December 11, 2006
Last week Chiefscoach Herm Edwards expressed his belief that running the football wins games.While Kansas City does rely heavily on Johnson, here's a case where suchdependence could prove costly to you in a crucial week. That isn't to sayJohnson should automatically be shelved, but take a look at the defensivematchup and your alternatives before proceeding. The Ravens' vaunted defensehas stood its ground against almost every top AFC back, including LaDainianTomlinson, whom they held to 98 yards and zero TDs. (He leads the league with26 this season.) Baltimore has bottled up the likes of Rudi Johnson (47 and 78yards), Willie Parker (22), Reggie Bush (16) and DeShaun Foster (58), and ithas surrendered more than 100 yards to a running back only once, when it wasbanged up against Tennessee. This week the Ravens are healthy, so consideryourself warned.
Giants AT Panthers
The South hasn't recently shown its famed hospitality to a kid who grew up inNew Orleans and went to college in Mississippi. In games at Jacksonville andTennessee, Manning passed for an average of 186.5 yards and totaled two TDs andfour picks. Since Week 10, Carolina's D has allowed nine points per game.
Rams VS. Bears
This would be a tough assignment even if St. Louis had a full complement ofO-linemen to protect Bulger against Chicago. But Orlando Pace is out for theyear, and with Bulger having thrown three picks against Arizona (which wasmissing top pass rusher Bertrand Berry), he must be benched.
Steelers VS. Browns
K.C.'s Trent Green torched the Browns for 297 yards and four TDs, soRoethlisberger seems like a sure bet at Heinz Field next week. However, withHines Ward ailing, Big Ben will find it hard to duplicate the 272 yards (withtwo touchdown passes) he had at Cleveland on Nov. 19.
Lions VS. Vikings
For Jones to have a good game, he'd have to do what eight consecutive startingrunning backs have failed to achieve against Minnesota: run for more than 55yards or score a TD. That group includes Ronnie Brown, Ahman Green, NFC rushingleader Frank Gore--and Jones, who gained all of eight yards in Week 5.
Patriots VS. Dolphins
One of the overlooked stories of last week's three-TD show by Corey Dillon wasthat Maroney left the game after a helmet-to-helmet collision. When it comes tothe status of injured players, the Patriots are the most secretive in theleague, so there's no way to know how healthy Maroney will be.
Colts AT Jaguars
Addai has become the go-to guy in Indy, but in recent years Jacksonville hasbeen rough on Colts running backs. With Indianapolis, Edgerrin James was a TDmachine, but he crossed the Jags' goal line once in eight division games. InWeek 3 against Jacksonville, Addai had 15 yards in limited action.
Dolphins VS. Patriots
Despite letting Detroit's Mike Furrey get into the end zone last week, NewEngland is tied with the Broncos and the Bears for the league lead in fewestpassing TDs allowed (eight). In their first meeting this year, the Pats heldBooker and fellow wideout Chris Chambers to 51 combined yards.
Saints AT Cowboys
Horn left last week's game against the Niners when he reaggravated his groininjury, leaving Drew Brees with neither Horn nor wideout Marques Colston.Adding insult to injury, this week New Orleans will be clashing with a talentedDallas defensive backfield that includes Terence Newman and Roy Williams.
Chiefs VS. Ravens
Last week Kennison had his best fantasy output in nearly a year (seven catchesfor 117 yards and one touchdown). However, there's a big difference between theBrowns' coverage scheme and the Ravens'. Look for a well-rested Chris McAlister& Co. to keep Kennison off the scoreboard.
Seahawks AT Cardinals
Stevens had better hope that Mike Holmgren has more patience than Seahawks fansdo. The tight end, still dwelling on his drops in Super Bowl XL, is routinelybooed by Seattle's 12th Man. He has TDs in three of seven games since returningfrom a knee injury, but teammates may be down on him--especially after his twobig drops against Green Bay.
Bears VS. Rams
As goes the Bears offense, so goes Gould. In Chicago's 7--0 start, Gould kicked20 field goals and 23 extra points. But the attack has petered out and theNFL's field goal percentage leader (96.3) has seen his chances diminish. In theBears last five games, Gould has just seven field goal attempts--including onethat was blocked against New England--and 11 extra-point tries.
The Bolts hung 35 on Denver three weeks ago--and that was on the road. Denverlikely will crowd the line this time to stop LaDainian Tomlinson, which willopen routes for quick passes to tight end Antonio Gates. If Broncos middlelinebacker Al Wilson (who injured his neck on Sunday) plays, he likely won't beat full strength.
FISH OR CUTBAIT?
He's a lock forCanton, but Favre's fantasy value has taken a nosedive since he suffered anerve injury in his elbow during a Week 11 loss to the Patriots. In the twogames since, Favre is a combined 46 for 83 (55.4%), with two touchdowns andfive interceptions. The real question is: Should you depend on Favre in thefantasy playoffs? Three of Green Bay's remaining four games (at San Francisco,against Minnesota and at Chicago) are difficult fantasy matchups. Given theailing elbow and the schedule, it's time to activate your contingency plan.
WEEK 14 INJURYWATCH
For the latestinjury news, go to SI.com/football/nfl/injuries.