Broncos @ Dolphins, 1:00PM ET
Tim Tebow said that the Denver coaching staff didn’t change the team’s offensive scheme to fit the quarterback’s skill set during the bye week. That makes sense. I mean why would any coaching staff want to try and play to their quarterback’s strengths? Bill Belichick doesn’t do that with Tom Brady. Mike McCarthy doesn’t do that with Aaron Rodgers. Both of those teams largely keep the ball on the ground and let Brady and Rodgers be the game managers they are. (I hate that I even have to write this but I know some people will misconstrue things: I’m being sarcastic.) While I like Tebow’s chances of succeeding this weekend in Miami no matter what the scheme is, I think the Broncos should have styled their offense around what he does best (i.e. being creative in both the run and the pass). But what do I know? I’m a doctor, not an offensive coordinator.
Falcons @ Lions, 1:00PM ET
It’s all well and good that the Falcons want to get back to Michael Turner and their ball-control ways, but at some point OC Mike Mularkey better figure out how to beat teams through the air. Matt Ryan is the only quarterback in the NFC South who has yet to throw for over 300 yards in a game this season and he ranks 17th in the league in overall passing yards. With Julio Jones (hamstring) expected to miss another week, it would be wise for the Falcons to keep the ball on the ground against the Lions’ suspect run defense. But again, at some point Mularkey has to do his job and figure out a way to let Ryan soar. The most obvious solution is to put him in the no-huddle full-time, but Mularkey and Mike Smith’s conservative ways just won’t allow it.
Texans @ Titans, 1:00PM ET
Hey Matt Schaub, it’s go time buddy. The AFC South is yours for the taking and while I understand that you lost your best playmaker and your defense is now without its best weapon, it’s high time you raise your game. Arian Foster is seeing eight man fronts so there’s no reason for you not to exploit defenses with your arm – Andre Johnson or no Andre Johnson. Tennessee’s pass rush is one of the weakest in the league, so figure it out and get your team a win, Matt.
Chargers @ Jets, 1:00PM ET
“The more we get comfortable, we start playing pitch and catch and I’m doing my thing out there, the offense is going to go through the roof,” said Plaxico Burress in regards to Mark Sanchez and the Jet offense. Right, because naturally Plax is the key to whether or not New York’s offense is going to eventually get out of its funk. I think the Jets have it right in giving Shonn Greene an increased workload. The only way they’re going to really get their offense going is relying on the ground game to open things up for Sanchez. Burress is probably right when he suggests that he and Sanchez need to develop more chemistry, but the key to this offense is Greene and the ground attack.
Redskins @ Panthers, 1:00PM ET
Mike Shanahan is in a mess of his own making. Everyone knew going into the season that Rex Grossman is fine in small doses, but over the course of a season he’s going to hurt you. Thus, now that Shanahan has switched things up and is starting John Beck on Sunday, he better win. The Panthers are better than their 1-5 record would indicate but this is a game the Redskins have to win if they want to keep pace with the Giants in the NFC East.
Seahawks @ Browns, 1:00PM ET
Peyton Hillis has an injured hamstring and won’t practice on Thursday. His agent has advised him not to play in this game, or the next 12. If a case of the sniffles is equal to missing one game, then an injured hamstring must be equal to 13 missed games. Hillis and his agent just can’t be too careful when it comes to the King of Fumbles’ health.
Steelers @ Cardinals, 4:05PM ET
I thought the addition of Kevin Kolb was supposed to help Arizona’s passing game? The Cards have totaled 169 and 171 passing yards in their past two games and while the team is exploring ways to get the ball to Larry Fitzgerald more, it’s Kolb who needs to raise the level of his play. The Cardinals better figure out a way to beat teams through the air or else they’ll be picking in the top 5 again next April. Things don’t get any easier for them this Sunday with the Steelers coming to town, whose secondary has been pretty good this season.
Chiefs @ Raiders, 4:05PM ET
So much for easing Carson Palmer into the starting role. Dude hasn’t played in a live game since January and the Raiders are already counting on him to start just days after giving up 14 first-rounders and 16 conditional picks to acquire him from Cincinnati. This is the same Carson Palmer whose arm strength and mobility were an issue last season right? Just checking. Oakland is a good team with or without Palmer under center but I would think with a bye week coming up that we’d see Kyle Boller start this weekend. But then again I’d be wrong. (What else is new?)
Packers @ Vikings, 4:15PM ET
The Packers have largely struggled this year defensively. Their run defense has been good but their pass rush has largely been non-existent and their secondary has taken several hits due to injuries. That said: Good luck, Christian Ponder. You’re going to have to score at least 30 points to beat Aaron Rodgers in a dome and even then, a fourth-quarter comeback will probably have to be in order. I don’t disagree with Minnesota’s decision to bench Donovan McNabb and go with the kid, especially seeing as how this season has already been lost. But starting McNabb against the defending Super Bowl champs would have probably made more sense than letting Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji feast on Palmer’s bones for four quarters.
Rams @ Cowboys, 4:15PM ET
Even though Adam Schefter insists that Sam Bradford will play on Sunday in Dallas, don’t be surprised if A.J. Feeley winds up starting. Bradford’s ankle is pretty bad and throwing him to DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer in what has turned out to be a lost season doesn’t make much sense. Of course, even if Feeley does start the Cowboys will probably have to win this game with a miraculous field goal in the closing seconds. That’s just how Dallas rolls these days.
Colts @ Saints, 8:20PM ET
I for one am thrilled that the Colts will once again be on national television on Sunday night. This makes three times in the first seven weeks that winless Indy will be on prime time, which is fun for both the league and its fans. I’m fully aware that the networks were hoping that Peyton Manning would be under center for these games. But the last time I checked, the Colts didn’t win the Super Bowl last year and yet they get four primetime games and one Thursday night showing on the NFL Network. (For comparison sake, the Packers have four primetime games this year, which makes sense given how they’re the title winners.) Drew Brees and the Saints are pissed coming off the loss to Tampa last week, so the score this Sunday night should be 24-3 by halftime. Or even worse, Brees doesn’t light it up and it’s a 16-13 borefest. Either way, good luck with your ratings this week, NBC.
Ravens @ Jaguars, 8:30PM ET, Monday
Baltimore shouldn’t have much trouble beating Jacksonville on Monday night but I’m sure the Ravens would like to see Joe Flacco be more accurate than he has been over the first six weeks. He’s third to last among quarterbacks this year in pass completion percentage at 51.4, which isn’t going to get it done against the likes of New England or Pittsburgh in the playoffs. Of course, Flacco has never finished a season completing less than 60-percent of his passes but his early season accuracy woes are troubling nonetheless.