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Game Capsules: Week 8 Game Previews

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.

Carolina (-5.5) @ Tampa Bay, Thursday 8:25 p.m.

Comments:
An already-dreadful Buccaneers team took a major blow last week when they lost arguably the best player on their team in Doug Martin to a torn labrum in his shoulder. While the Tampa staff is hopeful their Pro Bowl running back will return this season, they will certainly be without him in this tough matchup. Rookie sixth-round pick Mike James stepped into extensive action last week once Martin went down and figures to continue carrying the load as long as the Bucs don't bring in veteran assistance. James does have size and decent speed, but he's still a considerable downgrade. Versus a stout Panthers front seven limiting opponents to just 84.5 rushing yards per game, expect Mike Glennon's arm to get plenty of work. And when it does you can count on Vincent Jackson remaining one of the elite fantasy wideouts. In three games with Glennon the huge, speedy receiver has amassed a whopping 47 targets. With a developing chemistry that's seen the pair hook up for over 250 yards and four scores the past two weeks, it's clear Jackson is the focal point of the Tampa offense and an absolute must-start in any format... Cam Newton has been up and down this week but a Buccaneers defense that has allowed 569 yards and six scores through the air in their last two contests figures to bring Newton back up. The upgrades Tampa made on paper to their secondary are simply not translating to on-field production. Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson are not themselves this year. Whether it's an issue of health or system or whatever, it's become clear you can start your top and even secondary receiving threats against them. Nothing tells that story more than the combined 269 yards and two touchdowns Riley Cooper and Harry Douglas have blasted them with in consecutive weeks. Tampa has been a bit stingier versus the run, however, allowing just 88.8 yards per game (good for fifth league-wide). Of course that does not mean DeAngelo Williams will be useless. The Bucs did allow Jacquizz Rodgers into the end zone twice on receptions after all. Unfortunately though, Williams' owners may be seeing a steady decline to the 30-year-old veteran's value. Last week he only reached 59 total yards in his best matchup to date and Williams still has yet to sniff the end zone while Mike Tolbert keeps gobbling up his scoring chances. Meanwhile the impending return of Jonathan Stewart may mean the window is closing on Williams as a fantasy starter.

Prediction: Newton throws it for 258 yards and scores to Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn while adding 42 yards and a TD with his legs. Williams tallies 56 total yards as his rookie opponent, James, bests him with 72 scrimmage yards. Glennon pitches it for touchdowns to Jackson and Timothy Wright in a 243-yard effort. Panthers 24-17.

Dallas (+3) @ Detroit, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Comments:
It didn't take long for Calvin Johnson to return to prime Megatron form after missing action and being limited with a sore knee. A Cowboys defense that started terribly versus the pass has really stepped up in the last two weeks, having allowed zero passing scores and giving up just 440 yards while picking off four balls. Something will have to give in this matchup and the likelihood is that it won't be Matthew Stafford and his superhero wideout. Stafford has found his groove the past two games despite facing tough AFC North defenses, tossing it for 605 yards and seven TD's. The passing game figures to keep clicking and while Johnson should dominate the work once again, Reggie Bush is certain to get involved. He's averaging a little over 100.0 total yards per game and he'll likely keep pace considering he's averaged just over 150.0 yards on the fast turf of Ford Field. Bush's absence from Friday's practice session though means his status for Sunday could be cloudy, so despite his great play at home, be prepared with a backup plan if you own him. If that backup plan is Joique Bell that's all the better, as the underrated handcuff turned in over 130 total yards and a score in Bush's only missed game yet this year... Although he's gotten Miles Austin back in the lineup and faced two of the worst pass defenses in the league in consecutive weeks, Tony Romo has fallen on hard times. After throwing the interception that made his 506-yard, five-score performance versus Denver all for naught, Romo has been inefficient, unproductive and simply off his game. Against the Redskins and Eagles he totaled less yardage than that single game outburst and has thrown three INT's to two touchdowns, all despite completing 46-of-77 attempts. A turnaround could be in the works, however. Just as the Cowboys have tightened up versus the pass, the Lions formerly stingy pass defense has suddenly opened the flood gates. Brandon Weeden and Andy Dalton combined for 664 yards and five scores against a Detroit unit that's thin in the secondary. Dez Bryant is likely to be pumped up to challenge Megatron for the title of top receiver in the league, while rising rookie Terrance Williams will provide a big-play element that figures to put Romo back into fantasy stud territory. The potential return of DeMarco Murray (knee) could also contribute to Romo's bounce back by balancing the offense. Of course, if he can't go, Joseph Randle remains a solid flex after posting 93 total yards in his first career start.

Predictions: Romo slings it for 331 yards and hooks up with Bryant and Terrance Williams for touchdowns. Murray and Randle split their way to 108 combined total yards. Bush tops the Dallas duo with 136 total yards and a rushing score as Stafford connects with Johnson and Kris Durham for TD's in a 306-yard day. Lions 21-17.

Cleveland (+7.5) @ Kansas City, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Comments:
A Packers defense minus top pass rushers Clay Matthews (thumb) and Nick Perry (foot) still managed to put Brandon Weeden on the ground three times. Considering that Justin Houston (10.0) and Tamba Hali (9.0) have combined for just one fewer sack than the entire Packers team, it's safe to say a Chiefs defense that sits upon the top of the league in sacks (35), points allowed (11.3 per game) and turnovers forced (19 - tied with Seattle) will come away as no worse than the second-best fantasy performer in this matchup. The first, of course, will remain Jamaal Charles. The speedster has already amassed nearly 900 yards of offense and eight touchdowns in seven games, while finding the end zone and topping 100 total yards in every single contest. Unfortunately for Dwayne Bowe owners though, Charles is the only Chiefs skill player that has had any consistent value this year, and that doesn't figure to start changing against a fairly tough Browns defense... Just eight games into the season the Browns will try their luck with a third different starting quarterback. Brandon Weeden simply is not getting it done and a 17-for-42 performance against a banged up Green Bay defense may have just secured him a seat on the bench for the rest of the year. Another former first-round pick, veteran Jason Campbell, will get his shot to lead Cleveland's weak offense into Arrowhead. In his most recent start, which came for Chicago last fall, Campbell was sacked 5.5 times JUST by Aldon Smith, so it could be a banner day for Houston and Hali. When he does get passes off, expect Campbell to focus on Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron, as the pair are far and away Cleveland's most gifted offensive weapons. Willis McGahee will get some tries, but doesn't figure to find much success given his 2.9 YPC is facing a loaded Kansas City front seven.

Predictions: Campbell throws for 158 yards while getting sacked five times and picked twice by the hottest fantasy and reality defense. McGahee grinds his way to 55 rushing yards. Charles churns out 129 total yards and punches in a run, while Alex Smith passes for 182 yards. Chiefs 19-3.

Miami (+6.5) @ New England, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Comments:
Rob Gronkowski's back and pretty soon Tom Brady's fantasy value should join him. The burly tight end saw 17 targets despite only lining up for 51 of the Patriots 79 snaps. It's clear Brady missed him and obvious the record-setting tight end will be utilized heavily in a passing offense lacking for experienced weapons. Though Gronk didn't find the end zone against a tough Jets defense, it's only a matter of time until he does, and as long as he's seeing a ridiculous volume of targets, the yards should remain steady. The values of Kenbrell Thompkins, Julian Edelman and Aaron Dobson may soon take a nose dive as a result, while New England is also unlikely to rush back Danny Amendola (concussion/groin) now that Gronk is in the fold. When the Pats run it, Stevan Ridley appears back in command of the controlling stake of the backfield. In a positive matchup versus an average Miami defense he'll look to find the end zone for a third straight game... The Jets formula to beat New England seemed simple enough: control the ball, limit Tom Brady. Behind 177 rushing yards and a smothering defense they were able to do just that, dominating time of possession by nearly a 2-to-1 ratio. Coming off their best rushing performance of the season with a whopping 120 yards, the Dolphins may be poised to at least attempt it. However, for the gameplan to be effective Ryan Tannehill will need to start taking better care of the ball. He's turned it over seven times in Miami's three-game losing skid and that simply won't cut it against a Brady-led team, even with New England's major losses on defense. If Tannehill should have to sling it 35-plus times for the fifth consecutive game the Dolphins figure to be in trouble, but given how little they've utilized the speedy talents of Lamar Miller, it's a safe bet the second-year QB will continue getting an arm workout. Miller meanwhile has fallen out of even flex status, as he's yet to eclipse 15 carries in a single game and may have even been bypassed as the lead back last week as Daniel Thomas saw 12 attempts to his measly nine.

Predictions: Tannehill throws for 244 yards and scores to Brian Hartline and Charles Clay. Miller and Thomas combine for 91 total yards. Ridley rumbles for 108 yards and punches in a short score, while Brady connects with Gronkowski (2) and Austin Collie for TD's in a 281-yard effort. Patriots 31-14.

Buffalo (+11.5) @ New Orleans, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Comments:
The Saints return from their bye all of five seconds shy of a perfect 6-0 record and likely looking for blood at home. Enter the scrappy Buffalo Bills and their former practice squad QB to try and take down surefire first-ballot Hall-of-Famer Drew Brees. Despite the motivation New Orleans no doubt has to get back on track, Buffalo has a puncher's chance with Jimmy Graham looking likely to sit. While his foot injury is not believed to be serious, it's apparently bad enough to have Graham missing practices this week despite the extra time off the bye provided. And as we saw versus New England, the best formula for beating the Saints seems to be holding Graham without a catch. If he sits expect Ben Watson to be a useful tight end plug-in, while Marques Colston will have ample opportunity to bounce back from his last two performances, which netted just 26 sad yards. Of course, with a stable of tailbacks that includes Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson, don't be surprised to see the Saints lean on their backfield versus Buffalo's 28th-ranked run defense... Thaddeus Lewis will have his ups and downs until EJ Manuel (knee) can return to the lineup, but it's clear after going 1-1 versus two tough AFC opponents that he is a gamer. His production was lacking from a fantasy standpoint in the win over Miami but he made enough key plays to keep his team in position for the W. That will be a tougher proposition versus a New Orleans defense that's picked off more passes (eight) than it's allowed into the end zone (seven), especially when tasked with keeping pace with Brees. That said, one has to imagine Buffalo will try to extend drives on the legs of Fred Jackson to take advantage of a Saints defense allowing a league-worst 5.1 YPC and more importantly to keep Brees on the sideline. Unfortunately for Buffalo, it looks like Jackson may be a one-man show. The ankle injury that's clearly slowing C.J. Spiller needs rest and coach Doug Marrone has finally acknowledged that by listing Spiller as doubtful.

Predictions: The three-headed monster in the Saints backfield results in a rushing score for Robinson and receiving TD for Sproles, while Thomas is left out in the cold. Brees also hooks up with Colston and Watson in a 284-yard effort as Graham rests. Lewis finds Steve Johnson for a score in a 238-yard day, while Jackson punches in a short touchdown to cap a 110 total yard performance. Saints 34-17.

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

Comments:
Just when it looked like Nick Foles was poised to take over the offense in Philly - possibly for good - he goes and lays an egg versus Dallas' 30th-ranked pass defense and leaves with a concussion. His absence this week looks like it will give Michael Vick a shot at revenge versus the very Giants team against which he tweaked his hamstring to begin with. In his less than one half of action against Big Blue, Vick wasn't particularly effective as a passer but had shredded the G-Men for 79 yards on seven scrambles. If his hamstring is less than 100% a repeat performance on the ground shouldn't be expected, but the Giants can be thrown on and Vick has had his moments passing the ball this season. DeSean Jackson, who burned them for over 130 yards and a score the last time, remains a No. 1 fantasy option at receiver regardless of who's pitching it in Philly, while LeSean McCoy likewise is a must start. The Giants have done well in the past to bottle up McCoy, including limiting him to just 46 yards on 20 carries in Week 5, but his involvement in the passing game has helped him to rack up a league-leading 952 scrimmage yards through seven games... A Giants defense that had been allowing a league-worst 34.8 points per game held the inexplicably bad Vikings offense led by Josh Freeman scoreless (the Vikes did get a TD in the return game). Since they figure to more closely resemble the dreadful unit they truly are this week, Eli Manning should be doing plenty of throwing on a Philadelphia defense giving up 311.6 yards per game through the air. Manning registered a season-high 52 pass attempts when these teams squared off in Week 5 and while three of those resulted in picks, he did tally 334 yards and two TD's as well. With a backfield that figures to feature the uninspiring legs of a rusty Peyton Hillis with Brandon Jacobs (hamstring) doubtful, count on Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle and Hakeem Nicks to do the heavy lifting for the G-Men.

Predictions: Hillis totals 67 yards and a goal-line score, while Manning pitches it for 298 yards and hits Cruz and Nicks for touchdowns. Vick scrambles for 34 yards and passes for 227 and scores to Riley Cooper and McCoy. The Philly back adds 102 yards and a TD on the ground, though it's for naught. Giants 27-24 in OT.

San Francisco (-16.5) @ Jacksonville, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Comments:
Blaine Gabbert is over his hamstring woes and once again healthy enough to suit up. The coaching staff, however, has seen enough of the former first-round pick and will keep Chad Henne under center for this awful matchup. The 49ers have amped it up on both sides of the ball lately and have won four straight games by scoring over 30 points per. Although teams have had some success running on them, the San Fran D is currently ranked sixth against the pass. That doesn't bode well for Henne, though at the worst Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts should see enough targets to turn in decent numbers (yards, not scores most likely). Maurice Jones-Drew meanwhile could find running room early, but stands to lose carries when the lead swells against Jacksonville's 32nd-ranked scoring defense... Speaking of the Jags' miserable defense, it is relinquishing 31.7 points per game and giving up a whopping 153.3 yards on the ground (also good for dead last). For a run-first 49ers offense Frank Gore could be poised for a monster showing. Big plays could rule the day for the 49ers, led by a spry 30-year-old Gore who leads the league with seven carries of at least 20 yards. When they pass Colin Kaepernick - who's suddenly running again himself - will look to burn an inexperienced secondary with the blazing speed of Vernon Davis, who has 330 yards and three scores (all from at least 35 yards out) in the last three games. Facing a defense tied for the most passing touchdowns allowed on the season at 15, this could finally be the day when Kaepernick mixes his arm with his legs for huge numbers.

Predictions: Jones-Drew contributes 63 total yards and a short rushing score to the cause, while Henne passes for 239 yards and a touchdown to Blackmon. Kaepernick throws for 228 yards and TD's to Davis and Kyle Williams and adds 52 yards with his legs. Gore bullies his way to 126 yards and two scores on the ground. 49ers 34-14.

New York Jets (+6.5) @ Cincinnati, Sunday 4:05 p.m.

Comments:
The Bengals are one of the hotter teams in the AFC right now riding a three-game win streak, but their suddenly explosive offense will be tested greatly against the Jets stingy defense. New York is limiting opponents to a league-low 3.1 YPC, so the sledding for BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard figures to be quite tough. Given his ability and involvement as a receiver, expect Bernard to find more success between the two, even if his upside is limited this week. Andy Dalton has been red hot over the last two weeks (709 yards and six scores) but may hit a wall against a pass defense that's twice held Tom Brady below a 50% completion rate and only allowed him one score. A.J. Green, however, remains a must-start despite the likelihood he'll draw blanket coverage from Antonio Cromartie... If you trust patterns, the Jets' trend says they're due for a loss after going every other game with a win. Geno Smith has matched each of his strong games with a stinker the following week and it's no coincidence that he's had at least 250 yards passing or accounted for two touchdowns in each Jets' win while producing just one lonely touchdown and nine turnovers in their losses. The Bengals defense has likewise been inconsistent, but at home they've been tremendous against the pass, having allowed the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady to throw only two touchdowns between them to four interceptions, all of course in Cincinnati victories. So while the promise is certainly there for their rookie quarterback and a Jets team in the thick of the playoff picture, it may be another disappointing loss to follow an encouraging win. If New York elects to take the pressure off Smith's shoulders - or at least as much of it as possible - don't be shocked if they hand it to Chris Ivory for another substantial workload. To grind the clock and dominate the time of possession versus New England last week Ivory was fed a heaping 34 times. The days of Bilal Powell as a feature back appear dead and buried, but it would be surprising if he didn't eat into that monster number more this week to make sure the Jets don't total wreck Ivory's legs.

Predictions: Bernard tallies 70 total yards and punches in a rushing score, while Green-Ellis chips in 43 yards on the ground. Dalton finds Tyler Eifert for a touchdown in a 242-yard showing. Smith hooks up with David Nelson for a TD in a 198-yard effort. Ivory leads the Jets with 78 rushing yards. Bengals 20-13.

Pittsburgh (-2.5) @ Oakland, Sunday 4:05 p.m.

Comments:
When the Raiders were last on the field prior to their bye week Terrelle Pryor learned that he needs to get the ball out of his hands faster. Nine sacks and three picks later and Oakland never had a chance versus the Chiefs. Of course, that performance came against the best pass rushing team in the league, one that uses pressure to drop QB's and force turnovers. Facing a Steelers defense ranking 31st in sacks with a measly eight and dead last with a pathetic two turnovers, Pryor can likely take his sweet time reading the coverage. It's important to note though that the reason for Pryor's hesitation to release the football is an indictment on his and his receivers' experience and talent. When he is slow to go through progressions and his wideouts struggle to separate from coverage or run a route poorly, Pryor can be indecisive. The Steelers may not pressure quarterbacks or force turnovers, but their fourth-ranked pass defense covers well, so expect one of the game's best running QB's to tuck it and take off frequently. When he does throw it though, Denarius Moore - with at least 14 fantasy points in three of the past four contests - is easily his most productive target. And when Pryor hands off, Darren McFadden will hope to find running room against a Pittsburgh D giving up only 3.7 YPC... The Steelers were lucky to have an early season bye, as they've come out of it rejuvenated and registered back-to-back W's after starting 0-4. They've done it with a stingy defense that went from averaging 27.5 points allowed per game in their losses to 11.0 in the wins. As a result of playing from ahead Ben Roethlisberger has not had to throw it nearly as much, so his and his receivers' numbers have declined. That trend may well continue versus a Raiders team that doesn't have the offensive firepower to build much of a lead on Pittsburgh's defense, so Antonio Brown and Heath Miller owners should temper expectations. Le'Veon Bell owners have plenty to get excited for, however, as the rookie back looked very smooth and athletic in gashing a tough Baltimore D for nearly 5.0 YPC last week. The Steelers want him to be the workhorse and if they get ahead Bell could be staring at his first career 100-yard day.

Predictions: McFadden totals 74 yards and reaches paydirt rushing. Pryor slings it for 181 yards and a score to Marcel Reece while adding 72 rushing yards. Roethlisberger throws for 217 yards and hits Jerricho Cotchery for a TD. Bell totes the rock for 116 yards and two touchdowns. Steelers 24-20.

Washington (+12.5) @ Denver, Sunday 4:25 p.m.

Comments:
Peyton Manning will surely be refocused and fired up after his disappointing homecoming in Indy derailed the Broncos run at a perfect season. Up next is a Redskins defense giving up 30.7 points per game. With that matchup Manning figures to have little trouble getting back on track and his receiving weapons should all flourish as a result. Eric Decker surprisingly has emerged as perhaps the best fantasy option among those targets and has become a clear must-start since he's led the league in receiving yards over the last five weeks with 508. On the ground Knowshon Moreno's eight rushing scores pace the league and he'll look to add to that mark against a Washington run defense that just let Matt Forte into the end zone three times and is tied for the most rushing touchdowns allowed on the year with nine... Robert Griffin and his dynamic duo of Alfred Morris and Roy Helu are getting back to what the Skins did best last year. With RGIII finally loosening his legs and contributing 161 yards the past two weeks Washington has rolled up over 200 yards on the ground in consecutive games. This has allowed them to control the clock, and given the potency of Denver's offense expect the Redskins to ride such a gameplan even harder this week. The Broncos boast the No. 1 rushing defense, however, so something will have to give. Denver has yet to face as dynamic a ground attack though and it would be surprising if Griffin and Co. didn't find success with their legs. Once their defense fails to stop Manning though, all bets are off for the ball control strategy. Griffin will need to throw it plenty and with the Broncos currently giving up a league-worst 319.9 yards per game in the air, count on a big fantasy day from the Skins' franchise player. That also means Pierre Garcon and rookie tight end Jordan Reed, who blew up last week, should be started in all leagues as well.

Predictions: Moreno nets 124 total yards and punches in a run, while Manning hooks up once each for TD's with his big four targets in a 355-yard performance. Griffin runs for 72 yards and a score and pitches it for 294 yards and two more touchdowns going to Reed and Helu. Morris leads the backfield with 80 yards rushing. Broncos 44-27.

Atlanta (+2.5) @ Arizona, Sunday 4:25 p.m.

Comments:
A long rest after last week's Thursday game should have Larry Fitzgerald's hamstrings a bit fresher, but that may not be enough to get Carson Palmer on the right track. What might help more though is a Falcons defense with a dreadful 14-to-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio traveling across the country to try to cover Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd with its weak secondary. Palmer's 13 interceptions are the second most in the league to only Eli Manning's 15 and he's on a woeful streak of five straight multi-pick games. There's room for hope though as he's thrown it for at least 250 yards each of the past two weeks in matchups with the vaunted 49ers and Seahawks defenses. Atlanta on a long week should cure what ails the Arizona pass attack. After all, the Falcons have allowed rookies Geno Smith and Mike Glennon to pitch it for a combined 455 yards and five touchdowns in their last two contests without picking either off. When the Cards do elect to run, expect Rashard Mendenhall to remain featured - inexplicably as it may be - over the much more dynamic Andre Ellington... Perhaps Matt Ryan really doesn't need two of the game's best wide receivers after all. Or perhaps the Buccaneers pass defense really is only good on paper. Either way it was refreshing and encouraging to see Harry Douglas hold down the role of a No. 1 receiver exceptionally well as he caught all seven of his targets for 149 yards and a score. Still, with Roddy White looking more and more doubtful having missed multiple practices this week, Ryan could be primed for a dud game. Douglas may struggle to separate from Patrick Peterson, leaving Tony Gonzalez and Jacquizz Rodgers as the only other two consistent threats in the passing game. Of course, this could set up beautifully for Gonzalez, as three different tight ends have torched Arizona for over 130 yards and two touchdowns (albeit on the road). If Steven Jackson can return this week, Rodgers may be relegated to mostly a receiving role, but for PPR leagues that still makes the mighty mite worth playing given the state of the Atlanta wideout corps. As for Jackson, if he does suit up he looks like an awfully risky start versus Arizona's seventh-ranked run defense when compounding the concerns of his hamstring holding up the whole game.

Predictions: Ryan throws for 291 yards and touchdowns to Gonzalez and Levine Toilolo, while Jackson and Rodgers combine for 112 total yards in a fairly even split. Mendenhall and Ellington also split but with the rookie garnering 85 of their 136 total yards. Palmer connects with Floyd (2) and Andre Roberts for TD's in a 308-yard effort. Cardinals 24-17.

Green Bay (-9) @ Minnesota, Sunday 8:30 p.m.

Comments:
The Vikings stubbornly and foolishly hung the newly signed Josh Freeman out to dry in his first start in purple, as it was clear from the first quarter he couldn't make an offense he simply didn't know well enough yet produce points. Apparently in the process Freeman suffered a concussion that did not become known until Tuesday, which now has re-opened the door for the twice kicked-to-the-curb Christian Ponder. Adrian Peterson suffered immensely with Freeman under center since the Giants had no reason to worry about the pass, but Ponder will at least present some threat - albeit a minimal one - given his knowledge of the offense. Still, the Packers boast a lot of beef on their defensive front and rank third versus the run. With Peterson also dealing with a sore hamstring, don't expect one of the monstrous performances he blasted Green Bay with in last year's glorious eclipse of 2,000 yards... The Packers can't seem to catch a break on the injury front. Jermichael Finley was playing a terrific game and poised to take on a huge role in the offense with Randall Cobb (broken leg) out and James Jones (knee) less than 100%, but now following a scary neck injury Finley can only hope his football career isn't over. At least from initial appearances, his 2013 season seems likely to be done. Aaron Rodgers and his remaining targets must move on though, and that includes emerging wideout Jarrett Boykin. With Jones still missing practices Boykin may have to serve as the No. 2 receiver again to Jordy Nelson, a role in which he registered his first career 100-yard game and first touchdown last week. Nelson and Boykin are must starts with or without Jones and figure to make life difficult on the Vikings 29th-ranked pass defense. Andrew Quarless could even be in for a nice day as Rodgers' third option if Jones sits. It is pure coincidence, and occurred three years ago on top of that, but Quarless' only career TD came against the Vikes when Finley missed most of the 2010 season. When they run it look for Eddie Lacy to continue his hot streak after averaging exactly 100.0 yards per game on the ground for three weeks.

Predictions: Peterson totes it for 117 yards and a touchdown, while Ponder connects with Kyle Rudolph for a score in a 211-yard outing. Rodgers guns it for 258 yards and hits Nelson and Boykin for TD's. Lacy rumbles for 126 yards and punches in two at the goal line. Packers 31-20.

Seattle (-10.5) @ St. Louis, Monday 8:30 p.m.

Comments:
Whether it was meant as a joke or not, the Rams reportedly sought Brett Favre's opinion on making a comeback at the ripe age of 44 years old to replace the loss of Sam Bradford (ACL). That speaks volumes about their faith in backup-turned-starter Kellen Clemens whose last three starts came at the end of 2011 for the Rams, resulting in just 546 yards, two touchdowns and three losses. Adding Brady Quinn and Austin Davis to serve as backups leaves the Rams offense in a massive state of disrepair. So naturally, St. Louis will draw one of the game's top defenses and almost definitively the league's best secondary. As if you weren't doing so already, safely place any Rams receiving targets on your bench, or even free agency for that matter. They are effectively useless. Zac Stacy, however, remains a flex start. The matchup is dismal, but he's at least at home, assured of significant touches and with a thin running back pool created by the bye schedule, one could certainly do worse. Moreover, Stacy produced over 80 total yards and his first career TD against a stout Panthers front seven last week... Unless the Seahawks get immensely complacent or suffer massive injuries, they will leave "The Show-Me State" with a win. Russell Wilson should be able to push the ball downfield easily against a Rams defense tied for 31st in allowing 8.5 yards-per-attempt, while Marshawn Lynch may go from "Beast Mode" to "Feast Mode" versus a St. Louis run D allowing 126.4 rushing yards per game. With the matchup so favorable though, don't expect a Percy Harvin (hip) return this week.

Predictions: Clemens throws for 191 yards and is intercepted three times, while Stacy grits his way to 76 total yards. Lynch pounds out 131 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Wilson hooks up with Golden Tate and Sidney Rice for scores in a 165-yard outing. Seahawks 31-6.