Green Bay (-6) at Detroit, Thursday 12:30 p.m.
Comments: Down 24-7, the Lions came back and won 49-35 last week against the Panthers, so they enter Thursday's big matchup with the Packers rolling offensively. After two early interceptions, Matthew Stafford threw five touchdowns Sunday, relieving worries his injured finger would affect his accuracy while getting a season-high 9.3 YPA. Stafford has thrown for multiple touchdowns in all but two games this season, as his 25 passing scores are second in the NFL only to Aaron Rodgers. He's going to need another big game Thursday to keep up with Green Bay's high-powered offense, but his matchup is favorable, as the Packers have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. Kevin Smith came out of nowhere last week and eclipsed 200 yards, and while the sledding figures to be tougher Thursday, he's Detroit's new feature back, capable of being active as a receiver and the main option at the goal line. He could easily be a top-15 fantasy back down the stretch and is a fine RB2 start in Week 12... Green Bay enters 10-0 and as defending Super Bowl champions, and with the Lions 7-3, it's the rare Thanksgiving matchup that happens to also be the marquee game of the week. Detroit has defended the pass extremely well this season, allowing just 6.0 YPA with a 10:15 TD:INT ratio while also producing the third-most sacks in the NFL (21) while rushing four men or fewer. Still, it's unclear if any defense can slow down Rodgers, who's posted a 14:1 TD:INT ratio over the past four games. He's on pace to finish with 50 passing touchdowns and three more scores on the ground this season. Playing on turf only helps this offense. James Starks (knee) is a game-time decision, but Greg Jennings (knee) is fully expected to play. Jordy Nelson has got 8.5 yards-after-catch per reception this season, which easily leads all wide receivers (minimum 30 catches).
Predictions: Matthew Stafford throws for 300 yards with touchdowns to Calvin Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew, while Kevin Smith totals 90 yards and hits pay dirt. The Packers' RBBC totals 80 yards, while Aaron Rodgers adds 300 passing yards with scoring strikes to Jermichael Finley, Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson, as Green Bay stays undefeated. Packers 27-24.
Miami (+7) at Dallas, Thursday 4:15p.m.
Comments: After starting the year 0-7, the Dolphins have won three straight, and they've done so impressively, having not allowed a touchdown over their past 12 quarters. Matt Moore has got 8.5 YPA with a 6:1 TD:INT ratio over his past three games, completing 70.8 percent of his passes. Moreover, he's also taken just three sacks over that span, and before last year when he played for a dreadful Carolina team that gave him a quick hook, Moore got 7.9 YPA with an 8:1 TD:INT ratio over five starts in 2009. He's 27 years old and already looks like an upgrade over Chad Henne. Brandon Marshall is coming off his worst game of the season, but he should bounce back Thursday with Miami unlikely nursing a big lead like last week... After winning three straight, the Cowboys look like clear favorites to win the NFC East when taking into account future schedules, but they remain unpredictable, as they barely won an overtime game last week in Washington as heavy favorites. Tony Romo continues to play at an extremely high level, as he's got 8.9 YPA with an 8:0 TD:INT ratio over the win streak. Miles Austin (hamstring) is still out, making Laurent Robinson a strong fantasy play once again. In the first halves of games this season, Dez Bryant has 24 catches for 413 yards and five touchdowns, while after halftime, he has just 11 receptions for 172 yards and one TD. DeMarco Murray remains a top-10 fantasy back even with Felix Jones back, but it's worth noting Miami has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.
Predictions: Matt Moore throws for 230 yards with a touchdown to Anthony Fasano, while Daniel Thomas and Reggie Bush total 125 yards, with the latter scoring. DeMarco Murray adds 90 yards from scrimmage and reaches the end zone, while Tony Romo adds 275 passing yards with TD tosses to Jason Witten and Laurent Robinson, as the home team prevails. Cowboys 24-20.
San Francisco (+3) at Baltimore, Thursday 8:20 p.m.
Comments: The 49ers enter riding an eight-game winning streak and remarkably have gone 10-0 against the spread this season. They get a tough test Thursday though, having to travel across three time zones during a short week to play a Baltimore team that's 5-0 at home this year. Alex Smith has done a terrific job of limiting turnovers this season, but he gets a Ravens secondary this week that has ceded a 7:11 TD:INT ratio in 2011. San Francisco loves to center its offense around Frank Gore, but Baltimore has allowed an NFL-low 3.3 YPC this season... These two teams are similar, winning with defense, although the Ravens have asked Joe Flacco to throw an unexpectedly high amount this year. The results have been mixed at best, as he currently sports a 6.6 YPA mark. Torrey Smith has proven to be an exciting deep threat as a rookie, as his 20.3 yards-per-catch mark leads the NFL (minimum 20 receptions), but Ray Rice remains the team's No. 1 option on offense. He may have to make a bigger impact receiving Thursday though, as San Francisco is the only team in football yet to allow a rushing touchdown and has yielded an NFL-low 73.9 rushing yards per game. It should be a hard-fought, physical battle during the league's first game ever featuring brothers as opposing head coaches.
Predictions: Alex Smith throws for 200 yards with a touchdown to Vernon Davis, while Frank Gore fights for 80 yards from scrimmage sans a score. Ray Rice counters with a similar line, while Joe Flacco adds 225 passing yards with scoring strikes to Anquan Boldin and Ed Dickson, as Baltimore wins the battle of the Harbaughs. Ravens 17-13.
Sunday, November 26
Minnesota (+9.5) at Atlanta, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: The Vikings have lost four of their last five games and will likely be without Adrian Peterson (ankle) on Sunday, so they are rightfully big underdogs. However, Christian Ponder hasn’t been a total disaster since taking over QB duties as a rookie, and while the Falcons have defended the run well, their defense hasn’t been great against the pass, so it wouldn’t shock if this game were closer than expected. The absence of Peterson would increase Percy Harvin’s fantasy value…The Falcons are 4-1 over their past five games and remain firmly in the NFC playoff picture. Matt Ryan has got 8.7 YPA while taking just two sacks over the past three games, so he’s improved his play, but he gets a Titans secondary that has played well this season. Michael Turner remains the most predictable fantasy producer there is.
Predictions: Christian Ponder throws for 180 yards with a TD to Percy Harvin, who also runs for 30 yards. Toby Gerhart adds 75 yards from scrimmage, while Michael Turner counters with 100 rushing yards and a touchdown. Matt Ryan adds 240 passing yards with scoring strikes to Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez, as the home team prevails. Falcons 26-17.
Houston (-3.5) at Jacksonville, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: The Jaguars enter 3-7 and with a rookie quarterback who’s averaged fewer than 150.0 passing yards during eight starts this season. In his defense, there might not be a worse receiving corps in the league, and the defense has played well. Still, it’s been a travesty on offense for Jacksonville this year – just ask any Maurice Jones-Drew fantasy owner. Jacksonville gets a terrible matchup this week against a Houston defense that has allowed an NFL-low 63.1 QB rating to opposing passers…Houston comes in off its bye and in the race to be the AFC’s No. 1 seed, although they lost Matt Schaub (foot) for the season. Enter Matt Leinart, who gets Andre Johnson (hamstring) back and faces a Jaguars defense that has lost both of their starting cornerbacks over the past two weeks. Still, it’s safe to expect a heavy dose of Arian Foster and Ben Tate, as Leinart will be making his first start since 2009 (when he made just one).
Predictions: Blaine Gabbert throws for 175 yards with no touchdowns, while Maurice Jones-Drew fights for 75 total yards and runs for a score. Arian Foster answers with 115 combined yards and reaches the end zone, while Ben Tate adds 40 yards and a TD run. Matt Leinart also throws for 180 yards and a touchdown to Kevin Walter, as Houston wins it. Texans 24-13.
Tampa Bay (+3) at Tennessee, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: The Bucs have lost four straight, although they were competitive in Green Bay last week, scoring a season-high 26 points. Josh Freeman has nine interceptions over the past four games, and Tennessee has allowed just 6.5 YPA this season. Mike Williams scored for the first time since Week 1 last Sunday, but he should see a lot of Cortland Finnegan in Week 12. LeGarrette Blount had a highlight-reel TD run last week, and Tampa Bay would be best served feeding him carries early and often Sunday…The Titans lost in Atlanta last week, and although Jake Locker impressed while taking over for an injured Matt Hasselbeck, the veteran is expected to play Sunday and remain the starter. He gets a favorable matchup against a Bucs secondary that has ceded an NFL-high 8.5 YPA this season. Chris Johnson continues to infuriate fantasy owners, getting just 3.2 YPC in 2011, but he gets a Tampa Bay defense this week that has allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this year. He should be used in fantasy leagues because of the matchup, but if he lays another egg, he’ll deserve a spot on the bench for the rest of the season.
Predictions: Josh Freeman throws for 200 yards with a touchdown to Preston Parker, while LeGarrette Blount runs for 75 yards and a score. Chris Johnson answers with 110 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown run, while Matt Hasselbeck adds 240 passing yards with scoring strikes to Nate Washington and Damian Williams, as Tennessee comes out on top. Titans 24-17.
Arizona (+3) at St. Louis, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: Arizona enters in a lost season playing its third road game in a row, although they are likely to get Kevin Kolb (toe) back Sunday. John Skelton was brutal last week in San Francisco, so the quarterback controversy was short-lived in the desert. Kolb hasn’t played since Week 8, and he gets a mediocre Rams defense Sunday. Chris Wells is supposedly getting healthier, but he continues to be limited in practice while dealing with a knee injury. He’s expected to get a full workload Sunday in a plus matchup with a St. Louis front seven that has allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this year…The Rams lost by 17 points at home to Seattle last Sunday, as their 10-point Week 8 win over the Saints looks increasingly like one of the bigger flukes of the season. Sam Bradford has been dreadful, getting just 6.0 YPA with a 5:5 TD:INT ratio this year. Despite the shaky QB situation, Brandon Lloyd has scored in three of his past four games and is a must-start Sunday, especially if he sees a lot of Patrick Peterson in coverage. Steven Jackson’s 4.8 YPC mark is his highest since his rookie season in 2004, and he faces an Arizona defense that has allowed 12 rushing scores this season – the third-most in the NFL.
Predictions: Kevin Kolb throws for 225 yards with a touchdown to Larry Fitzgerald, while Chris Wells adds 80 rushing yards and a TD run. Steven Jackson responds with 100 total yards and reaches the end zone, while Sam Bradford adds 220 passing yards with a TD toss to Brandon Lloyd, as the home team prevails. Rams 23-17.
Cleveland (+8) at Cincinnati, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: The Browns three-game losing streak ended with a win against Jacksonville last week, but four of their next five games are on the road, starting with a tilt in Cincinnati on Sunday. Colt McCoy has just three touchdown passes over the past five games, and the Bengals defense has played well this season. Chris Ogbonnaya broke out for 134 yards and a TD last week, but Montario Hardesty is expected to return from his calf injury. Hardesty would supposedly be inserted right back into the starting lineup, but a committee attack is a safe bet…The Bengals have lost back-to-back games, and with an upcoming tilt in Pittsburgh the following week, the team can ill afford to overlook an inferior Browns team Sunday. When these teams met in Week 1, it was the Browns who knocked plenty of people out of survivor pools, yet it’s the Bengals who enter as eight-point favorites in Week 12. Cleveland’s secondary has quietly played at a high level this season, giving up just 6.3 YPA and only 10 touchdowns, but Andy Dalton should get A.J. Green (knee) back Sunday. Cedric Benson hasn’t got 4.0 YPC in a game since Week 4, but he should see a high volume of carries this week while Cincy nurses a lead, making him a fine fantasy start.
Predictions: Colt McCoy throws for 170 yards with no touchdowns, while Cleveland’s RBBC produces 80 total yards but doesn’t score. Cedric Benson counters with 100 rushing yards and a goal-line touchdown, while Andy Dalton adds 220 passing yards with a TD toss to Jermaine Gresham, as the home team prevails. Bengals 23-9.
Buffalo (+9) at New York Jets, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: Buffalo has lost three in a row and is in serious decline, and if that’s not bad enough, the team lost Fred Jackson for the season with a leg injury. Jackson was on pace to finish the season with 2,202 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns, so it’s a major blow to fantasy owners. C.J. Spiller will be the team’s new starter, but he’s unlikely to even approach Jackson’s production level. Stevie Johnson hasn’t scored since Week 6 and doesn’t have a single 100-yard receiving game all season. He also gets to face Darrelle Revis on Sunday. Ryan Fitzpatrick has a 2:7 TD:INT ratio over the past three contests and faces a Jets secondary that has allowed a 66.8 QB rating to opposing passers this year…New York has lost two in a row, but they have extra time to prepare coming off a Thursday game and are a tough matchup for Buffalo. Look for Mark Sanchez to bounce back against a Bills secondary that has allowed 7.9 YPA on the year, while Shonn Greene is expected to return from last week’s rib injury. LaDainian Tomlinson should remain sidelined with a knee injury, so Joe McKnight is looking at an increase in touches. Still, he’d only be a viable fantasy option if Greene were to suffer another injury.
Predictions: Ryan Fitzpatrick throws for 190 yards with a touchdown to David Nelson, while Buffalo’s ground game is held in check. Shonn Greene counters with 80 rushing yards and a score, while Mark Sanchez adds 240 passing yards with scoring strikes to Dustin Keller and Plaxico Burress, as New York wins handily. Jets 27-13.
Carolina (-3.5) at Indianapolis, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: The Colts remain winless and are the only team in football to allow 300 points this season. You know your year has gone poorly if you’re 3.5-point underdogs at home, coming off a bye to a team with a 2-8 record. Curtis Painter will remain the starter, and he has a highly favorable matchup Sunday, but he has a 0:6 TD:INT ratio over the past four games and looks like the worst starting QB in the league. Joseph Addai (hamstring) is questionable to play, and Donald Brown could be a sneaky fantasy start if Addai is held out, as the Panthers have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season by far…Carolina enters 2-8 on the season, and while Cam Newton gives a bright outlook for the franchise, the team’s defense has been abysmal this year. However, Newton gets a Colts’ secondary that has allowed an NFL-high 109.7 QB rating to opposing passers this season. Indy has also struggled against the run, yielding 12 rushing scores, but Carolina’s RBBC system continues to kill any fantasy value.
Predictions: Curtis Painter throws for 225 yards with a touchdown to Pierre Garcon, while Joseph Addai returns and adds 70 total yards, but it’s Delone Carter who punches in a goal-line score. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart combine for 130 total yards, with the latter getting a short score. Cam Newton adds 240 passing yards with a TD toss to Steve Smith, while Newton also runs for 40 yards and a TD, as the road team prevails. Panthers 24-20.
Washington (+3.5) at Seattle, Sunday 4:05 p.m.
Comments: After opening the season 3-1, the Redskins have dropped six straight games, although they took Dallas to overtime last week and are more competitive with Rex Grossman starting opposed to John Beck. Washington’s backfield remains a mess and the most unpredictable in all of football, and fantasy owners should avoid the situation altogether this week against a Seahawks defense that has yielded just 3.5 YPC on the year. Santana Moss (hand) is expected to return to the lineup Sunday…Seattle has actually won back-to-back games, and they begin a stretch Sunday of three straight home games. Tarvaris Jackson has got 7.5 YPA over his past four games, but that’s been accompanied by a 1:6 TD:INT ratio, and he gets a Redskins defense that has racked up 31 sacks this season. Marshawn Lynch has scored a touchdown in six straight games.
Predictions: Rex Grossman throws for 225 yards with a touchdown to Fred Davis, while Washington’s RBBC produces 80 yards and a TD run. Marshawn Lynch responds with a similar line, while Tarvaris Jackson adds 230 passing yards with a score to Sidney Rice, as Seattle comes out on top. Seahawks 20-17.
Chicago (+4) at Oakland, Sunday 4:05 p.m.
Comments: The Bears enter riding a five-game winning streak but lost Jay Cutler to a thumb injury last week, which was a brutal blow to their Super Bowl hopes. The team expects to get Cutler back late in the year, but in the meantime, it’s Caleb Hanie taking over QB duties, and he’s quite the unknown. Hanie has 14 career regular season passes, so expect a scaled back playbook Sunday in Oakland. Matt Forte should get a ton of carries against a Raiders front seven that has allowed an NFL-high 5.2 YPC on the year, and while the loss of Cutler hurts, Chicago still has a strong defense, special teams and rushing attack…Oakland plays its lone home game over a five-game stretch Sunday, and they will once again be without Darren McFadden (foot). The team’s wide receiving corps is also badly banged up, as Chaz Schilens might act as their WR1. Carson Palmer has got 9.2 YPA since joining Oakland, but his options in the passing attack will be limited this week. Expect another heavy workload from Michael Bush, who remains a top-10 fantasy player as long as McFadden is out.
Predictions: Caleb Hanie throws for 220 yards with a TD toss to Kellen Davis, while Matt Forte totals 150 yards and scores. Michael Bush answers with 125 yards from scrimmage and a TD run of his own, while Carson Palmer adds 250 passing yards with a touchdown to Chaz Schilens, as Oakland wins on a late field goal. Raiders 23-20.
New England (-3) at Philadelphia, Sunday 4:15 p.m.
Comments: The Eagles won in New York in primetime Sunday night, as they remain maddeningly inconsistent. Philadelphia has a plus matchup at home against a thin and overmatched New England defense, but they are extremely banged up. Vince Young is likely to get another start in place of Michael Vick (ribs), while Jeremy Maclin (hamstring) is likely to sit out. DeSean Jackson (foot) is also banged up, but he’s expected to play Sunday. A healthy LeSean McCoy should get a heavy workload…Although it wasn’t pretty early on, the Pats won 34-3 on Monday night, but now have to travel during a short week. Tom Brady faces an overrated Eagles secondary that will likely be missing Nnamdi Asomugha (knee), so he should be able to move the ball Sunday. Rob Gronkowski is on pace to finish the year with 90 receptions, 1,288 yards and 16 touchdowns and is simply one of the most valuable commodities in fantasy football. Wes Welker has been limited in practice with a lingering knee injury, but he’s expected to play Sunday.
Predictions: Vince Young throws for 250 yards and two touchdowns, with DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek the recipients. LeSean McCoy adds 120 yards from scrimmage with a TD run, while New England’s RBBC produces 80 total yards sans a score. Tom Brady adds 280 passing yards with touchdown strikes to Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, as New England wins it. Patriots 23-21.
Denver (+7) at San Diego, Sunday 4:15 p.m.
Comments: Denver has won three straight, all with Tim Tebow starting under center. He’s been a lightning rod both for criticism and praise as a result, but it’s clear the read/option offense hasn’t yet been totally figured out by opposing defenses, and the safe bet would be Norv Turner not being the one to come up with the solution. It’s ugly at times, but Tebow has been a strong fantasy play and should continue to be so in San Diego on Sunday. Willis McGahee continues to deal with a hamstring injury, but he’s expected to give it a go in Week 12…After starting the season 1-4, the Chargers have lost five straight games, although they aren’t out of their division by any means. However, a loss at home to Denver on Sunday would be a significant blow and likely end any hopes of making the playoffs, so this is a big game. Philip Rivers has thrown 10 interceptions over the past five games and gets a rejuvenated Broncos defense this week that has played far better of late. Vincent Jackson was held in check the last time he faced Champ Bailey and company earlier this year, but he can’t be sat after topping 140 receiving yards in two of his past three games (with four scores over that span as well). Ryan Mathews is highly questionable to play with a knee injury and isn’t a recommended fantasy start.
Predictions: Tim Tebow throws for 150 yards with a TD toss to Eric Decker, and Tebow also adds 50 rushing yards and a touchdown run of his own. Willis McGahee runs for 70 yards, while Mike Tolbert counters with 125 yards from scrimmage and a goal-line score. Philip Rivers adds 260 passing yards with scoring strikes to Antonio Gates and Vincent Brown, as San Diego gets back into the win column. Chargers 24-20.
Pittsburgh (-10.5) at Kansas City, Sunday 8:20 p.m.
Comments: The Chiefs opened the year 0-3, then won four straight only to subsequently lose three games in a row. During their current losing streak, they have been outscored 82-16. The team claimed Kyle Orton off waivers, but at least for one more game, Tyler Palko is expected to get the start, which is unfortunate for viewers tuning in Sunday night in primetime. Palko produced just three points while throwing three interceptions against a ravaged Patriots’ defense last week, so things could get ugly against Pittsburgh, although this time the game will be at home…The Steelers are 5-1 over their past six games and are coming off a bye, and they face a reeling Kansas City team, so the big point spread makes plenty of sense. Ben Roethlisberger plans to play through a broken thumb, and Antonio Brown is expected to remain in the starting lineup. They both have a favorable matchup against a KC defense that has yielded 8.0 YPA while recording an NFL-low 12 sacks this season. Rashard Mendenhall should also have a nice game, as the Chiefs have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this year.
Predictions: Tyler Palko is overwhelmed, committing numerous turnovers without throwing for a score. The Chiefs’ RBBC produces 80 total yards with a TD run by Thomas Jones, while Rashard Mendenhall answers with 110 combined yards and a touchdown. Ben Roethlisberger adds 275 passing yards with scoring strikes to Heath Miller and Antonio Brown, as Pittsburgh wins easily. Steelers 27-13.
New York Giants (+7) at New Orleans, Monday 8:30 p.m.
Comments: The Giants enter 6-4 and in a big fight to make the postseason, especially after losing at home to the Eagles without Michael Vick last week. Eli Manning has played extremely well this season, and he gets a New Orleans defense Monday night that has picked off just five passes this season. New York can’t run the ball, which works out nicely for the Saints, who have allowed an NFL-high 5.2 YPC on the year. Victor Cruz is tied for fifth among wide receivers with nine broken tackles, and to put that in perspective, Calvin Johnson leads the league in the category with 11, and he’s played 656 snaps this year. Cruz has played 386. He should be treated as a top-20 fantasy WR…The Saints enter 7-3 and coming off their bye, and New Orleans should be loud come Monday night. Drew Brees has a 10:3 TD:INT ratio over the past four games, but he’ll have to deal with a strong pass rush from the Giants. He spreads the wealth among his receivers, and the Saints’ rushing attack is a committee as well. Darren Sproles is coming off a game in which he totaled just three yards, but he’s surpassed 60 in every other contest this season, so expect him to bounce back, especially in PPR formats. New Orleans is a tough team, but New York is no slouch and can often be more dangerous when underdogs.
Predictions: Eli Manning throws for 275 yards and two touchdowns, with Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks the recipients. Brandon Jacobs adds just 60 rushing yards, while New Orleans’ committee attack produces 110 total yards and a TD run by Mark Ingram. Drew Brees adds 275 passing yards with scoring strikes to Marques Colston and Jimmy Graham, as New Orleans wins a closely contested battle. Saints 24-23.
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