By Mike Beacom
December 15, 2011

During their seven-game losing streak, the Buccaneers have allowed opponents to run the ball an average of 33.5 times per game for 161.2 yards (a number that if stretched out over the season would rank dead last). Even more discouraging, Tampa Bay has given up 14 rushing scores over those seven games (27 NFL teams haven't allowed that many touchdowns on the ground all season).

For a Cowboys team desperate to rediscover balance on offense, Saturday's game is a dream matchup.

Felix Jones looked sharp last week (137 yards of total offense) in relief of DeMarco Murray and has received a full endorsement from Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett. Said Jerry Jones, "That was a tough defense we were running against (Giants) the other day and he showed in that game that he can carry the load." Jones will put on another show this week against a Buccaneers team giving up 4.6 yards per carry.

These matchups suggest success is around the corner for a number of suspect fantasy starters ...

NY Jets' passing attack vs. Philadelphia's defense

The Eagles have been one of the league's most disappointing secondaries this season. They allow opposing passers a QB Rating of 89.9 (26th) and have one of the worst interception-to-touchdowns allowed ratios in football (12 to 23). Want further proof of how bad things are? Two weeks ago Tarvaris Jackson had a 137.0 QB Rating against the Eagles.

Expect a big day from: Mark Sanchez has thrown seven touchdowns over the past three weeks and now ranks among the league's top 10 in the category. More passing scores are on the way; only three pass defenses have allowed more touchdowns than Philadelphia. None of Sanchez's targets have been steady performers, but this week fantasy owners should strongly consider Plaxico Burress, Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller.

Cincinnati's rushing attack vs. St. Louis' defense

The Rams rank dead last against the run (156.8 yards allowed per game). St. Louis is one of three defenses to allow 5.0 or more yards per carry, and one of four to have allowed 400 or more carries this season. The list goes on and on, but you get the point.

Expect a big day from: Cedric Benson hasn't scored a touchdown in the Bengals last two outings and has just one 100-yard game in his last eight starts. Fantasy owners can have faith this week, as Benson's cold streak is about to snap.

Houston's receivers vs. Carolina's defense

The Panthers give up a league-worst 8.4 yards per passing attempt and allow opposing passers a 97.8 QB Rating (30th). Last week, Carolina's pass defense allowed three Falcons receivers to register 80 or more yards receiving.

Expect a big day from: The Texans passing game is not in the same ballpark as Atlanta's due to a string of injuries, but a couple of Houston's weapons are worth a look in this matchup. Wide receiver Kevin Walter and tight end Owen Daniels have both put up respectable totals with Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson on the sideline, and both are primed to have big games against the Panthers.

These fantasy stars might need a rest this week due to an unfavorable matchup on the horizon ...

San Diego's passing attack vs. Baltimore's defense

Stat-for-stat, no pass defense is as strong as Baltimore's. The Ravens rank fifth in passing yards allowed (192.3), second in opponent QB Rating (66.3) and completion percentage (52.9), and they are the only unit to have allowed fewer than 10 passing scores. Oh yeah, and Ray Lewis is ready to return.

Who to bench: Just when things were looking up for San Diego ... BAM, Baltimore arrives in town. At various times throughout the year fantasy owners have learned to live without Philip Rivers and Vincent Jackson. Time to put them back on the bench.

Pittsburgh's rushing attack vs. San Francisco's defense

Last season, Baltimore and Pittsburgh tied for the NFL lead in rushing touchdowns allowed with five; through 13 weeks the 49ers have yet to allow one. In terms of yards, San Francisco has allowed just 70.5 per game. Ask top 10 rusher Beanie Wells how good the 49ers are -- he gained just 27 yards on 15 carries last week.

Who to bench: With Ben Roethlisberger nursing a bum ankle the Steelers will want to rely more heavily on the run -- after this week. Sorry Rashard Mendenhall owners, but the nightmare season continues.

Oakland's passing attack vs. Detroit's defense

The Lions secondary is better than fantasy owners give it credit for. Detroit ranks among the top 10 in pass defense, allowing 209.1 yards per game, and with Ndamukong Suh back in the lineup it will only make life more miserable for opposing passers.

Who to bench: Success is just not in the cards for Carson Palmer and company this week.

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