What to watch: Mannings, Vikings, Westbrook 

December, 24, 2009
I know people who spend more time staring at their computers on a football Sunday than enjoying the action on the television, and not just during their fantasy football championship matchups, but every week. Hey, to each his own, I suppose, but I think you need to love the game of football to thrive at fantasy football, and this is a huge weekend for big games. That doesn't mean I don't (or won't) check the status of my fantasy matchups, but my point here is you should be sure to enjoy the games themselves.

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 Benson</a) could deliver his best game of the season, if the way the Chiefs defended Jerome 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.