Welcome my fantasy brethren to another edition of The Prognosticator. May it be your cream filling.
Week 8 Fantasy Forecast
Arizona Cardinals at Green Bay Packers Sunday 1:00p
Everyone and their brother should have expected a let down by the Cards last week after their Monday Night debacle against the Bears. Questions start to creep, blame starts to point, it’s a nasty thing. What happens now though is a team looks themselves in a mirror and decides to do something about it. Matt Leinart is the focal point and he has no where to go but up and knows it. He hasn’t earned anything yet and he will be the fuel that drives this ship. Expect the Matt Leinart we saw in the first half of the Bears game to last a lot deeper into this contest. Anquan Boldin makes a very nice play this weekend and belongs on the field for you. The Cardinals running game has exactly one half to get on track, if not, we see a bit more J.J. Arrington in the second half.
The Packers will enjoy success against the Cardinals at Lambeau. Ahman Green, somewhat quietly, is posting solid fantasy numbers when he plays. Expect a decent day from Green but nothing that will make your opponent plead for mercy. The Packers passing game will be firing on all cylinders as Brett Favre gets cozy with Donald Driver and Greg Jennings (watch injury report). A good day on tap for Favre and crew.
Packers 28 – Cardinals 23
Seattle Seahawks at Kansas City Chiefs Sunday 1:00p
Here’s the thing. The Seahawks WITH Matt Hasselbeck would still lose this game assuming all the Chiefs are playing. Switching up to Seneca Wallace doesn’t help matters. The Chiefs have been playing lights out football lately and at home, they’re close to unstoppable. The Seahawks will struggle in the air but with all that receiver meat out there, will have the occasional strike. Maurice Morris will end up being the focal point but Morris is no Shaun Alexander and that will show. The Seahawks won’t get throttled as they do have premier talent at enough positions to make the engine go, but the drivers of the bus will occasionally have an epileptic seizure and drive it into the ditch.
The Chiefs will take most of their aggression out on the Seahawks secondary as Damon Huard makes a strong case for his future – though check injury status as there was some info that said he was hurt in practice this week. If you ask me, even when Trent Green is ready to come back, he holds the clipboard and not Huard. You’d be a fool to mess with this teams chemistry right now. Larry Johson is always in your lineup but he provides more a support role this Sunday. He will help to move the chains, pounds one or two in, but won’t rack up the yardage.
Chiefs 33 – Seahawks 24
Baltimore Ravens at New Orleans Saints Sunday 1:00p
All last season I heralded Chester Taylor and screamed at the Ravens, every week, to start Taylor over Jamal Lewis. It never happened, the Ravens stunk, they traded Taylor away to the Vikings and voila. Brace yourself. Listen to me now and hear me later Baltimore, get Musa Smith in there and forget all about Jamal Lewis. Smith has the potential to be your franchise back of the future, don’t blow this one like you blew the Chester Taylor call.
The Ravens can run on the Saints some but not enough to really put the pressure on if they stick with Jamal Lewis, which they will do. The only player in the passing game worth anything this Sunday is Todd Heap.
The Saints will struggle at times on the ground against the stout Ravens run D. The Ravens have the muscle and the speed to handle both Saints RB’s. The Saints however will find some holes up top as they provide a difficult match up problem for the Ravens to defend against. Chris McAlister will take away one of the Saints receivers but that leaves one or even two more available for Drew Brees. The Saints will play a nice game of finding the match ups that work in their favor.
Saints 27 – Ravens 17
Atlanta Falcons at Cincinnati Bengals Sunday 1:00p
This may shock you but the Falcons are going to emphasize their running game in a big way and the Bengals will look to take advantage of the Falcons pass defense with their WR group that bring challenges for any defense. Weird huh?
A big day for Warrick Dunn in the cards.
The Bengals will want to finally get their passing game going and will be able to against the Falcons. I don’t see this as Chad Johnson’s coming out party to the 2006 season but he will be involved and will post serviceable fantasy starter numbers. Look for the Bengals to start to utilize Chris Perry a little more this week as Perry works his way back to a valuable player in point per reception leagues. The guy to watch in this one is T.J. Houshmanzadeh as he plays like a #1 for you this week.
Bengals 27 – Falcons 24
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Giants Sunday 1:00p
This is as close to an impossible task for the Buccaneers as it gets. The Bucs can run the ball on the Giants but the key to Carnell Williams this weekend is how fast the Giants can put points on the board. If they go up quickly, then the Bucs are done. If the Bucs can grind, keep the ball on the ground and their defense plays better than it has all season, then they have a shot. Even though the match up for Carnell Williams is a good one, there are a lot of variables that make it a bad one due to situation. Beware.
The Giants at home will be rocking and rolling up and down the field. Start ’em if you got ’em.
Giants 32 – Buccaneers 24
San Francisco 49ers at Chicago Bears Sunday 1:00p
The 49’ers are going to take a page from the Cardinals playbook but be able to sustain drives for four quarters. Look for the 49’ers offense to stick it to the Bears D up and down the field as Alex Smith looks a little Peyton Manning ‘esque.. Now wouldn’t that be funny? LOL! The 49’ers don’t have a prayer. There is not one ounce of data that says the 49’ers can win anything this Sunday. The turnover battle, the war for the clock, yardage, points, field position – nothing. Oh wait .. there is something the 49’ers will do more of than the Bears. The 49’ers will use 5 pounds of smelling salt more than the Bears and a lot more ice.
The Bears will be able to move the ball effectively in the air with Rex Grossman and Mushin Muhammad but worry about the tandem in the last quarter of the game as the score will be out of reach as the Bears put the ball on the ground. I know there was some talk about Cedric Benson getting more playing time this weekend but I could have told you that. It’s the 49’ers, of course Benson will play more. Why risk injury to your starters when you have a guy like Benson that can roll with it the second half?
Bears 41 – 49’ers 20
Jacksonville Jaguars at Philadelphia Eagles Sunday 1:00p
The Jaguars are going to want to try and control the clock against the Eagles as that has worked for other teams. Keep the ball on the ground and do not try to get into a shoot out with Donovan McNabb because that is not smart football. Because of it, the Jaguars will roll up some nice totals on the ground.
The Eagles will be solid everywhere. Brian Westbrook, Donovan McNabb, Reggie Brown and possibly even Donte Stallworth will put up some surprise numbers. Play your Eagles, heat and serve. Bon Appetite!
Eagles 33 – Jaguars 27
Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans Sunday 1:00p
Before everyone dismisses this game as fool’s folly, there will be two solid fantasy starts from this contest. Wali Lundy and Travis Henry with Henry the better start. The score will be low as the running will be frequent but both belong in your lineup. Henry will make a solid #1 this weekend and Lundy will make a decent #2, excellent #3 RB for you. You can ignore the rest and expect a little less out of uber WR, Andre Johnson. You always play Johnson as the match up never seems to matter, as he is always involved, but the Texans game plan will have a slight negative effect on Johnson’s numbers.
Titans 21 – Texans 19
St. Louis Rams at San Diego Chargers Sunday 4:05p
Steven Jackson will be running up hill all day long as the Chargers know how to stop the run well. Do not expect much from Jackson. Travis Henry or Steven Jackson? Travis Henry. Marc Bulger and company however will be throwing the football the majority of the day and you can count on solid numbers from Bulger and Tory Holt.
The Chargers will be fine with LaDainian Tomlinson but this game turns into a shoot out fairly quickly as both teams school the opposing team’s secondary. You think Marc Bulger will be good (and he will)? Wait till you get a load of what Philip Rivers does this weekend.
Chargers 32 – Rams 26
New York Jets at Cleveland Browns Sunday 4:15p
Although Chad Pennington has been productive, now would be the time to trade him if you can get something for him. Leon Washington changes the Jets playbook by adding more running plays and removing some passing plays. Speaking of Leon Washington, start him! Washington is just a few correct offensive play calls away from checking in with a big day.
Although the Jets have played well at times, and I’ve picked them to win games that some other folks wouldn’t, the Browns will have the better balanced offense on the field and will be able to move the chains. The lone fantasy play is Leon Washington but the Browns will play better football.
Browns 28 – Jets 25
Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos Sunday 4:15p
The Broncos are favored in the game for good reason. They are at home, they are playing dominant football and deserve the nod on grass. The Colts of course are no slouch team and will not get steam rolled with Peyton Manning behind center.
The Colts are going to struggle however as the Broncos defense and a little problem named Champ Bailey get in the way. The problem here for the Colts is that they don’t have a true running game to take the heat off when they play a solid secondary. The proper back to play against the Broncos is Dominic Rhodes and even though some seem to think Joseph Addai turned the corner last week, I am not one of them. The Colts will continue to play the match up and Rhodes is the better back for the Broncos.
The Broncos are going to run Tatum Bell six ways to Sunday on the Colts. If you have Tatum Bell, you start him, no questions asked.
The Broncos should win this game, there are a lot of variables that fall in their favor but they won’t. It won’t be because of Peyton Manning or Marvin Harrison either, they will lose the game because of Jake Plummer.
Colts 24 – Broncos 20
Pittsburgh Steelers at Oakland Raiders Sunday 4:15p
Expect to see a lot of Willie Parker as the Steelers shouldn’t need too much more to get passed the Raiders and Ben Roethlisberger isn’t 100%. I still think the injury gives the Steelers the opportunity to play Charlie Batch which presents a more difficult match up for the Raiders, but that’s me. I am not expecting another Hines Ward sighting in the box score this Sunday.
The Raiders will be able to run on the Steelers and run well. LaMont Jordan is still the better RB over Justin Fargas though I’m sure the Raiders secretly wanted to get Fargas on the field last week. Expect to see a little more of Justin Fargas this week with LaMont Jordan still seeing the majority. Do not expect much from the Raiders passing game though expect to see Randy Moss with a TD.
Steelers 28 – Raiders 23
Dallas Cowboys at Carolina Panthers Sunday 8:15p
The Cowboys won’t be impressive this Sunday but they will bring a better product to the stadium. Tony Romo makes this team better but he will not produce over night. There are a lot of problems to fix in Dallas and they made one step in the right direction. They still have the potential to be a special team but they need to start playing together. The Cowboys will be spreading the ball around against the Panthers so fantasy wise, there are no true great starts from the Cowboys. Do not be fooled by T.O.‘s smack about wanting the switch to Romo and how that will elevate his play. Throughout his entire history he has ALWAYS wanted a QB change. Three weeks from now, it will be no different.
The Panthers have talent and expect a solid day from Steve Smith as he plays well in this one. DeShaun Foster however will struggle against the Cowboys front as the Panthers have had trouble run blocking up the middle.
Going out on a limb with Romo starting..
Cowboys 31 – Panthers 25
New England Patriots at Minnesota Vikings Monday 8:30p
The Patriots are on a roll, but so are the Vikings. The Patriots have played some good football but against much weaker foes. The Patriots are 5-1 but 4 of the 5 have been against the Bills, Dolphins and Jets. Against stronger foes like the Bengals and Broncos, they are 1-1. The Vikings have played the likes of Washington, Carolina, Chicago and Seattle to move out to a 4-2 record and that is a much bigger difference. Are the Patriots a good team? Actually yes, they are. Are the Vikings a good team? Actually yes, they are and this is going to be a slug fest.
The Patriots have been getting it done on the ground with Corey Dillon and Laurence Maroney but that comes to a solid stop on Monday night as the Vikings are playing outstanding run D and Tom Brady doesn’t have enough weapons in the passing game to over power the Vikings. We are still talking about Tom Brady who has enough skill as a QB to make anything happen but this will be an uphill battle for the Pats and I recommend you leave them on your bench.
The Vikings like to run Chester Taylor but if they think they are going to run him for over 100 yards against the Patriots, they need to rethink that strategy. No Viking makes a solid start this weekend and in general, you stay away from this game for your fantasy starters. The game will be won or lost on the arm of Brad Johnson. If Brad Johnson shows up and plays well, the Vikings win this. If not, the Patriots nip them.
Vikings 24 – Patriots 23