By Kyle Fisher
Manning had a solid 283-yard, one-touchdown effort against the Lions last week after struggling for the past three weeks. Manning has a nice matchup against a Vikings team that hasn't stopped anyone in the air all season. Last week the Vikings gave up 344 yards to Daunte Culpepper, and for the season they are last in the NFL in passing yards allowed at 288.4 per game. Expect Manning to have nice holiday weekend.
Jeff Garcia vs. WAS
Garcia didn't throw for a lot of yards last week against Atlanta but did throw two touchdowns. He has thrown for at least one touchdown in six consecutive games and faces a Redskins defense that is 23rd in the league against the pass and has surrendered 17 passing touchdowns. In the Redskins' last five games, they have really struggled against the pass, giving up almost 272 yards a game. With the Redskins' strong run defense, look for Garcia to throw more than normal to exploit this matchup.
Fantasy owners can only wonder how good Schaub would have been had he been healthy the entire year and had his No. 1 target Andre Johnson been available for more than three games. With Johnson back and Schaub healthy, look for the pair to play well in this matchup. With Johnson in the lineup, Schaub has averaged 248.3 yards per game and passed for five touchdowns in three games. Look for Schaub to have a big day against Cleveland's 31st-ranked pass defense, which has allowed a league-leading 23 touchdowns passes.
Marion Barber vs. NYJ
Barber has struggled on the ground lately, gaining only 133 yards in his last three games. However, these struggles have all been against top-12 rushing defenses. Barber catches a break in a Jets defense that looked good against the Steelers but for the season is just 29th against the run, allowing 148.2 yards per game. We'll go with history and say that Barber has a good chance to have an excellent day.
Jennings has played well lately, averaging 85 yards per game in his last four games while scoring four touchdowns. Jennings and the Packers have an excellent matchup against a Lions team that is weak against the pass, ranking 30th in the league. In the last two weeks, the Lions have given up 282 yards to Eli Manning and surrendered three touchdowns to Kurt Warner. We like the Packers' passing game to have a big day and Jennings to benefit from the Lions' weakness.
Edgerrin James vs. SF
James has struggled most of the season as he has not averaged more than four yards per carry in any game since Week 3. Still, he has a good matchup with the 49ers' 24th-ranked rushing defense, against which he gained 92 yards and a touchdown in week 1. The Cardinals are not shy about giving James the ball as he is averaging more than 20 carries per game. Expect James to have similar production as his week 1 performance.
John Kitna vs. GB
Kitna hit a three-game stretch where the Lions were fairly successful at running the ball. But old habits die hard, and the Mike Martz-led offense is once against throwing the ball all over the field. Kitna has thrown the ball 88 times in the last two weeks, and against the high-powered Packers, we suspect he'll have to do it again. Kitna might throw a few interceptions, but his total passing yards should make up for a few ill-advised throws.
Arizona defense vs. SF
While the Cardinals didn't exactly shut down the Bengals, they did get five turnovers and Antrel Rolle returned two interceptions for touchdowns leading the Cardinals to a win. This matchup, however, is more about the 49ers' lack of offense as opposed to the Cardinals defensive prowess. The 49ers are last in the NFL in both scoring and total yards and have scored just 35 points in their last four games. In the first matchup, the 49ers were held to less than 200 yards but still won the game.
Earnest Graham vs. WAS
Graham has gone from completely off the radar at the beginning of the season to back-to-back 100-yard rushing games. However, the competition stiffens this week as Graham is matched up against a Redskins defense ranked 10th in the NFL against the run and that just held the Cowboys to 72 yards rushing. The Buccaneers should exploit the weak Redskins secondary, so don't expect to see Graham top 100 yards this week.
Kevin Jones vs. GB
Just when it seemed like the Lions were trying to be more balanced on offense, they became pass-happy again, which does not bode well for Jones. What also does not bode well for him is the Packers' ninth-ranked run defense. Jones had three consecutive weeks of more than 70 yards, but in his last two games, he has rushed for just 21 yards. We see this trend continuing against a tough Packers run defense.
Reuben Droughns/Brandon Jacobs/Derrick Ward vs. MIN
At press time the status of both Jacobs and Ward were unknown. Jacobs missed the Giants win over the Lions, while Ward has missed the team's last three games. Whoever gets the call faces Minnesota's No. 1-ranked rushing defense, which allows just 74.4 yards per game. With the Giants' solid weapons in the passing game and the Vikings' struggles against the pass, we don't see the Giants testing Minnesota's strength too much.
Kenny Watson/Rudi Johnson vs. TEN
Watson had the better of it last week, averaging 5 yards a carry compared to Johnson's slightly better than 3 yards per rush. Regardless of who gets the majority of the carries, expect both to struggle mightily against a Titans defense that should have Albert Haynesworth back after missing two games with a hamstring injury. The Titans run defense has struggled without Haynesworth, but with him, it is perhaps the league's best.
Jesse Chatman vs. PIT
Chatman has not been a bad replacement for Ronnie Brown, as he has rushed for at least 70 yards in his last four games. This week he faces a Steelers defense that should be seething after a subpar effort in stopping Thomas Jones and the Jets last week. The Steelers have been lights out at home against the run, as Marshawn Lynch's 64-yard effort was by far the best at Pittsburgh this season. Expect a big defensive effort from Pittsburgh on Monday night.
Campbell had perhaps his best game of his young career against Dallas, throwing for 348 yards and two touchdowns last week after throwing for 215 yards and three touchdowns against the Eagles the previous week. This week, however, Campbell steps up in class against Buccaneers defense ranked third against the pass, allowing the second-fewest touchdowns (seven) in the league. The Cowboys and Redskins rank 24th and 23rd, respectively, in yards allowed and have surrendered 15 and 17 passing touchdowns. We see Campbell taking a step back after two very good weeks.
Daunte Culpepper vs. KC
Culpepper exploded for 344 yards and a touchdown in last week's loss to the Vikings. This week he matches up against a Chiefs defense that is 11th in yards allowed and seventh in passer rating against. The Chiefs pass defense has played well since Brett Favre lit K.C. up for 360 yards three weeks ago. In their last two games, the Chiefs have held their opponents to 177.5 yards per game and just one touchdown. We'll stick with the hot defense at home in this matchup.
Philadelphia Defense vs. NE