The always-challenging act of setting your lineup gets a bit more challenging for the next seven weeks as we enter the bye week portion of the schedule. Kansas City, Tampa Bay, Minnesota, and Dallas have their byes this week, so be sure to keep players from those teams out of your lineups and see if Dez Bryant will be willing to treat you and your 50 closest friends to a steak dinner. Here are my recommendations for Week 4 - all games are Sunday during the day unless otherwise noted:
New York Jets at Buffalo (Sunday early) - Marshawn Lynch has been in Beast Mode lately, but he won’t find room to run against the Jets’ stingy run defense. The Jets win a game that will be closer than it should be. New York 24 Buffalo 17.
- New York
- Yes (Should definitely be in your starting lineup): RBs Shonn Greene & LaDainian Tomlinson, WR Braylon Edwards, TE Dustin Keller, DEF
- No (Should definitely NOT be in your starting lineup): K Nick Folk
- Maybe So (Okay to start if you don’t have a better option): QB Mark Sanchez; WRs Jerricho Cotchery
- Yes: WR Lee Evans
- No: RBs Marshawn Lynch, C.J. Spiller, & Fred Jackson; DEF, K Rian Lindell
- Maybe So: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, WRs Steve Johnson & Roscoe Parrish
Denver at Tennessee - Denver’s passing game and Tennessee’s rushing game are among the league’s best, but Kyle Orton manages to lead his team to victory in spite of Chris Johnson’s superhuman effort. Denver 37 Tennessee 34.
- Yes: QB Kyle Orton, WRs Brandon Lloyd & Eddie Royal, K Matt Prater
- No: RBs Knowshon Moreno (Questionable-hamstring), Correll Buckhalter, & Laurence Maroney; DEF
- Maybe So: WR Jabar Gaffney
- Yes: RB Chris Johnson, TE Bo Scaife, K Rob Bironas
- No: DEF
- Maybe So: QB Vince Young; RB Javon Springer; WRs Justin Gage, Nate Washington, & Kenny Britt
Detroit at Green Bay - Detroit’s offense is improved, even with Shaun Hill at the helm, but the Packers will take out their lingering frustrations from Monday night’s loss on the hapless Lion defense. Green Bay 41 Detroit 17.
- Yes: WR Calvin Johnson, TEs Tony Scheffler & Brandon Pettigrew
- No: RBs Jahvid Best (Questionable-toe), Maurice Morris, & Kevin Smith; WR Nate Burleson (Questionable-ankle), DEF, K Jason Hanson
- Maybe So: QB Shaun Hill
- Green Bay
- Yes: QB Aaron Rodgers, WRs Greg Jennings & Donald Driver, TE Jermichael Finley, DEF, K Mason Crosby
- No: WR Jordy Nelson
- Maybe So: RBs Brandon Jackson & John Kuhn, WR James Jones
San Francisco at Atlanta - The 49ers will put up a good fight (unlike last week at Kansas City), but they’ll eventually be worn down by the Falcons’ powerful ground game and drop to 0-4. Atlanta 31 San Francisco 17.
- San Francisco
- Yes: RB Frank Gore, TE Vernon Davis
- No: DEF, K Joe Nedney
- Maybe So: QB Alex Smith, WRs Michael Crabtree & Josh Morgan
- Yes: QB Matt Ryan, RB Michael Turner, WR Roddy White, TE Tony Gonzalez, DEF, K Matt Bryant
- No: None
- Maybe So: RB Jason Snelling
Seattle at St. Louis - Rams’ QB Sam Bradford is able to exploit a dreadful Seahawk secondary as Seattle continues its Jekyll & Hyde routine with another road loss. St. Louis 24 Seattle 21.
- Yes: RB Justin Forsett, TE John Carlson, DEF
- No: RB Leon Washington, K Olindo Mare
- Maybe So: QB Matt Hasselbeck; WRs Mike Williams (Probable-shoulder), Deion Branch, Deon Butler, & Golden Tate
- St. Louis
- Yes: QB Sam Bradford, WRs Mark Clayton & Danny Amendola, DEF
- No: RBs Steven Jackson (Questionable-groin) & Kenneth Darby, K Josh Brown
- Maybe So: None
Carolina at New Orleans - Drew Brees is playing through a knee injury of undetermined severity, but he’s healthy enough to help the Saints rebound from last week’s loss to the Falcons with a vengeance. New Orleans 34 Carolina 17.
- Yes: RB DeAngelo Williams, WR Steve Smith
- No: DEF, K John Kasay
- Maybe So: QB Jimmy Clausen, RB Jonathan Stewart
- New Orleans
- Yes: QB Drew Brees, WR Marques Colston, TE Jeremy Shockey, DEF, K John Carney
- No: RBs Pierre Thomas (Questionable-ankle) & Chris Ivory, K Garrett Hartley
- Maybe So: WRs Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem, & Lance Moore
Baltimore at Pittsburgh - Baltimore will spend most of the game passing; Pittsburgh will spend most of the game rushing. Baltimore’s slightly more balanced offense carries the day in the matchup of defensive titans and knocks Pittsburgh from the ranks of the unbeaten. Baltimore 17 Pittsburgh 14.
- Yes: WR Anquan Boldin, TE Todd Heap, DEF
- No: RBs Ray Rice (Questionable-knee) & Willis McGahee, WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, K Billy Cundiff
- Maybe: QB Joe Flacco, WR Derrick Mason
- Yes: DEF
- No: QB Charlie Batch, WRs Hines Ward & Mike Wallace, K Jeff Reed
- Maybe So: RB Rashard Mendenhall, TE Heath Miller
Cincinnati at Cleveland - Appearances can be deceiving: Cleveland has lost its three games by a total of 12 points. Expect this snakebitten franchise’s string of close defeats to continue. Cincinnati 20 Cleveland 17.
- Yes: RB Cedric Benson (Questionable-knee), WRs Chad Ochocinco & Terrell Owens, TE Jermaine Gresham, DEF, K Mike Nugent
- No: RB Bernard Scott (change to “Yes” if he starts)
- Maybe So: QB Carson Palmer, WR Jordan Shipley (Questionable-shoulder)
- Yes: RB Peyton Hillis, TE Ben Watson, DEF
- No: QB Jake Delhomme (if he starts), RB Jerome Harrison (Questionable-thigh), K Phil Dawson
- Maybe So: QB Seneca Wallace (if he starts), WRs Mohamed Massaquoi & Josh Cribbs (Probable-ankle)
Indianapolis at Jacksonville (Sunday late) - On any given Sunday in the NFL the lowliest of underdogs is capable of upsetting the heaviest of favorites. This is not one of those Sundays. Indianapolis 41 Jacksonville 17.
- Yes: QB Peyton Manning, WRs Reggie Wayne & Austin Collie, TE Dallas Clark, DEF, K Adam Vinatieri
- No: WR Pierre Garcon (Questionable-hamstring)
- Maybe So: RBs Joseph Addai (Probable-knee) & Donald Brown (Questionable-hamstring)
- Yes: RB Maurice Jones-Drew, TE Marcedes Lewis
- No: QB David Garrard, RB Rashad Jennings, DEF, K Josh Scobee
- Maybe So: WRs Mike Sims-Walker & Mike Thomas
Houston at Oakland - This is precisely the kind of game Houston needs to win to show they’re a legitimate playoff contender. It won’t happen, as Oakland pulls off the upset. Oakland 27 Houston 24.
- Yes: RB Arian Foster
- No: WR Andre Johnson (Questionable-ankle), DEF, K Neil Rackers
- Maybe So: QB Matt Schaub, WRs Kevin Walter & Jacoby Jones, TE Owen Daniels (Questionable-hamstring)
- Yes: QB Bruce Gradkowski, WRs Louis Murphy (Questionable-clavicle) & Darrius Heyward-Bey, TE Zach Miller, K Sebastian Janikowski
- No: RBs Darren McFadden & Michael Bush, DEF
- Maybe So: None
Philadelphia at Jacksonville - Donovan McNabb has had this game circled on his calendar since last winter. Michael Vick has had this game circled on his calendar since last week. Ultimately, it’s Washington’s lousy play in the secondary that makes this an unhappy homecoming for McNabb. Philadelphia 34 Washington 24.
- Yes: QB Donovan McNabb, WR Santana Moss, TE Chris Cooley
- No: RB Ryan Torain & Keiland Williams (Probable-ankle), DEF, K Graham Gano
- Maybe So: RB Clinton Portis (Probable-wrist)
- Yes: QB Michael Vick, RB LeSean McCoy, WR DeSean Jackson, TE Brent Celek (Probable-wrist), DEF, K David Akers
- No: None
- Maybe So: WR Jeremy Maclin (Probable-back)
Arizona at San Diego One of the best quarterbacks in the league takes on one of the worst quarterbacks in the league. The outcome will surprise no one. San Diego 38 Arizona 17.
- Yes: WR Larry Fitzgerald
- No: QB Derrek Anderson, WRs Steve Breaston (Out-knee) & Stephen Williams, DEF, K Jay Feely
- Maybe So: RBs Beanie Wells (Questionable-knee) & Tim Hightower
- San Diego
- Yes: QB Philip Rivers, RB Ryan Mathews, WRs Malcom Floyd & Legedu Naanee, TE Antonio Gates, DEF, K Nate Kaeding
- No: RB Darren Sproles
- Maybe So: RB Mike Tolbert
Chicago at New York Giants (Sunday night) - New York’s only hope of winning is to throw, throw, and throw some more. They do so just well enough to upset the NFC’s last unbeaten team. New York 34 Chicago 31.
- Yes: QB Jay Cutler, RB Matt Forte, TE Greg Olsen, K Robbie Gould
- No: WRs Earl Bennett & Devin Aromashodu, DEF
- Maybe So: WRs Johnny Knox & Devin Hester
- New York
- Yes: QB Eli Manning, WRs Steve Smith & Hakeem Nicks, TE Kevin Boss, K Lawrence Tynes
- No: RBs Ahmad Bradshaw & Brandon Jacobs, WR Mario Manningham (Questionable-concussion), DEF
- Maybe So: None
New England at Miami (Monday night) - Miami plays its second consecutive primetime home game, but finds a way to win this battle of two evenly matched teams. Miami 27 New England 24
- New England
- Yes: QB Tom Brady (Probable-shoulder), WRs Randy Moss & Wes Welker, TE Aaron Hernandez
- No: RBs Fred Taylor (Questionable-toe), Sammy Morris, & Darren Woodhead; DEF; K Stephen Gostkowski
- Maybe So: RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis
- Yes: QB Chad Henne, RB Ronnie Brown, WR Brandon Marshall, K Dan Carpenter
- No: DEF
- Maybe So: RB Ricky Williams, WRs Davone Bess & Brian Hartline, TE Anthony Fasano
Good luck to your teams this weekend!
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