Washington (-1) @ Minnesota, Thursday 8:25 p.m.
Comments: The Vikings and Redskins have a similar formula they need to execute to stay in and win games. Neither team has the defensive talent, particularly in the back end, to keep opposing teams off the scoreboard. But both teams are well equipped offensively to grind out drives with heavy doses of excellent tailback play and quick-hitting throws. For the Vikings to win they pretty much have to get 100-plus yards and a touchdown out of Adrian Peterson. Fortunately, the reigning league MVP is set to face a soft Redskins defense and appears to be just warming up with 200 yards and two scores the last two weeks. If Christian Ponder can limit mistakes against a defense that's managed nearly two takeaways a week on average, the Vikings will be well positioned for a victory. Of course, with Kyle Rudolph, the team's top red zone target, out for at least a month with a foot injury, Ponder may struggle to close drives. With a defense giving up 31.5 points per game, settling for field goals likely won't cut it... Or maybe it will. The Redskins defense is a fraction worse from a scoring standpoint, as their leaky unit is giving up 31.6 points per contest. For all that Robert Griffin can do on the offensive side of the ball with his arm and legs, he's unfortunately not much of a cover corner or tackler. With the NFC East race still very much up in the air, look for Washington to lean on a ground attack that's racked up 530 yards and eight touchdowns over the last three games, two of which resulted in W's. Like Peterson, Alfred Morris seems to just be warming up. While he's led them with 309 yards over that stretch though, his owners would certainly love to see the end to Mike Shanahan trotting out someone else on the goal line. The ultra-frustrating coach for fantasy running backs has let two different backs vulture three touchdowns apiece in their last two victories. Facing a Vikings D that's given up nine scores so far on the ground should present plenty of opportunities for Morris to get his turn. When they do throw it though, Minnesota's 29th-ranked pass defense is equally, if not more so susceptible to bleeding points. The 18 touchdown passes they've allowed are second only to Buffalo's 20 and the Vikes have even played one fewer game than the Bills. Griffin, Pierre Garcon and Jordan Reed could all be poised for big fantasy returns despite the ground-heavy attack.
Predictions: Morris rumbles for 118 yards and a score, while Griffin adds 61 with his legs and touchdowns in the air to Garcon and Reed in a 241-yard passing effort. Ponder connects with Greg Jennings for a TD in a 217-yard performance. Peterson stampedes his way to 148 yards and two touchdowns. Vikings 27-21.
Seattle (-6.5) @ Atlanta, Sunday 1:00 p.m.
Comments: Atlanta is a shell of the team that finished the 2012 season a few plays shy of a Super Bowl appearance. They can't stop the pass. They can't stop the run. And without Julio Jones (foot/IR) and Roddy White (hamstring/ankle) their offense cannot score points. Fortunately, for Matt Ryan's sake, ole reliable Tony Gonzalez is still healthy and returned to his usually productive ways last week. With Steven Jackson regaining his legs and White possibly back this week, the offense may once again become a fantasy-friendly group. Of course, the season itself is lost after a 2-6 start. Still, the Seahawks have begun each road game in quicksand, and recently have been hammered by opposing rush attacks, so getting back in the win column is realistic despite the NFC's top team coming to town. In back-to-back games a normally fierce Seattle defense has allowed at least 200 rushing yards, including a combined 290 to rookie backs Zac Stacy and Mike James. After seeing Jackson find some success versus Carolina's second-ranked run defense (4.4 YPC), he looks like a must-start in a game that could see Atlanta run much more than usual to keep their suspect defense sidelined... The Seahawks were a goal-line stand away from losing to the Rams just one week removed from Sam Bradford tearing his ACL. That's how much they struggle on the road. Realistically though, that contest remained close because a fast and gifted Rams pass rush took major advantage of a depleted Seattle offensive line. An Atlanta group that ranks just 24th in sacks though doesn't figure to present the same problems for Russell Wilson. Without Sidney Rice (knee) and with Percy Harvin (hip) still not quite ready for action, look for Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse to step up once again after each scored last week. Of course, Golden Tate should return to his role as the team's top receiver after man coverage from Darrelle Revis essentially wiped him out of the Tampa game. However, to get the offense in gear all the way across the country, expect Marshawn Lynch to be run early, often and to plenty of success against a weak Falcons front seven.
Predictions: Lynch bullies his way to 91 yards and a score, while Wilson hooks up with Tate and Zach Miller for touchdowns in a 215-yard day. Ryan throws for 266 yards and finds Gonzalez and Harry Douglas for touchdowns with White drawing coverage from Richard Sherman. Jackson totals 91 yards and scores on the ground. Seahawks 28-24.
Detroit (-2.5) @ Chicago, Sunday 1:00 p.m.
Comments: While the victory deserves an asterisk in the minds of many since Aaron Rodgers was knocked out on the first drive, much credit is still due to the strong play of Bears backup quarterback Josh McCown. With twin towers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery presenting mismatches for the Packers' corners, McCown kept the chains moving for several long Chicago drives. Matt Forte was sensational in supporting the passing game, and with a Lions defense allowing 4.7 YPC coming to Soldier Field, the Bears versatile back is likely licking his chops for an encore. Forte, who has at least 90 total yards or a touchdown in every game this year, gashed Detroit for 6.8 YPC in their last meeting. With the veteran tailback relieving the pressure on the passing game, Jay Cutler can ease his way back from his groin injury. Leaning on the ground game may also be wise, as Cutler was not particularly careful with the football in their last meeting with Detroit, essentially giving the game away early with three picks... Coming off their bye weekend the focus on the Detroit offense will center almost solely on how Calvin Johnson can follow up his historic 329-yard performance. While his play versus Charles Tillman - who has limited him as well as any cornerback in the league in past meetings - will go a long way towards determining the victor in this game, it's Reggie Bush who Detroit should lean on early to establish a lead and control the clock. Chicago was shredded by Bush in the teams' last meeting and proved versus Green Bay that they cannot even stop the run when they put nine in the box. With Matthew Stafford and Megatron making certain they don't stack the box, expect another big day for Bush and the Detroit offense versus a Bears D giving up 28.3 points per game.
Predictions: Cutler slings it for 260 yards and finds Marshall and Martellus Bennett for touchdowns. Forte racks up 123 scrimmage yards and scores on the ground, but is bested by Bush's 151 total yards and two TD's. Stafford hits Bush for one of those, as he tosses it for 310 yards and also hooks up with Johnson and Joseph Fauria for touchdowns. Lions 31-27.
Philadelphia (+1.5) @ Green Bay, Sunday 1:00 p.m.
Comments: Seneca Wallace last started and won an NFL game more than three years ago. For anyone keeping score, that means the Packers are in trouble. There's still enough talent for Green Bay to win games, but not if Wallace plays like he did in relief of Aaron Rodgers on Monday Night Football. The Bears' miserable pass rush had generated just nine sacks in the first seven games before pulling down an indecisive and slow-footed Wallace four times. While garnering all the first-team reps in practice will surely have the 11-year veteran more prepared to run the offense, it's still an enormous downgrade at the game's most important position. A soft schedule gives the Packers hope, but if Rodgers' broken collarbone keeps him out as many as six weeks, a competitive NFC playoff race may devour Green Bay's hopes. Adversity is nothing new to Titletown, however, as the Pack last won it all in 2010 with 15 players on IR. Of course, Rodgers missed just one game that year. With him out look for the offense to ride Eddie Lacy and James Starks against some seriously stacked boxes. Though they ran all over Chicago, so has everyone else. The Eagles aren't much better versus the run, but you can bet they'll be focused on slowing the Lacy train and pressuring Wallace whenever he does drop back. While Lacy remains a must-start given the volume of touches he'll surely see, his effectiveness could go down, and all the other Packers figure to take an even more substantial hit, with Jordy Nelson being about the only other one that can be trusted at this point... At the same time the Packers took a massive hit at quarterback the Eagles appear to have found one to hang onto. Nick Foles was lights out in his record-tying seven-touchdown performance, and although it's entirely unrepeatable, it's safe to say he's a valuable real life and fantasy passer going forward. After all, he tossed those seven scores on the road against a Raiders D that had only allowed 10 previously in seven games. As a result, a Foles favorite, Riley Cooper, has rocketed his way into fantasy relevancy. Both Cooper and DeSean Jackson should be weekly starters the rest of the way, and each figures to take advantage of a Packers secondary that was just picked apart by Josh McCown. LeSean McCoy is likewise a must start, as usual, though with his recent drop off in performance, it would be surprising to see him come close to the 179 total yards Matt Forte blasted the Pack with.
Predictions: McCoy contributes 104 total yards and a rushing score, while Foles pitches it for 314 yards and touchdowns to Cooper, Jackson and Zach Ertz. Wallace hits James Jones and Andrew Quarless for TD's in a 218-yard effort, but is picked twice. Lacy bowls his way to 95 yards and converts a short end zone plunge. Eagles 31-24.
Jacksonville (+12) @ Tennessee, Sunday 1:00 p.m.
Comments: Much to the chagrin of Jake Locker owners who may have rolled out the dual threat quarterback during their starter's bye week, the Titans finally turned to the heavy ground attack they preached in the preseason. The return of Shonn Greene has given the coaching staff extra incentive to pound the ball, and apparently lit a fire under Chris Johnson as well. The speedster looked every bit the part of his nickname, CJ2K, as he tore through a Rams defense that's struggle versus the run all year. While the tailback duo combined for 33 carries, 188 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, Locker tossed just 22 passes in his worst fantasy output since Week 1. Though a four-game streak with multiple touchdowns proved that Locker possesses serious fantasy upside, the Titans appear set up to continue pounding the ball for at least one more week. The Jaguars are dead last versus the run, allowing an average of 161.8 yards per contest, and they simply don't have the offensive firepower to force Tennessee into airing it out... Jacksonville returns from its bye week light one star wide receiver. While the indefinite suspension to Justin Blackmon favors owners of Cecil Shorts, who will benefit from a weekly target increase, it's a crushing blow to what is already one of the league's worst offenses. Chad Henne simply doesn't have the weapons to move the chains consistently and close out drives with touchdowns. Mike Brown is an interesting speculative grab, as the former undrafted wideout has emerged as the clear second option to Shorts after posting 163 yards and a score in the team's last two games. The greatest impact of losing Blackmon could be felt most strongly by Maurice Jones-Drew owners, however, as defenses can truly focus on just locking up one receiver now and stuffing the box with bodies to limit MJD. Fortunately, the Titans wrap about as poorly as any team in the league - as evidenced by Zac Stacy's gashing of them - so "Pocket Hercules" could continue his slow rise with another quality performance (he's totaled 338 yards in the last four games).
Predictions: Jones-Drew totes it for 102 yards and a touchdown, while Henne hooks up with Shorts and Brown for touchdowns in a 191-yard performance. Locker throws for 225 yards and scores to Kendall Wright and Delanie Walker, while Johnson and Greene each punch one in on the ground to go with their 181 combined yards. Titans 34-24.
St. Louis (+9.5) @ Indianapolis, Sunday 1:00 p.m.
Comments: T.Y. Hilton came to the rescue last week as he emerged over Darrius Heyward-Bey as the clear No. 1 with Reggie Wayne (knee) on the shelf. Andrew Luck will need plenty of Hilton going forward for this offense to put up points, and fortunately for the owners of both this week's visitor sets up nicely for an encore. Even with the Rams getting blasted by the Titans on the ground they still allowed Kendall Wright to notch 69 yards, which is the fewest fantasy points a No. 1 receiver has posted against them. With Indy's ground game not being much to speak of, Hilton could very well go off again. Of course, St. Louis is 28th versus the run and has allowed four different tailbacks to hammer them for over 150 yards rushing, so perhaps this is the week Trent Richardson finally shows up. However, with an ankle injury potentially limiting him, don't be surprised to see the more likely result of Donald Brown ripping off some nice runs en route to a bigger day... Of the running backs in this game, the one to own and start in fantasy is far and away the feature back on the visitor's sideline. Zac Stacy has exploded over the last few weeks, having racked up 489 total yards and three touchdowns in the last four games. He went bananas for nearly 180 of them and two TD's last week despite playing on a sprained ankle. With vision, balance and a decisive burst that is reminiscent of Frank Gore, the rookie back is poised to challenge for rookie of the year and the title of this year's Alfred Morris-like out-of-nowhere stud. With Kellen Clemens under center Stacy really is the Rams offense, and with the Colts sitting at just 27th against the run, a third consecutive 100-yard showing may be in the works.
Predictions: Richardson posts just 46 total yards as Brown leads the way for Indy with 95 and a rushing score. Luck connects with Hilton and Griff Whalen for touchdowns in a 212-yard effort. Clemens tosses it for 218 yards and hits Austin Pettis in the end zone. Stacy piles up 139 yards and rushes in a score. Colts 27-20.
Oakland (+7) @ New York Giants, Sunday 1:00 p.m.
Comments: The Giants are amazingly not out of the hunt for the NFC East division with a record of 2-6. Coming off their bye they have a terrific opportunity to inch even closer with a highly winnable matchup. Eli Manning has struggled all year, not producing what we're used to seeing out of Manning from a yards and touchdowns standpoint, but Nick Foles made it abundantly clear last week that this Raiders defense can be thrown on. With a relatively healthy trio of Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle, this could be Manning's biggest game of the season. And when the G-Men turn to the run, reinforcements from Andre Brown could provide the spark they've missed all year out of the backfield. Brown's services may not be fully utilized though in his first game back from a broken leg, so if diving into the shallow well that's been the Giants backfield for fantasy help, Peyton Hillis is the one to roll the dice with this week... The Raiders racked up 560 yards of offense and dominated time of possession versus Philadelphia by nearly a 2-to-1 ratio but still came on the wrong end of a 29-point blowout. So the problem entering a cross-country trip to meet the Giants lies more so with a suddenly leaky defense that cannot prevent the big play. If New York can move the ball in a similar fashion, expect Terrelle Pryor to do plenty of passing yet again, which could result in solid performances from Denarius Moore and Rod Streater. The offense may want to feature the pass heavily regardless of the score though as they figure to be without Darren McFadden after he left last week's loss with a hamstring injury. While Rashad Jennings was tremendous in relief of McFadden as he racked up 176 total yards, he may not find similar success against a Giants defense that's been tough versus the run, having limited the likes of Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy and Matt Forte to less than 4.0 YPC.
Predictions: Manning throws for 264 yards and touchdowns to Nicks and Randle. Hillis and Brown combine for 122 total yards with the former punching in a short score. Jennings tallies 87 total yards while Pryor chips in 91 with his legs and tosses it for 204 with his arm, connecting with Moore and Mychal Rivera for touchdowns. Giants 24-14.
Buffalo (+3) @ Pittsburgh, Sunday 1:00 p.m.
Comments: Ben Roethlisberger finally lit up the scoreboard after four weeks of tossing just one touchdown, but it was all for naught as the Patriots offense did anything they wanted against a defense that more closely resembled a paper mache curtain. Playing from behind dictated more passing from Big Ben, but with a less explosive Bills offense coming to town, it's likely Roethlisberger won't come so close to 50 attempts again. On the plus side though, he may not need the volume to find the end zone frequently, as Buffalo has allowed a league-worst 20 passing scores. The Bills have been stingier to tailbacks, however, so don't expect Le'Veon Bell to come close to duplicating the career-best 139 total yards he posted last week. If Buffalo can hold Jamaal Charles under 100 scrimmage yards (Charles had 96, his first game all year under 100), they can do it to anyone... Speaking of yardage machines, a healthy C.J. Spiller may finally be back to being one himself. It took him just 14 touches to rack up 155 yards against an elite Chiefs defense, highlighted by an explosive, 61-yard weaving run he nearly took to the house. Pittsburgh's 31st-ranked run defense was just hammered for nearly 200 yards and three TD's by the stable of New England backs and could be facing the same fate against the tandem of Spiller and Fred Jackson. If the return of EJ Manuel can spark the passing game, Buffalo may even have the juice to steal a road victory and keep themselves in the Wild Card hunt with a winnable slate of games left to go.
Predictions: Manuel passes for 172 yards and a touchdown to Scott Chandler. Spiller tallies 114 total yards and runs one in, while Jackson chips in with 78 yards of his own. Bell nets 84 yards but finds the end zone on a short run. Roethlisberger finds Emmanuel Sanders and Heath Miller for TD's in a 244-yard effort. Steelers 21-14.
Cincinnati (-1.5) @ Baltimore, Sunday 1:00 p.m.
Comments: A three-game losing skid has the defending champion Ravens on the brink of falling out of the playoff race altogether. Rest assured no team would rather deepen that hole for them more than the young Bengals team coming to town. Cincinnati has snuck into the playoffs each of the last two years behind Baltimore in the division and like any little brother/big brother rivalry, the Bengals are certainly chomping at the bit to overtake them for good. Joe Flacco knows something about rising to the occasion, however, so he's certainly not about to lay down and watch the Bengals rip the division out of their hands. With a full contingent of healthy receivers, Flacco has the tools now to be productive through the air. What he may not have though is a sound line to protect him or an effective run game to take some pressure off his arm. Fortunately though for Baltimore, the star of the Cinci line, Geno Atkins, is now done for the year with a torn ACL. With the offensive line drawing that break, perhaps Ray Rice can finally average more than 4.0 YPC and balance out an offense in desperate need of some consistency... Andy Dalton, like Icarus, flew too close to the sun and got burned. His blazing hot streak of more than 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns over three games ended with a disastrous no-score, three-pick performance in which the outcome was decided by his being sacked for a safety in overtime. Since getting decimated by Peyton Manning in Week 1, the Ravens pass defense has been quite stingy. That is they had been until last week when they let Jason Campbell and Cleveland carve them up for 262 yards and three TD's, so there's no telling which group will show up. With the weapons surrounding him, it's safe to expect at least some bounce back for Dalton. A.J. Green is the league-leader in receiving yards and a bona fide star, and now he's surrounded by a veritable cornucopia of weapons lining up opposite him, in the slot and the backfield. Provided the dynamic Giovani Bernard isn't slowed too much from his rib injury, the Bengals offense should get humming again in what could be a physical, back-and-forth affair.
Predictions: BenJarvus Green-Ellis leads the Bengals backfield with 81 yards on the ground while Bernard chips in 55 total yards. Dalton throws for 276 yards and scores to Green and Marvin Jones. Flacco airs it out for 291 yards and finds Torrey Smith and Tandon Doss for TD's, while Rice chips in 72 total yards. Bengals 20-14.
San Francisco (+6) @ Carolina, Sunday 4:05 p.m.
Comments: If Carolina can run the ball consistently on San Fran they will have a chance to keep their four-game win streak going. That's easier said than done, however, as the early-season woes the Niners had stopping the run seem to have passed. Patrick Willis is back to good health and the return of Aldon Smith figures to once again make this a dominant defense. Cam Newton will need to get back to the precision passing he began this streak with if he wants to generate enough points to steal a major road victory. Last week he struggled against a poor Falcons defense and a similar performance will likely result in a blowout going the other way. The return of Jonathan Stewart, who performed well in his first game back from dual ankle injuries, could be a major boost both on the ground and in the screen game, but it crushes what little lingered of DeAngelo Williams' fantasy value... The Niners are rested and getting reinforcements coming out of their bye week at just the right time. Carolina is rising into that Wild Card hunt and a win in San Fran would put them ahead of the 49ers in that race. Colin Kaepernick was just getting warmed up though prior to the bye and the return of Mario Manningham from last year's torn ACL should only help to raise his level of production in the passing game. With the Panthers boasting the league's second best run defense, Manningham's return could play a crucial role, as Frank Gore may not find the same running room he saw over the six previous games.
Predictions: Stewart and Williams combine for 104 total yards, while Newton produces 51 with his legs and 223 with his arm, hitting Greg Olsen and Brandon LaFell for passing scores. Kaepernick runs for 74 yards and a touchdown and passes for 207 yards and connects with Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin for TD's. Gore adds 75 yards on the ground. 49ers 24-20.
Houston (+3) @ Arizona, Sunday 4:25 p.m.
Comments: Sitting at 4-4 coming out of their bye week, the Cardinals are in solid position to make a Wild Card push. A visit from a banged up Texans team on a six-game skid and without their head coach followed by a trip to the winless Jags sets up nicely to position them at 6-4 entering late November. With rookie Andre Ellington providing an electric spark out of the backfield, if Carson Palmer can protect the football the offense will have enough juice to stay in any game. Houston presents a challenge with their top-ranked pass defense, but with the week off giving Larry Fitzgerald extra time to rest his injured hamstrings, the aerial attack should be at full strength for the first time since Week 1. If Palmer's chemistry with Michael Floyd continues to progress and his protection improves even a little, this will be a dangerous offense. With a fast and physical defense that thrives on creating big plays, Arizona has the tools to keep themselves in the hunt... Coach Gary Kubiak's sudden and scary collapse seemed to shake up a Texans team that was taking it to the division-leading Colts and appears to have been a central factor in the loss (of course Randy Bullock's three missed field goals didn't help). Looking to the positive though, Case Keenum was a revelation after weeks of mostly subpar quarterback play. Keenum displayed nimble footwork in the pocket and excellent touch throwing the ball downfield, producing over 10.0 yards-per-attempt for the second time in as many career starts. Getting Andre Johnson into the end zone finally was a huge key to the offense, particularly with Arian Foster having to leave the game with his hamstring ailing him. Going into a tough environment to face the aggressive Cardinals defense, Keenum will need to be his sharpest yet, and will need a boost from Ben Tate and the ground game to keep the chains moving consistently - which will be a tall task against Arizona's fourth-ranked run defense. With a week to adjust to Kubiak's absence, the team should have a renewed focus. A back-to-the-wall performance to honor their hospitalized coach would not be surprising, and if nothing else, after taking the undefeated Chiefs and the AFC South's best to the brink of defeat, Houston is going to present a major challenge and a dogfight in the desert.
Predictions: Palmer throws for 236 yards and touchdowns to Floyd and Andre Roberts. Ellington tallies 112 total yards and adds a score on the ground. Tate rumbles for 94 yards and hits paydirt, while Keenum slings it for 251 yards and a scoring strike to DeAndre Hopkins. Cardinals 24-20.
Denver (-7) @ San Diego, Sunday 4:25 p.m.
Comments: The Chargers hopes of securing a Wild Card go through Denver and Kansas City, neither of whom they've play this year. They'll almost certainly need to split with them to have a shot at sneaking in, so protecting their home field is crucial. Unfortunately for Philip Rivers and Co., however, the defense simply doesn't have the juice to slow down a rested Bronco offense coming off its bye. San Diego is 25th facing the pass and 23rd versus the run with basically no playmakers on that side of the ball. So while a track meet spells trouble for Rivers, it's great for his fantasy owners, who are almost certain to get 40-plus pass attempts. By contrast it's a big blow to anyone who has to count on Ryan Mathews. Playing from behind in Washington last week limited Mathews to just seven carries and a similar result seems likely in this one unless the Chargers can get an early lead. While Mathews owners figure to suffer though, the potential pass-fest sets up beautifully for anyone with Danny Woodhead. The diminutive PPR monster has hit at least 75 yards in six straight contests and has seen more goal-line work than Mathews. With the ball in the air so much, Keenan Allen is a clear No. 1 receiver option while Antonio Gates should have his chances to find the end zone for the first time since September... The story remains the same with the Broncos. Peyton Manning is having a season for the record books. That means all his receivers must be started. And that includes Julius Thomas if he can give it a go on a sore ankle. With a weak run defense that was blasted for over 200 yards last week, there may not be a better chance for Knowshon Moreno to finally rush for over 100 yards. Of course, if Denver throws it's way to an early lead, Montee Ball figures to eat into Moreno's workload to keep the veteran rested for the season's stretch run.
Predictions: Moreno and Ball each punch in a short score with the veteran totaling 108 yards. Manning guns it for 316 yards and TD's to Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Eric Decker. Rivers connects with Allen (2) and Gates for touchdowns in a 372-yard day. Woodhead nets 108 total yards, while Mathews chips in 48 on the ground. Broncos 38-27.
Dallas (+7) @ New Orleans, Sunday 8:30 p.m.
Comments: Drew Brees has always put up big numbers regardless of who he was throwing to, but it's becoming increasingly apparent that as long as Jimmy Graham can physically step foot on the field, Brees will throw him a touchdown - often times multiple touchdowns. Graham now has notched two TD's in each of the two games since being diagnosed with a partially torn plantar fascia in his foot. He's simply unstoppable regardless of his physical condition or matchup. Unfortunately for Brees though, the same statement can no longer be said of his once-prolific wide receiver, Marques Colston, who's little more than waiver wire fodder at this point. Before having to sit with a knee injury last week, Colston had registered a paltry 44 yards on 11 targets in three games. It's a shame he's not healthy given the visit from Dallas' 31st-ranked pass defense. The matchup though should provide a chance for Kenny Stills to bounce back after a down showing, while Lance Moore looks steady and Robert Meachem provides a desperate dart option should Colston sit again. Darren Sproles also figures to get involved in the passing game after he was cleared of concussion symptoms, but when they run it Pierre Thomas is the guy likely to take most advantage of the 4.6 YPC average the Cowboys allow to tailbacks... Tony Romo's passing yardage has fluctuated from one week to the next by a minimum of 111 yards in five consecutive games, with the biggest change being 336 yards. If his amazingly inconsistent production continues along this trend he'll either finish in the low 200's or the mid 400's this weekend. If trends are holding true then Romo would be closer to the former, as New Orleans has limited its opponents to an average of 211.9 passing yards per game, but the Saints' highly-ranked pass defense is quite deceiving. Their impressive stinginess is as much a reflection of the mediocre group of passers they've faced as it is an indication of how much they've improved. The likes of Josh Freeman, Carson Palmer, Ryan Tannehill, Thaddeus Lewis and Geno Smith - four of whom they faced at home - made this defense look better than it is. In what could well become a shootout just like their meeting in 2012 when both QB's topped 400 yards with at least three TD's, Romo figures to do plenty of damage, in particular to Dez Bryant and Jason Witten. Of course, after the Jets painted the formula, Dallas may want to think about handing off frequently to DeMarco Murray against a Saints defense giving up 4.9 YPC.
Predictions: Thomas totals 82 yards but has a TD vultured by Mark Ingram. Brees hooks up with Graham, Stills and Meachem for touchdowns in a 388-yard effort. Romo counters with 356 passing yards and scores to Bryant, Terrance Williams and Murray, who adds 66 and another touchdown on the ground. Saints 34-31.
Miami (-2.5) @ Tampa Bay, Monday 8:30 p.m.
Comments: The Buccaneers decided to celebrate Halloween a few days late last week, as they put a scare into the Seahawks before proving to just be in disguise. One man whose "costume" really stood out was Mike James, who tore through the Seattle defense, running downhill into the second and third levels with an aggressiveness befitting a hungry sixth-round draft choice trying to make the most of an unexpected opportunity. The Tampa Bay brass has been indecisive with choosing whether or not to shelve Doug Martin (shoulder) for the remainder of the season, but it would be wise of them to take a cue from their rookie back. James' decisive, downhill running gives them a capable replacement for Martin in the interim and provides them an opportunity to not risk any further damage to one of the cornerstones of this young offense. For fantasy owners of Martin who were fortunate enough to snatch up James, having their star back go on IR would actually be more beneficial than his return, as it would leave them with at least one feature back in James as opposed to two talented guys splitting carries. Assuming Martin is placed on IR - which seems to be the direction Tampa is leaning - James is in line for a nice matchup with a Miami run defense that's allowed nine scores on the ground so far. When Tampa does throw, Mike Glennon has proven that he too can be the man for the job. Even without the services of Vincent Jackson, who was limited to 11 yards versus Seattle's elite secondary, Glennon completed 17-of-23 attempts and found the end zone twice for the third time in four games. If Cameron Wake doesn't get to him too often, an even bigger outing could be on tap... With two matchups left two go versus the Jets, taking care of business versus the winless Bucs would position Miami to control it's own destiny in the stretch run of the Wild Card race. Of course, the Dolphins playing in primetime is not the only reason they've received extra attention this week. Ryan Tannehill and the offense won't have a chance if they can't put aside the distractions coming from the massive media scrutiny and league investigations into the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito mess. Provided the Dolphins stay true to their recent swing in favor of the ground game, the offensive line should be fine. Lamar Miller has all the tools to be among the league leaders in rushing if they simply give him the chance, so expect the speedster to keep seeing an increased workload after posting consecutive games - the first two of his career - with over 100 total yards.
Predictions: Miller and Daniel Thomas combine for 164 total yards with the former breaking one for a long score. Tannehill throws for 204 yards and a touchdown to Charles Clay. Glennon connects with Jackson and Tiquan Underwood for TD's in a 251-yard effort, while James adds 106 and a score on the ground. Buccaneers 24-17.