By Don Banks
November 07, 2013
Reggie Bush (center) and the Lions will look to take command in the NFC North Sunday against the Bears.
Paul Sancya/AP
Last week: 7-6; Season 90-43
Thursday, Nov. 7
8:25 p.m. ET (NFL Network) Washington Redskins (3-5) at Minnesota Vikings (1-7)
The Vikings somehow just lost to a Cowboys team that ran the ball a paltry nine times for 36 yards, but now, in a short week, they've got to prepare for the read-option Redskins, who churned for 209 yards on the ground in an overtime win over San Diego in Week 9. That's the formula Mike Shanahan's team used to put things together in the second half of 2012, and history might be repeating itself. Believe it or not, Washington is the only member of the NFC Least that has yet to mount a two-game winning streak, but that indignity ends here against a Minnesota team off to the worst start in franchise history.
Sunday, Nov. 10
1 p.m. ET (FOX) Seattle Seahawks (8-1) at Atlanta Falcons (2-6)
Winning ugly is the issue of late for the Seahawks, who let the Rams and Bucs hang around far longer than expected. Now here come the 2-6 Falcons, who are clearly not the same high-flying club that had to hang on for dear life to beat Seattle in the NFC Divisional playoffs 10 months ago. The payback factor will be in play for the Seahawks and maybe that motivates them to bring their A game to the Georgia Dome.
1 p.m. ET (FOX) Detroit Lions (5-3) at Chicago Bears (5-3)
One little cracked collarbone for Aaron Rodgers and life is looking a whole lot rosier for Marc Trestman's Bears. Chicago needs to build a lead in the NFC North while Rodgers recuperates, and that means taking care of business at home against a Lions team that can score in bunches if Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson decide to play pitch and catch on any given Sunday.
1 p.m. ET (FOX) Philadelphia Eagles (4-5) at Green Bay Packers (5-3)
Given a week's worth of practice, Seneca Wallace, I think, will be more efficient against the Eagles than the version who mostly struggled in relief of Aaron Rodgers against the Bears. Look for the Packers to ride Eddie Lacy for a good bit of this game, and hope to force that record-tying Nick Foles into a few key mistakes. I talked to a couple Packers players on Wednesday, and they didn't seem shook by the thought of playing without Rodgers, but it could have been just next-man-up-speak. As an aside, what must Matt Flynn's self-confidence be like these days? Given up on by the Seahawks, the Raiders and the Bills in the span of a few months, and then not even flirted with by the Packers, his old team, once Rodgers goes down. His throwing elbow must be in bad shape, as rumored.
1 p.m. ET (CBS) Jacksonville Jaguars (0-8) at Tennessee Titans (4-4)
The Jaguars have eight touchdowns in eight games, and their misery won't end this week in Nashville, because the Titans defense is pretty stingy. Chris Johnson finally broke loose last week at St. Louis, with 150 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns, and he should keep the momentum going against Jacksonville, which is giving up almost 162 yards per game on the ground.
1 p.m. ET (FOX) St. Louis Rams (3-6) at Indianapolis Colts (6-2)
That was a gutty, gritty win for Andrew Luck at Houston, because the Colts quarterback looked as bad as we've seen him for two-plus quarters, and still walked off the field a winner at the end of the night. It was apparent that Indy doesn't have a ready replacement for the go-to factor that Reggie Wayne represented in this offense, but there's still time to work on that deficiency in the season's second half.
1 p.m. ET (CBS) Oakland Raiders (3-5) at New York Giants (2-6)
If the Eagles' Nick Foles can go on the road to slice and dice the Raiders defense up for seven touchdown passes, shouldn't Eli Manning and the resurgent Giants (OK, resurgent is too strong a word for a two-game winning streak, but this is the NFC East we're talking about) be able to hang up at least three touchdowns or so at home against Oakland? This starts a rough stretch of four out of five on the road for the Raiders, who are 0-3 away from home in 2013.
1 p.m. ET (CBS) Buffalo Bills (3-6) at Pittsburgh Steelers (2-6)
I'm beginning to think I was being optimistic when I wrote the Steelers were in trouble and heading for a 6-10 year back in the preseason. Pittsburgh has to play .500 ball in the second half to get to 6-10, and Mike Tomlin's guys are giving no indication they're capable of winning half of the time. With the 55-point embarrassment at New England, the sobering realization of how far the Steelers have slipped on defense had to hit them like a Jack Lambert open-field tackle.
1 p.m. ET (CBS) Cincinnati Bengals (6-3) at Baltimore Ravens (3-5)
The Bengals can't clinch anything, but they can effectively end much of the drama that's left in the AFC North race for Baltimore if they can win at the house of the defending division champions. But that makes the Ravens dangerous, in that last-stand sort of way. Baltimore's offense hasn't found its stride this season and if the running game doesn't return to reliable form, it's not hard to envision John Harbaugh's team missing the playoffs for the first time in his six-year coaching tenure.
4:05 p.m. ET (FOX) Carolina Panthers (5-3) at San Francisco 49ers (6-2)
The measuring stick game they've been waiting for in Carolina has arrived. Are the Panthers ready to punch in the NFC's heavyweight division? Defensively, I think so. Offensively, I'm not convinced. The Cam versus Colin sub-plot should be fun, in a battle of 2011 draft picks who took different routes to their team's franchise quarterback role. If we get to see Newton's Superman celebration more than we do a display of Kaepernicking, the Panthers might be in position to pull the upset.
4:25 p.m. ET (CBS) Houston Texans (2-6) at Arizona Cardinals (4-4)
Maybe we should call him "Close" Keenum, because the new Texans' starting quarterback almost beat Kansas City and almost beat Indianapolis. But the Cardinals are 3-1 at home and still have reason to believe they're relevant in the NFC wild-card race. In the Texans' first full game without Gary Kubiak on the sideline, let's see if they rally around their recuperating head coach and win one for the Kubber.
4:25 p.m. ET (CBS) Denver Broncos (7-1) at San Diego Chargers (4-4)
Philip Rivers used to fairly well own the Colts during the Peyton Manning era, but it hasn't translated so far to No. 18's Denver tenure. First-year Chargers coach Mike McCoy has now worked with both quarterbacks in this game, and both played well for him. Then again, Manning plays well for anyone wearing a headset. Speaking of coaches, I hope McCoy and Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt learned from that shoddy play selection during the goal-line stand that won the game for Washington last week. Got to be able to score from two feet when the game is there for the taking.
8:30 p.m. ET (NBC) Dallas Cowboys (5-4) at New Orleans Saints (6-2)
If you think Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was motivated to win last week's game, against his twin brother's Jets, imagine his burning desire to get some payback against Jerry Jones and the Cowboys, who canned him (or scape-goated him, perhaps) last January after two seasons as the team's DC. The Cowboys might want to take a page from the Jets' playbook and try running at the Saints defense. Anything to keep the Saints offense off the field as much as possible. With just nine rushes last week against the Vikings, Dallas joined the 2007 Patriots and '05 Colts as the only teams since the 1970 merger to win a game with 10 carries or fewer.
Monday, Nov. 11
8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN) Miami Dolphins (4-4) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-8)
Well, at least the winless Bucs don't have to worry about the Monday Night Football crew talking endlessly about Greg Schiano's controversial coaching style and the team's messy split with quarterback Josh Freeman. That's so September and early October. Miami's Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito bullying controversy has drowned out the Freeman saga in tidal wave fashion. After the overtime win against Cincinnati stopped their free-fall, the Dolphins need this game to stay on the right side of .500 and give themselves a chance to move past the tumult of the past 10 days.
BURKE: Grading every team at midway point
FARRAR: Richardson, Weeden headline All-Disappointment team
BEDARD: MMQB's All-Pro team, other awards at midseason
BANKS: Rounding up all the highs, lows at midway point
BELLER: Player-by-player fantasy projections for Week 10

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