Houston (-3) at Detroit, Thursday 12:30 p.m.
Comments: On the shortest of short weeks the season will see, Houston will head North to the Motor City coming off by far their worst defensive performance of the season. It's one thing to allow 42 points to the Packers and get sliced up by Aaron Rodgers. It is an entirely different thing to give up over 450 total yards and 37 points to a Jaguars offense ranked dead last in about every category. Jacksonville's offensive onslaught forced Houston into considerably more passing than they're used to and it resulted in career games for Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson. Monster yardage numbers aren't likely to become the norm though for these two as the team remains completely committed to pounding Arian Foster 20+ times per game. If Detroit takes any cues from the Jags though in how to limit the Texans O and beat the top team in the AFC, they'll stack the box and sell out to stuff Foster. That could lead to smaller scale encores for the QB-WR tandem that together led the league in passing and receiving yards as recently as 2009... Against the Packers Matthew Stafford didn't handle pressure well, was inaccurate much of the game and forced the ball into tight coverage too often. That resulted in him completing a miserable 43.6 percent of his passes for 266 yards with two picks. Normally drawing the Texans defense would translate to an even uglier statline, but given what Chad Henne just did to Houston, that may not be the case this time. Star corner Jonathan Joseph suffered a hamstring strain last week and is at best questionable for the early Thanksgiving kickoff, so look for Calvin Johnson to have a field day. With Titus Young receiving a team-imposed suspension for his on-field behavior, Ryan Broyles should also be heavily involved in the passing game and may be a sneaky flex this week. On the ground, Mikel Leshoure's 32 carries to Joique Bell's two over the past two games have eliminated the notion of a timeshare in Detroit. Leshoure appears capable of running on any defense given his blend of size and quickness, though a Texans D that hasn't allowed a rushing score this year figures to limit his upside.
Predictions: Schaub throws for 281 yards and touchdowns to Johnson and Owen Daniels. Foster totes it for 94 yards and a score, while Leshoure counters with 102 yards and the first ground TD against Houston. Stafford connects with Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew for scores in a 297-yard Turkey Day surprise. Lions 27-24.
Washington (+3.5) at Dallas, Thursday 4:15 p.m.
Comments: Coming off his bye week Robert Griffin III had absolutely zero trouble picking apart a usually-stiff Eagles secondary en route to a career-high four passing scores and a perfect passer rating. And as if his 13.3 yards per attempt weren't impressive enough, he added 82 yards on the ground for good measure. It will be interesting to see what impact, if any, his first short turnaround has as RGIII and the Skins travel to face a Dallas defense that's top-10 versus the pass and tied for the third fewest passing scores allowed on the season with 11. Pierre Garcon finally returned to the field-albeit in an extremely limited role-and if he can go harder in Dallas the pass game may continue finding its legs. On the ground the Cowboys may not be as fortunate versus Griffin's legs, as his 6.6 yards per carry is tied for tops in the league. When Griffin doesn't gash a defense, Alfred Morris can surely do so using his 218-pound frame to bully his way for first downs (his 44 rushed for are 5th best in the league)... Dallas is still without DeMarco Murray and reliant on Tony Romo's arm to keep them in ball games. Felix Jones has stepped up admirably for fantasy owners after appearing to be a lost cause in a Week 8 Giants game that saw him go 13 carries for 19 yards with a lost fumble. In his last three Jones has at least 100 total yards or a score and has run the ball with more burst and finish. Dez Bryant has too risen to the occasion after an up-and-down stretch from mid-October to early-November. In the past two weeks he now has 15 catches, 232 yards and two scores. Facing a Washington defense that is still among the worst in the league despite a better recent effort, Romo, Jones and in particular Bryant could all go off, while Miles Austin and Jason Witten may get back on track for fantasy owners.
Predictions: Griffin rushes for 65 yards and a score on the ground while adding 209 throwing and a TD to Santana Moss. Morris rushes for 88 yards and punches in a short one. Jones totals 82 yards as Romo passes for 299 yards and scoring strikes to Bryant, Austin and Dwayne Harris. A Skins pick six proves the difference. Redskins 28-27.
New England (-6.5) at New York Jets, Thursday 8:20 p.m.
Comments: New England may have already seen the Jets' best shot when the teams decided a Week 7 matchup in overtime in Foxboro. Nevertheless, an intense divisional rival clinging to the sliver of a playoff hope cannot be discounted, particularly when the Pats just let superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski-their best receiving weapon-break his forearm while notching that 59th point with a PAT versus Indianapolis. Tom Brady will now need to look more to his other weapons for the rest of the fantasy season and that should lead to an uptick in the values of Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd and in particular, Aaron Hernandez. As of this writing Hernandez is expected to play barring any setback ankle, though his snaps may be limited. Visanthe Shiancoe and Julian Edelman could also figure in to picking up the receiving slack, but don't be surprised either if Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen see heavy workloads running the ball against the Jets 30th ranked run defense... If Mark Sanchez gives anything away to the Pats defense-which is entirely plausible given the 18 total turnovers he's already had-do not expect this one to stay close. However, should Sanchez protect the ball, he could take advantage of a bad New England pass defense. He threw for a season-best 328 yards in their last meeting and if he can replicate that, Dustin Keller and Chaz Schilens figure to be prime beneficiaries. Jeremy Kerley, who led New York with 120 yards in the overtime loss, is a game-time decision with heel and hamstring ailments. In the run department Shonn Greene saw himself in roughly a 50-50 split with Bilal Powell last week. Should that reoccur versus New England's 10th ranked run defense in a game in which the Jets figure to throw heavily, each player crushes the other's fantasy value.
Predictions: Brady passes for 278 yards and touchdowns to Welker and Shiancoe. Ridley does the heavy lifting with 109 rushing yards and a score, while Vereen chips in 62 total yards. Greene and Powell combine for 95 total yards in an almost even split. Sanchez hooks up with Keller and Stephen Hill for TD's in the loss. Patriots 33-17.
Minnesota (+4.5) @ Chicago, Sunday 1:00 p.m.
Comments: Coming off a big win and then their late-season bye week, the Vikings face a crucial divisional matchup that could either fuel or dash their Wild Card hopes depending on the outcome, especially given a daunting upcoming schedule. With Percy Harvin (ankle) expected to be out, Minnesota will need to lean on their defense and the spectacular play of Adrian Peterson if they want to steal one in the Windy City. Christian Ponder simply doesn’t have enough weapons without Harvin to be particularly effective throwing the ball—at least not against an angry Bears defense. Rookie Jairus Wright will try to fill Harvin’s void again this week and Kyle Rudolph figures to see extra targets in the star’s absence, but it will be AP, as usual, who makes the offense go… Jay Cutler (concussion) has yet to be cleared for full contact, so the Bears may be without the services of their starting quarterback for another week. Jason Campbell was mostly awful against the Niners last week, but he was under constant pressure and should fair better against a Vikings defense that has a 17-to-5 TD-to-INT ratio if he can receive better protection from one of the better pass-rushing teams in the league. Chicago will replace Gabe Carimi with journeyman left tackle Jonathan Scott this week, so Jared Allen may make it a long day for the Bears’ QB. With Alshon Jeffery again slated to miss time after having an arthroscopic knee procedure done this week, Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte will have to continue accounting for basically all the offensive output for the Bears.
Predictions: Ponder throws for 171 yards and a score to Rudolph. Peterson rushes for 114 yards and a touchdown. Cutler gets cleared and throws for 210 yards and TD’s to Marshall and Earl Bennett. Forte contributes 102 total yards. Bears 17-14.
Oakland (+9) @ Cincinnati, Sunday 1:00 p.m.
Comments: Carson Palmer returns to the only other city he’s played in professionally riding a three-game streak going over 300 yards, with nearly 1,100 in that span. With Darren McFadden (ankle) out and the defense playing terribly in three double-digit losses, Palmer has pitched it around 146 times to rack up those numbers. Also benefiting from the absence of McFadden and backup Mike Goodson (ankle) has been fullback Marcel Reece. Since the two tailbacks left a Week 10 game versus Tampa Bay, Reece has accounted for nearly 400 total yards. Considering Cincinnati has allowed three running backs in their past two games to average more than 5.0 yards per carry, Reece should continue putting up big yardage. A Bengals offense that’s been hot lately also figures to force yet another pass-fest for
Oakland, which may translate into nice performances for Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore as well… A.J. Green is riding a 9-game streak with a touchdown reception, which is tied for the third-longest in history. A Raiders defense that’s tied for allowing the most passing scores of any team with 20 will provide Green with a good shot at making it 10 straight. The step Green’s made this year into being a superstar has also greatly benefited his quarterback, as Andy Dalton is quietly putting together a top-10 fantasy passing season. Dalton has already matched the 20 touchdowns he threw as a rookie last year and with Green, Jermaine Gresham and emerging rookie Mohamed Sanu at his disposal, he may hit 30 this year. Facing a Raiders defense that’s also second-to-last in rushing touchdowns allowed (14), BenJarvus Green-Ellis has a good shot to post back-to-back double-figure games for just the second time this season.
Predictions: Green-Ellis totes it for 82 yards and a TD on the ground, while Dalton hooks up with Green (2) and Sanu in a 289-yard effort. Reece totals 121 yards. Palmer throws for 318 yards and connects with Heyward-Bey, Reece and Brandon Myers for scores, though his revenge is foiled by Dalton, his Cinci successor. Bengals 31-27.
Pittsburgh (pick ‘em) @ Cleveland, Sunday 1:00 p.m.
Comments: The Steelers are quickly running out of quarterbacks, having dropped both Ben Roethlisberger (shoulder/ribs) and Byron Leftwich (ribs) in successive games. Charlie Batch, the 37-year-old veteran, will make just his fifth start in six seasons, and he will do so with a banged up receiving corps at his disposal. Antonio Brown (ankle) is likely to miss his third straight game, while veteran reserve Jerricho Cotchery is sure to be out with fractured ribs. Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders and Heath Miller will be the primary targets, while newly signed Plaxico Burress may also get involved in the red zone. Expect the Steelers to rely on the league’s top ranked defense and the powerful running of Jonathan Dwyer and Rashard Mendenhall to get through at least one more game without Big Ben. Versus a Cleveland defense allowing 125 yards per game on the ground, both Dwyer and Mendenhall are worthy flexes… Cleveland blew a game they had in hand multiple times last week. Drawing a Steelers team on its third-string quarterback will give them a chance to make up for it, and it would be awfully sweet for this young team to get a victory against a divisional opponent that’s annually fighting for control of the AFC North. Unfortunately, it figures to be an ugly day for Brandon Weeden and the entire Browns offense. The Steelers have not allowed an offensive touchdown in their last seven quarters and have not given up over 300 total yards in a game since Week 6. Trent Richardson, who has had at least 24 carries in each of the past three games while totaling over 400 yards, is the only Brown worth starting in fantasy.
Predictions: Batch passes it for 189 yards and a score to Miller, while Dwyer leads Pitt with 86 rushing yards and adds a goal-line plunge. Mendenhall chips in 54 total yards. Richardson tallies 98 total yards but is held scoreless. Weeden throws for 158 yards in the loss. Steelers 17-6.
Buffalo (+3) @ Indianapolis, Sunday 1:00 p.m.
Comments: Fred Jackson will be back from a concussion that cost him Week 11, but he will take a backseat to C.J. Spiller in the duo’s running back tandem. The Colts defense has stiffened significantly versus the run in recent weeks but still have given up nearly 120 yards per game on the ground this season. Furthermore, they have only played a couple of backs all year on the level of Spiller or Jackson, so don’t expect the Bills duo to struggle too much. Jackson though may still be a risky start since his workload could be greatly reduced. Ryan Fitzpatrick hasn’t thrown a touchdown in three of his past five games, but two of those were against top- notch pass defenses and last week his arm wasn’t needed in a game that Buffalo had in hand from nearly start to finish. Versus an Indy defense that has the league’s worst TD-to-INT ratio at 18-to-4, Fitzpatrick figures to get back in the end zone in what should be a much more closely contested game… The Colts were absolutely walloped by the Patriots last week and with two late-season matchups yet to come versus the Texans, this looks like a must-win for Indy to keep themselves in the Wild Card hunt. The Colts will go as Andrew Luck goes, so expect the Indy offense to continue relying on Luck’s arm to move the ball against a weak Bills defense. Reggie Wayne will continue seeing a ton of targets, though T.Y. Hilton remains the greater threat for a big play. On the ground Vick Ballard appears likely to remain atop the Colts backfield, as Donald Brown (knee) is still not back to 100%.
Predictions: Luck throws for 306 yards and touchdowns to Wayne and Dwayne Allen. Ballard totals 75 yards and scores on the ground. Fitzpatrick connects with Scott Chandler for a score in a 276-yard day, while Spiller leads the Bills with 137 total yards and a rushing touchdown. Jackson chips in 65 total yards. Colts 24-23.
Denver (-10.5) @ Kansas City, Sunday 1:00 p.m.
Comments: Peyton Manning has been the story in Denver this season, but this week the focus may shift to the Broncos ground game as it will try to replace Willis McGahee’s consistent production with a combination of rookie Ronnie Hillman and Lance Ball. Whatever happens with the rushing attack though will have little effect on a Broncos winning streak that should have zero difficulty getting to six games. The Denver defense has been one of the most disruptive in football and faces a Chiefs team that leads the league in turnovers by a longshot. Of course, if Kansas City somehow morphs into a competent offense, there’s always Manning to come to the rescue. For fantasy purposes, Hillman is the upside play at tailback, though the bulkier Ball may steal the goal-line duty. Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker have both been consistent sources of production, but if the game becomes a blowout early, one or both may fail to meet the high standards they’ve set… The bright side for the Chiefs is that they’re well on their way to the first pick in the draft. And if you’re looking for a silver lining to a season that’s basically over, it’s worth noting that Jamaal Charles has overcome an ACL tear without losing any of
his explosiveness. So although the Peyton Hillis experiment has been a complete bust, and their two quarterbacks look much better in a meeting room than on the field, the future could be bright for the Chiefs. For this week though, with Brady Quinn taking his turn on the QB carousel and facing Denver’s top-10 defense, things are looking grim in Kansas City.
Predictions: Charles nets 95 total yards while Quinn throws for 216 yards and touchdowns to Dwayne Bowe and Tony Moeaki. Manning passes for 285 yards and touchdowns to Thomas and Brandon Stokley. Hillman totals 94 yards and scores one rushing. The Denver D adds the final score. Broncos 34-17.
Seattle (-3) @ Miami, Sunday 1:00 p.m.
Comments: With Seattle coming off their bye and Miami having played the Week 11 Thursday contest, both teams should be plenty rested. The teams, however, are heading in opposite directions. Russell Wilson has gotten hot of late with eight touchdown passes to just one pick in his last three games. Wilson should be able to keep up his impressive play against a Dolphin defense that’s 27 th against the pass. That means that receivers Sidney Rice and Golden Tate are startable fantasy options. Both wideouts have three TD’s in their last two games, while Rice has five in five. On the ground Marshawn Lynch will look to continue his streak of four-straight 100-yard rushing games against a Miami D that’s only allowed Chris Johnson to top the century mark… Miami has lost three straight games and their offense has scored just 10 points in the past two weeks, as Ryan Tannehill has been inconsistent and the run game has been ineffective. Drawing a Seattle defense that’s second in points allowed (16.1) and third in yards given up (296.8) per game likely won’t help the Dolphins to start turning things around on Sunday. All Miami players should be benched for the foreseeable future.
Predictions: Lynch rushes for 109 yards and a score, while Wilson hits Rice and Tate for scoring strikes in a 218-yard effort. Tannehill throws for 187 yards and two interceptions. Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas combine for 58 total yards. Seahawks 27-9.
Atlanta @ (-1) Tampa Bay, Sunday 1:00 p.m.
Comments: Matt Ryan has now gone without a score in two of his last three games and the one sandwiched in between there was a 3-score game in a shootout with the horrible Saints defense. Moreover, Ryan has tossed nine picks over five games. A Buccaneers pass defense ranked dead last in yards allowed could remedy Ryan’s recent struggles, though Tampa is third in the league with 15 INT’s, so it may just be an average day for Ryan and the entire Falcons offense. Julio Jones has been dealing with an ankle injury that kept him out of much of last week’s contest and he is questionable to play. His absence or limitation will benefit Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez, who both figure to rack up a lot of targets and yards. Michael Turner, however, is in for a tough matchup with the top-ranked run defense… The Falcons defense is one of just three teams allowing at least 5.0 yards per carry and is giving up an average of 130.5 yards rushing per contest. Doug Martin, working on a 6-game streak with at least 119 total yards, figures to have little trouble getting to double digit fantasy points against a team that has allowed a running back to do so in all but one game this season. Through the air Atlanta has actually been one of the best defenses in the league, having allowed just 11 passing scores while picking off the same number. Still, Josh Freeman has posted at least two TD tosses in six straight weeks and has 16 over that span. With Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams using their size and athleticism to beat corners at every level of the field and Dallas Clark adding a nice red zone target, Freeman has the weapons and the skills to put up numbers against any defense.
Predictions: Turner plows his way for 32 yards as Ryan takes to the air for 313 and scores to White and Jacquizz Rodgers. Freeman pitches it for 246 yards and connects with Williams and Tiquan Underwood for TD’s. Martin racks up 141 total yards and adds a short touchdown to the W. Buccaneers 27-20
Tennessee (-3) @ Jacksonville, Sunday 1:00 p.m.
Comments: The two games prior to Tennessee’s bye were perhaps the most Jekyll and Hyde consecutive performances of any team in the league. After getting obliterated at home 51-20 to Chicago they traveled to a Miami team with Wild Card aspirations and stomped them 37-3. The key difference between the two games was extremely clear: turnovers. Against the Bears the Titans gave it away five times and had a punt blocked for a touchdown. Then they went into Miami, protected the ball and stole four from the Dolphins. In a game in which both teams are usually awful defensively, the team that wins the turnover battle will likely take the game too. Chris Johnson, the contest’s best skill player, figures to also have a big say in things versus Jacksonville’s 29th ranked run defense. The Jags—last week notwithstanding—have given up less yards and scores versus the pass. However, their getting blown out in numerous contests had a lot to do with that. With the two teams being relatively even matches, a more competitive ballgame could lead to a nice passing day for Jake Locker, who will have the CJ2K threat to set up play- action… Chad Henne will make his first start since Week 4 of 2011 and with Blaine Gabbert (shoulder/forearm) now on IR, he won’t be looking back for the remainder of the season. Coming off a 350-yard, 4-score torching of an elite Texans defense, Henne looks poised to inject some serious fantasy firepower into what had been the league’s least potent offense prior to last week. With Laurent Robinson (head) also making the trip to IR, the door is wide open for Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon to continue a coming out party in the AFC South. Blackmon’s monster 236-yard week put the league on notice that he is for real and versus a Titans pass D among the worst in scores and yards allowed, all three Jags have a nice shot to keep rolling. Jalen Parmele meanwhile will hold down the run game after stealing Rashad Jennings’ job last week. If he sees 20+ carries again, Tennessee’s 28th ranked run defense could give him his first career 100-yard game.
Predictions: Henne passes for 288 yards and touchdowns to Shorts, Blackmon and Marcedes Lewis. Parmele adds 120 total yards. Johnson totals 119 yards and scores on the ground. Locker hits Kendall Wright and Kenny Britt for TD’s in a 244-yard OT effort. Jaguars 27-24 in OT.
Baltimore @ (pick ‘em) San Diego, Sunday 4:05 p.m.
Comments: After piling up six offensive scores in a Week 10 thumping of Oakland, the Ravens registered zero versus a stifling Pittsburgh defense. San Diego is right about in the middle between the extremes of the Steelers and Raiders, so a relative bounce-back can be expected from Baltimore’s top skill guys. Ray Rice may struggle with a defense ranked third versus the run and though his owners may hope that a touchdown or two could save his day if the yards are not there, they should bear in mind that the Chargers have only given up four scores on the ground all year. Of course Rice cannot be benched, and if he sees 20 carries, as he has in two of the last three games, he has the talent to go off regardless of matchup. In the five games in which San Diego has faced an explosive offense they’ve allowed 15 total touchdown passes, so Joe Flacco, Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin could all be set to pad their stats… The Ravens defense without Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb cannot stop teams from moving the ball up and down the field, but they have still been difficult to score on, as they have allowed the fewest touchdown passes in the league so far (just eight in 10 games). They have surrendered 10 scores on the ground, but for an offense that’s run it in just four times, that may not help the Chargers’ put points on the board. Philip Rivers and Co. could see a lot of drives stall in Raven territory, so those counting on the recent explosion of Danario Alexander or the legs of Ryan Mathews may need to be content with solid yardage totals this week.
Predictions: Rice totals 96 yards with a short rushing TD, while Flacco slings it for 227 yards and scores to Smith and Boldin. Rivers connects with Alexander and Antonio Gates for touchdowns in a 274-yard performance. Mathews rushes for 76 yards in the loss. Ravens 23-17.
St. Louis (+1) @ Arizona, Sunday 4:25 p.m.
Comments: The Week 5 matchup between the Rams and Cardinals was one of the uglier displays of offense this season. Both quarterbacks had passer ratings below 73.0, the teams combined to average 3.2 yards per carry and the Rams piled up a ridiculous nine sacks. The Cardinals had no semblance of a run game that week with LaRod Stephens-Howling and Beanie Wells both out, so their presence this week versus an average Rams run defense should boost the Arizona attack. However, with rookie sixth-round pick Ryan Lindley slated to make his first career start against a stingy Rams secondary, the makeover doesn’t figure to make things any less ugly in Arizona… The Rams offense also sputtered to gain much traction in their win over the Cards because of the absence of one of their top skill players. Danny Amendola dislocated his shoulder on a beautiful 44-yard grab in the first quarter of that game.
Since returning two weeks ago though he’s shown no rust and immediately returned to PPR monster status with 18 catches. Unfortunately, his status for a vengeance shot against Arizona is officially doubtful as he’s spent this week in a walking boot. If Amendola can’t go, Sam Bradford will have to go back to relying on Brandon Gibson and Chris Givens in the passing game. Either way though, a Cardinals pass defense that ranks fifth in the league and just picked off Matt Ryan five times doesn’t figure to give up too much through the air. Count on the Rams to feed Steven Jackson and Darryl Richardson heavily against a mediocre run defense and put a ton of pressure on the rookie QB to win a battle of the uglies.
Predictions: Bradford throws it for 190 yards and a score to Austin Pettis, while Jackson and Richardson combine for 129 total yards with a rushing TD for the vet. Stephens-Howling totals 70 yards while Wells nets 36 rushing. Lindley tosses it for 172 yards and a touchdown to Michael Floyd. Rams 14-10.
San Francisco (-1) @ New Orleans, Sunday 4:25 p.m.
Comments: Jim Harbaugh has made the 49ers one of the league’s most fearsome teams since taking the reigns prior to the 2011 season, and his actions and decisions have also made them one of the more intriguing. After one highly impressive showing, Harbaugh has decided to give the starting quarterback job to second-year signal caller Colin Kaepernick before even seeing if veteran QB Alex Smith, who led San Fran to the NFC Championship last year and currently sits fifth in the league in passer rating, could clear his concussion testing. It’s true that Kaepernick looked quite seasoned in shredding a great Bears defense on the Monday Night Football stage, but it would be fairly shocking if the Niners moved forward the rest of the year with Smith on the bench. Either way, a matchup with a terrible New Orleans defense begs for Kaepernick to be active in fantasy. Frank Gore of course remains a must-start against the league’s worst run defense, while Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree could both be in line for big weeks as well… Despite falling short, Drew Brees did everything he could to win a classic playoff battle with the Niners last year in San Fran. With the Saints back in the Wild Card hunt after a miserable 0- 4 start, expect a highly motivated Brees to come out slinging it all over San Fran’s 2nd ranked pass defense. If the Saints fall into a hole early, Mark Ingram, who’s run it well lately, may become a forgotten man. Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston and Lance Moore on the other hand figure to all post nice numbers if Brees drops back 50 times. Should Darren Sproles make his return from a broken hand (he’s looking probable after two full practices), the firecracker back who racked up 118 yards on 15 catches in that wild playoff game could be the difference maker.
Predictions: Gore rumbles for 130 yards and a score, while Kaepernick adds 54 of his own rushing and puts one in the end zone with his legs. Throwing the ball Kaepernick goes for 258 and scores to Davis, Crabtree and Randy Moss. Ingram tallies 41 on the ground as Brees pitches it for 370 yards and touchdowns to Colston, Graham and Sproles. 49ers 38-24.
Green Bay (+1.5) @ New York Giants, Sunday 8:20 p.m.
Comments: Aaron Rodgers has no passing games between 240 and 300 yards this season. He’s topped 300 yards four times in 10 games, but all six other outings he’s been below 240. If he puts the ball in the end zone and doesn’t turn it over (two things he’s done very well this year), it shouldn’t matter how many yards he registers. But to win one on the road against a refocused Giants team that always plays Green Bay tough and had the benefit of a bye week to prepare, Rodgers will likely need to be on the plus side of 300. With or without Greg Jennings (abdomen) —who has an outside shot to return to the field following a 6-game absence—the Packers have plenty of weapons at Rodgers’ disposal to get him there. Randall Cobb has emerged as a true playmaker and with six scores over four games, he’s looking like one of the best receiver options in fantasy. If James Starks can provide some much-needed balance in the run game, look for Green Bay to avenge 2011’s playoff collapse to the G-Men… While the Giants’ defense has struggled badly to slow down anything in its last three games, it’s really been the dreadful play of Eli Manning that’s held them back. The reigning Super Bowl MVP hasn’t thrown a touchdown since getting an easy game-winner to Victor Cruz on October 21. He’s gone three pathetic games without finding the end zone and has just two scores in his last five outings. For the Giants to even have a chance versus the Packers potent offense, Manning will need to get back on the same page with Cruz and find a better rhythm on his downfield throws. Hakeem Nicks dominated Green Bay last season with over 250 yards and four TD’s between two matchups, but he’s been a shell of himself in an injury-plagued year. Getting him to break out is key for New York. Ultimately though the Giants’ best shot at a W is to use their front four to take advantage of a terrible Packers offensive line and harass Rodgers—the league’s most sacked quarterback—into missing throws. If they can do this and sustain drives on the ground with Andre Brown and Ahmad Bradshaw, New York will right their ship with a huge win.
Predictions: Manning throws for 298 yards and hits Cruz and Martellus Bennett for scores. Brown and Bradshaw combine for 105 on the ground with Brown putting in a short one. Starks totals 87 yards, while Rodgers hooks up with Cobb, Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley for touchdowns in a 352-yard effort. Packers 27-24 in OT.
Carolina (+2.5) @ Philadelphia, Monday 8:30 p.m.
Comments: Cam Newton likely took notes on how Robert Griffin III dismantled the Philadelphia defense with both his arm and his legs en route to a perfect passer rating and a blowout victory. Whether or not he can duplicate that performance is another story. Newton had one his most complete games of the season while RGIII was doing his thing, but it still wasn’t enough for Carolina to prevail over a hot Tampa Bay. An Eagles team on a 6-game losing streak and reeling with injuries and coaching turmoil may be just what the doctor ordered for Newton and a Panther team experiencing a similarly tumultuous season. If Newton can take advantage of a
Philly defense that’s allowed 11 passing TD’s in its last four games while picking off zero balls, Carolina should be able to be the better of the bad teams… Rookies Nick Foles and Bryce Brown, third and seventh round picks respectively, will start for the Eagles. Veterans Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy, both victims of concussions, will watch. The Philadelphia offense, facing a much-improved Carolina defense, will struggle. In Week 10 Foles was solid in relief of Vick against a stingy Cowboys secondary only to fall on his face against the Redskins, one of the league’s worst pass defenses. How he responds in a primetime matchup could determine what direction Philly goes in the offseason at the QB position. Brown is certainly not the future of the Eagles backfield, but for this one week he’ll have his shot to show the world that he has the physical gifts of a first-round pick. He’s as good a one-week spot start as there may be at running back this year.
Predictions: Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams combine for 81 yards rushing, while Newton chips in 45 and a score on the ground and throws it for 244 yards with a TD going to Greg Olsen. Foles passes for 251 yards and hooks up with DeSean Jackson for a touchdown. Brown contributes 110 total yards and a score. Panthers 20-17.