Drew Brees was supposed to have his toughest matchup of the season last Monday night against the Green Bay Packers. With the great tandem of Al Harris and Charles Woodson, less-than stellar-numbers were projected for Brees.
He proved everybody wrong in a must-win game for the Saints. All Brees did was throw for 323 passing yards, four touchdowns, and zero interceptions. The only turnover for the Saints was a pass thrown by wide receiver Lance Moore, who also exploded for five catches, 115 yards, and two touchdowns.
This might have been the Saints' coming out party, as their defense held the Packers to just 29 points in a blow-out win, 55-29. Their defense stepped up with three interceptions and two sacks. This is what the Saints were supposed to play like all season.
If you have any Saints, they are must-starts now, including Pierre Thomas, who had his own coming out party with 87 rushing yards and two touchdowns, and he added three catches for 34 yards.
Once Reggie Bush comes back to full health, look out!
Brees picked apart one of the top pass defenses in the NFL and continued his case for the MVP award. Brees is also on pace to break Dan Marino's passing-yards-in-a-single-season record of 5,084.
In fact, both he and Kurt Warner are on pace to break his record. Brees has 3,574 and Warner has 3,506. Who will do it first? We shall see....
Rest of the games
IND@CLE Prediction: IND 37 CLE 31
Neither team plays defense so you have to start all your Colts and your Browns. Peyton Manning has been on fire after a slow start. Brady Quinn is out for the year, so Derek Anderson resumes the starting role.
I see him playing well here and Romeo Crennel will find out that it wasn't all Anderson's fault with the Browns collapsing this year. Colts should win on the road and continue their road to the playoffs, but the Browns will be heading in the other direction.
Boom: All Colts-The Colts should light up the scoreboard this week against one of the worst defenses in the NFL. I'd even consider Dominic Rhodes as a flex option this week.
Bust: Nobody-Both teams should score at will. The Colts do rank 12th against the pass, but that's because teams have run on them with their 25th ranked rushing defense. I like a bounce-back game for Derek Anderson, as he tries to win his job back for next year.
BAL@CIN Prediction: BAL 28 CIN 10
The Ravens should win big here. Their offense has been coming on the past few games and with their blow-out last weekend against the "tough" Eagles defense, they should have a field day against the awful Bengals defense.
Boom: Ravens defense- They feasted on McNabb last week and will have a similarly easy time with Ryan Fitzpatrick. Prediction: 5 sacks 3 interceptions 1 fumble recovery 1 td
Joe Flacco-He has surprised everybody with his play this year. He's only had 10 tds compared to 9 ints, but he will play well this week. Prediction: 230 passing yds 2 tds 0 ints
Bust: All Bengals-I wouldn't trust any Bengal in this week. If you have to start any of them, start T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
MIA@STL Prediction: MIA 27 STL 10
The Dolphins should roll here as they attempt to make a run at the playoffs. Chad Pennington has taken this team from one of the worst teams of last year to a playoff contender. His leadership and passing precision has made this offense scary.
Start all your Dolphins here and bench all your Rams, assuming Steven Jackson doesn't play.
Boom: All Dolphins-They will torch the Rams secondary with Pennington's arm and their weak run defense with a heavy dose of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. Expect big numbers from your Dolphins.
Bust: All Rams-The Rams won't be able to move the ball against a much improved Miami defense.
SF@BUF Prediction: SF 27 BUF 37
Both teams should score a ton of points, but the Bills should pull away at the end. Start your 'Niners and your Bills and of course neither defense.
Boom: Trent Edwards-Edwards had a huge game last week and proved me and other critics wrong last week. He should step up big here as he tries to keep the Bills in the AFC East race. Prediction: 295 passing yds 3 tds 0 ints
Lee Evans and Marshawn Lynch-Evans got back on track last week with five catches for 110 yds. He will come up big again. Lynch should continue to roll this week against an awful run defense. Prediction: Evans 6 catches 90 yds 1 td Lynch 110 rushing yds 1 td 4 catches 50 yds 1 td
Bust:Nobody- I would play all players from both teams, including Shaun Hill, who has surprised a lot of people with his play as of late.
CAR@GB Prediction: CAR 17 GB 27
The Packers should bounce back this week in a big way. Carolina struggles on the road and this is their second consecutive road game. They allowed four tds to Michael Turner last week, and their run defense has been spotty this year. Ryan Grant should have a nice game and Aaron Rodgers should bounce back nicely.
Boom: Ryan Grant- Grant has been having a nice second-half to the season thus far and it should continue this week. He had a decent game last week, but couldn't get going because the game got away from the Packers. Prediction: 95 rushing yds 1 td 2 catches 25 yds
Packers defense-Jake Delhomme has been turning the ball over frequently lately. On top of that, he is battling an elbow injury that makes him at less than 100 percent. They should take advantage and bounce back after an awful performance last Monday night. Prediction: 3 sacks 2 ints 1 fumble recovery 1 td
DeAngelo Williams-Williams should shred the Packers weak run defense this week and the Panthers will try and control the clock with Williams. Jonathan Stewart may not play either. Prediction: 100 rushing yds 1 td 4 catches-40 yards
Bust: Donald Driver-Greg Jennings has become Rodgers go-to-receiver and Driver has had some big games, because of the attention on Jennings. Lately though, Driver has not been involved very much and only has three touchdowns all season. Prediction: 5 catches 55 yds
Jake Delhomme-He hasn't played well lately and is battling an elbow injury. He's been making bad throws and the Panthers will rely on the running game this week. Prediction: 230 passing yds 1 td 2 ints
NO@TB Prediction: NO 21 TB 20
This is my upset of the week. The Saints are riding an emotional high after last Monday's blowout. Drew Brees has been on fire and nobody has stopped him lately. The Saints may also get Reggie Bush back, even at less than 100 percent, he will still be a factor. This should be a huge boost to the Saints glim playoff chances.
Boom: Lance Moore-This is another guy who has been on fire. With defenses keying on Marques Colston, Moore has been getting open at ease. He should burn the Bucs' cover-two defense. Prediction: 6 catches 80 yds 1 td
Pierre Thomas-He had his break-out game last game and the Bucs are only ranked 12th vs. the run. Bush should be back, but he will not get the goal-line carries and won't be the primary back. Prediction: 70 rushing yds 1 td, 2 catches 25 yds
Warrick Dunn-He had a huge game after being named the primary back with Earnest Graham out for the year. Cadillac Williams isn't healthy and only got garbage-time carries last week. Prediction: 90 rushing yds 1 td 6 catches 60 yds
Bust: Marques Colston-He only had one catch last week, and even though it was a 70 yd td, he still is too inconsistent to start. Moore is the Saints top wide receiver now and Ronde Barber will be covering Colston this week. Prediction: 4 catches 60 yds
Reggie Bush-This will be his first game back from injury and will be a little rusty. The Saints won't rush him back into the offense right away and he will split touches with Pierre Thomas. Prediction: 50 rushing yds 4 catches 40 yds
NYG@WAS Prediction: NYG 21 Was 17
The Giants want to try and kill the Redskins' playoff chances and this is the prime week to do it. Without possibly Brandon Jacobs and Plaxico Burress it may be a tough task, but that hasn't stopped the Giants before.
Many people were calling for a Cardinals upset last week and the Giants were entirely in control. That should be the case again this week.
Boom: Derrick Ward-If Jacobs is out, Ward will get the majority of the touches, with Ahmad Bradshaw stealing a few touches away. Ward should have a big game even against the 7th rushing defense in the NFL. Nobody can stop this Giants rushing attack. Prediction: 88 rushing yds 1 td 5 catches 40 yds
Domenik Hixon-If Burress is out again, Hixon should shine. He had 6 catches for 57 yds last week and will continue to be involved in the passing game. On top of that, he adds value in the return game and came a hair short of taking one to the house a few times last week. Prediction: 6 catches 60 yds 1 td
Bust: Clinton Portis-Portis will tough it out and had a big game last week, but the Giants run-defense has held just about every running back in check all year. Portis should still be starting for you, but expect a let-down. Prediction: 88 rushing yds 3 catches 30 yds
Jason Campbell- Campbell hasn't been reliable lately and the Giants defense won't make things any easier. Prediction: 175 passing yds 1 td 2 ints
ATL@SD Prediction: ATL 27 SD 30
This has must-win written all over it for the Chargers, but the same could have been said the last two weeks too.
I think the Falcons will keep it close with the balance attack of Michael Turner and Matt Ryan. LaDainian Tomlinson should bounce-back this week, but who knows with him and the play-calling anymore. Play all Chargers and Falcons.
Boom: Michael Turner- Turner should keep his magical season going against the 15th ranked rush defense. He will also want to stick it to his former team. Prediction: 90 rushing yds 1 td
Roddy White-The Ryan to White connection should continue this week against the worst ranked pass defense. Prediction: 8 catches 100 yds 1 td
Philip Rivers-Rivers has been pretty consistent all season with a few bad games. Rivers has been called upon to win the games for the Chargers late in the game. The Falcons rank 23rd against the pass and this won't be too tough for Rivers.
Bust: Nobody-I like all Falcons and Chargers in this game.
PIT@NE Prediction: PIT 17 NE 20
Both teams are having good seasons and Matt Cassel has been superb lately. You have to expect a let-down from Cassel after two straight 400-yard passing games. Should be a low-scoring game with both defenses playing well. I'll take the Pats at home.
Boom: Wes Welker-Nobody has been able to stop him all year and he's the most consistent receiver in the league. Even the Steelers stingy defense can't stop Welker. Prediction: 7 catches 90 yds
Mewelde Moore-He's done a great job filling in for Willie Parker when he's been asked to and won't disappoint this week. Moore is solid in the rushing game and heavily involved in the passing game. The Pats defense isn't the same. Prediction: 80 rushing yds 1 td 5 catches 50 yds
Bust: Matt Cassel-He's not going to pass for 400 yards this week against one of the top pass defenses. Prediction: 250 passing yds 1 td 1 ints
Sammy Morris-Morris hasn't been the same since his injury and the Steelers will make it a nightmare for him. Prediction: 40 rushing yds
DEN@NYJ Prediction: DEN 10 NYJ 24
The Jets have been on a major roll, much like the Packers did last season with Brett Favre. The Broncos have no defense and just gave up 30-plus points to the Oakland Raiders! Favre and company should have no problems scoring in this one.
Boom: Thomas Jones and Leon Washington-Both running backs will roll here. Denver has one of the worst running defenses in the league. Jones-90 rushing yds 1 td 3 catches 30 yds Washington-55 rushing yds 1 td 5 catches 60 yds 1 pr td
Jets defense-Jay Cutler is prone to interceptions and mistakes. The Jets will shut down the running game and make Cutler beat them, which will lead to turnovers. Prediction: 4 sacks 2 ints 1 fumble recovery
Bust: Peyton Hillis-Hillis has had a nice two-game stretch, but next he will try and run against the brick wall, Kris Jenkins. He won't find any running room. Prediction: 50 rushing yds 4 catches 30 yds
Brandon Marshall-Marshall will go up against Darrelle Revis, who's become a shut-down corner this year. Marshall has struggled against top cornerbacks and won't find many big plays. 3 catches 40 yds
KC@OAK Prediction: KC 21 OAK 27
The Raiders woke up big time last week and should continue to roll against the Chiefs, who just gave up 54 points to Buffalo. I don't know if you can start Russell, regardless of the matchup, but if you have to start him, then do it.
Boom: Darren McFadden-McFadden has two tds last week and finally became involved again in the game plan. I like Justin Fargas too, but McFadden should find the paydirt. Prediction: 77 rushing yds 4 catches 40 yds 1 td
Larry Johnson-The Raiders struggle vs. the run and should build on last week's success vs. the Bills. Johnson had 81 rushing yds on just seven carries. He should go over the century mark this week. Prediction: 100 rushing yds 1 td 3 catches 30 yds
CHI@MIN Prediction: CHI 17 MIN 21
The Vikings had a big victory vs. the Jaguars last week and their defense stepped up big time. They should force Kyle Orton into mistakes and keep Matt Forte in check. Adrian Peterson should have a nice game and will set up a couple bomb passes from Gus Frerotte.
Boom: Vikings defense-The Bears offense has not been the same since Orton's returned from injury. Their offense flows through Matt Forte and the Vikings should stop him. Prediction: 4 sacks 2 ints 1 td
Bernard Berrian-Berrian will face his former team and will be pumped up to try and stick it to them. The success of Peterson should set-up a few bombs to Berrian and he should find the end zone. Prediction: 4 catches 80 yds 1 td
Bust: Matt Forte-Forte goes up against one of the top rushing defenses. Forte should be involved in the passing game, but it won't be enough. Prediction: 40 rushing yds 3 catches 40 yds
JAX@HOU Prediction: JAX 24 HOU 27
Neither team plays defense and it should be a fun and high-scoring game. Play all Texans and Jaguars.
Boom: All Jaguars and Texans-If you're a fan of offensive games then this will be right up your alley. Both defenses have struggled all year and the Jaguars defense has especially underachieved all year. The Jags will be playing for Jack Del Rio's job, but it won't be enough.
That's it for this week's games, enjoy!
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