Welcome my fantasy brethren to another edition of The Prognosticator. May it be right in your wheel house. A lot of fantasy playoff aspirations on the line this week as some will be eliminated, some will live to fight one more week and others need to win out to have a chance. Good luck to everyone and may you bring home the crown.
Week 13 Fantasy Forecast
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals Thursday 8:00p
In case you haven’t noticed, the Ravens are playing lights out football right now. Jamal Lewis will continue to pound the ball against the Bengals, as the Ravens will want to play ‘suck the clock’ to keep the Bengals offense off the field. Jamal Lewis can do that for a team. The Bengals will put points on the board against the stout Ravens D as there are just too many guys for the Ravens to cover that can make big plays. Giving Steve McNair, Todd Heap and Mark Clayton a reason to shine.
The Bengals will have a tough go of it on the ground with Rudi Johnson, so expect Carson Palmer to throw it up most of the day to whichever solid WR is open at the time. The Bengals spread it around a little more this week given the match-ups and the issue with Chris McAlister likely draped all over Chad Johnson. Chad comes back to earth but still puts in a serviceable day at the office.
Prediction: Ravens 32 – Bengals 27
Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears Sunday 1:00p
You can play Chester Taylor with confidence but he won’t post a monster for you. The Vikings will have trouble with the Bears secondary and handling the pass rush, so do not expect a good outing from Brad Johnson or his bevy of beauties. For the Vikings to have a chance, Chester Taylor needs to be the focal point. Call me nutty but I don’t think Brad Johnson will be able to juke Brian Urlacher out of his jock ala Tom Brady last week.
The Vikings are so good against the run, teams no longer even bother. They just smother the Vikings in the air and have the RB stay in to block. That has been the key to toasting the Vikings ever since the Patriots exposed them weeks ago and continues to be with Matt Leinart’s ridiculous day last week. It’s time for Rex Grossman to torch the Vikings next. Just watch, Leinart was struggling till he played the Vikings, Grossman will get back on his horse and throw for a bunch to Mushin Muhammad and Bernard Berrian.
Prediction: Bears 30 – Vikings 20
San Diego Chargers at Buffalo Bills Sunday 1:00p
The Chargers are getting healthy on defense just in time. LaDainian Tomlinson is in for a relatively easy day of slashing and dashing through the Bills. Expect a really nice day for the undisputed, and my declared #1 pick in 2006 over LJ and Shaun Alexander! This won’t be the all Tomlinson, all day show though. Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates and maybe Eric Parker will be in for solid days as well.
The Bills have been playing better football lately as evidenced by the fact that J.P. Losman isn’t holding a clipboard. This will be a tough uphill day for Willis McGahee as the Chargers are going to be solid at the line and will contain him. J.P. Losman actually makes a serviceable start on Sunday with likely Lee Evans helping to pave the way against the Chargers.
Prediction: Chargers 37 – Bills 27
Arizona Cardinals at St. Louis Rams Sunday 1:00p
A lot of folks are predicting the Cardinals to explode against the Rams in the air and while they most certainly do have talent up top, the player to watch will be Edgerrin James as he goes over 100 yards rushing for the first time this season and throws in a healthy dose of receiving as well. Look for the Edge to finally have his big game. When Chad Johnson had his break out game, that we said in this column he would have when he did, we played him! I was surprised to hear so many tales of woe on Monday about how they benched Chad Johnson because he hadn’t been performing. Do not get trapped again, and play James.
Steven Jackson has been performing well and I expect nothing different here. He won’t explode and put up crazy numbers but he makes a serviceable start. The Rams will pick on the Cardinals secondary much of the day and expect Marc Bulger and Torry Holt to get some of the fire back.
Prediction: Rams 24 – Cardinals 17
Kansas City Chiefs at Cleveland Browns Sunday 1:00p
Tip #1: Play Larry Johnson.
Tip #2: Do not play any Browns.
The Chiefs will be able to pass on the Browns so Trent Green and Tony Gonzalez will likely have some OK numbers but the play you will see over and over again is Trent Green handing off to Larry Johnson. Get used to it.
In a serious pinch, the Browns won’t be completely inept in the air against the Chiefs. Charlie Frye and his biggest fan, Braylon Edwards could make desperation pinch starts. You could do worse.
Prediction: Chiefs 28 – Browns 20
Detroit Lions at New England Patriots Sunday 1:00p
The Lions are going to get ripped apart on the ground. If you own Kevin Jones and he makes it out of this game alive, count that as a small victory. The Patriots have been able to disguise their looks and confuse opposing QB’s as their secondary isn’t as good as it has apparently been playing. There are a lot of Bill Belicheck smoke and mirrors out on the field each week that makes them look better than they are. The Patriots however know how to take the threat off the field so while Roy Williams won’t be completely pathetic, he will be hampered by a lot of double coverage. The Patriots secondary while quick, will have trouble with a tall receiver with leaping ability like Roy Williams and he will win his share of the battles. Especially in the red zone.
The Patriots will be able to handle the Lions fairly easily. They will run most of the day as Laurence Maroney is in for a really nice day and when they aren’t handing the ball to Maroney or Corey Dillon, Tom Brady will take his shots and do well. While you can’t bank on a Patriots receiver, Reche Caldwell would be the one to invest in short term. Look for the Patriots to utilize Kevin Faulk a little more out of the backfield on 3rd downs this week.
Prediction: Patriots 32 – Lions 17
San Francisco 49ers at New Orleans Saints Sunday 1:00p
Frank Gore was a little dinged up last week so double check the injury report, but if he does go and is at full speed, watch out. Expect a monster day from Gore as he hangs one on the Saints. Anyone else, you start at your own peril.
The Saints will be contained on the ground, do not expect much from Deuce McAllister or Reggie Bush but will open it up in the air as Drew Brees continues to be the hottest thing since Mt. Saint Helens. If Marques Colston returns this week, group him with Joe Horn, Devery Henderson and Terrance Copper and somehow, that group gets it done all day long. How? You got me? Terrance Copper, Devery Henderson and even Joe Horn these days really aren’t all that good but at the end of the day, it is what it is. Freaky is all I can say, just freaky.
Look for the rushing performance of the week and the passing/receiving performance of the week to come from this one game.
Prediction: Saints 28 – 49’ers 17
Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans Sunday 1:00p
The Colts win by the skin of their teeth most weeks and while I know the world is pinning the trophy on them now, I just don’t know. They sure have a lot of talent in many areas but is it enough to match, say the Chargers score for score? All your Colts will of course be fine offensively against the Titans, Joseph Addai makes a good start but don’t expect 4 TD’s. Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne and even Marvin Harrison will get in on the action.
The Titans historically have surprised the Colts and played them well. Jeff Fisher actually has the secret to beating the Colts and the Titans will make a game of it, if not challenge them for the outright win. Travis Henry makes a must start here. If the Colts get up early though, that will hurt the Titans chances. If the Titans can keep it close at the half or outright lead, they have a legitimate shot at the upset.
Prediction: Colts 31 – Titans 28
Atlanta Falcons at Washington Redskins Sunday 1:00p
Even though Warrick Dunn has been slowed a little by an offensive line that hasn’t helped the Falcons cause, he will do something here. Look for Michael Vick to have a solid bounce back game here and bring home the win. How he handled the ‘gesture incident’ was classy in my book.
The Redskins will have trouble running the ball on the Falcons tough front seven but will have success up top. Santana Moss may or not be back at full speed but if he is (he did play some last week) that certainly helps their cause. Moss will surprise in the stats as we haven’t heard from any Moss in the NFL in a long while. Jason Campbell checks in with a surprisingly decent day.
Prediction: Falcons 23 – Redskins 21
New York Jets at Green Bay Packers Sunday 1:00p
My head says the Jets will win this one, my numbers disagree with me. It happens from time to time, for the most part the numbers gel with my head but almost every week, there’s a game that comes out with an outcome I don’t expect. This is one of them. History has proven that the numbers are right more than my head in these, so I just warp my head around the numbers and change my head. You feelin’ me?
The Jets will be able to make some noise on the ground but Chad Pennington and crew will have a tough go of it up in Lambeau.
The Packers will get just enough out of Ahman Green to open things up for Brett Favre, something they weren’t able to do completely against the Patriots (I realize I’ve made a lot of Patriots references this week.) That will open up Donald Driver and Greg Jennings a little more and that is all Brett Favre will need.
Prediction: Packers 24 – Jets 20
Jacksonville Jaguars at Miami Dolphins Sunday 4:05p
For whatever reason, this game bores me. The Jaguars bore me, as do the Dolphins. That’s not to say next season, or even later this season they won’t electrify, but right now, they’re boring.
Look for the Jags to run well, something others are saying they won’t be able to do, and do not expect much from David Garrard.
The Dolphins would have had their hands full on the ground with Ronnie Brown and he’s a better runner than Sammy Morris. Though! Sammy Morris is, and has been, a personal Progno favorite over the years.
Uh oh .. I feel a diatribe coming on.
I have players I’ve always believed in, when they came out of school, there was just too much there, something different, something, something that told me they’d succeed at the next level. Eddie George was one, Thomas Jones another, even Chester Taylor. Some of my more obscure guys in the NFL that have taken a long time to blossom, that I’ve stood behind since day one, have been Joey Harrington, Jerry Porter and Sammy Morris. The Lions ruin everyone they touch and Joey Harrington was no different. Ever since Barry Sanders (why did you think Sanders wanted out?) the Lions have chewed up and spit out perfectly good players, they simply utilize them wrong and instead of playing the players natural talent, they try to fit the player into a system – and it fails. Systems need to be created around the players to truly succeed and that is what the Lions have never understood. Their level of control of the organization has ruined their chances at ever achieving something great. Joey Harrington was strung up by the Lions and never given the opportunity to succeed. Jerry Porter is a filthy natural talent but the Raiders are another organization that kills players. Whomever wrestles him away from the Raiders will get themselves a gem. Sammy Morris has never been used properly either. What no one has ever done with Morris, his true strength, is throw him the ball. Due to his size he’s been miscast as a down hill, between the tackle runner. If anyone ever tried to use him as a big time receiving back, he would shine.
Joey Harrington will do fine here and makes an OK start, as does Chris Chambers.
Prediction: Dolphins 27 – Jaguars 21
Houston Texans at Oakland Raiders Sunday 4:05p
The Texans are going to perform just fine against the Raiders D. The Raiders have been playing solid D lately and I have to assume that is Warren Sapps doing as teams as pathetic as the Raiders rarely find a way to bring their defense every week still. However, look for cracks to start to show as the Raiders organization slowly spins itself into a deep, dark vortex. The Texans have been playing tough and they will be able to run well enough to move the chains and pass well enough to keep the Raiders a little on their heels. Wali Lundy and Andre Johnson make decent starts.
The Raiders offense stays squarely on your bench. Monitor it occasionally for signs of intelligent life.
Prediction: Texans 20 – Raiders 17
Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants Sunday 4:15p
This is traditionally an epic battle. Bill Parcells and Tom Coughlin are friends and when the two meet, the chess game starts as they both know the other inside and out. The Cowboys will have trouble running as the Giants will work hard to hamstring the running game of the Cowboys. The Giants will focus a little too much on stopping the run, which will open up things for Tony Romo, Terrell Owens and Terry Glenn. Good days on tap for them. If you’re toying with giving Tony Romo the start this week, let me put it this way, I’d only start Drew Brees or Peyton Manning over him.
The Cowboys will have a number of answers for the Giants offense and that will frustrate the Giants all day long. This has all the potential to be the game that the entire ball of string unravels for the Giants. I’d still start Tiki Barber but with hesitation. This game, at home, in front of a tough crowd, could really turn ugly for the Giants and that will effect their play on the field.
Prediction: Cowboys 29 – Giants 23
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday 4:15p
I was trying hard to say something good about the Buccaneers this week. I gave up.
The Steelers will struggle on the ground as Willie Parker has a surprisingly difficult day. Slowing Ben Roethlisberger down will be another story as he will find receivers open and will get the ball into Willie Parker’s hands via passing yards.
Prediction: Steelers 28 – Buccaneers 17
Seattle Seahawks at Denver Broncos Sunday 8:15p
The Seahawks are a better team with their top guns back and they may very well win this game, but I have to think that Mike Shanahan knows what he is doing. The Seahawks will be OK on the ground but the Broncos at home will slow Shaun Alexander down. Instead, look for Matt Hasselbeck to have shaken off the rust a little more and work his way back to the QB he was earlier in the season.
Look for the Broncos to be run blocking most of the day as they win this one the old fashioned Broncos way. Running the football.
Prediction: Broncos 27 – Seahawks 24
Carolina Panthers at Philadelphia Eagles Monday 8:30p
Holy sugar did the Colts offensive line just expose the Eagles defensive line on Sunday night for what it is. Play-doh. The Panthers will blow the Eagles off the line like that too and whomever is running for the Panthers (unavailable at this time) will have a big day. The unfortunate side effect for Steve Smith owners will be decreased production.
The Eagles surprise in this against a Panthers team that is fighting for a playoff spot. Brian Westbrook will do fine as will the Eagles receivers. It needed a game for them to accept that things were different now and make the adjustments. The Eagles are too well coached to roll over this early.
Prediction: Eagles 20 – Panthers 17