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Game Capsules: 2008 NFL Game Capsule-Week 14

Dalton Del Don

Dalton Del Don

Dalton Del Don writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

NFL Game Capsules

By Dalton Del Don
RotoWire Staff Writer

Oakland (+10) at San Diego, Thursday 8:15 p.m.

Comments: Oakland followed an impressive 21-point victory in Denver with a home loss to Kansas City last week, but even at 3-9, they enter Week 14 just one game behind the 4-8 Chargers. The Raiders have to travel during the short week, but itís not much of a trip, and the secondary has really improved with Chris Johnson replacing DeAngelo Hall at LCB opposite the indefatigable Nnamdi Asomugha. JaMarcus Russell hasnít developed as hoped, but San Diegoís secondary has allowed a 21:7 TD:INT ratio. They struggle covering tight ends especially, so Zach Miller should continue to impress. As usual, expect the Raiders to rely heavily on their ground game, led by Justin Fargas, although Darren McFadden needs to get more carries... The Chargers are 1-5 over their last six games, so despite gaudy passing stats and a roster perceived as talent-filled, this team just isnít all that good. The defense is soft, and LaDainian Tomlinson is a shell of his former self, with no burst or explosion. Philip Rivers has played extremely well this season and has gotten a remarkable 8.7 YPA while at home, but Oaklandís secondary has recorded more interceptions (13) than touchdowns allowed (12) on the year, so they should be able to at least keep the game close. San Diego may take out its frustrations against an overmatched Oakland team, but theyíve disappointed all season long, so thereís no reason to expect anything more than another mediocre performance.

Predictions: JaMarcus Russell throws for 170 yards and a touchdown to Zach Miller, while the Raidersí backfield committee combines for 110 rushing yards and a TD run by Darren McFadden. LaDainian Tomlinson answers with 90 yards and hits paydirt, while Philip Rivers adds 260 passing yards with scoring strikes to Antonio Gates and Vincent Jackson, as the home team prevails. Chargers 24-17.

Jacksonville (+7) at Chicago, Sunday 1 p.m.

Comments: Just 1-5 over the last six games, the Jaguars looked completely listless during their loss to the Texans last Monday night. They now have to travel during a short week, although Jacksonville has played much better on the road this season, as three of its four victories have occurred away from home. Jerry Porter, who was seen laughing at the end of last weekís loss despite dropping an easy ball that would have resulted in a first down earlier in the game, is one of the worst free agent signings in the history of the NFL. David Garrard doesnít have many playmakers at his disposal, and he faces a Bears secondary that has recorded the second most interceptions (18) in football this year... Chicago has regressed as the season has gone on and no longer looks like a playoff team. They return home Sunday for the first time in a month and have three straight games in Soldier Field upcoming. However, Kyle Orton has played terribly since returning from an ankle injury, getting just 5.0 YPA with a 2:3 TD:INT ratio over three games. He gets a beatable Jags secondary this week, but expect Chicago to center its offensive game plan around Matt Forte once again. Forte leads the NFL with 296 touches and has been fantastic during his rookie season, effectively washing the bad taste of the Cedric Benson era out of the Bearsí fans mouths.

Predictions: David Garrard throws for 180 yards with an interception and a TD strike to Marcedes Lewis. Maurice Jones-Drew adds 70 yards combined with a touchdown, while Matt Forte answers with 110 total yards and a TD of his own. Kyle Orton adds 200 yards through the air with a scoring strike to Devin Hester, as the home team comes out on top. Bears 23-17.

Minnesota (-9.5) at Detroit, Sunday 1 p.m.

Comments: The Lions were flat out embarrassed on Thanksgiving, as their 47-10 loss could have easily been much worse. Detroit is staring an 0-16 season right in the face, and at this point, it will take a big upset for it not to happen. The team might catch a break if Pat Williams and Kevin Williams are suspended for Minnesota, but that decision remains up in the air. Daunte Culpepper has just been brutal, completing 50.5 percent of his passes with a 3:6 TD:INT ratio. He isnít the long-term answer at the quarterback position... Minnesota hasnít played well on the road this year, but they are 4-1 over the last five games and have improved as the season has progressed. The passing attack is suspect, and it really would be a huge loss if both of the Williams tackles are suspended, so they canít overlook the Lions, especially since the NFC North is still up for grabs. Still, Adrian Peterson should go nuts against a Lions front seven that has allowed 5.1 YPC and 22 rushing scores Ė both NFL worsts.

Predictions: Daunte Culpepper takes numerous sacks, commits three turnovers and throws for 175 yards with a touchdown to Calvin Johnson. Kevin Smith is held in check, while Adrian Peterson runs for 125 yards and two touchdowns. Gus Frerotte adds 200 passing yards with a long score to Bernard Berrian, as Minnesota wins it. Vikings 24-13.

Houston (+6) at Green Bay, Sunday 1 p.m.

Comments: The Texans have won back-to-back games and get Matt Schaub (knee) back in the lineup, but this team is terrible on the road and will be traveling during a short week. In fact, Schaub is 0-9 during his last nine road starts. The offense does have potential, but Andre Johnson surprisingly has just four receiving TDs this season. Green Bay has held opposing quarterbacks to just 6.3 YPA, so itís not an ideal matchup. Still, Steve Slaton has emerged as a terrific option out of the backfield, and the Packers have yielded 4.8 YPC in 2008. Expect Slaton to be gone by the end of the second round in fantasy drafts next season... Green Bay is just 1-4 over its last five contests, and the defense has allowed 86 points over the last two games. With a favorable upcoming schedule, the team could still run the table and make the postseason, but thereís little margin for error from here on out. Ryan Grant (thumb) practiced this week and looks good to go, and he gets a nice matchup Sunday. Aaron Rodgers has gotten just 6.4 YPA over the last four games, but he has also totaled eight touchdowns over the last three, and Houstonís secondary is a mess.

Predictions: Matt Schaub returns and throws for 240 yards with a touchdown to Owen Daniels, while Steve Slaton contributes 100 total yards and a TD run. Ryan Grant responds with a similar line, while Aaron Rodgers throws for 275 yards with touchdown tosses to Greg Jennings and Donald Driver, as Green Bay prevails. Packers 27-20.

Cincinnati (+14) at Indianapolis, Sunday 1 p.m.

Comments: The Bengals have the worst ranked offense in the league, are just 1-10-1 and have been outscored 310-151 on the year. Itís been ugly. Cedric Benson has averaged 2.9 YPC and offers nothing in the passing game, yet heís considered an upgrade in the backfield. Ryan Fitzpatrick has gotten a microscopic 4.8 YPA with just six touchdowns in nine games and faces an Indy secondary that has ceded an NFL-low four TD passes this season, so donít expect the Bengals to put up many points Sunday... The Colts have won five in a row, but they played awful football last week, and there are still plenty of holes. An incredibly easy schedule assures a playoff berth, but the run defense is leaky, and Joseph Addai continues to disappoint. Peyton Manning will almost assuredly play better over the rest of the season, but heís gotten just 6.6 YPA, so any MVP talk is absurd. Indyís biggest margin of victory this year is six points, but Cincinnati is a true doormat, so expect the teamís first blowout Sunday.

Predictions: Ryan Fitzpatrick continues to struggle, throwing for 140 yards with no TDs. Cedric Benson is also shut down, as the Bengals are unable to reach the end zone. Joseph Addai counters with 100 total yards and a touchdown, while Peyton Manning adds 275 passing yards with scoring strikes to Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison, as Indy wins handily. Colts 27-6.

Atlanta (+3) at New Orleans, Sunday 1 p.m.

Comments: The Falcons are 4-1 over their last five games and are clearly one of the NFCís best teams despite a rookie QB and first year head coach. They have been solid on the road this season, but Atlanta has a tough task this week, as New Orleans is 5-1 at home and desperate for a win to stay in the playoff race. Matt Ryan has been nothing short of fantastic during his rookie campaign and might be the single most valuable commodity for an NFL franchise today. He should have another nice game against a middling Saints secondary. Michael Turner has been a terrific addition to the backfield, although just one of his 13 rushing touchdowns have come away from home... The Saints have the No. 1 ranked offense in the league, but the team is too soft on the road and plays in such a competitive division, the postseason looks like a long shot. Drew Brees has gotten 9.6 YPA with a 17:4 TD:INT ratio in six homes games this season, so the Saints should put up plenty of points this week. Reggie Bush (knee) should get more touches now back up to game speed, but Pierre Thomas is New Orleansí best inside runner.

Predictions: Matt Ryan throws for 260 yards and two touchdowns, with Roddy White and Michael Jenkins the recipients. Michael Turner adds 90 rushing yards and hits paydirt, while Reggie Bush counters with 75 scrimmage yards and a score. Drew Brees throws for 300 yards with scoring strikes to Marques Colston, Lance Moore and Jeremy Shockey, as the home team prevails. Saints 31-27.

Philadelphia (+7) at New York Giants, Sunday 1 p.m.

Comments: The Eagles ended a three-game winless streak with a resounding 48-20 victory over the Cardinals on Thanksgiving but now have to travel to New York to face the best team in football. They do have the added benefit of 10 days rest, which has really helped teams that have previously played on Thursdays this season. Donovan McNabb has gotten just 5.6 YPA over the past four games, and heíll be dealing with a vicious Giants pass rush. Brian Westbrook is feeling better than he has since the beginning of the season, so he appears to have turned the corner with his ankle and knee issues... The Giants are 15-1 over their last 16 games, but it remains to be seen what affect the Plaxico Burress situation has on the team. It seems like this group can handle the distraction with ease in the locker room, but losing the teamís best wide receiver will hurt them on the field nevertheless, at least eventually. Domenik Hixon becomes the best deep threat, and heís impressed when given the opportunity. Teams have been daring Eli Manning to beat them recently, which should become a theme from here on out. Brandon Jacobs and the running game will still be the focal point on offense, but Philadelphia has allowed just 3.4 YPC this season.

Predictions: Donovan McNabb throws for 225 yards with a score to L.J. Smith, while Brian Westbrook totals 80 yards with a TD run. Brandon Jacobs runs for 70 yards with a goal-line touchdown, while Eli Manning throws for 220 yards with a scoring strike to Domenik Hixon, as New York wins it. Giants 23-17.

Cleveland (+14) at Tennessee, Sunday 1 p.m.

Comments: Cleveland hung tough against Indianapolis last week, but they are just 1-4 over the last five games and have lost two quarterbacks to season-ending injuries. Enter Ken Dorsey, who has gotten a paltry 5.4 YPA during his career and faces a Tennessee secondary that has allowed a 64.4 opposing QB rating. Jamal Lewis has averaged just 3.6 YPC, and Braylon Edwards has the most drops of any receiver in the NFL. Moreover, Kellen Winslow is sidelined with an ankle injury. A field goal should be considered a success Sunday... The Titans are 11-1 and have the luxury of 10 days of rest, although some complacency could set in facing such weak competition of late. Jeff Fisher will make sure that doesnít happen, and the ground game should have another big performance against an overmatched Browns front seven. Kerry Collins has gotten 7.3 YPA with a 6:1 TD:INT ratio while taking only four sacks over the last four games, so heís playing well despite the ďgame managerĒ moniker. Put simply, Tennessee has far more talent than Cleveland, so it would be surprising to see a close contest this week.

Predictions: Ken Dorsey struggles mightily, throwing multiple picks and no TDs. Jamal Lewis is bottled up, as Cleveland is shut out. Chris Johnson responds with 80 total yards and a touchdown, while LenDale White also punches one in from the goal line. Kerry Collins adds 170 passing yards and a touchdown toss to Bo Scaife, as Tennessee improves to 12-1. Titans 24-0.

Miami (pick Ďem) at Buffalo, Sunday 4:05 p.m.

Comments: After starting the season 5-1, the Bills have gone just 1-5, typified by a 10-3 home loss to San Francisco last week. The team now gives up its previous homefield advantage of playing a Florida team in what would be below freezing temperatures, instead hosting the game in Toronto under controlled conditions. Trent Edwards looks unlikely to play with a groin injury, leaving J.P. Losman under center. Losman can beat you with his legs, and Miamiís secondary isnít anything special, but heís not much of a passer, so Buffalo will focus on its ground game. Unfortunately, Miami is strong against the run, allowing only 3.9 YPC on the year... Unlike Buffalo, the Dolphins enter playing well, having gone 5-1 over their last six games. Over their last three wins, the average margin of victory has been just 2.7 points, and thatís been against weak competition, so this team is hardly dominant. Still, they sport the superior rushing attack, limit turnovers, and Chad Pennington has gotten 7.9 YPA, so they have been the better team this season.

Predictions: J.P. Losman throws for 180 yards and finds Lee Evans for a score, while Marshawn Lynch totals 70 yards with a TD run. Ronnie Brown counters with 60 combined yards and a touchdown, while Chad Pennington adds 220 passing yards and finds Davone Bess in the end zone, as Miami wins on a late field goal. Dolphins 20-17.

Kansas City (+9.5) at Denver, Sunday 4:05 p.m.

Comments: The Chiefs ended a seven-game losing streak with a 20-13 win in Oakland last week, but their last ranked defense will have a tough time stopping Denverís No. 2 ranked offense Sunday. Still, Kansas City has been mostly competitive since Tyler Thigpen took over quarterback duties, and Larry Johnson should find success against a Broncos front seven that has allowed 4.9 YPC this season. Thigpenís YPA has improved recently, and there isnít a bigger running threat among quarterbacks in all of football. Tony Gonzalez is easily fantasy footballís best tight end, so the Chiefs should be able to score this week... After losing at home to the Raiders the week before, Denver beat the Jets in New York 34-17 last Sunday, revealing just how unpredictable the NFL can be on a week-to-week basis. Despite a porous defense, the Broncos are 3-1 over their last four games and have taken firm control of the AFC West. Additionally, the team is unlikely to take Kansas City lightly, as the Broncos lost by two touchdowns when these two teams met earlier in the year. Peyton Hillis has emerged as the primary ballcarrier, and he should have another nice game against a Chiefs defense that has yielded 5.0 YPC with 20 rushing scores in 2008. Jay Cutler has played far better on the road this season, but thatís likely a short-term anomaly, and he gets a highly favorable matchup this week. Expect Denver to exact revenge in an entertaining shootout.

Predictions: Tyler Thigpen throws for 270 yards and two touchdowns, with Tony Gonzalez and Dwayne Bowe the recipients. Larry Johnson adds 90 rushing yards with a TD run, while Peyton Hillis records a similar line. Jay Cutler throws for 290 yards with scoring strikes to Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal and Tony Scheffler, as Denver comes out on top. Broncos 31-24.

New York Jets (-4) at San Francisco, Sunday 4:05 p.m.

Comments: The 49ers are 2-1 over the last three weeks, including an upset victory in Buffalo last Sunday. Mike Singletary has them playing competitively, although the defense remains a problem other than Patrick Willis. Shaun Hill has been a pleasant surprise, getting 7.7 YPA with eight touchdowns over just 4.5 games. The Jetsí secondary is beatable, so Hill could have another nice game, especially since Frank Gore is unlikely to experience much success against New Yorkís front seven (3.6 YPC allowed). However, the 49ersí offensive line is shaky, and the Jets can bring a serious pass rush, so Hill will have to avoid turnovers to keep this game close... New York has to travel across the country, but expect the Jets to be extra focused after losing at home to the Broncos last week. Consider it a wake up call that ended a five-game winning streak, as this is still clearly one of the better teams in the NFL. Thomas Jones has averaged a surprising 4.7 YPC and scored 13 touchdowns, reviving his career in the process. Brett Favre played poorly last week, but he should bounce back against a beatable San Francisco secondary Sunday.

Predictions: Shaun Hill throws for 270 yards and connects with Isaac Bruce and Frank Gore in the end zone. Gore also totals 80 yards, while Thomas Jones runs for 90 yards and a score. Brett Favre adds 275 passing yards with TD strikes to Jerricho Cotchery and Dustin Keller, as New York gets back on track. Jets 27-17.

New England (-4.5) at Seattle, Sunday 4:05 p.m.

Comments: Seattle comes in stuck with a five-game losing streak and is just 1-8 since its Week 4 bye. The defense is ranked 30th in the league, while the offense is ranked 31st. Seattle has never been an easy place to play, and the team did have an extra three days to prepare, but New England is in a different class. Matt Hasselbeck improved his play last week, and New Englandís secondary has allowed 21 scores through the air, which is tied for the second most in the NFL. Still, you can bet Bill Belichickís crew will be ready after last weekís sloppy loss to Pittsburgh... The Patriots committed five turnovers last week, Randy Moss dropped numerous passes, and Wes Welker was knocked out of the game after a taking a vicious hit. However, that came against the NFLís best defense in Pittsburgh, so Sundayís game will be a welcome sight against a Seattle D that has allowed 7.9 YPA this year. New England hasnít lost back-to-back games since Weeks 9 and 10 in 2006, so the Seahawks should expect a strong performance Sunday.

Predictions: Matt Hasselbeck throws for 200 yards and a TD to John Carlson, while Maurice Morris totals 60 yards in the backfield. T.J. Duckett punches one in from the goal line, while Sammy Morris counters with 80 yards combined and a touchdown. Matt Cassel adds 250 passing yards with touchdown tosses to Randy Moss and Jabar Gaffney, as the road team prevails. Patriots 24-17.

St. Louis (+14) at Arizona, Sunday 4:15 p.m.

Comments: The Rams have lost six in a row and are one of the leagueís true doormats, especially when playing away from home. The team is tougher to beat with Steven Jackson back in the lineup, but their 29th ranked defense is going to have an extremely difficult time slowing the Cardinalsí passing attack. Over the last four games, Marc Bulger has gotten 5.0 YPA with a 1:8 TD:turnover ratio, so even though Arizona has yielded an NFL-high 26 passing touchdowns this year, St. Louis is unlikely to be able to take advantage. After getting at least 1,180 receiving yards in eight straight seasons, Torry Holt is on pace to finish with 701 yards in 2008... Arizona is 7-5 and in total control of the NFC West. However, the team has dropped two straight, including an embarrassing 48-20 drubbing on Thanksgiving. Three of their next four games are at home, where the Cardinals play much better, so they should finish the year strong. Kurt Warner is having an MVP worthy season and should shred a Rams secondary that has allowed 8.4 YPA on the year. For a team with the No. 2 ranked passing attack, itís remarkable Arizona has only been able to muster an NFL worst 3.3 YPC. Still, Tim Hightower makes for a sneaky fantasy play this week, as St. Louis has allowed 4.8 YPC and the second most rushing touchdowns (21) in the NFL.

Predictions: Marc Bulgerís struggles continue, as he throws for just 160 yards sans a TD. Steven Jackson totals 110 yards with a touchdown run, while Tim Hightower answers with 75 rushing yards and a score. Kurt Warner adds 300 passing yards with TD tosses to Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston, as Arizona wins in a rout. Cardinals 34-13.

Dallas (+3) at Pittsburgh, Sunday 4:15 p.m.

Comments: Pittsburgh has won three in a row and is clearly one of the NFLís best teams. The league hasnít seen a defense this good in a while. They somehow continue to lead football in both YPA (5.4) and YPC (3.1). The Steelers have also recorded the most sacks (42) and have held each opponent to fewer than 300 total yards this season, which is the longest streak to start a season since 1970. However, Ben Roethlisberger has not played well, getting just 7.0 YPA with a 13:12 TD:INT ratio... In the NFLís game of the week, Sundayís matchup could very well be a Super Bowl preview, and there figures to be inclement weather to spice things up even further. Even at 8-4, Dallas needs to go at least 3-1 to make the playoffs, as the NFC is top heavy this year, so Sundayís game should be treated as a must-win. The team should have the NFLís sack leader, DeMarcus Ware (knee), available, but Marion Barber (toe) is doubtful, which will hurt in blitz pickups. Still, the defense is better than most realize, allowing just 6.7 YPA with 40 sacks, second only to the Steelers. More importantly, Tony Romo might be the leagueís best player, as his 8.5 YPA leads the NFL. He throws too many interceptions, but heís on a 16-game pace to throw 37 touchdowns this year. Heís also only taken eight sacks and is extremely elusive in the pocket. Romo is the difference Sunday.

Predictions: Ben Roethlisberger throws for 230 yards with touchdowns to Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward, while Pittsburghís backfield committee totals 90 yards. Tashard Choice gets the start for Dallas, resulting in 60 rushing yards and no TDs. Tony Romo responds with 250 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns, with Jason Witten and Terrell Owens the recipients, as Dallas reveals itself as a major contender. Cowboys 20-17.

Washington (+5.5) at Baltimore, Sunday 8:15 p.m.

Comments: Once 6-2, the Redskins are now just 7-5 and donít appear to be serious threats to make the playoffs. Injuries havenít helped, but the passing game has been the teamís biggest downfall. Unsurprisingly, Jason Campbell has been a poor fit for the West Coast offense; over the last four games, heís posted a 5.4 YPA mark with a 2:4 TD:INT ratio while taking 16 sacks, which is downright ugly. Those numbers are unlikely to improve this week, as he gets a Baltimore secondary that has allowed just 6.0 YPA while picking off an NFL-high 20 passes, holding opposing passers to a league-worst 58.4 QB rating... The Ravens are 6-1 over their last seven games, with the only loss coming against the 11-1 Giants on the road. With three of their final four games at home, Baltimore could be looking at a surprising 11-5 season. The defense is one of the three best in the league, but itís rookie Joe Flacco who truly makes this team dangerous and a serious threat in the playoffs. The rushing attack ranks third in the NFL, and the team is conservative on offense, but Flacco has quietly posted an 11:2 TD:INT ratio over the past seven games. During that time span, his QB rating is 99.1, which is the highest in the NFL. Heís extremely elusive and fast as well, so Baltimore hit a home run with its first round pick last year.

Predictions: Jason Campbell throws for 150 yards with a touchdown to Chris Cooley. A hobbled Clinton Portis is bottled up, while LeíRon McClain leads Baltimore in carries, resulting in 60 rushing yards and a goal-line TD. Joe Flacco adds 220 passing yards with a scoring strike to Derrick Mason, as the home team wins it. Ravens 20-13.

Tampa Bay (+3) at Carolina, Monday 8:30 p.m.

Comments: Tampa Bay is 6-1 over its last seven games and enters with the No. 4 ranked defense in football. They are 9-3 and have a chance to play at home during the Super Bowl, despite having unexciting options at all skill positions. Jeff Garcia limits turnovers, but heís gotten just 6.5 YPA on the road this season and faces a Carolina secondary that has allowed just 6.2 YPA. Warrick Dunn has improbably averaged 4.4 YPC at age 33, and the Panthers have allowed 10 rushing scores this year. Still, the Bucs have their work cut out for them this week, as Carolina is a perfect 6-0 at home this season and will be playing under the national spotlight on Monday night... NFC South teams have gone 22-2 at home in 2008, which is a remarkable stat. The Panthers are a run-first team, but Tampa Bay has allowed just one rushing TD all year, which is easily the lowest total in the NFL. The Bucsí secondary has also played well, but Jake Delhomme has gotten 9.1 YPA over his last two games after going through a rough patch. Heís gotten 8.5 YPA with a 9:2 TD:INT ratio while playing in Carolina this season, as the entire team seems to play much better when at home, which should be the difference Monday night.

Predictions: Jeff Garcia throws for 180 yards with no touchdowns, while Warrick Dunn adds 70 total yards and a TD run. DeAngelo Williams, who scored four touchdowns last week and has been one of the best running backs in football this season, slows down a bit and runs for just 75 yards without a TD. Jake Delhomme throws for 200 yards and finds Muhsin Muhammad for a score, as Carolina takes control of the NFC South in a defensive battle. Panthers 16-10.

Article first appeared on 12/4/08.