What to watch: Mannings, Vikings, Westbrook
Only three games on the schedule this week involve two teams with no hope for the playoffs (Lions-49ers, Raiders-Browns, Bills-Falcons), so the other 13 games will make for a terrific weekend. I love to see how football teams react when there's really something on the line, and really, this is the most important week of the regular season. By next week, the final week of the season, a bunch of these 7-7 AFC teams will be eliminated, more of the first-round byes will be locked up and quite a few more games will matter less. And more star players will, unfortunately, be sitting.
From a fantasy football aspect, the most compelling games of the weekend are Chiefs-Bengals and Panthers-Giants. Obviously, there are bigger games around the league, like the Saturday night Chargers-Titans tilt -- get those lineups in early, please! -- or the Ravens-Steelers game and whatever that Brett Favre guy does in Chicago on Monday night. But getting back to the Chiefs-Bengals affair, the Bengals really need to fix things after losing to a pair of playoff-bound teams on the road. And in that game, we have a pair of top-10 running backs. I think one (Cedric BensonJerome Harrison in Week 15 is any indication, and the other is clearly a rising star (Jamaal Charles). I'm also watching how the Chiefs divide the targets to their wide receivers.
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