NEW ENGLAND @ BUFFALO
No matter how strong a showing Ryan Fitzpatrick has had the past two weeks, I can’t see this game being about his arm. New England has run the ball just 47 times, tied for 23rd in the league for attempts. The Patriots will welcome a shootout any day, and though their pass defense has yielded 381 yards per game, worst in the league, I expect the Bills to do everything they can to pass early, get a lead, and then push the league’s leading rusher Fred Jackson to take over. I’m not sold on New England’s 11th ranked rushing defense, simply because they’ve had early leads in most of their games against shabby running offenses. The Pats shut down Antonio Gates, but safety Patrick Chung will miss this game after thumb surgery, so that makes Scott Chandler’s possibilities a plus. I’m not starting him over any of the top tier TEs but if you’re down in the second and third or in deep leagues, he’s worth a go. In his last two games at Rich stadium, though he’s been the victor, Brady has had difficulty, completing 26 of 50 passes for 255 total yards, four TDs and 1 INT. The Bills pass defense hasn’t gelled particularly well yet (ranked 18th) but Brady won’t be number one again this week.
PATRIOTS 24, BILLS 17
DETROIT @ MINNESOTA
There’s a reason why Adrian Peterson was christened with the nickname “All Day”. This game will be a case of All Day, all the time. Peterson is a top five guy this week in fantasy, as the Lions are yielding 4.6 yards per touch on the ground. Sure the pride will stack the box, but they can’t be overzealous, because no matter how bad Donovan McNabb has been, he still has a top receiver in Percy Harvin and enough of a veteran’s mentality to rebound. On the flip side, Matthew Stafford has only played Minnesota once in the Metrodome, and that game didn’t go so well for him in a 27-10 loss his rookie season. Stafford has yet to be sacked, but this Lions front five will face a challenge contain Jared Allen and his counter-part Brian Robison. In addition, the veteran cornerbacks of Antoine Winfield and Cedric Griffin are going to start putting it together soon. Jahvid Best isn’t likely to have a big game against this stout though slightly banged up linebacker group. Best should make a nice PPR play as he’s been targeted 13 times in the first two games, and of the six scores given up by the Vikings defense, five were scored by running backs, and two of which were short screens inside the red zone.
LIONS 27, VIKINGS 21
NEW YORK GIANTS @ PHILADELPHIA
Michael Vick’s health was a hug topic this week, and with good reason. The Giants are ranked fifth currently against the run, and second best in allowing the fewest yard per touch. In this last four games against the Giants, LeSean McCoy has had only over 100 yards once, and that occurred only because he broke a 50 yard run with 4:25 left in the game when it was no longer in question. With the Giants secondary hurting, DeSean Jackson should continue to feast on one of his favorite division foes, and the Eagles should win this one pretty handily. The only question mark is the Eagles run defense, ranked 30th against the run in yards per game. Marion Manningham is out for the Giants.
EAGLES 34, GIANTS 21
EAGLES 34, GIANTS 21
JACKSONVILLE @ CAROLINA
Yes he was facing the Packers veteran defense, but Cam Newton had three interceptions last week to his one TD pass. This week Steve Smith comes up against an overly aggressive but tough Rashean Mathis, who has 30 career interceptions, making him 11th of all NFL active players. Expect him to bait Newton into his 31st. The Panthers defense is weak at best, having blown games in the 4th quarter to Arizona and Green Bay. However, in seven possessions in the red zone opponents have scored only two TDs. Expect Maurice Jones-Drew to figure in huge in Blaine Gabbert’s debut, but Newton and the potent offense should do enough to get their first victory.
PANTHERS 20, JAGUARS 17
SAN FRANCISCO @ CINCINNATI
Against the top rushing defense of the 49ers, Cincinnati may have a real problem on its hands. Cedric Benson has appealed his suspension and will be active for today’s game. Benson has faced the 49ers twice, both times with the Bears. Neither were celebrated performances, and ironically, this year’s Bengals has only one rushing TD versus four passing scores. The 49ers will hope to continue that trend, forcing Andy Dalton to choose from what might be a further depleted receiving group now that Jerome Simpson is on the police radar. A.J. Green is likely to make his presence felt again, and with anemic San Francisco offense still trying to find itself, Cincy should make a meal of the 49ers at home.
BENGALS 24, 49ERS 10
HOUSTON @ NEW ORLEANS
A gain with high-flying implications, both teams bring improved defenses up against harrowing offenses. The Texans rushing offense is sixth in the league, with Ben Tate now leading that way, and a hamstrung Arian Foster still a game-time decision. What bodes even more well for Houston is they come up against an offense having trouble running the football, as Mark Ingram has yet to show up as the game-breaker the Saints hoped for, and the Saints offense isn’t designed for ground and pound style, perhaps Houston’s one weakness. Pierre Thomas is averaging 5.1 yards per carry and should see a good number of carries in this one. Lance Moore could be a fly in the ointment of the Houston defense, as when healthy, he’s a more reliable possession receiver than either Robert Meachem or Devery Henderson. Big concern is New Orleans’ red zone defense which has allowed five TDs in all five trips by opponents.
TEXANS 35, SAINTS 33
MIAMI @ CLEVELAND
Would anyone believe that Cleveland’s pass defense is ranked second in terms of yards allowed? Then you look at their two opponents, Cincinnati and Indianapolis and you can see why. Just remember the Browns could be 2-0 if not for a Bruce Gradkowski toss to A.J. Green late in the fourth quarter of Week 1. Reggie Bush is probable for the game, but expect Daniel Thomas, who made the most of his 18 carries last week for 107 yards to do some more heavy lifting here, while the Dolphins passing game gets a shot at making some downfield plays. However, the most disturbing number with Chad Henne is still his 53.2% completion rate considering he’s got the second highest number of attempts in the AFC. Still, second year CB Joe Haden will likely have his hands full with the most targeted receiver through two weeks, Brandon Marshall, and the Browns offense, even with a good game from an ailing Peyton Hillis, can’t keep the Dolphins from moving to 2-1.
DOLPHINS 24, BROWNS 13
DENVER @ TENNESSEE
This has all the makings of a trap game, as Tennessee just tore apart a vaunted Ravens defense, while holding Ray Rice in check. Now they get the tattered Broncos, who not only face injuries on defense, but a split fandom that could pervade the locker room if Kyle Orton continues to struggle. On the flip side, everyone is banking on Chris Johnson finally making an appearance worth watching against a Denver rush defense averaging 131 yards per game against. This writer won’t disagree there. This should be a monster game for Johnson, now three games into the season, and facing a front seven minus Elvis Dumervil. Willis McGahee won’t help much here, and in a sloppy game full of C.J., the Titans push Denver back.
TITANS 28, BRONCOS 17
That covers the early matchups of the day. There shouldn’t be a way for the Ravens to lose at St. Louis even though they’ve never won there, and I expect huge days from Philip Rivers and Vincent Jackson again. I still think Darren McFadden will have an impact in the Jets game, but I can’t see him rolling off a huge day. Matt Ryan has not fared well against the Buccaneers defense and at Tampa Bay, I’m not a fan. He’s a much better QB on turf, and last year against the he threw three TDs versus two picks and managed just 440 yards in two games. Lower some expectations in this one for the Atlanta offense. The Cardinals travel to Seattle and scare the heck out of me on the road. Chris Wells has been called a game-time decision per AZCardinals.com. He is not listed among ESPN’s report at all. Green Bay has allowed just one rushing touchdown. Matt Forte has scored just one rushing touchdown against the Packers in the past three years. Though will continue to be targeted heavily, the Packers will again make his day tough and Jay Cutler will be harassed into some turnovers. This one will be close. The Steelers are still looking for their first turnover of the season and should get one in Indy. Rashard Mendenhall should get 80-plus yards and a score here, but I don’t like the way Isaac Redman has been running and that’s because he’s been better. Mike Wallace will continue to shine.
MY TOP 5s for Week 3