Chicago (+1.5) at Miami, Thursday 8:20 p.m.
Comments: After opening 3-0 and then following a 1-3 stretch, the Bears have won back-to-back games. Chicago is 3-1 on the road, but traveling during a short week is an especially tough task, as Miami benefits from the Thursday schedule. Jay Cutler has thrown five touchdowns over the past two weeks, and heís been sacked just twice over that span, but he hasnít reached 7.5 YPA in a game since Week 3 (he got 9.6 YPA over the first three games this year). Still, Miami has a middling pass defense, and Chicagoís newly-improved pass protection bodes well for Cutlerís long-term health. Matt Forte has gotten 3.5 YPC or fewer in seven of nine contests this season, and heís topped 70 yards rushing just once in 2010. The offensive line has been a big reason why, but Forte is going to go down as a major fantasy disappointment for the second straight year... The Dolphins won at home for the first time all season last week, with an impressive 29-17 victory over the Titans. Chad Penningtonís run as starting quarterback was brief, as his career appears to be over after yet another shoulder injury. Chad Henne (knee) might not be lost for the year as originally feared, but all signs point to Tyler Thigpen getting the start against the Bears. Thigpen has impressed when given the chance before, and heís certainly one of the better third-string quarterbacks in the league, but he faces a Chicago secondary that has allowed just 6.0 YPA and six passing scores Ė both NFL lows. Still, his insertion into the lineup canít hurt Brandon Marshall, who hasnít topped 65 yards in any of his past four games and is still stuck on one touchdown catch this year. Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams have a tough task as well, as the Bearsí front seven has yielded only 3.5 YPC this season Ė the third lowest mark in football. The Bearsí defense is legit, but home field is the difference Thursday.
Predictions: Jay Cutler throws for 250 yards with a touchdown to Johnny Knox, while Matt Forte totals 65 yards. Chester Taylor scores from the goal line, while Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams combine for 100 total yards and the former reaches the end zone. Tyler Thigpen adds 200 passing yards with a TD toss to Brandon Marshall, as Miami comes out on top. Dolphins 20-17.
Buffalo (+5.5) at Cincinnati, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: Buffalo won for the first time this season last week, and despite the team's 1-8 record, they haven't lost by more than a field goal since Week 5. Ryan Fitzpatrick has improved the offense, but after getting off to such a hot start, he's gotten just 5.4 YPA with a 3:3 TD:INT ratio over the past three games. The Bengals have been surprisingly stingy against the pass this year, allowing the third-lowest YPA (6.4) in the NFL... Cincinnati hasn't won since Week 3, when they beat a Panthers team widely regarded as the worst in the league. Entering riding a six game losing streak, it's been a hard fall from grace for the Bengals, who hosted a playoff game last year. Still, the team has faced a difficult schedule, and Carson Palmer could have a big day against a Bills defense that has been shredded for 18 touchdowns with just two picks on the year. Cedric Benson sat out practice this week with a foot injury, and if he were to miss Sunday's game, Bernard Scott would be a viable fantasy option against a Buffalo front seven that has given up 4.7 YPC and nine scores on the ground this season.
Predictions: Ryan Fitzpatrick throws for 230 yards with a touchdown to Stevie Johnson, while Fred Jackson adds 75 total yards and scores. Cedric Benson answers with 90 rushing yards and a TD run, while Carson Palmer throws for 275 yards with scoring strikes to Terrell Owens and Jermaine Gresham, as Cincy finally gets back into the win column. Bengals 24-17.
Detroit (+7) at Dallas, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: The Lions enter with the worst record in the history of the NFL by a team that has outscored its opponents. The fact Detroit "leads" the league in drops and penalties might have something to do with it, and they continue to struggle on the road. Still, Shaun Hill should be able to move the ball against a suspect Cowboys defense, and the more advanced metrics suggest the Lions have been a far better team than Dallas this season, despite the identical records and bigger name brand value of the latter... The Cowboys' five-game losing streak came to a halt last week with a resounding 33-20 victory over the Giants in New York, as the switch to head coach Jason Garrett appeared to be quite beneficial. Dez Bryant has quickly developed into one of the biggest weapons in the league, and if Jon Kitna plays decently, this offense is dangerous, but before last week's performance, don't forget this was one of the worst teams in the league, and the defense remains a major problem. Don't be surprised if Dallas regresses Sunday.
Predictions: Shaun Hill throws for 240 yards and two touchdowns, with Calvin Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew the recipients. Jahvid Best adds 75 yards from scrimmage and reaches the end zone, while Felix Jones responds with 80 total yards. Marion Barber punches in a score from the goal line, while Jon Kitna throws for 260 yards with TD strikes to Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, as the home team prevails. Cowboys 24-21.
Arizona (+7.5) at Kansas City, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: The Cardinals have lost four straight, and their schedule hasn't exactly been tough over that span. With such a huge problem at quarterback and a defense that ranks in the bottom ten both against the pass (7.7 YPA) and the run (4.3 YPC), it's safe to call Arizona one of the worst teams in the league. After sitting out last week, Beanie Wells claims he's the healthiest he's been since suffering a preseason knee injury, and since Tim Hightower has been so unimpressive while acting as the starter over the past two weeks (3.0 YPC), there's little reason why Wells won't get an opportunity to dominate touches if he's truly healthy. A big if, admittedly... The Chiefs have dropped back-to-back games, including a 49-29 drubbing last week in Denver. Expect a focused effort Sunday as a result, and it helps to return home, as Kansas City is 4-0 at Arrowhead this season. Dwayne Bowe has eight touchdowns over the past five games, while Matt Cassel has a 12:1 TD:INT ratio over that span as well. While the passing attack should remain productive, expect the Chiefs to focus their game plan on Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles, who should gash an Arizona rush defense that has allowed a whopping 10 carries for 20-plus yards this year.
Predictions: Derek Anderson throws for 170 yards with no scores, while Beanie Wells runs for 60 yards and a TD. Thomas Jones produces a similar line, while Jamaal Charles adds 100 combined yards and a score of his own. Matt Cassel adds 230 passing yards and another touchdown toss to Dwayne Bowe, as Kansas City gets back on track. Chiefs 27-13.
Houston (+7) at New York Jets, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: The Texans have lost three straight, and none were more frustrating than last week's defeat at the hands of a Hail Mary at the buzzer. Matt Schaub was hospitalized with a knee problem during the week, but he's expected to play Sunday. He'll have a tough task of getting the ball to Andre Johnson, who's likely to be shadowed by Darrelle Revis, who held Johnson to just 35 receiving yards the last time these teams met. Arian Foster also has a tough matchup, as the Jets have allowed only 3.4 YPC this season, which is the second-lowest mark in the league... The Jets became the first team in NFL history to win consecutive road games in overtime last week, as Santonio Holmes has come up with big catches to help secure each victory. Mark Sanchez has committed six turnovers over the past four games after not committing a single one during the first five games this year, but he has a highly favorable matchup this week against a Houston secondary that has yielded 8.5 YPA and an NFL-high 22 passing TDs. New York has won eight straight games on the road, but they have already lost twice at home this season, and the Texans have an offense capable of keeping this game close.
Predictions: Matt Schaub throws for 225 yards and a touchdown to Kevin Walter, while Arian Foster adds 80 total yards and a TD run. LaDainian Tomlinson adds 60 combined yards and reaches the end zone, while Mark Sanchez adds 275 passing yards with scoring strikes to Dustin Keller and Braylon Edwards, as New York comes out on top. Jets 24-20.
Cleveland (+1) at Jacksonville, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: Jacksonville won last week thanks to a Hail Mary at the buzzer, but it was their second straight victory, averaging 33.0 points over that span, so they have been playing better. During his last four full games (he was knocked out of Week 6 with a concussion), David Garrard has posted an 11:2 TD:INT ratio and gotten a whopping 10.0 YPA. Yet somehow, there isn't a Jaguars receiver with much fantasy value. Maurice Jones-Drew has a tough matchup against a Cleveland defense that has ceded an NFL-low two rushing scores on the year... The Browns lost last week, but they took the Jets into overtime after beating the Saints and Patriots their previous two games. Make no mistake, Cleveland is much better than its 3-6 record indicates. Colt McCoy has completed 64.6 percent of his passes and gotten 7.4 YPA, which are remarkable numbers for a rookie. Peyton Hillis has come out of nowhere to become a top-five fantasy back, and he should have another productive game this week facing a Jaguars defense that has allowed 12 rushing scores, the second most in the NFL.
Predictions: David Garrard throws for 250 yards with TD strikes to Mike Sims-Walker and Marcedes Lewis, while Maurice Jones-Drew totals 100 yards sans a score. Peyton Hillis responds with 110 yards from scrimmage and hits paydirt, while Colt McCoy adds 180 passing yards and a touchdown toss to Ben Watson, as Cleveland wins on a late field goal. Browns 20-17.
Oakland (+7.5) at Pittsburgh, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: Oakland enters riding a three-game winning streak and coming off the bye, but they are just 1-3 on the road this season and are likely to get a determined Pittsburgh team after they were humiliated on national TV in Week 10. Nnamdi Asomugha (ankle) and Zach Miller (foot) are both banged up but were able to participate in practice Thursday on a limited basis. The team is cautiously optimistic they will be able to play Sunday, which is huge news. The Raiders rely heavily on the run, but the Steelers have allowed a league-low 2.8 YPC this season (they are the only team yet to allow a single run for 20-plus yards), and Oakland won't want to rely on Jason Campbell having to make a bunch of plays... Pittsburgh was dominated at home against New England last week, as injuries have started to catch up to them. However, this is still one of the better teams in the league, and Ben Roethlisberger should find success against an Oakland secondary that has recorded only five interceptions this season, the second lowest total in the league. It won't be easy for a west coast team like Oakland traveling to play an early game in Pittsburgh, and they will have the Steelers' full attention after the Raiders beat them at home as recently as last season, so expect a bounce back effort from Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Predictions: Jason Campbell throws for 200 yards with no touchdowns, while Darren McFadden manages 75 hard-fought yards and scores. Rashard Mendenhall answers with 100 total yards and a touchdown run, while Ben Roethlisberger adds 250 passing yards and two TDs, with Mike Wallace and Hines Ward the recipients, as Pittsburgh comes out on top. Steelers 24-16. Baltimore (-10) at Carolina, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: Carolina enters 1-8 and down to its third string running back and quarterback. With DeAngelo Williams (foot) on IR, and Jonathan Stewart (concussion) likely out again, Mike Goodson gets another start in the backfield, although he gets a tough matchup against a stout Baltimore front seven. Jimmy Clausen (concussion) has been ruled out, and instead of turning to Tony Pike, coach John Fox has elected to start Brian St. Pierre at QB. St. Pierre has attempted just five passes during his career, so Baltimore's defense is a highly recommended play in fantasy leagues this week... The Ravens lost a tough game in Atlanta last Thursday, although they have had 10 days to prepare for Week 11. The Panthers have actually played solid pass defense this season, but Joe Flacco has posted a 10:1 TD:INT ratio over the past four games. He might not have to throw a ton this week though, as Baltimore is likely to be playing mostly with the lead. Expect a big game from Ray Rice, although a double-digit spread is pretty massive for a road team.
Predictions: Brian St. Pierre predictably struggles mightily, and while Mike Goodson doesn't rack up a bunch of yardage, he scores his team's lone touchdown. Ray Rice counters with 100 combined yards and reaches the end zone, while Willis McGahee also scores from the goal line. Joe Flacco adds 225 passing yards with a touchdown toss to Anquan Boldin, as Baltimore wins handily. Ravens 24-13.
Green Bay (-3) at Minnesota, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: Minnesota is 3-6 and unlikely to make the playoffs barring a miracle, so it remains to be seen how motivated they still are. Sidney Rice is trying to come back this season, but it's clear he won't be 100 percent healthy until 2011. After posting a 33:7 TD:INT ratio last season, Brett Favre has already committed 21 turnovers during nine games this season. Green Bay leads the NFL with 28 sacks, so Favre could be running for his life Sunday... The Packers have won three straight and are coming off their bye, so they enter riding high and well rested. Minnesota has recorded only 14 sacks this year after leading the league in the category last season, so Rodgers should have time to look downfield. Donald Driver (quad) is questionable to play, and if he's inactive, James Jones would become a viable fantasy option. Favre is likely playing his former team for the last time in his career, and the Packers may not make it a happy ending.
Predictions: Brett Favre throws for 240 yards and a TD toss to Visanthe Shiancoe, while Adrian Peterson totals 110 yards and reaches the end zone. Brandon Jackson responds with 60 rushing yards and a touchdown run, while Aaron Rodgers adds 275 passing yards with scoring strikes to Greg Jennings and James Jones, as Green Bay wins it. Packers 24-20.
Washington (+6) at Tennessee, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: Washington gave up 59 points at home in an embarrassing loss to the Eagles last week in primetime, and they are now presented with the tough task of traveling during a short week to face a Titans team likely to be focused after losing to Miami. The Redskins' defense is on pace to allow the second-most yards in NFL history, and the offensive line is struggling mightily. Keiland Williams suddenly is viable in fantasy leagues, but Donovan McNabb has posted a poor 9:11 TD:INT ratio over nine games this season. He should have a long day against a Tennessee defense that has picked off 14 passes and recorded 27 sacks this season... The Titans have lost two straight, both on the road, so they welcome a return home. The team misses deep threat Kenny Britt badly, but Randy Moss should be more involved in the offense moving forward. Vince Young is back starting at QB, and he has a plus matchup this week facing a Redskins defense that has allowed 18 passing touchdowns. The Titans have won 12 straight games versus the NFC, and that streak shouldn't come to an end Sunday.
Predictions: Donovan McNabb throws for 200 yards with a touchdown to Chris Cooley, while Keiland Williams adds 75 total yards and a TD run. Chris Johnson responds with 125 total yards and a touchdown, while Vince Young adds 230 passing yards with scoring strikes to Nate Washington and Randy Moss, as the home team prevails. Titans 27-17.
Atlanta (-3) at St. Louis, Sunday 4:05 p.m.
Comments: Atlanta enters with the best record in the NFL at 7-2, and if the season ended today, they would be the No. 1 seed in the NFC. However, they are vulnerable on the road, and St. Louis is 4-1 at home this year. The Falcons have won three straight and are 6-1 since losing their season opener, but Sunday will mark the first time they have played on the road since Week 6. Matt Ryan has gotten just 6.4 YPA away from home this season, and the Rams have an underrated defense that has allowed just 10 passing TDs and has recorded 28 sacks. Their run defense has given up only three rushing scores as well, so Atlanta has its work cut out for them... The Rams lost a tough game in overtime in San Francisco last week, and Sunday marks an important contest considering they follow with three consecutive games on the road. After tossing eight interceptions over the first five games this season, Sam Bradford has posted a 6:0 TD:INT ratio over the past four contests. He has a modest 5.8 YPA mark, but Atlanta's secondary is beatable. Expect a close game Sunday.
Predictions: Matt Ryan throws for 230 yards with a touchdown to Tony Gonzalez, while Michael Turner adds 75 rushing yards and hits paydirt. Steven Jackson answers with 90 yards from scrimmage and a TD run, while Sam Bradford throws for 210 yards and a touchdown toss to Brandon Gibson, as St. Louis wins on a late field goal. Rams 23-20.
Tampa Bay (+3) at San Francisco, Sunday 4:05 p.m.
Comments: Tampa Bay comes in with a 6-3 record, yet they have still been outscored this season. The Bucs deserve credit for their record, as they can't control an easy schedule, but with three of their next four games coming on the road, they will soon be undergoing a big test. LeGarrette Blount looks like a future star at running back, while Josh Freeman has gotten 10.0 YPA over the past three games, also tossing five touchdowns over that span. He's averaged a modest 30 pass attempts per game this season, which limits his fantasy value, but Freeman has chipped in nearly 25 rushing yards per game as well. DT Gerald McCoy hasn't gotten nearly the pub that fellow rookie Ndamukong Suh has, but according to Pro Football Focus, he's been the better player... During his two starts this year, Troy Smith has gotten 11.7 YPA with two touchdowns and zero turnovers, both resulting in wins. Most of Smith's damage has come outside the pocket, and his willingness to go downfield is a welcome sight in San Francisco. The former Heisman winner is sure to undergo some growing pains, and his fantasy value is limited playing for a run-first team, but he has some nice weapons to work with in Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree. The Alex Smith era in San Francisco is officially over. Frank Gore should have a big game Sunday against a Tampa Bay front seven that has been gashed for 4.8 YPC this season.
Predictions: Josh Freeman throws for 230 yards and a TD to Mike Williams, while LeGarrette Blount adds 80 rushing yards and a touchdown run. Frank Gore answers with 150 total yards and hits paydirt twice, while Troy Smith throws for 225 yards with a TD toss to Vernon Davis, as home field is the difference. 49ers 24-17.
Seattle (+12) at New Orleans, Sunday 4:05 p.m.
Comments: Seattle is coming off a big 36-18 win in Arizona last week, but they had struggled mightily on the road before that, and Sunday's opponent is much tougher. Marshawn Lynch managed just 29 rushing yards on 13 carries last week against the Cardinals, which is especially discouraging since the Seahawks played mostly with a comfortable lead. After getting 4.4 YPC on a bad Buffalo team, Lynch has averaged just 2.9 YPC since getting traded to Seattle. Matt Hasselbeck hasn't thrown multiple touchdowns in a game since Week 1, and he has a difficult matchup this week against a New Orleans secondary that has yielded just 6.1 YPA and an NFL-low six passing TDs... New Orleans is 3-1 over its past four games and is coming off a bye. They suddenly boast one of the best pass defenses in the league, and while the pass offense is more dink and dunk than explosive this season, it's still efficient, and Reggie Bush (and hopefully soon thereafter Pierre Thomas) is due back from injury. A team like the Seahawks could get overwhelmed playing a rested and improving Saints squad in the Superdome, so don't be surprised by a blowout.
Predictions: Matt Hasselbeck throws for 180 yards and no touchdowns, while Marshawn Lynch totals 50 yards but scores from the goal line. The Saints employ a running back by committee, resulting in 110 total yards and a TD run. Drew Brees adds 300 passing yards and three touchdowns, with Marques Colston, Reggie Bush and Robert Meachem the recipients, as New Orleans wins in a rout. Saints 30-13.
Indianapolis (+3) at New England, Sunday 4:15 p.m.
Comments: The Pats won impressively in Pittsburgh last week and are now 6-1 over their past seven games. The offense has become more methodical than explosive since the Randy Moss trade, but it's resulted in a bunch of wins. They remain tied with the Jets for the AFC East lead, so every game is important. Tom Brady has a 24 game winning streak during the regular season at home, but the Colts have won five of the past six meetings between these two teams... Peyton Manning has an impressive 16:4 TD:INT ratio, but his 6.9 YPA mark is the lowest since his rookie season. In fact, he's gotten just 5.7 YPA over the past three games, marking one of the worst stretches of his career. However, he may get both Austin Collie (concussion) and Joseph Addai (shoulder) back at his disposal, and Manning is unlikely to slump for long. Although New England enters with a coaching advantage, the Pats have given up 7.6 YPA compared to Indy ceding just 6.7 YPA against the pass, which is significant. Expect one of the most highly anticipated games of the year to be well-played and once again come down to the end.
Predictions: Tom Brady throws for 240 yards with TD tosses to Danny Woodhead and Deion Branch, while BenJarvus Green-Ellis adds 80 rushing yards and a touchdown. Joseph Addai responds with 70 total yards and a TD run, while Peyton Manning adds 270 passing yards with scoring strikes to Jacob Tamme and Austin Collie, as Indy pulls off the upset. Colts 24-21.
New York Giants (+3) at Philadelphia, Sunday 8:20 p.m.
Comments: The Giants' five-game winning streak came to a screeching halt last week with an embarrassing 33-20 loss to the Cowboys as 14.5-point favorites. Turnovers remain a major problem for New York, and the injuries along the offensive line and to Steve Smith (pectoral) hurt as well. Still, this is a very good team, so expect a bounce back performance Sunday. Eli Manning has thrown 14 touchdowns over the past five games, but he'll have to protect the football against an Eagles secondary that leads the NFL with 16 interceptions... Philadelphia, and specifically Michael Vick, is coming off one of the most impressive games of the 2010 season, absolutely destroying the Redskins in Washington 59-28 on Monday night. Vick's decision-making and accuracy have caught up with his natural talent, and he hasn't committed a single turnover this season. His style of play makes him a bigger injury risk, but that's the only argument against Vick being a top-10 fantasy player right now. The Eagles have actually played better on the road than at home this season, and divisional games inside the NFC East are typically physical and close. Expect both teams to regress to their true talent levels compared to last week's extreme, resulting in a narrow Philadelphia victory.
Predictions: Eli Manning throws for 250 yards with TD strikes to Hakeem Nicks and Kevin Boss, while Ahmad Bradshaw totals 80 yards sans a score. LeSean McCoy counters with 90 combined yards and reaches the end zone, while Michael Vick adds 40 rushing yards, 225 passing yards and TD tosses to DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, as the home team prevails. Eagles 24-23.
Denver (+10) at San Diego, Monday 8:30 p.m.
Comments: Denver ended a four-game losing streak by beating the Chiefs 49-29 last week. The team jumped out to a 35-0 lead and never looked back. Kyle Orton has thrown seven touchdowns over the past three games and has gotten 8.0 YPA this season. However, the Broncos have a tough task this week, as San Diego has defended both the pass (6.5 YPA, 8:8 TD:INT ratio) and the run (3.6 YPC) well this season... The Chargers are coming off back-to-back wins and a bye, and despite their disappointing start to the year, remain just one game out of the AFC West lead. They have played extremely well at home this season, although Antonio Gates (foot) and Ryan Mathews (ankle) remain questionable. Malcom Floyd (hamstring) is fully expected back, however, and Philip Rivers should shred a Denver secondary that has allowed 7.9 YPA this season. Rivers has gotten 8.9 YPA with 19 passing TDs over nine games this year and has been the league's MVP thus far. San Diego shouldn't have too much trouble handling an inferior Broncos team at home, but Denver's offense is solid, so a backdoor cover wouldn't surprise.
Predictions: Kyle Orton throws for 240 yards with a touchdown to Knowshon Moreno, who also totals 70 yards from scrimmage. Tim Tebow punches in a goal-line TD, while Mike Tolbert answers with 80 rushing yards and hits paydirt. Philip Rivers adds 300 passing yards with scoring strikes to Malcom Floyd, Antonio Gates and Darren Sproles, as San Diego comes out on top. Chargers 28-20.