved without hindering his calling card playmaking ability.
Since the Bears week eight bye he's tossed ten touchdowns against just three interceptions (5:0 last two weeks). Entering week 14 of last season he had already gifted 20 interceptions, double his current total of ten.
Wide receiver Earl Bennett has emerged as Cutler's security blanket, a dependable possession receiver to balance out Chicago's deep threats. The efficiency of their running attack has also opened up opportunities in the play action passing game and taken pressure off Cutler.
New England's 31st ranked pass defense is tailor made for the Bears style – they don't pressure the quarterback (21 sacks) and allow 67 percent completions.
QB Sit: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills
His random four-touchdown performances haven't made a believer out of me. Yes, Fitzpatrick has a thrown at least one TD pass in every start this season, but overall production has regressed sharply.
Fitzpatrick's thrown an interception in six of his last seven games, including three games of two picks (fumbled three times last week, lost two). His big plays are often the result of scrambling and buying time and not within the Bills' offense. Obviously consistency will never be a strength in this freelance structure.
On the season Fitzpatrick averages just 6.7 yards per pass attempt, and his completion percentage of 58.3 ranks 26th in the league.
Will Buffalo beat the Browns?
The Browns rank 20th against the pass, but are second in the NFL with 18 interceptions. They bottled up Chad Henne last week forcing a 37.8 QB rating and ballhawking for three picks. There will be no air explosion for "Mr. Harvard" this week.
RB Start: LeGarrette Blount, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Concerns over his recent struggles in short yardage and goal line situations have surfaced, but he remains a MUST start in week 14....