StrategySeptember 21, 2012

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Week 3 Game Previews: Week Before the Byes

By Stever

The football feel is all around us heading into the week before the byes. Let’s take a look at the game previews for the third week of the season.

Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns
The Bills will travel to Cleveland in what could turn into a great game. C.J. Spiller filled in for the injured Fred Jackson perfectly last week, rushing for 123 yards and knocking in two touchdowns. Ryan Fitzpatrick has been inconsistent so far this season; however, he should get back on track against a Browns defense that has allowed an average of 300.5 passing yards per game. Last week Trent Richardson showed the reason he was drafted in the first round, rushing for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Look for him to continue his success against a below-average Bills rush defense. Brandon Weeden’s performance this week will dictate who wins this game.
Final Score Prediction: 24-17 Bills 

Game Day Weather: 63 F with chance of showers

Game Time: Sunday 1:00 PM Eastern

St. Louis Rams at Chicago Bears
The Bears lost Matt Forte, but they are still favorites over the Rams. Michael Bush is a capable back, so expect him to get over 20 touches this week with Forte out. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall will look to rebound from a key drop against the Packers. Steven Jackson is listed as questionable for the game, but do not expect him to have a great game against the stingy Bears defense even if he plays. Daryl Richardson will lead the running back by committee if Jackson sits out. For the first time last week, Danny Amendola went over 100 yards. The combination between Amendola and Bradford will have to continue to produce if the Rams want to upset the Bears.
Final Score Prediction: 28-17 Bears

Game Day Weather: 63 F

Game Time: Sunday 1:00 PM Eastern

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys host the Buccaneers at Jerry’s world. Both Miles Austin and Jason Witten fully participated in practice, which is great news for Cowboy fans. Tony Romo should have a big day against a Buccaneers defense that has allowed a league-worst 400.5 passing yards per game. Despite a weak pass defense, the Buccaneers have allowed an average of 52 rushing yards per game, so DeMarco Murray may struggle. Rookie Doug Martin has continued to impress, and he should enjoy success against the Cowboys. The big free agency acquisition for the Buccaneers, Vincent Jackson, will look to build off last week’s game. Look for Mike Williams to have an impact with the double coverage on Jackson.
Final Score Prediction: 28-24 Buccaneers

Game Day Weather: 95 F

Game Time: Sunday 1:00 PM Eastern

San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings
Christian Ponder and the Vikings will look to pull off an upset at home against the 49ers. After a miraculous recovery, Adrian Peterson will face a big test against the 49ers. Lead by Patrick Willis, the San Francisco front seven will look to put some pressure on Ponder. Expect the Vikings to have a long day on offense. The Vikings will look to keep Frank Gore in check; however, they will have to deal with Alex Smith, who has been impressive so far this season by completing 70.6 percent of his passes and four touchdowns. This would be the upset of the week if the Vikings win.
Final Score Prediction: 30-13 49ers 

Game Day Weather: Dome

Game Time: Sunday 1:00 PM Eastern

Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts
The Jaguars will face Andrew Luck for the first time at Lucas Oil Stadium. It looks like Austin Collie will suit up, which will help Luck in the passing game. Reggie Wayne had only seven targets last week after seeing 18 the first game of the season. He should get around ten targets for the game. Donald Brown will look to get back on track against a Jaguars run defense that has allowed an average of 169.5 rushing yards per game. On the offensive side of the ball, the Jaguars will hand off the ball to Maurice Jones-Drew frequently with Rashad Jennings listed as doubtful due to a knee injury. Expect Blaine Gabbert to have a decent game.
Final Score Prediction: 21-17 Colts

Game Day Weather: Dome 

Game Time: Sunday 1:00 PM Eastern

New York Jets at Miami Dolphins
The Mark Sanchez-led New York Jets will take on the Dolphins. Reggie Bush had 26 touches last week, and he delivered by putting in two touchdowns. He should maintain his success against a Jets defense that has allowed an average of 130.5 rushing yards this season. Ryan Tannehill will continue to be inconsistent due to the Dolphins’ weak receiving group. Offensively, the Jets will try to take advantage of one of the worst pass defenses in the league. Dustin Keller is listed as questionable, although he looks like he will not play due to a hamstring injury.
Final Score Prediction: 24-13 Jets 

Game Day Weather: 86 F with scattered thunderstorms

Game Time: Sunday 1:00 PM Eastern

Kansas City Chiefs at New Orleans Saints
The struggling Chiefs will travel to the Superdome to face the Saints. Jamaal Charles is probable for the game; he should do well against a Saints team that has allowed an average of 186 rushing yards per game. So far this season, Matt Cassel has struggled. Dwayne Bowe ought to be in for a big day with the Chiefs expected to be down early. The Saints offense should move the ball up and down the field against a below average Chiefs team. Drew Brees is listed as probable, and Marques Colston is listed as questionable. If Colston sits out, expect Lance Moore to have a solid outing.
Final Score Prediction: 33-20
Game Day Weather: Dome 

Game Time: Sunday 1:00 PM Eastern

Detroit Lions at Tennessee Titans
The Titans host the Lions at LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee. Expect the Lions to come out strong after their disappointing lost last week. Mikel Leshoure’s first game back from his two-game suspension should give the Lions’ running game a much needed boost. Surprisingly, Matthew Stafford has struggled so far this season, throwing four interceptions and just two touchdowns. He should get back on track against the Titans. One of the main reasons the Titans have not won a game is Chris Johnson. He has an average of 1.1 yards per carry through two games. Don’t expect him to get back on track against the Lions front seven. Jake Locker has played poorly so far this season, so he needs a good game to hold off Matt Hasselbeck.
Final Score Prediction: 35-17 Lions

Game Day Weather: 78 F

Game Time: Sunday 1:00 PM Eastern

Cincinnati Bengals at Washington Redskins
Robert Griffin III will lead the Redskins against the Bengals at FedEx Field. Pierre Garcon has been limited in practice, and he is listed as doubtful for the game. Despite Garcon missing last week’s game, Griffin had an impressive stat line, so expect him to be fine this week. Alfred Morris should see the majority of touches again. On the other side of the ball, BenJarvus Green-Ellis will struggle to find holes against a solid Redskins run defense. Andy Dalton needs to repeat his three-touchdown performance in order for the Bengals to win.
Final Score Prediction: 24-21 Redskins 

Game Day Weather: 86 F

Game Time: Sunday 1:00 PM Eastern

Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals
The Eagles will travel to Arizona to face the Cardinals. Last week, the Cardinals upset the Patriots; they will look to keep the momentum going against a solid Eagles squad. John Skelton is listed as questionable, but expect Kevin Kolb to get the nod after a strong performance. The Arizona running backs will have a tough time finding running lanes. It should be a goal for the Cardinals to get Larry Fitzgerald, who only had one reception last week, more involved. The Eagles are coming off a big win over the Ravens. Jeremy Maclin may have to sit out this week due to a hip injury; however, the Eagles still have plenty of offensive weapons.
Final Score Prediction: 28-17 Eagles

Game Day Weather: Dome
Game Time: Sunday 4:05 PM Eastern

Atlanta Falcons at San Diego Chargers
The 2-0 Falcons will take on the 2-0 Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. This game should be a high scoring affair with both offenses clicking. Ryan Mathews is expected to play, which will help take some pressure off Philip Rivers. It is becoming obvious that Rivers and Robert Meachem are lacking chemistry; however, expect them to connect on a pass at least once. Antonio Gates is listed as probable, which is great news for Chargers fans. The Falcons, led by Matt Ryan, have been impressive over the first two games. Look for Roddy White and Julio Jones to be targeted frequently. Michael Turner was in the news for the wrong reasons on Tuesday after getting a DUI. Expect him to continue to have a diminishing role in the up-tempo offense.
Final Score Prediction: 35-28 Falcons

Game Day Weather: 85 F with patchy fog

Game Time: Sunday 4:05 PM Eastern

Houston Texans at Denver Broncos
After a disappointing lost last week, the 1-1 Broncos will host the 2-0 Texans at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Both defenses have been great against the run so far this season. The Broncos have allowed 72 rushing yards per game, but they have yet face a running back quite like Arian Foster (or Ben Tate). Matt Schaub could be in for a long day due to the Broncos allowing just 464 total passing yards to Matt Ryan and Ben Roethlisberger over the first two games. On Monday night, Peyton Manning threw three interceptions. The top passing defense in the league so far hopes to force Manning into more errors. It is becoming clear that Eric Decker is behind Demaryius Thomas on the depth chart, but expect both to be targeted often.
Final Score Prediction: 24-21 Texans

Game Day Weather: 79 F

Game Time: Sunday 4:25 PM Eastern

Pittsburgh Steelers at Oakland Raiders
The Oakland Raiders will look to get their first win of the season, but they are hosting a tough Steelers squad. In the Raiders new zone-blocking scheme, Darren McFadden has averaged just 2.7 yards per carry. Do not expect him to have a breakout game going against the Steelers defense that has allowed just 3.8 yards per carry. If the Raiders want to win this game, Carson Palmer needs to step up, although it is becoming clear that his arm strength is on the decline. Two Steeler key defensive players, James Harrison and Troy Polamalu, were ruled out on Friday, which is not good news for Pittsburgh fans. Last week the Steelers rebounded against the Jets offensively. Look for Jonathan Dwyer to split carries with Isaac Redman.
Final Score Prediction: 28-17 Steelers 

Game Day Weather: 70 F

Game Time: Sunday 4:25 PM Eastern

New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens
The Sunday night game will feature two teams that had disappointing loses last week, the Ravens and the Patriots. Tom Brady will not have one of his favorite targets, Aaron Hernandez. Look for Wes Welker to get more involved in the passing game with Hernandez out. Stevan Ridley has an average of five yards per carry, but look for him to struggle against a solid Ravens defense. The improved New England defense has allowed an average of 264.5 total yards this season. Expect Ray Rice and Dennis Pitta to be used in check-down passes. Torrey Smith has yet to break out this season. If the Ravens beat the Patriots, Smith will be a large reason why.
Final Score Prediction: 28-24 Ravens 

Game Day Weather: 52 F

Game Time: Sunday 8:20 PM Eastern

Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks
The 1-1 Packers will travel across the country to face the 1-1 Seahawks on Monday night. Marshawn Lynch should have a good game against a Packers team that has allowed an average of 5.1 yards per carry. Expect Russell Wilson to struggle though. The Packers have forced four interceptions, and allowed just 265 total passing yards over the first two games. Aaron Rodgers will face a tough Seahawks defense that held the Cowboys to seven points last week. He may be without Greg Jennings, who is battling a groin injury. Look for the Packers’ run game to struggle, as the Seahawks defense has allowed an average of 2.6 yards per carry.
Final Score Prediction: 23-20 Packers

Game Day Weather: 69 F with chance of showers

Game Time: Monday 8:30 Eastern

Stever is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Stever in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of 11stever11, and
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