New England (-7) at Detroit, Thursday 12:30 p.m.
Comments: The Lions enter with a three-game losing streak, but they return home, where they are have outscored their opponents 133-89 over four games this season. Averaging 48.5 pass attempts during the past two contests, Shaun Hill has been a serviceable fantasy starter, and he should have a productive day on Thanksgiving, as New England's secondary has allowed 7.6 YPA and 20 scores through the air, which is tied for the third most in the NFL. Jahvid Best is hoping to play Thursday, but his toe injuries have gotten progressively worse, and he's no longer a fantasy option... The Patriots followed up an impressive victory in Pittsburgh by beating the Colts last week, and they enter Week 12 with the best record in football (8-2) despite some mediocre yardage stats. Tom Brady has thrown eight touchdowns over the past three games and he hasn't committed a turnover since Week 6. Detroit's defense has improved, but the secondary remains beatable, so expect Brady to once again methodically move up-and-down the field. New England comes in as pretty heavy favorites, but they aren't quite as good as their record indicates, and the Lions aren't quite as bad as theirs suggests either, so don't be surprised if the game is competitive.
Predictions: Shaun Hill throws for 250 yards with TD strikes to Nate Burleson and Calvin Johnson, while Detroit's rushing attack is held in check. BenJarvus Green-Ellis runs for 70 yards and a score, while Tom Brady adds 270 passing yards and two touchdown tosses, with Deion Branch and Aaron Hernandez the recipients, as New England comes out on top. Patriots 24-20.
New Orleans (-4) at Dallas, Thursday 4:15 p.m.
Comments: Dallas has won both games since Jason Garrett took over as head coach, averaging 34.0 points in the process. This team still has plenty of flaws, namely the offensive line and defense, but it's safe to question why Jerry Jones took so long to fire Wade Phillips. Jon Kitna has racked up eight touchdowns over the past two games, but he gets a stiff test Thursday, as the Saints have yielded just 6.4 YPA and only seven passing TDs this season. However, after picking off 26 passes last year, New Orleans has recorded just six interceptions so far in 2010. Felix Jones is questionable with a hip injury, and it's probably best to avoid him in fantasy leagues, as he's still searching for his first rushing score on the year... The Saints have won three straight and are currently playing their best football, but it's not easy traveling during a short week. Drew Brees is coming off a huge game, but his 7.1 YPA mark is an extremely low number for him, and he's been intercepted in six straight games, totaling 12 over that span. With Pierre Thomas apparently suffering yet another setback with his ankle injury, expect Chris Ivory to get the majority of early down work out of the backfield. Reggie Bush (leg) remains questionable, but the availability of DT Sedrick Ellis (quad) is much more important.
Predictions: Jon Kitna throws for 230 yards with a touchdown to Dez Bryant, while Felix Jones suits up and totals 60 yards. Marion Barber punches in a goal-line score, while Chris Ivory counters with 75 rushing yards and a TD of his own. Drew Brees adds 275 passing yards with scoring strikes to Robert Meachem and Jimmy Graham, as the road team prevails. Saints 24-23.
Cincinnati (+9) at New York Jets, Thursday 8:20 p.m.
Comments: The Bengals have lost seven straight games, and none were more embarrassing than last week, when the team was outscored 35-0 after halftime while at home to a Bills squad that entered with one win on the year. In fact, Cincinnati became the first team in NFL history to lead by at least 17 points at half and lose by 18 or more. The Bengals are devastated by injuries, but Carson Palmer has thrown multiple touchdowns in seven consecutive contests, so they are dangerous for backdoor covers. Darrelle Revis has remained coy on whom he'll cover Thursday... New York enters riding a three-game winning streak, all of which have been exciting and down to the wire. Mark Sanchez, who is emerging as a QB with a flair for the dramatic, should pick apart a Bengals defense that has recorded an NFL-low 10 sacks this season. The Jets have experienced some luck, but they are no doubt a good football team. They'll have to fight off overlooking a dead Bengals squad with an upcoming matchup in New England on Monday night in Week 13.
Predictions: Carson Palmer throws for 240 yards with TD tosses to Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens, while Cedric Benson manages just 70 rushing yards. LaDainian Tomlinson answers with 75 yards from scrimmage and reaches the end zone, while Mark Sanchez adds 250 passing yards with scoring strikes to Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes, as New York wins it. Jets 27-20.
Minnesota (+2) at Washington, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: Minnesota enters 3-7 one year after losing in overtime in the NFC Championship game. In fact, the combined record of the three teams they have beat this season is 8-24. The Vikings have dropped their last two games by a combined score of 58-16. It’s been a lost season, and as a result coach Brad Childress has been fired, although Brett Favre plans on playing out the rest of the year. By just about any measure, Favre has been one of the worst players in the league this season, just one year after the best of his career, although he does have a plus matchup this week against Washington…The Redskins ended a two-game losing streak by upsetting the Titans in Tennessee last week, as they improved to 5-5 despite dealing with injuries. Keiland Williams could easily be a top-20 fantasy back as long as he remains Washington’s featured runner, and Donovan McNabb should be able to move the ball Sunday against a Minnesota front seven that struggles to pressure the quarterback. Still, McNabb entered the season with a career TD:INT ratio of 2.16:1 and with one of the lowest interception percentages in NFL history, yet he’s thrown 10 TDs and been picked off 12 times in 2010. Santana Moss is questionable with a hamstring injury, an ailment that has been known to plague him throughout his career.
Predictions: Brett Favre throws for 230 yards with a touchdown to Percy Harvin, while Adrian Peterson totals 90 yards and scores. Keiland Williams answers with a similar line, while Donovan McNabb adds 240 passing yards and a TD toss to Chris Cooley, as the home team prevails. Redskins 23-20.
Pittsburgh (-6.5) at Buffalo, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: After losing their first eight games this season, the Bills have won their last two, including a victory last week in which they outscored the Bengals in Cincinnati 35-0 in the second half. After a three-game stretch when Ryan Fitzpatrick came crashing back down to earth, he tossed four TDs and got 9.3 YPA in Week 11. Pittsburgh’s pass defense may not be as stout as its run defense, but it’s still impressive. As for Fred Jackson, fantasy owners should strongly consider benching him, as the Steelers have allowed the fewest fantasy points against running backs in the NFL this season…The Steelers bounced back from a loss in Week 10 with a resounding 35-3 victory over the Raiders last Sunday, but they remain in a tight battle with Baltimore for first place in the AFC North. Ben Roethlisberger has once again performed like an MVP candidate, and he’s even cut his sack rate down. He should shred a Buffalo defense that has allowed a 20:4 TD:INT ratio and recorded only 15 sack this season. Rashard Mendenhall has taken a step back on a per play basis and in the passing game, but he’s made up for it with more touchdowns, and he should also have a nice game against a leaky Bills’ front seven.
Predictions: Ryan Fitzpatrick throws for 210 yards with a TD to Steve Johnson, while Fred Jackson is held in check. Rashard Mendenhall responds with 90 total yards and a touchdown run, while Ben Roethlisberger throws for 250 yards with scoring strikes to Mike Wallace and Hines Ward, as Pittsburgh comes out on top. Steelers 24-13.
Carolina (+10) at Cleveland, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: Carolina has been the worst team in football this season, and although Jimmy Clausen is a major weakness at quarterback, him returning is an upgrade over last week’s starter Brian St. Pierre. Jonathan Stewart (concussion) also was back at practice this week, which makes for a cloudy backfield situation for fantasy leaguers. Owners of both just have to hope one of the two emerges down the stretch, as home matchups against the Falcons and Cardinals in Weeks 14 and 15 are enticing…The Browns have dropped two straight, including last week’s contest when they won the turnover battle 6-1. With Colt McCoy becoming the third Cleveland QB to suffer a serious ankle injury this season, Jake Delhomme is getting the start Sunday, which is baffling. Seneca Wallace may not be 100 percent, but even a hobbled version has to be a better option than Delhomme, who is a turnover waiting to happen. Cleveland is no doubt a far better team than its 3-7 record indicates, but Sunday’s matchup may very well feature a battle of the two worst starting quarterbacks in the league.
Predictions: Jimmy Clausen throws for 200 yards and a touchdown to David Gettis, while the Panthers employ a running back by committee that is held in check. Peyton Hillis totals 125 yards and hits paydirt, while Jake Delhomme manages 200 passing yards and a TD toss to Ben Watson, as Cleveland wins it. Browns 20-16.
Tennessee (+6.5) at Houston Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: The Titans have lost three straight, as their playoff hopes have been slipping away in the process. Vince Young has been placed on IR with a thumb injury, and owner Bud Adams may have to decide between the quarterback and his head coach during the offseason. Don’t be surprised if he sides with the former. Rusty Smith takes over QB duties, and while he should improve upon his performance last week after getting starter’s reps in practice, he’s not a fantasy option despite the terrific matchup against a horrible Houston secondary…The Texans haven’t won since Week 6, and Matt Schaub is on pace to finish with 21 passing TDs after throwing 29 last season. He’ll have to protect the ball Sunday against a Tennessee defense that has picked off 15 passes and recorded an NFL-high 30 sacks this year. While slim to begin with, the loser here can officially be considered out of the postseason picture.
Predictions: Rusty Smith throws for 200 yards with a TD toss to Nate Washington, while Chris Johnson gets 100 combined yards and scores. Arian Foster responds with a similar line, while Matt Schaub adds 230 passing yards with a touchdown to Joel Dreessen, as Houston comes out on top. Texans 24-20.
Jacksonville (+7.5) at New York Giants, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: Jacksonville enters Week 12 in first place in the AFC South despite getting outscored by 50 points on the season. They’ve won three straight and get a Giants team Sunday that has been hit hard by injuries. Still, New York will be focused playing at home and coming off back-to-back losses, so this is a tough spot for the Jaguars. David Garrard has thrown 13 touchdowns over the past five games he’s finished, but he’ll have to deal with a fierce pass rush in Week 12…Eli Manning has tossed 16 touchdowns over his past six games, but he’s also been picked off eight times over the past four contests. The Giants’ struggles with turnovers have been a season long theme, as Ahmad Bradshaw has also lost his starting job to Brandon Jacobs after losing his fifth fumble of the year last week. The switch isn’t necessarily permanent, but New York’s backfield has become cloudy for fantasy purposes in the short-term. Both backs could be options this week, however, as Jacksonville has allowed 12 scores on the ground this season. Even while destroyed by injuries, New York’s passing attack should also find success facing a Jaguars’ secondary that has yielded an NFL-high 8.8 YPA.
Predictions: David Garrard throws for 225 yards with a TD strike to Mike Thomas, while Maurice Jones-Drew adds 80 total yards and hits paydirt. Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs combine for 150 yards, with the latter reaching the end zone. Eli Manning adds 250 passing yards with scoring strikes to Marion Manningham and Kevin Boss, as New York gets back into the win column. Giants 27-17.
Green Bay (+2) at Atlanta, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: Green Bay has won four straight games, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to call them the best team in football. Aaron Rodgers continues to impress, and he should find little trouble moving the ball against a Falcons’ secondary that has given up 7.5 YPA and 18 passing TDs this season. While the offense has been strong, averaging 25.2 points per game, Green Bay’s defense has been the most impressive unit of late, allowing a total of just 10 points over the past three contests…Atlanta is 8-1 after losing in Week 1, and Sunday’s matchup is highly important for the NFC playoff picture. Getting the No. 1 seed is especially important for the Falcons, who may depend on home field more than any other team in football. Matt Ryan’s YPA is a modest 6.7, but he’s posted a 9:1 TD:INT ratio over the past four games, and he’s been sacked just twice over that span as well. While the Falcons’ defense isn’t nearly as elite as their record suggests, they are extremely tough playing in Atlanta, so home field will be the difference Sunday.
Predictions: Aaron Rodgers throws for 275 yards with touchdown tosses to Greg Jennings and James Jones, while Brandon Jackson adds 70 total yards sans a score. Michael Turner answers with 80 rushing yards and a TD run, while Matt Ryan adds 230 passing yards with a scoring strike to Roddy White, as Atlanta improves to 9-2 on the season. Falcons 23-20.
Kansas City (-1) at Seattle, Sunday 4:05 p.m.
Comments: Despite a 1-3 stretch over their past four games, the Seahawks enter Week 12 sitting alone in first place in the NFC West. Every team in the division has been outscored this year by at least 20 points, and eight wins should easily win the West this season. Matt Hasselbeck has played better of late, but his 8:7 TD:INT ratio this season is far from impressive. It looks like he’ll get the luxury of facing the Chiefs without cornerback Brandon Flowers (hamstring), but Mike Williams (foot) is going to be sidelined as well…Kansas City got back on track with a 31-13 victory over Arizona last week, but playing in Seattle is never an easy task. After committing more turnovers than touchdowns last year, it’s pretty surprising to see Matt Cassel post an 18:4 TD:INT ratio in 2010, and Dwayne Bowe has now scored 10 touchdowns over the past six games. Jamaal Charles easily leads the NFL with 6.1 YPC, but he hasn’t scored a rushing touchdown in more than a month and has just two on the season. The Chiefs are clearly the better team, but it won’t be easy winning in Seattle. Predictions: Matt Hasselbeck throws for 225 yards with a TD strike Ben Obomanu, while Marshawn Lynch punches in a goal-line score. Jamaal Charles totals 100 yards, but it’s Thomas Jones scoring from in close. Matt Cassel adds 230 passing yards with a touchdown toss to Dwayne Bowe, as KC wins it on a late field goal. Chiefs 20-17.
Miami (+3) at Oakland, Sunday 4:05 p.m.
Comments: Miami has traded off wins with losses each of their past six games, and they were shut out at home when they last played in Week 11. They got an extra few days to prepare for their trip to Oakland after having last played on Thursday, but Brandon Marshall (hamstring) appears unlikely to play, and the quarterback situation is a mystery. The team isn’t expected to announce its starter (either Tyler Thigpen or Chad Henne) until just before game time. Whoever gets the call gets a decent matchup against an Oakland secondary that has allowed a 19:5 TD:INT ratio this season…The Raiders’ three-game winning streak came to an abrupt end last week with a 35-3 loss in Pittsburgh, but even at 5-5, they remain in contention in the AFC West. Expect Darren McFadden to bounce back after being held to just 14 rushing yards last week, as he averaged 6.8 YPC over his previous three games. Nnamdi Asomugha, who has missed the last two games with an ankle sprain, was limited in practice this week but is expected to play Sunday. The Dolphins are 4-1 on the road this season but the Raiders have the same record when playing in Oakland.
Predictions: Chad Henne gets the start at QB, resulting in 220 passing yards and a touchdown toss to Davone Bess. Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown combine for 100 yards and a TD run, while Darren McFadden responds with 125 yards from scrimmage and hits paydirt. Jason Campbell adds 230 passing yards with scoring strikes to Jacoby Ford and Louis Murphy, as the home team prevails. Raiders 21-20.
Tampa Bay (+8) at Baltimore, Sunday 4:15 p.m.
Comments: Tampa Bay is 4-1 over its past five games, with their lone loss coming in Atlanta in a tight battle. They have benefitted from an easy schedule, but a 21-0 win on the road like last week in San Francisco is impressive regardless of opponent. Josh Freeman has taken a big step forward during his sophomore campaign, but Baltimore’s defense is strong. The Bucs look like they may catch a break, as forecasts call for sunny skies Sunday…The Ravens enter in a close battle with the Steelers for first place in the AFC North, and with an upcoming matchup against Pittsburgh in Week 13, Baltimore better not overlook a feisty Tampa Bay team. Joe Flacco has an 11:1 TD:INT ratio over the last five games, but despite having only 14 sacks on the year, the Bucs’ defense has ceded just 6.6 YPA and has recorded 15 interceptions. Expect Ray Rice to be featured heavily Sunday, as Tampa Bay’s front seven is the team’s weakness, allowing 4.8 YPC this season.
Predictions: Josh Freeman throws for 225 yards with a touchdown toss to Mike Williams, while LeGarrette Blount manages 70 hard fought yards and a TD run. Ray Rice counters with 125 combined yards and reaches the end zone, while Willis McGahee also punches in a goal-line score. Joe Flacco adds 240 passing yards with a touchdown strike to Derrick Mason, as Baltimore gets the victory. Ravens 24-17.
Philadelphia (-3.5) at Chicago, Sunday 4:15 p.m.
Comments: Thanks to a defense that is among the best in football, Chicago has won three straight and enter Week 12 a surprising 7-3. Jay Cutler has produced six touchdowns compared to 11 turnovers over the past six games, so the Eagles’ defense is licking their chops. However, Asante Samuel, who has held opposing passers to an NFL-low 35.3 QB rating when throwing into his coverage, is highly questionable to play Sunday with an MCL sprain…Like Chicago, Philadelphia comes in riding a three-game winning streak of its own, although Michael Vick came back down to earth last week. He gets a tough task Sunday against a Bears’ defense that has allowed 6.0 YPA and six passing touchdowns – both NFL-lows. LeSean McCoy, who should be a consensus first round pick in fantasy leagues next year, also has a difficult matchup, as Chicago has given up the third lowest YPC (3.5) in football. Still, this Philadelphia team is explosive, and the defense should be able to create turnovers.
Predictions: Jay Cutler throws for 225 yards with a touchdown pass to Greg Olsen, while Matt Forte adds 75 total yards and a TD run. LeSean McCoy responds with a similar line, while Michael Vick adds 40 rushing yards, 230 passing yards and a scoring strike to DeSean Jackson, as Philly wins it. Eagles 23-17.
St. Louis (+4) at Denver, Sunday 4:15 p.m.
Comments: St. Louis has dropped back-to-back games, including a rare home loss last week against Atlanta. The defense has played well this season, and rookie Sam Bradford has posted a 7:1 TD:INT ratio over the past four games. However, his 5.7 YPA mark reveals an offense that lacks explosion. A dome team like the Rams face a tough task traveling to play in Denver’s thin air, but at least they get a Broncos defense that has been possibly the worst in the league this season, as they have allowed 8.1 YPA with a 20:6 TD:INT ratio as well as an NFL-high 15 scores on the ground…One game after beating the Chiefs 49-29, the Broncos were embarrassed in a 35-14 defeat in San Diego last week. Kyle Orton continues to play well, as does Brandon Lloyd, but Denver’s offensive line and defense have really struggled. The Broncos have three straight upcoming road games, so they may not record another win for a while if they don’t take care of business at home Sunday.
Predictions: Sam Bradford throws for 230 yards and two touchdowns, with Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson the recipients. Steven Jackson totals 100 yards and reaches the end zone, while Knowshon Moreno puts up a similar line. Kyle Orton adds 270 passing yards with scoring strikes to Brandon Lloyd and Jabar Gaffney, as Denver pulls off the victory. Broncos 24-21.
San Diego (+3) at Indianapolis, Sunday 8:20 p.m.
Comments: Sunday night’s primetime matchup between the Chargers and Colts should be one of the best games of the week. Both teams remain dangerous, yet their records suggest one could easily miss the playoffs, so this game is paramount for both franchises. San Diego has won three straight, and Philip Rivers has thrown a whopping 10 touchdowns over the past three contests. Antonio Gates (foot) is unlikely to play, and the rest of the receiving corps is banged up as well, so expect Vincent Jackson to be a big part of the offense immediately upon his return to action…Peyton Manning’s 7.0 YPA mark is his lowest since his rookie season despite facing a remarkably friendly schedule against pass defenses. He’ll once again be without Joseph Addai (shoulder) and Austin Collie (concussion) this week, so the disappointing Pierre Garcon is going to have to step up his game. The Chargers have been the more impressive team on paper this season, but they have to travel during a short week after playing Monday night, and the Colts are desperate after losing two of their past three games.
Predictions: Philip Rivers throws for 290 yards with TD tosses to Vincent Jackson and Seyi Ajirotutu, while Mike Tolbert totals 90 yards and a score. Donald Brown gets 70 yards from scrimmage, while Peyton Manning throws for 275 yards and three touchdowns, with Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon and Jacob Tamme the recipients, as Indy prevails. Colts 27-21.
San Francisco (-1) at Arizona, Monday 8:30 p.m.
Comments: After getting shut out at home for the first time since 1977 last week in a 21-0 loss to the Bucs, it’s clearer than ever that the 49ers are a bad team this season, despite the high expectations entering the year. In fact, they are the only team in the league to lose to the Panthers this season. They face another league doormat this week in the Cardinals, but San Francisco is winless on the road, and Arizona should benefit from a home crowd that typically gets louder during primetime events. Troy Smith took a huge step back last week, but Frank Gore should bounce back with a big game against a Cardinals’ defense that has yielded 4.4 YPC and 12 rushing scores…Arizona enters saddled with a five-game losing streak, so at least they are due. Derek Anderson has thrown multiple touchdowns in just one game this year, and his 53.1 completion percentage is atrocious. Beanie Wells is healthier than he’s been all season, but he remains locked in a timeshare in the backfield. The 49ers are more beatable against the pass (7.2 YPA, 15:8 TD:INT ratio) than the run (3.7 YPC), so it’s not an ideal matchup for Arizona. Still, expect home field to be the difference Monday night.
Predictions: Troy Smith throws for 220 yards with a touchdown to Vernon Davis, while Frank Gore adds 110 total yards and hits paydirt. Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells combine for 120 yards, with the latter getting the goal-line score. Derek Anderson adds 210 passing yards with a TD strike to Larry Fitzgerald, as Arizona wins on a late field goal. Cardinals 20-17.