Two of the NFL’s most successful franchises face off with playoff hopes directly on the line
The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys will each be looking to stay above .500 and in the thick of the playoff hunt when they face off this afternoon at 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS. The Steelers (7-6) are currently holding onto the final wild-card spot in the AFC, while the Cowboys (7-6) need to keep winning to have any hopes of securing a postseason berth in the NFC bracket.
Cowboys look to even record, Eagles hope to avoid eighth straight loss
The Philadelphia Eagles will try to get their first win since late September when they square off against the Dallas Cowboys tonight at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC. The Eagles (3-8) have lost seven games in a row, including a 38-23 loss to the Cowboys on Nov. 11. Meanwhile the Cowboys (5-6) would like nothing more than to get back to .500 by handing their NFC East rivals a second defeat in less than a month.
NFC East rivals face off for the seventh time on Thanksgiving Day
The Washington Redskins will spend yet another Turkey Day in the deep south as they will meet up with the Dallas Cowboys for a key NFC East divisional clash that will kickoff at 4:15 p.m. ET on FOX. Both teams enter this game trailing the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants atop the division, so this first meeting between the two could go a long ways in determining playoff fates.
Who's healthy enough to start for your fantasy football team
The injuries are piling up, the bye weeks are in full effect and there are some names in the fantasy world you did not think you would have to rely on so early. Such is life as a fantasy owner as we reach Week 6 of the 2012 NFL season. Here’s a little info about those that are injured or those replacing the injured that can hopefully help lead you to a fantasy victory this week.
What can the Dallas Cowboys do for you this fantasy season? Check out Athlon Sports' team report as we break down the rookies, veteran players to watch and avoid, fantasy playoff schedule and more to help you get ready for the 2012 season.
The Cowboys' receiver looks to be able to play through his quad injury
It looks like Dez Bryant will be good to go for Monday night's Cowboys-Redskins game. After missing practice Thursday and Friday with a quad injury, Bryant was back in pads on Saturday, which is exactly what fantasy football owners wanted to hear.
• Inside the Locker Room
With Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Is Dez Bryant's possible reward worth the risk?
Bryant needed the offseason more than any other player on the Cowboys. He was hurt all season as a rookie and never fully grasped the playbook. He finished the season on injured reserve, breaking his right fibula in a Dec. 5 game against the Colts. Bryant could have used an offseason in the weight room, the training room and on the practice field at Valley Ranch. While supremely talented, until he has an offseason in the system and with strength coach Mike Woicik, Bryant still will be hit or miss.
Can Felix Jones become more than just a third down back?
Jones is what he is: He is a feature running back who is going to get around 15 touches a game. Jones isn’t big enough to handle being an every-down back. He started seven games last season and will be the team’s starting running back this season. Jones will get most of the carries, as he did last season when his 185 carries represented 43.2 percent of the team’s rushing attempts. But he won’t get much more than that, or he will wear down. He will be replaced on third down.
Can DeMarcus Ware get 20 sacks again, as he did in 2008?
Ware has led the league in sacks two of the past three seasons. He has averaged 14 sacks per season the past five seasons and has posted double-digit sacks every season except his rookie season. And he could be even better in Rob Ryan’s defense. But 20 sacks? Lawrence Taylor had only one 20-sack season in his career, as did Reggie White. Bruce Smith never had a 20-sack season. Ware has had his 20-sack season, so another seems unlikely.
• Fantasy Playoff Run — Weeks 14-16: NYG, @TB, PHI
Two familiar NFC East opponents (Giants and Eagles) make for a tough playoff draw. Add in an up-and-coming Tampa defense at its place and you’ve got a difficult fantasy playoff schedule. All three defenses were in the top 14 against the pass, but perhaps one of the Cowboys’ running backs can do some damage against the Bucs (28th vs. the run) or Eagles(15th).
• Athlon Best Bets
Sleeper: Tashard Choice, RB Deep-Sleeper: Jon Kitna, QB Overvalued: Miles Austin, WR Top Rookie: DeMarco Murray, RB Bounce-Back: Tony Romo, QB Top IDP: DeMarcus Ware, LB
• Try to Avoid
BACKUP TIGHT END
Jason Witten hasn’t missed a start since 2006, and in the last four seasons, the backups have combined for 957 yards and eight scores. Witten does that in a season. Martellus Bennett is not worth a look. WAIT UNTIL: never
• Draft Class Fantasy Impact
Protecting Tony Romo from another season-ending injury is crucial, which is why Dallas had to select Tyron Smith at No. 9 overall. Smith can play on either side of the line, which should provide some stability to a group that allowed 31 sacks last season. The Cowboys’ running back corps has been difficult to pin down from a fantasy perspective, and the addition of Murray only adds to the uncertainty. Murray is an explosive player, but how the carries will sort out as the season unfolds is a huge question mark.