Washington Redskins at Carolina Panthers
Mike Shanahan is well-known for the joy he seems to take in hauling a hobo off the streets, telling him to run very far and very fast with a football, and making him into a Pro Bowler. But it’s not just the backfield where Shanahan has an itchy trigger finger. Dating back to his time with the Raiders in the late 80′s Shanahan’s quarterbacks have historically had one eye down the field, and the other glancing over their shoulder.
Seattle Seahawks at Cleveland Browns
Former college teammates clash nearly every week in the NFL, but it’s not often that a safety faces the same quarterback who launched his college career during spring practice.
Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions
Ford Field has been an ear-splitting place this season, which is a pleasant turnaround from its status as one of the NFL’s most depressing home fields for one of the NFL’s most depressing teams. Through three home games the deafening Ford Field crowd has already drawn 15 false start penalties by the opposition, putting them on pace to shatter the record of 32 set by Colts fans in 1999.
Denver Broncos at Miami Dolphins
Playing at home is supposed to be a warm, comforting, and inviting experience. When your home field holds what will basically become Tim Tebow Day as a marketing ploy that, to the surprise of no one, has worked quite well during the same day that Tebow is making his first start of 2011, that nice fuzzy home field feeling evaporates pretty quickly.
The presence of Tebow and the large percentage of Gator fans among the 75,000 or so expected to occupy Sun Life Stadium today in South Beach greatly increases the Dolphins’ odds of becoming historically pathetic at home. With a loss today the Dolphins will be 1-12 in their last 13 home games, which equals the franchise’s home loss total for an entire decade–the 70′s, when including the playoffs it took Don Shula’s Dolphins 77 games to lose 13 at home.
San Diego Chargers at New York Jets
There’s a simple and surprisingly logical explanation for Rex Ryan’s latest round of stupidity, this time directed at Chargers head coach Norv Turner earlier this week, and Ryan’s brother Rob laid it out rather beautifully. Rex has ring envy, and Turner became an innocent bystander in a sibling/parental rivalry.
Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
As the league looks to expand its London series and continue to tap into a lucrative and growing overseas market, the Bucs have repeatedly surfaced as the logical candidate to become London’s “home” team. But if the strategy is to grow a fan base for a specific team in England which will in turn grow the game, then the rich history of the Bears could be very appealing too.
The Brits will be devastated when they learn that they can’t cheer wildly for crowd favorite Gerald McCoy since he’s been ruled out. They’ll also be disappointed to learn that Tebow doesn’t play for either team involved in today’s game.
Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans
Matt Schaub’s completion percentage this season is a serviceable 59.2, but that’s still below his lowest career percentage (63.6). He’s been sacked 13 times, and hurried or pressured many more, an equation that’s led to a litany of nagging injuries over the past two weeks. He needs better protection, and he needs it now before Houston becomes the next team to start a backup quarterback.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Arizona Cardinals
Over his past 21 games dating back to the beginning to 2010, Larry Fitzgerald has scored only eight touchdowns, a sagging total that can be attributed largely to the Cardinals’ QB catastrophe last season. But after scoring 13 times in 2009 alone Fitz still isn’t finding much room despite the addition of Kevin Kolb.
Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders
The Chiefs have finally developed a plan for their backfield after a committee approach following Jamaal Charles’ season-ending injury. That plan involves heavy doses of Jackie Battle, the fourth-year player who ran for a career-high 119 yards on 19 carries two weeks ago prior to Kansas City’s bye.
Featuring one player at a key position reportedly isn’t the plan for the Raiders, who will likely start Kyle Boller today and give Carson Palmer more time to adjust to his first NFL team that’s not being ruined by Mike Brown. But we could get a Terrelle Pryor sighting too.
St. Louis Rams at Dallas Cowboys
Due to either injuries or ineffectiveness there are six teams starting quarterbacks today who were backups a week ago. The Rams fall under the former category with A.J. Feeley, who hasn’t started a game since 2007, but he does have a win against the Cowboys way back in 2002 on his record.
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
If you woke up this morning and saw a small puddle of drool on the kitchen floor, it wasn’t your dog. It was Jared Allen, the league-leader in sacks who’s leaving his saliva everywhere because he’s facing Marshall Newhouse today, a second-year tackle making only his fourth career start.
Indianapolis Colts at New Orleans Saints
Joseph Addai will likely play after being a full participant in practice on Friday. Unless Johnny Unitas makes a surprise appearance there probably won’t be much reason to continue watching this game past halftime. We’ll all still watch though, and somehow another prime-time stinker will get higher ratings than Game 4 of the World Series.