New York Giants (6-3) at Cincinnati (3-5)
The Giants’ offence has gone into something of a funk and Eli Manning has been off his game the last two weeks. With receiver Hakeem Nicks hobbled, that doesn’t help the equation for New York, which was outplayed and overpowered at home last Sunday by the Steelers, even though the score was only 24-20.
Without Nicks, star slot receiver Victor Cruz is seeing double and even triple coverage.
“We’re still able to find our spots and find our areas where I can get the ball and be effective,” he said. “But I have to work through a lot more traffic to get there.”
Cincinnati has been run over by traffic, dropping four straight.
St. Louis (3-5) at San Francisco (6-2)
Both teams come off byes, with the Rams playing their worst game of the season in their “home” contest against New England in London. They have lost seven of the last eight in this series.
San Francisco has an 11-game home winning streak against the NFC West.
“They’re well-coached,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. “The special teams units are very productive. Their statistics reflect that they’re very productive on both sides of the ball. They tackle well. One thing about this team is they don’t make many mistakes.”
Indeed, the Niners have just nine giveaways, and only Tom Brady has thrown fewer interceptions than Alex Smith’s five.
New York Jets (3-5) at Seattle (5-4)
The Jets also are coming off a bye during which they tried to fix, well, everything. In their last outing, they were awful on offence, defence and special teams in a loss to Miami.
Of special interest here is the relationship between Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and Jets QB Mark Sanchez. When both were at Southern California, Carroll urged Sanchez to return for his senior year, saying he didn’t think Sanchez was ready for the NFL. But Sanchez left — and led the Jets to the AFC title game in his first two seasons after being selected in the first round of the 2009 draft.
Player and coach remain close.
Buffalo (3-5) at New England (5-3)
The final of the four teams coming back from an idle week, the Patriots have to love the Bills being their first opponent. New England has won 17 of the last 18 against the Bills and scored a season-high 52 points in its win at Buffalo on Sept. 30, with touchdowns on six straight second-half possessions. Buffalo ranks 31st in defence, while the Patriots are No. 1 with 32.8 points and 440.8 yards per game.
Brady is 19-2 against the Bills with 49 TD passes.
Tennessee (3-6) at Miami (4-4)
Titans owner Bud Adams put everyone on alert for their jobs after last week’s fiasco against Chicago. Most pressing is finding someone — anyone — who can play some defence. Tennessee has allowed 308 points, historically bad numbers, and ranks 30th in overall D.
Jake Locker will return at quarterback for the Titans, barring a setback to his left, non-throwing shoulder. He missed five games.
Miami hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in 22 consecutive games, but Chris Johnson has run for more than 100 yards both times he has faced the Dolphins.
Detroit (4-4) at Minnesota (5-4)
Teams headed in opposite directions: Minnesota has lost two in a row and three of four as the passing game has disappeared. The Vikings must keep finding ways to get wideout Percy Harvin involved even as QB Christian Ponder struggles. At least they have the league’s top rusher, Adrian Peterson, to be a focal point.
Lately, the Lions have displayed offensive balance, getting strong performances from someone other than Calvin Johnson.
Second-year pros RB Mikel Leshoure and WR Titus Young have been especially effective, and Leshoure became the franchise’s first player since 1934 to run for three touchdowns in a half in last week’s 31-14 win at Jacksonville. He has run for 375 yards in six games since being suspended for the first two weeks of the season.
With reports from the Associated Press