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NFL Skinny: Week 16 previews

Brandon Funston
Yahoo Sports

Also See: Sunday Scene | Monday Brunch | Week 15 leaders

Last week's Skinny format shift was met with rave reviews, leaving me in unfamiliar territory with an inbox of full of compliments. I know better than to mess with a good thing, so I'll keep with the program for what – for many – is championship week. If you are playing for all the marbles, I hope this helps. Best of luck to all of you …


Week 16 Preview
A snapshot of each Week 16 matchup

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS @ JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Important numbers: COLTS fewest FAN PTS allowed to QBs, 2nd-fewest to WRs, 7th-most to RBs – JAGUARS 12th-most FAN PTS allowed to QBs, 10th-most to WRs, 8th-most to TEs
What to watch for: Back in Week 3, the Jaguars pulled out a 23-21 road upset over the Colts by dominating the clock (41:35 to 18:25 TOP advantage) via the ground game – a whopping 48 rush attempts. Both Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor topped 100 rushing yards in that contest, and MJD added four catches for 59 yards. Look for the Jaguars to try to work the same angle on Thursday night. The team has run more times than it has thrown the ball in four of the past five meetings with Indy. The Colts have been generous to opposing RBs this season, and Jones-Drew can expect a heavy workload. But the Colts' disciplined Cover-2 scheme has yielded just five TD passes, so you can't even think about starting David Garrard, Dennis Northcutt or Reggie Williams … Expect the Colts to run a fairly balanced mix between the run and pass. QB Peyton Manning has struggled on the road this season (77.1 QB Rating, compared to a 104.3 mark at Lucas Oil Field), and the team would be best served by keeping a defense that is essentially middle-of-the-road in all areas guessing. The Jaguars have allowed the fifth-most pass plays of 20-plus yards, as well as the 10th-most rushing plays of 20-plus yards, so play-action should be Manning's best friend in Week 16.
Green Light: Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Maurice Jones-Drew, Dallas Clark
Yellow Light: Joseph Addai, Dennis Northcutt, Marvin Harrison, Anthony Gonzalez, Indy defense
Red light: David Garrard, Reggie Williams, Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville defense
Sleeper: Dominic Rhodes
Injury concern: Colts RB Joseph Addai (shoulder) is expected to play on Thursday. Same goes for FS Bob Sanders (knee); Jags MLB Darryl Smith (groin) is expected to miss Thursday's game.


BALTIMORE RAVENS @ DALLAS COWBOYS
Important numbers: RAVENS 4th-fewest FAN PTS allowed to QBs, fewest to RBs, 4th-fewest to WRs, 6th-fewest to TEs – COWBOYS 9th-fewest FAN PTS allowed to QBs, 7th-fewest to RBs, 8th-fewest to TEs
What to watch for: As we all know, Baltimore's defense is as tough as it gets. But the team has had some hiccups on the road, with Cleveland, Indy and the Giants each coming away with at least 27 points when they hosted the Ravens earlier in the season … Both Dallas and Baltimore have a tenuous grasp on a playoff spot at the moment, so a loss would be crippling for either team. Expect this to be a tooth-and-nail type battle … The Ravens are the most run-heavy team in the league, and big, physical RBs have given the Cowboys some trouble this season, so Le'Ron McClain is an attractive option. If McClain can gather some steam, that'll open things up for WR Derrick Mason to post one of his patented 6-for-80 type lines. But don't count on TE Todd Heap. Considering the Cowboys lead the league in QB sacks, Heap will be asked to help out even more in pass blocking like he was last week against Pittsburgh … Dallas RB Marion Barber is still dealing with a toe injury that calls his workload in this game into question. Backup RB Tashard Choice has earned extra playing time, but given the uncertainty of the backfield, expect Tony Romo to once again take complete charge of this offense. He has a stellar 17:4 TD:INT ratio in six home games. He should find a way to generate at least a couple TD passes.
Green Light: Tony Romo, Jason Witten, Le'Ron McClain, Derrick Mason
Yellow Light: Terrell Owens, Dallas defense, Baltimore defense, Marion Barber
Red light: Roy Williams, Todd Heap, Mark Clayton, Willis McGahee, Joe Flacco
Sleeper: Tashard Choice
Injury concern: Cowboys QB Tony Romo (bruised back) will play on Saturday, but he's very sore. RB Marion Barber (toe) is expected to play, but is likely to split carries with Tashard Choice; Ravens CB Fabian Washington (hamstring) is likely Questionable for Saturday. RB Ray Rice (shin bruise) is expected back after sitting out in Week 15.


SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS @ ST. LOUIS RAMS
Important numbers: 49ERS 11th-most FAN PTS allowed to RBs, 8th-most to WRs, 4th-fewest to TEs – RAMS 3rd-most FAN PTS allowed to RBs, 12th-most to WRs
What to watch for: The 49ers dominated this matchup in Week 11, rolling to a 35-16 victory despite running 21 fewer plays from scrimmage than the Rams. In the contest, QB Shaun Hill completed a surgeon-like 15-of-20 passes, two going for touchdowns. RB Frank Gore enjoyed success, as well, handling 18 carries for 106 yards and two scores. On the flip side, QB Marc Bulger attempted a season-high 53 passes, completing 34 of them for 295 yards a TD and two picks. RB Steven Jackson did not play in the contest … With Jackson back, don't expect the Rams to throw 53 times again. Jackson has touched the ball at least 22 times in the past seven games, not including a Week 9 game against Arizona in which he had to sit the second half because of a thigh injury – With RB Frank Gore (ankle) hobbled, look for the 49ers to throw a bit more often than they did in the last meeting. The worry with the 49ers is pass protection – they allow the most sacks in the league. But the Rams have tallied the 10th-fewest QB sacks this season, so Mike Martz should feel confident in game-planning his aerial attack. WR Isaac Bruce had just one catch for 20 yards in his first meeting against his former team. He's averaged more than 83 receiving yards and has scored twice in the four games since that meeting, and you can bet he'll be motivated in the city he used to call home.
Green Light: Steven Jackson, Torry Holt, Shaun Hill, Frank Gore (if he plays), Isaac Bruce
Yellow Light: Marc Bulger, Donnie Avery, Bryant Johnson, Vernon Davis, San Francisco defense
Red light: Joe Klopfenstein, St. Louis defense
Sleeper: DeShaun Foster, Michael Robinson
Injury concern: Rams RB Steven Jackson (head) had his bell rung last week vs. Seattle, but he's expected to be fine.; 49ers RB Frank Gore (ankle) is expected to be Questionable for Sunday. 49ers starting RT Adam Snyder (ankle) is also looking like a Week 16 question mark.


PITTSBURGH STEELERS @ TENNESSEE TITANS
Important numbers: STEELERS 2nd-fewest FAN PTS allowed to QBs/RBs, fewest to WRs; TITANS 3rd-fewest FAN PTS allowed to QBs/WRs,
What to watch for: This game is not tough to figure out. It pits the two stingiest defenses in the league – the Steelers allow a league-low 13.7 points per game, with the Titans right behind them at 14.1 ppg. Both teams also land on the list of the nine teams in the league with at least 400 rushing attempts. You only have to look at how each team has fared against Baltimore (another team of a similar ilk as these two squads) to gain a good understanding about how the Steelers/Titans affair should play out. In the three games that these two opponents have played against Baltimore this season (two for Pittsburgh, one for Tennessee), the average combined score has been less than 30 total points. There have been a combined 13 field goals in those contests. Count on each team trying to establish its running game. If one team is going to abandon the running game early, it'll probably be the Steelers. With RB Willie Parker's health in a constant state of flux, QB Ben Roethlisberger has aired it out with more regularity of late, throwing at least 30 times in each of his past six games – hitting the 40-attempt mark on three occasions in that span. There is some hope for the Steelers' ground game this week, however, as Tennessee stud DT Albert Haynesworth is out with a sprained MCL – DE Kyle Vanden Bosch (groin) is also expected to sit … When Tennessee looks to the air, expect RB Chris Johnson to figure prominently in the mix. The Steelers have allowed the third-most receptions to RBs, obviously a reaction by offenses to the heavy-blitz schemes of the Steelers.
Green Light: None
Yellow Light: Chris Johnson, Ben Roethlisberger, Tennessee defense, Hines Ward, Pittsburgh defense, Willie Parker, Santonio Holmes
Red light: Kerry Collins, LenDale White, all Titans WRs, Heath Miller
Sleeper: Mewelde Moore, Bo Scaife
Injury concern: Titans DT Albert Haynesworth (knee) and DE Kyle Vanden Bosch (groin) are out.


CINCINNATI BENGALS @ CLEVELAND BROWNS
Important numbers: BENGALS 8th-most FAN PTS allowed to QBs, 9th-most to WRs, 7th-most to TEs – BROWNS 9th-most FAN PTS allowed to RBs, 4th-most to WRs
What to watch for: There's not a lot of fantasy juice in this matchup, but considering both teams allow more than 340 yards of offense per game, there's bound to be some sleepers that emerge in this game … These teams faced each other in Week 4, and it turned out to be a 20-12 snoozer in favor of Cleveland. Both teams threw for less than 150 yards in the contest and only Browns RB Jamal Lewis stood out from a fantasy perspective, posting 94 yards from scrimmage (79 rushing yards) and a rushing TD … As we expected, and witnessed on Monday night, Browns third-string QB Ken Dorsey is no threat to the opposing secondary. However, Cincy has amassed the second-fewest QB sacks (13), so the Browns would be remiss if they didn't try to connect with WR Braylon Edwards, who picked up 102 yards on MNF against a much more daunting pass defense than the Bengals. The Browns are down to their third-string options at TE, too. The game plan should center around Lewis and Edwards, with a splash of Wildcat from Joshua Cribbs, who has been doing a little of everything lately … The Bengals snapped an 11 quarter TD-less streak in Week 15, but the Cincy offense has still scored more than two TDs in a game just once this season. RB Cedric Benson is coming off, arguably, the best performance of his Cincy career, compiling 161 yards from scrimmage in the 20-13 upset of Washington this past Sunday. He's averaging 21 touches over the past six games, and should reach that average again in Week 16. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has surpassed 209 passing yards just once in his 10 games behind center this season. He's also thrown more than one TD pass in a game just once this season. But Fitzpatrick's 265 rushing yards and two rushing TDs rank among the best for signal-callers – he rushed for 41 yards in his earlier meeting with Cleveland.
Green Light: Jamal Lewis, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Braylon Edwards
Yellow Light: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Chad Johnson, Cleveland defense
Red light: Donte' Stallworth, Ken Dorsey, Cincinnati defense, all TEs
Sleeper: Cedric Benson, Joshua Cribbs, Chris Henry
Injury concern: Browns TE Steve Heiden (knee)is expected to be out for Sunday. Browns DT Shaun Rogers (shoulder) should be good to go.


NEW ORLEANS SAINTS @ DETROIT LIONS
Important numbers: SAINTS 5th-most FAN PTS allowed to QBs/WRs – LIONS 9th-most FAN PTS allowed to QBs, 2nd-most to RBs/TEs
What to watch for: The NFL's highest scoring offense meets the NFL's most generous defense – Yikes! The Saints average 27.9 points per game and the Lions allow 31.7 points per game … As mentioned last week, Saints QB Drew Brees is even more pass-happy than usual on the road, averaging 43 pass attempts outside the Superdome, which is about nine more attempts than his home average. However, the Saints may not be quite so air inclined in this one given the emergence of RB Pierre Thomas. He's taken on a featured role the past five weeks, and only Carolina's DeAngelo Williams has been a better fantasy RB producer in that span. Thomas, especially with Reggie Bush dealing with a sore knee again, could have another field day. Really, though, you're starting all your Saints because any one of them has the potential for a difference-making fantasy performance in this one … Detroit QB Dan Orlovsky is back behind center for the Lions, which is good news for Calvin Johnson owners. In Orlovsky's past five games played, MegaTron has averaged 100 receiving yards and has scored a TD in each of those games – Orlovsky has thrown only one non-Johnson TD pass this season … It will likely be a futile attempt, but count on the Lions trying to control some clock with rookie RB Kevin Smith. He's carried 20-plus times in four of his past six games, and the Lions have often managed to keep things close early by leaning on Smith before getting blown out in the second half.
Green Light: All Saints starting skill position players, Calvin Johnson, Kevin Smith
Yellow Light: New Orleans defense
Red light: Lions TEs, Detroit defense, Any Lions WR not named Johnson
Sleeper: Dan Orlovsky, Devery Henderson, Billy Miller
Injury concern: Saints RB Reggie Bush (knee) is awaiting results of an MRI. He's looking very iffy for Week 16 at this point.


MIAMI DOLPHINS @ KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Important numbers: DOLPHINS 6th-fewest FAN PTS allowed to RBs, 6th-most to WRs, fewest to TEs – CHIEFS 7th-most FAN PTS allowed to QBs, most to RBs, 10th-most to WRs
What to watch for: Miami is all about balance, ranking among the top 12 in rushing attempts and passing attempts. But, considering the Chiefs allow a league-high 4.9 yards per carry, expect a heavy dose of carries from the Ronnie Brown/Ricky Williams platoon. QB Chad Pennington has been the definition of a game manager the past three weeks, averaging just 23.6 pass attempts and 167.6 passing yards. Considering how this matchup sets up, and Pennington's ability to see the field and spread the wealth, you can't get overly excited about any of the Dolphins' receiving options … Can you sit Tony Gonzalez? No. But it's worth noting that the Dolphins are the only team in the league that has not allowed a TE touchdown. That said, teams have had success throwing on Miami, and you can bet QB Tyler Thigpen will put it up at least 30-35 times in this one, in addition to his usual half dozen rushing attempts … RB Larry Johnson has averaged 15.6 carries over the past five games, but only once in that span has he scored a TD and/or averaged more than 3.8 yards per carry. Over the same span, Miami is yielding more than 30 percent fewer fantasy points to RBs than the league average – It'll be a bitter cold 25 degrees (projected) in Kansas City on Sunday.
Green Light: Ronnie Brown, Tyler Thigpen, Dwayne Bowe, Tony Gonzalez
Yellow Light: Chad Pennington, Larry Johnson, Davone Bess, Anthony Fasano, Miami defense
Red light: Kansas City defense, Ted Ginn,
Sleeper: Ricky Williams, Mark Bradley
Injury concern: None of major significance


ARIZONA CARDINALS @ NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Important numbers: CARDINALS most FAN PTS allowed to QBs, 2nd-most to WRs – PATRIOTS 6th-most FAN PTS allowed to QBs, 3rd-most to WRs, 6th-most to TEs
What to watch for: The paper analysis reveals that these two teams rank No. 1 and No. 2 in TD passes allowed – 31 TD passes against the Cardinals secondary, 26 TDs against the Patriots secondary. Both teams also have been susceptible to explosive pass plays, with New England allowing the third-most pass plays of 40-plus yards (11) and Arizona sitting at ninth in that category with eight pass plays allowed of 40-plus yards. Offensively, both teams love to air it out. Arizona ranks first in the league in pass attempts, and New England clocks in at seventh. However, the Pats have maintained much better balance, as they also clock in at seventh in the league in rush attempts – Arizona ranks second-to-last in that department. It's easy to envision that this game will play out the way the team tendencies indicate – New England should be able to mix the run and pass with success as Arizona has struggled in all facets of defense in its previous trips to the East Coast this season. And Arizona is likely to throw 40-50 times given the fact that its running game is virtually non-existent – starting RB Tim Hightower has topped 40 rushing yards just once all season. Last week, the Cards passed 50 times to just seven rush attempts. Passing-down RB J.J. Arrington caught seven of those passes and he could wind up looking like a mirror-image of New England's Kevin Faulk in this one … Weather for Foxboro, MA on Sunday calls for some snow and 29 degrees.
Green Light: Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston, Matt Cassel, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Sammy Morris
Yellow Light: Jabar Gaffney, New England defense, LaMont Jordan
Red light: Tim Hightower, Benjamin Watson, Arizona defense/TEs
Sleeper: Kevin Faulk, J.J. Arrington
Injury concern: Patriots LT Matt Light (shoulder) could be listed as Questionable for Week 16.


SAN DIEGO CHARGERS @ TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Important numbers: CHARGERS 4th-most FAN PTS allowed to QBs, 8th-fewest to RBs, most to TEs – BUCS 4th-fewest FAN PTS allowed to QBs, 8th-fewest to WRs, 2nd-fewest to TEs
What to watch for: Tampa Bay has been rocked by knee injuries to DTs Chris Hovan and Jovan Haye as it has allowed three 100-yard rushers and five running back touchdowns in the past two weeks. Both linemen, along with a couple other key defensive components, will likely be listed as Questionable again this week, which would almost force your hand if you are a LaDainian Tomlinson owner. The Chargers, facing Tampa Bay's excellent Cover-2 zone, will likely try to force the ground game, regardless. QB Philip Rivers has been prone to sacks (14) and turnovers (8 INTs, 3 fumbles) in his seven road games. Against a Bucs secondary that ranks third in the league with 21 picks (one behind the leader), expect a lot of LT, with controlled passes to backup RB Darren Sproles and TE Antonio Gates mixed in. Towering wideout Vincent Jackson may also be able to get it done in the seams – he went for 57 yards and a TD in Week 12 against a similar defensive set up in the Indianapolis Colts … Tampa Bay will find out on Wednesday, most likely, whether QB Jeff Garcia (quad) will be able to go in this one. If not, it'll be Brian Griese behind center once again. The Chargers have been trending very positively against the run, so RBs Warrick Dunn and Carnell Williams look like iffy propositions. There's a good chance the Bucs will push 40 pass attempts again like he did last week at Atlanta (37 attempts). WR Antonio Bryant has become a must-start go-to machine, and the matchup doesn't detour his owners from rolling him out there on Sunday. But the Chargers will be cheating to his side, for sure, so don't be surprised if Griese/Garcia takes advantage of that by emphasizing the TE heavily against a defense that has allowed 11 games of 40-plus yards by a tight end this season. TE Jerramy Stevens is a great flyer for those needing a TE this week.
Green Light: Antonio Bryant, Philip Rivers, LaDainian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates
Yellow Light: Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay QB, Warrick Dunn, Tampa Bay defense, San Diego defense
Red light: Chris Chambers, Malcom Floyd, Tampa Bay WRs not named Bryant, Carnell Williams
Sleeper: Jerramy Stevens, Darren Sproles
Injury concern: Bucs QB Jeff Garcia (quad) is Questionable for Sunday, Bucs DTs Chris Hovan and Jovan Haye are Questionable (see above). LB Derrick Brooks (rib) and DE Gaines Adams (hip) may also wind up listed as Questionable. Bucs SS Jermaine Phillips (broken arm) is done for the season ; Chargers WRs Vincent Jackson (concussion) and Malcom Floyd (lung) got beat up in Week 15. Jackson is more likely to play in Week 16, but Floyd does have a chance, as well. Chargers C Nick Hardwick (concussion) is expected to be Questionable for Week 16.


BUFFALO BILLS @ DENVER BRONCOS
Important numbers: BILLS 9th-fewest FAN PTS allowed to QBs, 8th-fewest to TEs – BRONCOS 5th-most FAN PTS allowed to RBs, 9th-fewest to WRs, 4th-most to TEs
What to watch for: A groin injury continues to limit Bills QB Trent Edwards, which could result in another start for J.P. Losman, who has turned the ball over six times in the past two games. Given Losman's struggles in the passing game, expect the Bills to embrace Beast-Mode (Marshawn Lynch) heavily this week against a Denver defense allowing a league-high 4.9 yards per carry. I, personally, wouldn't want to rely on any part of the Bills' passing game, with the possible exception of third-down running back Fred Jackson, who could be employed heavily as a target out of the backfield – the Broncos allow the second-most passing yards to RBs (670) … P.J. Pope performed best in Week 15 (75 yards from scrimmage, TD)among the three running backs vying for time in the Denver backfield since the season-ending injury to Peyton Hillis. But none of the Bronco RBs touched the ball more than 10 times last week against Carolina, and they all remain a complete crapshoot for fantasy owners. The Broncos, right now, are the opposite of the Bills, as the passing game is the only part of this offense that can be counted on, although that was shaky last week, too … Denver weather on Sunday is projected to be a dry, but frigid, 24 degrees.
Green Light: Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal, Marshawn Lynch
Yellow Light: Tony Scheffler, Lee Evans, Denver defense
Red light: Josh Reed, Buffalo QB/TE, Buffalo defense
Sleeper: Fred Jackson
Injury concern: Broncos CB Champ Bailey (groin) keeps threatening to play, but he missed his seventh straight game last week. He'll likely be Questionable again.


HOUSTON TEXANS @ OAKLAND RAIDERS
Important numbers: TEXANS 10th-most FAN PTS allowed to QBs, 8th-most to RBs – RAIDERS 4th-most FAN PTS allowed to RBs, 7th-fewest to WRs
What to watch for: Houston comes to Oakland riding a four-game winning streak. The Texans rank third in the league with 381 yards of offense per game. Oakland is getting just 261 ypg, second-worst in the league. Defensively, both teams struggle to stop the run – Houston allows 4.5 yards per carry, Oakland is giving up 4.7 ypc. Perhaps only Oakland's secondary and, in particular, CB Nnamdi Asomugha should be a concern for the Texans and their fantasy owners. But, if you own Andre Johnson, you're starting him. After all, AJ is coming off 200-plus yards against Tennessee, and hung 100-plus on Indy earlier this season, and those are two of the best secondaries in the league. The Texans have fire power at every skill position and this matchup shouldn't dissuade you from using those players if you own them … The Raiders will clearly try to go run-heavy, attacking the obvious weakness of the Texans defense with the obvious strength of the Raiders offense. That Darren McFadden emerged from Week 15 with 15 touches, his biggest workload since Week 3, adds some guesswork to their backfield, though.
Green Light: Matt Schaub, Steve Slaton, Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter, Owen Daniels, Zach Miller
Yellow Light: Houston defense, Justin Fargas
Red light: Oakland defense, JaMarcus Russell, Oakland WRs
Sleeper: Darren McFadden
Injury concern: None of major significance


NEW YORK JETS @ SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Important numbers: JETS 3rd-most FAN PTS allowed to QBs, 9th-fewest to RBs, 3rd-most to TEs – SEAHAWKS 2nd-most FAN PTS allowed to QBs, most to WRs, 9th-most to TEs
What to watch for: Traveling to Seattle hasn't been a bad experience for East Coast teams this season. Philadelphia, Washington and New England have combined for a 3-0 record and an average of 23.3 points in the Emerald City. Seattle secondary is one of the most giving units in the league, having allowed five 300-yard passing games to opposing QBs while compiling the second-lowest INT total (6). That's good news for a sometimes gun-slinger like Brett Favre. The Hawks have been fairly staunch against the run at home, but the Jets have one of the better offensive lines in the league and Thomas Jones is a good candidate to pick up a TD in his ninth straight games, as well as net his sixth 100-yard rushing game … Offensively, Seattle has picked things up a bit the past couple weeks. In the backfield, Maurice Morris is currently in favor, having outcarried Julius Jones 49-15 over the past four weeks. His versatility will likely keep him in command of the backfield workload once again as the Jets, while stingy to ballcarriers, have allowed a healthy amount of receiving yards (605) to RBs. In the passing game, I'd fear Jets CB Darrelle Revis if I'm a Deion Branch owner. Expect the Seahawks to continue pounding the ball into rookie TE John Carlson, while working RBs Morris and Leonard Weaver in to the passing game out of the backfield. … Sunday's weather calls for 27 degrees and snow in Seattle, which would make the Jets feel more at home than the Seahawks.
Green Light: Brett Favre, Thomas Jones, Laveranues Coles, Dustin Keller, John Carlson, NY Jets defense
Yellow Light: Jerricho Cotchery, Seattle defense, Seneca Wallace, Deion Branch
Red light: Bobby Engram, Koren Robinson, Julius Jones
Sleeper: Maurice Morris, Leon Washington
Injury concern: Already down LT Walter Jones, the Seahawks are also dealing with an injury to RT/LT Sean Locklear (toe), who dislocated his toe in Week 15 and is likely Questionable for Sunday.


PHILADELPHIA EAGLES @ WASHINGTON REDSKINS
Important numbers: EAGLES 6th-fewest FAN PTS allowed to QBs, 4th-fewest to RBs, 6th-fewest to WRs, 5th-most to TEs – REDSKINS 7th-fewest FAN PTS allowed to QBs, 9th-fewest to RBs, 5th-fewest to WRs/TEs
What to watch for: Washington stole a 23-17 victory at Philly in Week 5. The Redskins were able to keep Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook, who was coming off an ankle injury, in check, while riding Clinton Portis (29/145/TD) and Chris Cooley (8/109/TD) on offense. Both teams are solid across-the-board defensively. The Redskins play more conservatively, while the Eagles use heavy blitz-heavy schemes to generate QB sacks and INTs – top 10 in the league in both categories. The Eagles' attacking defense should present a lot of problems for Washington, as it has been inundated with injuries of late along the offensive line. T Chris Samuels was lost for the season to a triceps injury in week 14. And currently T Jon Jansen is dealing with knee swelling that puts his Week 16 participation in doubt. RB Clinton Portis was able to generate just 77 rushing yards on 25 carries in Week 15 behind this battered line, and he could find daylight even harder to come by this week … For the Eagles, Donovan McNabb has rediscovered his confidence and Westbrook seems to have rediscovered his health. Count on a business as usual approach from the Eagles offense, which is one of the most pass-happy in the league. Westbrook should be a heavy recipient of many McNabb's attempts on Sunday.
Green Light: Brian Westbrook, Donovan McNabb, Chris Cooley, Philadelphia defense
Yellow Light: Clinton Portis, Santana Moss, DeSean Jackson, Washington defense
Red light: Antwaan Randle El, L.J. Smith, Jason Campbell, Kevin Curtis
Sleeper: Correll Buckhalter
Injury concern: Eagles WR Kevin Curtis (calf) was injured on Monday night and his status for Week 16 is unknown at the moment; Redskins T Jon Jansen (knee) is Questionable. Redskin DTs Cornelius Griffin (abdominal) and Kendrick Golston (ankles), and MLB Marcus Washington (ankle) are all likely to be less than 100 percent for Sunday.


ATLANTA FALCONS @ MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Important numbers: FALCONS 10th-most FAN PTS allowed to RBs – VIKINGS 3rd-fewest FAN PTS allowed to RBs
What to watch for: This matchup features two of the three most run-heavy teams in the league. Atlanta ranks second in that category (496), while Minnesota clocks in at third (461). Early in the season, the Falcons had trouble getting the ground game going against tougher run defenses, but the offensive line and RB Michael Turner have been clicking on all cylinders for the past several weeks, even against the stouter opposition. That should give Turner owners optimism this week, even against a Vikings defense that allows a league-low 3.2 yards per carry. Also in favor of Turner owners is the fact that half of Minnesota's vaunted Williams Wall will be missing this week, with DT Pat Williams out for the remainder of the regular season with a shoulder injury. Owners of WR Roddy White no better than to worry about matchups, and he should be in an active roster spot this week even against a rising Minnesota secondary. QB Matt Ryan, on the other hand, has been spotty in fantasy of late and he could play it very conservative against one of the best pass rushes in the league … After throwing four touchdown passes in his return to action last week, QB Tavaris Jackson is expected to get another shot behind center in this one. But Jackson only threw 17 times last week against Arizona and it's doubtful he'll throw much more than 20 times against the Falcons. Atlanta allows a league-high 4.9 yards per carry, so this will be more of the same: a lot of RB Adrian Peterson, with a fair amount of RB Chester Taylor.
Green Light: Adrian Peterson, Michael Turner, Roddy White,
Yellow Light: Minnesota defense, Bernard Berrian, Matt Ryan, Visanthe Shiancoe, Jerious Norwood
Red light: Tavaris Jackson, Minnesota WRs not named Berrian, Atlanta TEs, Atlanta defense
Sleeper: Chester Taylor, Michael Jenkins (Minnesota allows 3rd-most pass plays of 20-plus yards)
Injury concern: Minnesota QB Gus Frerotte (back) sat in Week 15 and the general feeling is that he'll sit on Sunday, too. As mentioned above, Minnesota's biggest omission, literally and figuratively, will be DT Pat Williams (shoulder) who was lost for the rest of the season this week.


CAROLINA PANTHERS @ NEW YORK GIANTS
Important numbers: PANTHERS 8th-fewest FAN PTS allowed to QBs, 9th-fewest to WRs – GIANTS 11th-fewest FAN PTS allowed to QBs, 5th-fewest to RBs, 3rd-fewest to TEs
What to watch for: The Panthers RBs have churned out the second-most fantasy points among all backfields, behind only Tennessee. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart have combined for eight 100-yard rushing games and 25 TDs. They'll face a stiff test this week against a New York defense that has allowed just one 100-yard rusher this season. The Panthers rank sixth in the league in rush attempts and last in pass attempts, so you know they'll try to get their dynamic backfield duo going despite the daunting challenge … The Giants rank just ahead of Carolina at fifth in the league in rush attempts, and they expect to get RB Brandon Jacobs back this week. This is very likely to be the NFC's version of the Tennessee-Pittsburgh game this week, two tough defenses and strong running games going at it, trying to impose their will upon the other. With a wintry mix projected for East Rutherford, NJ on Sunday, it's hard to see this one going down any other way.
Green Light: DeAngelo Williams, Brandon Jacobs, New York Giants defense
Yellow Light: Jonathan Stewart, Carolina defense, Eli Manning, Kevin Boss, Derrick Ward
Red light: Jake Delhomme, Giants WRs, Panthers WRs/TEs not named Smith
Sleeper: None
Injury concern: Giants RT Kareem McKenzie (back) and DT Fred Robbins (shoulder) are likely to be Questionable for Sunday; Panthers DT Maake Kemoeatu (ankle) is looking like a very iffy proposition for Sunday.


GREEN BAY PACKERS @ CHICAGO BEARS
Important numbers: PACKERS 6th-most FAN PTS allowed to RBs – BEARS 7th-most FAN PTS allowed to WRs
What to watch for: Green Bay rolled to a 37-3 home victory over the Bears back in Week 11, with RB Ryan Grant taking fantasy game-ball honors – 25 carries, 145 rushing yards, TD. It's expected to snow off and on in the Chicago area this week, with more snow a possibility on Sunday leading into a Monday night that is expected to dip to 21 degrees. Both Green Bay and Chicago rank among the top half of the league in rush attempts and this could shape up as a pissing contest between RBs Ryan Grant and Matt Forte.
Green Light: Ryan Grant, Matt Forte, Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings
Yellow Light: Kyle Orton, Devin Hester, Donald Driver, Green Bay defense, Chicago defense, Donald Lee
Red light: Bears WRs not named Hester
Sleeper: Greg Olsen, James Jones
Injury concern: Bears RB Matt Forte (toe) dinged his toe in week 15 but is expected to be full go on Monday,

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