In Week 10, the Rams trailed the Jets 40-0 at halftime.
This fact apparently bothered the coaching staff:
"Coach (Haslett) emphasized all week to come out strong," quarterback Marc Bulger said. "And he said it again (Saturday) during our walkthrough that we need to come out fast."
If by "fast," he meant that his team should kick at least one field goal while holding the opponent to five touchdowns or less, then mission accomplished. Barely.
Last week, the Rams fell behind the Niners 35-3 at half, and eventually lost 35-16. They've now dropped four straight games. Bulger has thrown six interceptions and lost three fumbles during that stretch, and the team has allowed an average of 34.8 points per game. And they just lost left tackle Orlando Pace (knee) for a few weeks. And Steven Jackson has already been ruled out for Week 12.
So the Rams have some issues. If you own any Bears, this will be a decent week to start them. Even the lifeless, overpaid Chicago defense is worth a look in Week 12, given the recklessness of the St. Louis offense.
Miami gets the Rams in Week 13, kicking off an excellent end-of-season schedule for the Dolphins. They'll finish this way: at St. Louis, at Buffalo, San Francisco, at Kansas City, and at the Jets. The biggest threat to their fantasy production could be weather, not the opponents.
You might notice a few tweaks to the list of user-friendly Ds below. Alterations were made so as to display full schedules for Weeks 12-16...
Tennessee gets the Jets, Lions, Browns and Texans in Weeks 12-15, but they'll face Pittsburgh -- the NFL's stingiest defense (237.6 yards per game) -- in Week 16, when most fantasy championships are decided. It seems likely that various Titans (and Giants) will rest in the final weeks, too, considering their current position in the standings.
Buffalo also has an inviting schedule, with upcoming games against the Chiefs, Niners, Dolphins, Jets and Broncos. Monday night's 177-yard performance was probably just the start of a streak of useful games for Marshawn Lynch.
OK, who's hungry for more spreadsheet?
Chicago was obliterated by Green Bay on Sunday, 37-3. That defense is every bit as bad as the numbers say they are, and probably worse. Ryan Grant didn't look particularly elusive in Week 11, yet he still ran all over Chicago (25 carries, 145 yards). The numbers say that the Bears have been OK against the run (87.4 yards per game), but that's just because they completely sell-out to stop the ground game when facing credible backs.
And yes, I'd still play the Chicago defense against St. Louis (see above). That's a statement about the quality of the Rams, not the Bears.
The schedule ahead for the Raiders is terrific -- Denver, Kansas City, San Diego, New England, Houston -- so we might see a second useful day from Darren McFadden, if he's actually getting healthy. The rookie was great against the Chiefs in Week 2 (164 rushing yards, one TD), but that was also when the toe problems began ... As we mentioned yesterday, Warrick Dunn will get plenty of work against the Lions, although B.J. Askew could poach goal-line carries ... All Washington receiving options are reasonable plays in Week 12 versus Seattle ... Kerry Collins and Justin Gage have a fair chance to connect for a TD in a third straight game ... Peyton Hillis remains flex-worthy facing Oakland. Selvin Young (groin) is reportedly targeting Week 13 for his return.
We leave you with the following note, from that Denver Post link above:
Three practices since late August is all Tatum Bell needed to gain 34 yards on seven carries at Atlanta. Not bad considering that six days earlier, Bell was a manager at Mobile Solutions at the Aurora Mall. The Broncos called him Tuesday morning to come in.
In other news, Howard Griffith is the new assistant at Auntie Anne's Pretzels, and Glyn Milburn is piercing ears at Claire's.
Photos via Getty Images and US Presswire