1. Denver Broncos (2-2) at New England Patriots (2-2)
What more can be said about Peyton vs. Tom? How ’bout his. Brady and the Pats were so dominant in the second half in Buffalo last week, they faced only one third down on the first five (of six) TD drives – and Brady threw a TD on it. In 5-wide after halftime, Brady was 9-of-10 for 122 yards. In other formations, the Pats ran 22 times for 157 yards. Eesh.
2. Atlanta Falcons (4-0) at Washington Redskins (2-2)
Matt Ryan and the Falcons look to stay unbeaten against Robert Griffin III and the surprising Redskins. Andy Dalton and the Bengals tore up the Washington secondary two weeks ago, and there’s no reason to believe Ryan and co. won’t do likewise. RGIII needs RB Alfred Morris to be effective, so he can buy throwing time with play-action.
3. Buffalo Bills (2-2) at San Francisco 49ers (3-1)
Which Bills team shows up? The one that got humiliated by the Jets in Week 1, and by the Patriots in the second half last week? Or the one that otherwise was efficient on offence, and strong on defence? Yeah, we think the former too. The Bills’ OL is down two starters. The Niners’ D smells blood. Will get ugly if Bills can’t establish the run.
4. Green Bay Packers (2-2) at Indianapolis Colts (1-2)
Expect the Colts to come out emotionally sky-high, with their head coach Chuck Pagano hospitalized and out indefinitely with a rare but treatable form of leukemia. The Colts will want to do him proud. Problem is, the Packers offence is beginning to click again, since bottoming out in the first half in Seattle. Andrew Luck and Indy offence must have their best game to stay in it.
The team that must win, or else
PITTSBURGH STEELERS (1-2)
The Battle of Pennsylvania is far more important to the Steelers than to the visiting, 3-1 Philadelphia Eagles. Badly bitten by the injury bug for the second consecutive season, the Steelers cannot afford to fall to 1-3 in the AFC North, with both the Ravens and Bengals playing so well. The good news is that RB Rashard Mendenhall and LB James Harrison will take their first snaps of 2012, and S Troy Polamalu appears healthy too.