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What to Watch For: Week 7

@ St. Louis – 1:00 CBS

Colts: The Colts are coming off of a bye in Week 6, and seeing as Peyton
Manning still has yet to throw for less than 300 yards in a game, I have no
reason to believe that Indy will do anything but roll St. Louis. The Rams are
giving up an average of 252 yards passing per game and they recently lost
linebacker Will Witherspoon in a trade with

Philadelphia, which will make them even more
vulnerable over the middle. That means big things for Dallas Clark this week.
The Colts are arguably the best team in football, and their offense will be
entirely too much for the Rams to handle. Don’t be surprised to see Jim Sorgi
in at quarterback before the game is over.

Rams: The Rams came so close to finally getting a win last week, but
they did exactly what truly bad teams can’t do: close out games. However, the
team actually showed some life which was very refreshing. Marc Bulger threw for
over 200 yards and Steven Jackson had a very good game (128 total yards). The
team acquired rookie WR Brandon Gibson this week from

Philadelphia for Witherspoon, and while he
looked very good in the preseason, he won’t be able to contribute much this

St. Louis
has no chance of beating Manning and the Colts on Sunday, but things are
starting to fall into place for the squad and simply putting some points on the
board will surely serve as a huge confidence boost.

New England @ Tampa Bay – 1:00 CBS

Patriots: Now don’t go and get all excited about Tom Brady being back to
his normal self and calling the Patriots a juggernaut again. Let’s remember

New England played arguably the league’s
worst team last week which also happens to be the league’s worst pass defense
statistically. Despite that, it was comforting to fantasy owners to see Brady
hook up with Randy Moss and Wes Welker over and over again. For as bad as

Tampa has been this year,
they are actually only giving up 199 passing yards per game. While Brady will
very likely spike that number, it will definitely be a tale of two weeks when
the Patriots head into

Things aren’t going to come as easy this Sunday as they did last. Instead,
expect a lot of Laurence Maroney with both Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris down.
Maroney could easily have over 100 yards and two touchdowns.

Buccaneers: The Bucs did a good job of hanging in with the Panthers last
week. Let’s face it, neither of the two teams is very good, but I think we all

Tampa is much worse than

Carolina. The Bucs’
Achilles heel last week was quarterback play, and as much as I think Josh
Johnson has been decent for Raheem Morris, it’s clearly time to enter Josh
Freeman into the mix. Cadillac Williams has been averaging over four yards per
carry and a receiving corps of Antonio Bryant, Michael Clayton and Maurice
Stovall, along with Kellen Winslow at tight end, is a pretty decent set of
weapons. I think they will provide enough of a safety blanket for Freeman, and
when the Pats start to roll they need to give the rookie some playing time.
While it’s not the best situation, it won’t be that much better next year
either, so get the kid into the game for mop up time and press the reset

Green Bay @ Cleveland – 1:00 FOX

Packers: It’s one thing to come out of a bye, but it’s another thing to
come out of a bye and face Detroit when they are without their quarterback and
their best wide receiver. Luckily for the Packers, all of those things happened
last week and they dominated the Lions 26-0. The sad thing though is that 14 of
those points came in the first quarter. They got three Mason Crosby field goals
in the second, one in the third and couldn’t score in the fourth. The Packers
looked dominant on Sunday, but the fact of the matter is that they should have
won by much more. The team brought in Ahman Green this week and placed DeShawn
Wynn on injured reserve. I think that speaks volumes in terms of how they feel
toward Ryan Grant right now.

is giving up 165 yards per game on the ground so it’s now or never for Grant, who
has been pretty lackluster thus far for the second year in a row.

Browns: This team should be called the Cleveland Cribbs because without
their do-it-all man, the Browns could very well have been shutout last week

Joshua Cribbs threw twice (both incomplete), led the team in rushing yards and
returned a kickoff for a touchdown. Meanwhile, Jerome Harrison and Jamal Lewis
combined for just 47 yards on the ground and Derek Anderson failed to complete
10 passes for the second week in a row. The Browns are still hesitant to talk
contract with Cribbs and think he is demanding too much money. On a team loaded
with middle-of-the-road talent, Cribbs is one of the few bright spots that

Cleveland has. Green Bay
is ranked 31st in the league in punt return coverage with returners averaging
16 yards each time the ball is kicked to them. Cribbs could very well have yet
another punt return touchdown, and if your league gives points for kick/punt
return yards, he might be worth a play this week.



Pittsburgh – 1:00 FOX

Vikings: This is one team that never says die. The aura that surrounds
the Vikings has changed so much since Brett Favre has joined the team. I don’t
know about you, but when Favre got the ball in his hands with a little more
than three minutes left in the game, I had no doubt that he would lead the team
downfield to give them a chance to take the lead from Baltimore. Favre ended up
throwing for three touchdowns and compiled a rating of 136.9 on his way to
improving his team’s record to 6-0. Favre is ranked behind only Drew Brees and
Peyton Manning in QB rating and has thrown just two interceptions to 12
touchdowns. Adrian Peterson even broke the 100-yard mark last week, as well.
This team is clicking in every single way possible, and seeing as

Pittsburgh has been shaky
at best through six weeks, there is no reason that Favre cannot make his squad
7-0 before the much-hyped second matchup between the Vikings and Packers in Week

Steelers: I thought that

would be able to handily dismiss the Browns in a Patriots vs. Titans kind of
style, but clearly I gave them too much credit. While Ben Roethlisberger is
currently rated fourth overall in QB rating and Rashard Mendenhall is one of
the hottest up-and-coming backs in fantasy football, there is one guy out there
who is quietly shining. Santonio Holmes may be considered the star wide
receiver in

but Hines Ward is leading the league in receiving yards and averaging 99.8
yards per game. Seeing as

is allowing receivers to gain an average of 270 yards each week this year, Ward
will be a huge play for fantasy owners this week. Despite all of this,

Minnesota will be the toughest test that

Pittsburgh has faced all year and this win
(although I don’t think it will happen) would mean a lot for a franchise that
has looked out of sync this season.

San Francisco


Houston – 1:00 FOX

49ers: I think we all know the storyline coming into this week. Michael
Crabtree is finally going to play, and not only play, but start. Crabtree
jumped over Josh Morgan on the depth chart this week and Mike Singletary had to
have seen something special if he is lauding him that much. If you are
desperate for help at wide receiver this week and Crabtree is available, he is
worth a start against a

team that is giving up almost 12 yards per catch to opponents. Also, Frank Gore
will return to the field for San Fran and those two facts alone are huge pluses
for the 49ers as they come off of their bye week. While they won’t explode for 40
or more points,

San Francisco will be able to
keep up in a shootout with the Texans this week and give

Houston a run for their money.

Texans: Matt Schaub has become the best quarterback in fantasy football.
He leads the league in touchdown passes, is second in passing yards and it also
helps that he has Andre Johnson to throw the ball to. The last time

San Francisco had to play
a good quarterback and big wide receiver, they let Matt Ryan and Roddy White
walk all over them and that will likely happen again this week seeing as the
Schaub-Johnson hookup is even more prolific. The Texans altered their game plan
a bit last week and rather than handing the ball off to Steve Slaton only to
see him get stuffed, they used a lot of screen passes and it resulted in Slaton
collecting 100 yards receiving and a touchdown while only averaging 2.3 yards
per carry. While that won’t be as successful with Patrick Willis roaming the
middle, the Texans will be able to exploit the

San Francisco defense just enough to get the win.

San Diego


– 1:00 CBS

Chargers: Can we officially rule

out of the playoff picture? Sure it’s only Week 7,
but the Chargers were flat-out embarrassed by the Broncos on national TV last
week and they sit 3 1/2 games out of first place. It was nice to see LaDainian
Tomlinson gain 100 total yards again, but the fact of the matter is that their
running game is absolutely atrocious and Philip Rivers just cannot hold the
entire team upon his shoulders. That especially holds true when he is sacked
five times because of a bad offensive line. They get a break this week when
they face the Chiefs and they should be able to get an easy win because while
they’ve been bad, they’re not as bad as the Redskins. The Chargers get the Raiders
next week before three tough tilts in a row against the Giants, Eagles and then

Denver again,
so now is the time for them to right the ship.

Chiefs: I’m not surprised that

Kansas City
got the win over

last weekend. After all, Matt Cassel has been playing pretty well at
quarterback and Dwayne Bowe was finally fully healthy and in the lineup. The
key to the win was that Larry Johnson was able to do some damage as he gained
83 yards on 23 carries.

Cassel has not thrown
an interception since Week 1 and the support of an above-average running game
takes a lot of pressure off of his shoulders. And while he didn’t throw a
touchdown last week, he got the team into field goal position regularly, and
that is very important for a team that is considered to be one of the worst in
the league. KC won’t have an easy go at it this week against

San Diego, but since the Chargers are ranked
23rd in rush defense, Johnson will have a chance to stay hot and keep his team
in it until late.  

Buffalo @

– 4:05 CBS

Bills: I’ve been saying for weeks that Trent Edwards just can’t get it
done for this team. Well don’t you know that as he finds a hot hand (he was
5-for-5 for 43 yards), he goes down with an injury. Luckily for

Buffalo, Ryan Fitzpatrick
did just enough to allow the team to get its second win of the season, and a
big one at that. The Bills are not here to stay and they’re not going to
eclipse anyone in the standings anytime soon, but the team has to feel
confident heading into this week against a lowly

Carolina team. Marshawn Lynch and Fred
Jackson teamed up for another solid 1-2 punch, gaining 113 yards on the ground
between them. The pathetic news is that Terrell Owens was held to three catches
(even though he was targeted eight times) and 13 yards. This marriage has never
turned out to be what fans of the team hoped for, and I don’t see it getting
any better. The fact of the matter is that the Bills won a game against a hated
division rival practically without their alleged top wide receiver. Owens will
be gone at the end of the year anyway at this point, so it’s time to see what
Lee Evans and Roscoe Parrish can do for this team. I’m not saying Owens should
be benched, but he shouldn’t be the main focus of the offense anymore.

Panthers: Last week I wrote that DeAngelo Williams needed to step it up,
and boy did he ever. He took advantage of

extremely weak run defense and gained 152 yards on 30 carries and scored twice
while Jonathan Stewart ran for 110 yards and a touchdown of his own. The team’s
267 rushing yards were more than enough to make up for a sour passing attack
which consisted of Jake Delhomme completing just nine of his 17 passes for 65
yards and throwing two interceptions. Steve Smith is clearly the one who is
truly drowning in this offense though and I feel bad for his fantasy owners.
Smith is a frustrating player to own but not because of him, but because of his
quarterback. Seeing as the Panthers are facing off against the Bills this week,
who picked off Mark Sanchez five times, I’m sad to say it, but you need to
bench Smith. Starting him hinges on whether or not Delhomme can play decently
against a given team and right now, I don’t know if there’s any team that can
make him look good.

New York

Jets @

Oakland – 4:05 CBS

Jets: Talk about an ugly loss. The Jets fell to 3-3 after a tough
overtime loss to

last week and perhaps the scarier thing is not their record, but their
quarterback. Mark Sanchez has had a hard fall from grace the past couple of
weeks, which was topped off with five interceptions and a QB rating of 8.3
against the Bills. His overall rating now stands at 56.7, which is only better
than JaMarcus Russell and Derek Anderson. This is Sanchez’s team and Rex Ryan
has no choice but to stick it out as his rookie quarterback goes through
growing pains. On the bright side, the Jets running game was absolutely
magnificent last week as Thomas Jones ran for 210 yards and Leon Washington
added in 99 as well. Oakland is ranked 29th in overall rush defense so Ryan
will most likely be focusing more on his backs this weekend, which means big
things yet again for Jones and Washington owners.

Raiders: I don’t think anyone saw the Raiders winning their game last
week. But a week after Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce commented that playing
the Raiders was like playing a scrimmage, the team fired back and held off

Philadelphia just enough
to escape with a win. The biggest reason was JaMarcus Russell, as he threw for
over 200 yards and took advantage of

weak linebackers by exploiting them with Zach Miller (six catches for 139 yards
and a touchdown). I’ve said for a long time that

Oakland is by far the most talented bad team
in the league (although I’m still not sold on Russell) and this week they will
get WR Chaz Schilens back, who is arguably their best weapon at receiver. The
Black Hole will be as ripe as ever after the team’s huge win over the Eagles, and

Oakland could
very well come away with another win yet again this week.



Dallas – 4:15 FOX

Falcons: Despite the Falcons earning a gritty 21-14 win last week, their
main men didn’t play very well. Matt Ryan threw for just 185 yards, tossed two
interceptions and finished the evening with a QB rating of 68.4. Meanwhile, a
week after scoring three times, Michael Turner gained just 30 yards on 13
carries. For a team that has to compete with the class of the NFC (

New Orleans) for the
division title, the Falcons are playing way too inconsistently right now. This
week they get the Cowboys, who are coming off of their bye and are surely
looking to build off of their close call win in Week 5 over the lowly Chiefs.
Dallas has been relatively weak as a pass defense this year and rank 19th in
the league overall so surely they will have a tough time defending Roddy White
and Tony Gonzalez among the team’s other weapons. Ryan will have to do a 180
from last week if he wants to escape the


with a win.


received a much needed bye last week and it gave the team time to rest up their
stable of running backs and get Marion Barber and Felix Jones healthy. It also
gave Miles Austin time to practice and knock Patrick Crayton out of the
starting lineup. While I have no doubt that

Austin will succeed as a starter, I am
curious to see how things work in the backfield. Jones probably won’t be back
at full strength and will most likely see limited carries, but the fact of the
matter is that there will be even less carries to go around now than there were
when it was just Barber and Tashard Choice in Week 5. I am hesitant to tell
anyone to start any of the backs, but if you have to go with one of them this
week, I would take Barber. He’s still the workhorse for the team and after
having two weeks to heal and prepare, he will surely get 20-25 carries while
Choice and Jones split the rest.

New Orleans


Miami – 4:15 FOX

Saints: I think that the Saints answered any questions pertaining to who
the best team in the NFC is. Drew Brees said before the game that the team was
aiming to put up 40 and I just laughed at it. Instead,

New Orleans went out and scored 48 points
against one of the best defenses in football while limiting the Giants
offensive attack to 27. Surely if any team was going to slow down the Saints it

New York,
but at this point, I’m not sure who will be able to bring Brees and company to
their knees. To top it all off, Brees fired four touchdown passes to four
different receivers and kept the defense guessing. Miami has a pretty decent
pass defense, but we all remember what Peyton Manning was able to do to them a
couple weeks ago, and while I’m not willing to say Brees is as good as Manning,
he will surely light up the Dolphins defense just as much, if not more.

Dolphins: After starting the season very poorly,

Miami is beginning to show signs of life.
They had a bye in Week 6, but for those of you who may have forgotten, the
Dolphins looked pretty darn good in Week 5 against the Jets on Monday night.
Chad Henne was 20-for-26 and the combination of Ronnie Brown/Ricky Williams put
up over 226 yards of total offense. Surely the Saints are a much different
opponent than the Jets and it is highly unlikely that

Miami will even be able to contend in the
game, but Henne will face his first truly tough test this week when he goes up
against the NFC’s best squad. It will be interesting to see how Tony Sparano
uses his offense to try and manipulate the

New Orleans defense, which is tied for the
most interceptions in the league with 11. This has the potential to be a
runaway win for the Saints, but will be a big grow up game for Henne.

Chicago @ Cincinnati – 4:15 FOX

Bears: Jay Cutler inked a fresh two-year contract extension this week
and that is definitely good news for Bears fans who have been searching for a
solid signal caller for years and years. With that out of the way, Cutler has
officially been given the keys to the franchise and it’s up to him to run
things now. Sadly, he’s not getting any help from Matt Forte, who is already
the front runner for Fantasy Bust of the Year in 2009. Forte was outrushed by
Cutler (34 yards to 23) and gained just 1.5 yards per carry against

Atlanta on Sunday night.
Overall, he ranks 24th in rushing and is averaging 3.4 yards per carry which
puts him behind guys like Michael Bush, Beanie Wells and Julius Jones, just to
name a few. If Forte struggled against

he will probably have trouble again this week against

Cincinnati, which ranks just behind the
Falcons in overall rush defense. Garrett Wolfe gained 15 yards on just three
carries last week, so if Forte is stuffed again early, expect to see more of
Wolfe as the game rolls on.

Bengals: I really don’t know what exactly to think of the Bengals yet.
Some weeks they look like an offensive machine and others just average. Will
this division lead really hold up through December? Cincinnati perplexed me
again last week as they ran with the Texans offensive attack through all of the
first half, but then just faded away in quarters three and four. Their final
points of the game actually came from a Shayne Graham field goal as time
expired before the half. Things don’t get any easier for the team this week
when it takes on a tough

team. One name to keep an eye on is Daniel Coats, the team’s starting tight
end. The Bears linebackers took a shot early in the season when Brian Urlacher
went down, but now Pisa Tinoisamoa may be done for the year as well with a knee
injury he sustained last week against

With a shortage of linebackers, expect a lot of over the middle passes to the
second level of the field which is right where Coats will be planted for much
of the game.



New York Giants – 8:20 NBC

Cardinals: If you look at the score of the Cardinals-Seahawks game last
week, you see a blowout. However, that score was in no part thanks to the
dismal part of the team that fans like to call a rushing attack.

Arizona drafted Beanie
Wells in the first round to complement Tim Hightower and hoped that those two
would become one of the best rushing duos in the NFL. Instead, over the course
of the season the team has only run the ball to those two guys a combined 86
times and overall is tied for dead last in rushing yards with just 288 through
five games (57.6 yards per game). Here we all sit wondering how their vaunted
offensive attack from 2008 can be this bad in 2009, but right there is your
answer. Imagine what Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald and the rest of the offense
could do if they got a little help from the ground game. Luckily for Hightower
and Wells, Giants DT Chris Canty will most likely be out again this week so
they will have a chance to do some damage and help out their quarterback for

Giants: There’s not much good that can come from taking a 48-27 beating
in what was supposed to be the Clash of the NFC Titans, but the Giants got a
glimpse into the future which was pretty valuable. On a day when Eli Manning,
Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw looked very mediocre, rookie Hakeem Nicks
opened eyes all over the league. Nicks caught five balls for 114 yards and a
touchdown, averaging over 22 yards per catch. His standout performance was the
final say in a debate that questioned whether or not the Giants receivers are
good enough. With Steve Smith, Mario Manningham and now Nicks each stepping it
up when necessary, this has quickly become one of the most well-rounded and
underrated receiving corps in the league. The kicker is that all of these guys
are so young and have tons of time to develop more chemistry with Manning. That
being said, this group should be able to torch

Arizona, which had one of the worst pass
defenses in the league before feasting on Matt Hasselbeck and his lack of an
O-Line last week.



– Monday 8:30 ESPN


is considered to be one of the best offenses in the league. They came into last
week averaging over 30 points per game, Brian Westbrook was finally healthy and
Jeremy Maclin came into his own in his first start against


And then the Eagles decided to go ahead and put all that aside and somehow
found a way to lose to the Raiders. I think that the Eagles just didn’t take

Oakland seriously going
into last week and it came back to bite them. It didn’t help that OT Jason
Peters went down with an injury in the first half either.

Philadelphia’s main problem was that they got
away from the run (big surprise …) and made Donovan McNabb throw almost 50
times when his offensive line was absolutely porous. Westbrook even averaged
8.3 yards on his six carries, but the Eagles gave the ball to he and LeSean
McCoy just 11 times. Despite having Albert Haynesworth in the middle, the
Redskins are still giving up 118 yards per game on the ground, so it is time
for Andy Reid to buck his own trends and give his opponent a healthy dose of a
running attack.

Redskins: I said last week that if

lost to

Kansas City
on Sunday that Jim Zorn would be out of a job. Unfortunately for Redskins fans,
Zorn is still there except now he has been stripped of his play-calling duties.
You typically would think that the job would be given to a member of the staff
who is very familiar with the offense, but instead, the role was assigned to
Sherm Lewis who was hired a couple weeks ago as an offensive “consultant” and
had been out of football since 2004. Sometimes these things light a fire under
a weak squad, but I have no idea how this will lead an already poor offense to
a more promised land. Jason Campbell was pulled last week and will surely be
looking over his shoulder yet again this Monday night, and with the Eagles
coming off of an infuriating and embarrassing loss to the Raiders, I expect
their defense to be dialed in all night. Keep an eye on how the offense is run
though because who knows, maybe Lewis will turn things around a bit and give
Skins fans some hope for the near future.

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