Today’s schedule, due to bye weeks and the random draw of the schedule, features no matchups between two teams with winning records (The Bears and Packers play tomorrow night). That means the opportunity for upsets, or for the status quo to march on as we hit the middle of the season.
It also means that the “best” matchup is in the New York, by record, as the 4-4 Jets host the Saints. Of course, the Jets are coming off an embarrassing effort on the road where the secondary was torched and the offense did little. The Saints will be without Marques Colston, meaning other receivers on the roster will have to take advantage of the Jets in coverage. The front for New York getting pressure on Brees likely decides whether the Jets can pull the upset.
Five other matchups take place in the early games:
Kansas City at Buffalo: The Chiefs get Jeff Tuel this week as the Bills still won’t have E.J. Manuel back, and Thad Lewis is also out. Kansas City has now played Tuel, Campbell, and Keenum in the last three weeks. They gave up too many yards to the other two. Tuel looked overmatched in his other appearance and can expect lots of pressure. This game likely requires an Under for the Bills to win. That means Mario Williams wreaking havoc up front.
San Diego at Washington: Role reversal, part I, as the Chargers come in as the favorite on the road, as the Redskins continue to underwhelm.
Atlanta at Carolina: Role reversal, part II, as the Panthers are on the ascension, while the division winners from a year earlier are likely in need of a big road upset to have any hope.
Dallas at Minnesota: DeMarco Murray is back in the lineup today. The Vikings will be starting Christian Ponder. Dallas’ defense is vulnerable, but it is probably not the passing game to expose that. Adrian Peterson will be looking for big plays to spark the upset. Romo should be salivating after watching recent game film of the Vikings’ secondary.
Tennessee at St. Louis: The Rams had opportunities but could not execute in the red zone against the Seahawks. Kellen Clemens missed throws. Expect the Titans to play aggressive pressure defense and force Clemens to hit them this week. This could be a game that produces big plays because both sides will look to pressure the quarterback, both for the offense, and for the defense getting turnovers.