NFL Game Capsules
By Dalton Del Don
RotoWire Staff Writer
New York Jets (+5.5) at Buffalo, Sunday 1 p.m.
The Jets may have won last week, but they were unimpressive in doing so. Brett Favre
has committed eight turnovers over the last three games and is getting a pedestrian 6.9 YPA on the year. His 11 interceptions are tied for the most in the NFL, and Buffaloís secondary has generally played well this year, so itís not a great matchup. Jerricho Cotchery
might be able to abuse a hobbled Terrence McGee
, but the Jets may have to put plenty of points on the board to keep pace Sunday. When not playing in Miami, the Jets have lost 10 consecutive road games... The Bills are coming off a loss in Miami last week, so expect a rebound performance. Trent Edwards
has played well this season, but his superb 7.7 YPA mark has translated into just five touchdown passes. Look for that number to jump Sunday, as New Yorkís secondary is highly suspect, and Lee Evans
should be able to get behind the defense for at least one long score. Jason Peters
í play has slipped quite a bit, and Marshawn Lynch
ís 3.7 YPC clip is weak, but Buffalo is a much more complete football team than New York.
Predictions: Brett Favre throws for 225 yards and finds Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery for scores, while Thomas Jones adds 70 yards on the ground. Marshawn Lynch responds with 75 yards and a TD run, while Trent Edwards adds 240 yards and two scores, with Lee Evans and James Hardy the recipients, as Buffalo comes out on top. Bills 24-17.
Detroit (+13) at Chicago, Sunday 1 p.m.
The Lions have remained somewhat competitive over their last three games, but they remain winless on the season nevertheless. Other than Calvin Johnson
, thereís little on the roster to be excited about moving forward. The offense ranks 29th in the league, and if Dan Orlovsky
struggles Sunday, itís possible Drew Stanton
gets some reps. While itís hard to fathom, the defense has been even worse, ranking last in the NFL. Of the seven opposing quarterbacks the Lions have faced this season, six have come away with career-best QB ratings. Theyíve given up 9.5 YPA, which is a full yard more than any other team in football. Detroit is 1-14 over their last 15 games... Make no mistake, the Bears are better than their 4-3 record indicates and are right in the NFC North race. The defense is tough, allowing just 6.4 YPA with a 7:10 TD:INT ratio through the air and only 3.7 YPC on the ground. Greg Olsen
is fast developing into a top-five fantasy tight end, while Kyle Orton
might be the most improved player in football. Over his last five games, Orton has gotten 7.7 YPA with 10 touchdown passes. He should shred an awful Detroit secondary Sunday, and coming off a bye, expect the Bears to win handily.
Predictions: Dan Orlovsky struggles, throwing for just 160 yards with two interceptions and no TDs. Kevin Smith gains only 50 total yards, but he does score. Matt Forte looks refreshed after the week off, resulting in 110 scrimmage yards and a trip to the end zone. Kyle Orton adds 275 passing yards and three scoring strikes, with Devin Hester, Greg Olsen and Marty Booker the recipients, as Chicago rolls. Bears 31-13.
Jacksonville (-8) at Cincinnati, Sunday 1 p.m.
Both teams have disappointed this year, but the Bengals have more so with a 0-8 record. Cincinnatiís defense has allowed a staggering 27.1 points per game this season, as the secondary has been beaten for 13 scoring strikes through the air while accumulating just six sacks. The offense has been equally as bad, as Ryan Fitzpatrick
set a season-high with 4.8 YPA last week. Itís become a mess... Jacksonville should bounce back after losing at home to Cleveland last week, but the team just isnít the same in the trenches as last year. The running game has been stagnant, and the defense ranks 23rd in the league. Fred Taylor
looks just about done, and David Garrard
isnít playing at nearly the level he did last season. Matt Jones
led the NFL with 16 targets last week, and he has another favorable matchup Sunday.
Predictions: Ryan Fitzpatrick throws for 160 yards and a TD to T.J. Houshmandzadeh, while Cedric Benson adds 60 yards and a score. Maurice Jones-Drew counters with 100 combined yards and a touchdown, while David Garrard adds 225 passing yards with scoring strikes to Matt Jones and Reggie Williams, as Jacksonville wins it. Jaguars 21-17.
Baltimore (+1.5) at Cleveland, Sunday 1 p.m.
After an 0-3 start this season, the Browns have won three of their last four games, including an upset victory in Jacksonville last week. Still, Cleveland hardly looks playoff bound, and the offense should really struggle against the Ravensí fierce defense this week. Derek Anderson
has posted a 4:0 TD:INT ratio over the last three contests, but heís still getting just 5.9 YPA on the year, and opposing quarterbacks have tallied just a 67.6 rating when facing Baltimore this season... The Ravens have won back-to-back games, but the team is susceptible on the road, and they are dealing with injuries in the secondary. Joe Flacco
has done a better job limiting turnovers of late, which is important since the Brownsí secondary has posted a surprising 7:9 TD:INT ratio this year. Cleveland has been ran on successfully (4.7 YPC), however, so expect a nice game from Willis McGahee
. The battle between the Brownsí offensive line against the Ravensí pass rush may be the deciding factor, and in the end, Baltimore is too physical for the finesse Browns.
Predictions: Derek Anderson throws for 175 yards and a TD to Kellen Winslow, but Jamal Lewis and the rest of the offense is largely quieted. Willis McGahee runs for 80 yards and a touchdown, while Joe Flacco adds 175 passing yards and a scoring strike to Derrick Mason, as the road team prevails. Ravens 20-13.
Tampa Bay (-9) at Kansas City, Sunday 1 p.m.
Kansas City has lost three in a row and sits at 1-6 on the year, but even worse, the rebuilding plan hasnít exactly gone smoothly. Larry Johnson
looks unlikely to suit up again this week, and thereís an increasingly possible scenario heís played his final game as a Chief. Jamal Charles (ankle) is iffy this week, but he possesses far more long-term upside than Kolby Smith
. He could be a major factor in fantasy leagues later this year. Tyler Thigpen
had a shockingly good game last week (7.8 YPA), but his matchup is much more difficult Sunday, as Tampa Bay is second in the NFL with 12 interceptions... The Bucs win with defense and by running the football, but they havenít played great on the road this season, and the ground game has stalled of late. Look for that to change Sunday, as the Chiefs have allowed NFL-worsts 5.6 YPC and 14 rushing scores on the year. Tampa Bay is just 11-for-31 in the red zone this season, ranking 29th in the NFL, so if Kansas City can hold them to field goals, the game can remain competitive Sunday.
Predictions: Tyler Thigpen throws for 170 yards and a TD to Tony Gonzalez, but Kolby Smith is completely shut down. Earnest Graham gets more work than usual with Warrick Dunn (back) out, resulting in 110 total yards and two touchdowns. Jeff Garcia adds 180 passing yards with a scoring strike to Antonio Bryant, as Tampa Bay comes out on top.
Houston (+4.5) at Minnesota, Sunday 1 p.m.
The Texans have followed up a 0-4 start by winning three straight games, but the team has yet to record a victory while on the road this season. The defense remains a problem, but the offense is one of the more potent units in the league, led by the unstoppable Matt Schaub
to Andre Johnson
connection. Over his last four games, Schaub is getting 8.7 YPA with a 10:2 TD:INT ratio. Over the last two weeks, heís completed a remarkable 84.8 percent of his passes. Meanwhile, Johnson has recorded at least nine receptions with 130 receiving yards in each of the past four games. Expect another big game from the Houston passing attack... A favorite among pundits before the season, the Vikings are a disappointing 3-4 this year, sitting in third place in the NFC North. The run defense remains stout (2.9 YPC), but the secondary is beatable, so hopefully the return of Madieu Williams
(neck) will help. Gus Frerotte
is quietly averaging 257.2 yards-per-game, but thatís accompanied by a 5:7 TD:INT ratio. Adrian Peterson
has racked up 232 rushing yards over his last two contests, and he should have a huge game against a Houston front seven thatís allowed 4.5 YPC on the year. Coming off a bye, expect the better prepared Vikings to win on a last second field goal.
Predictions: Matt Schaub throws for 280 yards and three touchdowns, with Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter and Owen Daniels the recipients. Steve Slaton is bottled up, while Adrian Peterson runs for 125 yards and two touchdowns. Gus Frerotte throws for 275 yards and connects on a long score to Bernard Berrian, as Minnesota triumphs. Vikings 27-24.
Arizona (-3) at St. Louis, Sunday 1 p.m.
The Rams have played much better since Jim Haslett took over as coach, although the team did fall to the Patriots last week. The improvement has come mainly on the defensive side of the ball, as St. Louis has given up 18.0 points per game since the coaching change as opposed to 36.8 points over its first four games. Steven Jackson
(thigh) is questionable, but he claims heís going to play. Marc Bulger
has gotten 9.0 YPA over the last two weeks, and he should have continued success against Arizonaís leaky secondary thatís allowed 8.1 YPA this year. He and Donnie Avery
are developing a nice rapport, as Torry Holt
is in full-fledge decline... The Cardinals have one of the best passing attacks in the league, but the team still doesnít travel well and has a suspect defense. Kurt Warner
is playing at an extremely high level, and he should have a huge game against the Rams, who are allowing the second most YPA (8.5) in the NFL. Everyone knows Larry Fitzgerald
and Anquan Boldin
are two of the best receivers in football, but Steve Breaston
has developed into possibly the best No. 3 wideout in the league as well. Even with Boldin back in the lineup last week, Breaston was targeted 14 times Ė more than any other Arizona WR and the third highest amount in the league. The Cardinalsí aerial attack is nearly impossible to stop.
Predictions: Marc Bulger throws for 225 yards and finds Donnie Avery and Torry Holt for scores, while Steven Jackson suits up and totals 100 yards with a TD run. Tim Hightower begins to take the reigns from Edgerrin James as Arizonaís feature back, resulting in 60 yards and a touchdown. Kurt Warner adds 325 passing yards and three touchdown tosses, with Larry Fitzgerald (twice) and Anquan Boldin the recipients, as the road team wins a high-scoring affair. Cardinals 28-21.
Green Bay (+5.5) at Tennessee, Sunday 1 p.m.
The Packers used their bye week to get healthier, as Al Harris
(spleen) expects to return to the lineup, and Aaron Rodgers
í shoulder is feeling better. Heíll have a tough matchup against a stingy Tennessee secondary thatís allowed an NFL-low 5.7 YPA with a 3:12 TD:INT ratio, but Rodgers has been fantastic this season and has plenty of weapons at his disposal. Ryan Grant
has gotten just 2.1 YPC on the road this year, but since Green Bay had two weeks to prepare and Tennessee is coming off a Monday night game, expect a competitive contest Sunday... The Titans will have to fight off having a letdown after proving to the world they are legit with a resounding 31-21 victory over the Colts last Monday, but theyíve done an excellent job of staying focused throughout the season. Green Bay has been gashed by the run this year, allowing 4.9 YPC, so expect a big day from Chris Johnson
. LenDale White
has gotten 1.3 YPC or less in three of his last four games, but heís on pace to score 23 touchdowns nevertheless. The Titans are the only team in the NFL to cover the spread in every game this season.
Predictions: Aaron Rodgers throws for 225 yards and finds Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson for scores. Ryan Grant gets just 60 yards on the ground, while Chris Johnson totals 110 yards, and LenDale White gets yet another goal-line score. Kerry Collins adds 170 passing yards with a TD toss to Bo Scaife, as Tennessee remains undefeated. Titans 20-17.
Miami (+3) at Denver, Sunday 4:05 p.m.
Despite shoddy tackling and getting outplayed on special teams, the Dolphins overcame a nine-point deficit to beat the Bills 25-16 last week. Chad Pennington
has been one of the seasonís biggest surprises, getting 8.5 YPA, including 9.9 over the last three games. Ted Ginn
is starting to look like a playmaker, and Miamiís plus-seven turnover margin is tied for the best in the NFL. Ronnie Brown
is coming off back-to-back subpar outings, but he faces a Broncos defense that has allowed 5.4 YPC, which is the second highest mark in the league, so expect a big performance Sunday... Denver hasnít won since Week 5, and the defense is one of the worst in the league, and that was before they lost Champ Bailey
to a groin injury. Still, the offense is back to full strength, and they did have two weeks to prepare for Miami. After a scorching start to the season, Jay Cutler
has gotten just 6.5 YPA with a 5:5 TD:INT ratio over his last four games. However, the Dolphins have struggled against the pass, ceding 8.2 YPA, so expect a rebound from Cutler, who appears to be healed from his finger injury. Michael Pittman
gets the start Sunday, but Ryan Torain
may be the teamís leading rusher from here on out.
Predictions: Chad Pennington throws for 275 yards and connects with Ted Ginn and Greg Camarillo for scores, while Ronnie Brown adds 115 total yards and hits paydirt. Michael Pittman counters with 60 rushing yards, while Jay Cutler throws for 300 yards with scoring strikes to Brandon Marshall (twice) and Eddie Royal, as Denver finally gets back into the win column. Broncos 30-24.
Dallas (+9) at New York Giants, Sunday 4:15 p.m.
The Cowboys ended a two-game losing streak last week, but it had more to do with defense than the offense, which continues to struggle. The downgrade from Tony Romo
(pinkie) to Brad Johnson
has been massive, as Johnson has lacked both accuracy and arm strength. Since heís also highly immobile, it figures to be another long day against the Giantsí fierce pass rush that has tallied an NFL-high 26 sacks on the year. Terrell Owens
led Dallas in receiving for the first time this season last week, but that was with just 33 yards; heís officially entered the decline phase of his terrific career. Jason Witten
(rib) looks unlikely to play, so expect an inept offensive output by Dallas on Sunday... The Giants won in Pittsburgh last week, and itíd be tough not to consider them the best team in football at this point. The Cowboysí secondary has suffered numerous injuries, resulting in just two interceptions on the year. Eli Manning
continues to improve, but he and Plaxico Burress
need to get back on the same page. Brandon Jacobs
hasnít had 20 carries in a game since Week 1, as the team really likes deploying a committee in the backfield. With no Romo and a defense that lacks bite, expect an easy win for the Giants on Sunday.
Predictions: Brad Johnson once again plays poorly, resulting in Brooks Bollinger seeing some action. Either way, the only touchdown on the day comes from Marion Barber, who also adds 70 rushing yards. Brandon Jacobs produces a similar line, while Eli Manning adds 240 passing yards with scoring strikes to Plaxico Burress and Steve Smith, as New York wins handily. Giants 27-13.
Atlanta (-3) at Oakland, Sunday 4:15 p.m.
Oakland is just 2-5 on the year, but they have been mostly competitive when playing at home. JaMarcus Russell
has a solid matchup on paper, but heís completed just 50.3 percent of his passes and taken 18 sacks this season. Heís still a major work in progress and gets little help from a weak Oakland receiving corps. Darren McFadden
is now bothered by turf toe on both feet, so little should be expected of him over the rest of the season. Expect Justin Fargas
to dominate the carries in Oaklandís backfield Sunday... The Falcons suffered a tough defeat last week in Philadelphia, but the fact they remained so competitive speaks volumes. Matt Ryan
has thrown five touchdowns over the past three games and has taken only nine sacks on the year, as he continues to impress. Roddy White
has as many catches (43) as all of the Raidersí wide receivers combined. Michael Turner
has been feast-or-famine this season, but facing a Raiders front seven thatís allowed 4.5 YPC and 11 rushing scores on the year, expect a big game from the back with a low center of gravity.
Predictions: JaMarcus Russell gets 175 passing yards with a TD to Zach Miller, while Justin Fargas adds 90 rushing yards with a score. Michael Turner answers with 130 rushing yards and two TDs, while Matt Ryan adds 225 passing yards and yet another touchdown toss to Roddy White, as Atlanta wins it. Falcons 21-17.
Philadelphia (-7) at Seattle, Sunday 4:15 p.m.
The Seahawks ended a three-game losing streak with a 34-13 win in San Francisco last week, but the team still has plenty of holes on both sides of the ball. Even in the victory, Seattle only averaged 1.4 YPC, and Seneca Wallace
(5.8 YPA) should struggle mightily against a tough Philly defense. Seattle does play much better at home, but the team is also likely to be without Patrick Kerney
, who re-injured his shoulder last week, which would be a major loss... Philadelphia has both a top-10 rated offense and defense, but thatís resulted in just a 4-3 record, so they are better cosmetically than they are on the field. Still, the defense should dominate Sunday, as Trent Cole
and company will have their way with an overwhelmed Seattle offensive line. With Brian Westbrook
back in the lineup, the offense is dynamic, and Donovan McNabb
should have no trouble picking apart a Seattle secondary that has allowed 8.0 YPA and a 11:2 TD:INT ratio on the year.
Predictions: Seneca Wallace struggles, throwing for just 150 yards and one TD to Bobby Engram. Seattleís running game is stymied once again, while Brian Westbrook totals 125 yards with two touchdowns. Donovan McNabb adds 230 passing yards with a scoring strike to DeSean Jackson, as Philly prevails. Eagles 24-13.
New England (+6) at Indianapolis, Sunday 8:15 p.m.
Any matchup between the Colts and Patriots is intriguing, but itís safe to say this yearís contest is far from as enticing as previous versions. The Patriots are 5-2, and Bill Belichick has to be among the favorites for Coach of the Year, but this team is hardly a juggernaut. In fact, they are nearly touchdown underdogs to a team thatís 3-4 and playing poorly. Matt Cassel
has improved over the last couple of weeks, but heís taken a staggering 28 sacks this season, which is unacceptable. Kevin Faulk
looks like the New England back likely to get the most touches this week, and the Patriots will try to limit the pass attempts against an Indy secondary that has allowed a 2:5 TD:INT ratio this year... At 3-4, the Colts are essentially playing for a wild card berth, as any chance at the AFC South title all but disappeared with a loss to Tennessee last week. Indianapolis would likely be happy with any playoff appearance at this point, as the team has a middling defense and the worst rushing attack in the NFL. Most concerning of all, however, is the play of Peyton Manning
, whose 6.6 YPA is his worst mark since his rookie season. Heís also on pace to throw 21 interceptions. Itís become clear that heís playing at less than full strength, but the Colts should have enough firepower, and motivation with their season on the line, to take care of a mediocre Patriots team in the spotlight Sunday night.
Predictions: Matt Cassel throws for 200 yards with one touchdown to Randy Moss. Kevin Faulk adds 75 total yards with a TD run, while Joseph Addai returns and puts up a similar line to Faulkís. Peyton Manning adds 250 passing yards with scoring strikes to Dallas Clark and Anthony Gonzalez, as Indy comes out on top. Colts 27-17.
Pittsburgh (+1.5) at Washington, Monday 8:30 p.m.
Washington is 6-1 over its last seven games, led by a sound defense and the second ranked rushing attack. Jason Campbell
is easily having the best season of his career, getting 7.6 YPA without an interception. Clinton Portis
has been fantastic, but heís on pace to finish with 374 carries, so thereís risk he starts wearing down over the second half of the season. The Redskins have a run-heavy philosophy, but Pittsburgh has allowed an NFL-low 2.8 YPC this year and is the only team in the NFL yet to allow a single rush of 20-plus yards. With no Jason Taylor
(calf) and a hobbled Santana Moss
(hamstring), the Redskins have their work cut out for them... Pittsburgh is 5-0 against the AFC this year but 0-2 versus the NFC, including a loss last week against the Giants. Still, that just means the team will be focused coming off a loss, and the defense is one of the best in the league. Ben Roethlisberger
threw a whopping four picks last week, but he gets Santonio Holmes
(inactive) back and is too good not to rebound with a big performance. Heís on pace to be sacked an incredible 53 times this year, so his long-term health is a concern. Willie Parker
(knee) appears ready to return to action, but Mewelde Moore
figures to remain involved. Washington is a solid team, but they arenít quite at the level Pittsburgh is.
Predictions: Jason Campbell throws for 200 yards with his first interception of the year. He also finds Chris Cooley for a score, while Clinton Portis gets 80 hard-fought yards, but the end zone eludes him. Pittsburghís backfield duo combines for 100 total yards, while Ben Roethlisberger adds 230 passing yards and touchdown tosses to Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward, as the road team wins. Steelers 20-13.
Article first appeared 10/31/08