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Game Capsules: Hoover Breaks Down Week 13

Luke Hoover

Luke Hoover has covered fantasy football for 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.

New Orleans (+3.5) @ Atlanta, Thursday 8:20 p.m.

Two of the league's worst rushing offenses will square off against two of the most generous run defenses on a short week in a rematch of divisional rivals. Atlanta and New Orleans are 30th and 32nd respectively in yards allowed per carry (4.8 and 5.1), which should translate to limited running backs like Mark Ingram, Chris Ivory and Jacquizz Rodgers posting solid flex statistics. One thing that's for sure when these two teams meet is that points will be scored. In the nine meetings between the two teams during Matt Ryan's 4+ years in Atlanta, they've combined to score less than 49 points just once. Another safe bet is that the game will be a tight one, as the teams have finished seven of those nine contests within just one score of the other. The Saints took Round 1 in New Orleans just three weeks ago by four while Drew Brees began a three-game streak with three TD passes. If he wants to give the Falcons just their second loss of the season though he will need to protect the ball, as two costly pick sixes put the Niners over the top last week and cost the Saints a crucial game that places their Wild Card hopes in serious jeopardy. Ingram and Ivory will look to help a dismal New Orleans defense by controlling the clock. They racked up nearly 140 combined yards on the ground in the first meeting and should see opportunities to do so again. Darren Sproles' return last week will also provide Brees with an added dimension in the passing game that he was missing in meeting No. 1... Michael Turner salvaged a pathetic performance last week with a short score in the fourth quarter, but it's becoming increasingly clear that he has little left in his tank. In the last three games he's carried it 41 times for an embarrassing 78 yards, which included a 13 for 15 joke of a day versus the Saints dead-last run D. After totaling nearly 80 yards and scoring on the Bucs' top-ranked rushing defense, Rodgers appears poised to steal at least an even share of the backfield work, and could go off in this prime matchup. Of course New Orleans is right near the bottom versus the pass as well, so Ryan will almost surely get his in a game that might dictate a lot of passing from both up-tempo offenses. With Julio Jones looking plenty healthy last week, Ryan could top 400 yards for the second time on New Orleans, so count on Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez also coming through with good numbers.

Predictions: Ingram totes it for 74 yards and a touchdown. Brees throws for 340 yards and scores to Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston and Sproles. Rodgers totals 107 yards to Turner's 42. Ryan hooks up with Jones (2) and Gonzalez in a 354-yard passing effort and adds the decisive score with his legs. Falcons 34-31.

Jacksonville (+5.5) @ Buffalo, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Chad Henne's immediate and strong chemistry with young, playmaking wideouts Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon has been a huge part of the Jag's recent offensive surge. Shorts was playing well with Blaine Gabbert under center but he's truly emerged as a fantasy-must start since Henne took over. Shorts has gone for 291 yards over the past three weeks with at least 80 yards and a TD catch from Henne in each game. And all Blackmon has done since Henne took over is rack up over 300 yards of offense and two scores in two games. Henne, his emerging receivers, and even once-forgotten tight end Marcedes Lewis (96 yards and two TD's from Henne) are all worthy options this week against a bad Bills defense that's already allowed 20 passing scores. On the ground, Jalen Parmele's short stint as a starter is over after landing on IR with a slightly torn groin muscle. With Maurice Jones-Drew's return still doubtful, that means Rashad Jennings once again has the backfield to himself with a great matchup on tap. The improved passing game coupled with Buffalo's 31st ranked run defense should lead to increased yards and scoring opportunities for Jennings… C.J. Spiller remains pretty much the lone bright spot for a Bills offense that otherwise is lacking for skill talent. Though he's stuck in an unfortunate timeshare and not getting as many touches as he should, Spiller remains a must-start as one of the surest bets to hit 100 total yards in any given week. A Jag's D giving up 136 per game on the ground could even lead to a monster for Spiller regardless of his touch count. Ryan Fitzpatrick has 18 TD passes on the year, but just six of them in his last seven contests. It's a telling statistic as it's simply a fact that Buffalo does not have the receiving talent to allow for a consistently productive quarterback. Steve Johnson, who's seen 33 targets in three weeks, remains the lone option worth considering for fantasy.

Predictions: Jennings totals 94 yards and punches in a short score. Henne hooks up with Shorts and Lewis for TD's in a 278-yard effort. Fitzpatrick throws for 208 yards and a touchdown to Johnson, while Spiller contributes 148 total yards and a rushing score. Jaguars 21-17.

Seattle (+4) @ Chicago, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Although the Seahawks are just 1-5 on the road this season, none of those five losses has come by more than a touchdown. That likely means that the Bears are in for a dogfight in Solder Field. Marshawn Lynch will look to get things back on track after a big, physical Miami defense snapped his 4-game streak of 100-yard games by holding him to just 46 yards on 19 carries. A Chicago defense allowing 4.3 yards per carry could be just what gets him there. While Lynch tries to get back to form, Russell Wilson will do his best to keep up a 4-game stretch with at least two passing scores versus a Chicago pass defense that is as legit as their lofty rankings. With a league-best 11-to-20 TD-to-INT ratio, no team is consistently limiting opposing QB's to a lower passer rating (65.1 versus Chicago). That means despite Wilson's steady improvement he could take a dip this week and take the recently solid values of Sidney Rice and Golden Tate with him… Coordinator Mike Tice's offense has not gone through Matt Forte this season, as it had the previous four years. So whether or not Forte can suit up after leaving last week's contest with an ankle injury, the Bears offense shouldn't change much. Michael Bush can step in and do many of the things Forte has been doing, albeit not quite as well. Forte will likely be a game-time decision, but with or without him the offense will still rely heavily on the Jay Cutler to Brandon Marshall connection. This has been the motor of the offense all season, but with Marshall set to deal with star corners Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner, the motor could run cold this week. The lanky Seattle corners could be playing their last game of the regular season, as they face a potential 4-game suspension for PED's, so expect them to take their frustration out on the field. Of course, the coverage may not even matter if Cutler's line cannot keep a strong Seattle pass rush (29 sacks so far) off him.

Predictions: Cutler throws for 176 yards and a touchdown to Kellen Davis. Bush leads a split with the gimpy Forte and totals 62 yards with a short scoring run. Lynch rushes for 95 yards and a touchdown, while Wilson connects with Tate for a TD in a 211-yard day. Seahawks 17-14.

San Francisco (-7) @ St. Louis, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

One thing that is absolutely certain in this game: it will not end in a tie. The San Francisco defense is not about to let Sam Bradford get the better of them twice, nor is the Niners offense going to sputter now that Colin Kaepernick has been taking first-team reps and has two full starts under his belt. The loss of Kendall Hunter (Achilles) for the season could negatively impact the running game, but Frank Gore is more than capable of handling a bigger workload and depth at the position with Brandon Jacobs and Anthony Dixon is strong. Though St. Louis boasts one of the league's stingier pass defenses, Kaepernick shouldn't have much difficulty throwing on them given what he did to an even better Bears D two weeks ago. Michael Crabtree has not displayed a great chemistry with his new QB just yet, but with at least 60 yards and a score in five straight games versus the Rams dating back to 2010, it's safe to say he loves playing this division rival… The Rams easily played their best game of the season in the Week 10 visit to San Fran, but it's likely the 49ers defense has not forgotten how Sam Bradford and Steven Jackson piled up over 450 yards of offense and 24 points on them. Versus a proud defense that's been beyond lights out since that contest, don't expect St. Louis to come even close to touching those numbers again. Jackson may get a heavy workload again, and is worthy of at least a flex, but with Danny Amendola hobbled by a sore foot, don't expect much out of Bradford and the passing game.

Predictions: Gore rumbles for 116 yards and a score. Kaepernick hooks up with Crabtree and Mario Manningham for TD's in a 225-yard passing effort, and runs another in himself. Bradford throws for 181 yards and a touchdown to Brandon Gibson, while Jackson contributes 92 total yards. 49ers 31-10.

New England (-8) @ Miami, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

What more can you say about the New England offense? The juggernaut now has 190 points in its last four contests and eased its way to 35 points against the Jets without Rob Gronkowski (forearm). Their defense and special teams meanwhile has done an excellent Chicago Bears impersonation the past two weeks having racked up five touchdowns with three different types of returns. Julian Edelman has done a lot of everything while Brandon Lloyd continues to struggle and last week with Gronk out. He's racked up four scores by himself with two receiving TD's, a punt return and a special teams fumble return. Just for yucks, he nearly took a 47-yard run to the house versus the Colts. Unfortunately for those that scooped up the Swiss army knife of fantasy production, Edelman has yet to be cleared after getting concussed in the Thanksgiving demolition of the Jets. If he's out, expect Aaron Hernandez, who finally seems to be healthy, to get an expanded workload. Tom Brady will keep right on chugging versus a lowly Miami pass defense, but the same may not be the case for Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen, who will deal with the Dolphins' top-10 run defense… The Miami offense exploded last week for 435 yards on a Seattle defense that came into the game allowing less than 300 per contest. Ryan Tannehill was sharp, while Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas both broke out of recent slumps to rack up a combined 147 rushing yards and two scores on just 23 carries. While the Pats are tough against the run given their size up front, they will give up plenty through the air, so Tannehill should post solid numbers in garbage time. The biggest benefactor, and perhaps top fantasy option for Miami, figures to be Davone Bess, who has turned 20 targets over the past two games into consecutive double-figure outings.

Predictions: Ridley and Vereen combine for 118 total yards, with the latter stealing another short score from the starter. Brady passes for 312 yards and touchdowns to Wes Welker, Hernandez and Daniel Fells. Bush and Thomas turn in 82 yards between them, while Tannehill throws for 270 and scores to Bess and Anthony Fasano. Patriots 31-17.

Arizona (+4.5) @ New York Jets, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

The Cardinals have now choked away seven straight games after a shocking 4-0 start and have lost to the Rams twice by two touchdowns despite Sam Bradford completing just 15 total passes in those games. Yeah, they've been that bad. Rookie Ryan Lindley will make his second-career start after topping 300 yards last week. Of course, it took him 52 attempts to get to that milestone and he threw four picks in the process, including two back-breaking scores going the other way. In his seven quarters of action so far Lindley has averaged a paltry 5.2 yards per attempt, turned it over five times, thrown zero touchdowns and essentially put a headstone on Larry Fitzgerald's fantasy season that reads "Son, Brother, Friend, All-Pro Receiver - died from complications of losing Kurt Warner." With teams smothering Fitz, secondary options Andre Roberts (ankle, questionable) and Rob Housler could see a production spike down the stretch. In the run game, the return of Beanie Wells last week pushed LaRod Stephens-Howling completely out of the fantasy picture. If Wells can improve on his dreadful yards-per-carry versus the 30th ranked Jets run defense, he could be the lone "bright" spot again this week for Arizona's offense… The Jets continued getting in their own way last week (see Sanchez, Mark) by turning it over five times and going just 2-for-4 in the red zone. It's hard enough to beat teams when you cannot protect the ball, but when you're spotting the Patriots three touchdowns in under a minute of game action, you might as well not come out for the second half. Fortunately, the Cardinals offense has been equally bumbling of late and figures to allow the Jets to have a competitive game. The Comedy of Errors Bowl will likely be won by whichever team turns it over less and fares better on the ground. The tandem of Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell, who has recently forced a timeshare, will look to pound New York to a W against a Cardinals defense that has recently allowed both the Packers and Rams to exceed 170 yards rushing.

Predictions: Sanchez throws for 182 yards and a touchdown to Jeremy Kerley. Greene and Powell combine for 126 rushing yards with Powell punching one in the end zone. Wells gets a short score of his own in a 73-yard showing, while Lindley passes for 210 yards in the loss. Jets 17-10.

Indianapolis (+4.5) @ Detroit, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Andrew Luck may carry the Colts to a Wild Card in his rookie season, but it hasn't been the prettiest process so far for the young signal caller. Over his last seven games he's thrown for just six touchdowns while getting picked seven times, and he's been held without a passing score three times. From a fantasy standpoint he saved two of those three goose eggs with his legs by running in two scores, but the fact is he's struggled with consistency. Since his yardage numbers have been steadily strong though, Luck has been a good fantasy quarterback this year, but the lack of scoring strikes has held him back and made him no better than a No. 2 option lately. It's possible he could get into a shootout with a Lions team that has rediscovered it's offense, but Detroit hasn't been the patsy pass defense they were last year, so expectations should remain tempered. Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton figure to continue getting opportunities to put up numbers and should be played in most leagues, but with Donald Brown getting healthier, his involvement in the offense looks to have ruined Vick Ballard's brief run of fantasy value… A three-game losing skid has all but crushed the playoff hopes for Detroit, but there's still plenty of fantasy value to be had in a Lions offense that's gotten its act together. Matthew Stafford leads the league in yards and at the very least will continue to post numbers by sheer volume of attempts. Having Calvin Johnson and an emerging Ryan Broyles doesn't hurt of course. With Titus Young in the doghouse, Broyles may remain a nice flex going forward and a Colts defense with a terrible TD-to-INT ratio (19-to-5) may make him a sneaky No. 2 this week. On the ground, Mikel Leshoure will look to extend a scoring streak to three games versus a unit that's giving up 4.8 yards per carry and has relinquished 11 TD's on the year.

Predictions: Stafford tosses touchdowns to Johnson (2) and Broyles in a 330-yard performance. Leshoure totals 84 yards but cannot find the goal-line. Ballard and Brown combine for 86 yards with Brown getting six on a screen pass. Luck also hooks up with Wayne for a score in a 289-yard losing effort. Lions 24-20.

Carolina (-3) @ Kansas City, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Like the Jets vs. Cardinals, this battle of the bad teams figures to come down to who makes fewer blunders. The Panthers won a similar contest with Philadelphia last week behind by far Cam Newton's best performance of the season. He figures to have a much tougher go however versus a Chiefs defense that has not given up like Philly's seems to have. Arrowhead is still one of the league's toughest stadiums to play in, and Kansas City just limited MVP-favorite Peyton Manning to 17 points there. Manning even had the benefit of a steady run game behind the surprising play of Knowshon Moreno. Unless DeAngelo Williams pulls a shocker, with Jonathan Stewart likely out with a high ankle sprain, Newton figures to be pulled down by an ineffective run game. Williams has been terrible with just 125 yards on 49 carries since Week 4, so though the Chiefs run D is far from imposing, expect Newton to have to carry Carolina through this festival of ugly offense… Brady Quinn is still the starter at quarterback for the Chiefs. Jamaal Charles is still the entire offense for the Chiefs. As long as Quinn is in, that appears to be how Kansas City will operate. In a little more than 10 quarters of action Quinn has a bit over 400 yards passing and four interceptions to show for his time on the field. A terrible receiving corps is partially to blame, as is a badly banged up offensive line, but the fact remains that Quinn is merely a pedestrian talent. Charles on the other hand is an All-Pro caliber player in an awful situation. Fortunately for fantasy owners, he has a great matchup with a Panthers defense that's been shredded the past two weeks by Doug Martin and Bryce Brown.

Predictions: Charles rushes for 118 yards and a touchdown, while Quinn throws for 174 yards. Newton passes for 249 yards and hits Steve Smith and Greg Olsen for touchdowns. Williams carries it for 58 yards and Newton chips in 42 on the ground. Panthers 20-13.

Minnesota (+9.5) @ Green Bay, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Christian Ponder doesn't have the weapons to have great success versus a Packers defense that still has quality defensive backs even without Charles Woodson (collarbone) in the lineup. The absence of Percy Harvin (ankle, doubtful) leaves them with no real impact receiver to rely on consistently. Rookie Jarius Wright has emerged somewhat as a competent target over two games without the Vikes' star receiver, but the prime beneficiary of Harvin's absence has clearly been Kyle Rudolph, who has gone for 119 yards and two scores without Harvin after being a ghost in the offense for the three games prior. With the likelihood of a very limited pass attack, for Minnesota to have a chance against a wounded-animal Packers team they will need to put a ton of pressure on Aaron Rodgers defensively and ride the Adrian Peterson express on offense. Peterson, coming off his fifth straight 100-yard game, should have little difficulty with a Green Bay D that was just gashed badly by Ahmad Bradshaw and Andre Brown for 122 yards and two touchdowns… The solution for the Packers offensively is simple. Protect Rodgers and the yards and scores will come. But as long as the patchwork offensive line cannot keep the pass rush out of Rodgers' face, the reigning MVP and all his weapons will struggle to produce. As talented as Rodgers is, he's proof that even the greatest passers cannot be effective if they have no time to throw the ball. Don't be surprised if Green Bay comes out in a five-wide, no-huddle spread attack to put the Vikings on their heels and get their pass rushers, most notably Jared Allen, sucking wind. With a quick-strike game that forces Minnesota to go deep into a thin secondary, Rodgers and Co. should fare just fine.

Predictions: Peterson totals 154 yards and a touchdown. Ponder throws for 194 yards and hooks up with Rudolph for a score. James Starks and Alex Green contribute 86 total yards in a tandem effort, while Rodgers pitches it for 314 and TD's to Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley. Packers 27-17.

Houston (-5.5) @ Tennessee, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

A Tennessee defense giving up an average of nearly 130.0 yards per game on the ground may be in line for a hammering by Arian Foster and the Texans' run-heavy attack. Of course, with Andre Johnson playing lights out football lately (an NFL record 461 receiving yards for consecutive games), and Foster on pace for close to a ridiculous 400 carries, don't be shocked if Houston throws it around a bit more than usual. Reserve backs Justin Forsett and Ben Tate (expected back from his hamstring woes) could also get into the action more to spell Foster, while Matt Schaub should see 30+ pass attempts even if Tennessee can't keep it close. Given that the Titans are right near the bottom of the league in passing scores allowed, Schaub figures to have little trouble matching or exceeding the 200 yards and two TD's he put on Tennessee in Week 4… When they last met, Chris Johnson began his return to the upper echelon of NFL tailbacks by ripping off 141 yards on an elite run defense. Houston's 2nd ranked run defense figures to do everything it can to slow down CJ2K this time around. The defense has to be upset with itself and motivated to play better after allowing 68 points the last two weeks, barely clinging to two overtime victories and giving up its first two rushing scores of the season. Expect them to focus on taking Johnson out of the game and forcing Jake Locker-who's completed barely 50% of his passes since returning from injury-to beat them with his inaccurate arm.

Predictions: Locker throws for 216 yards and a touchdown to Jared Cook, while Johnson totals 92 yards. Schaub hooks up with Johnson and Garrett Graham for scores in a 244-yard effort. Foster totals 90 yards and punches in a short score. Texans 30-13.

Tampa Bay (+7) @ Denver, Sunday 4:05 p.m.

In a game that features the two stingiest defenses in the league in terms of yards per carry allowed (3.4 for Tampa Bay, 3.6 for Denver), rushing numbers could be tough to come by for Doug Martin and Knowshon Moreno. In the case of Martin, however, the sensational rookie could still post a big game and will certainly get the opportunities to do so. You have to go back to September to find a game in which Martin did not post double figures, and the true three-down back still managed 18 points last week despite having his worst rushing performance of the season. In the air Josh Freeman draws one of the top pass defenses in the league, so it's very possible he could have another down game after seeing a 6-game streak of multiple touchdowns end last week. The Broncos allow the fifth fewest yards per game passing at just 210 weekly and lead the league with 37 sacks. Despite these statistics, Freeman is still a quality starting option for several reasons, but most importantly among them, that Tampa figures to throw more than usual this week. With Peyton Manning taking advantage of the Bucs' dead-last pass defense, the Broncos will likely force Freeman into catch-up mode. Considering the weapons that surround Freeman and the fact Denver has allowed 18 passing scores despite their otherwise stiff defense, Freeman figures to get his numbers… In a surprise move by coach John Fox the running back duties last week were handed over to Moreno-who'd been a healthy inactive since Week 2-instead of promising rookie Ronnie Hillman. Apparently the team does not trust the rookie to fill in for the most important role Willis McGahee was serving. As Moreno is the much more experienced and competent pass-protector, he figures to keep seeing plenty of touches going forward. Given the huge disparity between Tampa's defensive abilities versus the run and pass, however, don't expect Moreno to see another 24 touches this week. Instead, look for Manning and wideouts Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker to have a field day.

Predictions: Martin totals 104 yards and finds paydirt on a short run. Freeman hooks up with Mike Williams and Dallas Clark for scores in a 258-yard effort. Manning throws for 356 yards and touchdowns to Thomas, Decker and Jacob Tamme. Moreno chips 82 total yards into the W. Broncos 27-21.

Cleveland (+1.5) @ Oakland, Sunday 4:25 p.m.

The Raiders defense has thrown in the towel. In a 4-game losing streak in which Oakland has allowed nearly 170 points, they've given up over 700 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. In the past two weeks they've made plodders Mark Ingram and BenJarvus Green-Ellis look like racehorses. In fact, The Law Firm had not just the longest run of his career, but the TWO longest runs of his career. Trent Richardson, who's had at least 24 carries in four straight games, is poised to destroy the Raiders. Brandon Weeden could also have himself a nice day against a pass defense that's tied for the most scoring strikes allowed (23) and is giving up the highest passer rating in the league to opposing QB's (101.9)… The Raiders defense is not the only mess in the Black Hole, as Carson Palmer has fallen off each of the last two weeks. With Darren McFadden appearing ready to return from an ankle sprain this week, he figures to muddle up the backfield distribution and ruin the one recent bright spot in the Raiders offense by diminishing the impact of Marcel Reece. If Run DMC suits up it will be awfully difficult to justify starting either Raiders back despite the average Cleveland run defense coming into town.

Predictions: Reece and McFadden combine for 118 total yards in a fairly even split. Palmer throws for 231 yards and two scores going to Darrius Heyward-Bey and Juron Criner. Weeden tosses a touchdown to Greg Little in a 215-yard performance, while Richardson carries the load with 174 total yards and two scores rushing. Browns 24-17.

Cincinnati (-1.5) @ San Diego, Sunday 4:25 p.m.

A.J. Green's incredible touchdown streak was ended at nine games versus an Oakland defense that's allowed the most passing scores in the league (tied). Go figure. Andy Dalton took great advantage of Green being the ultimate red zone decoy by finding new toy Mohamed Sanu twice for short TD's and getting Jermaine Gresham wide open for a third. Only four future Hall-of-Famers have more passing scores than Dalton's 23 and with two more TD's on the ground, Dalton has quietly been one of fantasy's best quarterbacks. He and Green are arguably the top young passing duo in the league and with a Chargers defense that's given up 20 TD's through the air up next, both should remain fixtures in lineups (though Dalton may struggle some to adjust to the unfortunate loss of Sanu to a stress fracture in practice). Expectations for BenJarvus Green-Ellis, however, can be tempered against San Diego's top-10 run defense, as an encore to his best game of the season is unlikely… The Bengals defense is second in the league in sacks with 35 and Philip Rivers has taken the second most sacks of any quarterback, going down 32 times so far. That could spell danger for a Chargers offense that's giving away two turnovers per game on average. If Rivers can somehow buy time to throw downfield, Danario Alexander will look to keep up his impressive play. In his four games as a starter he's led San Diego in receiving all four times and has not been below 60 yards yet. The long-limbed athlete has become Rivers' favorite target, and despite a matchup with a strong Cinci secondary, Alexander should stay active in all formats. Ryan Mathews though does not present as easy a start decision. Although Cincinnati has given up double-digit fantasy points to a running back in all but two games this year, Mathews has just one double-figure game to his credit so far. He's safe for 6-8 points, but don't play him if you need more upside in a pivotal week.

Predictions: Mathews totals 86 yards, while Rivers throws for 230 and touchdowns to Alexander and Antonio Gates. Green finds the end zone again as Dalton also hooks up with Gresham for a score in a 296-yard effort. Green-Ellis tacks on 54 rushing yards to the narrow win. Bengals 23-20 in OT.

Pittsburgh (+3) @ Baltimore, Sunday 4:25 p.m.

If the Steelers do not have Ben Roethlisberger (ribs/shoulder) yet again versus Baltimore, Round 2 of the Black and Purple Battle is not likely to be as close as Round 1's 13-10 Raven victory. Charlie Batch would be the go-to option after Byron Leftwich cracked ribs just two short weeks ago in the tough loss to their division rival. After Batch's three interceptions against Cleveland last week, the hopes of the Steeler offense rest heavily on Big Ben's weakened shoulder. Of course, whether Roethlisberger-who's likely to be a game-time decision at best-can suit up or not, his presence won't make much difference if all four running backs lose a fumble again. For fantasy purposes, Roethlisberger shouldn't be used even if he can tough out a start. Given the tenuous situation at quarterback, the Steelers figure to rely on the body-slamming running of recently-named-starter Jonathan Dwyer… The Ravens seem to be learning of late that putting the ball in Ray Rice's hands is their best path to victory. Baltimore is 24-4 in games in which Rice has at least 20 rush attempts and two of those losses came by just field goals to Tom Brady's Patriots. Though he had easily his worst game running the ball versus Pittsburgh's stout defense a couple weeks ago, Rice still totaled 93 yards. If he sees 20 carries again, chances are that 40-yard disappointment in Round 1 was an aberration. Joe Flacco likely won't be asked to do too much facing the Steelers' top-ranked pass defense, so benching Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin seems like a good idea.

Predictions: Batch gets the nod and throws for 178 yards and a score to Heath Miller. Dwyer totes it for 98 yards and a touchdown. Flacco connects with Dennis Pitta for a TD in a 202-yard effort, while Rice totals 116 yards and the game winner. Ravens 17-14.

Philadelphia (+10) @ Dallas, Sunday 8:20 p.m.

The Eagles don't appear to be in a hurry to get Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy back on the field. There seems to be no urgency with their concussion testing and it's looking like an increasingly strong possibility that Vick does not return this season, and possibly ever, in a Philadelphia uniform. Rookie Nick Foles is slated to make his third-career start versus a Dallas team that he had some relative success against in relief of Vick just three short weeks ago. In less than three quarters of action Foles threw for more yards than he did in either start and notched his only touchdown pass. Given his tremendously limited play the past two weeks, and that the team just placed DeSean Jackson on IR with a rib injury, count on the Eagles leaning on the highly capable legs of rookie Bryce Brown. In the best performance ever by an Eagles rookie tailback, Brown made a statement to the league that his talent is far greater than the seventh round pick Philly spent to get him. A great blend of size and speed, expect Brown to be a top-10 back for however long McCoy misses… Just when the Cowboys sneak back into the playoff picture they do something so Cowboy-like and completely choke at home to a lesser team (granted Robert Griffin III has the Skins offense humming). Fortunately for Dallas and the sanity of its fans, there's nearly a zero percent chance of collapsing versus a woefully bad Eagles team that just cut Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Babin to get young guys more field time. Philly is just seeing what they have in their youth, and while that could make them scrappy, it still won't allow them to slow down Tony Romo and Dez Bryant. In fact, the matchup is so non-threatening that Dallas may take extra caution with bringing back DeMarco Murray (foot), who's finally practicing again. Given the Sunday night kickoff, counting on Murray in lineups could be a big mistake.

Predictions: Romo throws for 328 yards and touchdowns to Bryant, Jason Witten and Dwayne Harris. Felix Jones totals 52 yards, while Brown nets 136 for the Eagles and puts in a rushing score. Foles connects with Riley Cooper for a touchdown in a 187-yard effort. Cowboys 33-14.

New York Giants (-2.5) @ Washington, Monday 8:30 p.m.

Big Blue made a big statement last week in prime time by utterly dismantling a Packers team that rode a 5-game win streak into town. Eli Manning apparently just needed a bye week to work out the kinks in his game as he spread the ball around well in averaging over 8.0 yards per attempt and finding three different receivers for scores. Hakeem Nicks appears to be fully healthy for the first time all season and after having racked up 27 targets in the past two games, it's evident he's back to being Manning's favorite option. Victor Cruz meanwhile has just a paltry 10 looks in those weeks and seems to be losing favor with his quarterback. The two connected on the game-winner versus Washington in October, so perhaps a familiar foe with a bad pass defense will reunite the two in an effort to keep pace with Robert Griffin III's offensive fireworks. On the ground they'll have to call on the support of rookie David Wilson to step into the tandem backfield with Ahmad Bradshaw after the quietly effective Andre Brown broke his leg last week. Given Bradshaw's foot issues, Wilson is a must-add if he's still available in any leagues, though he may not get trusted much this week in a highly crucial divisional game… RGIII was sensational in his first meeting with New York a little over a month ago and he's been even better since his Week 10 bye. The rookie superstar has just nine incompletions in the past two weeks. He has eight touchdown passes. If the Giants can pressure him with their front four they'll limit the damage he's been doing with his arm, but of course that may lead to Griffin gashing them with his legs, which he did in their first meeting for 89 yards on only nine attempts. If Alfred Morris can duplicate the 120 yards he ripped off against an average Giants run D, Washington's chances for a huge victory go way up. For fantasy purposes Pierre Garcon is the only Redskins wideout worth trusting as long as he's healthy.

Predictions: Bradshaw totals 90 yards and scores on the ground. Manning finds Nicks and Cruz for TD's in a 311-yard performance, but is bested by Griffin who tosses it for 320 yards and scores to Garcon and Josh Morgan, while adding 51 and a score on the ground. Morris adds 74 rushing yards to the win. Redskins 27-24.