Start: Rams RB Stephen Jackson -- Yes, he injured his knee last weekend and missed some practice this week. But he is fully expected to play and Marshall Faulk's status remains very iffy. And with QB Chris Chandler starting in place of injured Marc Bulger, coach Mike Martz has to rely more on the running game ... doesn't he?
Sit: Chiefs RBs Derrick Blaylock/Larry Johnson -- The Chiefs love
Blaylock and he has produced with Priest Holmes out of the lineup. But
he's also a free agent after the season and they need to find out if
Johnson can be Holmes' backup going forward -- or good trade bait if
they re-sign Blaylock. So the two will continue to share the rushing load.
Start: Ravens TE Todd Heap -- After playing about 25 snaps in his first
game back from injury last season, Heap will not be limited this
weekend. With the Ravens' running game not as dominant as it was as last
season and the receivers as mediocre as they come, QB Kyle Boller will
certainly welcome the presence of his most trusted weapon.
Sit: Broncos RB Reuben Droughns -- Coach Mike Shanahan wasn't happy with
Droughn's two fumbles two weeks ago, and he gave rookie Tatum Bell
increased carries last weekend. Droughns insists he's not wearing down,
but Shanahan said he intends to give Bell more carries to help keep
Start: Raiders WR Doug Gabriel -- One of the Raiders' several impressive
young receivers, Gabriel will receive even more snaps now that Ronald Curry is out for the season.
Sit: Titans RB Chris Brown -- It's a weekly guessing game with Brown.
Expect him to start, but how long he's able to go is anyone's guess. He
got off to a hot start against the Colts, only to miss the second half.
Perhaps the extra day of rest with the Titans playing on Monday will
help, but it's not worth the gamble if you have another healthy back.
Start: Steelers TE Jerame Tuman/Bills TE Ryan Neufeld -- Both have moved
into the starting lineup this week. And while they won't be mistaken for
Tony Gonzalez or Antonio Gates anytime soon, they just might pick up a
touchdown if you're looking for an extra tight end.
Sit: Redskins WR Laveranues Coles -- He's earning major bonus points
with coach Joe Gibbs by playing through an assortment of injuries this
season. While he will play, Coles missed much of practice this week and
the Redskins passing game doesn't produce many yards to begin with.
Start: Vikings RB Onterrio Smith -- Julius Jones tore up the Seahawks'
injury-riddled defense on Monday night, and Smith likely will do the
same this Sunday. Not only are the Seahawks without OLBs Chad Brown and
Anthony Simmons, but now they are minus both of their starting defensive
Sit: Cardinals RB Emmitt Smith -- He was upgraded to questionable late
in the week, but he said that doesn't mean his sprained toe feels any
better or worse. Despite playing San Francisco, it's not worth taking
the risk that Smith sits out a second consecutive game.
QB Michael Vick got shut out by Tampa Bay last week, so look for him to
bounce back with a virtuoso performance against the soft underbelly that
is the Raider defense. Oakland struggles against the run and the pass
and look for Vick to come through with two running TDs and three more
through the air as the Falcons role.
The Vikings are a much different team at home than they are on the road.
They come back to the Metrodome with egg on their face after losing at
Chicago. Look for the defense to come up with one of its best
performances of the year against Seattle. RB Shaun Alexander is usually
a dominant force, but he gets shut down by Minnesota.
RB Julius Jones is one of the hottest running backs in the league after
running for 348 yards and five touchdowns the last two games. Jones will
continue his hot streak against the Saints, who rank dead last at
stopping the run.
RB Michael Pittman has been one of the more impressive runner in the
league this year with 662 yards and seven touchdowns. However, the Bucs
go across the country to play the surging Chargers and they will punish
the Tampa Bay runner.
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