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Adam Duerson
December 18, 2006
WE LIKE THE MATCHUP
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December 18, 2006

Start 'em

WE LIKE THE MATCHUP

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SUPERSLEEPER
TOM BRADY
QB PATRIOTS
vs.
Texans

There's no question that two-time Super Bowl MVP Brady loves to win. But did you know how much he hates to lose? Since 2003 he has lost consecutive games once (Weeks 9 and 10 this year). In games following a defeat he's 11--1 with 21 TDs, a mere six interceptions and a robust 260.3 passing yards per game. This time he's also playing for New England's playoff position, which typically motivates Brady to the max. Over the last three years, in nine late-season games with playoff implications Brady has totaled 22 TD passes. Better yet, he's facing the Texans, who aren't exactly menacing on defense, especially against the pass. Houston allows a dismal 225.8 yards per game through the air and has come up with a paltry 10 interceptions this year. Expect numbers similar to the ones Brady posted last time he played Houston, in 2003: 368 yards and two TDs.

QUARTERBACK

BRETT FAVRE
Packers VS. Lions
Favre demolished Detroit with 340 yards and three TDs in a Week 3 win--his best passing game since Week 3 of 2004. He has never lost to the Lions at home (including games in Milwaukee), and, against a sloppy defense, this is going to be a shootout with Favre firing at will.

MATT HASSELBECK
Seahawks VS. 49ers
Just consider: Seneca Wallace passed for 161 yards and two TDs against the Rams; Hasselbeck had 268 and three TDs. Wallace had 252 yards and two TDs against San Francisco in Week 11; so Hasselbeck (who has 10 TDs and one pick in his last four games against the Niners) should top that.

BEN ROETHLISBERGER
Steelers AT Panthers
Carolina's injury problems extend beyond its QB. Starting cornerbacks Ken Lucas and Chris Gamble could be slowed by injured hamstrings, if they're able to play. Also, the D has allowed eight passing TDs in the last three games. And Big Ben may get his favorite target, Hines Ward, back this week.

RUNNING BACK

COREY DILLON
Patriots VS. Texans
Forget that Dillon has not cracked the 100-yard mark this season. The signs are good entering Sunday. His backfield mate Laurence Maroney has missed almost two full games with a bad back and may not play. And the Houston defense has given up 15 rushing TDs, which ranks near the bottom of the NFL.

AHMAN GREEN
Packers VS. Lions
Last week Detroit surrendered 125 yards and three TDs to the legendary Artose Pinner--a performance that's a green light for Green. Although he's been held to less than 100 rushing yards four times in the last five games, two of those efforts came against the stingy Vikings and Patriots.

SAMMY MORRIS
Dolphins AT Bills
True, in last week's issue we labeled Morris a possible dud for this game, but then he pounded a nasty New England run D for 123 yards and even broke off a 44-yard jaunt (only the second run longer than 20 yards allowed by the Pats all year). Now he challenges a Bills defense that gives up 139.8 yards per game.

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