Wow, what a 1 p.m. Eastern slate. Just wow. #Giddy
Vikings @ Rams: Adrian Peterson vs Rams Run D
Adrian Peterson deserves MVP if you were awarding it right now. Christian Ponder is playing the quarterback position worse than any starter outside Arizona. So the Rams need to stop one thing, and the emergence of first-round DT Michael Brockers, revelation of OLB Jo-Lonn Dunbar and recent improvement of MLB James Laurinaitis present a pretty tough wall for AP’s convoy to ram through.
Panthers @ Chargers: DEs Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy vs Ts Michael Harris and Jeromey Clary/Whichever backups end up playing at offensive tackle
Carolina’s bookend rush boasts two top-fivers in Pro Football Focus’ pass-rush productivity stat, while LT Harris ranks last out of qualifying tackles and Clary is not far behind. Looks like another harassed day ahead for Philip Rivers.
Colts @ Texans: DE JJ Watt vs. G Mike McGlynn/T Winston Justice
The pair protecting the right edge got bullied around by the Titans’ line last week and this is no rarity. Meet J.J. Watt, the most dominant defensive lineman in the NFL.
Lions @ Cardinals: DT Ndamukong Suh/Nick Fairley vs. G Daryn Colledge/C Rich Ohrnberger/G Adam Snyder
Suh and Fairley ran roughshod through the Colts a couple weeks ago. Unfortunately they couldn’t get too much help on defense besides catching a couple of the shoulda-been five interceptions. This pairing inside is playing better than any other right now — and on the opposite side you’ve got the bizarro version of that.
Steelers @ Cowboys: Dez Bryant vs fractured finger
Hard to know what to expect from Dez here but he’s been the best receiver not named Megatron over the past month, and his ability to continue this could be the difference for desperate Dallas.
Giants @ Falcons: Julio and Roddy vs Banged-up Giants secondary
With CB Prince Amukamara and S Kenny Phillips out Big Blue will need S Stevie Brown to remain their sub of the season — perhaps the NFL’s sub of the season — rookie CB Jayron Hosley to ride the momentum of last week’s performance and vet CB Corey Webster to transform into ’08/’12 postseason mode.
Seahawks @ Bills: CJ Spiller vs Bobby Wagner
RB Fred Jackson is out, but I half-expect Chan Gailey to still find creative ways not to give C.J. Spiller the ball — but there is no way he’s getting fewer than the seven carries last week against St. Louis. Pro Football Focus has ‘Hawks rookie MLB Bobby Wagner as their third-ranked ILB and graded well both in pass and run defense, and he’ll need to do plenty of both to stop Spiller.
49ers @ Patriots: Run Os vs Run Ds
Pats ILB Brandon Spikes has been banged up and didn’t look quite right on Monday even with the dominant displays around him. Every bit of his downhill thumping will be needed against the 49ers trap run game and the many looks they use to run both zone and power schemes. New England’s run attack on offense has also been one of the league’s best and will face San Fran’s elite run stoppers without the ample blocking aid of TE Rob Gronkowski.
Redskins @ Browns: Josh Gordon vs Redskins secondary
Trent Richardson is the lifeblood fi the Cleveland offense but still needs support from the pass game for Cleveland to put a decent number of points on the board. Since Brandon Weeden isn’t developed (or good?) enough to make this pass attack a well-oiled machine right now, the Browns typically need to hit at least one downfield throw to Josh Gordon, who’s 31.6% deep passing catch rate (on 72 targets) sits just behind division foe A.J. Green (33.3%). And the Redskins secondary got burned by the ancient Anquan Boldin twice last week.