Week 17 Passing Matchups

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

Jump to Rushing Matchups

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


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.


Detroit Lions Passing Offense vs Green Bay Packers Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

This game is for all the marbles in the NFC North - winner is the divisonal champion. The last time these teams clashed, in Week Three, Green Bay triumphed over Detroit 34-27. Matthew Stafford flailed the Packers' secondary with 28/41 for 385 yards, three TDs and one interception thrown, taking three sacks for -17 yards. Marvin Jones blew up for 6/205/2 receiving on eight targets during the contest; Eric Ebron (eight for 5/69/0) and Golden Tate (six for 4/40/0) were next in line on the receiving chart. Anquan Boldin handled six targets for 4/22/1.

As the season has developed, Jones (94 targets for 50/854/4 receiving this season) has receded into the #2/#3 wide receiver role while Tate (125 for 85/1,000/3) has moved back to the top of the pecking order. Boldin (89 for 63/527/7) remains a crafty exploiter of soft spots in zones and is a trusted red-zone option entering Week 17, while Ebron is the clear #1 tight end. At Dallas, Ebron led the team in targets and receiving with 12 for 8/93/0 receiving, while Tate was second in receiving with six for 6/58/0. Boldin handled seven for 5/33/0 while Jones squandered his seven targets with just 1/16/0 receiving - at the end of the day Stafford had tossed 26/46 for 260 yards passing, zero TDs and one interception while taking four sacks for -31 yards.

The Packers' pass defense is 29th in the NFL averaging 265.1 net yards allowed per game, with 30 passing scores given up over 15 games played. However, they have generated 16 interceptions (tied for third in the NFL) and 38 sacks (tied for fifth) this season, keeping pressure on opposing quarterbacks up front and in the secondary. From Week 14-16 of regular season (the last three weeks, with no teams on bye), Green Bay has averaged 22.5 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (sixth-most in the NFL); and 36.2 fantasy points per game allowed to wide receivers (second-most); with 3.1 fantasy points given up per game to tight ends (tied for third-least in the league). Sam Bradford rocked this secondary for 34/50 yielding 353 net yards passing, three TDs and zero interceptions thrown, with four sacks taken for -29 yards last week; two games ago Matt Barkley racked up 30/43 for 354 net yards passing, with two TDs thrown, but also turned over three interceptions to the Packers while taking one sack for -8 yards.

This is a great matchup for Stafford and company.

Weather: Inside Ford Field weather won't impact either team.

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


Green Bay Packers Passing Offense at Detroit Lions Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

This game is for all the marbles in the NFC North - winner is the divisonal champion. The last time these teams clashed, in Week Three, Green Bay triumphed over Detroit 34-27. Aaron Rodgers blew up the Lions' secondary for 15/24 yielding 205 yards passing and four TDs with zero interceptions thrown (and two sacks taken for -4 yards). Jordy Nelson led the way with seven targets for 6/101/2, while Randall Cobb had just three for 1/33/0 - Davante Adams saw two targets for 2/23/1. Richard Rodgers handled the other TD (three for 2/9/1).

Since then, Cobb has faded into an ancillary role for the Packers (he was inactive in Week 16 due to a ankle injury), while Adams has become the clear-cut #2 option across from Nelson

- last week against the Vikings, Nelson saw 11 targets for 9/154/2 receiving, while Adams handled seven for 4/44/1, and Richard Rodgers snagged two for 2/20/1. Geronimo Allison was also heavily involved with seven targets for 4/66/0, stepping into Cobb's role handily. The Packers' passing attack is firing on all cylinders entering Week 17 - Aaron Rodgers posted 28/38 for 347 yards passing, four TDs and zero interceptions, with four sacks taken for -39 yards while beating the Vikings 38-25 last weekend.

The Lions' pass defense suffered from the lack of Darius Slay on Monday Night Football as the Cowboys shredded their secondary almost at will - all told, the Lions allowed 16/21 for 211 net yards passing, four TDs and zero interceptions, while generating just one sack for -11 yards. The Lions gave up 20/28 for 186 net yards passing, two TDs and zero interceptions with two sacks generated for -15 yards at New York two games ago - from Week 14-16 of regular season (the last three weeks, with no teams on bye), Detroit has averaged 19.6 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (13th-most in the NFL); and 29.5 fantasy points per game allowed to wide receivers (eighth-most); with 5.9 fantasy points given up per game to tight ends (tied for 14th-least). As you can see, lately the Detroit pass defense is pretty porous.

Advantage, Green Bay.

Weather: Inside Ford Field weather won't impact either team.

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


Arizona Cardinals Passing Offense at Los Angeles Rams Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Back in Week Four, these teams battled to a 17-13 decision in favor of Los Angeles - John Brown was a receiving stud that day with 16 targets for 10/144/0 to his credit. Since then, a series of complications arising from his sickle-cell anemia have wrecked his season. Carson Palmer (23/36 for 288 yards passing, one TD and one interception thrown, with three sacks taken for -23 yards) and Drew Stanton (4/11 for 37 yards passing, zero TDs and two interceptions thrown) combined to throw three interceptions to the Rams during the loss.

These days, J.J. Nelson (seven targets for 3/132/1 at Seattle last weekend) and David Johnson (seven for 4/41/0) are leading the Cardinals' receiving corps, with support from Larry Fitzgerald (four for 4/31/0) and Jermaine Gresham (four for 2/40/0). Carson Palmer threw for 16/26 yielding 284 yards passing, one TD and zero interceptions, with one sack taken for -8 yards at Seattle last week, a steady performance. Although the Cardinals are eliminated from playoff contention at 6-8-1, their offense is still engaged.

The Ram's defense allowed 28/36 for 253 net yards passing, two TDs and one interception thrown to the 49ers' lack-luster offense last weekend, but did have four sacks for -13 yards during the game. To date this year, L.A. ranks ninth in the NFL averaging 231.5 net yards passing allowed per game, but they are third-worst in the NFL with 29 passing scores given out over 15 games (almost two per contest) - their eight interceptions this season is tied for 27th in the NFL and their 30 sacks is 21st in the league. From Week 14-16 of regular season (the last three weeks, with no teams on bye), Los Angeles has averaged 25.1 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (third-most in the NFL); and 26.3 fantasy points per game allowed to wide receivers (10th-most); with 5.8 fantasy points given up per game to tight ends (12th-least).

This is a good matchup for Carson Palmer and company.

Weather: Los Angeles expects a temperature of 59 F at game time, with cloudy skies and winds around 3 MPH - nice football weather is on tap in Southern California this weekend.

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


Atlanta Falcons Passing Offense vs New Orleans Saints Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Atlanta bested New Orleans 45-32 back in Week Three - Matt Ryan was steady in the contest, with 20/30 for 240 yards passing, two TDs and zero interceptions thrown (with two sacks taken for -15 yards). Devonta Freeman (five targets for 5/55/1 receiving) and Tevin Coleman (three for 3/47/0) were his lead receivers during the contest, while Justin Hardy (two for 2/26/1) pulled in the other TD. Julio Jones had a bad showing that day (seven targets for 1/16/0 receiving). Atlanta needs to win to secure a first-round bye in the playoffs, so starters will likely be in for most if not all of the game.

Jones finally got back on the field for Atlanta in Week 16 (after missing two previous games) - he was eased back into the action, playing just over 1/2 of the offensive snaps during Week 16 while seeing seven targets for 4/60/0 receiving. A modest outing, but he didn't suffer a setback. Jones has been in a drought of TDs during the second half of the season (he has scored just one during the second half of the season, back in week Nine). However, his scoring drought hasn't affected the Falcons' passing attack - Matt Ryan has thrown seven TDs and zero interceptions thrown over the past three weeks, with 62/84 for 800 yards passing. During that three week span, Taylor Gabriel has led the team in targets with 16 for 9/157/2; Devonta Freeman (13 for 12/63/0), Aldrick Robinson (11 for 8/168/0) and Tevin Coleman (eight for 7/72/1) have led the team in targets during that time span, while Mohamed Sanu has turned seven chances into 6/100/0.

The Saint's pass defense is 30th in the NFL this season, averaging 270.5 net passing yards allowed per game, with 23 passing scores given out vs. nine interceptions (tied for 25th in the NFL) and 29 sacks (tied for 25th) generated to date. Last week, Jameis Winston came in just barely under the average (23/35 for 260 net yards passing, two TDs and two interceptions thrown with two sacks taken for -17 yards). he Saints' pass defense gave up 28/40 for 309 net yards passing, two TDs and zero interceptions to Carson Palmer and company two games ago - from Week 14-16 of regular season (the last three weeks, with no teams on bye), New Orleans has averaged 18.7 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (14th-most in the NFL); and 21.8 fantasy points per game allowed to wide receivers (13th-most); with 6.8 fantasy points given up per game to tight ends (15th). This is a suspect secondary, friends.

Advantage, Atlanta.

Weather: Inside the Georgia Dome weather won't impact either team.

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


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

The last time these teams clashed, in Week Eight, Dallas won 29-23, with 19/39 for 287 yards passing by Dak Prescott, with two TDs and one interception thrown, and two sacks taken for -14 yards. Dez Bryant tore up the Eagles with a whopping 14 targets for 4/113/1 receiving, and Jason Witten cuaght the other TD (three targets for 2/16/1).

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said the 'preliminary plan' for the team's Week 17 game against the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday, Jan. 1, is to play the starters who are healthy - but remember that the Cowboys are already locked into the #1 seed in the NFC with home field advantage throughout the playoffs, so they don't need to win this game. One key starter on the offensive line, tackle Tyron Smith (knee), suffered a medial collateral ligament sprain in Week 16. He has already been ruled out for Week 17, which may negatively impact the pass protection this week.

Prescott threw 15/20 for 212 yards, three TDs and zero interceptions (with one sack taken for -11 yards) against the Lions last weekend, and Bryant added a surprise 1/1 for 10 yards passing, one TD to the kitty during the 42-21 win over Detroit. Bryant caught two TDs, too, with five targets for 4/70/2 to his credit, while Witten (four for 2/33/1) and Brice Butler (one for 1/21/1) also pulled down TDs. Terrance Williams had four targets for 4/61/0 receiving to check in at #2 in receiving yards last weekend. It's all good for the Cowboy's passing attack entering Week 17.

The Eagles' pass defense gave up 38/63 for 356 yards passing to Eli Manning and company last Thursday, but only allowed one passing score vs. three interceptions thrown. The Eagles' pass defense allowed 16/30 for 189 net yards passing, two TDs and one interception to Joe Flacco and company two games back (three sacks for -17 yards). From Week 14-16 of regular season (the last three weeks, with no teams on bye), Philadelphia has averaged 18.4 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (16th in the NFL); and 31.8 fantasy points per game allowed to wide receivers (fourth-most in the NFL); with 2.3 fantasy points given up per game to tight ends (least in the league).

This is a good matchup for Prescott despite the hostile venue in Philadelphia.

Weather: Lincoln Financial Field expects a temperature of 44 F at game time, with clear skies and winds around 8 MPH - very nice football weather given winter time in Philadelphia.

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


Denver Broncos Passing Offense vs Oakland Raiders Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Oakland defeated Denver 30-20 at the Black Hole back in Week Nine - Trevor Siemian threw 18/37 for 283 yards, two TDs and one interception during the contest, taking two sacks for -17 yards.

Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak has not yet decided who will start in Week 17 between quarterbacks Siemian and Paxton Lynch. Siemian struggled at Kansas City on Christmas Eve (a lot of quarterbacks struggle in Arrowhead this year...), throwing 17/43 for 183 yards passing, zero TDs and one interception, while taking zero sacks. It might have been bad enough to get him benched - stay tuned to Footballguys.com's Players in the News to see who gets the first-team reps during Week 17. The Broncos are out of the playoffs, so they may elect to get Lynch some more real-season action in the season finale.

The Raiders' pass defense averages 260.9 (25th in the NFL) with 25 passing scores given out to date vs. 15 interceptions generated (tied for seventh in the NFL). The Raiders' pass rush is relatively anemic, with only 25 sacks generated (tied for 29th in the NFL). From Week 14-16 of regular season (the last three weeks, with no teams on bye), Oakland has averaged 20.6 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (10th-most in the NFL); and 20.7 fantasy points per game allowed to wide receivers (14th-most); with 11 fantasy points given up per game to tight ends (sixth-most). Last week, Andrew Luck reeled off 19/29 for 288 yards passing, two TDs and two interceptions thrown, with zero sacks taken at Oakland; two games ago they held Philip Rivers to 17/30 for 190 net yards passing, two TDs and one interception thrown, with three sacks taken for -16 yards.

This is a good matchup for Siemian who had respectable results against Oakland earlier in the year. Downgrade it to 'neutral' if the inexperienced Lynch steps under center this weekend.

Weather: Mile High Stadium expects a temperature of 51 F at game time, with cloudy skies and winds around 2 MPH - really nice football weather, in other words.

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


Houston Texans Passing Offense at Tennessee Titans Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Houston won the first matchup of these teams, besting Tennessee 27-20 back in Week Four - neither quarterback that started in that game will start this one, as Brock Osweiler has been benched for Tom Savage in Houston, and Marcus Mariota faces a four-to-five-month recovery from a surgically-repaired broken leg.

Savage came down from his Week 15 high (23/36 for 260 yards passing, zero TDs or interceptions thrown) to manage a 12-10 win over Cincinnnati last weekend (18/29 for 176 yards passing, zero TDs or interceptions thrown). He relied on three main targets last weekend: DeAndre Hopkins (six targets for 3/43/0 receiving), C.J. Fiedorowicz (seven for 4/42/0) and Will Fuller V (six for 3/39/0) - look for those three to continue high on Savage's list for Week 17 and beyond.

The Titans' pass defense ranks 31st in the NFL this season averaging 270.9 net yards allowed per game, with 24 passing scores given out vs. 12 interceptions (tied for 14th in the NFL) and 36 sacks (10th in the NFL) generated. Last week, Blake Bortles used the obvious weakness to pull out of his second-half nosedive (27/39 for 331 net yards, two TDs and zero interceptions thrown by Jacksonville last weekend vs. Tennessee); two weeks ago Alex Smith limped to 15/28 for 159 net yards passing, zero TDs and one interception thrown, with one sack taken for -4 yards against the Titans. From Week 14-16 of regular season (the last three weeks, with no teams on bye), Tennessee has averaged 21.3 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (seventh-most in the NFL); and 29.8 fantasy points per game allowed to wide receivers (seventh-most); with 3.7 fantasy points given up per game to tight ends (fifth-least).

This is a good matchup for Savage and the Texans.

Weather: Nissan Stadium expects a temperature of 49 F at game time, with drizzle falling and winds around 3 MPH - as long as the rain doesn't come down in torrents on Sunday, it should be a decent-if-slightly-soggy day to play football in Nashville.

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


Indianapolis Colts Passing Offense vs Jacksonville Jaguars Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Jacksonville defeated Indianapolis back in Week Four, 30-27 - Andrew Luck was harrassed all day long, taking six sacks for -44 yards, but he managed 27/42 for 234 yards passing, two TDs and one interception thrown during the contest. Philip Dorsett (three targets for 1/64/1 receiving) and T.Y. Hilton (10 for 7/42/1) pulled down the TDs from Luck that day.

Entering Week 17, Donte Moncrief (shoulder injury) looks iffy to play as he re-injured his troublesome shoulder in Week 16 while seeing three targets for 2/30/1 receiving at Oakland. Robert Turbin (two for 2/11/1) pulled down the other TD from Luck last week, while T.Y. Hilton led the team in receiving (nine for 4/105/0) while tight ends Jack Doyle (seven for 5/46/0), Erik Swoope (one for 1/45/0) and Dwayne Allen (four for 3/31/0) all moved the chains for Luck (19/29 for 288 yards, two TDs and two interceptions thrown). The Colts' offense is not the reason the team is 7-8.

Jacksonville's pass defense limited Tennessee to 21/44 for 205 yards passing, two TDs and one interception thrown, with three sacks taken for -18 yards last week - two games ago Houston was allowed 29/47 for 308 net yards passing, zero TDs and two interceptions. From Week 14-16 of regular season (the last three weeks, with no teams on bye), Jacksonville has averaged 17.4 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (17th in the NFL); and 18.6 fantasy points per game allowed to wide receivers (17th); with 10.2 fantasy points given up per game to tight ends (seventh-most). This is a mediocre pass defense, friends, even though they currently average just 210.3 net passing yards allowed per game (third in the NFL), the Jaguars have allowed 18 passing scores this year vs. a mere six interceptions (worst in the NFL) and only 29 sacks (tied for 25th in the league) generated.

The Colts enjoy home field advantage for the season finale and hold an edge on their AFC South rivals.

Weather: Inside Lucas Oil Stadium weather won't impact either team.

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


New England Patriots Passing Offense at Miami Dolphins Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Bill Belichick implied on Monday, December 26 that he will not rest any starters Week 17 against the Dolphins. 'I don't understand that question,' Belichick said. 'I don't know how many starters we have.' The Patriots could lose the No. 1 seed with a loss and Raiders win, and they have already locked up a bye. As well as being a divisional rivalry, this game has playoff positioning on the line for both clubs - expect both teams to bring their 'A' game to this showdown. New England won the first game at New England in Week Two, 31-24 - back then the team was without Tom Brady, though, so looking back won't tell us much about this matchup.

Brady has been cruising in recent weeks, and blew up the Jets for three passing scores last weekend (17/27 for 214 yards, three TDs and zero interceptions thrown, with one sack taken for -9 yards). Julian Edelman led the Patriots last weekend with eight targets for 5/89/0 receiving, while James White (four for 3/32/1), Martellus Bennett (two for 2/19/1) and Matt Lengel, a backup tight end, handled one for 1/18/1.

The Dolphins average 239.9 net passing yards allowed per game (13th in the NFL), and have given up 27 passing scores vs. 16 interceptions (tied for third in the NFL) and 33 sacks (16th in the league) generated this season. From Week 14-16 of regular season (the last three weeks, with no teams on bye), Miami has averaged 21.2 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (eighth-most in the NFL); and 26.5 fantasy points per game allowed to wide receivers (ninth-most); with 8.8 fantasy points given up per game to tight ends (10th-most). Tyrod Taylor, not noted for his big games as a passer, threw 26/39 for 317 net yards passing, three TDs and zero interceptions vs. Miami last weekend (with two sacks taken for -12 yards). The Jets managed 25/46 for 244 net yards passing, one TD and three interceptions thrown, with three sacks taken for -22 yards against Miami two games back.

This is a good matchup for Brady and company even though they travel to Miami this weekend.

Weather: Hard Rock Stadium expects a temperature of 75 F at game time, with clear skies and winds around 18 MPH - in high wind conditions, the passing and kicking games will be adversely affected. Owners of Dolphins and Patriots will want to check a shorter-term forecast with anticipated wind conditions before setting lineups on Sunday.

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


New Orleans Saints Passing Offense at Atlanta Falcons Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Atlanta bested New Orleans 45-32 back in Week Three - Drew Brees bombed the suspect Atlanta secondary for 36/54 yielding 376 yards passing, three TDs and one interception during that game, with two sacks taken for -17 yards. Coby Fleener had a rare appearance as the lead Saints' receiver in that game (11 for 7/109/1); Michael Thomas (11 for 7/71/1) and Mark Ingram (six for 4/30/1) hauled in the other TDs for the Saints.

Brees has bounced back from his rough patch of games in Weeks 13 and 14 to play well of late - he victimized the Cardinals' secondary for 37/48 for 389 yards passing, four TDs and zero interceptions thrown, with three sacks taken for -31 yards two games ago, and then tossed 23/34 for 299 yards passing, one TD and zero interceptions against the Buccaneers last Saturday (with two sacks taken for -5 yards). Over the last two games, three players have seen double-digit targets from Brees - Michael Thomas (19 targets for 13/149/1 receiving); Willie Snead (16 for 10/97/0); and Brandin Cooks (17 for 12/284/2). Travaris Cadet (seven for 7/46/2) has also pulled in two receiving TDs during that time span.

The Falcons' secondary is ranked 26th in the NFL averaging 261.7 net passing yards allowed per game, with 29 passing scores given out vs. 11 interceptions (tied for 20th in the NFL) and 32 sacks (16th) generated. Recently, Cam Newton struggled to throw the ball against the Falcons (18/43 for 183 net yards passing, one TD and two interceptions thrown, with two sacks taken for -15 yards), while the Falcons' pass defense limited the 49ers' injury-depleted squad to 20/33 for 165 net yards passing, two TDs and zero interceptions thrown, with two sacks generated for -18 yards two games ago. Of late, Atlanta is playing teams tougher than their season average would indicate - from Week 14-16 of regular season (the last three weeks, with no teams on bye), Atlanta has averaged 16.9 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (14th-least in the NFL); and 18.3 fantasy points per game allowed to wide receivers (14th-least); with 7.7 fantasy points given up per game to tight ends (12th-most).

Brees has shown in the past he's pretty matchup proof but we're calling this is a good matchup for the Saints as they visit the Georgia Dome.

Weather: Inside the Georgia Dome weather won't impact either team.

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


Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Offense vs Cleveland Browns Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Here's something you haven't read for a while: the Cleveland Browns come into Heinz Field off a victory. It's not exactly a 'win streak' yet, but Cleveland fans can always hope...last time these teams met, Pittsburgh triumphed 24-9 in Cleveland. Ben Roethlisberger didn't need to throw the ball much (23/36 for 167 yards passing, zero TDs or interceptions thrown, with zero sacks taken).

However, unfortunately for Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown owners in Week 17 fantasy finals (vote to change that next season, all y'all in that situation!), Steelers' head coach Mike Tomlin suggested Tuesday, December 27, that Roethlisberger, LeVeon Bell, Brown and Maurkice Pouncey probably won't play in Week 17 against the Cleveland Browns. The Steelers are locked into the AFC North title and cannot improve their seeding (#3 in the AFC) with a win at Cleveland, so this is essentially a meaningless game for them. Landry Jones (61/104 for 794 yards passing, four TDs and five interceptions thrown during his three-year career in Pittsburgh) may be the quarterback for the Steelers in this contest. Ladarius Green is still in the concussion protocols, so Jesse James figures to be the starting tight end, and Eli Rogers/Darius Heyward-Bey may be the top two receivers for this tilt.

The Browns' pass defense ranks 21st in the NFL averaging 250.2 net passing yards allowed per game, but they are dead last in the NFL with 33 passing scores given out to date, vs. nine interceptions (tied for 25th in the league) and only 22 sacks generated (dead last in the NFL in sacks). From Week 14-16 of regular season (the last three weeks, with no teams on bye), Cleveland has averaged 19.8 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (12th-most in the NFL); and 16.1 fantasy points per game allowed to wide receivers (ninth-least); with 15.1 fantasy points given up per game to tight ends (most in the NFL). Last week Philip Rivers threw 23/46 for 322 yards, two TDs and one interception at Cleveland, with zero sacks taken, and tight end Antonio Gates led the team in receiving with 13 targets for 8/94/1 receiving.

The Steelers' passing attack has a good matchup here (it would be a great matchup if the first-team were playing).

Weather: Heinz Field expects a temperature of 34 F at game time, with clear skies and winds around 3 MPH - that's nice football weather for Western Pennsylvania in late December.

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


Seattle Seahawks Passing Offense at San Francisco 49ers Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Seattle could grab the second seed in the NFC Playoffs by winning this game and if Atlanta loses - however, both teams play in the late afternoon slot, so Seattle won't know the outcome of the Falcons game before their tilt with San Francisco. Look for Seattle to play hard in this game in order to secure a possible first-round bye. Seattle beat San Francisco 37-18 in the first game between these teams in Week Three - Seattle posted 22/32 for 308 yards passing, two TDS and one interception during the game, with two sacks for -17 yards. Since Week Three Russell Wilson has gradually gotten his injured knee healthy and entering Week 17 he looks back to the top of his skills.

Last week, Wilson threw 29/45 for 350 yards passing, four TDs and zero interceptions vs. Arizona, and he led the team in rushing with 10/36/0 on the ground. Doug Baldwin led the team in receiving with 19 targets for 13/171/1 receiving, while Jimmy Graham (three targets for 2/43/1), Paul Richardson (five for 4/42/1) and Jermaine Kearse (nine for 4/37/1) all reeled in TDs. The Seahawks have lost Tyler Lockett to IR due to a broken leg/ankle injuries, so they'll need Richardson and Kearse to pick up the slack Lockett leaves behind.

The 49ers' pass defense is currently 12th in the NFL averaging 237.3 net yards allowed per game, but they have given up a hefty 29 passing scores to date, vs. just 10 interceptions and 31 sacks generated (tied for 22nd- and 18th-ranked in the NFL, respectively). Last week, San Francisco allowed only 78 net yards passing to Jared Goff, but that was an outlier. The 49ers' pass defense gave up 18/24 for 302 net yards passing, two TDs and zero interceptions (with one sack for zero yards) to the Falcons' quarterbacks two weeks ago, on the way to a 13-41 humiliation in Atlanta. When faced with top talent, the 49ers' secondary has been suspect all year.

Advantage, Seattle.

Weather: Levis' Stadium expects a temperature of 50 F at game time, with clear skies and winds around 7 MPH - near-perfect football weather, in other words.

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


Tampa Bay Buccaneers Passing Offense vs Carolina Panthers Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Tampa beat Carolina 17-14 back in Week Five, in a Monday Night Football game at Carolina - Jameis Winston threw 18/30 for 219 yards passing, one TD and zero interceptions, with two sacks taken for -17 yards. Mike Evans was his main target during the game, with 12 for 6/89/1 receiving; Cameron Brate (now on IR for Week 17) was second on the team with three targets for 1/38/0 receiving.

Entering Week 17 Tampa has lost their top tight end to a back injury, so Brandon Myers will need to step into the starting lineup to close out the season. At New Orleans last week, Mike Evans once again led the team in receiving with eight targets for 7/97/1 receiving, while Russell Shepard (five for 3/61/0) and Charles Sims (four for 4/30/0 receiving) were the next two in line. All told Winston (23/35 for 277 yards passing, two TDs and two interceptions thrown, with two sacks taken for -17 yards) found nine different receivers for at least one pass reception.

The Panthers' secondary gave up 27/33 for 256 net yards passing, two TDs and zero interceptions thrown to Matt Ryan last weekend, while sacking him four times for -21 yards. Two games ago Washington piled up 32/47 for 306 net yards passing, zero TDs and one interception thrown, with one sack taken for -9 yards. From Week 14-16 of regular season (the last three weeks, with no teams on bye), Carolina has averaged 18.5 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (15th-most in the NFL); and 18.5 fantasy points per game allowed to wide receivers (15th-least); with 5.8 fantasy points given up per game to tight ends (13th-least). As you can see, they've been mediocre against opposing fantasy passers - this season, Carolina is dead last in the NFL averaging 273.5 net passing yards allowed per game, despite leading the league with 44 sacks generated).

This looks like a good matchup for the Buccaneers as they close out the season on their home turf.

Weather: Raymond James Stadium expects a temperature of 73 F at game time, with clear skies and winds around 15 MPH - in gusty conditions the kicking and passing games may be adversely affected. Owners of Panthers and Buccaneers will want to check a shorter-term forecast with anticipated wind conditions before setting lineups this week.

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


Buffalo Bills Passing Offense at New York Jets Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Buffalo fired head coach Rex Ryan and assistant head coach Rob Ryan on Tuesday, December 27. Anthony Lynn will serve as the interim head coach for the final game of the season. There may be a connection between this move and the benching of Tyrod Taylor for the final game of the season - Adam Schefter reported on Tuesday that Taylor will reportedly be benched for Week 17 against the New York Jets. Buffalo reportedly does not want to take the chance of owing Taylor $30.75 million should he get hurt in the regular-season finale. Impending free-agent E.J. Manuel will start in his place. However, Rex Ryan had announced on Monday, December 26th that Taylor would keep the starting job - evidently the front office violently disagreed. In any case, it appears that the Bills are not playing to win this regular-season finale. Fantasy owners invested in the Bills' passing attack should take note - Manuel has been a mediocre starter in his chances, with 310/527 for 3,416 yards passing, 19 TDs and 15 interceptions thrown over 28 games played. Obviously, looking back to the last matchup between these teams, in Week Two, won't tell us much about this current, turbulent situation.

The Jets' defense fell totally apart last weekend against the Patriots, allowing five offensive TDs - Tom Brady and company threw for 18/29 yielding 211 net yards passing, three TDs and zero interceptions thrown, with one sack taken for -9 yards. Matt Moore set a career record with four TDs passes at New York two games ago (12/18 for 236 yards passing, four TDs and one interception thrown, with one sack taken for zero yard). From Week 14-16 of regular season (the last three weeks, with no teams on bye), New York has averaged 20.9 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (ninth-most in the NFL); and 18 fantasy points per game allowed to wide receivers (12th-least); with 12.4 fantasy points given up per game to tight ends (third-most).

This is an ugly but fairly even matchup between two sub-par units. We're not in a rush to insert Manuel or the Bills' receivers in our lineups this weekend.

Weather: MetLife Stadium expects a temperature of 44 F at game time, with clear skies and winds around 8 MPH - that is nice mild weather in Northern New Jersey at this time of year.

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


Carolina Panthers Passing Offense at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Tampa beat Carolina 17-14 back in Week Five, in a Monday Night Football game at Carolina - Greg Olsen was a major thorn in the side of the Buccaneers, though, with 13 targets for 9/181/0 receiving during the game - Kelvin Benjamin was also heavily involved with nine targets for 5/70/0 receiving. All told, Derek Anderson (in for Cam Newton that week) threw 18/28 for 278 yards passing, zero TDs and two interceptions (while taking zero sacks during the contest).

Since then, of course, Cam Newton has come back to lead the Panthers to their disappointing 6-9 Super Bowl Hangover season - last week vs. Atlanta he managed 18/43 for 198 yards passing, one TD and two interceptions thrown, with two sacks taken for -15 yards. Kelvin Benjamin snagged the TD (eight targets for 4/63/1 receiving), while Greg Olsen was second on the team with 12 for 6/59/0. The more things change, the more they stay the same - the Panthers' main receivers entering Week 17 are the same guys from Week Five.

The Buccaneers' pass defense averages 253.7 net yards passing per game (23rd in the NFL), with 23 passing scores given out vs. 14 interceptions and 35 sacks generated this season (tied for 10th in the NFL and 11th-ranked, respectively). From Week 14-16 of regular season (the last three weeks, with no teams on bye), Tampa has averaged 17 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (15th-least in the NFL); and 19.6 fantasy points per game allowed to wide receivers (15th-most); with 3.7 fantasy points given up per game to tight ends (sixth-least). This is a mediocre pass defense by most measures. Drew Brees threw 23/34 for 294 net yards, one TD and zero interceptions last weekend, with two sacks taken for -5 yards; two games ago Dak Prescott diced up the secondary for 32/36 yielding 264 yards passing, zero TDs or interceptions, while taking three sacks for -15 yards.

This week the Panthers have a neutral matchup to work with down in Tampa's house.

Weather: Raymond James Stadium expects a temperature of 73 F at game time, with clear skies and winds around 15 MPH - in gusty conditions the kicking and passing games may be adversely affected. Owners of Panthers and Buccaneers will want to check a shorter-term forecast with anticipated wind conditions before setting lineups this week.

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


Chicago Bears Passing Offense at Minnesota Vikings Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Chicago defeated their NFC North rivals 20-10 at Soldier Field in Week Eight - at the time Minnesota was 5-2 and Chicago was 2-6 after the game. Minnesota has gone 2-6 since then, while Chicago has gone 1-6 - neither team is in the playoff picture this week, so they are playing for pride (and next year's jobs) on Sunday. Back in Week Eight, Jay Cutler was still starting for Chicago, so looking back won't help us evaluate Matt Barkley's prospects for Week 17.

Over the last three weeks, Barkley has thrown 74/115 for 897 yards passing, five TDs and eight interceptions - he's gone over 300 yards passing in each of the last two games, with 24/40 for 323 yards, two TDs and five interceptions thrown vs. Washington last weekend. During that three-week time span, Barkley has leanded on Cameron Meredith the most, with 33 targets for 24/311/2 receiving, while five other players have seen double-digit targets: Alshon Jeffery (19 for 11/181/1), Deonte Thompson (18 for 13/172/1), Jordan Howard (12 for 7/56/0), Daniel Brown (12 for 9/69/0), and Josh Bellamy (12 for 5/66/1). Barkley is not afraid to spread the ball around, as you can see.

The Vikings' pass defense was shredded for four TDs by Aaron Rodgers last weekend (28/38 for 308 net yards passing, four TDs and zero interceptions thrown, with four sacks taken for -39 yards). The Vikings allowed 21/28 for 250 yards, two TDs and zero interceptions with zero sacks to Andrew Luck two games ago - they haven't been effective in this phase of the game during December, folks. From Week 14-16 of regular season (the last three weeks, with no teams on bye), Minnesota has averaged 26.7 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (second-most in the NFL); and 30.6 fantasy points per game allowed to wide receivers (fifth-most); with 9.7 fantasy points given up per game to tight ends (eighth-most).

But this is Minnesota fighting for pride. We think this is a neutral matchup for Barkley and company.

Weather: Inside US Bank Stadium weather won't impact either team.

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


Cincinnati Bengals Passing Offense vs Baltimore Ravens Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Baltimore won the first installment of this game during Week 12, 19-14 - Tyler Eifert (since sent to IR due to his troublesome back) saw 11 targets for 5/68/1 receiving for the Bengals (he led the club in receiving) during the game - Andy Dalton tossed 26/48 for 283 yards passing, one TD and zero interceptions, with three sacks taken for -22 yards.

Last week, with a chance to play spoiler in Houston, the Bengals again lost 10-12. Dalton had a typical so-so performance with 28/41 for 268 yards passing, one TD and one interception thrown, with three sacks taken for -24 yards. With A.J. Green out (again) last week due to his injured hamstring, Brandon LaFell led the team in receiving with 10 targets for 6/130/1 receiving; Cody Core was second in receiving with 14 for 8/39/0 - they were the only two receivers over 30 yards last week. Entering the final game of the season, the Bengals are injury-depleted and lacking their top stars.

The Ravens held Pittsburgh down until the fourth quarter on Christmas, but fell apart late eventually allowing 24/33 for 279 net yards passing, three TDs and two interceptions thrown. Two games ago they held Carson Wentz to 22/42 for 159 net yards passing, zero TDs and one interception thrown with one sack taken for -11 yards, but in general the Ravens' pass defense has been so-so this year, averaging 233.7 net passing yards allowed per game (10th in the NFL), with 27 passing scores given out over 15 games vs. 18 interceptions (first in the NFL) and 30 sacks (tied for 21st in the NFL) generated. From Week 14-16 of regular season (the last three weeks, with no teams on bye), Baltimore has averaged 23.1 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (fourth-most in the NFL); and 22.8 fantasy points per game allowed to wide receivers (12th-most); with 11.5 fantasy points given up per game to tight ends (fourth-most). Baltimore's secondary has been vulnerable here in December.

This is a neutral matchup between two pedestrian units.

Weather: Paul Brown Stadium expects a temperature of 44 F at game time, with cloudy skies and winds around 8 MPH - that's nice weather for Ohio in the winter-time.

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


Jacksonville Jaguars Passing Offense at Indianapolis Colts Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Jacksonville defeated Indianapolis back in Week Four, 30-27 - back then Blake Bortles threw 19/33 for 207 yards, two TDs and zero interceptions (with three sacks taken for -12 yards).

Since Week Four, Bortles has been through a horrid mid-to-late-season slump, but he managed to pull out of the mess last weekend, with 26/38 for 325 yards, one TD and zero interceptions thrown, while taking two sacks. Marqise Lee also threw a 20-yard TD pass last weekend as Jacksonville upended Tennessee. Allen Robinson (12 targets for 9/147/0 receiving) also broke out of a monumental slump in the game, while Marqise Lee (seven for 3/37/1) and Blake Bortles (one for 1/20/1) threw each other TD passes.

The Colts' pass defense is nothing special this year, averaging 260.5 net passing yards allowed per game (24th in the NFL) with 26 passing scores given out vs. just eight interceptions (tied for third-least in the NFL) and 31 sacks (tied for 18th in the league) generated to date. From Week 14-16 of regular season (the last three weeks, with no teams on bye), Indianapolis has averaged 15 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (eighth-least in the NFL); and 14.7 fantasy points per game allowed to wide receivers (fifth-least); with 7.7 fantasy points given up per game to tight ends (13th-most). The Raiders piled up 22/33 for 249 yards passing, three TDS and zero interceptions thrown vs. Indianapolis last week (one sack taken for -8 yards), while two games ago they allowed 32/42 for 248 net yards passing, zero TDs and one interception, with five sacks of Sam Bradford for -43 yards.

Bortles and company have a neutral matchup here - we'll see if he can build on the momentum from last week's good game.

Weather: Inside Lucas Oil Stadium weather won't impact either team.

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


Kansas City Chiefs Passing Offense at San Diego Chargers Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Back in Week One, K.C. defeated San Diego 33-27 at Arrowhead Stadium - Alex Smith had a big game against the Chargers with 34/48 for 363 yards passing, two TDs and one interception thrown, and three sacks taken for -33 yards (he also racked up a rushing score with 4/16/1 to his credit). That day Spencer Ware (eight targets for 7/129/0 receiving) led the team in receiving, while Travis Kelce (seven for 6/74/0), Jeremy Maclin (seven for 5/63/1) and Tyreek Hill (one for 1/9/1) also played significant roles.

Since then, Hill has come on to be a dynamic returner, runner and playmaker at wide receiver (21/252/3 rushing with 76 targets for 56/547/6 receiving), while Maclin has recently returned to relative health after a disappointing regular season (71 for 40/483/2). Kelce is far-and-away the team's leading receiver (115 for 84/1,117/4). Last weekend, Kelce dominated the feared Broncos' pass defense with 12 targets for 11/160/1 receiving, followed by Demetrius Harris (nine for 6/37/1). Maclin (four for 3/9/0) and Hill (five targets for zero receptions) were held in check in this phase of the game. Alex Smith posted a respectable 25/36 for 244 yards passing, one TD and one interception during the game - Dontari Poe also threw a two-yard TD in the game, and Smith also rushed for a TD with 4/46/1.

The Chargers' pass defense averages 248.3 net passing yards allowed per game (19th in the NFL), with 19 passing scores given out vs. 17 interceptions (second-most in the NFL) and 34 sacks (tied for 12th) generated. They leveled the Browns' quarterbacks nine times for -48 yards last weekend, while allowing just 19/28 for 127 net yards, zero TDs or interceptions thrown; Derek Carr threw 19/30 for 200 net yards passing, one TD and one interception, with two sacks taken for -13 yards at San Diego two games ago. From Week 14-16 of regular season (the last three weeks, with no teams on bye), San Diego has averaged 13.7 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (fourth-least in the NFL); and 13.9 fantasy points per game allowed to wide receivers (fourth-least); with 5.9 fantasy points given up per game to tight ends (15th-least). This is a quality pass defense, folks.

We're calling this a neutral matchup.

Weather: San Diego expects a temperature of 56 F at game time, with cloudy skies and winds around 6 MPH - it should be a fine day for some pro football.

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


Los Angeles Rams Passing Offense vs Arizona Cardinals Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Back in Week Four, these teams battled to a 17-13 decision in favor of Los Angeles - but Case Keenum, not Jared Goff, was under center for the Rams back then. Looking to Week Four won't tell us much about the Rams' prospects in this season-ending game.

Goff has not impressed since taking the reins from Keenum, with 99/185 for 969 yards passing, five TDs and seven interceptions thrown over six starts (with 8/16/1 rushing to his credit). Last week, against the awful 49er's defense, he eked out 11/24 for 90 net yards passing, one TD with two interceptions thrown, and four sacks taken for -12 yards - that's 78 net yards passing on the day, friends. Yikes.

The Cardinals' pass defense averages 219.6 net passing yards allowed per game this season, with 21 passing scores given out vs. 12 interceptions and 41 sacks generated (tied for 14th- and second-ranked in the NFL, respectively). However, the Cardinals' secondary has coughed up eight passing scores over the past two games, with 29/45 for 313 net yards passing, four TDs and zero interceptions thrown and six sacks for -37 yards against Russell Wilson last weekend and 37/48 for 358 net yards passing, four TDs and zero interceptions thrown, with three sacks taken for -31 yards surrendered to Drew Brees and company two weeks ago. From Week 14-16 of regular season (the last three weeks, with no teams on bye), Arizona has averaged 32.5 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (most in the NFL); and 41.4 fantasy points per game allowed to wide receivers (most in the league); with 6.4 fantasy points given up per game to tight ends (17th in the NFL).

Two collapsing units face off in this ugly but fairly even matchup. We'll see if Goff can end the season on a high note...

Weather: Los Angeles expects a temperature of 59 F at game time, with cloudy skies and winds around 3 MPH - nice football weather is on tap in Southern California this weekend.

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


Minnesota Vikings Passing Offense vs Chicago Bears Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Chicago defeated their NFC North rivals 20-10 at Soldier Field in Week Eight - at the time Minnesota was 5-2 and Chicago was 2-6 after the game. Minnesota has gone 2-6 since then, while Chicago has gone 1-6 - neither team is in the playoff picture this week, so they are playing for pride (and next year's jobs) on Sunday.

Sam Bradford has been near or over 300 yards passing in each of his last three outings, with 292, 291, and 382 yards passing from Weeks 14-16. Last week at Green Bay he threw 34/50 for 382 yards pasing, three TDs and zero interceptions, but his team still lost 25-38 because his defense allowed four passing scores to Aaron Rodgers (and one rushing TD to Rodgers, too). Adam Thielen had a career game at Green Bay with 15 targets for 12/202/2 receiving, while Kyle Rudolph (nine for 6/53/0) and Jerick McKinnon (six for 5/35/0) kept the chains moving. Stefon Diggs (six for 4/29/1) secured the other TD pass from Bradford. The Vikings' passing attack is on a roll entering Week 17.

The Bears' pass defense didn't generate a sack of Kirk Cousins last weekend, and gave up 18/29 for 270 net yards passing, one TD and zero interceptions. Two games ago the Bears' pass defense allowed 19/31 for 225 net yards passing, zero TDs or interceptions, and generated four sacks of Aaron Rodgers for -27 yards. From Week 14-16 of regular season (the last three weeks, with no teams on bye), Chicago has averaged 22.6 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (fifth-most in the NFL); and 30.3 fantasy points per game allowed to wide receivers (sixth-most); with 4.7 fantasy points given up per game to tight ends (ninth-least). To date, the Bears average 223.2 net passing yards allowed per game (sixth in the NFL), with 19 passing scores given out vs. a mere seven interceptions (tied for next-to-last in the NFL) and 37 sacks (tied for seventh) generated.

The hot Bradford faces a so-so secondary in this game - this looks like a neutral matchup to us.

Weather: Inside US Bank Stadium weather won't impact either team.

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


New York Giants Passing Offense at Washington Redskins Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Giants have clinched a Wild Card spot in the playoffs, but they backed into it with a 19-24 loss to Philadelphia last weekend, while Washington beat up the Bears 41-21 and is still alive for the final Wild Card spot depending on the outcome of the NFC North Championship game on Sunday Night Football. Both teams have reasons to play hard in this rematch of their perennial NFC East rivalry. Washington won the first showdown of the season 29-27 back in Week Three. Eli Manning threw 25/38 for 350 yards passing, one TD and two interceptions in that game, with two sacks taken for -13 yards. Sterling Shepard caught the lone TD (seven targets for 5/73/1 receiving) while Odell Beckham Jr. led the team in receiving with 11 for 7/121/0.

Entering Week 17, Manning is throwing more interceptions (three at Philadelphia) than TDs (one), though he did rack up a ridiculous 63 pass attempts at Philadelphia (38/63 for 356 yards passing) while taking zero sacks. As you might expect, Beckham saw a score of targets last weekend (20 for 11/150/0 receiving), while Victor Cruz (13 for 8/84/0) and Sterling Shepard (11 for 7/61/1) were also in double digits in the target department last weekend.

Washington's pass defense picked off Matt Barkley five times last weekend (24/40 for 323 yards passing, and two TDs) and have compiled 13 interceptions total this year (tied for 12th in the NFL) - Manning will need to be more careful with the football on Sunday. From Week 14-16 of regular season (the last three weeks, with no teams on bye), Washington has averaged 20.5 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (11th-most in the NFL); and 23.2 fantasy points per game allowed to wide receivers (11th-most); with 11.2 fantasy points given up per game to tight ends (fifth-most).

This is a neutral matchup for the Giants, but Manning may have another multiple interception game if he's sloppy with the ball again on Sunday.

Weather: FedEx Field expects a temperature of 48 F at game time, with cloudy skies and winds around 8 MPH - weather shouldn't impact this game much.

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


Baltimore Ravens Passing Offense at Cincinnati Bengals Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Ravens' loss in Pittsburgh Christmas Day eliminated Baltimore from playoff contention, so this is a divisonal-rivalry game that will be played for just pride's sake.

Baltimore won the first installment of this game during Week 12, 19-14 - Joe Flacco threw 24/36 for 234 yards passing, one TD and one interception during the victory, with two sacks taken for -15 yards. Mike Wallace (four targets for 3/57/0 receiving) and Dennis Pitta (five for 3/34/0) were the top two receivers in the game, while Breshad Perriman (three for 1/14/1) pulled down the lone offensive TD scored by the Ravens that day.

Joe Flacco had his team up 17-10 at the end of the third quarter last week, only to watch the lead vanish at Heinz Field, and recorded a 'L' in the win-loss column 27-31. Flacco threw 30/44 for 262 yards passing, one TD and one interception during the game, taking two sacks for -16 yards. His top targets last weekend were Steve Smith Sr. (seven for 7/79/1); Dennis Pitta (11 for 8/75/0); and Mike Wallace (seven for 4/21/0). Breshad Perriman helped out with five targets for 3/32/0. Look for Flacco to rely on this same cast of characters here in the final game of the year.

The Bengals' pass defense hobbled Texans' journeyman Tom Savage last weekend, limiting him to 18/29 for 155 net yards passing, zero TDs or interceptions thrown, with four sacks taken for -21 yards. Two games ago Ben Roethlisberger threw 21/36 for 285 net yards passing, one TD and zero interceptions thrown, with one sack taken for -1 yard at Cincinnati. From Week 14-16 of regular season (the last three weeks, with no teams on bye), Cincinnati has averaged 13.7 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (fifth-least in the NFL); and 11.9 fantasy points per game allowed to wide receivers (third-least); with 5.7 fantasy points given up per game to tight ends (11th-least in the league). During December the secondary is playing hard despite the Bengals' losing record.

Flacco and company face a tough divisional challenge in this contest.

Weather: Paul Brown Stadium expects a temperature of 44 F at game time, with cloudy skies and winds around 8 MPH - that's nice weather for Ohio in the winter-time.

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


Cleveland Browns Passing Offense at Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Here's something you haven't read for a while: the Cleveland Browns come into Heinz Field off a victory. It's not exactly a 'win streak' yet, but Cleveland fans can always hope...last time these teams met, Pittsburgh triumphed 24-9 in Cleveland. Back then, Josh McCown threw 14/27 for 118 yards, one TD and zero interceptions with four sacks taken for -36 yards, and Kessler had 7/14 for 128 yards passing, zero TDs and one interception thrown, with four sacks taken for -34 yards. All told, the Steelers had eight sacks for -70 yards against the Browns in Week 11.

Cody Kessler may be the starter for the team's Week 17 game if Robert Griffin III (concussion) is not cleared to start, according to head coach Hue Jackson on Monday, December 26. Griffin has a history of concussions, so it would be no surprise to see Kessler (who also has been concussed this season) back under center - he's thrown 128/195 for 1,380 yards passing, six TDs and two interceptions during his time under center this year (parts of nine games played). This is a developing situation - fantasy owners invested in the Browns (if any are still in the playoffs) will want to check Footballguys.com's Players in the News for the latest on who is able to practice during Week 17.

The Steelers' pass defense averages 245.1 net passing yards (15th in the NFL) allowed per game, with 18 passing scores given out this season vs. 12 interceptions (tied for 14th in the league) and 34 sacks (tied for 12th) generated. From Week 14-16 of regular season (the last three weeks, with no teams on bye), Pittsburgh has averaged 15.9 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (10th-least in the NFL); and 16 fantasy points per game allowed to wide receivers (eighth-least); with 7.5 fantasy points given up per game to tight ends (14th-most). This is a good pass defense playing well entering Week 17 - last week, Joe Flacco and company were limited to 30/44 for 246 net yards passing, one TD and one interception thrown, with two sacks taken for -16 yards.

This week the Browns have a tough matchup ahead of them, at Heinz Field.

Weather: Heinz Field expects a temperature of 34 F at game time, with clear skies and winds around 3 MPH - that's nice football weather for Western Pennsylvania in late December.

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


Miami Dolphins Passing Offense vs New England Patriots Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Dolphins head coach Adam Gase told reporters Monday, Dec. 26, his goal is to go '1-0 this week', implying he will not rest his starters in Week 17 versus the New England Patriots with a chance to improve the team's seeding in the NFL Playoffs. As well as being a divisional rivalry, this game has playoff positioning on the line for both clubs - expect both teams to bring their 'A' game to this showdown. New England won the first game at New England in Week Two, 31-24 - however, Ryan Tannehill (knee injury) was starting that game and for this week it is Matt Moore who'll be under center.

Moore has been a savior for the Dolphins' season after Tannehill went down in Week 14 - he's thrown six TDs and two interceptions in starts against the Jets and the Bills, resulting in two 'W's' - he helped pull out a tight OT win at Buffalo last weekend with 16/30 for 233 yards passing, two TDs and one interception thrown, with zero sacks taken. DeVante Parker (seven targets for 4/85/1 receiving) and Kenny Stills (eight for 3/35/1) handled his TD passes last weekend, while Damien Williams (three for 2/51/0) and Jarvis Landry (six for 3/29/0) were both heavily involved in the game as well.

The Patriots' pass defense allowed a mere 8/24 for 128 net yards passing, zero TDs and three interceptions thrown to the Jets last weekend (two sacks for -8 yards) - two weeks ago Trevor Siemian threw 25/40 for 251 net yards passing, zero TDs and one interception thrown, with four sacks taken for -31 yards on the day. As you can see, the Patriots' pass defense has clamped down during December - from Week 14-16 of regular season (the last three weeks, with no teams on bye), New England has averaged 13.6 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (third-least in the NFL); and 15.3 fantasy points per game allowed to wide receivers (seventh-least); with 6.6 fantasy points given up per game to tight ends (16th in the league).

This is a tough matchup for Moore and company.

Weather: Hard Rock Stadium expects a temperature of 75 F at game time, with clear skies and winds around 18 MPH - in high wind conditions, the passing and kicking games will be adversely affected. Owners of Dolphins and Patriots will want to check a shorter-term forecast with anticipated wind conditions before setting lineups on Sunday.

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


Oakland Raiders Passing Offense at Denver Broncos Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Oakland defeated Denver 30-20 at the Black Hole back in Week Nine - Derek Carr was under center that day, though, which won't be true in Week 17.

Carr broke his leg last week, had surgery on Tuesday, December 27, and is out four-to-six weeks, leaving Matt McGloin (2/3 for 29 yards passing vs. the Colts in relief of Carr last weekend) to close out the win. McGloin has appeared in 13 NFL games over his four-year Oakland career, with 155/266 for 1,847 yards passing, 11 TDs and 11 interceptions thrown (and 16/27/0 rushing). McGloin's NFL opportunity has arrived as he'll guide the Raiders into the 2017 playoff field/single elimination tournament.

McGloin's first game as the starter this year will be against the feared Denver pass defense (despite the team's disappointing record/season, the Broncos have allowed the least passing yards per game on average, 187.2, and also have given out the least passing scores this year, with only 12 surrendered). Denver has 40 sacks this year, but the Raiders' offensive line is first in the NFL with just 16 sacks given out and also first in the NFL with just 36 hits on the quarterback allowed. Last week, the Broncos' defense gave up 26/37 for 246 net yards passing, two TDs and one interception, with zero sacks of Alex Smith; two games ago Tom Brady was held to 16/32 for 177 net yards passing, zero TDs or interceptions thrown, with two sacks taken for -11 yards. Yes, they are a great pass defense, folks. From Week 14-16 of regular season (the last three weeks, with no teams on bye), Denver has averaged 14.4 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (sixth-least in the NFL); and 10.8 fantasy points per game allowed to wide receivers (second-least); with 13.6 fantasy points given up per game to tight ends (second-most).

This is a tough matchup for McGloin and the Raiders.

Weather: Mile High Stadium expects a temperature of 51 F at game time, with cloudy skies and winds around 2 MPH - really nice football weather, in other words.

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


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

The last time these teams clashed, in Week Eight, Dallas won 29-23, while Carson Wentz threw 32/43 for 202 yards passing, one TD and zero interceptions, and three sacks taken for -8 yards.

Since then, Wentz has appeared to hit the 'rookie wall' in Week 15 and 16, with just one TD and two interceptions thrown, and under 200 yards passing in each game (22/42 for 170 yards passing, zero TDs and one interception against Baltimore (with 4/8/1 rushing); 13/24 for 152 yards, one TD and one interception thrown, with 4/27/0 rushing). Jordan Mathews (12 targets for 8/39/0 receiving), Zach Ertz (eight for 8/113/0) and Nelson Agholor (six for 3/56/1) have been his main targets during the skid.

The Cowboys' pass defense averages 264.7 net passing yards allowed per game (28th in the NFL) with 23 passing scores given out vs. eight interceptions (tied for 27th in the league) and 34 sacks (tied for 12th in the NFL) generated to date. Last week, Matthew Stafford was limited to 26/46 for 229 net yards passing, zero TDs and one interception thrown, and four sacks taken for -31 yards. Dallas' pass defense surrendered 17/35 for 247 yards passing, two TDs and three interceptions to Jameis Winston (also sacking him four times for -23 yards) two games ago. From Week 14-16 of regular season (the last three weeks, with no teams on bye), Dallas has averaged 16.2 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (11th-least in the NFL); and 18 fantasy points per game allowed to wide receivers (13th-least); with 8.8 fantasy points given up per game to tight ends (tied for ninth-most in the NFL). During December, the Cowboy's pas defense has played much better than their season average would indicate.

Advantage, Dallas.

Weather: Lincoln Financial Field expects a temperature of 44 F at game time, with clear skies and winds around 8 MPH - very nice football weather given winter time in Philadelphia.

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


San Diego Chargers Passing Offense vs Kansas City Chiefs Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Back in Week One, K.C. defeated San Diego 33-27 at Arrowhead Stadium - Philip Rivers was limited to 25/36 for 243 yards passing, one TD and zero interceptions thrown, with one sack taken for -10 yards. Current #1 wide receiver Tyrell Williams actually led the team in receiving that day (five targets for 2/71/0 receiving), while Danny Woodhead (now on IR) snagged the TD pass.

Since Week One, the Chargers have also lost Keenan Allen to IR, leaving Williams (112 for 63/989/7), Dontrelle Inman (92 for 54/759/4), Travis Benjamin (75 for 47/677/4), Hunter Henry (48 for 32/439/7) and Antonio Gates (85 for 48/493/6) as the spread of targets for Rivers (327/540 for 4,121 yards, 31 TDs and 19 interceptions thrown) to aim at. Last week, Rivers managed 23/46 for 322 yards passing, two TDs and one interception at Cleveland. Gates (13 targets for 8/94/1), Benjamin (four for 3/75/0), Williams (nine for 4/64/1) and Inman (10 for 3/44/0) were the top targets.

Kansas City's pass defense averages 245.9 net passing yards 17th in the NFL) allowed per game, with 21 passing scores offset by 16 interceptions (tied for third in the NFL) and 28 sacks (tied for 27th) generated. From Week 14-16 of regular season (the last three weeks, with no teams on bye), K.C. has averaged a mere 8.4 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (least in the NFL); and 9.7 fantasy points per game allowed to wide receivers (least); with 4.9 fantasy points given up per game to tight ends (tenth-least). Last week, Trevor Siemian had 17/43 for 183 net yards passing, zero TDs and one interception thrown. Marcus Mariota managed 19/33 for 241 net yards passing, zero TDs and one interception thrown, with one sack for zero yards at Kansas City two games ago. The Chiefs pass defense has clamped down on the opposition during December, friends.

This is a tough season finale for Rivers and company.

Weather: San Diego expects a temperature of 56 F at game time, with cloudy skies and winds around 6 MPH - it should be a fine day for some pro football.

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


San Francisco 49ers Passing Offense vs Seattle Seahawks Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Seattle could grab the second seed in the NFC Playoffs by winning this game and if Atlanta loses - however, both teams play in the late afternoon slot, so Seattle won't know the outcome of the Falcons game before their tilt with San Francisco. Look for Seattle to play hard in this game in order to secure a possible first-round bye. Seattle beat San Francisco 37-18 in the first game between these teams in Week Three - Blaine Gabbert was the starter back then, though, and these days that is Colin Kaepernick's job.

Kaepernick had a solid outing against the Rams last week, with 28/38 for 266 yards passing, two TDs and one interception thrown, while taking four sacks for -13 yards. Rod Streater led the injury-depleted receiving corps with seven targets for 6/63/1 receiving; Jeremy Kerley managed nine for 5/62/0. Carlos Hyde (now on IR due to a torn MCL) had the other TD with three targets for 3/24/1 receiving, and Garrett Celek chipped in seven for 4/39/0 on the day. We'll see if the 49ers can put up similar numbers against the Legion of Boom this weekend.

Speaking of Seattle, they average 228.1 net passing yards allowed per game (eighth in the NFL) with 15 passing scores given out this season (second-least in the NFL), while generated 11 interceptions (tied for 20th) and 37 sacks (tied for seventh). From Week 14-16 of regular season (the last three weeks, with no teams on bye), Seattle has averaged 16.7 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (13th-least in the NFL); and 33 fantasy points per game allowed to wide receivers (third-most); with 2.8 fantasy points given up per game to tight ends (second-least). Last week Carson Palmer threw 16/27 for 276 net yards passing, one TD and zero interceptions at Seattle, with one sack taken for -8 yards. Two games ago L.A. had just 18/35 for 136 net yards passing, zero TDs or interceptions, with four sacks taken for -31 yards against the Seahawks.

This is a tough matchup for Kaepernick and company.

Weather: Levis' Stadium expects a temperature of 50 F at game time, with clear skies and winds around 7 MPH - near-perfect football weather, in other words.

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


Washington Redskins Passing Offense vs New York Giants Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Giants have clinched a Wild Card spot in the playoffs, but they backed into it with a 19-24 loss to Philadelphia last weekend, while Washington beat up the Bears 41-21 and is still alive for the final Wild Card spot depending on the outcome of the NFC North Championship game on Sunday Night Football. Both teams have reasons to play hard in this rematch of their perennial NFC East rivalry. Washington won the first showdown of the season 29-27 back in Week Three. Kirk Cousins threw 21/35 for 296 yards passing, two TDs and zero interceptions, while taking two sacks for -14 yards in that game. DeSean Jackson (eight targets for 5/96/1 receiving) and Jamison Crowder (seven for 4/78/1) snagged the TDs from Cousins that day, while Pierre Garcon (seven for 5/59/0) and Jordan Reed (seven for 4/56/0) were both heavily involved.

Coming into this game, the word is that Reed will play on Sunday despite his very sore separated shoulder. Jackson suffered a jaw contusion last weekend, and is considered day to day at midweek - Cousins' receiving corp is banged up coming into this game. Last week, he threw 18/29 for 270 yards passing, one TD and zero interceptions while also running in two scores at Soldier Field (5/30/2) - Jackson led the team in receiving with seven targets for 5/114/0. Garcon was second on the team last week with five for 4/94/0, while Chris Thompson handled one for 1/17/1 to pull in Cousins' TD pass.

The Giants allowed 14/25 for 168 net yards passing, one TD and one interception thrown to the Eagles' quarterbacks last week, and didn't manage to record a sack. The lack of Jason Pierre-Paul (out due to a sports hernia) is impacting the Giants' pass rush. Two games ago New York held Matthew Stafford and company to 24/39 for 268 net yards, zero TDs and one interception thrown, with one sack taken for -5 yard. From Week 14-16 of regular season (the last three weeks, with no teams on bye), New York has averaged 12.8 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (second-least in the NFL); and 16.5 fantasy points per game allowed to wide receivers (10th-least); with 4.2 fantasy points given up per game to tight ends (eighth-least).

This will be a tough divisional game for Cousins and company.

Weather: FedEx Field expects a temperature of 48 F at game time, with cloudy skies and winds around 8 MPH - weather shouldn't impact this game much.

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


New York Jets Passing Offense vs Buffalo Bills Passing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Buffalo fired head coach Rex Ryan and assistant head coach Rob Ryan on Tuesday, December 27. Anthony Lynn will serve as the interim head coach for the final game of the season. While the Ryans were still on board, back in Week Two, the Jets defeated Buffalo in Buffalo 37-31. On-again starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 374 yards in that game (24/34 for 374 yards, one TD and zero interceptions, with one sack taken for -4 yards), and since Bryce Petty was sent to I.R. with a shoulder problem this week, Fitzpatrick will get another crack at the Bill's secondary in Week 17.

Last week, in relief of Petty, Fitzpatrick played poorly coming off the bench (8/21 for 136 yards passing, zero TDs and two interceptions thrown, with zero sacks taken). In fact, over his past three appearances (Weeks 13, 15, and 16) Fitzpatrick has thrown four interceptions and zero TDs with 18/43 for 248 yards passing - not too good, folks. Brandon Marshall is dealing with a hip injury that is limiting his availability entering Week 17 - there just isn't much fantasy blood to be gotten from this stone of an offense.

Meanwhile, the Bills' rush defense has been a wet paper bag during December (so teams are favoring the running game against Buffalo), but when challenged the secondary has held up fairly well, with 16/30 for 233 net yards, two TDs and one interception handed over to Matt Moore in an OT loss last weekend; Robert Griffin III managed 17/28 for 162 net yards passing, zero TDs or interceptions thrown, with five sacks taken for -34 yards two weeks ago. From Week 14-16 of regular season (the last three weeks, with no teams on bye), Buffalo has averaged 15.7 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (ninth-least in the NFL); and 15.3 fantasy points per game allowed to wide receivers (sixth-least); with 3.9 fantasy points given up per game to tight ends (seventh-least).

Fitzpatrick has played horridly of late - against the respectable Bills' pass defense look for him and the Jets to struggle in this phase of the game (Fitzpatrick will likely be handing the ball off to Bilal Powell a bunch).

Weather: MetLife Stadium expects a temperature of 44 F at game time, with clear skies and winds around 8 MPH - that is nice mild weather in Northern New Jersey 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 vs Houston Texans Passing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Houston won the first matchup of these teams, besting Tennessee 27-20 back in Week Four - neither quarterback that started in that game will start this one, as Brock Osweiler has been benched for Tom Savage in Houston, and Marcus Mariota faces a four-to-five-month recovery from a surgically-repaired broken leg.

Mariota's backup is Matt Cassel, who has extensive experience as a starter in the NFL (2008 in New England and 2010 in Kansas City were his best campaigns as a starter) - but it's been awhile since Cassel was a sought-after free agent. He's thrown more interceptions than TDs in three of his last five seasons when he had spot-start duties, and so far in his first year with Tennessee has 14/25 for 134 yards passing, one TD and one interception thrown. Fortunately for the Titans, Cassel has two excellent running backs to hand the football off to on Sunday - we expect him to do so early and often.

The Texans' pass defense averages just 206.2 net passing yards allowed per game (second in the NFL) with 19 passing scores allowed balanced by 10 interceptions and 27 sacks generated this season (tied for 22nd in the NFL and 28th, respectively). From Week 14-16 of regular season (the last three weeks, with no teams on bye), Houston has averaged 16.2 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (12th-least in the NFL); and 17.9 fantasy points per game allowed to wide receivers (11th-least); with 3.7 fantasy points given up per game to tight ends (fifth-least). They are all-around good at pass defense in this secondary, friends. Andy Dalton was limited to 28/41 for 244 net yards passing, one TD and one interception thrown (with three sacsk taken for -24 yards) at Houston last week; Blake Bortles bumbled his way to 12/28 for 83 net yards passing, zero TDs and one interception thrown, with two sacks taken for -9 yards at Houston two games ago.

This is a bad matchup for Cassel who comes into the starting gig after an extended tour as bench-warmer.

Weather: Nissan Stadium expects a temperature of 49 F at game time, with drizzle falling and winds around 3 MPH - as long as the rain doesn't come down in torrents on Sunday, it should be a decent-if-slightly-soggy day to play football in Nashville.

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