Arizona Cardinals at Baltimore Ravens
The concern about Joe Flacco and his regression is already at threat level orange, and it’ll continue to grow if he can’t consistently move the Ravens’ offense forward today against a talented but inexperienced Arizona secondary. His current completion percentage (52.1), is well below his career average, which could partly be the product of increased pressure due to a weak left side of Baltimore’s offensive line.
Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers
A few weeks ago this would have been a quarterback matchup pitting the old guard against the new era, and a dinosaur against some strange, dominant jungle creature who quickly silenced the doubters. Now there’s another rookie first-round quarterback opposite Cam Newton today, and in just one start he’s already drastically altered Minnesota’s offensive approach.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans
The Texans have three members of the 2008 Arizona Cardinals in their locker room, a team that barely made the playoffs in a weak division and then started a surprise run to the Super Bowl on the strength of Kurt Warner’s arm. All three are feeling deja vu all over again.
Miami Dolphins at New York Giants
In an exclusive interview with Dan Hyde of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel this week, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross admitted that he needs sleep medication to get his billionaire beauty rest after his team losses. Before the labor agreement was resolved the list of potential lockout casualties was long and random, but now we can add pharmaceutical companies.
New Orleans Saints at St. Louis Rams
Always known for their habit of spreading the ball around, the Saints have seven players with at least 200 receiving yards, while no other team has more than five.
Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans
The Colts continue to be involved in historic feats of awfulness this year, and the latest will come this afternoon when they team up with Tennessee to play the first game since 1986 between two teams that lost by at least 34 points the previous week.
Washington Redskins at Buffalo Bills
The Toronto market has always been viewed as a lucrative and appealing destination for a Bills franchise trying to maintain financial footing in Buffalo. This year’s Bills Toronto Series game was pushed back to a 4:05 p.m. ET kickoff to enhance fan
intoxication enjoyment. More pre-game festivities have been added, leading to an event that wraps around the Rogers Centre and started five hours before kickoff.
But for the first time in the history of the series, what happens inside the stadium matters to the Bills and their playoff aspirations, making a neutral site game in front of NFL fans–not Bills fans–far less than ideal.
Detroit Lions at Denver Broncos
The poor protection Jay Cutler receives from the Bears’ offensive line is the first example we reach for when discussing a quarterback who’s being restricted from reaching his potential due to constant blows. Tim Tebow has taken a beating in his first four career starts too, but it’s been worse, and it isn’t solely the result of poor protection.
Tebow’s mobility is both his greatest strength and his greatest weakness, and his inability to remain in the pocket has led to a sack once in every 10 passing attempts. Cutler’s pace is once in every 12 attempts.
Good luck against Ndamukong Suh today, Tim.
On the other sideline Matthew Stafford has reportedly confirmed that he’ll be playing today.
New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers
We have good news for Mike Wallace fantasy owners, and bad news for everyone else who doesn’t play in the world of football make belief. When he didn’t practice all week it was expected that Hines Ward wouldn’t be able to play, and those expectations were confirmed this morning along with word that linebacker James Farrior will also be out.
While the loss of Ward’s possession skills will hurt, the Steelers add speed with Emmanuel Sanders likely sliding in to replace Ward. Wide receiver is a deep position in Pittsburgh, and with Ward out they’ll still have no problem exploiting the league’s worst secondary that’s playing its first game after cutting Leigh Bodden, and with rookie starter Ras I-Dowling now on the IR.
When Bodden was cut Friday we wrote that it’s hard to fake being confused about a Bill Belichick move, only because confusion implies an element of surprise, and nothing is surprising any more about Belichick’s abrupt dealings with veterans. We can still heavily question his judgment, though, and we’ll all get a crack at that today when Ben Roethlisberger and Wallace absolutely torch a secondary that’s now solely comprised of struggling and/or inexperienced young players.
Cincinnati Bengals at Seattle Seahawks
The Bengals have found their sacred Nostradamus, and his name is Ron Jaworski, the ESPN analyst who’s correctly predicted every Cincinnati win so far this season. This natural skill is only a few rungs above stupid dog tricks in terms of its usefulness.
Cleveland Browns at San Francisco 49ers
They need to tighten up against the run, but the fourth-ranked Browns defense is still the lone bright spot on a team that’s a fake 3-3. If the NFL’s newest captain check-down—a.k.a Colt McCoy–could muster some consistency on the other side of the ball, maybe we’d all start to take this team a little more seriously.
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles
As exciting and historic as DeMarco Murray’s 253 yard day was last week, Dallas’ decision to cut Tashard Choice puts a massive burden on the rookie’s shoulders, and is an unnecessary risk.