Welcome to the start of Week 7 in the NFL.
Would you believe it's been 14 days since the Bears last played, and the team still doesn't play today? (Well, okay, yeah, you probably would, because I'm not sure there's anybody around not aware the Bears are on Monday Night Football again.)
Either way, it's Sunday, the best day of the week from an NFL fan's perspective, so let's go ahead and get you started on the day in NFL action. First off, the TV maps.
Baltimore @ Houston - CBS, 1 ET / Noon CT - Two preseason AFC favorites with solid defenses battle instead as teams missing their defensive playmakers - Brian Cushing for Houston, and Ray Lewis for Baltimore. Still, in the wide-open AFC, of which only two teams are above .500, getting any kind of foothold in positive territory is big at this point. Also, Terrell Suggs is coming back a mere 5 1/2 months after ACL surgery.
Cleveland @ Indianapolis - CBS, 1 ET / Noon CT - Andrew Luck had what can be described as a "pretty bad game" last week, but he takes on a 1-5 Browns team that picked up their first win in twelve games last week against Cincinnati. Also, the Browns' supplemental draft pick Josh Gordon looks like a pretty good one so far. How come dat cuddenave been 'Arvey Unga?!
Tennessee @ Buffalo - CBS, 1 ET / Noon CT - Buffalo signed back Shawne Merriman. Well, when Merriman's your answer to replace Mark Anderson (knee surgery) and potentially Spencer Johnson (ankle), and your team's allowed the second-worst points per game, it couldn't hurt that badly in a rotation including Mario Williams and Nick Barnett. Jake Locker's still down for Tennessee, and Tennessee still struggles to run the ball behind Chris Johnson's career worst 3.3 yards per carry, but it's a Buffalo defense that's also given up 740 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns in the last three games (I didn't believe it either, but 247 against NE, 311 against SF, and 182 against ARZ).
New York Jets @ New England - CBS, 4:25 ET / 3:25 CT - The Jets have been outscored 112-40 by New England in the last three meetings. Anytime Rex Ryan is willing to stop running his mouth when facing the Patriots is probably fine with his team. The Jets are missing Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes for the year, and Dustin Keller, Stephen Hill and Nick Mangold have also taken their nicks. Also, keep your Tebowradar firmly pointed at running back, as Joe McKnight and Bilal Powell are likely to miss with an ankle and a separated shoulder, respectively.
Jacksonville @ Oakland - CBS, 4:25 ET / 3:25 CT - Jacksonville is bad. Oakland is bad. Both are 1-4, and if the total viewers of this game were all offered tickets to the game live, it'd be blacked out anyway. So why it's a late game is beyond me. Either way, Oakland gets back Aaron Curry to try to slow down Maurice Jones-Drew.
Washington @ New York Giants - FOX, 1 ET / Noon CT - The Giants get back Ahmad Bradshaw for this one. But the Giants also have to contend with a red-hot Robert Griffin III, who leads all quarterbacks in rushing (and is 15th amongst all players in rushing) and leads the NFL in completion percentage. Then there's Alfred Morris as well.
Dallas @ Carolina - FOX, 1 ET / Noon CT - Dallas is trying to avoid their first three-game losing streak in two seasons. Carolina's struggling this year at 1-4, and Cam Newton's doing his part, throwing nine interceptions this year to lead the NFC. And for a team that's invested money in DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Mike Tolbert, as well as Newton, they're 12th in rushing attempts and 10th in rushing yards. In the NFC.
Green Bay @ St. Louis - FOX, 1 ET / Noon CT - Well, if you're watching this game, you're subjected to Sam Rosen. Unfortunately, that group includes me. But Brian Billick makes up for it. Either way, Green Bay comes back from tearing apart Houston to face a surprisingly decent St. Louis team that's also surprisingly willing to enter sale mode.
New Orleans @ Tampa Bay - FOX, 1 ET / Noon CT - The NFC South's gone from a top division to a pretty bad one, with the Saints having a down year and Tampa Bay crashing after their 2010 success. The NFL in a nutshell. But the Saints are coming off a win and their bye, and the Bucs seem to have gotten their offense going a little more, having routed Kansas City. And over their last eight meetings, the two teams are 4-4.
Arizona @ Minnesota - FOX, 1 ET / Noon CT - So after a 4-0 start, the Cardinals are 4-2 and giving John Skelton another turn at quarterback following Kevin Kolb's injury. The Vikings have taken their own start to 4-2 after last week's loss and want to start the year 4-0 at home. ESPN's preview mentions Skelton's 6-2 record as "proven he can win." I'm sorry, but if you "just win" as a quarterback, despite all statistical and visual evidence to the contrary, you're probably not the reason your team is winning. Skelton's career numbers include a 51.7 completion percentage, 13 TDs to 18 INTs, an adjusted yards per attempt of 5.1, 184.6 yards per game, and a 64.2 quarterback rating. That quarterback may have an 8-4 career record, but that's not thanks to his play.
Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati - NBC SNF, 8:20 ET / 7:20 CT - AJ Green and Andy Dalton are real players. And it's a strong divisional matchup to close out the day. The Bengals want to avoid their own three-game losing streak and get above .500. They get a Steelers team missing Troy Polamalu, Chris Carter, Marcus Gilbert, and Alameda Ta'amu after his suspension for being arrested. Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman are also questionable.
This is your open thread until gametime starts. The first gamethread will come up at noon CT / 1 ET. As always, Open Thread Responsibly (TM).