Carolina (+14.5) at Pittsburgh, Thursday 8:20 p.m.
Comments: The Panthers won for just the second time all season last week, ending a seven-game losing streak in the process. Jimmy Clausen has completed only 52.7 percent of his passes while getting 5.4 YPA and produced just two touchdowns while committing nine turnovers. Things could get ugly Thursday against a Pittsburgh defense that has allowed an NFL-low 15.7 points in 2010, even though Troy Polamalu (Achilles) is out once again. Though he lost yet another fumble (his fourth of the season in fewer than 150 carries), Jonathan Stewart topped 130 rushing yards for the second consecutive game last week, and he’s averaged 5.9 YPC over the past four contests. Unfortunately, he faces a Steeler front seven that has allowed 3.0 YPC and five rushing scores on the year – both league lows. In fact, Pittsburgh has ceded just one carry for 20-plus yards all season long, and the second-stingiest run defense in football (the 49ers) has allowed a full half yard more per carry... The Steelers’ four-game winning streak came to an end with a home loss to the Jets last week, but they can still win the AFC North with victories over the Panthers and Browns. Ben Roethlisberger has thrown just two touchdowns over the past four games, taking 15 sacks in that span. Expect him to bounce back against a Carolina defense that struggles to pressure the passer. Rashard Mendenhall should also have a big game against a Panthers’ front seven that has yielded 17 rushing scores, which is the third-highest amount in football. Carolina enters with the lowest scoring offense in the league by far (13.1 ppg), has to travel during a short week and faces possibly the best defense in the NFL, so don’t be surprised by a blowout Thursday.
Predictions: Jimmy Clausen struggles badly, resulting in multiple turnovers and just 150 passing yards with no scores. Jonathan Stewart fights for 70 rushing yards but is also held out of the end zone, while Rashard Mendenhall counters with 120 total yards and a TD run. Ben Roethlisberger adds 275 passing yards with scoring strikes to Hines Ward and Mike Wallace, as Pittsburgh wins handily. Steelers 27-6.
Dallas (-7) at Arizona, Saturday 7:30 p.m.
Comments: The Cardinals lost last week to a Panthers team that entered 1-12 on the season, as Arizona is clearly in the mix as one of the worst in the NFL. John Skelton has been awful (46.1 completion percentage, 5.1 YPA) but at least he's made Larry Fitzgerald relevant again. In fact, the QB is still searching for the first TD pass of his career. Beanie Wells has been one of the biggest busts in fantasy football this season, yet Tim Hightower still is hit-and-miss. The Cardinals have a great matchup on paper, but it remains to be seen whether the offense can take advantage of it…Dallas nearly blew a 20-point lead last week, but they won again, as the team has now averaged 32.2 points since Jason Garrett took over as head coach. Miles Austin has been a disappointment despite the season-ending injury to Dez Bryant, but Jason Witten has emerged as the No. 1 fantasy tight end. The Cowboys have implemented a committee in the backfield, and the health of Felix Jones will be key for those banking on Dallas running backs in Week 16. It won't be easy traveling during a primetime game Saturday night, but the Cowboys should have no problem putting points on the board against an overwhelmed Arizona team.
Predictions: John Skelton throws for 200 yards and a TD to Larry Fitzgerald, while Tim Hightower totals 70 yards and scores. Dallas' RBBC produces 140 yards and a touchdown from Tashard Choice, while Jon Kitna adds 240 passing yards and two touchdown tosses, with Miles Austin and Jason Witten the recipients, as the road team prevails. Cowboys 27-17.
Detroit (+3.5) at Miami, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: The Lions finally snapped their 26-game road losing streak last week, but at 4-10, the team's season is still a dissapointment. With Drew Stanton dealing with an injury, Shaun Hill may return at quarterback, and thankfully, Detroit might be the deepest team in the league at quarterback...The Dolphins are somehow 1-6 at home and 1-6 on the road, also alternating wins and losses since Week 4. Coming off a loss and playing at home Sunday, something's got to give. Chad Henne remains a big dissapointment, but he and Brandon Marshall get a favorable matchup against a Lions secondary that has ceded 7.6 YPA and a 22:11 TD:INT ratio this season. Despite possessing two talented backs and possibly the best left tackle in football, Miami's rushing attack has struggled to score this year, although they face a Detroit front seven that has been gashed for 16 TDs on the ground in 2010.
Predictions: Shaun Hill throws for 225 yards and a TD to Calvin Johnson, while Maurice Morris adds 70 total yards and scores. Miami's backfield committee answers with 140 yards from scrimmage and a TD from Ronnie Brown, while Chad Henne adds 230 yards and a scoring strike to Brandon Marshal, as Miami comes out on top. Dolphins 23-17.
San Francisco (+2.5) at St. Louis, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: Despite a 34-7 loss last week and a 5-9 record, the 49ers have a real shot at the playoffs, but a win Sunday in St. Louis is a must. The team is 1-6 on the road this season and 2-8 outside its division, but their next two games are against NFC West foes. Coach Mike Singletary has decided to switch to Troy Smith at quarterback, and it may have something to do with him having a good game (12.7 YPA, 116.7 QB rating) the last time these two teams met…The Rams have lost back-to-back games, as rookie QB Sam Bradford has posted a 0:5 TD:INT ratio over the past three contests. Steven Jackson has managed only 3.9 YPC this year, which is a career-low, and he faces a 49ers' defense that has allowed an NFC-low 3.5 YPC this season. No St. Louis receiver has been worth using in fantasy leagues since Mark Clayton went down, although Danario Alexander remains an intriguing option in dynasty leagues. In a crucial divisional matchup, home field is the difference.
Predictions: Troy Smith throws for 200 yards and a touchdown toss to Vernon Davis, while Anthony Dixon and Brian Westbrook total 90 yards and a TD. Steven Jackson answers with 80 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown, while Sam Bradford throws for 220 yards and a scoring strike to Danny Amendola, as the Rams win on a late field goal. Rams 20-17.
New York Jets (+1) at Chicago, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: The Jets bounced back after back-to-back losses with a win in Pittsburgh last week, but they get another tough matchup in Chicago on Sunday. The team's once vaunted rushing attack has been in the middle of the pack this season, and the Bears have held opponents to just 3.8 YPC in 2010. Mark Sanchez ended his turnover streak last week, but he hasn't reached 6.0 YPA in any of the past four games, posting a 1:5 TD:INT ratio over that span. He's someone to avoid in fantasy leagues while facing a Chicago defense that has yielded 6.4 YPA and a 12:19 TD:INT ratio this season…The Bears are 6-1 over their past seven games, thanks to a 40-14 win in Minnesota on Monday night. The team is coming off a short week, but their defense is playing as well as any in the league. Jay Cutler's 7.9 YPA mark is a career-high, but since Chicago has such a poor offensive line, he could struggle Sunday against the Jets' pass rush. Matt Forte also has an unfavorable matchup, as New York has ceded just 3.6 YPC on the year, which is the third lowest mark in football. Both teams are likely playoff bound, so Sunday's matchup should be a good one.
Predictions: Mark Sanchez throws for 180 yards and a TD to Braylon Edwards, while the Jets' ground game is held in check. Matt Forte totals 75 yards, while Jay Cutler adds 200 passing yards and a touchdown toss to Earl Bennett, as Chicago wins in a defensive battle. Bears 16-13.
New England (-8) at Buffalo, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: After starting the year 0-8, the Bills are 4-2 over the past six games, including back-to-back wins. Ryan Fitzpatrick has a strong matchup against a New England defense that gives up a lot of yards, but he'll need to protect the football, as the Pats have recorded 21 interceptions, the second most in the league. Fred Jackson hasn't scored a rushing TD since Week 11, but opposing teams have attacked New England on the ground recently, so he'll likely be a big part of Buffalo's game plan Sunday…Since Week 2, the Patriots are 11-1, and while the team has already locked up their division, they still have incentive to win Sunday, with playoff seeding still up in the air. They are coming off a disappointing effort, barely beating a Packers team starting their backup quarterback while at home, so expect a focused effort, as New England usually responds after poor performances. Tom Brady has a 19:0 TD:INT ratio over the past seven games and hasn't been picked off since Week 6. He should shred a Bills' secondary that has allowed 23 passing TDs this year and struggles to pressure the passer. BenJarvus Green-Ellis' 12 rushing scores are the second most in the NFL, and he should have a nice game against a Buffalo front seven that has been gashed for 4.6 YPC and 15 rushing touchdowns on the season.
Predictions: Ryan Fitzpatrick throws for 240 yards and a touchdown to Steve Johnson, while Fred Jackson adds 90 combined yards and scores. BenJarvus Green-Ellis answers with a similar line, while Tom Brady throws for 270 yards with TD tosses to Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez, as New England comes out on top. Patriots 27-17.
Washington (+7) at Jacksonville, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: Washington has lost four straight, although they did mount a big comeback last week when Rex Grossman threw four touchdown passes in Dallas. Grossman also committed three turnovers, but he has another favorable matchup Sunday, facing a Jacksonville secondary that has given up an NFL-high 8.4 YPA this season. Santana Moss, Anthony Armstrong and Chris Cooley are all viable fantasy options in Week 16. Ryan Torain should also have a nice game, as the Jaguars have allowed 4.6 YPC and 15 rushing touchdowns in 2010…Coming off a loss in Indy, Jacksonville suddenly is on the outside looking in regarding the postseason. David Garrard has five touchdown passes over the last two games, and he gets a Washington defense that has allowed a league-high 397.6 yards per game this season. Maurice Jones-Drew missed practice all week with a knee injury, and no player on Jacksonville has suited up this year when sitting out Friday, so he's a big question mark. As a result, Rashad Jennings could become a top-10 fantasy play in Week 16.
Predictions: Rex Grossman throws for 250 yards and two touchdowns, with Chris Cooley and Anthony Armstrong the recipients. Ryan Torain adds 80 rushing yards and a TD run, while Rashad Jennings gets the start in Jacksonville's backfield, resulting in 125 total yards and a touchdown. David Garrard adds 240 passing yards with scoring strikes to Marcedes Lewis and Mike Thomas, as the home team prevails. Jaguars 24-21.
Tennessee (+5) at Kansas City, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: The Titans ended their six-game losing streak with a 31-17 victory over the Texans last week, but they have a tough task traveling to Arrowhead on Sunday. Kerry Collins has thrown five touchdowns over the past two weeks, as Tennessee's offense looks rejuvenated with Kenny Britt back the lineup. Chris Johnson has totaled 316 yards with two scores over the past two games, and Kansas City's run defense is middling…Matt Cassel had a gusty performance last week, returning from an appendectomy after missing just one game to help the Chiefs win in St. Louis. Still, with San Diego close behind, Kansas City most likely needs to win the final two games this season in order to win the AFC West and make the playoffs. Cassel has a 12:1 TD:INT ratio over the previous five games, but he'll have to deal with a strong Titans' pass rush. Jamaal Charles leads the NFL with 6.4 YPC, and after exiting last week's game with cramps, he looks good to go in Sunday's important matchup. Only coach Todd Haley can prevent him from having another big game.
Predictions: Kerry Collins throws for 220 yards with a TD toss to Kenny Britt, while Chris Johnson totals 90 yards and scores. Jamaal Charles produces a similar line, while Matt Cassel adds 230 passing yards and a touchdown toss to Dwayne Bowe, as Kansas City wins it. Chiefs 23-20.
Baltimore (-3.5) at Cleveland, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: Cleveland is coming off back-to-back losses, and the team returns home Sunday for the first time since Week 12. Colt McCoy is having an impressive rookie season, completing 65.8 percent of his passes while getting 8.0 YPA despite throwing to possibly the weakest WR group in the NFL. The Browns are simply a much better team when he's behind center as opposed to Jake Delhomme. Peyton Hillis appears to be wearing down a bit down the stretch thanks to a big workload, but he's tough to sit in fantasy leagues at this stage. He totaled 180 yards and a TD the last time he faced the Ravens earlier this season…Baltimore is 4-1 over its last five contests, but the team can ill afford to overlook a surprising Browns team in Cleveland. Seven of Joe Flacco's eight interceptions this year have come on the road, and Cleveland has recorded 18 picks in 2010. Ray Rice is coming off a huge performance, and fantasy owners hope it continues in Week 16. However, the Browns have yielded an NFL-low five rushing touchdowns this season.
Predictions: Colt McCoy throws for 200 yards and a TD to Ben Watson, while Peyton Hillis adds 80 yards from scrimmage and hits paydirt. Ray Rice counters with 100 combined yards, while Willis McGahee punches in a score from the goal line. Joe Flacco adds 230 passing yards with a TD strike to Derrick Mason, as Baltimore prevails. Ravens 20-17.
Indianapolis (-3) at Oakland, Sunday 4:05 p.m.
Comments: After a 39-23 win against Denver last week, the Raiders have scored more points (98) against a single opponent (the Broncos) in a given year in the history of football. Moreover, Oakland could also become the first team in NFL history to go undefeated in its division and not make the playoffs. Jason Campbell's 7.6 YPA mark is easily a career-high, but the Raiders' game plan Sunday will almost certainly be a heavy dose of the rushing attack, with Darren McFadden leading the way. The Colts have been gashed for 4.7 YPC and 14 rushing scores this season…Indy is coming off a big win against Jacksonville last week, and the team is back in first place in the AFC South as a result. After throwing 11 interceptions over a three-game stretch, Peyton Manning has a 4:0 TD:INT ratio over the last two contests, although the loss of Austin Collie (concussion) is significant. Joseph Addai is expected to return to action for the first time since Week 6, and the entire Colts' offense catches a break as Nnamdi Asomugha continues to be hobbled by an ankle sprain. Oakland has a strong pass rush, but the team doesn't mask its defensive scheme, something Manning could pick apart, although traveling to the west coast in an outdoors game is hardly ideal.
Predictions: Jason Campbell throws for 240 yards with a touchdown to Zach Miller. Darren McFadden adds 110 total yards with a TD run, while the Colts implement a RBBC, resulting in 90 rushing yards and a touchdown. Peyton Manning adds 260 passing yards with scoring strikes to Pierre Garcon and Jacob Tamme, as Indy comes out on top. Colts 27-23.
Houston (-2.5) at Denver, Sunday 4:05 p.m.
Comments: The Broncos enter 1-9 over their past 10 games, and the franchise's lone saving grace is now watching Tim Tebow play. The rookie had a mixed first game last week, and the team will implement an extremely vanilla game plan with him under center. Still, Tebow's rushing ability makes him noteworthy in fantasy leagues, and he faces a Houston secondary that has allowed 8.2 YPA with an NFL-high 31 scores through the air. However, fantasy owners can hopefully do better during a crucial Week 16. Knowshon Moreno is questionable with a rib injury…The Texans enter 1-7 over their past eight games, as they continue to be one of the more disappointing teams in the league. Matt Schaub has thrown nine touchdowns over the last four contests, and he gets a Denver defense that has allowed an NFL-high 29.6 points per game this season. Arian Foster (hip) had a season-low 15 rushing yards last week, but he's fully expected to play Sunday and should make it up to fantasy owners with a big game against a Broncos' front seven that has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing running backs this year.
Predictions: Tim Tebow throws for 170 yards with a touchdown to Brandon Lloyd, while Knowshon Moreno adds 80 total yards and reaches the end zone. Tebow also punches in a goal-line TD himself. Arian Foster responds with 140 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown run, while Matt Schaub adds 275 passing yards with scoring strikes to Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels, as Houston wins it. Texans 24-21.
San Diego (-7.5) at Cincinnati, Sunday 4:05 p.m.
Comments: The Bengals ended their 10-game losing streak with a home win over the Browns last week, but they lost Terrell Owens to a season-ending knee injury, and Chad Ochocinco is questionable for Week 16 with an ankle injury. Expect young players like Jordan Shipley to step up as a result, although San Diego has given up an NFL-low 6.2 YPA this season. The Chargers have also recorded a league-high 44 sacks, so the turnover-prone Carson Palmer needs to protect the football Sunday…San Diego comes in 6-1 over its past seven games, but the team still needs a Kansas City loss in order to make the postseason. Of course, they also need to take care of business themselves, so expect a focused effort against the Bengals, and the Chargers also have the benefit of some extra rest after last playing Thursday. Antonio Gates (toe) and Malcom Floyd (hamstring) are both unlikely to play Sunday, so Vincent Jackson could have another big game. Philip Rivers' 29 passing TDs are the third most in the NFL, and he'll succeed despite the depleted receiving corps.
Predictions: Carson Palmer throws for 220 yards with a touchdown to Jordan Shipley, while Cedric Benson adds 70 yards and a TD run. San Diego's RBBC produces 120 total yards and a score by Mike Tolbert, while Philip Rivers adds 280 passing yards with touchdown tosses to Vincent Jackson and Darren Sproles, as the road team prevails. Chargers 27-20.
Seattle (+6) at Tampa Bay, Sunday 4:15 p.m.
Comments: Despite being 1-4 over the past five games, Seattle is still tied for first in the NFC West, so Sunday's game in Tampa Bay is extremely important. Matt Hasselbeck was pulled midway through last week's contest, but he'll start once again under center. He's thrown a whopping 10 interceptions over the past four games, and the Bucs have recorded 18 picks on the year, so expect some turnovers Sunday. Tampa Bay has been getting gashed by the run ever since Gerald McCoy was lost for the season, but it's unclear if Seattle can take advantage of it…The Bucs are just 1-3 over the past four contests, including a loss at home against Detroit last week, ending the Lions' road losing streak at 26 games. As a result, Tampa Bay's playoff hopes are dashed, so we'll see how the team responds in Week 16. Josh Freeman has done an excellent job protecting the football this season, and he should have a fine game against a porous Seattle defense. Despite getting just the 44th most snaps among RBs, LeGarrette Blount leads the NFL in missed tackles, as the rookie back looks to have a bright future in the league.
Predictions: Matt Hasselbeck throws for 220 yards with a touchdown to Mike Williams, while Marshawn Lynch adds 80 yards and a TD run. LeGarrette Blount counters with 100 rushing yards and hits paydirt, while Josh Freeman adds 240 passing yards with scoring strikes to Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn, as the home team comes out on top. Buccaneers 24-20.
New York Giants (+3) at Green Bay, Sunday 4:15 p.m.
Comments: The Giants are coming off quite possibly the most devastating loss of the 2010 NFL season, allowing 28 points during the game's final eight minutes to the Eagles. As a result, the team now has a must-win Sunday in Green Bay. Both the Giants and Packers are absolutely two of the better teams in all of football, but the loser of this week's matchup is almost certainly out of the postseason. Eli Manning has 28 TD passes this season, but he's also committed 25 turnovers, and Green Bay's defense has posted a 14:18 TD:INT ratio with 40 sacks this year…The Packers nearly won in New England last week with Matt Flynn starting at quarterback, but the team ultimately lost, and they are now 1-3 over the past four games. They get the Giants and Bears over the season's final two games, but at least both are at home. Aaron Rodgers (concussion) has been cleared to return for Week 16, which is obviously huge news. The Giants have ceded just 6.4 YPA on the season, and they should be up to the challenge Sunday coming off such a disappointing fourth quarter last week. The main difference between these two similar teams is the Giants' superior rushing attack, but home field supersedes that Sunday.
Predictions: Eli Manning throws for 240 yards with a touchdown to Hakeem Nicks, while Ahmad Bradshaw totals 80 yards and scores. Green Bay's backfield is a committee, resulting in 75 rushing yards and a TD run. Aaron Rodgers adds 260 passing yards with scoring strikes to Greg Jennings and James Jones, as Green Bay wins the game of the week. Packers 24-20.
Minnesota (+15) at Philadelphia, Sunday 8:25 p.m.
Comments: The Vikings lost 40-14 at "home" Monday, and now they have to travel during a short week to play an Eagles team that might be the best in the NFC. A surprise inactive last week, Adrian Peterson has returned to practice and is expected to suit up Sunday, but the team once again has a night game, so fantasy owners should have a backup plan if possible. The same goes for the QB situation, as Brett Favre (concussion) looks unlikely to play, but he's fooled us before. If he's out, Joe Webb gets the start and becomes a viable WR option in fantasy leagues in which he's eligible…The Eagles are coming off a crazy comeback victory over the Giants, when they scored 28 points in the final eight minutes, and DeSean Jackson become the first player in NFL history to end a game by returning a punt for a touchdown. Philadelphia is now 6-1 over its past seven games, and with two upcoming home games, they are the clear favorites to win the NFC East. If you prorate Michael Vick's numbers from the 10 games he's finished this year, he produces a season's pace of 4,330 passing yards, 32 passing TDs, 954 rushing yards and 13 rushing scores. That's essentially the same as a non-running QB throwing for 6,238 yards and 52 touchdowns in fantasy leagues. The only worry Vick's fantasy owners have this week is if the Eagles jump out to a huge lead, but coach Andy Reid doesn't like calling a bunch of run plays regardless of score.
Predictions: Joe Webb gets the start at QB, throwing for 150 yards with a touchdown to Sidney Rice. Webb also adds 50 rushing yards. Adrian Peterson suits up and gets 80 yards on the ground but doesn't score. LeSean McCoy responds with 120 total yards and a TD run, while Michael Vick adds 250 passing yards, 50 rushing yards and touchdown strikes to DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, as Philly wins handily. Eagles 30-13.
New Orleans (+2.5) at Falcons, Monday 8:30 p.m.
Comments: The Falcons have won eight straight games and are a perfect 6-0 at home this season. The team has benefitted from an easy schedule, but they deserve a ton of credit for handling the inferior teams, often with ease. Matt Ryan has thrown 25 touchdowns despite a 6.5 YPA mark, but New Orleans has allowed an NFL-low 10 scores through the air this season. Michael Turner hasn't been as productive this year on a per game basis compared to his first two seasons in Atlanta, but he's scored 38 touchdowns over 41 games since joining the Falcons. He'll once again be a big part of the team's game plan Monday night…The Saints' six-game winning streak came to an end with a loss in Baltimore last week, and the team can no longer win its division. Drew Brees is having another strong year, on pace to finish with a career-high 35 touchdown passes, but he's also been picked off in 10 consecutive games, and Atlanta has recorded 19 interceptions this season. The over/under is set at 48.5 points, so expect a lot of scoring Monday. The Saints simply need a victory more, and they should be focused coming off a loss. Atlanta is extremely tough at home, but New Orleans prefers to play dome games. Don't be surprised if the Saints even up the season series.
Predictions: Matt Ryan throws for 240 yards with a touchdown to Roddy White, while Michael Turner adds 90 rushing yards and reaches the end zone. New Orleans' RBBC produces a similar line, with Reggie Bush scoring the TD. Drew Brees adds 275 passing yards with scoring strikes to Marques Colston and Robert Meachem, as New Orleans pulls off the mild upset. Saints 24-23.