Games of the Day
Eli Manning will not match his brother's performance, but a win against Philadelphia today would be a major accomplishment. New York continued their free fall last week, but Manning was solid, with a few dropped balls helping to limit his effectiveness. Unbelievably, the Giants are still tied with the Rams for the last playoff spot in the NFC. The Eagles can clinch the NFC East with a win today, but they'll have to do it in a rainy Giants Stadium.
Bryon Leftwich returns just in time for Jacksonville. They've fallen a game behind the wild card leaders, but with a win in Minnesota today they can remain just one game behind Indianapolis in the AFC South. The Jags only chance for the division is to hope that they can survive their next two games (Minnesota and Pittsburgh) and have the Colts stumble down the stretch. Indy is in the middle of an extremely soft spot in their schedule (Houston, Chicago, Detroit the last 3 weeks; Tennessee and Houston the next 2) but then have to finish up against Baltimore, San Diego, and at Denver. All 3 of those games should have playoff implications, and will provide a tougher test for Peyton Manning since all of those teams have given up between 140 and 190 points. By comparison, the cupcakes the Colts are playing now had all given up between 200 and 239 points entering this week.
It should also be raining in Foxboro for Baltimore and New England today. Both teams have major injuries, with the Ravens missing their top two running backs and the Patriots still depleted in the secondary. Even without the potential for bad weather, an early lead is essential in this type of game. The Ravens need a lead to take the pressure off of Kyle Boller; if he is placed in too many obvious passing situations the Patriots defense can scheme their way past their injuries. The Patriots need a lead because their secondary can be beaten deep for big plays (see last week) and they'd prefer to keep the ball in Corey Dillion's hands, especially if the weather is a factor.
Denver is a strange team, which makes this week's matchup with Oakland worth watching. They are winning primarily with defense, as their offense has been inconsistent. On the other hand, St. Louis at Green Bay Monday night has the potential to be a track meet. Both teams could be playing for first place in their respective divisions.