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Game Capsules: Week 7 Breakdowns

Luke Hoover

Luke Hoover

Luke Hoover has covered fantasy football for Rotowire.com since 2011 and is most proud of recommending Victor Cruz as a starter in his breakout game against the Eagles. He's a lifelong fan of Notre Dame, the Packers and, unfortunately, the Knicks.

Seattle (+7.5) @ San Francisco, Thursday 8:20 p.m.

Comments:
These NFC West rivals had very different results in Week 6. While the 49ers were getting physically beaten all over the field by the Giants, the Seahawks were making a remarkable fourth-quarter comeback against the Patriots. Russell Wilson was masterful in by far his best game as a pro. He was particularly clutch in the fourth when he threw two touchdown passes, including a 46-yard game-winner to Sidney Rice. With Marshawn Lynch having a surprisingly difficult time getting anything going on the ground, Wilson was able to take advantage of New England's inexperienced and inept safeties. In two losses, the Niners have allowed Ahmad Bradshaw and Adrian Peterson to outlast them for over 100 total yards each and keep drives going. Given Wilson's overall struggles this season, the Seahawks will badly need Lynch to play like he did last year versus San Fran in December when he was the only back the Niners allowed all year to top 100 rushing yards... The 49ers were flat out embarrassed last week in a game you know they circled when the schedules came out. They may get a shot at revenge in the playoffs, but until then they will look to take their anger out on the Seahawks. This could be one of those scenarios in which the short week is the best possible medicine for San Fran, their physical, punch-you-in-the-mouth defense in particular. Given the Seahawks prowess defending the pass -they've allowed just three combined passing scores to Tony Romo, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady - look for the 49ers to try and establish a power running game behind Frank Gore early to set up play-action for Alex Smith. In the end, the team that hits harder and moves their opponent off the ball more will win this game.

Predictions: Gore and Kendall Hunter combine for 122 yards rushing with the elder statesman cashing in a short score. Smith throws for 207 yards and a score to Vernon Davis, while his counterpart, Wilson, connects with Doug Baldwin for Seattle's only touchdown in a 185-yard effort. Lynch chips in 82 yards rushing in a close loss. 49ers 17-13.

Tennessee (+3) @ Buffalo, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Comments:
The Titans looked like a mostly competent defense last week as they held a team under 30 points for the first time all season. Furthermore, they actually moved the ball offensively in their surprise upset of the Steelers. Still, Ben Roethlisberger pitched it all over the field with little resistance and had both Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) and Isaac Redman (knee) not been knocked out of the game the Titans likely would have lost. Facing the potent one-two punch of Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller this week will be the true test of whether or not their run defense is making major strides. Fortunately, the Bills are significantly worse against the run-dead last in fact-and Chris Johnson finally appears to be finding his groove after combining for 232 yards on the ground in two of the last three weeks versus the Texans and Steelers. After burying him last week it looks like owners should break out the smelling salts and give him another shot, since it could be his best effort all year. Having given up six touchdown passes in six quarters prior to drawing a weak Cardinals offense last week, the Bills are almost equally bad versus the pass, so Matt Hasselbeck and his assortment of targets all have a shot to post big numbers as well... After a crucial comeback win over a tough opponent the Titans could be a team on the uptick, so the Bills certainly cannot take it for granted that Tennessee is still last in points allowed per game at 34. After all, Buffalo is next worst with 32 relinquished per game. With that being the case this matchup has the makings of a high-scoring, fantasy-friendly affair. Jackson and Spiller are unlikely to be slowed much by a weak Titans front seven, while Ryan Fitzpatrick should resume putting the ball in the end zone after his two-week hiatus from doing anything through the air.

Predictions: Jackson goes for 94 total yards, Spiller hits 122 and both score just like last week. Fitzpatrick meanwhile tosses TD's to Steve Johnson and Scott Chandler in a 256-yard day. Hasselbeck throws for 244 and scores to Kenny Britt and Kendall Wright, while Johnson carries it for 122 yards and his first two touchdowns of the season. Bills 34-31 in OT.

Washington (+6) @ New York Giants, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Comments:
Apparently Robert Griffin III isn't about to slow down anytime soon despite the big hit he suffered in Week 5 and the resulting concussion. His 138 yards rushing were the most by a QB since Michael Vick ripped off 166 in 2006. RGIII added an incredible 76-yard scamper into the end zone for his second score of the day to give him six rushing touchdowns in six games. So although he only threw for 182 yards, the galloping Griffin is still a must-start in any fantasy league. This week he and rookie teammate Alfred Morris will look to keep the ball on the ground versus a Giants defense that's just one of nine teams to allow over 4.5 yards per carry. If Pierre Garcon (foot, sounds doubtful) misses a second straight week the run game may be all Washington has against the Giants revitalized pass rush... To paint a clear picture of just how bad the Redskins pass defense is, you can look to just one of their many horrible numbers: Josh Freeman's 299 yards passing is the fewest they've allowed in six games. And just to push the point further, they allowed Sam Bradford to go off for 310 and three scores of his own. Before going to San Francisco, Eli Manning was averaging 315 yards per game, so suffice it to say the Giants and their top four targets are all great plays this week against a fantasy goldmine defense for quarterbacks, wideouts and tight ends. But for as bad as they've been against the pass, the Skins have actually been pretty stingy to running backs, which means Ahmad Bradshaw-who's once again dealing with the chronic foot issue that plagued him last year and is questionable to suit up-will likely come back down to earth after his ridiculous 316 rushing yards and two scores over the past two games.

Predictions: RGIII throws it for 220 and rushes for another 62 yards, getting one score on the ground. Morris adds 81 yards and a TD rushing, while a Bradshaw-David Wilson split totals 104 yards for the Giants. Manning connects with Cruz, Nicks and Bennett for touchdowns in a 341-yard performance. Giants 30-20.

New Orleans (-2.5) @ Tampa Bay, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Comments:
Of every game this week, this one by far has the makings of an onslaught of throwing. Coming off their bye week Drew Brees and Co. get the 31st ranked pass defense in the league and without any semblance of a running game (ranked 30th with just 75 yards per game) to provide balance. Of course the distinct possibility of being without Jimmy Graham (ankle, questionable) could theoretically slow the Saints. Nevertheless, they should return Lance Moore from a hamstring injury and torched the Chargers in Week 5 without either, so don't plan on Brees getting grounded. Marques Colston stands to once again benefit if Graham is out as he caught three red zone scores in that Chargers game as the biggest body in close... Josh Freeman's comfort in a new offense continues to grow with every game and that is evident in the 627 passing yards and four scores he's piled up over the past two weeks. Even though the Bucs would like to be a run-first team that leans on the legs of Doug Martin and LeGarrette Blount, they figure to be more of a passing offense this week as they try to keep pace with Brees and the fastbreak Saints offense. That doesn't mean Martin and Blount won't be useful this week, as New Orleans is still right at the bottom of the league against the run. Martin will certainly lead the way early and Blount could post a short score, but Tampa will need another heavy dose of Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams to win this one.

Predictions: Brees throws for 325 yards and touchdowns to Colston (2) and Darren Sproles, while the ground game is led by Pierre Thomas' 70 total yards. Martin goes for 94 total yards and a score, with Blount adding 42 rushing. Freeman hooks up with Jackson and Williams for scores as he posts 288 yards in the narrow loss. Saints 27-24.

Dallas (-1.5) @ Carolina, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Comments:
With DeMarco Murray (foot sprain) out for at least one week, Felix Jones could be looking at his last chance to establish himself as a starting caliber running back. And with the Panthers on the docket, Jones couldn't have much better of a matchup to do it. From Weeks 2-4 Carolina allowed the opposition's featured back to each hit at least 130 total yards with 444 combined and four TD's racked up between three guys, one of whom was first-time starter Andre Brown. After seeing just three carries in four games, Jones went off for 105 total yards and his first score since Week 1 of 2011. In Carolina he'll attempt to exceed those numbers while Tony Romo figures to continue looking the way of his new best friend, Dez Bryant, who has 28 targets, 21 catches, 200 yards and two touchdowns over the past two games... The Panthers are desperate for a win after riding a three-game losing streak into their bye. Their offense has been wildly erratic, as their point total has fluctuated dramatically every other week with their five game totals of 10, 35, 7, 28 and 12 leaving many scratching their heads. Ultimately it all comes back to Cam Newton, who has taken a significant step back from his play as a rookie. His passing yards have declined each week to a low of 141 versus Seattle prior to the bye, and facing the Cowboys top-ranked pass defense may not help improve his numbers very much. If Carolina can get Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams going against a similarly stingy run defense, then perhaps Newton can prove the Cowboys pass D-inflated by early matchups with Tampa Bay and Seattle-really isn't that special.

Predictions: Steve Smith gets his first score of the year, as Newton hits him and Greg Olsen for TD's in a 244-yard effort. The Stewart-Williams duo adds 105 total yards and a score for D-Will, while Newton chips in 51 rushing. Romo throws for 268 yards and scores to Bryant and Jason Witten. Jones makes good on his chance with 110 rushing and a touchdown in the loss. Panthers 33-27.

Baltimore (+7) @ Houston, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Comments:
Throw away the stats. This is not your typical Ravens versus your typical Texans. This contest will be two proud teams not letting up an inch and battling to overcome injuries. The winner of this playoff rematch will remain on top of the AFC. For Baltimore, this game very well may define the rest of their season. Most franchises would collapse if they lost the amount of star power the Ravens have this year. Though they may be close to Terrell Suggs making a shocking comeback from an offseason Achilles tear, he's still out this week along with Ray Lewis (triceps) and Lardarius Webb (ACL). To make matters worse, Haloti Ngata (knee) and Ed Reed (shoulder) are banged up and may get limited snaps. That's their five best defensive players out or less than 100% a week after they allowed 227 rushing yards, the most Baltimore has given up since their days in Cleveland. Ray Rice and Joe Flacco will need to be at the top of their games against a Texans defense that's still adjusting to the loss of their leader, Brian Cushing, to keep drives going and their suddenly inexperienced defense fresh... Houston couldn't defend its turf last week on either side of the ball. While Aaron Rodgers dismantled their usually formidable defense, the Green Bay D swarmed Arian Foster and put a ton of pressure on Matt Schaub. Coming off a bad loss, the Packers were a wounded animal that refused to be killed. The Ravens are literally wounded right now, but Houston figures to be prepared for the fight this week. Foster should lead the way with the lead run-stopper in Lewis out of the middle of the defense, but Schaub could just as well take advantage of a secondary down by far their best cover man in Webb. Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels will also look to bounce back versus the inferior replacements, and in the end the Texans may just have too much talent on offense to lose the conference lead.

Predictions: Foster totals 161 yards and two touchdowns, while Schaub hooks up with Johnson and Keshawn Martin for scores in a 236-yard effort. Flacco throws for 268 yards and a score to Anquan Boldin, as Rice totals 97 yards and adds a rushing touchdown in the gritty loss. Texans 28-23.

Cleveland (+3) @ Indianapolis, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Comments:
There are five rookie quarterbacks starting but this will be the first time this year two go head-to-head. And in this case it pits the two most prolific rookie passers against each other. Brandon Weeden is averaging 253 yards per game on the year, but has been tossing it at 280 yards-per-contest in the past five after a terrible Week 1. And with the emergence of Josh "Flash" Gordon over the last two games as a big-play No. 1 wideout, Weeden could even improve his totals, especially with fellow speedsters Travis Benjamin and Mohamed Massaquoi expected to return from their hamstring injuries. This group will test a Colts defense that will already have its hands full with Trent Richardson, assuming the stud rookie toughs out his rib injury. If the insert-antonym-of-dynamic Shonn Greene can destroy the Colts for 161 yards and three scores, Richardson may be in for his best game of the year, and if he were surprisingly held out, Montario Hardesty would be a strong flex option... The Colts were badly embarrassed last week by the Jets. They were physically manhandled on both sides of the ball, and yet even in an awful 3-turnover performance, Andrew Luck registered 280 passing yards, a number he's hit or surpassed in four of five games. Although he was held out of the end zone for the first time, that does not figure to be the case facing Cleveland's 30th ranked pass defense which is tied for the most TD passes allowed with 15. However, if Joe Haden was able to get his legs back chasing A.J. Green all over last week, he may be able to limit Reggie Wayne in his second game back from suspension. Since Luck is averaging 44 attempts and 298 yards though, he'll still get his, which could mean T.Y. Hilton and/or Donnie Avery post flex-worthy numbers.

Predictions: Richardson totals 106 yards and a score. Weeden connects with Gordon and Massaquoi for touchdowns in a 246-yard effort, but is upstaged by Luck's 338 yards passing and three touchdowns. Wayne, Avery and Coby Fleener bring in the scores, and Vick Ballard contributes 46 rushing yards to the win. Colts 27-24.

Green Bay (-5) @ St. Louis, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Comments:
The Green Bay team that many viewed as a Super Bowl favorite in the preseason finally showed up last Sunday. It took them five weeks to resemble the powerhouse offense that tore through the league in 2011, but behind Aaron Rodgers' laser focus, the hard running of Alex Green and the return of big plays in the passing game the Packers offense was unstoppable against Houston's highly regarded defense. They'll stay on the road this week and get a Rams team that won't lie down for anyone, but if Rodgers' play stays sharp that should matter little. Green proved to be a more than competent starting back with enough wiggle to elude defenders and the strength to fight for tough yardage, so the ground game could take some of the heat out of St. Louis' formidable pass rush duo of Chris Long and Robert Quinn. Following a huge bounce-back game, Jordy Nelson is one Packer that may get stalled given how tight Cortland Finnegan's coverage has been this season... Coming off his best yardage total of the season with 315 against the Dolphins, Sam Bradford will likely need to match or surpass that number if he wants to keep up with the Packers high-powered attack. Without Danny Amendola (shoulder), Brandon Gibson has stepped up as the team's No. 1 target and given how much St. Louis figures to have to throw it in this one, Gibson could make a nice flex start or even a WR3 given the bye schedule. Steven Jackson and Darryl Richardson, who are quickly becoming a timeshare, may both benefit in PPR formats given their abilities as pass catches, but could struggle on the ground against a Packers defense that just held Arian Foster to a paltry 29 yards on 17 carries.

Predictions: Bradford throws for 228 yards and a score to Chris Givens, while Jackson and Richardson combine for 110 total yards with a score going to the veteran. Green carries it for 86 yards and a touchdown. Rodgers spreads it around for 318 yards and hits James Jones, Randall Cobb and John Kuhn for TD's in the W. Packers 31-17.

Arizona (+6) @ Minnesota, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Comments:
The Cardinals offense is beating them right now. They have just 19 points over the past two weeks, both losses, and have allowed their quarterbacks to get sacked a disgraceful 22 times over three games. Kevin Kolb made Arizona's rushing numbers look good for the first time last week as he ripped off 66 yards on just five scrambles, but running for his life cost him his job as he his last carry ended with him detaching ribs from his sternum. While Kolb sits for at least six weeks, John Skelton will get his chance to upgrade a Cardinals pass attack that's 31st in the league with a sorry 6.2 yards per attempt. Larry Fitzgerald stands to benefit given that four of his five best games in 2011 came with Skelton under center. Arizona may have also found a new running back last week as William Powell clearly established himself as the lead over LaRod Stephens-Howling, though a road trip to face the Vikings' top-10 defense will likely neutralize all Cardinals save for Fitz in his hometown visit... Christian Ponder registered a career-high 52 pass attempts last week as the Vikes played mostly from behind in Washington. That likely won't be the case again as the Cardinals don't have the juice offensively to build a lead. Moreover, with Arizona having allowed an average of nearly 140 yards rushing in their last two outings, this matchup should favor an Adrian Peterson-led attack. Despite the potential for a limited aerial game, Percy Harvin, who leads the league in catches, and Kyle Rudolph, who tops all tight ends for TD's, are still both No. 1 options.

Predictions: Skelton leans on Fitzgerald who goes for 132 of the Cards' 254 passing yards and catches both Skelton's TD tosses. Powell chips in 65 total yards. Peterson nearly doubles that with 124 total yards and a score, while Ponder caps the win with a touchdown to Rudolph in a 220-yard day that sees him rush for another score. Vikings 24-17.

New York Jets (+11) @ New England, Sunday 4:25 p.m.

Comments:
The Jets are coming off easily their most complete performance of the year, but the joy doesn't figure to last long with a trip to Foxboro up next. Shonn Greene pummeled the Indianapolis front seven for a career day and the Gang Green defense was dominant in holding the Colts to just nine points while forcing four turnovers. New England on their turf though is an entirely different beast and those numbers will be a distant memory by Sunday night. The Pats' 6th best run defense boasts a lot more size to stuff Greene with regularity while the other side of the ball gets dealt Tom Brady and Stevan Ridley, the league's fifth-leading rusher. Mark Sanchez will likely have to open up the passing game after New England gets an early lead and with the Pats' secondary doing their best impression of last year's unit, that could make Jeremy Kerley and Stephen Hill startable flex options... Aaron Hernandez's return gives Brady a full assortment of weapons to dissect the Jets defense with, something the superstar QB is a big fan of doing. However, given New York still presents a terrible run defense, it would not be surprising if New England rode Ridley early to demoralize the Jets and set Brady up to burn the Revis-less secondary with play-action. In the end the embarrassment of riches in the Pats offense will simply dwarf a Jets offense so desperate for impact skill players that Rex Ryan is talking Tim Tebow at running back.

Predictions: Ridley gashes the Jets for 128 yards and a touchdown on the ground, while Brady burns them for 310 in the air with scores going to Rob Gronkowski, Brandon Lloyd and Danny Woodhead. Greene rushes for 52 yards and a lost fumble, as Sanchez throws it for 242 yards and scores to Kerley and Hill. Patriots 37-17.

Jacksonville (+4) @ Oakland, Sunday 4:25 p.m.

Comments:
The Jaguars have the worst scoring offense by a mile. Their 13 points per game is more than four points less than the next worst scoring unit. And matters are not much better on the other side of the ball where they allow 424 yards and 27.6 points per game. So suffice it to say there were many, many issues for Jacksonville to address during their bye week. Blaine Gabberts' pathetic 159 yards per game through the air is easily the worst in the league and severely debilitates the entire Jaguars offense. There's only so much weight Maurice Jones-Drew can carry on his bowling ball shoulders. Getting a Raiders defense that's allowed 29.6 points per game would normally figure to help, but being in the Black Hole, and considering what Oakland did to the high-flying Falcons offense in Atlanta last week, things are still looking awfully bleak for MoJo and his talentless teammates... The Jags can't stop it through the air and they're considerably worse against the run. So while they should be rested and ready to perform better following the week off, this contest still sets up very nicely for the Raiders' skill talent. Darren McFadden should lead the way with a good chance for just his second 100-yard rushing day of the year, while Carson Palmer looks like an excellent bye-week replacement going up against a pass rush with just three sacks in five games.

Predictions: MJD totals 108 yards. Gabbert passes for 215 and a touchdown to Justin Blackmon. Palmer connects with Denarius Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey for TD's in a 298-yard effort, while Run DMC racks up 135 total yards and a score. Raiders 27-13.

Pittsburgh (-1.5) @ Cincinnati, Sunday 8:20 p.m.

Comments:
The Steelers do not have one good win on their resume, but they are the owners of two awful losses. They're 0-3 on the road and that includes their last two L's against the Raiders and Titans, both games that they led in the fourth quarter by at least a touchdown. The best medicine for a Steelers team beaten both physically and mentally might be a trip to a Cinci team that's struggled badly in their own right the past two weeks. A home loss to Miami and letting the Browns get their first win figure to have the Bengals reeling a bit too, so this matchup could be a turning point for either team. Ben Roethlisberger has not been the problem, as he's been forced to compensate for the league's least efficient run game (just 3.0 yards per carry). With Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) and Isaac Redman (knee) both iffy at best for this Sunday nighter, expect Big Ben to continue throwing it often against a defense that's picked off just two passes in six games... Statistically Pittsburgh still has one of the better defenses in the league as they've allowed the 5th fewest yards per game. The 23.0 points they've given up on average though has them in the middle of the pack. The problem is that they've had no bite to their defense with Troy Polamalu (calf) and James Harrison (knee) missing so much action. The Steelers have just six takeaways and 11 sacks in five games, so they're not getting offenses off the field quickly enough. With Polamalu out again, if the D doesn't make big plays, sooner or later Andy Dalton and A.J. Green will. On a five game scoring steak, Green has been torching defensive backs better than any receiver in the league. In the ground game though BenJarvus Green-Ellis has had nowhere near as much success and could be just one bad outing away from ceding a big chunk of his workload to spark plug back Cedric Peerman.

Predictions: Dalton throws for 307 yards and touchdowns to Green and Jermaine Gresham. Green-Ellis rushes for 52 yards, while Peerman totals 72. Roethlisberger hits Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown for scores in a 310-yard performance, while his ground game struggles behind Jonathan Dwyer's 46 yards. Bengals 23-19.

Detroit (+6) @ Chicago, Monday 8:30 p.m.

Comments:
At about 300 yards per game Matthew Stafford is getting big yardage totals, but it's taking him an average of 44 throws per game to get there. The glaring problem for Stafford-and the Lions team as a whole-is the inability to finish drives. In five games the young gunslinger has just four pitiful touchdown passes (fewer than even Blaine Gabbert), which translates to one every 54.5 passes on average. Calvin Johnson caught four by himself in just the first two weeks last year. And while Megatron is second in the league with 111 receiving yards a game, his lack of scores is severely hamstringing his fantasy potential. A trip to Soldier Field to face the league's top ranked defense in takeaways and points allowed isn't going to make things better, so look for other options in fantasy for all Lions that are not a freakish specimen... The schedule has helped to make the Bears defense appear dominant with patsy offenses like St. Louis and Jacksonville bolstering their totals, but they also limited Aaron Rodgers to just 219 yards and one score and picked off Tony Romo a ridiculous five times, both on the road. So it's clear the numbers are no fluke. Veterans Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman have been phenomenal for a unit that's already forced 17 turnovers and allows just 66 rushing yards per game. Offensively, the presence of Brandon Marshall is making Jay Cutler look good again while also helping to open running lanes for Matt Forte. With the Lions having to focus plenty of safety help to limit Marshall, Forte and Michael Bush will try to soften a front four that's been very stout versus the run.

Predictions: Stafford throws just two picks and gets to 240 yards with a score to Johnson. Mikel Leshoure rushes for only 44 yards as Joique Bell tops him with 74 total yards. Cutler finds Marshall and Earl Bennett for scoring strikes in a 244-yard performance, while Forte racks up 130 total yards and a score. Bears 24-16.