Pittsburgh at N.Y. Giants
Rookie quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger of Pittsburgh and Eli Manning of the New York Giants clash for the first time on Saturday. Eli Manning just
can't catch a break. The Giants rookie has faced a gauntlet of good defenses - Atlanta, Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore - and must this week take
on a Steeler "D" that certainly won't be taking it easy on him.
Since taking over as the starting quarterback in Week Three, Roethlisberger has led the Steelers to an 11-0 record and the AFC North title - the
eighth division championship in 13 years under coach Bill Cowher. The 11-game winning streak ties a franchise record set in 1975 when Pittsburgh
finished 12-2 and won their second straight Super Bowl.
Giants coach Tom Coughlin benched veteran Kurt Warner, a two-time NFL Most Valuable Player, in favour of Manning after a 17-14 loss at Arizona on
November 14. The switch has proved to be disastrous. Manning has lost all four of his starts, completing just 38 per cent of his passes (42-of-110)
with an abysmal quarterback rating of 33.8. He'll need help from running back Tiki Barber (19 carries, 55 yards last week), who has been held under
100 yards in each of the last two weeks and fumbled twice against Baltimore.
Looking to stop Manning and Barber will be a Steeler defense that shut the Jets down in a 17-6 win last Sunday. Pittsburgh, which has won 11 straight,
intercepted Chad Pennington three times. Jerome Bettis rushed for and threw a TD pass in the victory, helping disguise a so-so day for quarterback Ben
Roethlisberger (9-19, 144 yards, 2 INT). The Steeler defense has to be licking its chops when viewing a rookie quarterback operating behind a woeful
Buffalo at Cincinnati
A look at the standings heading into Week 9, when both of these teams were 2-5, might have suggested that a Dec. 19 Bills/Bengals showdown would have
little more than draft position riding on it. But now the Bills are in the thick of the AFC wild-card race heading into Sunday's game against the
The Bills held Cleveland to an astounding 17 net yards, recording eight sacks in the victory. Running back Willis McGahee rushed for 105 yards and two
touchdowns on the other side of the ball. Cincinnati was not as fortunate, dropping a 35-28 decision in New England and watching quarterback Carson
Palmer (18-24 passing, 202 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT) leave the game with a sprained knee. Palmer, who was walking on crutches after the game, is
questionable for this contest. If he is unable to go, veteran Jon Kitna, who started all 16 games last season, will get the call.
No matter who plays quarterback, the Buffalo secondary will struggle to contain Bengal receivers Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh for 60 minutes.
Against the Patriots, the Bengals were able to move the ball. They rolled up 478 total yards and 26 first downs, but were hurt by three turnovers.
Could be an upset - Bengals
Carolina at Atlanta
The Carolina Panthers will be seeking to continue their remarkable turnaround in fortunes this season when they travel to Atlanta on Saturday to take
on Michael Vick and the Falcons. An Atlanta win would keep the franchise in the driver's seat for a first-round playoff bye, which it seems destined
to acquire either way, and would also give renewed hope to 6-7 St. Louis and the gaggle of 5-8 teams - Dallas, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, and
Tampa Bay - that play on Sunday. A victory for the streaking Panthers, meanwhile, would allow Carolina to keep control in the race for the final wild
card spot, as well as reach the .500 mark for the first time since they were 1-1.
Vick has won all four of his starts against the Panthers by a cumulative score of 118-24. On October 3 at Carolina, Vick received plenty of help from
his friends in a 27-10 victory. The NFL's fastest quarterback threw for just 148 yards and ran for 35, but Warrick Dunn scored on a 38-yard run and
cornerback Kevin Mathis returned an interception 35 yards for a touchdown to lead the Falcons to victory. The Falcons will be without Duckett, who
underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on Tuesday, and fullback Justin Griffith, who is out for the rest of the season with a broken leg.
Carolina has not faced a top-notch running game during their recent run, and that changes with Dunn in the house on Saturday night. The Panthers set a
franchise record with six interceptions - two apiece by linebacker Dan Morgan and cornerback Ricky Manning Jr - in a 20-7 victory over the St Louis
Rams last week. Switching from fullback to feature back with Stephen Davis and Foster on injured reserve, Nick Goings recorded his fourth straight
100-yard rushing game with 108 yards on 31 carries to match Davis' franchise record.
San Diego at Cleveland
Marty Schottenheimer and the San Diego Chargers seek to extend their winning streak to eight games on Sunday and move closer to their first play-off
spot in nine years when they visit the reeling Cleveland Browns, who have lost seven in a row. Charged with the quite enviable task of shutting down
the Cleveland offense will be a San Diego team who held the Buccaneers to 63 rushing yards and intercepted Brian Griese three times in last Sunday's
31-24 win. LaDainian Tomlinson (131 yards, 1 TD) led the Charger ground assault, and Drew Brees (17-23, 220 yards) tossed a pair of scoring strikes.
Only Indianapolis has scored more points than the Chargers (370). Drew Brees ranks second in the AFC with a quarterback rating of 102.7, completing
65% of his passes for 2,784 yards and 23 touchdowns with six interceptions. LaDainian Tomlinson has rushed for 1,143 yards and caught 47 passes for
351 yards, His total of 14 touchdowns ranks second in the AFC.
The Browns are now a team in disarray, missing eight starters due to injuries. Robiskie took over as interim coach after Davis resigned two weeks ago
and rookie Luke McCown has started at quarterback in the last two losses. Last week, Cleveland were hammered 37-7 by the Buffalo Bills. The Browns
managed just 17 yards of offense on 46 plays, committed five turnover and yielded eight sacks.
Cleveland will start rookie Luke McCown (8-20 passing, 62 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT) at quarterback this week, in part because it has no other options. Jeff
Garcia (knee) is out for the year, Kelly Holcomb (ribs) might get killed behind a line that gave up eight sacks last Sunday, and Josh Harris, stolen
off the Ravens' practice squad on Tuesday, is a rookie out of Bowling Green who barely played in the preseason. Look for the team to try to establish
running back William Green (11 carries, 5 yards last week) early.
Redskins at San Francisco - Redskins
Tennessee at Oakland - Oakland
New England at Miami - New England
Jacksonville at Green Bay - Green Bay