Washington (3-5) at Minnesota (1-7)
The Vikings are reeling this season and playing at home, where they are 1-3, hasn’t been much help.
The Vikings could be without seven of their opening day starters when they take on Washington in a shortened week. They could be without two starting offensive linemen, meaning a shakeup in the group. Starting tight end Kyle Rudolph has been ruled out, leaving quarterback Christian Ponder without his safety blanket.
With so many injuries to an already poor defense, the team will also have problems containing Robert Griffin III and a team that has won two of its past three games.
Philadelphia (4-5) at Green Bay (5-3)
Nick Foles threw seven touchdown passes against the Raiders. He had more touchdowns than incomplete passes (six). He’s played well when given the opportunity and it looks like he will stick as the starter.
The Packers are decimated by injury. Aaron Rodgers is the team’s best player and leader and without him at quarterback this will be a tough task to overcome.
Jacksonville (0-8) at Tennessee (4-4)
Chris Johnson started the season with some promise, rushing for over 90 yards in the second and third games of the season. It’s been a long line of low-production games since, though. From weeks four through seven he never rushed for more than 39 yards and had a total of two touchdowns.
It looks like a week off was just what Johnson needed. Against the Rams last week Johnson ran for 150 yards and two touchdowns on the way to victory.
Jacksonville is winless. They have showed zero offensive firepower. They just lost Justin Blackmon again.
Look for Johnson to have another strong day running as the Titans take the lead and look to run out the clock.
Buffalo (3-6) at Pittsburgh (2-6)
The Steelers are in the midst of a very rough season, and their defense as of late is not the same group that has been one of the best in the league in recent years. Dick Lebeau didn’t forget how to coach, however, and guys like Troy Polamalu, Brett Keisel, LeMarr Woodley, and Ryan Clarke didn’t just become terrible players. They still have something left in the tank and they’ve showed it this season, like when they beat the Jets 19-6 earlier this season.
In fact, Pittsburgh is 16-2 against rookie quarterbacks since 2004. The Bills are expected to start rookie E.J. Manuel after missing a few games due to injury. If he can’t go it will be undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel. The Steelers defense is experienced and should be able to get either quarterback to make some key mistakes.
Oakland (3-5) at New York Giants (2-6)
The Raiders got embarrassed last weekend while the Giants, coming off a bye week, have won two games in a row.
Since Tom Coughlin took over the Giants tend to fare better in the second half of the year than they do the first half. The running game is starting to get healthier, while Peyton Hillis has done a solid job of holding down the fort.
Also, traditionally west coast teams do not fare well coming to the east coast for 1 p.m. ET games.
New York Giants win.
St. Louis (3-6) at Indianapolis (6-2)
The Rams have lost three in a row and despite the emergence of running back Zac Stacey, still have trouble moving the football and scoring.
The Colts are on a two-game winning streak, are 3-1 at home, and have beaten top teams in the Broncos, Seahawks and 49ers.
Seattle (8-1) at Atlanta (2-6)
It may seem crazy to go against a team with only one loss and on a four game winning streak, but there’s just a gut feeling about the Falcons in this game.
First of all, Seattle isn’t at home where they are indeed stronger than on the road. Their only loss on the season is on the road. But Seattle hasn’t been dominant lately. Yes, wins are most important and getting ugly wins where you didn’t play your best is the sign of a good team. I’m not arguing that Seattle isn’t a good team, because they are. I’m saying they are vulnerable.
In three of their past four games, the Seahawks beat the Titans (at home), Rams, and winless-Buccaneers (at home) by seven points or less. They were down 21-0 and needed overtime to beat the Buccaneers at home last weekend. Again, they showed great fight and resiliency and won, but they are vulnerable.
The Falcons just seem due. Despite Matt Ryan’s 10 interceptions this season, in Atlanta’s four home games (where the team is 2-2), he has thrown nine touchdowns and only one interception.
The team is slowly getting healthier. Steven Jackson played in his second consecutive game last week and went from 11 carries for six yards in Week 8 to 13 carries for 57 yards in Week 9.
Roddy White is still a wait and see, but if they can get him on the field it will add to the Falcons offense, even if he isn’t 100 percent.
Cincinnati (6-3) at Baltimore (3-5)
Neither team is very consistent this season, but at least one has more wins than it does losses.
The Bengals were sloppy last week, but their defense wasn’t terrible. Cincinnati is actually 11th in the league in passing yards allowed per game and 10th in rushing yards allowed per game. The Bengals also haven’t lost twice in a row this season.
Meanwhile, the defending champions have lost three games in a row. Joe Flacco only has 10 touchdowns compared to nine interceptions this season. Ray Rice has fewer than 100 attempts rushing in seven games this season, has only 259 yards, 2.7 yards per carry and only three touchdowns. This year has been about underachieving, to say the least.
Detroit (5-3) at Chicago (5-3)
The Bears are 3-1 at home this season and look like they are in good shape at the quarterback position. Jay Cutler has been cleared to play, but Josh McCown has been impressive in two games in relief, throwing for 476 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions.
The Lions are 26th in the league in passing yards allowed per game. They have also been very inconsistent lately, not winning consecutive games since Weeks 3 and 4. This could be a tough one on the road.
Carolina (5-3) at San Francisco (6-2)
After a 1-3 start, the Panthers have turned their season around, winning their past four games. They run into a team who has been down a similar path in the 49ers. Starting 1-2, San Francisco has won five straight games.
Both teams have been scoring a lot of points lately and both run the ball very well. In an evenly matched game, one that could be game of the week, it feels right to favor the home team and defending NFC champions.
San Francisco wins.
Houston (2-6) at Arizona (4-4)
The Cardinals went into their bye week with some momentum, beating the Atlanta Falcons by two touchdowns two weeks ago.
They are 3-1 at home this season. Going back to 2010, the Cardinals have a .500 or better record at home including a 6-2 record in 2011.
The Texans couldn’t hold up against the Colts last week and are not at 100 percent. Arian Foster left last week’s game injured and head coach Gary Kubiak collapsed on the field.
Houston could galvanize around their coach’s health scare, but this is just a team that’s maybe been through too much lately.
Denver (7-1) at San Diego (4-4)
The Broncos may be without their head coach, but having Peyton Manning on the field is like having a second coach out there with you.
Coming off the bye week, the team gets some much needed rest as they were getting a bit banged up, Manning included. The Chargers lost in overtime to the Redskins last weekend in overtime and they really have been one of the most, if not the most, impressive teams in the league this season.
It’s tough to go against them in their current form.
Dallas (5-4) at New Orleans (6-2)
Both of the Saints only losses came on the road this season. This team is very good playing at home.
The Cowboys are 31st in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game. While Tony Romo has played well, Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham are one of the best combos in the league.
New Orleans wins.
Miami (4-4) at Tampa Bay (0-8)
This game will have a huge spotlight on it, but for all the wrong reasons.
The Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin bullying situation has spiraled into a media disaster. Don’t forget that the Buccaneers locker room has been a disaster all season as well, going back to the situation with Josh Freeman. Both Florida teams have showed more than questionable judgment.
Referring to the leaked voicemail, Incognito is wrong for what he said. And if Martin felt unsafe and uncomfortable at work and it is Incognito’s fault, then you shouldn’t make someone feel that way.
The Dolphins locker room seems to be standing together and supporting Incognito, however. As backwards as it seems, the thing that I see is that maybe this won’t be as big a distraction carrying over to the field as people expect.
They have a good chance of victory against a winless Buccaneers team.
Bye Week: Cleveland, Kansas City, New England, New York Jets
Last Week: 7-6
Colin Kaepernick: AP Photo/Matt Dunham