New York Jets at Buffalo Bills
The Bills shocked the Patriots during their first divisional test back in Week 3, but history isn’t on their side today with the Jets in town. Since the defensive-minded Rex Ryan was hired to yell obscenities on the Jets sideline in 2009, the Bills have scored only four offensive touchdowns against New York while averaging 114 net passing yards per game and completing just 43 percent of their pass attempts.
Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys
Including the Seahawks today, the Cowboys’ next five opponents are a combined 11-24, and three of those games are at home. That will likely lead to at least four wins, and it’ll put us all through the pain of having to endure self-aggrandizing Cowboys fans asking us to come quickly and see how good they look.
The reality they won’t acknowledge, though, is that these next five games will likely mask glaring and crushing weaknesses, and they’ll create a fraud.
Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans
Colt McCoy will make his 16th NFL start today, meaning that in a few hours he will have played a full season as the Browns’ pivot, albeit a disjointed one under two head coaches and two offensive schemes. Regardless, it’s a fair time to ask grand sweeping questions about McCoy’s future in the league, and the Browns’ future at the quarterback position.
Bud Shaw of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer pondered those questions, and concluded that McCoy might have the potential to be Alex Smith.
Atlanta Falcons at Indianapolis Colts
Sucking for Luck is about more than just sucking. As a fan there’s a scheme and strategy involved, and picking the right teams to support each week is vital. That’s why 18 t0 88 is now analyzing the teams that Colts fans should be backing to ensure their next quarterback is named Luck.
Miami Dolphins at Kansas City Chiefs
Dolphins rookie running back Daniel Thomas has been highly effective when healthy, with 302 yards on the ground in just four games this year. The problem is that last part, and the fact that he’s only been able to play in four games due to various injuries.
Thomas was listed as questionable with a hamstring injury this week, but it’s looking like he’ll be in the lineup today. However, his carries may be limited due to both his injury, and Reggie Bush’s hot hand after he logged his first 100-yard game since 2008 last week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints
The Interwebs are clogged with columns outlining keys to each game from the 17 beat writers covering every team. Sometimes those talking points are remarkably simple, yet still incredibly important. Like, say, when Roy Cummings of the Tampa Bay Trbune recommends that the Bucs start catching the ball a little more instead of making Josh Freeman look bad with their 15 drops.
Freeman is doing a fine job of looking bad all by himself, but he doesn’t need to be plagued by young receivers playing like young receivers. Five of those drops have bounced off the fingertips of Mike Williams, the second-year wideout who’s going through a significant sophomore slump after being a Rookie of the Year candidate last year.
San Francisco 49ers at Washington Redskins
An injury-depleted Redskins offense holds on to a bit of hope with the news that Fred Davis’ ankle injury isn’t severe enough to keep him off the field today.
Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders
Let’s imagine that you were just away on a busy business trip for two weeks, and you need to catch up on the NFL’s main story lines before today’s games quickly. You hear that Tim Tebow is preparing to make his third start of the season, and you’re naturally curious about how the first two went.
Here’s all you need to know: his potential for success in the CFL is already being evaluated.
Cincinnati Bengals at Tennessee Titans
Chris Johnson has played one game against Cincinnati. It was the third game of his career in 2008, and he ran for 109 yards while averaging 5.7 yards per carry.
We mention this useless, irrelevant stat only as a means to provide some shred of hope. This is what it’s come to for Johnson in 2011, and grasping at stray straws from a long-forgotten game three years ago is all we have.
Earlier this week we wondered if Johnson could be meeting the end already, saying that it’s not longer outlandish to put his name in the same sentence as other running backs in recent memory that abruptly crumbled. If his dismal play continues would you really be that surprised if the Titans cut Johnson next March?
St. Louis Rams at Arizona Cardinals
Sam Bradford is still a game-time decision, with the Rams uneasy about his mobility behind a poor offensive line. During what’s become a lost season in St. Louis there’s no reason to rush him back, especially when a game plan similar to the ground and pound that beat New Orleans should get the job done again today against Arizona.
New York Giants at New England Patriots
There was a time three short years ago when Brandon Jacobs was an imposing monster in the Giants’ backfield, with his 4.4 speed lethal when coupled with his 6’4″, 264 pound frame. Between 2007 and 2008 he put together back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons, and had 21 total touchdowns.
Now he’s a backup and an injury-prone liability who’s often angry, either at the Giants organization or at the world in general. With just two 100-yard performances in his last 36 games he’s almost guaranteed to be cut this offseason, and the demand for a 29-year-old running back with attitude and injury problems is minimal. So when Jacobs replaces the injured Ahmad Bradshaw today in New York’s backfield, we may be watching his last attempt to salvage his career.
On the other sideline it’s looking like Wes Welker will be in full uniform and ready to catch a football repeatedly, not that there was ever much doubt about his status after a neck injury last week.
Green Bay Packers at San Diego Chargers
Chargers backup tight end Randy McMichael earned serious creativity points Friday with his response to the notion that Philip Rivers is struggling:
“If you take them to a toy store every Friday and every once in awhile you don’t take them to that toy store, they always think something is wrong.”
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
James Harrison will make his return tonight, but a Steelers defense that was torched by Ray Rice in Week 1 will be playing without LaMarr Woodley.