Washington (3-3) at N.Y. Giants (4-2)
Washington went 2-4 in the NFC East a year ago. Both wins came against the Giants, who merely went on to win it all.
These Redskins, sparked by the versatility and excitement Robert Griffin III brought to the nation’s capital, are a better team than the 2011 version. Griffin isn’t the only difference — the defence is eighth against the run and the team is plus-9 in turnover margin — but he is the main reason the Giants must be very careful.
Griffin is liable to do anything, such as run 76 yards for a touchdown, outsprinting Minnesota’s defensive backs to the end zone last Sunday.
“You get a quarterback like Robert, you see what he’s comfortable with,” coach Mike Shanahan said. “And you try to run your offence accordingly. But it’s a learning experience. We’re going to grow with this every week. ... It’s kind of fun to tinker around with a number of things — some things you haven’t done before.”
This is the first division game for Washington; New York is 0-2 in the NFC East.
Detroit (2-3) at Chicago (4-1), Monday night
The Lions might have saved their season with a big rally to win at Philadelphia last week. They might need something similar against a better team at Soldier Field.
Detroit ranks second in yards on offence and Chicago is third in overall defence. If the Lions commit 16 penalties, an NFL high this season, the way they did against the Eagles, the Bears won’t let them hang around.
Chicago was off last week, meaning its peaking defence is locked and loaded.
Several skirmishes broke out the last time these NFC North rivals met, a 37-13 home romp for the Bears.
Green Bay (3-3) at St. Louis (3-3)
This is a solid test to see if the Packers righted themselves with last Sunday night’s victory at Houston. St. Louis is 3-0 at home, with victories over some good teams: Washington, Arizona and Seattle.
“It’s just playing good football,” Packers offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga said. “If we play the way we know we can play, which Sunday was a good picture of that, we can stack these successes. Yeah, we had a good game. But that game’s over. Now it’s time to go out this Sunday and do it again. It’s going to be important to do that, and it’s going to be a challenge.”
St. Louis outplayed Miami on the road last weekend and still fell 17-14.
New Orleans (1-4) at Tampa Bay (2-3)
So let’s see if not losing in two weeks — a comeback win over San Diego followed by a bye — has gotten the Saints back on track. There’s still a ton of noise surrounding them with the bounties scandal, of course, and one of Tampa Bay’s four victories last season came against the Saints. In fact, the Bucs then lost their next 10.
New Orleans seemed headed for that type of season; some of its early-season performances sickened Drew Brees.
“If I wanted to throw up, I would have,” the record-setting quarterback said. “We put those to bed a long time ago. What we’ve seen is we’ve gotten better here. We’ve improved. We still have a long way to go, but it gets you excited about the possibilities and the potential of this offence and this team.”
Cleveland (1-5) at Indianapolis (2-3)
New owner Jimmy Haslam hopes the Browns can build on last Sunday’s victory over Cincinnati, when, he says, they played their best football of the season in the fourth quarter. But the Browns haven’t won two straight in this series since 1988.
As can be expected from a young, rebuilding team, the Colts have been inconsistent. They followed their rousing rally to beat Green Bay with a dud in the Meadowlands against the Jets.
Most intriguing matchup here should be Colts veteran receiver Reggie Wayne, who has been sensational lately, against Cleveland cornerback Joe Haden.
Jacksonville (1-4) at Oakland (1-4)
The Raiders played their best game of the season in nearly handing Atlanta its first loss. Nearly: Oakland fell apart late and was beaten by Matt Bryant’s 55-yard field goal.
Darren McFadden had a career-high 209 yards from scrimmage with three TDs in the last meeting with the Jaguars, who are far less formidable than the Falcons.
But Jacksonville comes off a bye and has won the last four against the Raiders. That shouldn’t make the Jaguars feel comfortable, though — they’ve been outscored 99-16 in their last three trips to the West Coast.
Note: Off this week are Atlanta (6-0), the league’s only unbeaten team; Denver (3-3); Kansas City (1-5); Miami (3-3); Philadelphia (3-3); and San Diego (3-3)
With reports from The Associated Press