Dwight Freeney has recorded a sack in each game this season.
Tom Brady knows how dangerous Dwight Freeney is. Freeney against rookie left tackle Sebastian Vollmer, filling in for the injured Matt Light, could be the biggest matchup of the game. The presumption is that the Patriots will hurry into three wide to test the Colts’ secondary depth and bring cornerback Tim Jennings on the field. But doing so will limit the possibilities of offering Vollmer help on Freeney. The rookie handled Miami’s Joey Porter last week. Can he go 2-for-2 against a guy who’s got a sack in every game?
The road to 2,000?Chris Johnson needs to average 130 yards per game rushing over the Titans’ final eight games to get to 2,000 for the season. The Bills are the NFL’s worst rushing defense, allowing 173.6 yards a game. Johnson’s gone for 228 and 197 in his two best games this year. Let’s say he splits the difference and manages 216 on the ground against Buffalo -- a giant day for sure. That would get the average he’d need over the last seven games down to 117. Doable?
There will be a twist for the Colts to figure out. Indianapolis’ defense under coordinator Larry Coyer is a bit less predictable, but the Colts' formula is no secret and they’ll challenge Brady and the Patriots to beat it. On the other side, however, the Patriots are sure to do something unexpected, deploying groupings they haven’t used in some time or switching fronts or coverages. Peyton Manning's ability to dissect and diagnose those alterations could become the story of the game.
The Jaguars need to play from ahead. A big start at Giants Stadium really could help Jacksonville’s cause. Get ahead, and the Jaguars can rely on their strength and feed the ball to Maurice Jones-Drew. Fall behind, and face a steady diet of the Jets' Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene. That’s a huge disadvantage considering the Jets are the NFL’s No. 1 team when it comes to rushing yardage, with an average of 177.6 yards a game. The Jags need to get MJD in the end zone, too. He leads the NFL with 11 scores, but he was on the losing end of the two games where he didn’t score.
The longer leg in from New England. Does "Sunday Night Football" come down to the last possession and a field goal attempt? If so, Brady won’t have to move the Patriots as far as Manning would have to move the Colts. Stephen Gostkowski hit his two longest field goal attempts of the year, from 53 and 45 yards. Matt Stover, who’s filling in for the injured former Patriot Adam Vinatieri, is known now for accuracy, not distance. He’s hit a 40-yarder and hasn’t tried anything longer.