NOTE: This was written by TJFord or very own Dudley Dooright from the Great White North.
With bye weeks over, we have a full slate of games this weekend both heading into the Thanksgiving games. A handful of bad games on paper (read: OAK @ MIN sans Mr. Peterson) mixed in with a few potential barnburners and a sprinkling of divisional matchups should make for a solid weekend of football.
This year has been unprecedented with starting running back injuries. 22 teams have lost their RB1 or RB1a to injury for at least one game. That list will grow to 24 teams this week as super-rookies Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch will not play for their respective teams this week. Those who resisted temptation to trade away their running depth earlier in the season are likely the ones who aren’t feeling the pinch at this point.
Last week was another horrible week for game predictions but a solid week for fantasy plays. The Saints/Rams game was a fantasy goldmine and I hit on all major calls except for Manning, Clark, Boldin and Gates. This week’s three-pack of games should be decent; two divisional matchups and a barn-burner in the making. As always, start the players in green with confidence, black indicates a so-so start, red is a caution and blue indicates my sleeper.
Rundown: Who in their right mind would have thought that the Browns would have not only a win over the Ravens but a better record than them at this point in the season? The O-line is vastly improved and Derek Anderson has been able to deliver catchable balls to their dangerous downfield weapons in Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow.
History indicates that Jamal Lewis is a poor play against the Ravens but I believe that you could do worse than JLew this week. In week 4 against the Ravens, Lewis toted the rock 23 for 64 and a score. It will be Lewis’ penchant for the endzone that will make him serviceable this week. However, Lewis’ foot has been bothering him lately, do not be surprsied if he is questionable for the game. If this happens, look for Jerome Harrison and Jason Wright to cut into Jamal’s workload. Read the injury report and adjust your lineup accordingly. On the other side of the field, Willis McGahee is one of the few dangerous weapons for the Ravens. The Browns have been much maligned in stopping their opponent’s this season and I see Willis having a good day against a porous Cleveland run defense.
Look for Derek Anderson to continue his solid quarterback play as Cleveland with likely be forced to throw against Baltimore to move the chains. Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow will be the main beneficiaries of the Browns’ pass game. The Ravens pass game has been atrocious this year as Steve McNair has had difficulty taking care of the ball and the team’s best red zone threat, Todd Heap, has suffered through a nagging hamstring problem. Heap and McNair will likely not be active for this game. Derrick Mason is likely the only serviceable Raven receiver although Mark Clayton has shown flashes of brilliance now and again. Clayton is too hit-or-miss for my liking and should stay on your bench until he proves to be consistent.
Perch’s pick: Browns by 10
QB: Derek Anderson
QB: Kyle Boller
RB: Jamal Lewis – 20 carries 70 yards 1 TD 4 catches 30 yards
RB: Willis McGahee
WR: Braylon Edwards
WR: Derrick Mason
WR: Mark Clayton
TE: Kellen Winslow
TE: Daniel Wilcox
Rundown: Despite being 4-5, the New Orleans Saints are still in the hunt for their division. The Texans, also at 4-5, are not. Two similar teams meet on Sunday. Both rely heavily on the vertical passing game. Both are suffering through running back injuries.
Ahman Green will likely not play for the Texans but previously “Out” players Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson will return this week. Reggie Bush has been banged up with various injuries but should play as well. This game has all the makings of a shootout. Start your players accordingly.
Perch’s pick: Texans by 7
QB: Drew Brees
QB: Matt Schaub
RB: Reggie Bush
RB: Ron Dayne
WR: David Patten
WR: Marques Colston
WR: Andre Johnson
WR: Kevin Walter
WR: Andre Davis
TE: Eric Johnson
TE: Owen Daniels – 7 rec 60 yds 1 TD
Rundown: The Patriots return from their bye week hoping to keep their perfect season intact. The injury bug for the Bills has moved from the defense to the offense with rookie Marshawn Lynch out with an ankle injury this week. Anthony Thomas, Fred Jackson and rookie Dwayne Wright will likely split the load for the Bills. If any hope had been given to the Bills, it left with the removal of Lynch from the lineup. Evans is the only Bills player I would consider starting this week.
Wes Welker appears on the injury report for the Patriots. It doesn’t appear serious and he is likely to play. As always, the Patriot passing game is a must-start against every defense.
I don’t believe that the Bills will win, but I expect an effort similar to that against the Cowboys. Brady will not make the mistakes that Romo did, but the Bills defense will get up for this one. Pats win, but not by 25+.
Perch’s Pick: Pats by 13
QB: Tom Brady
QB: JP Losman
RB: Laurence Maroney
RB: Anthony Thomas
WR: Wes Welker
WR: Donte Stallworth
WR: Randy Moss
WR: Lee Evans
TE: Ben Watson – 4 rec 50 yds 1 TD
TE: Robert Royal