Minnesota Vikings (2-4) at New England Patriots (5-1)
As it is with every game involving Brett Favre, most of the storylines for this one focus on ol’ No. 4. After learning earlier this week that he has two fractures in his left ankle, Favre spent most of the week walking around in a protective boot and deflecting questions about his playing status for Sunday. That said, it is expected that Favre will play against New England — regardless of the pain or limited mobility caused by the ankle — and that has to be good news for Vikings WR Randy Moss.
Say what you will about his lack of impact on the Vikings offense or how New England hasn’t looked worse for wear since trading him — Randy Moss is going to play a huge role in this contest. The hype and hoopla will be huge, and Moss loves the hype and hoopla. Having Favre under center will definitely aid Moss’ cause (nobody wants to speculate how the passing game would look with Tarvaris Jackson at QB) as No. 81 will be looking to replicate some of the success he had in New England — he had 259 receptions and over 50 TDs in three seasons as a Patriot.
Speaking of the passing game, keep an eye on the Pats and the guy brought in to replace Moss — Deion Branch. He’s been a key contributor in his first two games with the team, immediately finding old chemistry with QB Tom Brady. Over the last two weeks, Branch has caught 13 passes for 137 yards and a TD and has been instrumental in both Patriot victories.
Tennessee Titans (5-2) at San Diego Chargers (2-5)
It seems that every week the Chargers find new and unique ways to lose football games. Inability to cover kickoffs, terrible return coverage, blocked punts, missed field goals — San Diego does it all. Because of this, the Chargers are wasting a tremendous statistical season and giving us one of the rarest statistical anomalies of all time: San Diego ranks first in the NFL in total offense AND defense, yet finds itself mired in the AFC West basement with a 2-5 record.
The Chargers have also been terrible at protecting the football — an AFC-high 18 turnovers so far — and that could be disastrous against a very opportunistic Titans team. Tennessee leads the league with 12 interceptions and has 11 takeaways during its current three-game winning streak; the Titans also won’t have to deal with Charger WR Malcolm Floyd, who will miss his second consecutive game with a hamstring injury.
One final note on the Titans front: It appears Vince Young will once again be back under center. Coach Jeff Fisher confirmed that Young will be the starting QB this Sunday after Kerry Collins led the team to a big win over Philly last week. This is a big development because Young is 0-4 lifetime against San Diego with a 43.9 QB rating.