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Game Capsules: Can Cowboys bounce back on MNF?

Dalton Del Don

Dalton Del Don writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

Cleveland (+13) at New Orleans, Sunday 1 p.m.

Comments: Cleveland lost last week, but they had to be encouraged, as Colt McCoy got 8.5 YPA in his NFL debut against a defense that has been the best of 2010 to date. He also completed nearly 70 percent of his passes while on the road and while losing his No. 1 wide receiver and Josh Cribbs to injuries. It was just one game, but the Browns have been looking for a franchise quarterback seemingly forever, so this was highly encouraging. McCoy doesn't get an easy task this week either, traveling to play in a loud dome against a New Orleans defense that has played better recently, but he'll continue to look Ben Watson's way, and Peyton Hillis should remain the team's focal point on offense... The Saints got back on track with a big 31-6 road win last week, but they'll have to avoid overlooking a 1-5 Browns team with a matchup against the Steelers upcoming in Week 8. After throwing three touchdowns last week, Drew Brees should continue to put up big numbers against a Cleveland secondary that has allowed 8.0 YPA and 11 scores through the air this season. Robert Meachem is finally getting properly involved in the offense, and Chris Ivory is making sure no one misses Pierre Thomas (except his fantasy owners, of course).

Predictions: Colt McCoy takes a step back, although he manages to throw for 225 yards with a TD to Ben Watson. Peyton Hillis adds 100 total yards and hits paydirt, while Chris Ivory produces a similar line. Drew Brees adds 300 passing yards with scoring strikes to Marques Colston and Robert Meachem, as the home team prevails.
Saints 24-17.

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

Comments: The Jaguars enter 3-3, but during those three defeats, they have lost by a combined score of 96-19, so it's safe to assume they are worse than their .500 record indicates. Things might be looking even bleaker in the short-term, as the team may have to turn to Todd Bouman at quarterback, with both David Garrard (concussion) and Trent Edwards (thumb) hurt. The QB situation is killing Maurice Jones-Drew's fantasy value... Kansas City enters coming off back-to-back losses, but both were close games against tough opponents (Indy and Houston) while on the road, so expect a focused effort Sunday. Coming off a three-TD performance with no picks last week, Matt Cassel gets a Jacksonville secondary that has ceded an NFL-high 8.8 YPA this season. Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones both also have a favorable matchup versus a Jaguars front seven that has yielded a league-high seven rushing scores. Expect Kansas City to roll Sunday, and their fantasy defense is even a sneaky play.

Predictions: Todd Bouman struggles, resulting in a couple of turnovers and no touchdowns. Maurice Jones-Drew fights for just 60 yards from scrimmage, although he does score from in close. Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles combine for 160 total yards and each score a touchdown, while Matt Cassel adds 250 passing yards with a TD toss to Tony Moeaki, as Kansas City gets back into the win column. Chiefs 24-13.

Philadelphia (+3) at Tennessee, Sunday 1 p.m.

Comments: After destroying the Jaguars on Monday Night Football, no team in the NFL has outscored its opponents by more than the Titans this season. Both Philadelphia and Tennessee enter with records of 1-2 at home and 3-0 on the road, so it's unclear if there will be a huge homefield advantage Sunday. After struggling at the beginning of the year, the Eagles have been stout against the run of late, so Chris Johnson may not find many holes, and it remains to be seen whether Kerry Collins or Vince Young (knee) starts under center... Kevin Kolb has completed a remarkable 73.3 percent of his passes while getting 9.7 YPA with a 4:1 TD:INT ratio over his past two starts while subbing for an injured Michael Vick. The loss of DeSean Jackson (concussion) hurts, but Kolb has shown terrific chemistry with both Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek, and he's an obvious QB1 with top-five upside in fantasy leagues as long as he's starting. It will be interesting to see what coach Andy Reid does when Vick is back to full strength. As for this week, Kolb has his hands full against a Titans' pass rush that leads the NFL with 24 sacks.

Predictions: Vince Young gets the start, resulting in 200 passing yards and a touchdown to Nate Washington, while Chris Johnson totals 80 yards and scores. LeSean McCoy puts up a similar line, while Kevin Kolb adds 240 passing yards with a touchdown toss to Brent Celek, as Philly pulls off the upset on a late field goal. Eagles 20-17.

Cincinnati (+3.5) at Atlanta, Sunday 1 p.m.

Comments: The Bengals haven't won since Week 3 and travel to face an Atlanta team that plays extremely well at home, although at least Cincinnati has the benefit of coming off a bye. Carson Palmer has committed seven turnovers over the past three games, and he's actually lucky that number isn't even higher. He'll have to do a far better job of protecting the football this week against a Falcons secondary that has already recorded 11 picks this year... Atlanta's four-game winning streak came to a stop last week when they were badly outplayed by the Eagles in Philadelphia, so they'll look to bounce back Sunday before the team's upcoming bye. The Falcons are a good football team, but with a quarterback who has gotten 6.5 YPA, a rushing attack that has gained just 4.1 YPC and a secondary that has yielded 7.7 YPA, they aren't among the elite. They can't keep relying on interceptions, which are largely a product of luck, but they should beat a Bengals team that frankly isn't all that good, especially with homefield on their side.

Predictions: Carson Palmer throws for 225 yards with a touchdown to Terrell Owens, while Cedric Benson runs for 80 yards and a TD. Michael Turner answers with 100 rushing yards and a goal-line score, while Matt Ryan throws for 230 yards and two touchdowns, with Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez the recipients, as Atlanta wins it. Falcons 24-20.

Washington (+3) at Chicago, Sunday 1 p.m.

Comments: Washington is coming off back-to-back overtime games, winning one and losing last week to the Colts. Four of their six games this season have been played at home, so their 3-3 record isn't overly impressive, especially since they have actually been quite fortunate. In fact, they have allowed 298.2 passing yards per game, which is the second-most in the NFL. Chris Cooley is questionable after suffering a concussion last week, but he's expected to play Sunday. It's not an easy matchup for the Redskins, as the Bears' defense has given up just 6.0 YPA (second lowest mark in league) and 3.5 YPC... Jay Cutler has now been sacked 15 times over the past six quarters, and Matt Forte has gotten fewer than 3.0 YPC in five of six games this season. Greg Olsen has averaged 2.5 catches and 29.8 yards per game. The Mike Martz tight end effect is real. If the offensive line can somehow keep Cutler upright Sunday, he should find success against Washington's secondary, and Johnny Knox should once again be the primary target. It's tough to predict which Chicago team will show up, but coming off a disappointing loss, expect a focused group Sunday.

Predictions: Donovan McNabb throws for 225 yards with a touchdown to Anthony Armstrong, while Ryan Torain gains 60 yards and a TD. Matt Forte totals 80 yards and scores, while Jay Cutler adds 260 passing yards with scoring strikes to Johnny Knox and Devin Aromashodu, as Chicago prevails. Bears 21-17.

Pittsburgh (-3) at Miami, Sunday 1 p.m.

Comments: Miami enters 3-2 yet still searching for its first home win of the year. Chad Henne has thrown multiple scores in each of his past three games, although that's also been accompanied by five interceptions, and his matchup Sunday is extremely difficult - the Steelers' defense has allowed only three passing touchdowns on the year, as opposing passers have accrued a 73.2 QB rating... Ben Roethlisberger wasted little time putting up impressive numbers while coming back from his suspension last week, getting 9.5 YPA with three touchdowns while taking zero sacks. He should only get better with more reps, and while the stout Pitt D won't lead to many shootouts and should limit Roethlisberger's pass attempts, he's an elite quarterback who immediately becomes a viable QB1 in fantasy leagues. The loss of Santonio Holmes is offset by the emergence of Mike Wallace. Over his last four games dating back to last year, Roethlisberger has gotten 9.3 YPA with a 10:2 TD:INT ratio. He shouldn't have a hard time moving the football against a middling Miami defense Sunday.

Predictions: Chad Henne throws for 200 yards with a touchdown to Anthony Fasano, but the Dolphins' rushing attack is shut down. Rashard Mendenhall counters with 80 total yards and a TD run, while Ben Roethlisberger adds 240 passing yards with touchdown strikes to Mike Wallace and Heath Miller, as Pittsburgh comes out on top. Steelers 24-16.

St. Louis (+2.5) at Tampa Bay, Sunday 1 p.m.

Comments: The Rams are a surprising 3-3, but coming off a big upset victory over the Chargers, a letdown could be in store, and they haven't fared too well on the road this season. Danario Alexander, who led the NCAA in receiving yards last season, has emerged as St. Louis' most dangerous receiver, but the health of his knee will determine whether he's a fantasy factor from here on out... Tampa Bay lost 31-6 at home against New Orleans last week, so expect a bounce back performance Sunday. St. Louis has been more susceptible against the run than the pass, but unless the Bucs replace Carnell Williams in the backfield, it's doubtful they can take advantage. Expect Tampa Bay to attack through he air, with impressive rookie Mike Williams the leading target. In a matchup of two teams playing better than most expected, homefield is the difference Sunday.

Predictions: Sam Bradford throws for 220 yards with a touchdown to Brandon Gibson, while Steve Jackson totals 90 yards with a score. Carnell Williams continues to struggle, resulting in more carries for Earnest Graham, who reaches the end zone. Josh Freeman adds 225 passing yards with scoring strikes to Kellen Winslow and Mike Williams, as the home team prevails. Buccaneers 21-17.

Buffalo (+13.5) at Baltimore, Sunday 1 p.m.

Comments: Buffalo enters as the only winless team in the AFC, but at least they had two weeks to prepare for Baltimore coming off its bye. The Bills' defense has struggled mightily, allowing 4.8 YPC (and seven rushing scores) and 7.6 YPA (and an 11:1 TD:INT ratio) over five games. At least Ryan Fitzpatrick has posted a 10:2 TD:INT ratio over the past four games, so Buffalo can at least put some points on the board... The Ravens have allowed the second fewest points in football (15.8) this year, yet with a modest 11 sacks and just five turnovers forced, they have been one of the weakest fantasy defenses. That won't help Buffalo come Sunday, and the Ravens' offense should have no trouble moving the ball. Ray Rice has led the NFL in touches in each of the past two games, and Joe Flacco has a 6:1 TD:INT ratio over the past four contests.

Predictions: Ryan Fitzpatrick throws for 225 yards with a touchdown toss to Steve Johnson, while the Bills' ground game is stymied. Ray Rice responds with 125 yards from scrimmage and scores, while Joe Flacco adds 240 passing yards with scoring strikes to Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason, as Baltimore wins handily. Ravens 24-13.

San Francisco (-3) at Carolina, Sunday 1 p.m.

Comments: San Francisco finally got its first win of the season last week, although the offense continued to underperform. Before an impressive 32-yard TD strike to Michael Crabtree, Alex Smith had a 6:0 TD:INT ratio in the red zone compared to a 0:9 TD:INT ratio outside it this season. Carolina has allowed just 6.1 YPA this year, which is tied for the third lowest mark in the league, so expect Frank Gore to once again be the focal point of San Francisco's offense Sunday... Carolina comes in as the only NFC team yet to win this season, but they are coming off a bye, are turning back to Matt Moore at quarterback, and Steve Smith is back from his ankle injury, so they won't necessarily be doormats. In a game featuring two teams with a combined 1-10 record, expect a low scoring affair, with homefield the difference.

Predictions: Alex Smith throws for 200 yards with a touchdown to Vernon Davis, while Frank Gore manages 90 total yards and reaches the end zone. DeAngelo Williams counters with 70 rushing yards and a TD run, while Matt Moore adds 210 passing yards with a touchdown toss to Steve Smith, as Carolina pulls off the upset.
Panthers 20-17.

Arizona (+5.5) at Seattle, Sunday 4:05 p.m.

Comments: Arizona is coming off its bye, which should help the team prepare to play in Seattle, a tough environment for any quarterback, let alone one making just his second career start. Max Hall is a more accurate QB than Derek Anderson, but he's still raw, so the team will rely heavily on its ground attack, with new featured back Chris Wells leading the way... Seattle comes in tied with the Cardinals for first place in the NFC West with a 3-2 record and a run defense that has been the second toughest in the league (2.9 YPC). Mike Williams entered Week 6 with 11 catches for 138 yards on the season, so his outburst (10 catches, 123 yards) was quite unexpected. He was clearly a big part of Seattle's game plan coming out of the team's bye last week, and with Deion Branch traded away and no other strong WR options on the roster, this could be a sign of more big games to come. He could have another nice game this week against an Arizona secondary that has yielded nine touchdowns through the air over five games.

Predictions: Max Hall throws for 180 yards with a touchdown to Larry Fitzgerald, while Chris Wells fights for 60 yards and hits paydirt. Marshawn Lynch answers with a similar line, while Matt Hasselbeck adds 240 passing yards with scoring strikes to Mike Williams and John Carlson, as the home team prevails. Seahawks 21-17.

Oakland (+8.5) at Denver, Sunday 4:15 p.m.

Comments: While staying mostly competitive, the Raiders have lost three of their last four games and might have to start Kyle Boller at quarterback this week. Even if Jason Campbell is able to play through his knee injury, Oakland simply is far worse off whenever Bruce Gradkowski is out of the lineup. Denver is never an easy place to play, and with Darren McFadden (hamstring) possibly returning, the Raiders' backfield becomes a question mark for fantasy owners... The Broncos' last four opponents have a combined record of 17-7, so they will welcome an Oakland team likely down to its third string quarterback. If Knowshon Moreno can handle a full workload, he should have a nice game against a Raiders' front seven that has been gashed for 5.0 YPC this season. Oakland has also been vulnerable against the pass (12:2 TD:INT ratio), so Kyle Orton, who is on pace to finish with 5,179 passing yards, should have plenty of success as well.

Predictions: Kyle Boller gets the start for Oakland, resulting in a couple of turnovers and no touchdowns through the air. Darren McFadden and Michael Bush combine for 120 total yards with a TD run by Bush, while Knowshon Moreno responds with 90 combined yards and a touchdown of his own. Kyle Orton adds 280 passing yards with TD tosses to Jabar Gaffney and Brandon Lloyd, as Denver wins easily. Broncos 27-16.

New England (+3) at San Diego, Sunday 4:15 p.m.

Comments: While they haven't exactly overwhelmed like in seasons past, New England's lone loss this year came on the road against a Jets team that is currently 5-1, and the Pats' overtime win against the Ravens last week suggests they can hang with anybody. Deion Branch, who had nine catches for 98 yards and a touchdown last week, is suddenly a must own in fantasy leagues now back in New England. Danny Woodhead is also a must add, as New England is going to spread the ball around on offense with Randy Moss out of town... The Chargers remain a huge enigma, as they consistently dominate yardage totals yet enter with a 2-4 record. All four of those losses have come on the road, and this is a different team playing at home. With Malcom Floyd (hamstring) and Antonio Gates (toe) banged up, and Philip Rivers playing out of his mind, fantasy owners in need of WR help can take advantage of the situation by adding Legedu Naanee, Patrick Crayton and/or Craig Davis, although admittedly, it's unclear which one will benefit the most. They have a strong matchup Sunday against a New England secondary that has allowed 7.6 YPA this season.

Predictions: Tom Brady throws for 250 yards with touchdown strikes to Aaron Hernandez and Danny Woodhead, as BenJarvus Green-Ellis is relatively shut down. Ryan Mathews totals 80 yards, but Mike Tolbert punches in the goal-line score. Philip Rivers adds 275 passing yards and two touchdowns, with Patrick Crayton and Buster Davis the recipients, as San Diego gets a much-needed victory. Chargers 27-23.

Minnesota (+3) at Green Bay, Sunday 8:20 p.m.

Comments: The Vikings pulled off a win against the Cowboys last week, saving the team from a 1-4 start. Still, they managed just 188 net yards in the victory and as most teams who play the Cowboys this year, were fortunate to come away with a win. Jared Allen has been one of football's biggest disappointments so far, and possibly the worst defensive end in the NFL. Minnesota has a tough task traveling to Lambeau facing a desperate Green Bay team that has lost back-to-back overtime games... The Packers have actually dropped three of their past four games. One of their wins was by two points at home against a Lions team that has lost 24 straight road games. Another win came against an 0-5 Bills team. Another came in Week 1 against a Philly squad that lost its quarterback mid game. It's safe to say they've been something of a disappointment so far. That said, all three of Green Bay's losses have been by three points, and they have been extremely unlucky with injuries. Don't be surprised if the Packers play like one of the better teams in football over the rest of the year, but their upcoming schedule is daunting, so Sunday night's game against the Vikings is close to a must win.

Predictions: Brett Favre throws for 225 yards with a touchdown to Randy Moss, while Adrian Peterson adds 90 yards from scrimmage and a TD run. Brandon Jackson totals 75 yards, while Aaron Rodgers adds a rushing score while also throwing for 250 yards and two TDs, with Greg Jennings and Donald Driver the recipients, as Green Bay gets back into the win column. Packers 24-20.

New York Giants (+3) at Dallas, Monday 8:30 p.m.

Comments: The Giants are riding a three-game winning streak, but it won't be easy facing a Dallas team with its season on the line at home on Monday night football. Ahmad Bradshaw leads the NFL with 21 carries for 10-plus yards, and he's also got a whopping 7.1 YPC during fourth quarters, which also leads all backs (minimum 10 carries). It's too bad he loses goal-line carries to Brandon Jacobs, or Bradshaw would be a top-five fantasy back. Eli Manning has actually committed more turnovers (12) than touchdowns (10) this season, but the Cowboys have intercepted just two passes this year... With a 1-4 record in a year with Super Bowl aspirations, the Cowboys continue to disappoint, although it's worth mentioning they have only played one divisional game so far, which came on the road, making Monday's matchup against the Giants paramount. Although the notion of him becoming a workhorse gets discouraging with news of Felix Jones vomiting at halftime last week, it sure was nice to see him so involved as a receiver. Jones entered the season with 21 catches over 20 games in his career, yet he caught all 10 of his targets Sunday. Look for him to once again be a big part of the offense this week, and it's also safe to bet on a big bounce back performance from Miles Austin as well.

Predictions: Eli Manning throws for 250 yards with touchdown tosses to Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham, while Ahmad Bradshaw totals 80 yards. Felix Jones gains 75 yards from scrimmage, while Marion Barber gets a goal-line TD. Tony Romo adds 270 passing yards with scoring strikes to Miles Austin and Dez Bryant, as Dallas gets a crucial victory in primetime. Cowboys 24-20.