Time (TV): Monday, 8:40 p.m. (ESPN).
Line: Seattle by 4.
Notable: With Thanksgiving behind us, it’s time to shift from Feast Mode to Beast Mode. When last seen against the Saints, Marshawn Lynch was posting one of the great highlights in recent memory, a tackle-shredding, 67-yard touchdown run that helped seal Seattle’s upset win in the 2010 playoffs. Lynch is still truckin’ fools, so the Seahawks’ rushing offense is in good hands, but should the team be worried about its passing defense? That unit is ranked second in the NFL. But it will be facing the No. 2 passing offense without suspended cornerback Walter Thurmond, who had been playing a fill-in role. Then there’s the fact Drew Brees is one bad “MNF”-er, having won nine straight on “Monday Night Football.” However, Seahawks counterpart Russell Wilson has yet to lose a home game, going 13-0 at CenturyLink Field with a 117.0 rating.
Fantasy scout: With the fantasy playoffs right around the corner (or beginning this week in some cases), it’s time for owners to look at their benches and consider jettisoning players who might have been useful as bye-week starters or potential trade bait. In their places, it makes sense to consolidate teams’ strengths, especially by adding handcuffs. For example, Mark Ingram should be an attractive add for owners relying on New Orleans’s Pierre Thomas as an RB2. Ingram has looked good in limited action, is available in 75% of Yahoo leagues and would get most of the carries (if not the receptions) that Thomas currently gets were the latter to go down.
Time (TV): 1 p.m., Ch. 5, 45 (Fox).
Line: Philadelphia by 3.
Notable: These teams are probably sad to see November end, considering they have to get serious about shopping for Christmas presents. Oh, and they went a combined 6-0 in that month, delightful rides that delivered both into serious playoff contention. Not coincidentally, Cardinals QB Carson Palmer has stopped giving so many gifts to the opposition; he had just one interception in November.
Fantasy scout: Eagles Coach Chip Kelly didn’t blow anyone’s mind by naming Nick Foles as his starter for the rest of the season, but he at least put all the Foles owners’ minds at ease about Philly’s QB situation. Now those owners can do themselves a favor and get a lock on that points-producing spot by picking up Michael Vick.
Time (TV): 1 p.m., Ch. 9 (CBS).
Line: New York by 2.
Notable: How about a little game of good news/bad news, Miami-style? Good news: Miami still is in the hunt for the last AFC playoff berth. Bad news: It’s in the back of a six-pack of 5-6 teams vying for that spot. Good news: The Jets are another of those 5-6 squads, so the Dolphins have a chance to swat them out of the way. Bad news: New York’s past two home games have been wins over the Patriots and Saints.
Fantasy scout: The Jets might have the least fantasy-friendly offense in the NFL. Even the Jaguars, by comparison, have a couple of kingpins in Maurice Jones-Drew and Cecil Shorts III. But New York’s RBs have offered up some decent outings — when they get the ball enough — so with Chris Ivory again injured, Bilal Powell could regain relevance.
Time (TV): 4:25 p.m., Ch. 9, 13 (CBS).
Line: Denver by 5.
Notable: Rocking a combined 17-1 record and credible claims to being the AFC’s best team, Kansas City and Denver swaggered into their first showdown two weeks ago. It’s fair to say there’s a little more staggering this time as both squads suffered painful losses in Week 12. The Chiefs’ defense needs to get its act back together because, unlike Peyton Manning’s last opponent, it won’t have frigid weather on its side.
Fantasy scout: In many leagues, Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball are owned by different people, and C.J. Anderson should be of interest to both. Moreno has a gimpy ankle, and Ball has a gimpy ability to hold on to NFL footballs, so Denver may increasingly turn to Anderson, an undrafted rookie who has averaged 5.4 yards on seven carries.
Time: 1 p.m.
Line: Carolina by 7.
Notable: Carolina has run its winning streak to seven and gets a home date against a squad with three victories, but there are a couple of reasons to think this might not go the Panthers’ way. One is that Tampa Bay’s three wins have come in its past three games, so it is legitimately playing well. Also, the first four wins in Carolina’s streak came by an average score of 32.5-12, whereas over the past three, the average score has been 18-15.
Fantasy scout: Tim Wright has been mentioned in this space before, but he may have been left for dead after catching one pass in each of Weeks 10 and 11. In Week 12, however, the Buc bounced back with eight catches for 78 yards. If you’re in dire straits at TE, you could do worse than an athletic specimen with no in-house competition at his position.
Time: 1 p.m.
Line: New England by 7.
Notable: Houston’s season has gone from bad to worse to essentially over, but don’t blame any of that on J.J. Watt. The third-year lineman has more than proved that last year’s AP defensive player of the year campaign was no fluke. Just to use one example of his dominance, among defensive ends in the 3-4 scheme, Pro Football Focus gives Watt a grade of 83.4. The next guy on that list grades out at 27.9.
Fantasy scout: I wouldn’t advise wading into the Patriots’ RB situation without at least two pairs of galoshes on. These are the murkiest of waters, people. But Bill Belichick finally may have had enough of the fumbling by Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount, so Brandon Bolden could get pulled from the swamp with a chance to romp.
Time: 1 p.m.
Line: Cleveland by 7.
Notable: Remember when Cleveland was 3-2? Such a happy period. Also, it was a lot warmer then. Now the numbers 3 and 2, in terms of the Browns, refer to how many times this season the team has asked Brandon Weeden to start games for them (three) and how many minutes Weeden has to show Cleveland fans something before they start booing (two and even that might be generous).
Fantasy scout: The Jaguars have sort of gotten their act together recently, winning two of their past three games, and if you’ve stuck (or been stuck) with Maurice Jones-Drew this far, you’ve sort of reaped the rewards. As such, you may as well grab Jordan Todman and lock up that Jacksonville RB spot. How’s that for a sales pitch?
Time: 1 p.m.
Line: Indianapolis by 3.
Notable: Jim Irsay, as he is wont to do, took to Twitter this week, this time to call out his mercurial Colts. “We gotta get our heads out of r butts,” Irsay tweeted in his usual, artful way. Hey, Nene made a similar comment about his Wizards when they were struggling recently, and now they’re playing much better, so maybe Irsay’s on to something. Or maybe he’s just a lunatic. Oh, let’s just say he’s probably both.
Fantasy scout: When Shonn Greene returned from injury, the Titans’ coaching staff talked about giving him the ball, and indeed, he had nine carries in both Week 9 and Week 10. However, he had only nine carries total in Weeks 11 and 12, indicating his only value going forward will be as a boring handcuff to Chris Johnson.
Time: 1 p.m.
Line: Minnesota by 1.
Notable: That licking sound you hear is coming from Adrian Peterson’s chops. (Unless it’s coming from your dog, in which case, don’t look.) Fresh off a 146-yard performance against Green Bay, he gets another NFC North nemesis, and this one happens to rank last in rushing defense. Peterson has missed practices this week with a groin injury, but he is not only expected to play, he is expected by many to go ballistic.
Fantasy scout: To judge from its 87 percent ownership in Yahoo leagues, a lot of folks haven’t gotten the memo that the Bears’ defense is not the “Bears’ defense” this season. Yes, this version has scored some TDs, but it has been racked by injuries and, as noted above, routinely gets lit up by opposing rushers. You can do better.
Time: 4:05 p.m.
Line: Buffalo by 3.
Notable: Atlanta could use some good luck for a change, and it gets a bit of it this week. The team is 0-5 on the road this year, but instead of being a dome team visiting wintry Buffalo — forecasts call for snow, wind and temperatures in the 20s — it gets to play the Bills in the cozy indoors at Toronto’s Rogers Centre. Now the team just has to do something about its own habit of being ice-cold away from home. Or anywhere, really.
Fantasy scout: Now would be a very, very good time for C.J. Spiller to reward his fantasy owners’ patience — or what’s left of it. The Bills RB has been decidedly bum-like this year, but he has had a bye week to recover from an ankle injury and could be a big factor in the fantasy playoffs as he faces mostly poor run defenses.
Time: 4:05 p.m.
Line: San Francisco by 8.
Notable: The Kaepernick Era began when St. Louis visited San Francisco last year and knocked out Alex Smith, so he owes the Rams big (as do this year’s Chiefs). But the 49ers QB probably won’t be inclined to do his divisional rival any favors, not when his team is clinging to the NFC’s final playoff spot. Michael Crabtree is set to do Kaepernick a solid and take the field for the first time this season.
Fantasy scout: As I’ve spelled out elsewhere, the Bears can stop the run about as well as Miley Cyrus can stop . . . well, she just can’t stop, can she? And she won’t stop. Party on, Miley! Anyway, Benny Cunningham’s big game against Chicago in relief of Zac Stacy should be taken with a grain or two of salt, but he should be on Stacy owners’ rosters.
Time: 4:25 p.m.
Line: San Diego by 1.
Notable: This is a pretty interesting matchup that, unfortunately, won’t be seen by the TV viewers closest to where it will be played. That’s because it will be blacked out locally after ticket sales fell short. Nevertheless, after their enthralling (at least to most non-San Diegans) win last week at Kansas City, the Chargers — and, of course, the Bengals — have plenty to play for, if not quite enough people to play in front of.
Fantasy scout: Cedric Peerman is not exactly Giovani Bernard’s handcuff, because BenJarvus Green-Ellis would stand to benefit the most if Bernard went down. However, Peerman’s skill set resembles Bernard’s, so he would figure to step into something like the latter’s current role, especially in terms of catching passes.