We’re with you every Sunday to provide the Sunday Six Pack, an article featuring six of the biggest story lines heading into each and every week of the season. Keeping tabs on these events will keep you prepared and informed throughout the season – just don’t drive within six hours of reading this.
Can #1) Ram Tough
The last time that Steven Jackson met the tough 49ers defense, he looked like his old self battering the Niners for 101 yards and a TD on 29 carries at the Stick. Now back at home, Jackson looks to do it again as the clear focal point of an offense likely to be missing top WR Danny Amendola. The 49ers battened down the hatches after that tie with the Rams holding Matt Forte to 63 rushing yards in Week 11 and the Saints to a total of 59 yards rushing in Week 12. Reports did surface that the Rams purposely limited SJax’s early season role this year to keep him fresh for the end of the season. This week should be a good test as to whether that paid off.
Can #2) Et Tu, Sanu?
Just as Mohammed Sanu looked like he had locked down the Bengals number two wide receiver job with four touchdowns in the last three weeks, he sustains a fracture in his foot in practice and will likely miss the rest of the regular season. Andrew Hawkins is listed as probable for Week 13 and should return, but its clear that the Bengals see him solely as a slot receiver, and the inconsistency with which he is targeted makes him an iffy fantasy option at best. Fifth round rookie and draftnik favorite Marvin Jones, who was said to have been schedule to have been in line for a big role before getting hurt on the opening kickoff of Week 7, looks to be the biggest beneficiary of Sanu’s bad lock. He should be on the higher end of a rotation with nominal starter Brandon Tate.
Can #3) Run Trent Run
19 carries, 129 yards (6.8 ypc, 1 TD). That’s the line the Raiders gave up to BenJarvus Green-Ellis in Week 12, who even with that game, is averaging just 3.8 yards per carry on the season. Now comes Trent Richardson comes to Oakland to show the Raiders what a real, dynamic NFL running back looks like. The only thing that actually has the potential to slow Richardson down is the weather, with tropical storm conditions likely; not the Raiders pathetic run defense.
Can #4) Texans on the Defensive
Houston’s highly regarded defense has looked rather pedestrian the last two weeks; first jump starting the Chad Henne era in Jacksonville, by allowing him to throw for 354 yards, 4 TDs and 0 INTs in relief of Blaine Gabbert in Week 11, and then giving up 441 yards and 2 TDs to Matthew Stafford in Week 12. Now the travel to Tennessee to play a Titans team looking for an offensive identity after the firing of Chris Palmer. Dowell Loggains is apparently a Mike Heimerdinger disciple and may harken back to better days of offensive success for the Titans. The Texans will also be without top corner Jonathan Joseph again this week. I’d put my money on the Texans’ defense getting right over the Titans’ offense.
Can #5) Cheese Whiz
The Giants three safety defensive scheme made Aaron Rodgers look like Brady Quinn in Week 12, unable to decide where to go with the football. The Giants’ complete lack of respect for the Packers’ running game highlighted what has been a problem for Green Bay since Cedric Benson went down with a foot injury in Week 5. Now that Benson is done for the season, the Packers are going to have to ride it out with the underwhelming duo of James Starks and Alex Green. Mike McCarthy is going to have reach down into his bag of tricks to the Packers offense going again. The Vikings are about in the middle of the pack when it comes to average passing yards per game, so this game should provide some clues as to where the Packers season will go from here.
Can #6) Bad Batch
Ben Roethlisberger is still unable to go this week, which leaves the Steelers stuck on Plan C again. Charlie Batch threw three interceptions last week and is completely unable to get the ball downfield. The Steelers will get a boost with the return of Antonio Brown, but having Batch under center does not make him, nor a possibly benched Mike Wallace, an attractive fantasy play. If you own any Steelers’ skill position players, send them to your bench and keep your fingers crossed that Ben is able to return in Week 14.