Atlanta at New Orleans
Time: 1 p.m. Line: Falcons by 2.
Records: Falcons 8-0 (6-2 vs. spread), Saints 3-5 (4-4 vs. spread).
Comments: Battle of two of the best passers in the league . . . Atlanta is 15-0 when Matt Ryan throws for at least three TDs (only Daryle Lamonica — look him up, kids — is better at 19-0) . . . New Orleans’s Drew Brees has thrown a TD pass in 51 straight games . . . Brees is 10-2 all-time vs. Falcons . . . During the Mike Smith era, Atlanta is 27-10 in games decided by one score . . . Falcons CB Mike DeCoud is only NFCer with four INTs and a sack . . . Player to watch: New Orleans WR Marques Colston has six TDs in his last five games.
Key injuries: FALCONS: OUT: WR Kevin Cone (groin), S Charles Mitchell (calf), LB Sean Weatherspoon (ankle). QUESTIONABLE: DT Jonathan Babineaux (hamstring), DT Peria Jerry (knee), CB Robert McClain (hip), CB Christopher Owens (heel). SAINTS: OUT: DE Junior Galette (ankle), WR Courtney Roby (shoulder), RB Darren Sproles (hand), T Zach Strief (groin).
Detroit at Minnesota
Time: 1 p.m. Line: Lions by 2½.
Records: Lions 4-4 (4-4 vs. spread), Vikings 5-4 (3-5-1 vs. spread).
Comments: Vikings beat Lions, 20-13, Sept. 30 and lead the series, 67-33-2 . . . Mikel LeShoure last week became first Lion since Dutch Clark in 1931 (yes, kids, I looked him up) to rush for three first-half TDs . . . Minnesota QB Christian Ponder has won 4 of his last 5 home starts . . . Lions playing on road for fourth time in five weeks . . . Vikings have committed 10 turnovers in the last three games . . . Player to watch: Lions WR Calvin “Megatron” Johnson is second in the NFC with 767 receiving yards.
Key injuries: LIONS: OUT: S Louis Delmas (knee), S Amari Spievey (concussion). QUESTIONABLE: DE Cliff Avril (back), T Corey Hilliard (knee), WR Calvin Johnson (knee), DT Corey Williams (knee), WR Titus Young (knee). PROBABLE: S Erik Coleman (toe), CB Chris Houston (illness), RB Mikel Leshoure (ankle), LB DeAndre Levy (hamstring), LB Stephen Tulloch (knee). VIKINGS: DOUBTFUL: DT Letroy Guion (foot), WR Percy Harvin (ankle).
New York Jets at Seattle
Time: 4:05 p.m. Line: Seahawks by 6.
Records: Jets 3-5 (5-3 vs. spread), Seahawks 5-4 (6-3 vs. spread).
Comments: Jets are 1-2 coming off a bye under Rex Ryan . . . Game reunites Jets QB Mark Sanchez with his Southern Cal coach Pete “Cutie Pie” Carroll . . . J-E-T-S Jets, Jets, Jets have lost four of last five games, games, games (sorry, Fireman Ed) . . . Seahawks bruiser Marshawn Lynch has rushed for at least 85 yards in 16 of last 18 games . . . New York has been outscored in every quarter, including 44-28 in first . . . Player to watch: Jets WR Jeremy Kerley averages 23.6 yards per catch in road games (11 receptions, 260 yards).
Key injuries: JETS: OUT: DT Kenrick Ellis (knee), RB Joe McKnight (ankle). QUESTIONABLE: C Nick Mangold (ankle), G Brandon Moore (hip), DT Sione Po’uha (low back), RB Bilal Powell (shoulder), LB Bart Scott (toe), S Eric Smith (knee). SEAHAWKS: OUT: G James Carpenter (concussion), LB K.J. Wright (concussion). DOUBTFUL: DE Greg Scruggs (oblique). QUESTIONABLE: DT Clinton McDonald (groin).
Houston at Chicago
Time: 8:20 p.m., NBC Line: Bears by 1.
Records: Texans 7-1 (6-2 vs. spread), Bears 7-1 (5-3 vs. spread).
Comments: Best prime-time matchup of the season, so far . . . Both teams have lost only to the Packers . . . Houston RB Arian Foster has scored a TD in 10 straight games (official stat) . . . Chicago LB Brian Urlacher has made an opponent cry in 10 straight games (unofficial stat) . . . Texans DE J.J. Watt has NFL-high 10½ sacks . . . Chicago has seven defensive TDs . . . Houston’s Matt Schaub is 11-1 in his last 12 starts . . . Player to watch: Bears WR Brandon Marshall is second in NFL with 797 receiving yards.
Key injuries: TEXANS: OUT: NT Shaun Cody (ribs), RB Ben Tate (hamstring). QUESTIONABLE: TE Owen Daniels (back). PROBABLE: LB Bryan Braman (neck), RB James Casey (illness), S Quintin Demps (thumb, forearm), WR Lestar Jean (knee), CB Johnathan Joseph (quadriceps), S Shiloh Keo (back), CB Brice McCain (knee), NT Earl Mitchell (ankle), LB Jesse Nading (foot, neck). BEARS: DOUBTFUL: WR Alshon Jeffery (hand), DT Matt Toeaina (calf).
THIS WEEKEND’S OTHER GAMES
NY Giants at Cincinnati
Time: 1 p.m. Line: Giants by 4.
Records: Giants 6-3 (4-4-1 vs. spread), Bengals 3-5 (2-5-1 vs. spread).
Comments: In eight career matchups, the home team has won every game . . . Cincinnati WR A.J. Green leads the AFC with eight touchdown receptions . . . Jints QB Elite Manning (197) is three TD tosses shy of passing Phil Simms (“I’ll tell you what . . . !’’) for tops in franchise history . . . NY’s Jason Pierre Paul has five sacks in last four games . . . Player to watch: Cincy RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis has nine TDs in 14 games vs. NFC.
Key injuries: GIANTS: OUT: CB Michael Coe (hamstring), S Kenny Phillips (knee), LB Jacquian Williams (knee). QUESTIONABLE: RB Ahmad Bradshaw (foot), LB Keith Rivers (calf), G Chris Snee (ankle). BENGALS: OUT: WR Marvin Jones (knee). DOUBTFUL: S Reggie Nelson (hamstring). QUESTIONABLE: C Jeff Faine (hamstring), CB Dre Kirkpatrick (thigh).
Tennessee at Miami
Time: 1 p.m. Line: Dolphins by 6.
Records: Titans 3-6 (3-6 vs. spread), Dolphins 4-4 (4-4 vs. spread).
Comments: Reborn Titans RB Chris Johnson has rushed for 691 the past six weeks . . . Miami hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in 22 straight weeks . . . Miami’s Brandon Fields leads NFL with a 51.6-yard punting average . . . Player to watch: Dolphins rookie QB Ryan Tannehill has thrown 98 straight passes without a pick.
Key injuries: TITANS: OUT: LB Xavier Adibi (knee), S Al Afalava (ankle). QUESTIONABLE: LB Patrick Bailey (ribs), CB Tommie Campbell (ankle), LB Colin McCarthy (ankle), T Byron Stingily (back), LB Will Witherspoon (hamstring). DOLPHINS: QUESTIONABLE: TE Jeron Mastrud (hamstring), DT Tony McDaniel (knee).
San Diego at Tampa Bay
Time: 1 p.m. Line: Buccaneers by 3.
Records: Chargers 4-4 (4-4 vs. spread), Buccaneers 4-4 (6-2 vs. spread).
Comments: Chargers lead the series, 8-1, and are 5-0 in Tampa . . . Buccaneers QB Josh Freeman has thrown for 1,257 yards, 11 TDs, and 1 INT in past four games . . . Chargers’ Ronnie Brown’s 32 receptions are second best among NFL RBs . . . Player to watch: Bucs’ Doug Martin rushed for 251 yards and four TDs last week.
Key injuries: CHARGERS: DOUBTFUL: LB Antwan Barnes (hamstring). QUESTIONABLE: T Jared Gaither (groin), DE Corey Liuget (hamstring), LB Demorrio Williams (abdominal). BUCCANEERS: QUESTIONABLE: WR Arrelious Benn (shoulder), S Cody Grimm (hamstring).
Denver at Carolina
Time: 1 p.m. Line: Broncos by 4.
Records: Broncos 5-3 (5-3 vs. spread), Panthers 2-6 (4-4 vs. spread).
Comments: Broncos coach John Fox returns to Carolina, where he led Panthers to 73-71 mark and a Super Bowl appearance in nine seasons . . . Denver QB Peyton Manning has thrown three TD passes in five straight . . . Carolina QB Cam Newton is 3-1 vs. AFC foes but 8-16 overall . . . Player to watch: Broncos’ “What you talking ’bout?” Willis McGahee is 8 yards shy of 8,000.
Key injuries: DENVER BRONCOS at CAROLINA PANTHERS — BRONCOS: OUT: G Chris Kuper (ankle), CB Tracy Porter (illness). PANTHERS: DOUBTFUL: DE Antwan Applewhite (hamstring). QUESTIONABLE: DE Thomas Keiser (elbow).
Oakland at Baltimore
Time: 1 p.m. Line: Ravens by 7½.
Records: Raiders 3-5 (3-5 vs. spread), Ravens 6-2 (3-5 vs. spread).
Comments: Carson Palmer last week joined greats Cotton Davidson and Tom Flores as only Raiders QBs with 400-plus yards passing and four TDs in a game (they still lost) . . . Baltimore’s Anquan Boldin is 32 receiving yards shy of 10,000 . . . Ravens are 27-5 vs. teams below .500 on John Harbaugh’s watch . . . Player to watch: Raiders’ Sebastian Janikowski has hit 38 field goals of 50-plus yards since 2000.
Key injuries: RAIDERS: OUT: RB Mike Goodson (ankle), RB Darren McFadden (ankle), DT Richard Seymour (knee, hamstring), CB Shawntae Spencer (foot). QUESTIONABLE: T Khalif Barnes (groin). RAVENS: OUT: DE Pernell McPhee (thigh). QUESTIONABLE: DT Haloti Ngata (shoulder), G Bobbie Williams (ankle), G Marshal Yanda (ankle).
Dallas at Philadelphia
Time: 4:25 p.m., Fox Line: Cowboys by 21½.
Records: Cowboys 3-5 (3-5 vs. spread), Eagles 3-5 (1-6-1 vs. spread).
Comments: Remember when these games always meant something? (I mean, to people outside of Philadelphia and Dallas) . . . Cowboys lead the all-time slate, 59-47 . . . Skidding Eagles have lost four straight . . . Cowboys have lost four of five . . . ¾ Player to watch: Cowboys QB Tony Romo has thrown for 758 yards the last two weeks.
Key injuries: COWBOYS: OUT: C Phil Costa (ankle), S Matt Johnson (hamstring), DE Sean Lissemore (ankle), RB DeMarco Murray (foot). DOUBTFUL: LB Dan Connor (neck). QUESTIONABLE: CB Mike Jenkins (back). EAGLES: OUT: WR Mardy Gilyard (hamstring), RB Chris Polk (toe), G Danny Watkins (ankle).
St. Louis at San Francisco
Time: 4:25 p.m. Line: 49ers by 12.
Records: Rams 3-5 (5-3 vs. spread), 49ers 6-2 (5-3 vs. spread).
Comments: 49ers hold a 62-61-2 lead in all-time series and have won seven of last eight . . . San Fran is riding an 11-game home winning streak vs. NFC foes . . . Since 2006, Rams’ Steven Jackson (10,369) and 49ers’ Frank Gore (10,060) are the only NFLers with 10,000-plus scrimmage yards . . . Player to watch: San Fran WR Michael Crabtree has a TD catch in four straight vs. Rams.
Key injuries: RAMS: DOUBTFUL: DE Eugene Sims (knee), S Darian Stewart (knee). QUESTIONABLE: WR Danny Amendola (shoulder), LB Mario Haggan (thigh), DT Kellen Heard (foot), T Wayne Hunter (back), T Rodger Saffold (knee). 49ERS: PROBABLE: WR Michael Crabtree (illness), LB Tavares Gooden (elbow), RB Frank Gore (hand), G Daniel Kilgore (concussion), P Andy Lee (hand), WR Mario Manningham (shoulder), QB Alex Smith (right finger), DT Will Tukuafu (wrist), LB Patrick Willis (shoulder).
Kansas City at Pittsburgh
Time: Monday, 8:30 p.m., ESPN Line: Steelers by 12½.
Records: Chiefs 1-7 (2-6 vs. spread), Steelers 5-3 (4-4 vs. spread).
Comments: Matt Cassel is back as the Chiefs starting QB. We’re just going to assume he’s happy about that . . . Cassel is 3-0 on “Monday Night Football” . . . KC hasn’t won in Pittsburgh since 1986 . . . Steelers have won 14 straight “MNF’’ home games . . . Chiefs haven’t led during regulation this season . . . KC’s Tamba Hali has five sacks in last five games . . . Player to watch: Steelers RB Isaac Redman is coming off a career-high 147-yard effort.
Key injuries: CHIEFS: OUT: DE Glenn Dorsey (calf), QB Brady Quinn (head). LIMITED: T Branden Albert (back), TE Steve Maneri (ankle). STEELERS: DNP: WR Antonio Brown (ankle), T Marcus Gilbert (ankle), S Troy Polamalu (calf), LB Stevenson Sylvester (hamstring). LIMITED: RB Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles).
Jim McBride can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.