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Week 9 Passing Matchups

by Mark Wimer and Joe Bryant, Exclusive to Footballguys.com

Jump to Rushing Matchups

Great Matchups: [CIN] [DEN] [NE] [NYG]
Good Matchups: [ATL] [BUF] [CHI] [MIA] [NYJ] [PIT] [SD] [TB] [TEN]
Neutral Matchups: [CAR] [OAK]
Tough Matchups: [CLE] [DAL] [GB] [JAX] [NO] [PHI] [SF] [STL] [WAS]
Bad Matchups: [IND] [MIN]


PLEASE NOTE: This does NOT replace the Cheatsheet ranking. The Cheatsheet rankings are the final say on where we see a player for that week. The Matchup Breakdowns are simply one more tool in the box when it comes to helping choose your lineup.

Also note, just because a player has a "bad" matchup, it does NOT mean he's not a starter in your league. If Aaron Rodgers is playing the toughest pass defense in the league, that just means he's got a tough matchup that week. He's also your starter unless you're loaded at QB. In the same way, if the worst QB on your roster has a "great" matchup that week, it doesn't necessarily mean he's your starter. It means we think he'll fare better than normal that week.

Bottom line is that the cheatsheets are the final say.


Cincinnati Bengals Passing Offense vs Cleveland Browns Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

Andy Dalton had his worst game of the season in Pittsburgh last weekend (23/38 for 231 yards passing, one TD and two interceptions thrown), but the Bengals still won 16-10. A.J. Green was a one-man wrecking crew against Pittsburgh, with 17 targets for 11/118/1 receiving to his credit. Tyler Eifert was second on the team with eight targets for 4/39/0, while Marvin Jones had five chances but notched just 2/12/0 on the day. We'll see if Dalton can get back on top of his game for this divisional rivalry game.

Cleveland is expected to be without cornerback Joe Haden and safety Donte Whitner for this contest as both are in the concussion protocol (Haden is in it for the second time this season) and the early Thursday Night Football game makes it problematic for them to get cleared in time to play. Even with Haden and Whitner, this pass D was ranked 22nd in the league averaging 258.4 net passing yards allowed per game, with 15 passing scores handed over vs. five interceptions (tied for 20th in the NFL) and 13 sacks generated (tied for 18th) to date. Most recently Carson Palmer cranked out 23/38 for 372 net passing yards, four TDs and just one interception thrown.

Advantage, Dalton and Cincinnati.

Weather: Paul Brown Stadium expects a low of 67 F on Thursday night with mostly cloudy skies and gentle wind (7 MPH) - it should be a fine night to play some pro football.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Denver Broncos Passing Offense at Indianapolis Colts Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

Peyton Manning benefited from the bye week - he came out firing against the Packers and though he didn't throw a TD pass (21/29 for 340 yards passing, zero TDs and one interception thrown), Manning did re-establish his chemistry with Demaryius Thomas (11 targets for 8/168/0 receiving), and hit both of his tight ends regularly (three targets each, with 3/61/0 for Virgil Green and 3/44/0 for Owen Daniels). Now, the Broncos have traded for Vernon Davis from the 49ers, and as soon as he gets up to speed in the offense Manning has an upgrade from Daniels as the primary pass-catching tight end. Emmanuel Sanders had a quiet afternoon last week (five targets for 2/22/0), but remains one of the best #2 wide receivers in the league despite the down afternoon.

The Colts' pass D is circling the bowl at this point of the season - Cam Newton posted 16/35 for 239 net yards passing, two TDs and one interception last week, while Drew Brees hit them for 29/45 yielding 266 net yards, one TD and one interception thrown two games ago. To date, the Colts average 280.0 net passing yards allowed per game (tied for 27th in the league), and have given up 14 passing scores vs. eight interceptions (tied for seventh in the NFL) and just 12 sacks (tied-27th) generated so far. Though they have tightened up a bit in the recent past, this is still a very suspect defensive unit.

Advantage, Denver.

Weather: Inside Lucas Oil Stadium weather won't be an issue for either team.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


New England Patriots Passing Offense vs Washington Redskins Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

Tom Brady torched the Dolphins' secondary for 26/38 for 356 net yards passing, four TDs and zero interceptions thrown - he awarded TDs to Rob Gronkowski (nine targets for 6/113/1 receiving), Dion Lewis (nine for 6/93/1), and Julian Edelman (nine for 7/81/2). This passing attack is a wrecking crew most weeks - Brady is ranked first among fantasy quarterbacks after eight weeks of play, with 199/289 for 2,410 yards passing, 20 TDs and one interception thrown. He also has two quarterback sneaks for TDs (19/20/2). Start your Patriots they are having a passing party week in and week out.

The Washington pass D is ranked 11th in the NFL in terms of yards allowed per game (232.0 net yards on average) but they are tied for dead last in the league with just three interceptions to balance 11 passing scores given out to date. The team is tied for 22nd with 13 sacks so far. Most recently, rookie Jameis Winston threw 21/29 for 289 net yards, two TDs and zero interceptions against this defensive unit.

Brady and company have a great matchup here against the disintegrating Washington D.

Weather: Foxboro expects a high of 51 F, clear skies and winds around 10 MPH on Sunday - that's super nice for Massachusetts in November.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


New York Giants Passing Offense at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

Eli Manning went off in New Orleans, throwing an impressive 30/41 for 350 yards passing, six TDs and zero interceptions. As you would expect, Odell Beckham Jr. had a monster game with nine targets for 8/130/3 receiving; meanwhile Dwayne Harris handled seven targets for 3/37/2 (); and Shane Vereen snarfed up the remaining TD with nine targets for 8/60/1. Rueben Randle was left out of the TD party, but pulled in 5/55/0 receiving on nine chances. However, the game left some marks on the personnel - Randle missed practice on Wednesday due to a sore hamstring; Larry Donnell (one for 1/22/0 last week) is sidelined due to a neck injury as of midweek; and perennial member of the 'OUT' squad Victor Cruz remains without a timetable to return to action due to his nagging calf injury.

The Buccaneers' pass D isn't much better than the Saints - they are now 14th in the NFL averaging 244.6 net passing yards allowed per game, but have allowed a whopping 17 passing scores over seven games, vs. just four interceptions (next-to-last in the NFL) and 17 sacks generated (16th in the NFL). Last week, Matt Ryan threw 37/45 for 395 yards passing, two TDs and one interception against the Buccaneers. Enough said.

Advantage, New York.

Weather: Raymond James Stadium expects a high of 84 F with light rain and winds around 10 MPH on Sunday - owners of Buccaneers and Giants will want to check a shorter-term forecast, though, as rainy weather can be quite intense in the Florida peninsula at this time of year.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Atlanta Falcons Passing Offense at San Francisco 49ers Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Matt Ryan managed to lead a come-from-behind effort in the fourth quarter last week (against a team, Tampa Bay, that Atlanta had no business being behind) but fell short in the OT period, ending the game with 37/45 for 397 yards passing, two TDs and one interception thrown. Julio Jones recorded 13 targets for 12/162/1 receiving, while Jacob Tamme caught his first TD of the year with 12 targets for 10/103/1 receiving in the absence of Leonard Hankerson (hamstring injury). Even Roddy White got some looks (three for 2/24/0), as did Justin Hardy (four for 2/21/0). The Falcons' passing attack took center stage last week, but it remains to be seen if they will this week.

The 49ers' rush D has allowed 373 yards rushing and three rushing scores over the last two weeks, while coughing up 14/23 for 191 net yards, one TD and zero interceptions to Nick Foles last weekend, and 18/24 for 212 net yards passing, one TD and two interceptions thrown allowed to Russell Wilson two weeks ago. San Francisco is tied for 27th in the NFL averaging 280.0 net passing yards allowed per game, with 13 passing TDs given up vs. seven interceptions (tied for 16th in the NFL) and 14 sacks (tied-20th) generated - they haven't been as giving in this phase of the game of late (or teams are simply electing to run over the 49ers' D rather than throw against them).

This is a good but not great matchup for Ryan and Jones as the Falcons have a clear path to trample the 49ers with Devonta Freeman in the other phase of the game.

Weather: Levi's Stadium expects a high of 68 F with winds around 5 MPH on Sunday - it should be a partly-cloudy, pleasant autumnal day if the Weather Service is right.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Buffalo Bills Passing Offense vs Miami Dolphins Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Buffalo spanked the Joe Philbin-led Dolphins 41-14 at Miami back in Week Three - as we all know, the Dolphins' new interim head coach Dan Campbell with new defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo have crafted a more competitive team/better game plans since taking over the club. Week Three is not necessarily indicative of how we expect Miami to play this time around.

Tyrod Taylor is expected back from his sprained knee this week (he's still wearing a brace on it at midweek and may need one for this game) - over five games appeared in this year Taylor has slung for over a 70% completion rate (96/137 for 1,097 yards passing, nine TDs and four interceptions) with 31/187/2 rushing to his credit as well. Sammy Watkins (ankle injury) is expected to practice in a limited fashion on Wednesday and if that goes well he may ramp up his activity in later sessions and rejoin the team for this key divisional game as well. The Bills' offense is getting healthy coming off their Week Eight bye. Stay tuned to the latest news on Taylor and Watkins in Footballguys.com's Players in the News as the weekend contests approach.

The Miami pass D was shattered by Tom Brady last week to the tune of 26/38 for 342 net yards passing, four TDs and zero interceptions thrown, with two sacks for -14 yards taken. That was after 23/49 for 251 net yards, three TDs and one interception in prevent mode against Houston two weeks ago. To date, the Dolphins average 255 net passing yards allowed per game (19th in the NFL) with 15 passing scores given out vs. just six interceptions (tied for 18th in the NFL) and 13 sacks (tied 22nd) generated.

This looks like a good matchup for the returning Taylor and company.

Weather: Ralph Wilson Stadium expects a high of 46 F on Sunday with clear skies and winds around 5 MPH. It doesn't get better than that in Northern New York during November!

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Chicago Bears Passing Offense at San Diego Chargers Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Jay Cutler threw to the few healthy targets available to him vs. Minnesota (Eddie Royal and Matt Forte went down to knee injuries during the game) - when the dust had settled Cutler had amassed 22/33 for 211 yards passing, one TD and zero interceptions and added a rushing score with 2/11/1. Alshon Jeffery (15 targets for 10/116/1) and Martellus Bennett (five for 3/32/0) were the only receivers over 30 yards during that contest. We'll see if Marquess Wilson (three for 1/14/0 last week) can pick up his game now that Royal is sidelined - his NFL opportunity is arriving as of Week Nine.

The Chargers' pass D surrendered 25/37 for 319 yards passing, one TD and zero interceptions to Joe Flacco last week (293 net yards after subtracting three sacks for -26 yards) - two weeks ago, San Diego allowed 24/31 for 282 net yards passing, three TDs and zero interceptions to the Raiders. To date, San Diego ranks 13th in the NFL averaging 238.2 net yards allowed per game (but has been far below that average of late) with 14 passing scores balanced by four interceptions (tied for 22nd in the NFL) and 15 sacks (tied-18th).

The Bears have a thinned den of receivers for Cutler to throw at, but the Chargers are soft enough that this is a good matchup for Chicago nonetheless.

Weather: Qualcomm Stadium expects a low of 63 F on Monday Night, with winds under 10 MPH and partly-cloudy skies - it should be a fine night to play some pro football in Southern California.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Miami Dolphins Passing Offense at Buffalo Bills Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Buffalo spanked the Joe Philbin-led Dolphins 41-14 at Miami back in Week Three - as we all know, the Dolphins' new interim head coach Dan Campbell with new defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo have crafted a more competitive team/better game plans since taking over the club. Week Three is not necessarily indicative of how we expect Miami to play this time around.

Ryan Tannehill didn't look very good vs. New England last week (28/44 for 300 yards passing, zero TDs and two interceptions thrown) one game after a stellar performance against Houston (18/19 for 282 yards, four TDs and zero interceptions thrown). He has consistently hit Jarvis Landry (11/154/2 receiving over the past two games) and Rishard Matthews (10/137/1) during the past two weeks, with eight targets for 6/71/0 to Landry and 12 for 7/62/0 flowing to Matthews last week at New England. Kenny Stills (seven for 3/58/0) and Jordan Cameron (five for 2/34/0) are also garnering some targets from Tannehill right now.

The Bills' pass D allowed 22/33 for 243 yards passing, three TDs and zero interceptions to Andy Dalton and company two games ago and followed up with 13/29 for 175 net yards passing, two TDs and one interception allowed to Blake Bortles before the bye week. To date, the Bills are ranked 20th in the NFL averaging 255.4 net passing yards allowed per game, with almost twice as many TD passes (15) as interceptions generated (eight, tied for seventh in the NFL). The Bills have recorded just 11 sacks this season (tied for 29th in the NFL) - this is a mediocre-to-sub-par unit coming into the second half of the season.

Advantage, Miami.

Weather: Ralph Wilson Stadium expects a high of 46 F on Sunday with clear skies and winds around 5 MPH. It doesn't get better than that in Northern New York during November!

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


New York Jets Passing Offense vs Jacksonville Jaguars Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Geno Smith (sore shoulder) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (torn thumb ligaments) are questionable to play this week - on Tuesday, Jets coach Todd Bowles said rookie quarterback Bryce Petty will get some first-team snaps in practice this week. 'I have confidence in Bryce,' Bowles said. 'Obviously, he doesn't know what Ryan knows. He doesn't know what Geno knows. But he knows a good portion of our offense. He can function and go in there and play a game.' Obviously, this is a situation that needs to be monitored closely as the Jets practice later in the week - if neither Smith nor Fitzpatrick can play on Sunday, then avoid the Jets' passing attack as Petty struggled mightily against reserve/street free-agent level talent during preseason 2015. Compounding the bad news, Brandon Marshall hurt his big toe and ankle at Oakland and as of Monday Bowles was saying he couldn't tell if Marshall could play. Eric Decker played through his bruised knee last weekend (seven targets for 6/60/1) and he may be the lead receiver if Marshall sits out - Jeremy Kerley helped out with four for 4/63/0 receiving last week and would likely be the #2 receiver if Marshall misses this game. Suddenly, the Jets' passing attack is a M.A.S.H. unit.

The Jaguars' pass D is ranked 25th in the NFL averaging 263.9 net yards allowed per game, with 12 passing scores handed out vs. a league-worst three interceptions generated. They are 17th in the NFL with 16 sacks - last time they played (before their Week Eight bye), the Jaguars surrendered 24/42 for 260 net yards passing, two TDs and two interceptions thrown, with four sacks for -38 yards of journeyman E.J. Manuel.

If either Smith or Fitzpatrick can go, this is a good matchup despite their injuries. However, if Petty is called on rank this as a tough matchup.

Weather: MetLife Stadium expects a high of 55 F on Sunday, with winds under 10 MPH and clear skies - it should be a fine day to play some pro football.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Offense vs Oakland Raiders Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown looked great on the first drive of the day against Cincinnati - and then, not so much. When the dust settled, Roethlisberger had thrown 28/45 for 262 yards passing, one TD and three killer interceptions - Brown hauled in the initial TD (11 targets for 6/47/1) but was then largely contained for the balance of the game. Martavis Bryant (nine targets for 4/49/0) and Heath Miller (13 for 10/105/0) were also heavily involved in the passing game during Roethlisberger's return. We'll see if he can throw the ball better after tuning up his throwing arm in a game situation last weekend.

The Raiders' pass D allowed the Jets' quarterbacks 31/47 for 292 yards passing, two TDs and one interception in their losing effort last week - Philip Rivers took advantage of the glaring flaw two games ago and threw 38/58 for 327 net yards, three TDs and two interceptions vs. Oakland. Thanks to Drew Brees knocking the Giants into last place, Oakland is now 31st in the NFL averaging 302.1 net passing yards allowed per game, with 13 passing scores given out vs. eight interceptions generated (tied for seventh in the NFL). This is not a feared defense, friends.

Advantage, Pittsburgh.

Weather: Heinz Field expects a high of 53 F on Sunday, with clear skies and essentially calm wind - an excellent football forecast, friends.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


San Diego Chargers Passing Offense vs Chicago Bears Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Philip Rivers (28/37 for 301 yards passing, three TDs and zero interceptions thrown) had another stellar afternoon at Baltimore despite losing Keenan Allen (five targets for 5/35/1) and Ladarius Green (one for 1/10/0 before exiting due to an ankle injury) in the course of the afternoon. Unfortunately for Rivers and the Chargers, Allen, their #1 wide receiver, is out for the season after suffering a lacerated kidney at Baltimore. Malcom Floyd (40 targets for 21/409/3 receiving so far this season) and Stevie Johnson (37 for 24/283/2) figure to be the starting tandem for Rivers going forwards - along with Antonio Gates (32 targets for 23/242/2 receiving in just three games played) and Danny Woodhead (50 targets for 40/444/2) who will continue to provide dump-off pass options to Rivers.

The Bears' pass D is fourth in the NFL averaging 214.3 net yards per game, but they have allowed four times as many passing scores (16) as they have generated interceptions (four). Only the Saints and Buccaneers have allowed more TD passes than the Bears. Last week, Teddy Bridgewater managed 17/30 r 180 net yards passing, one TD and one interception at Chicago (one sack taken for -7 yards), while two games ago Detroit posted 27/42 for 405 yards passing, four TDs and one interception thrown.

This is a good matchup for Rivers at home on Monday Night Football.

Weather: Qualcomm Stadium expects a low of 63 F on Monday Night, with winds under 10 MPH and partly-cloudy skies - it should be a fine night to play some pro football in Southern California.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers Passing Offense vs New York Giants Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Jameis Winston led his team to a 23-20 upset of Atlanta last week - he threw 16/29 for 177 yards passing, one TD and zero interceptions and added another TD by running the ball (3/24/1). In the absence of Vincent Jackson (knee injury) and Austin Seferian-Jenkins (ongoing shoulder woes), Winston tried to hook up with Mike Evans but they never were on the same page last week (nine targets for 3/48/0 receiving) - backup tight end Cameron Brate (two targets for 2/48/1 receiving) handled the TD for Winston. We'll see if Jackson and/or Seferian-Jenkins can get back in the action to help elevate this passing game here in Week Nine.

The Giants' pass D was nuked for a NFL-record-tying seven TD passes last week, and allowed 505 yards passing to Drew Brees. Two weeks ago, Dallas could only muster 17/27 for 227 net yards, one TD and three interceptions behind Matt Cassel but that has more to do with Dallas than the Giants' poor secondary. Now, the Giants are ranked dead last in the NFL averaging 315.4 net passing yards allowed per game, with 17 passing scores handed out vs. a league-best 13 interceptions generated - it's a high-risk, river-boat gambling secondary that is very vulnerable to the deep ball entering Week Nine.

This looks like a good matchup for the rookie Winston.

Weather: Raymond James Stadium expects a high of 84 F with light rain and winds around 10 MPH on Sunday - owners of Buccaneers and Giants will want to check a shorter-term forecast, though, as rainy weather can be quite intense in the Florida peninsula at this time of year.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Tennessee Titans Passing Offense at New Orleans Saints Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

'We'll do some things differently offensively, scheme-wise,' new head coach Mike Mularkey said on Tuesday. 'We're not going to change the whole offense, but we're going to do some things philosophically different.' In other words, the offense will be adjusted to fit Marcus Mariota once he returns to action. Offensive Coordinator Jason Michael still has his job (for now) and will be play-calling the offense moving forwards. Obviously, the situation in Tennessee is in flux as we don't know for sure Mariota can play on Sunday (stay tuned to Footballguys.com's Players in the News as the week goes along for his practice status), although we know that the top wide receiver on the team, Kendall Wright, is likely out at least this week due to a sprained MCL that is currently encased in a knee brace. This looks like a situation to avoid until the team sorts out the new offensive philosophy.

The Saints' pass D was destroyed by the Giants last week, allowing a whopping six passing scores to Eli Manning and company (30/41 for 329 yards, six TDs and zero interceptions thrown). Two weeks ago the Saints allowed 23/44 for 301 net passing yards, three TDs and two interception to Andrew Luck and company. This is one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL currently, friends.

It's a good matchup for the Titans on paper, but in the real world the chaos on the coaching staff will take a while to sort out.

Weather: Inside the Louisiana Superdome weather won't impact either team.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Carolina Panthers Passing Offense vs Green Bay Packers Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Cam Newton threw 16/35 for 248 yards passing, two TDs and one interception on Monday Night Football - he found Ted Ginn for a nice 48-yard completion (but Ginn only converted 2/60/0 out of 10 targets on the night) while leaning (as usual) on Greg Olsen (12 targets for 6/79/1). Corey Brown saw some productive looks with five targets for 3/42/1 and he added a nice 14-yard end-around to his effort. As usual, the Panthers' passing attack wasn't fancy, but they came out of the game 7-0, so don't expect sudden changes at this late date.

The Packers' pass D allowed 21/29 for 340 net yards, zero TDs and one interception to Peyton Manning and company last week - they didn't sack Manning at all. Philip Rivers shredded the Packers' D before their bye week, with 43/65 for 488 net yards passing, two TDs and zero interceptions thrown. As you can see, of late the Packers are giving out a lot of passing yards. To date, they average 251.3 net passing yards allowed per game (17th in the NFL) with seven passing scores surrendered vs. nine interceptions (tied for fifth in the NFL) and 23 sacks (fourth) recorded, but this unit has been more vulnerable during late October/early November.

On balance this looks like a neutral matchup for the home team.

Weather: Carolina expects a high of 54 F on Sunday, with mostly cloudy skies and winds around 10 MPH - nice weather for early November.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Oakland Raiders Passing Offense at Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Derek Carr took apart the feared New York Jets' secondary last week, throwing for a very impressive 23/36 for 333 yards passing, four TDs and zero interceptions during the contest. He relied on Michael Crabtree (12 targets for 7/102/1 receiving) the most, followed by Amari Cooper (nine for 5/46/0). Andre Holmes (three for 2/54/2) and Taiwan Jones (one for 1/59/1) hauled in the other scores from Carr. The Raiders' offense is on a roll entering Week Nine.

The Steelers frustrated Andy Dalton and company last week, limiting the Bengals to 23/38 for 218 net yards passing, one TD and two interceptions. Alex Smith was sacked twice for -12 yards on the way to 21/32 for 239 net passing yards, one TD and two interceptions thrown two games ago - it looks like Pittsburgh pass D is improving as the year goes along (they are ranked 26th in the NFL averaging 269.5 net passing yards given up per game, with 12 passing scores offset by seven interceptions (tied for 16th in the NFL) and 22 sacks (fifth) generated this season.

Carr is on fire, but the Steelers aren't making things easy for passers of late - this looks like a neutral matchup for the visiting Raiders.

Weather: Heinz Field expects a high of 53 F on Sunday, with clear skies and essentially calm wind - an excellent football forecast, friends.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Cleveland Browns Passing Offense at Cincinnati Bengals Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

'We'll see where Josh is tonight,' head coach Mike Pettine said on Tuesday, November 3. 'As we get information that helps us make a decision and we feel comfortable acting on it, we'll do it.' McCown has a rib injury that is impeding his ability to play right now - the Browns are reportedly leaning towards starting Johnny Manziel at quarterback in the early Thursday Night Football game against divisional rival Cincinnati. Regarding Manziel and where he is at now (28/50 for 393 yards passing, three TDs and one interception during his time on the field so far during 2015) vs. his disastrous performance in a 0-30 loss to Cincinnati last season, coach Pettine said 'I think a lot of ground has been covered. I think he's a different player.' McCown missed the practice on Tuesday as his ribs are still very tender - as of Wednesday morning it looks like Manziel will be the 'Man' in this game. Unfortunately, he'll likely do without Andrew Hawkins and Brian Hartline (both have concussions and missed practice Tuesday) on Thursday Night Football, leaving the Browns short-handed in this phase of the game.

The Bengals' pass D limited Ben Roethlisberger to 28/45 for 240 net yards passing, one TD and three interceptions thrown last weekend. To date, Cincinnati ranks 23rd in the NFL averaging 258.4 net passing yards allowed per game with nine passing scores offset by eight interceptions (tied for seventh in the NFL) with 20 sacks generated (tied for eighth) so far.

This looks like a tough matchup for the visiting Browns.

Weather: Paul Brown Stadium expects a low of 67 F on Thursday night with mostly cloudy skies and gentle wind (7 MPH) - it should be a fine night to play some pro football.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Dallas Cowboys Passing Offense vs Philadelphia Eagles Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Dallas beat Philadelphia 20-10 back in Week Two, but that version of the offense had Tony Romo playing well - this one has an ineffective Matt Cassel (13/25 for 97 yards passing, zero TDs or interceptions thrown, with 4/43/0 rushing to his credit) trying to lead the Cowbhttp://subscribers.footballguys.com/login/updaterushpassmatchups2.phpoys while Romo heals his broken clavicle. The results from Week Two aren't very informative in this case as the Cowboys' offense is much different now than early in September.

Dez Bryant is back on the field for Dallas (six targets for 2/12/0 receiving) but didn't do much during a sparse afternoon vs. Seattle. Terrance Williams (two targets for 2/20/0 receiving) and Jason Witten (four for 2/16/0) were the other 'highest' receivers for the Cowboys last weekend. Cassel is not getting the job done in this phase of the game any more than Brandon Weeden did.

The Eagles' pass D ranks 16th in the NFL in terms of net passing yards allowed per game (250.6), but they have more interceptions (11, fourth-most in the league) than TDs allowed (10). The team has recorded 15 sacks, which is tied for 18th in the NFL. Cam Newton managed 14/24 for 190 net yards passing, one TD pass and two interceptions thrown vs. Philadelphia a game ago - Eli Manning managed 24/38 for 189 yards passing, one TD and two interceptions thrown two contests ago. The Eagles' pass D is tightening up as we head into the second half of the season.

Advantage, Philadelphia.

Weather: Inside A T and T Stadium weather won't be an issue for either team.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Green Bay Packers Passing Offense at Carolina Panthers Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Sometimes great players have bad games - Aaron Rodgers (14/22 for 77 yards passing, zero TDs or interceptions thrown) certainly had one at Denver. This was a product of the elite Denver defense - we consider this poor outing as an outlier rather than the beginning of a down trend for Rodgers and company. To date, Rodgers has thrown 138/204 for 1,568 yards, 15 TDs and just two interceptions over seven games played (12th-ranked fantasy quarterback so far this season) - he'll be able to generate more offense in coming weeks as defensive squads don't rise to Denver's level very often.

The Panthers' pass D is ranked seventh in the NFL averaging 228.9 net passing yards allowed per game, with seven passing scores allowed balanced by 12 interceptions (third in the NFL) and 20 sacks (tied for eighth) generated to date. Andrew Luck managed 23/47 for 223 net yards passing, two TDs and three interceptions thrown on a soggy Monday night in Charlotte last week (two sacks taken for -8 yards); Sam Bradford was sacked five times for -33 yards two games ago, throwing 26/46 for 172 net passing yards, zero TDs and one interception.

Rodgers has another tough matchup here - don't look for a mere 77 yards passing, but realize that he's got another difficult game on his plate this week.

Weather: Carolina expects a high of 54 F on Sunday, with mostly cloudy skies and winds around 10 MPH - nice weather for early November.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Jacksonville Jaguars Passing Offense at New York Jets Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Blake Bortles has been a pleasant surprise during 2015, and enters the second half of the season sitting at the 11th-best spot among all fantasy quarterbacks, with 151/271 for 1,812 yards passing, 15 TDs thrown vs. eight interceptions and 23/146/0 rushing to his credit. Allen Hurns is the 14th-ranked fantasy wide receiver to date (31/513/5 receiving) and Allen Robinson (34/586/6) sits at #7 among all fantasy wide receivers. Only Julius Thomas (10/102/1) has disappointed fantasy owners among the regular starting receivers - he's 37th among all fantasy tight ends after the first half of the season.

The Jets' pass D is ranked eighth in the NFL averaging 229.0 net passing yards allowed per game, with 12 passing scores given up vs. eight interceptions and 11 sacks generated so far (tied for seventh and tied for 29th in the NFL, respectively). The Jets make it tough to find your receivers, but they don't excel at pass rushing this year. However, Derek Carr had no trouble finding his receivers last week (23/36 for 333 net yards passing, four TDs and zero interceptions thrown vs. New York) - it was a bad outing for a usually-stalwart pass D.

This looks like a tough challenge for the high-climbing Jaguars.

Weather: MetLife Stadium expects a high of 55 F on Sunday, with winds under 10 MPH and clear skies - it should be a fine day to play some pro football.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


New Orleans Saints Passing Offense vs Tennessee Titans Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Giants/Saints game crossed 100 points combined last week, with 52 scored in the winning effort by the Saints. Drew Brees went bananas against the Giants' battered secondary, throwing for a league-record-tying seven passing scores (39/50 for 505 yards passing, seven TDs and two interceptions). As you would expect, all the main receivers for the team had standout days: Brandin Cooks (eight targets for 6/88/2 receiving) and Willie Snead (eight for 6/70/2) had two TDs apiece; Ben Watson led the team in receiving with 10 targets for 9/147/1; Marques Colston recalled big gainers of years past on a blown coverage TD and went over 100 yards receiving (nine for 8/114/1); and even C.J. Spiller found pay dirt (four for 2/15/1). It's all good for the Saints in this phase of the game heading into the second half of the season.

The Titans' pass D is ranked third in the NFL averaging 197.9 net passing yards allowed per game, with 12 passing scores allowed offset by eight interceptions (tied for seventh in the NFL) and 18 sacks (tied for 14th) generated so far. They gave up 23/35 for 214 net yards, two TDs and zero interceptions to the Texans last week, and sacked Brian Hoyer three times for -21 yards. Atlanta was limited to 22/38 for 251 net yards passing, with one TD and two interceptions thrown two games ago.

This is a tougher-than-usual matchup for Brees and company, but you can't sit someone who is playing this hot.

Weather: Inside the Louisiana Superdome weather won't impact either team.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Philadelphia Eagles Passing Offense at Dallas Cowboys Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Philadelphia lost to the Tony Romo-led Cowboys back in Week Two, producing 23/37 for 224 yards passing, one TD and two interceptions thrown. During that game, Jordan Matthews (nine targets for 6/80/1 receiving) and DeMarco Murray (five for 5/53/0) were snagging most of Sam Bradford's passes. Since then, the Philadelphia offense has been up and down - in the last contest played they were down with 26/46 for 205 yards passing in the game, with zero TDs and one interception thrown at Carolina. Zach Ertz (eight targets for 5/63/0 receiving) led all receivers during the game, followed by Miles Autin (six for 4/52/0) and Darren Sproles (10 for 5/31/0).

The Dallas pass D gave up 19/30 for 210 net yards passing, one TD and one interception to Russell Wilson last weekend, after handing over to Eli Manning 13/24 for 157 net yards, zero TDs or interceptions two contests ago. So far this year, Dallas averages 234.0 net passing yards allowed per game (12th in the NFL), with eight passing scores handed over vs. just three interceptions (tied for last in the NFL) and 13 sacks (tied for 22nd) generated to date. Dallas has tightened up some in this phase over the last two weeks, though.

This looks like a tough matchup for the on-again, off-again Philadelphia passing attack.

Weather: Inside A T and T Stadium weather won't be an issue for either team.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


San Francisco 49ers Passing Offense vs Atlanta Falcons Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The coaching staff is doing what they can to shake up the 49ers' awful offense - Colin Kaepernick has been benched for Blaine Gabbert (who has a career 66.8 passer rating across 27 starts with a 23:24 TD:INT ratio with 22 of the TDs coming during his time in Jacksonville). Since arriving in San Francisco Gabbert has thrown 3/7 for 38 yards, one TD and zero interceptions during the 2014 regular season in mop-up duty behing Kaepernick. We'll see if Gabbert can recognize wide-open receivers (like Torrey Smith was on a notable play last weekend, one that Kaepernick missed seeing) which would be a step up in performance from Kaepernick of late. However, nobody is expecting an immediate burst of effectiveness from the decidedly mediocre Gabbert (417/784 for 4,395 yards passing, 23 TDs and 24 interceptions thrown with 76/191/0 receiving over his 29 games appeared in). Things certainly can't get much worse for the 49ers as Kaepernick had 162 yards passing at St. Louis (151 net) and 124 yards passing, zero TDs or interceptions, with six sacks taken for -43 yards (81 net passing yards) vs. Seattle two weeks ago. Anquan Boldin missed the St. Louis contest (Boldin hurt his hamstring in practice on Thursday, missed practice Friday, and was inactive on Sunday). Hopefully he'll be back to help Gabbert in his first 2015 start.

The Falcons' pass D is ranked 24th in the NFL averaging 262.0 net passing yards given out, with nine passing scores surrendered vs. eight interceptions (tied for seventh in the NFL) and 10 sacks (next-to-last) to date. Jameis Winston and company managed 16/29 for 173 net passing yards, one TD and zero interceptions while taking two sacks for -4 yards last week; Atlanta allowed 22/35 for 179 net yards passing, one TD and two interceptions to Zach Mettenberger two games ago. As you can see, their pass D is playing well against less-than-impressive passing attacks entering Week Nine. Santa Clara has a less-than-impressive attack with Gabbert at the helm.

Advantage, Atlanta.

Weather: Levi's Stadium expects a high of 68 F with winds around 5 MPH on Sunday - it should be a partly-cloudy, pleasant autumnal day if the Weather Service is right.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


St. Louis Rams Passing Offense at Minnesota Vikings Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Nick Foles did what he needed to in order to notch a 'W' against the 49ers - he didn't turn the ball over, and moved the chains with 14/23 for 191 yards passing, one TD and zero interceptions thrown vs. San Francisco. Tavon Austin has become his staple receiver, with seven targets for 4/98/1 receiving (and 3/21/1 rushing for Austin as well!). Austin has 17/141/2 rushing and 39 targets for 24/285/4 receiving in a 'slash' role for the Rams - he lands at 16th among all fantasy wide receivers through the first half of the season with those numbers. Austin is the most valuable member of this passing attack (Foles is 30th among all fantasy quarterbacks with 110/187 for 1,310 yards passing, seven TDs and five interceptions thrown, with 13/18/1 rushing to his credit).

The Vikings' pass D is ranked ninth in the NFL averaging 229.3 net passing yards allowed per game, with nine passing scores given out vs. four interceptions (tied for 22nd in the NFL) and 18 sacks (tied for 14th) generated. Jay Cutler was held to 22/33 for 208 net yards passing, one TD and zero interceptions thrown last week; Matthew Stafford compiled 18/26 for 197 net passing yards, two TDs and zero interceptions against this crew two weeks ago.

This looks like a tough matchup for the visiting Rams.

Weather: TCF Bank Stadium expects a high of 52 F on Sunday, with breezy conditions of 20+ MPH winds - owners of Vikings and Rams will want to check a shorter-term forecast with anticipated wind conditions as winds above 20 MPH can adversely affect kicking and passing games.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Washington Redskins Passing Offense at New England Patriots Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

DeSean Jackson remains limited in practice sessions as of Wednesday - though he has vowed to play in Week Nine it remains to be seen if he is near 100% healthy - if his hamstrings are still an issue Jackson will be at risk of aggravating the injury (again) if he plays. Stay tuned to Footballguys.com's Players in the News as the week goes along to monitor Jackson's practice participation level if you are considering him for your lineups this weekend.

Kirk Cousins had a nice outing without Jackson before the Week Eight bye, throwing 33/40 for 317 yards passing, three TDs and zero interceptions vs. Tampa Bay. Jordan Reed had a huge game (13 targets for 11/72/2) while second-year wideout Ryan Grant hauled in the other TD for his first career NFL score (three targets for 3/54/1). Pierre Garcon saw six targets for 5/55/0 receiving.

The Patriots' pass D is ranked 15th in the NFL averaging 249.3 net passing yards allowed per game, with 11 passing scores given up vs. eight interceptions (tied for seventh in the NFL) and 26 sacks (tied for second) generated to date. Ryan Tannehill managed 28/44 for 255 yards passing, zero TDs and two interceptions thrown with five sacks taken for -45 yards at New England last week; the Jets compiled 22/39 for 283 net yards, two TDs and zero interceptions at New England two weeks ago.

This looks like a tough matchup for Cousins - even though his line is second in the NFL with just eight sacks allowed, the Patriots' pass D thrives on interceptions and that is an area that Cousins has struggled with at times his season.

Weather: Foxboro expects a high of 51 F, clear skies and winds around 10 MPH on Sunday - that's super nice for Massachusetts in November.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Indianapolis Colts Passing Offense vs Denver Broncos Passing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Andrew Luck has struggled throughout the 2015 season - he's missed two games over the first half of the year, and has almost as many interceptions thrown (12) as TDs (13), while compiling 141/257 for 1,629 yards passing through six contests. As a result of the above, offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton was fired this week, and Rod Chudzinski (formerly an offensive coordinator with Carolina) was promoted to run the attack. As we noted in the Footballguys.com Daily Email Update on November 3, 2015: 'Chudzinski did a good job with the Panthers as their offensive coordinator a few years ago. He'll take over an offense that has not one, but two talented tight ends and some talent at the wide receiver position. Too bad the offensive line isn't better as that seems to be the larger problem with Indy.' The Colts' offensive line has allowed 17 sacks and 56 quarterback hits to date (tied for 17th in the NFL in sacks allowed), which is why Luck is banged up during 2015. We'll see if Chudzinski can scheme up a way to keep Luck upright more often.

Last week, Luck posted 23/47 for 231 yards passing, two TDs and three interceptions thrown at Carolina. He relied on Andre Johnson (eight targets for 4/81/1 receiving) and Coby Fleener (11 for 7/43/1) during the contest, while usual favorite T.Y. Hilton (seven for 1/15/0) and Donte Moncrief (seven for 2/18/0) struggled against the Panthers' top-shelf defense.

The Denver Broncos limited Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to a mere 14/22 for 77 yards passing, zero TDs and zero interceptions last week! WOW! They are as good as advertised, folks - to date, Denver is ranked #1 in the NFL averaging 171.9 net passing yards allowed per game, with a mere five passing scores allowed (tied for least in the NFL), vs. nine interceptions (tied for fifth in the NFL) and 29 sacks (alone in first) generated to date. As documented above, the Colts' offensive line is a worry and it won't help matters to face the hard-charging Broncos this week.

Chudzinski has a monumental task on his hands this week - he opens his tenure as the Colts' offensive coordinator with a huge challenge to address.

Weather: Inside Lucas Oil Stadium weather won't be an issue for either team.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Minnesota Vikings Passing Offense vs St. Louis Rams Passing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Teddy Bridgewater pulled out a 'W' vs. the Bears last week but he struggled throughout the game - Mike Wallace had four targets but zero catches and Bridgewater overthrew him on a TD chance; only Stefon Diggs had over 40 yards receiving in the game with 12 targets for 6/95/1 receiving to his credit. We'll see if Bridgewater (17/30 for 187 yards passing, one TD and one interception thrown last week) can get back on track against the Rams' D.

Speaking of the Rams, they are ranked 10th in the NFL in terms of passing yards allowed per game (230.0), but have only given out five passing TDs this season (tied with Denver for best in the NFL in this category) vs. five interceptions (tied for 20th) and 26 sacks (tied for second in the NFL) generated so far. Minnesota has allowed 20 sacks (tied for 23rd in the NFL in this category) and 40 quarterback hits through seven games - the Rams will be in Bridgewater's grill early and often this week. Last week, the Rams dominated Colin Kaepernick (20/40 for 151 net yards passing, zero TDs or interceptions with three sacks taken for -11 yards) while two games ago Cleveland managed 30/37 for 297 yards passing (282 net after taking off -15 yards for the four sacks St Louis generated), with zero TDs or interceptions thrown.

This is a bad matchup for the off-kilter Bridgewater and company.

Weather: TCF Bank Stadium expects a high of 52 F on Sunday, with breezy conditions of 20+ MPH winds - owners of Vikings and Rams will want to check a shorter-term forecast with anticipated wind conditions as winds above 20 MPH can adversely affect kicking and passing games.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.