New York Jets (9-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3)
— Tough week for QB Mark Sanchez. Head coach Rex Ryan admitted he considered benching Sanchez late in the third quarter of the Jets’ 10-6 loss to Miami on Sunday, but decided against it because he believed Sanchez gave the team the best chance to win. It’s hard to see what Ryan saw — Sanchez went 17-of-44 passing for 216 yards and a pick — but he has to have faith that Sanchez can play well on the road. Backing up that theory is that Sanchez’s best game of the year came in Miami this season, when he went 15-of-28 passing for 256 yards and three TDs in a 31-23 win.
— This game will be a homecoming of sorts for WR Santonio Holmes. Holmes played four years in Pittsburgh and achieved great success — including a Super Bowl MVP trophy — before ending his Steelers tenure in unceremonious fashion. It’s being reported that Holmes will be returning punts for New York this Sunday at Heinz Field as well.
— WR Mike Wallace is on the verge of something historic. He could become the third receiver in NFL history to lead the league in average per catch in his first two seasons. Wallace led the NFL with a 19.4-yard average as a rookie and his average of 20.6 yards today ranks second in the league.
— The Steelers passing game will get a boost with the return of TE Heath Miller. Miller (concussion) has been hampered by injury and only caught 33 passes this year, one season after setting a franchise-record for TE receptions with 76 in 2009.
Cleveland Browns (5-8) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-11)
— LB Scott Fujita missed practice because he is still recovering from a knee injury suffered Nov. 14. Late reports are that he’ll try to practice on Friday in preparation for Sunday, and that would be a big plus for the Browns. Fujita has emerged as one of the team’s leading tacklers this season and brings a veteran presence to the linebacking crew.
— The T.O.-Ocho show is on the limp. Terrell Owens did not practice on Wednesday due to a knee injury, but he is expected to suit up against Cleveland. Chad Ochocinco was also limited in practice this week due to an ankle sprain, but will also likely play against the Browns. It’s been a very strange, inconsistent season for both WRs and the entire Cincy passing game, but there is a bright spot — both Owens and Ochocino are still within spitting distance of 1,000-yard seasons. Owens has 983 coming into this game while Ochocino has 795.