By Barry Wilner | Associated Press
Cleveland (2-7) at Dallas (4-5)
Dallas has begun thinking about a revival that will lift it back into the NFC playoff picture, and with matchups against the Browns, Redskins and Eagles at home just ahead, the Cowboys could become relevant again. To do so, they must immediately fix their turnover issues: minus-9, with Tony Romo’s 13 interceptions topping the league.
It would help tremendously if RB DeMarco Murray can return from a sprained right foot that has cost him four games.
Right behind Romo is Cleveland’s Brandon Weeden with 12 picks. He’s a rookie, so maybe he gets a bit of, uh, a pass. For the Browns to hang with Dallas, they need to produce a pass rush and make Romo beat them or beat himself. Kickoff: 1 p.m. (CBS)
San Diego (4-5) at Denver (6-3)
The NFL is beginning to see vintage Peyton Manning, which is bad news for every team except the Denver Broncos. It’s especially daunting for the Chargers, who blew a 24-0 halftime lead at home to the Broncos a month ago and visit Denver on Sunday.
A Broncos win would be their fifth straight and would give them a three-game lead in the AFC West. It also could provide some more milestones for Manning in his 15th pro season and his first in Denver.
With one more touchdown pass, Manning would pass Dan Marino; both have 420, trailing Brett Favre’s 508. He’s completed 70 percent of his passes in six consecutive games, already an NFL mark. Most importantly to Manning would be getting his 148th career victory, which would break a tie with Marino and deadlock him with his current boss, John Elway. Kickoff: 4:25 p.m.
Arizona (4-5) at Atlanta (8-1)
Spinning out of control with five straight losses, the Cardinals got a week off. They return — to face a ticked-off bunch of Falcons, who lost in New Orleans to spoil their perfect record.
Arizona needs to solve issues in the ground game: The Cardinals can’t run it and they can’t stop the run.
Atlanta uncharacteristically butchered scoring chances late in the loss to the Saints. It’s also struggling running the ball. Kickoff: 1 p.m.
Green Bay (6-3) at Detroit (4-5)
Fresh from a bye, the Packers still have injury issues, with star linebacker Clay Matthews (hamstring) out Sunday and starting tackle Bryan Bulaga gone for the season with a hip injury. DB Charles Woodson and WR Greg Jennings still are out. Yet the Pack is favored, in great part because the Lions are so unreliable. Kickoff: 1 p.m.
Jacksonville (1-8) at Houston (8-1)
Biggest mismatch of the weekend. Make that biggest mismatch of the season.
Both teams showed their mettle last week. The Texans did it by out-hitting the Bears in the rain and wind at Soldier Field, knocking Cutler from the game in the process. The Jaguars did it by showing they aren’t close to being ready for prime time in a 27-10 loss to Indianapolis. Kickoff: 1 p.m.
Tampa Bay (5-4) at Carolina (2-7)
Get these numbers: 38, 28, 36, 42, 34.
Those are the points the Buccaneers have put up the last five weeks, with four wins to become playoff contenders. Josh Freeman has become one of the NFL’s most dangerous passers, rookie Doug Martin has been sensational running the ball, and the receiving tandem of Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams has broken out. Kickoff: 1 p.m.
Philadelphia (3-6) at Washington (3-6)
Washington’s Robert Griffin III certainly seems to have the edge over Nick Foles. RG3, despite some inconsistencies, has delivered everything the No. 2 overall draft choice should, even as the Skins have dropped three in a row and four of five. He’s ninth in passer rating, leads all QBs with 529 yards rushing, has scored six times on the ground and thrown for eight TDs.
Foles would replace Michael Vick, who has been a turnover machine as the Eagles have collapsed. A third-round draft pick, he gets a trial run to see if he is Philly’s quarterback of the future if Vick can’t go. Kickoff: 1 p.m.
Cincinnati (4-5) at Kansas City (1-8)
The Bengals put together their best effort of the season in manhandling the Giants, and now they begin a tour through the mediocre AFC West (minus Denver, which has already beaten them) by facing the Chiefs, Raiders and Chargers.
Kansas City, tied with Jacksonville for the NFL’s worst record, pushed Pittsburgh to overtime on Monday night. It will stick with Matt Cassel at quarterback, though Brady Quinn is close to being recovered from a concussion. Kickoff: 1 p.m.
New York Jets (3-6) at St. Louis (3-6)
The skill positions could spell the difference here. St. Louis has the edge at quarterback (Sam Bradford over Mark Sanchez), running back (Steven Jackson/Daryl Richardson over Shonn Greene) and receiver (Danny Amendola over anyone and everyone). The Rams also have more playmakers on defense and come off an uplifting tie at San Francisco that probably should have been a win.
New York is in a tumultuous spiral that has affected its offense, defense and special teams. Although the defenders played well for three quarters at Seattle, they faded. Kickoff: 1 p.m.
New Orleans (4-5) at Oakland (3-6)
The Saints are stoked, believing they are on a spurt to the playoffs after an 0-4 start. Coming off handing archrival Atlanta its first defeat, New Orleans can’t afford to stumble here with the 49ers, Falcons, Giants and Bucs ahead on the schedule.
The Saints found some timely defense to go with their prolific offense.
Oakland’s season has been tougher. It is banged-up and just yielded 55 points at Baltimore. Kickoff: 4:05 p.m. (FOX)
Indianapolis (6-3) at New England (6-3)
Now that Manning is performing his wonders in the Mile High City, this rivalry appeared to lose steam. Then Andrew Luck and the Colts broke loose, winning four straight to establish themselves as wild-card contenders. Pretty neat for a club that went 2-14 in 2011, earning the top overall draft pick that was spent on Luck.
Considering how many holes New England’s defense has shown — it ranks 25th overall, 29th against the pass, and has surrendered at least 24 points five times — Luck might look like Manning at Foxborough. Kickoff: 4:25 p.m.
Baltimore (7-2) at Pittsburgh (6-3)
The Steelers have a way of rallying the troops when stars go down, something the defense has done with Troy Polamalu sidelined for weeks with a calf problem. Now it’s Ben Roethlisberger who is out with shoulder and rib injuries — at the worst time, with two games against the AFC North leaders in the next three weeks. Byron Leftwich steps in, with another veteran, Charlie Batch, in reserve.
Baltimore’s D often has been dominant, but not this season. Kickoff: 8:20 p.m. (NBC)
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Chicago (7-2) at San Francisco (6-2-1)
ESPN must have been salivating for a matchup between two NFC favorites with physical defenses, outstanding runners and the inside track on division titles.
Instead, the network might get backup QBs Jason Campbell, in for Chicago’s Jay Cutler, and Colin Kaepernick, replacing San Francisco’s Alex Smith. Both starters were concussed in last week’s games. Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
• BYES: Minnesota (6-4), N.Y. Giants (6-4), Seattle (6-4) and Tennessee (4-6).