Indianapolis Colts (5-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (4-3)
This game? All about familiarity. The Colts are back in their familiar spot of first place in the AFC South division, thanks in large part to a three-game winning streak. The Eagles get a familiar face back at QB (Michael Vick returns from a rib injury) and return home to the friendly confines of Lincoln Financial Field after playing two of its last three on the road.
Of course, the one thing about this match-up that isn’t familiar are the two teams facing each other. The Colts and Eagles haven’t played each other since 2006 — a 45-21 win for the Colts in Indy — and the Eagles haven’t beaten Indianapolis since December 19, 1993. Philly’s last win at home over the Colts? October 14…1984.
The Colts come into this game a banged-up bunch. All-Pro tight end Dallas Clark (wrist) is on injured reserve and receiver Austin Collie (hand) could miss a second straight game. It’s also uncertain who QB Peyton Manning — second in the NFL with 15 TD passes — will have in the backfield. Running back Joseph Addai (shoulder) could miss a second straight game with a shoulder injury, while third-stringer Mike Hart is dealing with an ankle injury after rushing for a career-high 84 yards in Monday’s 30-17 win over Houston.
Philly has much better news on the injury front. As mentioned earlier, Vick will return from a rib injury and leading WR DeSean Jackson should be back from a concussion. Jackson is the kind of deep-pass, big-score threat Philly has missed in recent weeks — he’s averaged 44.3 yards per score on his 22 touchdowns in three seasons and 11 of those TDs have been from 50 yards or longer.
Arizona Cardinals (3-4) at Minnesota Vikings (2-5)
It’ll be interesting to see how the Vikings play now that Randy Moss is a distant memory (also: a Tennessee Titan). For all the purported negativity Moss brought to the team, there’s no denying his on-field impact. Even without catching passes, Moss dramatically altered how defenses approached the Vikings — he demanded extra coverage and often forced opposing safeties to play unusually deep. As a result, other Minnesota players flourished. WR Percy Harvin caught 19 passes for 287 yards in the four games Moss played; RB Adrian Peterson caught nine for 111 yards.
As for the Cardinals, it’ll be interesting to see who finishes the game at quarterback. Derek Anderson will get the start, but this QB situation (based on history, anyways) appears far from being solved. Anderson already lost the starting gig after “winning” it in the preseason over Matt Leinart (neither played especially well, but Anderson was tagged as the No. 1; Leinart was released).
Then — after Anderson quickly lost the gig to Max Hall — it appeared that Cards coach Ken Whisenhunt would stick with undrafted rookie after a stellar win over New Orleans a few weeks ago. But Hall’s erratic play against Seattle and Tampa Bay forced Whisenhunt’s hand, and it now appears Arizona isn’t going with one QB in particular. Rather, the Cards are going to play whichever one gives them the best chance of winning — who that guy is remains to be seen.