In a season in which winners seem to meet losers most of the time, Indianapolis and Miami have a rare game Sunday. It's a matchup between teams with just three losses between them.
''It's great to be 6-1 and being 7-1 would be cool, but we know we have to keep getting better,'' Indianapolis offensive tackle Adam Meadows said as the Colts prepared for a revitalized Miami team with Brian Griese at quarterback for Jay Fiedler.
Meadows is right, although it's not his half of the team that needs improvement. The defense is allowing 4.7 yards per rush and 131 yards per game. If nothing else, that makes for a bad matchup against the Dolphins and Ricky Williams.
New England (6-2) at Denver (5-3) (Monday night)
Another game between teams with winning records, but vastly different momentum.
The Broncos have lost two straight since quarterback Jake Plummer broke his foot. That means Denver goes again with Danny Kanell.
Green Bay (3-4) at Minnesota (6-1)
Brett Favre has a cracked thumb, but is almost sure to start for the 181st straight time, a record for a quarterback.
Favre has had little success in the Metrodome, where he's 2-9. In fact, he usually has problems against Minnesota, throwing four interceptions in a 30-25 loss at Lambeau Field on opening day.
St. Louis (5-2) at San Francisco (3-5)
If the 49ers want to do anything this season, a win here is a must following the overtime loss in Arizona. Now-departed kicker Owen Pochman took the blame, but the offense is equally culpable, getting just 255 yards after running up 458 the previous week against a much better Tampa Bay defense. And it will be without injured quarterback Jeff Garcia (ankle).
Washington (3-4) at Dallas (5-2)
The Redskins are another desperate team after dropping four of their last five. Steve Spurrier couldn't convince Danny Wuerffel to return again after he cut backup quarterback Rob Johnson, but he did get defensive tackle Darrell Russell right off a substance abuse suspension of 1 1/2 years.
Pittsburgh (2-5) at Seattle (5-2)
Yet another survival game, this one for the Steelers, who are lucky to be in the AFC North, where .500 could win. Bill Cowher thinks the team's four-game losing streak stems from passivity among players and coaches.
New Orleans (3-5) at Tampa Bay (4-3)
The Bucs have alternated wins and losses. And the Saints handed them two of their four defeats last season. So it will be interesting to see if last week's shutout of Dallas got Tampa Bay out of its funk.
Carolina (6-1) at Houston (2-5)
Dom Capers was Carolina's first coach and is doing an equally good job with expansion Houston.
But John Fox may be doing a better job with the Panthers, who bounced back from their first loss to get an overtime win in New Orleans that kept them two games ahead of Tampa Bay in the NFC South.
Cincinnati (3-4) at Arizona (2-5)
The Bengals have won two in a row, are favored in this game and will be favored again next week against Houston at home before taking on Kansas City. The last time they won three in a row was 1999 and the last four-game winning streak was in 1989.
New York Giants (3-4) ''at'' New York Jets (2-5)
Chad Pennington starts his first game for the Jets after a mediocre performance in relief in Philadelphia coming back from a broken hand. The Giants hope their 29-17 win in Minnesota started them on what has become an annual second-half surge.
Jacksonville (1-6) at Baltimore (4-3)
The Ravens are starting to compare this team to the 2000 squad that won the Super Bowl. There are similarities both Jamal and Ray Lewis are having outstanding seasons but rookie Kyle Boller is still learning how to play quarterback.
Philadelphia (4-3) at Atlanta (1-6)
The Eagles have won two straight over the New York teams and are only a game behind the Cowboys in the NFC East. Still, the injuries keep piling up: Hollis Thomas, an important run-stopper is the latest to go down.
Oakland (2-5) at Detroit (1-6)
It's hard to think of the defending AFC champions in the same class as Detroit, 6-33 over the past 2 1/2 seasons. They did give a good effort against the Chiefs before their bye, thanks mainly to QB Marques Tuiasosopo, who replaced the injured Rich Gannon and will start Sunday.
San Diego (1-6) at Chicago (2-5)
The Chargers clearly are a bad team. But were they worse against Miami on Monday night because of the disruption and concern caused by the southern California fires?
A win here by the Bears nearly equals their win total of four in 2002. The offense has been better since Chris Chandler took over for Kordell Stewart.
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