RGII returns. The Ravens and Steelers battle in a key AFC North battle. The Cowboys and Cardinals stake their claims for NFC supremacy. And, in the Sunday afternoon CBS featured game, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning square off for the 16th time. Let’s analyze the matchups….
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (4-2-1)
The Bengals expect superstar receiver A.J. Green to return from a toe injury after missing the three previous games.
This is good news for the Bengals and bad news for the Jaguars, especially since they are banged up at cornerback. They put starter Alan Ball on injured reserve with a biceps injury, and key reserve Will Blackmon sits out this game with a finger injury.
The Bengals haven’t lost a home game since 2012, and don’t expect that streak to end, especially against a rookie quarterback (Blake Bortles) on the road (rookie QBs generally struggle away from home).
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-6) at Cleveland Brown (4-3)
Why are the Buccaneers so bad?
Well, they rank 32nd in the NFL on both offense and defense. That pretty much explains it.
And their anemic offense has another problem this week—an injury sidelines their starting left tackle, Anthony Collins.
Expect a seventh loss for Tampa Bay.
Arizona Cardinals (6-1) at Dallas Cowboys (6-2)
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is questionable with a back injury.
He’s such a gamer that he will likely take a Toradol injection and play.
The NFL’s leading rusher, DeMarco Murray, against the NFL’s #3 rush defense presents a great matchup in this tilt. If Romo can play, he can exploit the NFL’s 32nd-ranked secondary with two starters coming off concussions—CB Patrick Peterson and S Tony Jefferson.
Dallas should be able to win this battle of first-place teams if Romo plays.
Philadelphia Eagles (5-2) at Houston Texans (4-4)
Last year playing in 13 starts (10 starts), Eagles quarterback Nick Foles threw just two interceptions. This year, in seven games, he’s tossed nine. He’s also lost three fumbles.
He better be careful this week facing one of the NFL’s best players at creating turnovers, Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, who has 24 QB hits this year.
If the Eagles can protect Foles, their sixth-ranked pass offense should be able to get a lot done through the air against the NFL’s 28th-ranked pass defense.
This game could go either way.
New York Jets (1-7) at Kansas City Chiefs (4-3)
Looking to add some juice to their moribund offense, featuring the NFL’s 32nd-ranked passing attack, the Jets will start veteran Mike Vick at quarterback. Even at 34, Vick still possesses a howitzer arm and world-class speed. It remains to be seen if he can stay healthy, a problem in recent years.
Vick faces quite a challenge against the NFL’s top pass defense. However, this pass defense will be without two corners, starter Jamell Fleming (hamstring) and key reserve Chris Owens (knee).
While the Jets went to Vick too late to save their season, they should be more competitive with him under center and should be able to keep this game close.
Written by DAN LEBERFELD
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