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Week 4

Week 4
Sunday - 1:00 PM EST Sunday, 4:00 PM EST
CIN at PIT - AD NO at ARI - AD
NE at BUF - AD NYJ at MIA - CB
WAS at CLE - CB DEN at TB - CB
IND at JAX - AD TEN at SD - CB
NYG at GB - AD Sunday - 8:30 PM EST
PHI at CHI - CB STL at SF - AD
  Monday - 9:00 PM EST
  KC at BAL - CB

Bye Weeks: Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota, Seattle

Last Week's Projections
(10-4) Straight Up - 71.4%
(10-4) Against The Spread - 71.4%

For The Season
(30-16) Straight Up - 65.2%
(26-20) Against The Spread - 56.0%

Cincinnati (+4) at Pittsburgh, 1:00 pm
I have a hard time believing that Carson Palmer is the quarterback of the future in Cincinnati after watching his dismal performance Sunday against Baltimore. Sure, the Ravens have a great secondary, and yes, Palmer is young. But is it also possible that Palmer is colorblind? He forced two passes downfield that were both picked like apples by Ravens safety Ed Reed. It's not like Reed is invisible - the guy's a Pro Bowler and forgetting about him is tantamount to forgetting which team you are on.

The Bengals face a similar challenge this week - although Pittsburgh's defense is not quite Baltimore's unit. I wouldn't start Palmer until he stops throwing interceptions and faces a weak secondary where he can rack up yardage. Rudi Johnson is a good #2 back, simply because the Bengals offensive line is better than Pittsburgh's front seven. Chad Johnson should probably be an every week play at this point, but when you're at church on Sunday mornings before the games, you might want to light a candle and say a prayer for him. On defense, there's always lineman Justin Smith, linebackers Kevin Hardy and Brian Simmons.

The Steelers won the Hurricane Bowl last week but really showed nothing special except a penchant to rely on prolific receiver Hines Ward, who put up good fantasy numbers despite the deluge. Go with Ward, Burress and Staley but stay away from neophyte QB Ben Roethlisberger. LB Clark Haggans looks like the man on D, but Joey Porter and Kendrell Bell could get a sack or two. Remember, the Steelers always play tough getting a few points, even when they are overmatched.

Final Score: Bengals 16, Steelers 13

New England (-5.5) at Buffalo, 1:00 pm
Since New England lost their 2003 opener 31-0 the Bills, much has happened. The Bills have since fired Gregg Williams and hired Mike Mularkey while the Patriots have canonized Bill Belichick and won another Super Bowl. Drew Bledsoe may have looked good about 13 months ago, but so did Bennifer.

The Patriots come off a bye looking a a little better than when they went in, if that's possible. First, let me say that Tom Brady should always start. WR Deion Branch will be on the injury report, so monitor his status up until Sunday, since he's got several other com-Patriots at the position who can also rack up fantasy points. WRs David Givens and David Patten have picked up the slack, and are both good plays. Stay away from Troy Brown until he proves to be part of this offense. Corey Dillon faces a tough Buffalo run defense, but I would start him - he's the starting tailback on arguably the best team in the NFL. I picked up Daniel Graham as my only tight end in the second-to-last round of my fantasy draft because the word of the day was Christian Fauria. No way, Jose. Dan's the man and will continue to be the featured goal line option in 2004. On defense, it's safe to start just about any linebacker for New England, and of course, my boy Rodney Harrison. Safety Eugene Wilson is another great option that has emerged in IDP leagues.

The Bills have their hands full. Bledsoe is a big fat no, but Henry might manage to close in on the 100 yard mark against a bend but not break Patriots defense that allows moderate running yardage but prevents the big play. The Pats D tries to go for the big hit, interception or whatever to shift the momentum, and it seems to work. While Moulds should get some catches, I wouldn't look for a huge day from any Bills receiver. That means a no Evans, Reed and backup RB Willie McCheeselegs. On D, start London Fletcher and Takeo Spikes.

Final Score: Patriots 23, Bills 17

Oakland (-2) at Houston, 1:00 pm
First I would like to say Cliff "The Show" Bazhaw was an amazing 11-3 against the spread on all games last week. Starting with the Raiders. The Raiders looked great behind Kerry Collins last week. Putting a monster beating on Jon Gruden and the struggling Bucs. As predicted, the defense dominated this game and really the Bucs were much more out of it than the 30-20 score would imply. What's up with the cheesy way folks are breaking records and hitting milestones today? With basketball players grabbing rebounds from the wrong goal for a triple double to Tim Brown basically forgotten must of the game until it was time to get him his 100 TD in the 4th quarter. That drive he had 4 catches for 41 yards. Guess how many for the game? Same amount. I like Timmy, he is from Big D, but where were you the other 3 ˝ quarters? Anyway, we were speaking about the Raiders and the fact Collins is the best QB for this team and I see them going nowhere but up. We also had a Wheatley sighting this week. Grab him if you can. With mobile Collins out there he should see much bigger holes than lead footed Gannon.

The Texans took advantage of some stupid mistakes by the Chiefs to defeat them. 102 yard Int return from some dude named Marcus Coleman rose the Texans from the dead. They went on to pound a horrendous Chiefs D and win the game by 3. Davis went down with an injury and did not return. However he wasn't doing that well to begin with. Going 10 carriers for 12 yards. Watch to see how he is progressing this week. If not look for Wells to make the start. I still think Carr stinks and makes a lot of mental errors. The Raiders won't be in the giving mood on Sunday. Start Davis, maybe Andre Johnson.

Final Score: Raiders 20, Texans 14

Washington at Cleveland (+3), 1:00 pm
Cleveland was on a bye and I know quite frankly is not that good. However, Suggs is returning and I have a feeling they will be rested and rejuvenated with his return. He is clearly a better back than Green and I think the offense will move much better with him in it. They are playing at home and had great success there against a good Ravens team in week 1. Jeff Garcia should find some holes in that secondary. I don't know what to call this one. Man's intuition?? I just see this game as a stumbling block for the Redskins who keep finding ways to lose.

The Skins had nothing to do this week but complain about "bad calls" they received against Dallas last week. Granted the stripped jersey of Rod Gardner should have been a penalty however a few plays earlier Portis should have down by contact, which would have been a fourth down instead eventually resulting in a TD. Gibbs should be beyond that kind of whining and take more blame for the 2 timeouts he called in 4 plays. That would have been sort of helpful when Gardner caught the ball with 7 seconds on the clock. I just think this team has a curse and will continue to play Brunell which I will keep saying each week is a mistake. As my father once told me "He who hesitates…..masturbates."

Final Score: Browns 21, Skins 20

Indianapolis (-4) at Jacksonville, 1:00 pm
Now this will be a true test of the Jacksonville defense that many football pundits are claiming is one of the league's best. The Jags have beaten Buffalo, Denver and Tennessee, but have yet to face anything close to the Indianapolis juggernaut that facilitated one of the most outrageous first half offensive displays in recent memory. I mean, Green Bay defensive backs were wandering around aimlessly like my grandfather navigating the hallway at 3:00 a.m. - armed only with an overactive bladder and a serious case of dementia - while Peyton Manning ripped open the field for 30 minutes with five touchdown passes.

The Colts won't have the easiest time penetrating what has proved to be a formidable Jacksonville secondary, but they will manage. Manning is a must-play, as is Edgerrin James and Marvin Harrison. I wouldn't expect the same kind of performances from WRs Brandon Stokely and Reggie Wayne, but you should all know that without me saying it. Look to Clark this week before Pollard, who has been noticeably absent from many offensive sets. On D, I like safety Idrees Bashir and LB David Thornton.

The Jaguars should move the ball more effectively against this defense, which might not be great, but is usually pretty lucky. Expect a pick or two from Leftwich to balance out with 2 or even 3 touchdown passes. Jimmy Smith was still hibernating as of Week 3 but should produce, and Fred Taylor should catch some more passes and involve himself in all aspects of the offense. Expect big days from both, and play Mike Peterson, Donovan Darius and Akin Ayodele on defense.

Final Score: Colts 30, Jags 27

N.Y. Giants ( +7) at Green Bay, 1:00 pm
You know what, I'm not even going to talk about Giants head coach You Know Who, because all this banter has somehow resurrected the Giants veterans and convinced opposing teams not to even show up for the games.

The Packers have a quarterback, however, that shows up for all of them. Start Favre with confidence, and if you happen to have RB Ahman Green, look forward to a big day from a defensive units with about as much big game experience as Pop Warner cheerleaders. As my fellow writers at FFToday pointed out, that Javon Walker performance was quite unexpected. While it's not going to happen again this week, the young, hungry Walker should put up serviceable numbers against New York. Driver's another possible start, although he's probably a #3 WR at best. TE Bubba Franks should get back into the action against the Giants, and on defense, start Nick Barnett and Darren Sharper.

The Giants have Kurt Warner, who might be a decent play against a Packers secondary (whose performance last week was described appropriately in the Indy-Jax preview above). They also have Tiki Barber, who is a must-play every week until further notice. Amani Toomer might be a mediocre #2 or decent # 3 receiver this week, and I would probably stay away from Tim Carter until he starts producing a bit more. On defense, we should stick with Shaun Williams and Michael Strahan, who gets sacks versus Favre in almost every meeting - including one time when Favre literally laid down so the gap-toothed defensive lineman could break the single season sack record.

Final Score: Packers 24 Giants 20

Philadelphia (-9) at Chicago, 1:00 pm
Is this a tailor-made beating waiting to happen or what?? The Philly defense is looking mighty strong. Crushing the Lions last week. Owens is a jerk but damn can he catch the ball. Another crazy game for him 107 and 1 TD. McNabb is proving everyone right that all he needed was a go-to guy to be great. Running game sucks right now but who the hell needs it when you have McNabb throwing laser beams out there. I didn't catch any of this game but I was in Atlantic City and the Philly fans were in full force. They are certainly talking SuperBowl. Always being the one to stir up trouble I had to mention this has been said the last three years. Being serious though. Their schedule is pretty weak and they will easily make the playoffs but it still remains to be seen if McNabb can get his hands off his throat and if Owens can win without Jerry Rice in the playoffs. Start McNabb, Owens, Westbrook, Eagles D…pretty much the whole freaking team.

Jonathon Quinn huh? Jesus, I would rather watch Hofstra play than going to the Bears game on Sunday. Jesus did this team take a beating not only by the Vikings but by losing Grossman as well. The Bears got absolutely torched by Culpepper and Moss for 360 yards of passing with a leaky secondary. Fault Lovie Smith for not preparing for the potential loss of Grossman and get a veteran in there. Quinn is a vet of the clipboard and that wraps it up. He will end up coaching his nephew's soccer game but not leading this team to any wins. Thomas Jones is the only bright spot other wise. He is leading the league in several categories and had 181 yards of total offense and 1 TD last week. There is nothing to like about this team other than Jones. Avoid any other player or watching this game.

This is as much as lock as I have seen all year.

Final Score: Eagles 35, Bears 10

New Orleans (-4) at Arizona, 4:05 pm
So far, I've really hated every game Arizona has played in this year. They always lose, but manage to keep their opposing quarterbacks fantasy numbers to a minimum. While I don't really care if that trend continues this week against New Orleans, I'm kind of anxious to see it dissipate before it becomes a widely-recognizable fantasy football law.

The Saints have a good fantasy QB in Aaron Brooks have a capable backup RB in Aaron Stecker. I told everybody to play Stecker last week and I hope those folks that were lucky enough to pick him up from the waiver wire listened. Looks to be another good day for Brooks and Stecker, with a big green light for WR Joe Horn and Donté Stallworth as well. TE Boo Williams should perform again this week, and although I don't usually bother with kicker comments, it's another good week to have John Carney.

The Cardinals have had some problems - as I predicted - with QB Josh McCown, and might bench him in favor of veteran Shaun King. Somebody please remind me again how Shaun King went from starting quarterback in the NFC championship game to pine-ride with no chance of a future in the NFL? If I was Dennis Green, I'd give King all the reps and have McCown grab an Ashton Kutcher-styled trucker/baseball cap. While the numbers say to start Emmitt Smith against a poor run defense, this Cowboy fan is hard-pressed to see anything left in the old man's legs. Sure he had some yardage in Week One, but that was adrenaline more than preparation. Look elsewhere is you can. At WR, I like Larry Fitzgerald having a decent game, although I wouldn't buy too much into the rest of the Cardinals receivers just yet. Defensively, DB Adrian Wilson looks to be the best option, along with LB James Darling.

Final Score: Saints 27, Cardinals 17

N.Y. Jets (-5 1/2) at Miami, 4:15 pm
The Jets were on a by last week but they didn't really need it. Pennington is turning out to be the QB everyone knew he could be and Curtis Martin looks like he turned back the clock 5 years. Averaging an incredible 5.7 yards per carry. Miami's D is solid and won't allow that kind of running in their house. The Jets need to keep winning to stay with the Patriots who quite honestly don't really have a game on their schedule they can't win. Of course they will but it won't be many. Moss looks good in this game, with Pennington, Martin, and maybe the Jets D.

Miami announced this week they were going back to Jay Fielder for the 152nd time in his career after a hard to watch performance by Feeley last week (137 yards and 2 picks). The Dolphins can blame Ricky but they can't blame anyone but themselves for wasting a second rounder on a third string QB who caught lightning in a bottle for a couple of games with the Eagles. Anyway, the Dolphins stink and will take a beating this week from the Jets. If you are looking for someone to cover a bye week pick up that Henry kid, as he should get 50 or so yards. Fielder will do his usual. Nothing exciting. The only player I would use is McMichael and the Dolphins D. By the way if they keep Dave past this year then they should sell this franchise to NFL Europe.

Final Score: Jets 20, Fins 10

Atlanta (+3.5) at Carolina, 4:05 pm
I'm a little concerned with the Falcons scoring 6 points versus Arizona, because this game could turn into the same type of diabetic-coma inducing defensive maelstrom, putting a lockdown on fantasy numbers. With Carolina coming off a bye, there's a chance RB Stephen Davis could play in this contest, a surprising development considering his knee got scoped a couple weeks ago.

The Falcons will be anxious to let Michael Vick run loose against Carolina. His most recent performance against the Panthers was pretty wild. Last season - in his first start of the year - Vick rushed for 141 yards, leading the Falcons past Carolina 20-14 on Sunday Night Football, with Joe Theismann, Paul MaGuire and Mike Patrick gushing about his otherworldly, almost preternatural presence on the field. Vick was great, but the Falcons barely won the game. Vick's rushing total was the third-highest in NFL history by a quarterback, something he will hard-pressed to replicate against an improved defensive unit. Older and wiser, the Panthers will limit Vick to under 50 yards rushing and keep him from going crazy. In other words, he's a risky play, as are many of the Falcons other offensive starters. On defense, I would stick with Keith Brooking and Patrick Kerney, who had three sacks last week.

The Panthers QB Jake Delhomme should get lots of passing yards against an old, weak and slow Atlanta secondary that played above their heads last week. Rookie WR Keary Colbert is a strong play this week, as are WR Muhsin Muhammed and TE Kris Mangum. The running back situation is complicated, but play Foster unless there's a lock on Davis suiting up for Sunday's game. DeShaun is to good not to use while Davis is still dinged up, and there's no point rushing Davis back if he's not 100 percent, considering Foster's week two performance. On defense, stick with LB Dan Morgan, DL Mike Rucker and DB Mike Minter.

Final Score: Panthers 20, Falcons 13

Denver at Tampa Bay (+3), 4:15 pmp
I know you see a theme. Going against the chalks this week. Tampa Bay showed next to nothing against Oakland last week and you say, "What makes this week an different?" I say that Michael Pittman is returning. He knows his shots are limited and that he needs to make some major impressions to get a good contract next season. The door swung way open when Garner was carted off on a stretcher and will be out the remainder of the year. It looks like Johnson has developed something with Schroeder as I haven't heard from him since Favre was throwing him passes. Another guy who cashed in on one-year mirage. He might be a decent pick-up. Looks like Keenan will be headed to K.C. to bring in Larry Johnson but I think they want to see how Pittman looks this Sunday first. I think Gruden will find a way to win as Denver's D is not that great.

You know Clinton Portis has got to be laughing a little to himself. Has anyone ever thought that Denver may have just gotten lucky and found "good" backs and it may not be just the system? I think folks are starting to figure out Griffin's number as he only posted 12 carries for 7 yards against the Chargers. With 66 yards the week before the little short kid is starting to get picked on. Plummer keeps looking better with 294 yards passing and 2 TDs. But without a good running game they won't get passed the Bucs. Another tidbit of info Lelie and Watts are both better than Smith. I think at some point you have to get both of those guys on the field at all times. They can take it to the house. Smith needs to go to the house. However start Lelie and Smith in this game. Griffin will disappoint again.

Final Score: Bucs 16, Broncos 13

Tennessee (-3) at San Diego, 4:15 pm
I admit it. I was tricked. San Diego still stinks and Brees is the captain of this ship. Poor Tomlinson, he has to deal with this crap for another 7 years. At least he will be banking a serious check. They won't do it this week but it is coming. The Philip Rivers show is about to set sail. After Brees laid an egg the size of Montana against the Broncos. I could have hit Dwight with that pass he was so wide open. This guy has no heart, no arm, and no time. The defense for this team is not horrible. They completely shut down the mighty Broncos running game and the receivers looked open most of the day. Brees hits a few wide-open receivers and it might have turned out differently. Go with Tomlinson, and Gates this week.

The Titans are a mediocre team going nowhere. They may survive a scare with McNair and his beat up sternum. This guy is made of iron for Christ sake. But he is only one man in a sea of average bums. I like McNair but 143 yards and 1 pick doesn't do that much for me. Chris Brown continues to look impressive with another 100-yard performance. Volek will get the nod most likely and has performed well in the past. He might be an ok start this week. I think Brown and Mason might be the two to go with. They might lose this one if Rivers gets to play. But the Chargers might be down by so much it won't matter by then.

Final Score: Titans 20, Chargers 14

St. Louis (-4.5) at San Francisco, 8:30 pm
This matchup should be good for everyone involved from a fantasy perspective, and represents an outside chance for the 49ers to pull of an upset at home versus a beatable division rival.

The Rams come off a tough loss to New Orleans in OT, where QB Marc Bulger, WRs Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce and Marshall Faulk all had good fantasy games. Faulk only had 12 carries for 44 yards, but he picked up a score and had eight catches for 46 yards. Look for similar performances to that throughout the entire season, as backup Stephen Jackson will continue to get more playing time. All the ST. Louis offensive stars should do nice things again this week, with particular emphasis on Holt and Bulger. On defense, play DB Adam Archuleta. It's now safe to start LB Robert Thomas, and DL Leonard Little finally appeared in the defensive stat summary with a sack last week.

The 49ers have to be bit depressed, but have reason to be excited about this matchup. Coming off their first shutout in 420 games, the franchise has never been in worse shape. Look for head coach Dennis Erickson to turn that into a positive this week, motivating his players by explaining that it can't get any worse. While it could, I don't believe it will. Injured QB Tim Rattay might be back this week and RB Kevan Barlow should be able to penetrate the St. Louis front seven for some decent rushing yardage and a score. WR Cedrick Wilson seems to be the go-to-guy and was back in action last week with a decent performance in an otherwise ghastly game. Play TE Eric Johnson and on defense, stick with LB Julian Peterson, LB Derek Smith and DB Tony Parrish.

Final Score: Rams 31, 49ers 24

Kansas City (+5 ˝) at Baltimore, 9:00 pm
My upset of the week. Never bet against a man who has nothing to lose. The Chiefs are 0-3 and know that 0-4 may end their season. Look for them to come out motivated and running the football. Holmes looked hurt last week and slow rushing for 32 times for 134 yards. See the sarcasm?? Green looked great right up until the time he wrapped a present for Coleman and he took it 102 to the house. Gonzo decided to play this year and had 106 and 1 TD. The Chiefs should have won this game and they know it. Look for Crying Dick to send an emotional plea out to his players to maybe cover and tackle someone. I think Holmes will do well as he is a guy who loves to go against the best and make them look stupid. Well he gets his wish this week. Hello Ray!! Start Gonzo, and Holmes. Leave the rest on the bench.

I thought the Ravens would wake up. D is looking good. Some bum named Hymes is catching the majority of the Kyle Boller floaters that come his way. 126 and 1 TD is not a wet dream for fantasy players but he might find this week's secondary a little more to his liking. However you won't see much other than Lewis's ass on every play as he gets about 52 carries this week. He should have a monster game. I predict a low scoring game with the game being decided between Holmes and Lewis. However I think the cornered cat theory might be in order here. Don't bet against a scared cat.

Final Score: Chiefs 17, Ravens 13