Matchup meter: Newton, Vick may reverse long slumps in Week 9
October was a rough month for Cam Newton. He threw just one touchdown and posted three QB Ratings below 75.0, infuriating fantasy owners who had invested a top pick on Carolina's quarterback. Perhaps help is on the way this week in the form of the Redskins' 32nd-ranked pass defense.
Washington is one of only three defenses allowing more than 300 passing yards per game, and three signal callers -- Sam Bradford, Andy Dalton and Ben Roethlisberger -- have posted QB Ratings above 110.0 against the Skins. Washington's secondary has surrendered 19 touchdowns, two more than any other unit.
• Number to know -- 331: The number of passes attempted by Redskins opponents this season, most in the league.
• Expect a big day from: Newton, who completed 18-of-23 passes for 256 yards in a game against Washington last year and also passed and rushed for a touchdown.
Few backs have failed to plow through the Colts' defense. Excluding Trent Richardson, who was injured, the last four feature backs to face Indianapolis all averaged 4.7 yards per carry or better, and two -- Shonn Greene and Maurice Jones-Drew -- gained more than 150 yards rushing. The Colts have allowed eight rushing scores in seven games.
• Number to know -- 18.7: The number of carries the opposing team's lead back has averaged in games against Indianapolis this season.
• Expect a big day from: Reggie Bush, whose fantasy owners could use a big day. He has not reached 100 yards rushing since Week 2, and has found the end zone in just two contests. This week Bush can begin to make up for the past month.
Sounds absurd, doesn't it? Michael Vick was nearly benched this week and the Eagles are on the verge of a meltdown. Well, consider the Saints defense a possible cure. New Orleans ranks 30th in passing yards allowed per game (304.5) and dead last in opposing QB Rating (110.6). Five of the seven passers who have faced the Saints this season have thrown for 300 or more yards.
• Number to know -- 12: The number of touchdown passes New Orleans has allowed in its last four games.
• Expect a big day from: Vick, who has been wishing for a miracle to save his job. The Saints allowed Cam Newton to complete 70 percent of his throws, and two weeks ago helped Josh Freeman put together a career day (420 yards, three touchdowns). Wish granted.
The Bears feast on fantasy backs. Look at Maurice Jones-Drew (56 yards), Stevens Jackson (29) and DeMarco Murray (24); the list goes on. Chicago has not allowed a rushing touchdown since Week 1, and it allows just 3.8 yards per carry. Fantasy owners don't want to mess with this defense.
• Number to know -- 77.9: The average number of rushing yards the Bears allow per game, the fewest of any NFL defense.
• Who to bench: Chris Johnson, whose fantasy career may not be toast after all, but who won't do much good against Chicago. The Bears will focus their attack on Johnson, putting pressure on Matt Hasselbeck and the Titans' passing game.
All-Pro Troy Polamalu has once again been ruled out. No worries. Pittsburgh remains the NFL's top-ranked defense in terms of passing yards allowed (182.5), and opposing passers are completing just 57.1 percent of their attempts. Only one wide receiver has gained more than 75 yards against Pittsburgh so far this season (Demaryius Thomas in Week 1).
• Number to know -- 6.0: The number of yards opposing passers average per attempt against Pittsburgh, second lowest in the league.
• Who to bench: Eli Manning, who has struggled against good pass defenses this year. Both Dallas and San Francisco held him to fewer than 200 yards passing in recent weeks. Assuming you have a quality backup, this may be a good week to give Manning a rest. Give Hakeem Nicks a seat, too.
The Chargers' run defense ranks second in yards allowed per game, fourth in yards allowed per carry and is tied for sixth in rushing touchdowns allowed (three).
• Number to know -- 3.6: The number of yards the Chargers allow per carry to opposing backs.
• Who to bench: Jamaal Charles, who is already being asked to share carries with Peyton Hillis. This week there will be fewer carries (and yards) to divvy up. Charles' numbers were solid when these two teams met in Kansas City earlier this year, but he won't do as well on the road.