With attention spans dwindling, we forgo full game-by-game previews to give you the essentials you need to know about every contest this glorious NFL weekend. Click here to go back in time. The 1s
NY Jets (4-3) at Buffalo (5-2): It's the first meeting of the year for the AFC East rivals, and despite last week's results (the Bills lost to the Dolphins; the Jets squeaked by the Chiefs), these two teams are seemingly headed in opposite directions. Brett Favre suddenly looks like a liability under center in New York while Trent Edwards has come into his own in Buffalo after barely a year on the job. But maybe there's nothing to worry about if you're a Jets fan since head coach Eric Mangini has politely asked Favre to quit throwing interceptions.
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Detroit (0-7) at Chicago (4-3): Are the Bears the best team in the NFC North? No idea, but that won't matter come Sunday. You see, the Lions are arguably the worst outfit in the league, and unless Dan Orlovsky has suddenly figured out how to play quarterback, Chicago should win going way. In fact, we might even have a Rex Grossman sighting during mop-up time.
Jacksonville (3-4) at Cincinnati (0-8): I understand that the Jags have had a rash of injuries, but there's no way they're a 3-4 team. Well, other than the fact that they've won three times and lost four. But on paper, they're awesome. Whatever, that won't matter this weekend. The Bengals, despite Chad Javon Ocho Cinco's proclamations, aren't winning eight games this year. In fact, they'll be lucky to win one (set your DVRs! Week 17 Battle for Last Place Bowl: Bengals vs. Chiefs!). So, yeah, like the previous eight, this ain't Carson Palmer's/Ryan Fitzpatrick's/Jordan Palmer's/Drunk Guy in the Stands "Quarterback for a Day" Contest Winner's week. Obviously.
Baltimore (4-3) at Cleveland (3-4): After a glacial start, the Browns are inching their way back into the "Hey, look at us! We're relevant!" conversation. But I don't think the media bobbleheads are falling over themselves to call Cleveland a playoff team like they were, oh, two months ago. The Ravens are still without an offense, although, to be fair, rookie Joe Flacco has the most potential of any quarterback in the organization's history. (Commence "Soft bigotry of low expectations" speech.)
Tampa Bay (5-3) at Kansas City (1-6): It's easy to give up on the Chiefs because they're 1-8 and already on their third quarterback. But despite the record, Kansas City is getting better. Unfortunately, moral victories don't count in the NFL since, as we all know, YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME. And while I wouldn't be completely surprised if the Chiefs pulled the upset against the dullest 5-3 team in the history of mankind, I'm guessing Herm Edwards will somehow find a way to lose. Call it a hunch.
Houston (3-4) at Minnesota (3-4): Here's all you need to know: the Texans have won three straight, are tied for second in the division, and Dave Anderson has mastered the String Dance. The Vikings? They're led by a 37-year-old quarterback while the franchise quarterback is now running the scout team.
Pick: Texans, String Dance
Arizona (4-3) at St. Louis (2-5): It's probably not a compliment, but the Rams are the best 2-5 team in the league. And while the Cardinals are undefeated at home, they're 1-3 on the road. The thing is, even despite St. Louis' embarrassing start, they're in second place in the division with the Seahawks, and more preposterously, there's a decent chance they can win the division. Welcome to the wacky world of the NFC West!
Green Bay (4-3) at Tennessee (7-0): The Titans are coming off a huge Monday night win over the Colts, and the Packers have had the bye week to figure out how slow up the high-powered circus act that is Tennessee's passing game. (Too much?) Actually, the bigger issue for Green Bay is establishing a running game against one of the league's best rush defenses, and then making sure Aaron Rodgers doesn't get broken into little pieces in passing situations. Oh, and stopping Chris Johnson and LenDale White are probably important, too.
Pick: TitansThe 4s
Miami (3-4) at Denver (4-3): Joey Porter might not add to his league-leading sack total, but it won't really matter. Because as long as the Dolphins stop the Broncos on one series, the game's over. Denver, the proud owners of the league's worst defense, might give up 100 points against the Wildcat. I mean, they made Matt Cassel look like only a slightly below-average quarterback and that's damn near impossible. Which means I fully expect Ronnie Brown and Chad Pennington to combine for 10 touchdowns and 700 passing yards.
Dallas (4-3) at NY Giants (6-1): Good news: Brad Johnson will probably be out of the game by the end of the first quarter. A 40-year-old human statue + Giants front seven = short day for Brad. Bad news: Brooks Bollinger is the backup. This is the same dude, by the way, who the Vikings thought so much of that they released him to keep Gus Frerotte, Tarvaris Jackson and John David Booty.
Atlanta (4-3) at Oakland (2-5): You know, I'm starting to think that most of the Falcons' problems can be traced back to Michael Vick, DeAngelo Hall, and Bobby Petrino. All three are no longer with the team and they're 4-3. Weird. The Raiders traded for Hall this offseason and he picked up where he left off in Atlanta. Which is to say: offenses make a point to throw in his direction and have done so with much success. Don't expect that to change Sunday afternoon.
Philadelphia (4-3) at Seattle (2-5): I can't envision a situation where the Seahawks win this game. Not unless Charlie Frye plays ... for the Eagles.
New England (5-2) at Indianapolis (3-4): This ain't the matchup NBC signed up for when the schedule came out last spring; if the Rams are the league's best 2-5 team, the Patriots are the worst 5-2 outfit. Whatever, it's a bigger game for Indy than New England. If the offensive line pass blocks like it did against the Titans on Monday night, the Colts should make handy work of the Pats. Of course, this assumes Vince Wilfork doesn't maim anybody after the whistle. I have faith in the big guy.
Pick: Steelers. Duh.