Week 7 Passing Matchups

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

Jump to Rushing Matchups

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


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.


Chicago Bears Passing Offense at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

Jay Cutler got sufficient blocking vs. Minnesota (he was sacked just once by the Vikings, who are tied for third in the NFL this year with 17 total sacks), and since Cutler had time in the pocket to survey the field, he posted an exchttp://subscribers.footballguys.com/players/FortMa00-1.phpellent outing with 21/31 for 267 yards, two TDs and zero interceptions thrown - for a QB rating of 115.9. Over the last three weeks, Cutler has tossed 58/86 for 618 yards, three TDs and one interception - he's trending upwards as the Bears have adjusted their offensive scheme to keep Cutler upright more of the time. 'We've got to be judicious going forward in what we can do and can't do,' Cutler said after the game, indicating he'd like to continue with more protective blocking schemes. Matt Forte leads the team over the past three weeks, with 19 targets for 14/94/0, followed by Devin Hester (16 for 10/123/1), Dane Sanzenbacker (15 for 8/93/1) and Johny Knox (10 for 7/106/0). We'll see if Mike Martz will allow the Bears to continue to protect Cutler in coming weeks.

The Buccaneers recovered from their embarrassing 48-3 loss to San Francisco two weeks ago to limit the scoring of Drew Brees and company during week six - Brees posted 29/45 for 383 yards at Tampa, but had just one TD vs. three interceptions thrown during the contest. To date, the Buccaneers are ranked 26th in the NFL averaging 276 net passing yards allowed per game, with a whopping 10 passing scores surrendered vs. five interceptions and ten sacks generated so far this year (tied for 16th- and 23rd-ranked in the latter two categories, respectively). This isn't a good secondary, folks.

Cutler and company are getting their acts together as the year goes along, while the Buccaneers' pass D is on life-support entering week seven. Advantage, Chicago.

Weather: Raymond James Stadium expects a high of 76 F on Sunday, with a 20% chance of rain forecast - it should be a nice day to play and watch pro football in Tampa if the forecast holds up.

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


Cleveland Browns Passing Offense vs Seattle Seahawks Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

Colt McCoy out gunned the Oakland QBs last week, with 21/45 for 215 yards, two TDs and zero interceptions during the close 17-24 loss at Oakland. He's been quietly putting up solid numbers for the last three games, actually, with 80/145 for 775 yards, five TDs and two interceptions passing during that time frame. Greg Little is emerging as the top wide receiver on the team, with 25 targets for 15/153/0 to his credit during the last three games, followed by Mohamed Massaquoi (22 for 11/102/2) and Joshua Cribbs (19 for 10/129/1). Ben Watson leads the team from the tight end position over the past three games with 27 targets for 14/147/1 to his credit.

The Seahawks' secondary lost their best player this week as CB Marcus Trufant was sent to IR (back injury). We asked Footballguys.com's defensive guru John Norton to comment on what Trufant's loss will mean for the Seattle D:

'The loss of Trufant was a big blow to a Seattle defense that was already 23rd against the pass. It leaves them with rookie Brandon Browner and second year pro Walter Thurmond as the starting corners. Making things worse is a considerable lack of depth in terms of both bodies and experience. Both Browner and Thurmond have the potential to develop into pretty good players but for now their inexperience is going to be exploited.'

As John noted, the Seahawks' unit has allowed a hefty 268.2 net yards per game this year - they rank 23rd in the NFL in this category - and they have allowed six passing TDs vs. five interceptions (tied for 16th) and just eight sacks generated (tied for 28th). Though they shocked the Giants 36-25 two weeks ago, they still allowed 24/39 for 395 net yards, three TDs (with three interceptions) to Eli Manning and company - Atlanta threw for 28/42 yielding 291 net yards, one TD and zero interceptions at Seattle during week four. These guys are not good, and as noted above the loss of Trufant will just exacerbate the situation.

Colt McCoy and his compadres will enjoy home field advantage and face a weak secondary on Sunday - they have a great matchup to work with on Sunday. Also, given Peyton Hillis' hamstring woes, the Browns are likely to put the ball in the air a good bit this week to compensate for their injury woes/lack of production at the running back position.

Weather: Cleveland Browns' Stadium expects a high of 58 F on Sunday with a 10% chance of rain - it should be near-perfect football weather up in Ohio on Sunday.

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


Dallas Cowboys Passing Offense vs St. Louis Rams Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

Tony Romo moved the Cowboys all over the field last week at New England, with 27/41 for 317 yards, one TD and one interception to his credit. He spread the ball out between Dez Bryant (eight targets for 4/78/0), Miles Austin (10 for 7/74/0), Jason Witten (four for 4/48/1) and Laurent Robinson (two for 2/43/0) primarily last week. The Cowboys' passing attack ain't the source of Dallas' 2-3 record, friends. Romo and company turned up the volume last week now that Austin is back in the fold.

The Rams' pass D runs in the middle of the NFL pack in terms of yards allowed (they're currently 15th, with an average of 240.4 net yards given up per game), but they are in next-to-last place in the passing TDs allowed department, with 11 scores surrendered vs. just four interceptions (22nd in the NFL) and a mere nine sacks (25th-ranked) generated to date. The Rams don't pressure the quarterback or threaten his receivers in the secondary - that's a bad combination at any level of play, folks.

Romo came out of the bye week smoking hot - the Rams have been a sorry team all year long. Advantage, Dallas.

Weather: Cowboys Stadium expects a high of 79 F on Sunday, with a 0% chance of rain - the retractable roof may be open if the nice forecast holds up come Sunday.

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


Green Bay Packers Passing Offense at Minnesota Vikings Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

Here's what Aaron Rodgers has done passing the football in the last three weeks: 72/105 for 1,114 yards, nine TDs and two interceptions. He's also rushed the ball 17 times for 50 yards and two TDs, bringing his total to 11 TDs scored in the past three games. Yeah, he's a fantasy madman this year, a volcano of fantasy points for his happy owners. During the past three games, Greg Jennings leads the team with 22 targets for 17/267/2, followed by: Jermichael Finley, 17 for 8/115/0; Jordy Nelson, 16 for 10/212/2; James Starks, 11 for 9/74/0; James Jones, 11 for 9/223/3; and Donald Driver, 11 for 7/50/2. Only Finley has been a disappointment in fantasy terms during recent games, dropping several easy catches. Start the Packers' stars if you've got them and smile.

This is an especially good week to start Packers as their divisional rivals, the Vikings, will have a rookie QB in his first NFL start under center, and Minnesota fields the 24th-ranked pass D in the land, with an average of 269.5 net yards allowed per game, with eight passing scores given up vs. six interceptions (tied for 10th in the NFL) and 17 sacks (tied for third) generated. The Packers are in the middle of the NFL pack with 12 sacks allowed to date, but last week the Bears showed how to frustrate the Vikings' pass rushers (only one sack allowed by the Bears' OL last week) which should inform the Packers' scheme this week, too. In the absence of a threatening pass rush, Jay Cutler carved up the Vikings for 21/31 yielding 258 net yards, two TDs and zero interceptions; two weeks ago Matt Cassel threw 18/29 for 247 net yards, one TD and zero interceptions vs. Minnesota.

Rodgers is on a rarely-seen level of elite quarterback play right now, while the Vikings are sub-par in this phase of the game and fading fast - advantage, Green Bay.

Weather: Inside the Metrodome 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.


Indianapolis Colts Passing Offense at New Orleans Saints Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

Curtis Painter has played well over the past three games, with 51/91 for 746 yards, five TDs and just one interception thrown. Pierre Garcon is his favorite target, with 27 chances for 15/323/4 to his credit the last three contests, followed by Reggie Wayne (21 for 13/194/0), Dallas Clark (16 for 10/106/1), and Austin Collie (15 for 5/74/0). Obviously, Collie has been the weak link in recent weeks for Painter. The Colts' passing attack is respectable with Painter under center, friends. He's been a pleasant surprise for his and Garcon's fantasy owners.

The Saints' pass D has allowed the most passing TDs of any squad to date, with 12 given up over six contests, while averaging 256.3 net yards allowed per game (19th in the NFL). The secondary has just three interceptions, but the big guys up front have recorded 14 sacks (tied for 25th- and 13th-ranked this year, respectively). Tampa Bay's Josh Freeman ripped this unit for 23/41 for 303 yards, two TDs and zero interceptions last week; Cam Newton put up 16/31 for 219 net yards, two TDs and one interception vs. New Orleans two weeks ago. The Saints' pass D is their weakness this year.

Painter and company have a great matchup to work with down in the Big Easy on Sunday Night Football.

Weather: Inside the Louisiana Superdome 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.


Kansas City Chiefs Passing Offense at Oakland Raiders Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

In case you've missed it, the Chiefs are riding a two-game winning streak into this divisional showdown at the Black Hole, and they are threatening to go .500. Matt Cassel has gotten hot during the streak, with 39/58 for 517 yards, five TDs and zero interceptions, including his big 21/29 for 257 yards, four TDs and zero interceptions performance at Indianapolis two weeks ago. Dwayne Bowe remains his top target, with 20 for 12/235/3 during the last two games, but Steve Breaston has come on strong lately with 10 for 8/141/2 to his credit. Cassel is in a comfort zone with Breaston now which makes the Chiefs' passing game much improved over what we saw during September from this bunch.

The Raiders' pass D isn't very good, averaging 283.5 net yards allowed per game (28th in the NFL), while being tied for worst in the league with 12 passing scores allowed over six games. Though they have 16 sacks (tied for 8th in the NFL), the team has just five interceptions to date (tied for 16th). Colt McCoy hit the Raiders for 21/45 yielding 203 net yards, two TDs and zero interceptions last week; Matt Schaub blasted them for 24/51 yielding 403 net yards, two TDs and two interceptions two weeks ago.

Cassel and company will have to deal with the hatred of the fans in Oakland on Sunday, but even given a rowdy 12th-man this is a great matchup for Cassel and company. Also, the Raiders' rush D has improved in recent weeks, which may shift more of the offensive burden onto Cassel and company this week.

Weather: Oakland expects a high of 76 F with a 0% chance of rain at game time - it should be a great day for an AFC West battle in the Black Hole on Sunday.

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


New Orleans Saints Passing Offense vs Indianapolis Colts Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

Drew Brees over the last four weeks: 123/178 for 1,463 yards, seven TDs and eight interceptions thrown. Except in leagues that penalize heavily for turnovers, Brees has been a fantasy god of late. Jimmy Graham has 200+ more yards receiving than his nearest counterpart at the TE position, Jason Witten, with 39/620/3 receiving to his credit - he's the number one fantasy tight end so far this year. Due to Bree's habit of spreading out the football to his receivers, none of the Saints' wideouts are in the top 25, but three are in the top 50, with Robert Meachem at 27th with 23/251/3 so far this year, Devery Henderson at 46th with 14/288/2, and Marques Colston at 48th with 19/276/1 receiving. Darren Sproles is the 11th-ranked fantasy RB with 27/201/1 rushing and 39/310/1 receiving - Sproles has caught as many balls as Graham so far this year. It's all good for Brees, Graham and Sproles owners entering week seven, friends. And one of the wide receivers catches 'lightning in a bottle' from week to week, making them good 'boom-or-bust' wide receivers at the #3 or flex positions.

The Colts' pass D is ranked 18th in the NFL averaging 255.8 net yards allowed per game, but they have just three interceptions (tied for 25th in the NFL) and nine sacks (tied for 25th in this category, too) to balance the nine passing scores allowed through six games. Rookie Andy Dalton threw for 25/32 yielding 264 net yards, one TD and zero interceptions last week (he didn't take a sack). Two weeks ago, Matt Cassel blew up the Colts' secondary for 21/29 yielding 242 net yards, four TDs and zero interceptions. This is not a strong unit, friends.

Advantage, New Orleans.

Weather: Inside the Louisiana Superdome 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.


Denver Broncos Passing Offense at Miami Dolphins Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

In case you hadn't heard, Denver named Tim Tebow the starting QB over the bye week - he'll bring his diverse mix of skills (attested to by his NFL career numbers (45/92 for 733 yards, six TDs with three interceptions and 50/264/7 rushing)) to this week's showdown in Miami. He won't be throwing to last year's #1 wide receiver as Brandon Lloyd was dealt to St. Louis at the trading deadline.

However, Broncos' receivers Demaryius Thomas (finger/rehabbing Achilles injury left over from 2010), Eddie Royal (groin injury), and TE Julius Thomas (ankle injury) returned to the practice field Monday, October 17th. Demaryius Thomas is expected to make his season debut against the Miami Dolphins this week - his return to the lineup was perhaps part of the calculus that led to the Brandon Lloyd trade over to St. Louis. As you can see, there is all kinds of roster juggling going on in Denver entering week seven - the front office and John Fox haven't been shy about making moves for this team during 2011. This week, we'll get to see how all the new pieces to the offensive puzzle fit with each other.

Miami is currently ranked 29th in the NFL vs. opposing passers, averaging 284 net yards allowed per game, and they are tied for third-most passing TDs given up this year with 10, vs. a mere two interceptions and only eight sacks generated to date (tied for 30th- and 28th-ranked in the NFL, respectively). The Broncos gave Tebow a softball to hit this week, folks - Mark Sanchez managed 14/25 for 192 net yards, one TD and zero interceptions vs. Miami last week, and Philip Rivers lit them up for 21/31 for 295 net yards, one TD and zero interceptions back in week four.

Tebow is raw and lacking in reps this year, but he's got a super-squishy secondary to attack on Sunday - this is a good matchup for the Broncos' new young gun.

Weather: Sun Life Stadium expects a high of 82 F on Sunday, but there is a 30% chance of precipitation as well. In this venue, rain squalls can be intense cells with powerful winds - owners of Dolphins and Broncos will want to check a shorter-term forecast before setting their lineups this week.

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


Detroit Lions Passing Offense vs Atlanta Falcons Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Matthew Stafford has thrown four TDs and one interception in the last two games, with 28/50 for 293 yards, two TDs and zero interceptions vs. San Francisco and 19/26 for 219 yards, two TDs and one interception vs. Chicago two weeks ago. The Lions also enjoy a third straight home game this week, and sit at 5-1 1/3 of the way through the season. Though Calvin Johnson failed to score vs. San Francisco (for the first time this season), he still commanded nine targets for 7/113/0 receiving, while the TDs went to Brandon Pettigrew (14 for 8/42/1) and Nate Burleson (10 for 4/34/1). Unfortunately for the Lions, their dual-threat back Jahvid Best (eight targets for 6/73/0 receiving last week) suffered a concussion vs. San Francisco and is iffy to play in this game, though the official word at midweek is that Best hasn't been officially ruled out, yet.

The Falcons' pass D has heated up in the sacks-generated department lately, due to Ray Edwards getting up to speed (two sacks in the last two games - 'Sacks are demoralizing, definitely on third and long,' Edwards said. 'I just kept coming. I kept coming all day.') and also John Abraham returning to the field closer to full health. 'Third down sacks are huge,' Falcons coach Mike Smith said after the win. 'It gets us off the field. We were struggling to get off the field in the first half and I felt like Ray really turned it up the second half of the ballgame.' To date, the Falcons are tied for 19th in the NFL with 11 sacks generated, but they have generated six of those in the last two games, with four sacks of Aaron Rodgers two weeks ago (26/39 for 369 net yards, two TDs and zero interceptions allowed) and then two sacks of Cam Newton (and eight total hits on Newton) last week (21/35 for 226 net yards, zero TDs allowed and three interceptions generated last week). Detroit is tied for 12th in the NFL with 11 sacks allowed to date. The Falcons average 282.8 net yards allowed per game (27th in the NFL currently), but has balanced the nine TDs given up to date with nine interceptions generated (tied for third in the NFL).

Stafford and company are hot, but the Falcons' pass D is showing signs of overall improvement in recent weeks and they contained the phenomenal Cam Newton to below-average numbers last week. On balance, this looks like a good, but not great, matchup for Stafford and company.

Weather: Inside Ford Field 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.


Miami Dolphins Passing Offense vs Denver Broncos Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Matt Moore era began with two interceptions and zero TDs thrown (16/34 for 204 yards) - he was sacked four times and hit 11 times by the Jets last week. The Dolphins' OL is tied for 28th in the NFL with 18 sacks allowed through five games played - if the Dolphins don't fix their pass-blocking issues, Moore may follow Henne onto the IR list. This line is failing to do their jobs, folks. Brandon Marshall did manage to get 6/109/0 receiving (out of 13 targets) though he was covered by Darelle Revis for most of the game last week. Brian Hartline (six targets for 3/27/0) and Davone Bess (three for 2/21/0) were the other receivers with more than 20 yards to their credit last week.

The Broncos' pass D is among the league's most generous with TDs, having coughed up 10 passing TDs in five games played to date - Philip Rivers had just one two weeks ago (18/29 for 212 yards, with one TD and one interception), but Aaron Rodgers destroyed this secondary for 29/38 yielding 396 net yards, four TDs and one interception back in week four. The Broncos average 262.4 net passing yards allowed per game (22nd in the NFL currently), with three interceptions (25th) and 12 sacks (18th) generated to date. They are a sub-par pass D any way you slice it, folks.

Moore had a rough outing last week, but he's got a soft D on the way to visit South Florida this week - advantage, Miami.

Weather: Sun Life Stadium expects a high of 82 F on Sunday, but there is a 30% chance of precipitation as well. In this venue, rain squalls can be intense cells with powerful winds - owners of Dolphins and Broncos will want to check a shorter-term forecast before setting their lineups this week.

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


Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Offense at Arizona Cardinals Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Ben Roethlisberger came back down to earth last week after his phenomenal five-passing-TD game vs. Tennessee two weeks ago, and he posted a modest 12/23 for 200 yards, one TD and zero interceptions vs. Jacksonville on Sunday. Mike Wallace handled the TD, with six targets for 2/76/1 receiving, followed by Hines Ward (four for 3/47/0) and Emmanuel Sanders (four for 1/32/0). Over the past three weeks, Roethlisberger has slung 52/87 for 634 yards, six TDs and two interceptions - aside from the explosive game week five, he's been pedestrian in fantasy terms the other two weeks.

In some bad news for Arizona, Cardinals FS Kerry Rhodes (foot) is scheduled to undergo foot surgery Thursday, October 13th, and will be sidelined at least one month. FS Rashad Johnson will replace Rhodes in the starting lineup - the Cardinals' secondary will be shuffling personal in the back end this week. To date, the team has averaged 258.2 net yards allowed per game, with six passing TDs given up vs. four interceptions (tied for 22nd in the NFL) and 11 sacks (tied for 19th) generated to date. As you can see, this is a sub-par unit basically across the board. Donovan McNabb managed 10/21 for 160 net yards passing two weeks ago (but that was more about his ineptitude, rather than a sudden surge of dominance by Arizona), while Eli Manning reeled off 27/40 for 306 net yards, two TDs and zero interceptions at Arizona back in week four.

Roethlisberger has been boom-or-bust lately, but he should have a solid day throwing the football against the less-than-impressive Cardinals' pass D.

Weather: University of Phoenix Stadium expects a high of 94 F on Sunday, so it'll probably be an indoors game with the roof closed this week - neither team should be affected by the weather during this contest.

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


Tampa Bay Buccaneers Passing Offense vs Chicago Bears Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Josh Freeman broke out of his early-season funk vs. New Orleans last week, tossing 23/41 for 303 yards, two TDs and zero interceptions during the game. Mike Williams (13 targets for 6/59/0) was his favorite receiver to throw to last week, followed by Kellen Winslow (10 for 5/40/0) and Arrelious Benn (six targets for 3/83/1 - Benn led the team in receiving yardage last week). Preston Parker handled the other TD for Freeman, with five targets for 2/32/1 to his credit during the contest. We'll see if Freeman can build on the positive momentum he generated in week six as the Bears come calling at Raymond James Stadium in week seven.

Speaking of Chicago, the Bears are currently 25th in the NFL averaging 275.5 net passing yards allowed per game, with nine passing TDs coughed up so far vs. just four interceptions (tied for 22nd in the league) and 14 sacks (tied for 13th in the NFL) generated to date. Tampa is tied for fourth in the NFL with just nine sacks allowed through six games played this year. Last week, bounce-passing Donovan McNabb managed to lead the Vikings to 28/42 for 233 yards, zero TDs and zero interceptions vs. Chicago - he was benched late in the game for Christian Ponder, though. Two weeks ago the Lions hit Chicago for 19/26 yielding 214 net yards, two TDs and one interception. The Bears are bleeding less yards than earlier in the year, but they haven't done much to put a drag on the passing TDs allowed just yet.

Freeman got jump-started in week six, and he's got a good matchup to work with when the unusually generous Bears roll into Tampa Bay this weekend.

Weather: Raymond James Stadium expects a high of 76 F on Sunday, with a 20% chance of rain forecast - it should be a nice day to play and watch pro football in Tampa if the forecast holds up.

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 (Neutral Matchup)

Matt Schaub is soldiering on in the absence of Andre Johnson - last week, he leaned on Jacoby Jones (seven targets for 4/76/1), Kevin Walter (eight for 6/52/0) and Arian Foster (11 for 6/52/0) the most in the passing game, on the way to 21/37 for 220 yards, one TD and zero interceptions thrown by Schaub. As of midweek, reports out of Houston are that Johnson is recovering fast, but that he can't run full speed yet, making his participation in this game highly unlikely as of Wednesday. Since Johnson has been out (weeks five and six), Jacoby Jones (18 targets for 5/85/1), Arian Foster (18 for 11/168/0), Owen Daniels (14 for 9/102/0), Kevin Walter (14 for 11/133/1) and Joel Dreesen (11 for 5/112/1) have been the main receivers for Schaub.

The Titans' pass D is ranked 12th in the NFL through five games played, with an average of 221 net yards allowed per game. They've coughed up nine passing TDs vs. six interceptions (tied for 10th in the NFL) and 11 sacks (tied for 19th) generated to date. Ben Roethlisberger demolished this unit back in week five, though, with 24/34 for 228 yards, five TDs and one interception thrown on the way to a 38-17 victory. The Titans' secondary had some hard work to do over the last two weeks to recover from the shellacking they took at Pittsburgh.

Schaub is diminished as a fantasy QB without Johnson, but he's not ineffective - the Titans have a good unit that fell apart without warning two weeks ago. On balance, this looks like a fairly even matchup to us.

Weather: LP Field expects a high of 66 F with a 0% chance of rain - it sounds like near-perfect football weather is on tap for the Texans/Titans matchup on Sunday.

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 (Neutral Matchup)

Matt Hasselbeck has been effective for the Titans and his fantasy owners over the last three games played despite the loss of WR Kenny Britt - Hasselbeck has thrown 66/105 for 793 yards, six TDs and two interceptions in those three appearances. Nate Washington is his top target of late, with 21 for 15/223/1 receiving in the past three games, followed by Damian Williams (18 for 8/89/2), Lavelle Hawkins (17 for 8/87/0), Jared Cook (17 for 8/164/1) and Chris Johnson (12 for 9/79/0). The Titans' passing attack is why the team is 3-2 after their week six bye, as the running game hasn't been up to expectations despite the big payout to Chris Johnson during training camp.

The Texans' pass D is a middle of the road unit, averaging 221.7 net yards allowed per game, with seven passing TDs balanced by six interceptions (tied for 10th in the NFL) and 17 sacks (tied for third in the NFL) generated. Tennessee is tied for first in the NFL with just seven sacks allowed, however - Hasselbeck has been well-protected through the first 1/3 of the NFL season. Joe Flacco threw 20/33 for 289 net yards, zero TDs and one interception vs. Houston last week; Oakland posted 15/35 for 184 net yards, two TDs and one interception at Houston two weeks ago.

Hasselbeck is playing well this year, while the Texans are just so-so, and their strength in pass rushing doesn't threaten Hasselbeck much (due to his excellent line play and also due to the loss of Mario Williams for the year on the Texans' part). This looks like a fairly even matchup to us.

Weather: LP Field expects a high of 66 F with a 0% chance of rain - it sounds like near-perfect football weather is on tap for the Texans/Titans matchup on Sunday.

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


Washington Redskins Passing Offense at Carolina Panthers Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan said Sunday, October 16th, that he won't announce a starting quarterback until Wednesday, Oct. 19, at the earliest. 'We needed a spark,' Shanahan said after the game, referring to benching Rex Grossman for John Beck in the fourth quarter of the loss to Philadelphia. Grossman certainly earned his benching with 9/22 for 143 yards, zero TDs and four interceptions thrown, while Beck posted 8/15 for 117 yards passing and 2/14/1 rushing in his time on the field. We suspect that Beck will be the starter for this contest at Carolina, but nothing is official just yet.

The Panthers' pass D is currently ranked 11th in the NFL averaging 219 net yards allowed per game, with eight passing TDs given up vs. three interceptions and nine sacks generated to date (tied for 25th in the NFL in both the latter two categories). Matt Ryan was held to 14/22 for 159 net yards, one TD and zero interceptions last week, But Drew Brees rocked the Panthers for 32/45 for 343 net yards, two TDs and one interception two weeks ago. On balance, this is an average-to-below-par pass D as of week seven.

The Redskins' passing attack has struggled in recent weeks and may be juggling personnel at quarterback on Sunday - the Panthers played well last week but are fairly suspect most of the time. On balance, this looks like a fairly even matchup to us.

Weather: Bank of America Stadium expects a high of 64 F on Sunday, with a 0% chance of rain forecast for the Carolina Piedmont - it should be a nice day to play and watch football in Charlotte on Sunday.

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


Arizona Cardinals Passing Offense vs Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Kevin Kolb has played pretty poorly over the past three games, with 66/115 for 721 yards, one TD and five interceptions to his credit during that time span. Four players have seen most of his passes during that time span: Early Doucet (28 targets for 16/184/0 receiving), Larry Fitzgerald (27 targets for 17/232/1), Todd Heap (16 for 10/102/0) and Andre Roberts (12 for 7/74/0). Things have been bad enough that Fitzgerald is now the 15th-ranked fantasy WR so far this season, with 27/427/2 over five games. Kolb isn't getting the most out of his weapons entering week seven, although everyone will be well-rested after their week six bye.

The Steelers' pass D is first in the NFL in terms of average net yards allowed per game, with 157.7 surrendered per contest. They've given up six passing scores through six games, vs. just one interception generated (32nd), with 15 sacks so far this year (tied for 10th in the NFL). Key SS Troy Polamalu suffered from concussion-like symptoms last week but is expected to play as usual this week, although it's worth keeping an eye on his practice participation later in the week as he could suffer a setback. Blaine Gabbert and company eked out 76 net yards passing, one TD and zero interceptions (with five sacks taken) last week; Matt Hasselbeck posted 29/49 for 240 net yards, one TD and one interception with three sacks taken two weeks ago.

Kolb has struggled to protect the ball in recent weeks, but the Steelers haven't generated interceptions much this year. Even so, this is a tough matchup for the Cardinals' offense.

Weather: University of Phoenix Stadium expects a high of 94 F on Sunday, so it'll probably be an indoors game with the roof closed this week - neither team should be affected by the weather during this contest.

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


Atlanta Falcons Passing Offense at Detroit Lions Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Matt Ryan has less completions over the past three weeks (60) than Michael Turner has rushed the football (69 tiimes), and the team has attempted 93 rushes vs. 96 passes during that time span - Atlanta is back to emphasizing the running game, especially last week when Ryan put up 22 passes for 14/22 yielding 163 yards, one TD and zero interceptions, vs. 35/166/3 rushing as a team - luckily for Ryan owners, one of the rushing scores was his (3/7/1). With Julio Jones out nursing a sore hamstring, Harry Douglas led the team in receiving (four targets for 2/57/0), followed by Tony Gonzalez (three for 3/29/0), Roddy White (five for 2/21/0) and Ovie Mughelli (two for 2/20/1). As has been a continuing theme this year, White is not hauling in nearly as many footballs as he did last year - to date, he's at 57.6% receiving, with 59 targets for 34/373/2 receiving, which is 13th among all fantasy wide receivers (PPR scoring) so far this year.

The Lions' pass D ranks sixth in the NFL this season, averaging 205.5 net yards allowed per game, with seven passing TDs given up vs. eight interceptions (tied for fifth) and 14 sacks (tied for 13th) generated so far. San Francisco was limited to 17/32 for 111 net yards, one TD and one interception last week; Chicago managed 28/38 for 237 yards, one TD and zero interceptions at Detroit two weeks ago. Atlanta is tied for 22nd in the NFL with 15 sacks given up so far this year - Ryan may be in for a long afternoon in Detroit this week.

The Falcons have slowed up in the passing phase of the game in recent weeks, and they may do without Julio Jones again this week - meanwhile, the Lions bring a top-ten pass D to this dance. Also, the Lions' run D is softer than their pass D, which may slant the Falcons' offense towards the running game this week. Advantage, Detroit.

Weather: Inside Ford Field 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.


Baltimore Ravens Passing Offense at Jacksonville Jaguars Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Joe Flacco and Torrey Smith hooked up for three TDs on September 25th (27/48 for 389 yards, three TDs and zero interceptions for Flacco that day; eight targets for 5/152/3 for Smith), but since then Flacco hasn't thrown a TD in the most recent two games, with 20/33 for 305 yards and one interception vs. Houston last week and 10/31 for 163 yards and one interception vs. the New York Jets back in week four. Flacco is in a slump as far as scoring TDs is concerned right now, folks. Anquan Boldin leads the team over the past three games with 25 targets for 16/234/0 receiving, followed by Ed Dickson (24 for 11/116/0), Ray Rice (19 for 12/207/0) and Torrey Smith (19 for 9/237/3, an astronomical 26.3 yards per catch on average). Lee Evans only practiced once last week and was inactive - as he has been since week two. On Wednesday, Evans said he expects to play at some point this season but that he is still not fully healed from his ankle injury.

The Jaguars' pass D is ranked eighth in the NFL averaging 210.3 net yards allowed per game, with nine pass TDs allowed balanced by six interceptions (tied for 10th in the NFL) and 11 sacks (tied for 19th) generated to date. Ben Roethlisberger was limited to 12/23 for 185 net yards, one TD and zero interceptions by the Jaguars last week; Andy Dalton managed 21/33 for 162 net yards, two TDs and one interception at Jacksonville two weeks ago.

Flacco has been hot and cold in recent weeks, without consistently throwing TD passes. Meanwhile, the Jaguars' pass D has been stingy with yards and only a little more generous in the TDs allowed department - this looks like a tough matchup for Flacco and company. Also, Ray Rice enjoys a good rushing matchup which is likely to skew the Ravens' game plan towards the running game this week.

Weather: Everbank Field expects a low of 62 F for Monday Night Football - there is only a 20% chance for rain during the Jaguars' battle against the Ravens.

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


Carolina Panthers Passing Offense vs Washington Redskins Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Cam Newton had a rough outing statistically speaking last week, with 21/35 for 237 yards, zero TDs and three interceptions thrown (he did ad a team-leading 6/50/1 rushing to his effort, though). As usual, Steve Smith (seven targets for 5/66/0), Jeremy Shockey (seven for 4/60/0), Greg Olsen (10 for 5/42/0) and Legedu Naanee (two for 2/31/0) led the Panthers in receiving last week - Brandon LaFell had just one target for 1/12/0 to his credit at Atlanta. We'll see how resilient Newton is now that he's had a disappointing day passing the football.

The Redskins' pass D is currently ranked ninth in the NFL averaging 215.6 net yards allowed per game, with a mere four passing TDs allowed through five games (tied for second-least allowed so far this year) vs. five interceptions and 17 sacks generated to date (tied for 16th- and third-ranked in the NFL in those latter categories, respectively). Michael Vick and company managed 18/32 for 230 net yards, one TD and two interceptions at Washington last week; Sam Bradford could only scrape up 20/43 for 127 net yards, one TD and zero interceptions back in week four. These guys are good.

Newton is coming off a bad week entering the seventh contest of the season - meanwhile, the Redskins' D did a great job against an elite NFL QB last week. Advantage, Washington.

Weather: Bank of America Stadium expects a high of 64 F on Sunday, with a 0% chance of rain forecast for the Carolina Piedmont - it should be a nice day to play and watch football in Charlotte on Sunday.

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


Minnesota Vikings Passing Offense vs Green Bay Packers Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Is there a worse team for a rookie NFL quarterback to face in his first start? Perhaps Pittsburgh or the Jets would be worse, but the high-pressure Packers' pass D, with double-digit interceptions this year (11 - second-most in the NFL) and 15 sacks so far this year (tied for 10th-most in the NFL) isn't going to be an easy divisional rival for Christian Ponder to cut his pro teeth on. The Packers have allowed a hefty 10 passing scores this year (tied for third-most in the NFL) while averaging 299.7 net yards allowed per game (31st in the NFL), so there are some reasons for optimism about Ponder this week - but on balance this still looks like a very tough team for him to face in his first start. Matt Ryan could only manage 18/32 for 156 net yards, one TD and two interceptions vs. Green Bay two weeks ago, and though Sam Bradford came close to 300 yards passing in Lambeau (28/44 for 299 net yards), he had zero TDs and one interception last week.

As we indicated above, Christian Ponder has (finally) supplanted a totally ineffective Donovan McNabb for the Vikings. So far at this level he's thrown 9/17 for 99 yards, zero TDs and zero interceptions during regular season, so we don't have a lot of precedent to go on here. Percy Harvin (7/78/0 receiving last week), Bernard Berrian (5/54/0), Visanthe Shiancoe (5/45/0) and Michael Jenkins (4/45/0) provide a selection of viable targets for Ponder to work with, and he's also got young Kyle Rudolph (2/20/0 receiving last week) as an option. This week, we'll see how much chemistry Ponder can build with one week of reps as the first-team QB under his belt.

This looks like a tough matchup for the Vikings' young quarterback.

Weather: Inside the Metrodome 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.


Oakland Raiders Passing Offense vs Kansas City Chiefs Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Oakland lost their starting QB, Jason Campbell, last week, and has subsequently signed Carson Palmer. Palmer hasn't been in a training camp this year thanks to his dispute with the Bengals, so it's anybody's guess what his conditioning is like. He'll certainly be learning the Raiders' offense in a crash course (notwithstanding his familiarity with head coach Hue Jackson), so there is a lot of uncertainty about the Raiders' offense this week - especially their passing attack. Palmer has thrown 47 TDs and 33 interceptions over the past two seasons he played in Cincinnati, with 644 completions for 7,064 yards during that time span - he didn't dominate the fantasy scene, but he wasn't Rex-Grossman-like either. However, Palmer had a lot of trouble throwing an accurate deep ball during those seasons, so it remains to be seen how well he'll utilize Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford, and Denarius Moore for the speed-is-the-priority Raiders' receiving corps. This is a very dicey situation for fantasy owners in week seven, folks. Raiders offensive coordinator Al Saunders indicated that QB Carson Palmer will start this week, so hopefully Saunders can get Palmer up to speed on a basic offensive package by Sunday. 'I'm ready to go. I'm excited. I'm honored. I don't know a lot about this organization but I know that it's dedicated to winning,' Palmer said on Wednesday. 'I know the history. I know where this organization has been and where it wants to get back to and I'm excited be a part of that...I've been throwing and my arm feels as good as it ever has,' Palmer said in response to questions about the elbow injury he suffered in 2008 [whether there were lingering problems or not - MW]. 'I'm very confident in it.' If Palmer can't pick up the playbook quickly enough, we may see Kyle Boller in for this game as the starter - stay tuned to Footballguys.com's players in the news as the week goes along for the latest on this developing situation.

The Chiefs' pass D is tied for worst in the NFL in passing TDs allowed, with 12 given up to date, and they are 17th in terms of yards allowed per game, with 249.6 handed over per contest on average. The team has five interceptions (16th) and a mere five sacks (31st) so far this year. Palmer's offensive line has allowed just seven sacks, tied for first in the NFL - the new Raiders' QB should have some time to make reads on Sunday. Curtis Painter threw 15/27 for 277 net yards (zero sacks taken), with two TDs and zero interceptions during the Chiefs' most recent contest in Indianapolis. Even now-benched Donovan McNabb managed 18/30 for 202 yards, two TDs and one interception at K.C. during week four.

Palmer is faced with a daunting task this week (taking over a new NFL offense with just a few day's preparation), but the Chiefs are pretty non-threatening in this phase of the game. We call this a tough matchup (rather than a bad one) for the Raiders' scrambling offensive squad and coaching staff. Also, the rushing matchup is fairly favorable, so the Raiders will likely hand the ball off to Darren McFadden and Michael Bush early and often in this contest.

Weather: Oakland expects a high of 76 F with a 0% chance of rain at game time - it should be a great day for an AFC West battle in the Black Hole on Sunday.

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


San Diego Chargers Passing Offense at New York Jets Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Philip Rivers has thrown 63/98 for 823 yards, two TDs and three interceptions in the Chargers' last three contests. Vincent Jackson (18 targets for 11/205/1) remains his favorite pass-catcher, and Randy McMichael has done an O.K. job subbing for Antonio Gates, with 17 for 11/105/0. Mike Tolbert (16 for 11/100/0) and Malcom Floyd (15 for 7/154/1) round out the top four receivers for Rivers over the past three games played. The word about Gates at midweek is that he'll test his sore foot in practices this week and 'hopes' he can play on Sunday - stay tuned to Footballguys.com's players in the news as the weekend approaches for the latest on Gates' practice participation/injury status. Rivers hasn't been as explosive with Gates sidelined, as you can see from the lack of passing TDs lately.

The Jets' pass D is among the league's most stingy with points - they've allowed only three passing scores through six games, which is least in the NFL to date. The team ranks fifth in net pass yards allowed per game, with 200.8 given up, and they have nine interceptions (tied for third in the NFL) and 17 sacks (tied for third) to their credit. Matt Moore threw 16/34 for 190 net yards, zero TDs and two interceptions (one returned 100 yards for a TD by Darrelle Revis) last week, and Tom Brady threw just one TD vs. New York two weeks ago (24/33 for 294 net yards, one TD and one interception). It's not easy to move the ball through the air when the Jets are across the line of scrimmage.

This is a tough matchup for Rivers, and the Jets' vulnerability to the run will likely slant the Chargers' game plan towards Ryan Mathews and Tolbert as a ball carrier this week.

Weather: MetLife Stadium expects a high of 62 F on Sunday, with a 0% chance for rain at game time - there should be great football weather in Northern New Jersey on Sunday.

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


Seattle Seahawks Passing Offense at Cleveland Browns Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Seahawks QB Tarvaris Jackson's status for this game is in doubt due to a high grade strain of his right pectoral muscle that occurred during Week 5 at New York. If he can't go, QB Charlie Whitehurst will start this game, and we think that this is a likely scenario. Whitehurst posted 11/19 for 149 yards, one TD and zero interceptions at MetLife Stadium two weeks ago in relief of Jackson - he played better than anticipated given all the negative reports we heard about Whitehurst during the abbreviated training camp this year. Over the last three games, Seattle has spread their passes among Sidney Rice (21 targets for 15/226/1), Doug Baldwin (19 for 15/243/1) and Ben Obomanu (16 for 11/88/2), while also tossing 13 balls to Marshawn Lynch out of the backfield (8/68/0 receiving for Lynch). A change at quarterback won't change the top receivers on this squad, though it remains to be seen if Whitehurst can play at a high level in his new role as spot starter.

The Browns' pass D ranks fourth in the NFL averaging 192 net yards allowed per game, with eight passing scores allowed this year vs. three interceptions (25th) and 13 sacks (17th) generated to date. Oakland managed just 15/24 for 178 net yards, one TD and zero interceptions last week (and the TD pass came on a fake punt by Shane Lechler, hardly the usual secondary players' faults), but Tennessee posted 10/21 for 220 yards, three TDs and one interception at Cleveland back in week four. On balance, this is a good but not elite unit (they give away too many TDs to be considered elite).

Whitehurst is getting thrown into the fire against a solid defense - this looks like a bad matchup for the Seahawks' newest signal-caller. Upgrade the matchup to neutral if Jackson makes it back into the starting lineup this week.

Weather: Cleveland Browns' Stadium expects a high of 58 F on Sunday with a 10% chance of rain - it should be near-perfect football weather up in Ohio on Sunday.

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


St. Louis Rams Passing Offense at Dallas Cowboys Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Rams ended the Mike Sims-Walker experiment this week, trading for Denver's star receiver from last year, Brandon Lloyd, and cutting Sims-Walker. They need to do something to spark Sam Bradford, who has broken Rams' fans and fantasy owners' hearts everywhere this year with his sophomore slump. His 103/195 for 1,170 yards passing, three TDs and two interceptions over five games has deep-sixed the fantasy prospects of all the Rams' receivers so far this year. We'll see if he and Lloyd can brew up some quick chemistry in the second 1/3 of the season. Bradford (and Lloyd) owners sure hope they can. Bradford is dealing with an ankle injury that hasn't come around as of Wednesday - QB A.J. Feeley is expected to take the majority of snaps with the first-team offense Wednesday, October 19th while Bradford gets treatment/rests his injured ankle. However, Bradford is expected to start as of Wednesday, but he Rams are making sure Feeley is a viable plan B if Bradford suffers a setback in practices later this week. The absence of Bradford from practice won't help him bond with Lloyd for week seven, either. To date, Danario Alexander (33 targets for 14/287/1 receiving, a 42.4% recpetion percentage), Brandon Gibson (31 for 17/214/1, 54.8%), and Lance Kendricks (27 for 12/173/0, 44.4%) haven't been reliable options for Bradford.

The Cowboys' pass D is the team's weak link, currently averaging 238 net yards allowed per game (14th in the NFL), with nine passing scores given up over five games, vs. six interceptions and 16 sacks generated (tied for 10th- and eighth-ranked, respectively). Though the unit isn't an embarrassment, their mediocre performance is off-setting the run D's #1 ranking (currently averaging 69.6 rushing yards allowed per game, with just one rushing score given up to date). Tom Brady put a stake in the Cowboys' hearts at :22 left in the 4th quarter last week thanks to the secondary - he ended the day with 27/41 for 270 net yards, two TDs and two interceptions thrown.

Bradford has been terrible so far this year - the Cowboys' so-so unit will be a tough challenge for the bumbling Rams.

Weather: Cowboys Stadium expects a high of 79 F on Sunday, with a 0% chance of rain - the retractable roof may be open if the nice forecast holds up come Sunday.

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


Jacksonville Jaguars Passing Offense vs Baltimore Ravens Passing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Blaine Gabbert has played solid football in his last three starts, with 43/96 for 526 yards, three TDs and one interception to his credit during that span of time. However, he struggled at Pittsburgh, with 12/26 for 109 yards, one TD and zero interceptions to his credit, a step back from his first 200+ yards passing game vs. Cincinnati two weeks ago (15/28 for 221 yards, one TD and zero interceptions). Jason Hill has grabbed TDs in each of the last two games, with three targets for 2/29/1 at Pittsburgh and eight for 5/118/1 vs. Cincinnati - Hill is the guy to field for fantasy owners among this squad right now: he has the most yards receiving of the pass-catchers on the team, and the most TDs scored. Mike Thomas leads the team with 24 targets for 12/162/0 receiving over the last three weeks, while Marcedes Lewis hasn't converted enough targets (19 during the last three weeks), posting a mere 6/73/0 receiving.

The Ravens have allowed the second-fewest passing TDs this season, with four given up, vs. six interceptions (tied for 10th in the NFL) and 15 sacks (tied for 10th) generated. Jacksonville is 27th in the NFL currently with 17 sacks surrendered to date, which will likely spell trouble for Gabbert on Monday Night Football. Baltimore ranks seventh in the NFL averaging 209.6 net yards allowed per game through five contests. Houston's Matt Schaub managed 21/37 for 200 net yards, one TD and zero interceptions at Baltimore last week; Mark Sanchez could only scrape up 11/35 for 112 net yards, zero TDs and one interception there in Baltimore two weeks ago.

This is a bad matchup for the rookie - sorry Mr. Gabbert.

Weather: Everbank Field expects a low of 62 F for Monday Night Football - there is only a 20% chance for rain during the Jaguars' battle against the Ravens.

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


New York Jets Passing Offense vs San Diego Chargers Passing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Mark Sanchez has played steadily over the past three weeks, with 41/86 for 486 yards, three TDs and one interception to his credit. Santonio Holmes has accoutnted for the bulk of receiving yards and TDs, with 21 targets for 10/156/2 receiving, while Plaxico Burress has been in a funk lately with 20 targets but just seven receptions (35%) for 7/91/0. Dustin Keller has also been ham-handed of late with 15 targets for 5/70/0 (33.3% reception percentage). Sanches needs some help from his pass catchers - at least Jeremy Kerley (eight targets for 5/53/1) is over 50% reception percentage, with 62.5% over the last three weeks.

The Chargers' pass D averages 179.5 net yards allowed per game (second in the NFL), with seven passing scores allowed over five games balanced by five interceptions (16th in the NFL) and eight sacks (28th) generated. The Jets have allowed 15 sacks this year, but gave up just two last week with C Nick Mangold back in the center of the offensive line. Denver eked out 10/23 for 113 net yards, one TD and one interception vs. the Chargers in week five; Miami posted 20/30 for 176 net yards, zero TDs and two interceptions at San Diego two weeks ago. These guys are tough on opposing passers, folks.

Advantage, San Diego.

Weather: MetLife Stadium expects a high of 62 F on Sunday, with a 0% chance for rain at game time - there should be great football weather in Northern New Jersey on Sunday.

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


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