Just two weeks ago, we were all supposed to believe that the AFC was vastly superior to the NFC. That seemed to be the official position of pretty much every analyst. Since that time, we've seen the Jets lose to the Packers (and nearly lose to the Lions), the Steelers lose to the Saints, and — on Thursday night — the Ravens fall in Atlanta. At the moment, the NFL's longest winning streak belongs to the Giants, a squad that's averaging 401.0 net yards of offense per game (second in the NFL). They're also limiting opponents to 250.6 total yards (first in the league). If that team isn't at the top of your power rankings, then you probably need to tweak the formula.
We begin the Friday bullets in New York, where Steve Smith (the useful one) apparently isn't doing so well…
• Smith suffered a strained pectoral muscle in Thursday's practice, and he'll miss at least the Dallas game, possibly more. Mario Manningham(notes) figures to benefit from Smith's absence, fantasy-wise. But this is not exactly a minor loss for New York's offense. This from the Daily News:
"He's the most polished receiver we have," offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said with a sigh. "He's a guy who has really earned the respect of the defense to such a point that so many of the things they do are designed to stop him."
For instance, Gilbride said that in the first Cowboys game three weeks ago, Dallas was playing a Cover 2 zone but "manning him (Smith) up within the zone and bringing the free safety over to help in case it's a double move on his part.
"I think people have basically said it's hard to cover him one-on-one inside so people have committed additional resources," Gilbride said. "That opens up running game opportunities for us and it opens up other passing opportunities for us."
The good news for the Giants is that they're facing a Cowboys defense that flat-lined long ago; Dallas has allowed an average of 35.8 points per game over the past five weeks.
• The Panthers will be without the services of DeAngelo Williams(notes) (foot), Jonathan Stewart(notes) (concussion), and Tyrell Sutton(notes) (ankle) in Week 10, so the full rushing workload will fall to Mike Goodson(notes). He's a fast guy, no doubt, but not necessarily a tackle-breaker (2.6 career YPC). "People don't know what I've got," Goodson told the Charlotte Observer. "I can't wait to show them." He'll get a favorable match-up with Tampa Bay's 29th ranked rushing defense, but he's also tied to a hopeless, Jimmy Clausen(notes) led offense. Expectations should obviously be modest. Carolina backs have only rushed for two touchdowns this season.
• Percy Harvin(notes) was again sidelined by migraines this week, missing practice on Wednesday and Thursday. He reappeared at practice on Friday, and he'll reportedly be listed as questionable for the match-up with Chicago on Sunday. To the great surprise of everyone who watched the Bears' secondary play last season, Chicago has somehow allowed the fewest TD passes in the NFL so far this year (5). There's no clarity on the Sidney Rice(notes) situation as of this writing, but he'll almost certainly be on a snap count if he's active.
• Cincinnati quarterback Carson Palmer(notes) (shoulder) is expected to start against Indianapolis, for better or worse. As discussed earlier in Dissenting Opinions, that game could easily develop as another in which the Bengals play catch-up. We generally like those for fantasy purposes.
• Vince Young(notes) was limited in practice on both Thursday and Friday, and he's officially considered a game-time decision this week. If you're looking for clues about this QB situation, here's an essential blurb from the Tennessean:
Backup Kerry Collins(notes) will start if Young is unable to play. Collins took the starter's reps Friday and stayed on the field after practice to get in some extra work with newly acquired receiver Randy Moss(notes).
• If you were expecting the Dolphins to dramatically alter their gameplan following the changing of the Chads — Pennington in, Henne out — the Miami Herald reports that you're mistaken. Apparently, nothing will change. Here are a few thoughts from the OC:
Nothing? Not your communication with the quarterback? Not their input into play selection or freedom to audible?
Not even the playlist you take into any given game?
"Plays are based on who we're playing. I don't think we'll have a different scope of things," Henning said. "You obviously know different people see things differently. They read things differently. When it comes down to the quarterback, there's judgment that takes place in the game. So, you might see him do something that [Henne] didn't do. You also might see him do something that [Henne] did do that may not be as good. That's what you live with whenever you make that kind of change."
• Somehow, the injury situation for Indy's offense has grown even worse. Blair White(notes) has been sidelined over the past two days with a shoulder injury. Jacob Tamme(notes) (back) was a full participant on both Thursday and Friday, and he's in line for a million targets on Sunday. Undrafted Brandon James(notes) could perhaps make a cameo appearance, too.
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