Posted by Sabrina B. @gametimegirl

Happy Football Sunday!!! Lots of great games today!  Check the matches after the jump…


WHAT TO WATCH FOR: The Vikings are 4-4 against the Bears since coach Brad Childress took over in 2006. The teams have split the past two years, with each winning its home game. Vikings RB Adrian Peterson set a then-franchise record for the Vikings when he rushed for 224 yards and tied a team mark with three rushing touchdowns in a 34-31 victory on Oct. 14, 2007 at Chicago. Peterson also established a team record with 361 combined yards (224 rushing, nine receiving, 128 kickoff returns) that day.

This will be the first meeting between Vikings LT Bryant McKinnie and Bears DE Julius Peppers, who has only two sacks this season. McKinnie had his worst performance of the 2009 season against Peppers, who was then playing for the Panthers. Peppers had only one sack in a 26-7 Carolina victory last Dec. 20, but he also had a tackle for a loss and three quarterback hurries. That performance was enough to get McKinnie benched in a season in which he was selected to the Pro Bowl. Peppers last had a sack on Oct. 3 against the Giants. However, he leads the Bears with 12 quarterback pressures, two forced fumbles and all linemen with 28 tackles.

Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz plans to keep calling a balanced offense despite the team’s inability to bust any long runs last Sunday against the Bills. With WR Percy Harvin (migraines) feeling better, the Vikings decided against activating WR Sidney Rice, Favre’s main man last season. Favre needs WR Bernard Berrian (groin) to find some open areas in the Chicago zone. Favre excelled last week in the two-minute drill, and Minnesota may elect to use a hurry-up approach today.


WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Rookie QB Jimmy Clausen (0-3) will start while Mike Goodsonwill make his first start at running back for the Panthers. In addition, Jon Beason moves back to his old spot at middle linebacker, and Nic Harris, a castoff from the Bills, will start at weak-side linebacker. The Bucs are coming off a tough loss in Atlanta to the Falcons when LeGarrette Blount was stuffed on a fourth-down run. Clausen might be okay because the Bucs have only six sacks this season. First-round pick DT Gerald McCoy, the third overall pick, remains sackless. In fact, Bucs are on pace to finish with one of the lowest sack totals in NFL history. The worst total was posted by the 2008 Chiefs, who finished with just 10 as a team. The Bucs plan to use some new rush combinations that will include McCoy with linebackers Quincy Black, Dekota Watson and perhaps newcomers such as defensive linemen Alex Magee and Al Woods.

As a rookie, Bucs QB Josh Freeman was intercepted five times against the Panthers, but he’s a much steadier player today and he has a game-breaker in rookie WR Mike Williams. Clausen, who has completed eight passes for 99 yards to Steve Smith in three games, must get Smith more involved and be quick about it. Bucs CB Aqib Talib will be focusing on Smith all day.


WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Something is bound to give today. The Bills are 0-8 for first time since 1984 while the Lions have lost 24 straight on the road, tying the team’s own record for road futility from earlier in the decade. QB Shaun Hill starts again for the Lions with Matthew Stafford out with a shoulder injury. Hill will wear a glove on his left hand and also have a cast to protect his left forearm that was broken three weeks ago. He is wearing the glove because his hand has lost strength since the injury. He may also not run as much because of his forearm, fearing further injury if he’s sliding out there. In Hill’s five starts, the Lions have averaged 26 points a game and he’s thrown nine TD passes. \

Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has been clicking with WR Stevie Johnson lately as opponents have been doubling Lee Evans. Buffalo also lost its slot receiver, Roscoe Parrish, for the rest of the season with a broken wrist. Parrish had already set a career single-season high with 400 yards receiving and two TDs on 33 catches. His absence will give more playing time to rookies David Nelson and Donald Jones. Buffalo’s secondary has yet to intercept a pass and the defense, which led the AFC with 28 picks last year, as a whole has just one pick. Expect the Lions to put a lot of pressure on Fitzpatrick like they did Mark Sanchez last week and Donovan McNabb the week before that.


WHAT TO WATCH FOR: If the Giants are going to match Atlanta’s seven wins in the NFC, they must do it with a totally revamped offensive line against the Cowboys. New York is minus two starters in C Shaun O’Hara (foot) and LT David Diehl (hamstring and hip). It means that Rich Seubert will make his second straight start at center and must neutralize Dallas NT Jay Ratliff. But the most critical matchup could be LT Shawn Andrews against the Cowboys’ DeMarcus Ware, who has eight sacks. Andrews has resurrected his career with the Giants, and in his glory days with the Eagles he was a Pro Bowl guard in the mold of Larry Allen. The new left guard figures to be Kevin Boothe, who just came off the PUP list. If he can’t handle it, rookie Mitch Petruswill take over. Despite the injuries, the Giants should be able to run and pass against the Cowboys.Eli Manning, though, won’t have his most-trusted receiver in Steve Smith, meaning that Dallas can double Hakeem Nicks if they want to.

Jason Garrett called only 15 runs in the earlier loss to the Giants, but you figure he wants to keep the game close and that could mean more runs this time around. He needs to protect QB Jon Kitna, who has six interceptions in his last two starts. He’s also been sacked nine times, which is two more than Tony Romo was sacked this season despite 101 fewer pass attempts. Dallas RBTashard Choice could see more action in this game because he’s solid against the blitz. A Cowboys win would prevent Dallas from losing six straight games for the first time since the last two weeks of 2000 and the first four of 2001. The Giants have won three straight against Dallas.


WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Very little is expected to change in the way the Rams approach this game. They will seek to run withSteven Jackson, which can be difficult against the 49ers, who have allowed just 14 runs of 10 or more yards. QB Sam Bradford has been extremely efficient and he’ll look for his favorite target, Danny Amendola, who has 45 receptions. Defensively, the Rams need to stop RB Frank Gore, who has 691 rushing yards after eight games, and try to limit the potential damage that TE Vernon Davis can do.

The Rams have only two takeaways in their three road games, and both came in Oakland. Rams DTs Fred Robbins and Gary Gibsonand MLB James Laurinaitis must contain Gore and keep him from stretching the field. This game also marks the first NFL meeting of Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks since Cincinnati’sCarson Palmer and Dallas’ Vinny Testaverde met in 2004. “That is a cool dynamic that we have going in this game,” said Bradford, the 2008 Heisman recipient from Oklahoma. “But I’m really not thinking much about it, and I doubt he is, either.” Troy Smith, winner of the 2006 Heisman with Ohio State, starts his second consecutive game while Alex Smith continues to recover from a separated left (non-throwing) shoulder.


WHAT TO WATCH FOR: The Seahawks need to get back to what they do best —- stopping the run. They’re hoping the addition of DT Brandon Mebane can get things turned around for a defense that allowed 74 points in the last two games. The Seahawks need to be better against the run against the Cardinals, who love to pound the ball with Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower.

Offensively, the return of QB Matt Hasselbeck should stabilize the Seattle offense. Hasselbeck will be looking for WR Mike Williams, who caught 11 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown against Cardinals CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie three weeks ago. Williams made a handful of spectacular catches late in the game against Rodgers-Cromartie. Seattle’s offensive line should also be getting back a couple more starters although rookie LR Russell Okung (high ankle sprain) remains a game-time decision.

Arizona WR Larry Fitzgerald will be going against Seahawks CB Marcus Trufant for the 14th time. The two know each other well, and Trufant has the size and speed to match up with the athletic Fitzgerald. There is no question that Derek Anderson looks for Fitzgerald every time he drops back. Cardinals DT Darnell Dockett said the rematch with the Seahawks will be personal after his team’s 22-10 loss at Qwest Field three weeks ago. Marshawn Lynch ran for 89 yards in that game, and the two players were seen jawing more than a couple times.


Cincinnati at Indianapolis: These two cities are only 110 miles apart, but the Colts have won six straight and figure to win again unless the Bengals can get Cedric Benson untracked against Indy’s porous run defense. Jim Caldwell is 10-1 at Lucas Oil Stadium, including 5-0 this season. Who knows where Bengals coach Marvin Lewis stands with owner Mike Brown? He’s in the last year of his contract. The funny twist to this game is that Terrell Owens, not Chad Ochocinco, is now the main receiver with the Bengals. And we all know that Ochocinco hates it and also being fined for his gold cleats on Monday night.

N.Y. Jets at Cleveland: This is the first time Eric Mangini has played the Jets since being fired after the 2008 season. This is also the fourth showdown game between Rex and Rob Ryan, theBrowns defensive coordinator. Rex’s Baltimore defense won the first three. This is the fourth start in a row for rookie Browns QB Colt McCoy, who is 2-1 with wins over New Orleans and New England after losing to Pittsburgh in his first game. Also, as an interesting sidelight, Mangini traded his fifth overall pick to the Jets in the 2009 draft in order for them to be able to draft QB Mark Sanchez. Oh, yes, and Braylon Edwards returns to Cleveland for the first time, too.

Houston at Jacksonville: The Jaguars’ pass rush will be hurting minus DE Aaron Kampmanand that should be all Houston QB Matt Schaub needs to have a big day. The Jaguars have allowed 17 TD passes this season and opposing quarterbacks are completing 67 percent of their pass attempts. Schaub will have WR Andre Johnson, but not reliable TE Owen Daniel in the lineup. The Texans have looked awful lately and need this game to get back into playoff consideration. Houston last won here, though, in 2006. Houston has moved Brian Cushing back to his outside linebacker position after the second-year pro struggled inside.

Tennessee at Miami: There is a chance that QB Vince Young (left ankle) can play today because he did split the reps with Kerry Collins during Thursday’s practice. Young will test his ankle in the morning. One good thing is that Collins played with new WR Randy Moss in Oakland, so the two know each other pretty well. The Dolphins are going with Chad Pennington, who is highly accurate but a dink-and-dunk passer. Miami is hoping that Pennington can deliver in the red zone where Chad Henne was failed this season. Henne also has 10 interceptions. Moss said this week, that “I didn’t want to go to Minnesota and mess anything up. I guess everybody blamed me for it. I’m going to say it again; I’m not coming here to start no trouble. I’m just coming here to work every day and hopefully we win.”

Kansas City at Denver: The Chiefs lead the NFL in rushing offense, averaging 179.6 yards per game. The Broncos rank No. 31 vs. the run, allowing 154.6 yards per game. The Broncos are also pass-happy, and rank last in running the football, averaging just 67.3 yards per game. Both Chiefs running backs Jamaal Charles, with 719 yards, and Thomas Jones, 570 yards, have rushed for more yards than the entire Denver team (538 yards) this season. In an odd meeting of brothers, Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt competes against Denver punter Britton Colquitt. This may be an NFL first.

New England at Pittsburgh: In this huge AFC showdown game, the Steelers are really hurting on their offensive and defensive lines. And it could get worse if OLB James Harrison’s back spasms don’t relent. Harrison is a game-time decision for Pittsburgh, a team desperate to put pressure on Tom Brady and see how his sore foot responds. It looks like Pittsburgh will feature RB Rashard Mendenhall and hope he can run consistently against the Pats. If he can, that will allow Ben Roethlisberger to take some play-action shots down the field to Mike Wallace. ThePatriots’ passing game has been out-of-sync lately and their running game is still minus Fred Taylor.

-John Czarnecki