New York Jets (-4) at Detroit, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: The Lions recorded their second win of the season last week, although they get an angry Jets squad Sunday coming off a loss in which they were shut out at home. Matthew Stafford tossed four touchdowns during his return to the lineup, but his ugly 4.7 YPA mark suggests that number had everything to do with volume, and there's plenty of room for improvement. Jahvid Best hasn't reached the end zone since scoring five times over the first two weeks this year, but with Kevin Smith dealing with knee swelling, he makes for a fine buy-low target in fantasy leagues. Calvin Johnson has seven TDs over the last four games and is in the conversation as the No. 1 wide receiver in the NFL, so it should be fun watching him line up opposite Darrelle Revis in Week 9... New York's five game winning streak came to an abrupt halt last week in surprising fashion, losing 9-0 at home coming off a bye. Mark Sanchez has a 1:4 TD:INT ratio over the past three games, and he'll have to deal with a Detroit front seven that has played extremely well of late. Santonio Holmes dropped a would-be touchdown last week and yielded a bunch of targets to Jerricho Cotchery, but he saw an increased number of snaps and is someone to target in fantasy leagues on the cheap. The Jets enter as favorites and rightfully so, but Detroit is 2-1 at home this season, with their lone loss by just three points to a strong Eagles team, so Sunday won't be some cakewalk.
Predictions: Matthew Stafford throws for 240 yards with a touchdown to Brandon Pettigrew, while Jahvid Best totals 80 yards and hits paydirt. LaDainian Tomlinson counters with a similar line, while Mark Sanchez adds 225 passing yards with scoring strikes to Braylon Edwards and Dustin Keller, as the road team prevails. Jets 21-20.
Tampa Bay (+8.5) at Atlanta, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: Both teams enter 5-2 and tied for first place in the NFC South, although while Atlanta has outscored its opponents by 36 points, Tampa Bay has been outscored by 27 this year. The Falcons are tough to beat at home, but the Bucs come in with a perfect 3-0 record on the road. Coach Raheem Morris says stats are for losers, which makes sense considering they point to his team being a huge fluke so far. Make no mistake, with Josh Freeman, Mike Williams and LeGarrette Blount as a foundation, this team has a bright future, but it's clear they have been quite fortunate so far in 2010. Still, this Falcons team is hardly a juggernaut defensively, and division games have a tendency to be close thanks to familiarity, so don't be surprised if Sunday's matchup isn't the blowout the point spread suggests it will be... Matt Ryan, who is 16-1 at home during his career, has thrown seven touchdowns over three games in Atlanta this season and should have another big game against a Bucs' secondary that has allowed 14 scores over seven games. Tampa Bay has picked off a league-high 14 passes as well, but they have recorded an NFL-low six sacks, so the defense has been more lucky than good. In fact, Tampa Bay's also given up a league-high 5.2 YPC, so Michael Turner should be in store for a nice game as well.
Predictions: Josh Freeman throws for 240 yards with touchdown tosses to Mike Williams and Kellen Winslow, while LeGarrette Blount adds 80 rushing yards and a TD run. Michael Turner answers with 125 rushing yards and two touchdowns, while Matt Ryan adds 250 passing yards with scoring strikes to Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez, as Atlanta wins in a shootout. Falcons 28-24.
Miami (+5) at Baltimore, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: Miami comes in 0-3 at home and 4-0 on the road, so they might welcome the trip to Baltimore. The Dolphins are 4-3 and seemingly competitive in just about every game, but it's hard to pinpoint how with a quarterback who has gotten just 6.9 YPA with an 8:7 TD:INT ratio. The Ravens' defense isn't as stout as in years past, but they are undefeated at home and are coming off a bye, so this isn't an easy task for Miami. Jake Long is the only left tackle in football yet to allow a sack this season... Joe Flacco has thrown five touchdowns with zero interceptions over the past two games, and he's gotten 8.0 YPA over the past three contests, so he's playing the best football of his career of late. Ray Rice has been a disappointment in fantasy leagues, but he remains a dangerous weapon, and Anquan Boldin is on pace to record 12 touchdown catches. In a close game, home field is the difference Sunday.
Predictions: Chad Henne throws for 200 yards with a touchdown to Brandon Marshall, while Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams total 80 yards and a touchdown from the latter. Ray Rice gains 90 yards from scrimmage, while Willis McGahee punches in a goal-line score. Joe Flacco adds 250 passing yards with TD strikes to Anquan Boldin and Todd Heap, as Baltimore comes out on top. Ravens 24-17.
New England (-4.5) at Cleveland, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: Cleveland enters 2-5 but moving in the right direction and no longer a doormat, as they have had to deal with an extremely difficult schedule so far. The quarterback position remains up in the air long term, but Colt McCoy gets another audition this week against a New England defense that has ceded 7.4 YPA and 13 passing TDs over seven games this season. Peyton Hillis, who has been one of the most pleasant surprises in fantasy leagues this year, used the bye week to get fully healthy, as he looks to be finally over his thigh injury. He'll once again be the focal point of the Browns' offense Sunday... The Patriots don't jump out as the league's best team, but they enter 6-1 and just as worthy as any other team to be Super Bowl favorites. Over the last four games, Tom Brady has gotten just 6.6 YPA with four touchdowns, averaging a paltry 211.0 passing yards over that span. The offense has been dramatically different with Randy Moss gone, as defenses have been able to defend a less than 100 percent Wes Welker with ease, and a hobbled (and aged) Deion Branch hasn't been the answer. With no downfield threat, New England plans to win games like they used to, which has certainly worked in the "W" column, but it's bad news for Brady's fantasy value. He's still a top-10 option, but he's no longer in the top-five, although he has a favorable matchup this week facing a Cleveland secondary that has yielded 7.6 YPA on the year.
Predictions: Colt McCoy throws for 175 yards with a TD to Brian Robiskie, while Peyton Hillis totals 80 yards and reaches the end zone. Danny Woodhead and BenJarvus Green-Ellis combine for 90 yards but don't score, while Tom Brady throws for 250 yards and two touchdowns, with Rob Gronkowski and Wes Welker the recipients, as New England wins it. Patriots 23-20.
Arizona (+8.5) at Minnesota, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: The Cardinals are 1-3 over their past four games and enter as heavy underdogs in Minnesota. Beanie Wells is dealing with further swelling in his knee, and while he expects to play Sunday, it's been disappointing to see him get just 3.4 YPC while getting a real opportunity to act as Arizona's featured back. That number shouldn't climb too much against a Vikings' front seven that has defended the run pretty well this season. Derek Anderson replaces Max Hall at quarterback, and while he's continued to battle accuracy issues, it's clear Anderson currently gives the team its best chance of winning. He should have time to look downfield Sunday, as Minnesota has recorded an NFL-low six sacks this year after leading the league with 48 last season... The Vikes are just 2-5 on the year and released Randy Moss during a tumultuous week. Brett Favre once again will play through his injuries, but he has to be regretting his decision to return for one more season. Percy Harvin is questionable with an ankle injury, and he'll have a harder time racking up catches with Moss now out of town even if he's able to suit up. Expect Adrian Peterson to carry the offensive load in Week 9.
Predictions: Derek Anderson throws for 230 yards with touchdown tosses to Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston, while Beanie Wells and the Arizona rushing attack is held in check. Adrian Peterson counters with 150 total yards and two touchdowns, while Brett Favre adds 225 passing yards and a TD toss to Visanthe Shiancoe, as Minny prevails. Vikings 24-20.
Chicago (-3) at Buffalo, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: Buffalo is still the only winless team in the NFL, although they came awfully close to winning last week in overtime against the Chiefs. The Bills have played in Baltimore and in Kansas City the past two weeks, and they have lost both games by just three points, so they have become more competitive as the season has progressed. A big reason why has been Ryan Fitzpatrick improving the passing attack, but the defense remains a major problem, as the secondary has allowed 7.5 YPA and a 15:1 TD:INT ratio along with 5.0 YPC on the ground... The Bears are 1-3 after starting the season 3-0, although they have the benefit of coming off a bye this week. And while they have to travel, Sunday's game is in Toronto, so there's hardly a guarantee of a home-field factor for Buffalo. Jay Cutler gets a favorable matchup, but he's been sacked 19 times over the past 2.5 games, as the offensive line has been a major problem for Chicago.
Predictions: Ryan Fitzpatrick throws for 230 yards with touchdown strikes to Steve Johnson and C.J. Spiller, while Fred Jackson is held in check. Matt Forte responds with 90 total yards and scores, while Jay Cutler adds 260 passing yards and two TDs, with Johnny Knox and Devin Hester the recipients, as Chicago comes out on top. Bears 21-20.
San Diego (-2.5) at Houston, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: San Diego ended its three-game losing streak with a victory over Tennessee last week, but at 3-5, every game is going to be close to a must win for some time. The combined win-loss record of the Chargers' opponents has been 35-25, which is the second-toughest schedule in the NFL in terms of opponents' record. The team has been decimated by injuries, and now Antonio Gates is suffering a serious foot injury to go along with his toe ailment. Still, no matter how bleak his outlook appears, don't be surprised when Gates toughs it out and suits up Sunday. With an 8.7 YPA mark and 15 touchdown tosses, Philip Rivers is an MVP candidate and should shred a Houston secondary that has allowed the second-most passing scores (16) in the league this season... Since throwing for 497 yards and three touchdowns in Week 2, Matt Schaub has gotten just 6.8 YPA with a 6:4 TD:INT ratio over five games. He's taken a major step back compared to last season, and he won't have an easy task against a stingy Chargers' defense this week. Houston is currently in third place in the AFC South and plays three of its next four games on the road after facing the Chargers on Sunday, so this is an important game to say the least. San Diego has more talent, but they are beatable on the road, as they are 0-4 away from home this season.
Predictions: Philip Rivers throws for 275 yards and two touchdowns to Antonio Gates and Seyi Ajirotutu, while Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert total 90 yards on the ground. Arian Foster answers with 100 combined yards and a TD run, while Matt Schaub adds 240 passing yards with scoring strikes to Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter, as Houston pulls off the upset. Texans 24-23.
New Orleans (-6.5) at Carolina, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: Carolina enters 1-6, having scored more than 10 points in just three of their seven games this season. The run blocking has taken a major step back, but what's up with Jonathan Stewart? He's looked like a top NFL back over the past two years, and now supposedly fully healthy for the first time ever, he's just not breaking tackles like in the past. Of course, it's probably safe to say at this point that offseason surgery has had a lingering effect, and Carolina's offense has been a huge problem. Still, with DeAngelo Williams (foot) out again in Week 9, Stewart is a viable option in fantasy leagues... New Orleans is coming off a big win against the Steelers last week, but they are vulnerable on the road, especially outdoors, and nearly lost to the Panthers when these two teams met in Week 4. Drew Brees swears the recent rumors of his knee injury have been overblown, but he faces a Panthers' secondary that has allowed an NFL-low 6.0 YPA on the year.
Predictions: Matt Moore throws for 225 yards with a touchdown to Steve Smith, while Jonathan Stewart adds 80 rushing yards and hits paydirt. The Saints' rushing attack is stymied, while Drew Brees adds 230 passing yards with scoring strikes to Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson, as New Orleans wins on a late field goal.
New York Giants (-7) at Seattle, Sunday 4:05 p.m.
Comments: Seattle currently resides in first place in the NFC West, but they are currently dealing with more injuries than any team in football. Red Bryant (knee) and Colin Cole (ankle) are both out, which are devastating blows to the defensive line. Mike Williams (knee), Golden Tate (ankle) and Russell Okung (ankle) are all banged up as well. Moreover, Matt Hasselbeck (concussion) has been ruled out, meaning Charlie Whitehurst, who has yet to throw a single pass in the NFL, gets the start Sunday. Facing a Giants' defense that has given up just 6.2 YPA and has recorded 24 sacks, Whitehurst has a tall order in his debut as a starter... New York enters riding a four game winning streak and coming off a bye, but it's never easy playing in Seattle. Eli Manning has thrown nine touchdown passes over the past three games, although he's also tied for the league-high with 11 interceptions this season. If the Giants avoid turnovers, they might turn Sunday's contest into a laugher.
Predictions: Charlie Whitehurst manages to throw for 175 yards with a TD to John Carlson, but while the Seahawks' rushing attack is held in check, Leon Washington returns a kickoff for a touchdown. Ahmad Bradshaw gains 80 rushing yards, while Eli Manning adds 250 passing yards with TD strikes to Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham, as the road team prevails. Giants 23-17.
Indianapolis (+3) at Philadelphia, Sunday 4:15 p.m.
Comments: Indy has won three straight and as usual looks like one of the best teams in the NFL. It feels crazy to see the Colts as underdogs, but traveling during a short week is never easy, and Andy Reid is 11-0 coming off byes during his career. Peyton Manning's 7.3 YPA mark is actually one of the lowest of his career, but that hardly matters since he's also posted a 15:2 TD:INT ratio. Donald Brown is the likely starter in Indy's backfield, while Austin Collie (thumb) is apparently ready to come back much sooner than originally anticipated... The Eagles will turn back to Michael Vick at quarterback, and it remains to be seen if the layoff (he hasn't played since Week 4) will have a major effect. He was playing lights out (8.3 YPA, 6:0 TD:INT ratio) before suffering a rib injury. DeSean Jackson (concussion) is also expected to return to action, while LeSean McCoy should have a big game against a Colts' front seven that has been gashed for 4.9 YPC and eight rushing scores this season.
Predictions: Peyton Manning throws for 270 yards with touchdown tosses to Reggie Wayne and Jacob Tamme, while Donald Brown runs for 70 yards sans a TD. LeSean McCoy responds with 125 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown run, while Michael Vick adds 240 passing yards, 40 rushing yards and scoring strikes to DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, as Philly gets the victory. Eagles 27-20.
Kansas City (+2.5) at Oakland, Sunday 4:15 p.m.
Comments: After failing to score a touchdown in Week 6, the Raiders have somehow scored 92 points over the past two games, thanks to Darren McFadden continuing to look like one of the best running backs in football, and Jason Campbell suddenly playing well. Since posting a lower QB rating in Week 6 than JaMarcus Russell ever did, Campbell has gotten 10.9 YPA with a 4:0 TD:INT ratio. However, he faces a tough task this week against a KC secondary that has yielded only 6.5 YPA this year... Jamaal Charles totaled 238 yards on just 26 touches last week, and he's now averaging a whopping 6.5 YPC. He's getting a highly impressive 3.4 YPC after contact, has yet to commit a single penalty this season and is a superior blocker than Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson, so there's a legitimate argument Charles is the best running back in football. He's on pace to finish the year with 1,959 total yards on just 272 touches, and if he were ever given a full workload, the history books could be rewritten. The Chiefs' rushing attack should have a big game Sunday against a soft Oakland front seven. Tamba Hali might be the best defensive player few people know about, as he's been playing out of his mind this season. His 36 quarterback pressures are the second most in the NFL.
Predictions: Jason Campbell throws for 225 yards and a touchdown toss to Zach Miller, while Darren McFadden totals 110 yards and hits paydirt. Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones combine for 160 yards, with Jones getting the goal-line TD. Matt Cassel adds 180 passing yards with a TD toss to Tony Moeaki, as the road team prevails. Chiefs 23-20.
Dallas (+8.5) at Green Bay, Sunday 8:20 p.m.
Comments: After getting blown out by Jacksonville at home last week, Dallas is 1-6 and has nothing to play for. The team has seemingly given up on coach Wade Phillips, and all that's left to play for is to help fantasy teams. Jason Witten was targeted 12 times during Jon Kitna's first start for the Cowboys last week, and he's likely to be relied upon heavily moving forward. With Dallas Clark joining Jermichael Finley on IR and Zach Miller and Vernon Davis both banged up, Witten could easily be considered the No. 2 tight end in fantasy leagues right now... Green Bay won in New York last week, as their defense shut out the Jets 9-0. Aaron Rodgers has taken a step back this season, but the Cowboys have allowed 8.0 YPA (second most in football), as opposing passers have accrued an NFL-high 105.4 QB rating. The Packers should move the ball with ease Sunday night.
Predictions: Jon Kitna throws for 240 yards with TD tosses to Dez Bryant and Miles Austin, while the Cowboys' running game is held in check. Brandon Jackson runs for 70 yards and scores, while Aaron Rodgers adds 275 passing yards with a rushing touchdown of his own as well as a TD strike to James Jones, as Green Bay comes out on top. Packers 24-17.
Pittsburgh (-5) at Cincinnati, Monday 8:30 p.m.
Comments: The Bengals enter 2-5, which means they have the third-worst record in the conference after having a home game in the playoffs last season. The team hopes to get healthier in the secondary this week, but they have problems on both sides of the ball. One was an absolute gift that should have been intercepted, but Terrell Owens recorded two more touchdowns last week, giving him five over the past four games. His 85 targets are the most in the NFL, and there's little reason not to expect that to continue considering the Bengals' declining defense and mediocre rushing attack. Owens is defying the odds remaining so productive at age 36, but it's clear he's got plenty left in the tank, although he and Carson Palmer have a difficult task Monday against a Pittsburgh secondary that has allowed just six passing scores this year (second fewest in the NFL)... The Steelers lost in primetime in New Orleans last week, so expect a focused effort come Monday night. Not only is Pittsburgh battling Baltimore for the AFC North title, but with Super Bowl aspirations, playoff seeding (and home-field advantage) starts coming into play. It was surprising to see Ben Roethlisberger post such a pedestrian line against the Saints' beatable defense last week, so don't be surprised if he bounces back with a big performance in Cincinnati.
Predictions: Carson Palmer throws for 200 yards with a couple of interceptions and a TD to Terrell Owens. Cedric Benson struggles to get 60 rushing yards, but he does manage a goal-line score. Rashard Mendenhall counters with 80 total yards and a touchdown run, while Ben Roethlisberger adds 260 passing yards with scoring strikes to Hines Ward and Heath Miller, as Pittsburgh wins it. Steelers 24-17.