Bengals at Ravens
I am fast becoming a huge Bengals fan. I thought they were foolish for cutting Palmer from the team and holding out on trading him. I thought they were forfeiting the season in favor of the future and didn’t quite understand why. Well, all their “questionable” decisions turned out to be the right one as they got a first round pick for Palmer by the end and maybe a second. They are still a wild-card contender with Dalton and I’m not 100% that Palmer would have done as well as Dalton. I was very impressed with how well the Bengals D held up against the Steelers, they gave the offense a chance to win and considering they were facing one of the top teams in the AFC, we have to take notice. I am expecting Cinci to get an upset this week and bottle up Ray Rice for the most part. If this game comes down to Flacco’s arm, I don’t think Baltimore will be able to score enough points to out-do Dalton, Green and Benson. I look for more than each team’s fair share of turnovers and simply think that Cinci will do a better job of capitalizing on these possession changes and that makes all the difference in this one. Expect a close, hard fought game. I am lowering my expectations of all offensive players in this game due to the quality of defense that we will see but Ray Rice and Anquan Boldin still should be started in their usual roles. I expect AJ Green to play in this game and I believe that he is match-up proof and still should be good for a decent yardage total and a score as well. This will be a must-watch game for true football fans and people who like stout defenses.
Titans at Falcons
Christmas came early for the Titans when Matt Schaub was lost for the regular season. Tennessee has a serious chance to make a push for the division title but has a very tough game this week on the road against the Falcons. This season Atlanta has not been such a powerhouse on their home-turf but there is no denying that they still do play considerably better at home. I was very impressed with how well the Falcons shut down the running game of the Saints and I expect them to do the same this week. This game will be decided on the arm of Matt Hasselbeck. He needs to be efficient pushing the ball down field despite how ineffective I expect Chris Johnson and Javon Ringer to be. Damian Williams should be featured more as the #1 receiver and I think this will open up things for Nate Washington quite a bit and will really help him regain some of the fantasy-value he had when Kenny Britt was on the field. Atlanta will be shoving Michael Turner down the Titans’ collective throat and limiting Hasselbeck’s chances to connect on that big-play. Because I only see one of these teams being effective on the ground, I have to pick Atlanta to win this game. I don’t think it is a blow-out, but I do believe that Atlanta will have control over the game from start to finish and it will be a fairly convincing victory for them. Matt Ryan, Roddy White and Michael Turner are all very solid starts this week and assuming Julio Jones does not play, Harry Douglas just may be a very sneaky flex-play this week as well. I am using Nate Washington as a WR2 of flex play and only see CJ as a potential flex-play as well. I would stay away from Damian Williams until we see how he does when opposing defenses are able to plan for him a bit more.