My top 3 choices per tier, in order of preference:
1. Matt Ryan
2. Aaron Rodgers
3. Andrew Luck
1. Matthew Stafford
2. Tony Romo
1. Calvin Johnson
2. C.J. Spiller
3. Dez Bryant
1. Julio Jones
2. LeSean McCoy
3. Victory Cruz
1. Matt Forte
2. Roddy White* (Injury risk)
3. Reggie Bush
1. David Wilson
2. Maurice Jones-Drew
3. Vincent Jackson
1. DeMarco Murray
2. Stevan Ridley
3. Pierre Garcon
1. Ryan Mathews
2. Stevie Johnson
3. Vernon Davis
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Game Day Game Plan
Game Day Notes & Updates, Injury situations to watch carefully, last minute sleepers, weather situations etc.
Thursday Night GameSeptember 5th, 2013
Baltimore at Denver 9:00 PM / Weather: Rain & Lightning
Game Day Notes & Updates
Denver: This game was one for the record books. Peyton Manning threw for 7 touchdowns and is on pace for 112 passing TDs. This Denver offense will be electric all season long. Julius Thomas was a sleeper before the game because he was the odd man out. Baltimore can only cover so many people and Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker all needed to be accounted for. This left Julius Thomas open for 5 rec. 110 yds and 2 TDs.
Baltimore: The Denver defense was without Champ Bailey and Von Miller and gave up 27 points. Luckily for Baltimore, LB Danny Trevathan muffed up a sure pick 6 for Denver otherwise the score would have been even more lopsided. Joe Flacco had a nice day going 34 for 362 yds, 2 TDs and 2 INTs. Ray Rice scored but was limited in the running game because the Ravens were playing from behind for quite some time. He did have an astounding team leading 8 catches however. Baltimore’s defense came up lame and need to get things fixed before week 2 or the Browns may have a field day too.
Baltimore: TE-Ed Dickson- thigh (probable)
Denver: CB- Champ Bailey- foot (out), TE- Joel Dreessen- knee (out), WR- Wes Welker- ankle (probable)
Baltimore: WR-Brandon Stokely
Denver: TE-Julius Thomas
FINAL: Denver-49 Baltimore-27
Early Games September 8, 2013
New England at Buffalo 1:00 PM / Weather: 63°slight chance of rain, wind 11-14 mph
New England has had Buffalo’s number for years now, but there may be a changing of the guard here in the AFC East. Tom Brady has to get used to all new offensive weapons, the continuity and experience are no longer there so this game will not be a walk in the park for Brady. Bill Belichick has no NFL tape on Doug Marrone or E.J. Manuel, only college work and some vanilla preseason snaps so Belichick could have no idea what is in store for him during this game while the Bills are on offense. Manuel is healthy apparently, so look for him to try and beat the Pats with both his arm and his legs. If the Bills can get their no huddle, fast paced offense going and keep the Pats defense gassed on the field, the Bills could actually pull out a win here at home.
The Bills new wild look defense led by Mike Pettine could come up huge in this game. Brady can be rattled, that is how you beat him and the games the Bills won against the Pats (or almost won), they rattled Brady, got in his head, got him mad and forced him into turning over the ball. The Bills defense looked horrid at the end of the preseason and with their banged up secondary, they may not be up to the task. Brady did lose 5 of his receiving options from last season but Danny Amendola, Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce and Zack Sudfeld have fit in nicely (Julian Edelman and Mathew Slater are the lone returning WRs) and by the time the Bills and Pats meet again later in the season, Tom Brady will have had enough time to gel with his new mates to make it more of a usual Patriots/Bills matchup.
Buffalo: S-Jairus Byrd- foot (doubtful), CB- Stephon Gilmore- wrist (out), K-Dustin Hopkins- right groin (out), C-Doug Legursky- knee (out)
New England: WR-Danny Amendola- groin (probable), TE-Rob Gronkowski- back (doubtful), RB-Brandon Bolden- knee (questionable), WR-Aaron Dobson- hamstring (questionable)
Buffalo: WR-Marquise Goodwin, QB-E.J. Manuel
New England: TE-Zach Sudfeld, WR-Kenbrell Thompkins, WR-Aaron Dobson
Prediction: Buffalo wins 27-24
Seattle at Carolina 1:00 PM / Weather: 89°, cloudy, slight breeze
Despite the weather being wonderful for an aerial show, the only legitimate receiver between both teams is Panther, Steve Smith. Look for him to have a big day. Other than that, most of the points, both in the game and for fantasy, are going to be scored on the ground. This is a great matchup of two very mobile QBs. Russel Wilson and Cam Newton will have plenty of opportunities to rack up the rushing yards for you and both may even score a rushing TD or two. It is week 1 however, and their coaches may not want to risk injuring their the star QBs so look for Marshawn Lynch and Deangelo Williams to have big days on the ground. Seattle’s front seven seem to be a little banged up so Williams will rack up the yards Sunday, especially with rookie RB Kenjon Barner out with a foot injury, Jonathan Stewart on the PUP list and Mike Tolbert probable with a hamstring injury. Start Williams with confidence.
Brandon LaFell has disappointed so far in his career and has not become the heir to Steve Smith, just merely his number 2. The Panthers WRs are going up against the best secondary in the NFL and they will not have an easy time Sunday. Look for Smith to be doubled teamed and shadowed by CB Richard Sherman all day long, so it is feasible LaFell or TE Greg Olson could put up some OK numbers in this game, especially in PPR formats. Sidney Rice and Golden Tate will have a little easier time racking up the fantasy points. Marshawn could be held to lower yardage in this game due to the presence of Luke Kuechly so Lynch’s points may only come in the form of goal line TDs.
Seattle: WR-Sidney Rice- knee (probable), DE- Cliff Avril- hamstring (doubtful), CB-Brandon Browner- hamstring (questionable), WR-Percy Harvin (PUP), DE-Chris Clemons- knee (out), DT-Brandon Mebane- groin (probable)
Carolina: RB-Kenjon Barner-foot (out), LB-Jon Beason- knee (probable), WR-Dominik Hixon- hamstring (questionable), RB-Mike Tolbert- hamstring (probable)
Seattle: WR- Golden Tate
Carolina: TE-Greg Olson
Prediction: Seattle wins 38-17
Cincinnati at Chicago 1:00 PM / Weather: 72°, cloudy, windy 15-25 mph
An up and coming high-powered offense versus one of the leagues top defenses. This should be an interesting game. Chicago has a very good secondary, which does not bode well for a pass offense, obviously. But Andy Dalton does have one of the best WRs in the game in A.J. Green and also has new toy TE Tyler Eifert to pay with as well. Add in veteran TE Jermaine Gresham and suddenly that Chicago secondary is running out of players to cover with. Ben-Jarvis Green-Ellis is a rock and will help move the chains when the Bears are able to stop the pass at times and will punch in a touchdown or two. Rookie RB Giovani Bernard is also a threat to score on the ground or through the air, giving Dalton yet another new weapon to unleash on Chicago. The wind may play a factor in this one, but all that means is shorter passes for Dalton and YAC for his receivers.
The Bengals defense is very good. Very. Good. Geno Atkins just signed an extension and their defense really came on at the end of last season. Matt Forte and Michael Bush will have a hard time running against this defense and if Chicago can’t get the running game going, they will be forced to throw it. Jay Cutler has the arm strength to throw it in the wind, but with reports of up to 25 mph wind gusts, Brandon Marshall better be on his game to catch some wild balls. WR Alshon Jeffery is not much of a number 2 WR but TE Martellus Bennett sure can help out especially in the red zone. With the weather though, punts and kicks could go awry and with Devin Hester returning, anything could happen. Special Teams could be what keeps Chicago in this game.
Cincinnati: DE-Carlos Dunlap- concussion (probable), TE-Tyler Eifert- forearm (probable), CB-Dre Kirkpatrick- concussion (probable)
Cincinnati: TE-Tyler Eifert
Chicago: TE-Martellus Bennett, WR-Devin Hester
Prediction: Bengals win 27-17
Miami at Cleveland 1:00 PM / Weather: 74°sunny, windy 16-18 mph
Ryan Tannehill has a legit no. 1 WR now in Mike Wallace and he can’t wait to use him. Cleveland has Joe Haden in the secondary and that is about it so look for Wallace and Brian Hartline to have a field day against this Brown secondary. RB Lamar Miller has won the starting job this year and he is a game changer. The Dolphins will be looking to air it out and Miller will certainly be apart of that. He has the moves to weave in and out of traffic and the hands to keep defenses honest much like Reggie Bush before him. Miller will be setting up the pass by himself. Pass protection will be a problem however, as Miller is only in his second year and Miami lost stud LT Jake Long to the Rams. If the Dolphins can keep Tannehill on his feet, they have a chance at throwing the ball well.
Brandon Weeden will be without his favorite target Josh Gordon for 4 weeks due to suspension so he will have to look for TE Jordan Cameron and former Dolphin Devone Bess for his completions. Bess is a PPR stud, start him in this game if you have him. Stay away from Greg Little, he has hands of stone. The Dolphin secondary is not much to write home about so Cleveland will be throwing the ball all over the field. Trent Richardson will have a tough time getting through Miami’s D-Line, but if he does, it’s easy sailing for big gains and the end zone. Richardson can carry the team on his back if he has to but Weeden and Co. will have fun in this high scoring affair.
Miami: CB-Will Davis- toe (out), DE-Dion Jordan- shoulder (probable)
Cleveland: WR-Devone Bess- knee (probable), TE-Jordan Cameron- groin (probable), DE-Desmond Bryant- back (probable)
Miami: WR-Brian Hartline, RB-Lamar Miller
Cleveland: WR-Devone Bess, TE-Jordan Cameron
Prediction: Browns win 35-34
Minnesota at Detroit 1:00 PM / Weather: Dome
The Vikings run through Adrian Peterson, literally. He is their team. Look for Peterson to get the ball all day long, touching it around 30-40 times. Christian Ponder is nothing more than a game manager at this point, doing just what the coaches say and that is pretty much just giving it to Peterson. They do have Greg Jennings now, but he is 29 and an old 29 at that, having been plagued by injuries lately. He is not the same player he used to be. Cordarrelle Patterson is the new Percy Harvin. He is a rookie, but it won’t take long before he becomes comfortable in the NFL and starts to take over and take pressure off of Peterson. Kyle Rudolph is a threat to score anytime the Vikings are in the red zone, and second year WR Jairus Wright is ready to break out. If Peterson breaks down, the Vikings do have some guys to fill part of his huge hole he will leave and this will all start to come together against the Lions. The Lions defense is average at best and after their D-Line, they don’t have much in the middle. The secondary is just OK, so if the Vikings need to throw, they can do so without worrying too much.
The Lions have Reggie Bush now and he is now Darren Sproles 2.0 in this offense. He is another PPR stud and you should not be afraid to start him. With Antoine Winfield retiring, there is a big hole in the Vikings secondary and Calvin Johnson is looking to exploit that. Matthew Stafford should have a ton of completions in this game just between those two players. But alas, they do have Nate Burleson who is average at best but fellow WR Patrick Edwards has turned heads this summer and could be a dark horse candidate to be a favorite target of Stafford this year. When Bush isn’t catching or juking, Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell are threats to steal carries from Bush and may even vulture some TDs from him. This Viking defense has a good front line, lead by Jared Allen and followed up by Brian Robison. In the middle they have Chad Greenway and in the secondary they have Harrison Smith so they have at least one star at each level. This game may be closer than it looks.
Minnesota: WR-Cordarrelle Patterson- back (probable), S-Harrison Smith- back (probable)
Detroit: DE-Ezekiel Ansah- concussion (probable), S-Louis Delmas- knee (probable)
Minnesota: WR-Cordarrelle Patterson
Detroit: WR-Patrick Edwards
Prediction: Detroit wins 38-21
Oakland at Indianpolis 1:00 PM / Weather: Dome
Finally, after three years of waiting, the Raiders make the right choice and make Terrelle Pryor the starting QB. He was a few years ahead of his time as he is one of the new breed of running, mobile, read option QBs. He beat out Matt Flynn, which pretty much means, barring injury, his starting days are over. This also means that Tyler Wilson was the wrong choice in the draft. It is rare these days that a regime does not give it’s drafted QB the starting job. Pryor is the perfect choice for this Raiders team. They have their workhorse RB with Darren McFadden, they have their no. 1 WR with Denarius Moore and now Pryor completes the trifecta. With Pryor being able to run, it takes pressure off of McFadden from being the only guy who can carry the rock. The Colts secondary is pretty good, their linebackers and D-Line, not so much. This will leave them vulnerable in the first and second levels where Pryor and McFadden can do some damage. Once the Colts start cheating to stop the run, Pryor can launch the ball down field to Moore or new favorite (and fan favorite) target WR Rod Streater. Streater has blazing speed and good hands and can stretch the field in a Chris Givens/Josh Gordon sort of way. This should be a fun offense to watch grow together. As for this week’s game against the Colts, they can still do some damage.
Andrew Luck has a new coach and a new offense so he has some learning curve with two new coach’s and two new offenses in his first two years so it may take a few games to get everything meshing together in Indy. The Raiders’ secondary is good featuring Tracy Porter, Mike Jenkins, Charles Woodson and Tyvon Branch. Andrew Luck will have a hard time throwing on them despite the future HOF WR Reggie Wayne, burner T.Y. Hilton and newly signed Darrius Heyward-Bey. The Colts will need to run this ball to win this game. Second year man Vick Ballard has only gotten better and newcomer Ahmad Bradshaw will contribute a bit but he is still coming back from a lingering foot injury. If Andrew Luck is going to be a factor in this game he will need to get the ball to his two tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener down low and across the middle in screens, keeping the ball away from that Raider secondary.
Oakland: K-Sebastian Janikowski- right calf (probable), TE-David Ausberry- shoulder (out)
Indianapolis: TE: Dwayne Allen- foot (probable), LB-Pat Angerer- concussion (doubtful), RB-Ahmad Bradshaw- foot (probable), TE-Coby Fleener- knee (probable)
Oakland: QB-Terrelle Pryor, WR-Rod Streater
Indianapolis: WR-T.Y.Hilton, RB-Vick Ballard
Prediction: Raiders upset Colts 23-17
Kansas City at Jacksonville 1:00 PM / Weather: 88° sunny
Kansas City has a new QB leading them and that is 49er castoff Alex Smith. Just as he was finally starting to put it all together in San Fran, they put in Colin Kaepernik and the rest is history. What a raw deal that was. Well now Smith is in Kansas City and has a chip on his shoulder. If there ever was a time to own Chiefs players on your fantasy team not named Jamal Charles, this is it. Dwayne Bowe will benefit greatly from this, as he will be the no. 1 WR we all knew he could be and it will start this week against Jacksonville. The Jaguars defense is just awful and their secondary is even worse. The Chiefs have Donnie Avery, A.J. Jenkins and Dexter McCluster as their other WRs. It’s a sad group yes, but they may actually put up some numbers against this Jaguars swiss cheese defense. A warning, however, Donnie Avery gets tons of targets, he can get open with the best of them, but he just drops so many balls. It’s heartbreaking really. Start him if you are desperate or have a flex spot and don’t know what to do because he may catch a few actually and give you a nice surprise. McCluster will be lined up everywhere and he will have a good chance to put up some numbers too. Charles will just run all over this Jaguars team, potentially going over the century mark and a couple TDs. New TE Anthony Fasano could contribute in some PPR ways. Heck, rookie TE Travis Kelce could chip in as well if he plays.
The Jaguars have some new weapons of their own this year with electric WR Ace Sanders and “offensive weapon” Denard Robinson. It’s game 1 and the Chiefs defense is half way decent so the Jaguars will struggle to put some points, especially since QB Blaine Gabbert is nursing a thumb injury. Over the course of the season however, Ace Sanders and Denard Robinson could become a big part of this offense. They have a small window now due to the suspension of Justin Blackmon, so Cecil Shorts is the only legitimate WR option for Blaine Gabbert as of kickoff. That could change during the game though. Maurice Jones-Drew has had a full training camp and preseason this year so he will be ready from the get go and will be a good portion of this Jaguar offense. He is in a contract year so look for him to put his all into every game, even this one. He will put up numbers in this game but will it be enough for a Jaguars win?
Kansas City: T-Eric Fisher- shoulder (probable), TE-Travis Kelce- knee (questionable)
Jacksonville: QB-Blaine Gabbert- right thumb (questionable), RB-Justin Forsett- toe (questionable), TE-Marcedes Lewis- calf (out), DE-Jeremy Mincey- illness (probable)
Kansas City: WR-Dexter McCluster, WR-Donnie Avery
Jacksonville: WR-Ace Sanders, OW-Denard Robinson
Prediction: Kansas City wins 17-10
Atlanta at New Orleans 1:00 PM / Weather: Dome
This game is going to be an out right shootout. Start all yours guys from these teams, this will be a high scoring affair folks. Throw defense right out the window. Matt Ryan is back with his same arsenal of weapons in Roddy White, Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez and have added stud RB Steven Jackson to mix. Everyone here will rack up fantasy points so insert into lineup at will. RB Jacquizz Rodgers may be a good flex play as he will see some balls thrown his way out of the backfield. Jackson will get most of the touches when there are some to be had because this is mostly a passing team. Thankfully Jackson can catch too so he is always in a position to score now. He doesn’t have to drive 80 yards himself over 10 minutes to do it either, he has a team that can get the ball down field quickly, score, and he can head right back to the bench again and stay fresh.
The Saints finally have head coach Sean Payton back and Drew Brees could not be happier. Things will be back to normal again, flinging TDs left and right from all over the field. Brees’ favorite target TE Jimmy Graham returns, as does his no. 1 WR Marques Colston and no. 2 WR Lance Moore. Brees has found a new favorite no. 3 slot receiver in rookie Kenny Stills who will also have a season like Chris Givens/Josh Gordon did last year. As teams cover the big names, Stills will be wide open far down field so get used to seeing “Brees to Stills” on the score sheet. You will see it starting week 1. Chris Ivory is gone now so that opened up the RB situation a bit, making Mark Ingram the starter. Pierre Thomas will still be stealing carries and TDs though until he retires. And how could we forget Drew Brees’ favorite safety net, Darren Sproles. Everyone on this offense can score in any game. It is the most dangerous offense in the NFL hands down. Start your Saints and Falcons and rest easy on those decisions Sunday. If I had to choose who had a better chance at scoring a TD in this game between Lance Moore and Kenny Stills, I would choose Stills.
Atlanta: K-Matt Bryant- back (probable), CB-Asante Samuel- thigh (questionable), WR-Roddy White- ankle (questionable)
New Orleans: WR-Marques Colston- foot (probable), RB-Travaris Cadet- foot (probable), WR-Nick Toon- chest (probable)
Atlanta: RB-Jacquizz Rodgers
New Orleans: WR-Kenny Stills
Prediction: Atlanta’s defense shows up just enough, wins 42-35
Tampa Bay at NY Jets 1:00 PM / Weather: 80°slight chance of rain, wind 6-13 mph
Tampa Bay has a decent offense featuring QB Josh Freeman, WR’s Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams and stud RB Doug Martin. This NY Jets team is very bad. Very bad indeed. The Bucs should have a field day with this team. The Jets no longer have Revis Island, but will be facing it Sunday as Darrelle Revis was traded to Tampa Bay this offseason. CB Antonio Cromartie and S Dawan Landry are the only real playmakers on that defense. Look for Doug Martin to come close to a career day on Sunday. The Jets just have no one that can stop him. The more players they bring in the box to stop him, the less are available to cover Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams so the Jets will have to choose their poison. Die by the run or die by the pass. Oh, and did I mention that Josh Freeman wants to be remembered as one of the best QB’s ever? Yeah, look for him to try and tear apart this defense.
The Jets got punishing RB Chris Ivory this offseason to help bolster their run game. He has not had a chance to start until now because he often gets hurt. Last year with the Saints he had two games in a row where he turned heads and made the world take notice. This year Ivory hopes to carry that brutal style of running he has through a full 16 games. Rex Ryan said Ivory is going to get the ball a lot this Sunday so no matter what, start Ivory anywhere you can. If the head coach is saying your RB is getting the ball, you play him, despite the Tampa Bay defense being pretty good in their own right. Bilal Powel will start the game though, but no need to worry there. The Jets will be starting rookie QB Geno Smith, so the ground game is all the will have to rely on. The Jets do not have very good WR’s, trotting out an aging Santonio Holmes, and mediocre Jeremy Kerley and Stephen Hill. They don’t even have Dustin Keller anymore, instead starting Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Winslow at TE. The Jets need Ivory to stay healthy and a WR or two to step up or their season is over before it even starts. Actually, that may have already happened, as both the Jets QBs, 3 WRs and a TE are on the injury report, part of 21 players, to start week 1 on the injury report.
Tampa Bay: CB-Darrelle Revis- knee (probable)
NY Jets: QB-Mark Sanchez- right shoulder (out), QB-Geno Smith- ankle (probable), DE-Quinton Coples- ankle (out), CB-Antonio Cromartie- hip (probable), WR-Stephen Hill- knee (probable), WR-Santonio Holmes- foot (questionable), WR-Jeremy Kerley- finger (probable), TE-Kellen Winslow- knee (probable)
Tampa Bay: TE-Luke Stocker
NY Jets: RB-Chris Ivory
Prediction: Tampa Bay wins 42-7
Tennessee at Pittsburgh 1:00 PM / Weather: 77°slight chance of rain, wind 5-9 mph
Tennessee finally has Chris Johnson back on track and running and he will be the focal point of the offense against the Steelers. Jake Locker is the starter but he is nothing special. In case he stumbles so horrible out of the gates, the Titans brought in Ryan Fitzpatrick to get through the rest of the season. Shonn Greene is a nice compliment to Johnson, as he was a 1,000 yd rusher last yr as well with the Jets. This year Kendall Wright should be taking a big jump as a WR and take over for the inconsistent and oft injured Kenny Britt. They really upgraded their O-Line this offseason, bringing in Andy Levitre and drafting Chance Warmack. Nothing really exciting here for the Titans, they have their base core of skill players who have been around for a few years and are hoping they start to develop and break out together. They will have a hard time doing this against a solid Steelers defense.
The Steelers will have an easy time against this soft Titans defense Sunday. Their star rookie RB Le-Veon Bell is out so Isaac Redman will be starting and Felix Jones backing him up. They have Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders coming back as their top WR’s who should tear up the Titan secondary. Ben Roethlisberger will have a ton of time to throw in the pocket as the Titans have almost no worthy pass rush. Rookie WR Markus Wheaton could have a big day on special team as a returner. He is the no. 3 WR in the slot so he could get some looks deep down field too.
Tennessee: LB-Akeem Ayers- ankle (questionable)
Pittsburgh: RB-Le’Veon Bell- foot (out), DE-Brett Keisel- not injury related (probable), TE-Heath Miller- knee (doubtful)
Tennessee: WR-Kendall Wright
Pittsburgh: WR-Markus Wheaton, RB-Isaac Redman
Prediction: Steelers win 17-10
Green Bay at San Francisco 4:25 PM / Weather: 69°sunny, wind 5-14 mph
Aaron Rodgers and company are back again, minus Greg Jennings. Randall Cobb is the new no. 1 WR with Jordy Nelson and James Jones close behind. For the first time in several years, the Packers have a running game they can actually run with. They drafted star Eddie Lacy and then later Jonathan Franklin, which, should provide a nice one-two punch at RB. Both are capable of being the lead back but for now that job belongs to Lacy. This will be a potent offense going against a stellar 49er defense. It will certainly be a chess match, who blinks first may end up losing this game.
This is Colin Kaepernik’s first year as starter and keys to the 49ers offense are now his alone. His unique style of play will give you both rushing and passing fantasy points in this game. The Packer defense isn’t bad, but it isn’t great either, so points can be scored against them. Kaepernik has veteran WR Anquan Boldin this year to rely on and still has trusty Frank Gore as well. Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James will steal carries from Gore for sure, but looking at it positively, it will keep Gore fresh and they may then use him down in the red zone, giving you those coveted short yardage TDs. He could also then be used on 3rd downs as well, racking you up catches for your PPR league. See, change doesn’t have to be all bad. Reports were coming out that the Packers were coming after Kaepernik. Whatever that means, his O-Line needs to be ready. It may also mean that there will be less read-option for him in this game if they are targeting laying hits on him (legal hits of course. Right?) That being said, Kaepernik can still beat the Packers through the air with WRs Boldin, Kyle Williams and rookie Quinton Patton, leaving the running to the RBs.
Green Bay: none of note
San Francisco: CB-Nnamdi Asomugha- collarbone (questionable), RB-LaMichael James- knee (questionable)
Green Bay: RB-Eddie Lacy, RB-Jonathan Franklin
San Francisco: WR-Quinton Patton
Prediction: San Francisco’s defense is too much for the Pack, wins 28-14
Arizona at St. Louis 4:25 PM / Weather: Dome
Arizona hit the free agent QB jackpot by signing Carson Palmer. Palmer threw for over 4,000 yards on the Oakland Raiders last year with NO number 1 WR. This year he is throwing to one of the games all time greats in Larry Fitzgerald. 4,000 yards seems almost automatic doesn’t it? Second year WR Michael Floyd should break out this year and be the no. 2 WR Arizona has been looking for since Anquan Boldin left years ago. They have picked up Rahard Mendenhall off the FA list and drafted two RBs, Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington. Ryan Williams is still the no. 2 RB behind Mendenhall but both have injury problems and the rookies may be starting by season’s end. Palmer should be successful against the Rams. His experience, along with that of Fitzgerald, will help them navigate through Chris Long and Cortland Finnegan on the Rams’ side.
Sam Bradford finally has weapons surrounding him. Gone is the oft injured Danny Amendola and the unstoppable force that was Steven Jackson. Replacing them are rookie WR Tavon Austin and rookie RB Zac Stacy. WR Chris Givens is ready to take the no. 1 WR role and is a threat to score on every play, as is Austin. Daryl Richardson is the starting RB now and he is very similar to Jackson, only more agile. They also acquired TE Jared Cook to help in the red zone. This team on offense is younger, healthier and faster than it was a year ago and should gel nicely by seasons’ end. The Cardinals and Rams are both evenly matched on both sides of the ball. This game could be a shootout or 6-3 snoozer.
Arizona: CB-Javier Arenas- hip (probable), DE-Calais Campbell- quadriceps (questionable), RB-Andre Ellington- ankle (probable), TE-Rob Housler- ankle (out), RB-Rashard Mendenhall- knee (probable), WR-Andre Roberts- quadriceps (probable)
St. Louis: none of note
Arizona: WR-Michael Floyd
St. Louis: WR-Tavon Austin
Prediction: St. Louis wins 27-21
Sunday Night Game
NY Giants at Dallas 8:30 PM / Weather: 75°clear, wind 5-10 mph
The Giants lost Ahmad Bradshaw but have given the starting RB gig to second year man David Wilson, who is just as dynamic and explosive as Bradshaw used to be in his prime. Backup Andre Brown broke his leg and is done for the year. Eli Manning has all his WRs back including Victor Cruz, his salsa dance and Hakeem Nicks. Rookie WR Rueben Randle looks to make a name for himself as well and has done a good job of it in the preseason. TE Brandon Myers has come over from Oakland and will figure to be a red zone target for Mr. Manning. The Giants will have a decent outing against a fairly good Cowboys defense, which will be without star DE Anthony Spencer. Eli will have all the time in the world to throw Sunday night.
Tony Romo will have to throw against a much better Giants defense, particularly their secondary. The Giants have some injuries on the D-Line so the ground game may have a good night there. Despite having a good secondary, the Giants will still have their hands full with Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Jason Witten and rookie WR Terrance Williams. The RB situation is murky. DeMarco Murray is the starter, but he is very injury prone. Behind him there aren’t many great options so, to handcuff Murray your choices are Lance Dunbar, Phillip Tanner and Joseph Randle. This situation is fluid so research before you make your pick(s).
NY Giants: DE-Jason Pierre-Paul- back (questionable), WR-Victor Cruz- heel (probable)
Dallas: RB-Lance Dunbar- foot (out), DE-Anthony Spencer- knee (doubtful)
NY Giants: WR-Rueben Randle
Dallas: RB-Phillip Tanner
Prediction: Giants win 38-24
Monday Night Game
Philadelphia at Washington 7:10 PM / Weather: 66°cloudy, wind 6-8 mph
Philly’s new offense should be a great matchup for Washingtons’ mediocre defense. Chip Kelly will be calling plays for Michael Vick that will be so explosive, the Redskins won’t
know what hit them. The new fast paced, no huddle and read-option offense is a perfect fit for the speedy Vick, DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy. Brent Celek will be lined up in two tight end sets with rookie TE Zach Ertz and the mismatches will be too much for Washington to handle.
RG3 is back and starting, and with so many injuries already, who knows if he can even finish out this game. His game is running, but he can throw too. Let’s just hope he doesn’t leave himself vulnerable to many hits Monday night because he is an electric player and really makes that Redskin offense click. Pierre Garcon is healthy and is ready to be RG3’s favorite target again. Philly’s defense won’t be able to handle both RG3 and Alfred Morris running the ball which will leave Garcon wide open on many plays. Roy Helu can also give defenses a headache as we saw this preseason. This game has the potential to be high scoring as well.
Philadelphia: none of note
Washington: S-Brandon Meriweather- groin (questionable), QB-Kirk Cousins- foot (probable)
Philadelphia: TE-Zack Ertz
Washington: RB-Roy Helu
Prediction: Philadelphia wins 35-32
Houston at San Diego 10:20 PM / Weather: 67°cloudy
Matt Schaub still has one of the best WRs in the game with Andre Johnson but they drafted his replacement this year in DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins suffered a concussion in the preseason but seems to be fine now. TE Owen Daniels will be open all over the field. Arian Foster has a lot of mileage on him and it would behoove the Texans coaching staff to give him a lighter load to extend his shelf life. Ben Tate should be used more. The San Diego defense will be no match for the super stars on this Texans offense. Their secondary is aging and Manti Te’o is hurt so the Texans should be able to run and throw all over this defense.
Phillip Rivers continues his down slide this year and it will start in week 1. Antonio Gates is healthy which is huge since most of the Chargers receiving corps is injured. Losing Danario Alexader was a huge blow to this offense. Vincent Brown needs to stay healthy as does Malcolm Floyd or this team is in serious trouble. Ryan Mathews has done nothing but disappoint since he was drafted and has been even worse since Mike Tolbert left last year. To top things off, the Charger O-Line has to fend off J.J. Watt Monday
night who had 20 sacks himself last year. Phillip Rivers will be lucky to get out of this game without being injured.
Houston: LB-Brian Cushing- knee (probable), RB-Arian Foster- calf (probable), TE-Garret Graham- hip (probable), WR-DeAndre Hopkins- concussion (probable), WR-DeVier Posey- achilles (probable), S-Ed Reed, hip (questionable)
San Diego: WR-Malcolm Floyd, knee (probable), DE-Corey Liuget, shoulder (probable), WR-Eddie Royal, chest (probable), LB-Manti Te’o, foot (out)
Houston: WR-DeAndre Hopkins, RB-Brandon Tate
San Diego: WR-Malcolm Floyd
Prediction: Houston wins 27-13
Weather forecasts borrowed from www.nflweather.com