THIS WEEKEND'S BEST GAME
N.Y. Jets at Cincinnati
The time: 4:05 p.m., ET
The line: Bengals by 6-1/2
The story: The Jets have won the past four meetings and nine of the last 10. The Bengals have won their last four at home. Something has to give, and make the Jets the favorite to give. The reason: They haven't won two straight with Geno Smith as quarterback. More important, Smith has one touchdown, seven interceptions and a 51.59 passer rating in games following victories.
In short, he has stunk.
That's why it is hard to trust him or the Jets here. New York's defense will keep it competitive, but Smith commits too many turnovers ... just like another quarterback in the New York area. Yes, he looked good vs. New England. But he looked just as bad the week before against Pittsburgh, and that's how it goes with him.
One week up; the next down.
Smith catches a break with the absence of Cincinnati cornerback Leon Hall, lost for the season with an Achilles injury, but he'll need more than that to overcome a Bengals team that has won four of its last five, including defeats of Green Bay, New England and Detroit, clubs with a combined record of 13-7.
Something to consider: Cincinnati's Andy Dalton spreads the ball around so effectively that the Bengals have six receivers on pace to finish with 500 or more yards each. That has happened only once before in NFL history (the 2011 New Orleans Saints).
THREE OTHER GAMES YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT
Dallas at Detroit
The time: 1 p.m., ET
The line: Lions by 3
The story: Talk about mirror images of each other. Detroit's Matt Stafford is the top-ranked quarterback in the NFC. Dallas' Tony Romo is second. Demarco Murray leads Dallas with 428 yards rushing; Reggie Bush leads the Lions with 426. Dez Bryant's six touchdown passes are tied for first in the NFC ... with Detroit's Calvin Johnson. The Cowboys surrender an average of 394 yards per game; the Lions give up an average of 397. Dallas is plus-five in the takeaway/turnover ratio, tied with -- who else? -- Detroit.
I think you get the idea.
There should be a lot of scoring, and there should be a close game -- decided perhaps by a field goal. But you knew that. What you may not know is that Dallas has cornerback Brandon Carr on Johnson, and it's a matchup that could determine the outcome. It's also a test that is nothing new for Carr. The previous three weeks he was glued to Denver's Demaryius Thomas, Washington's Pierre Garcon and Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson.
None had more than 69 yards in receptions.
Something to consider: Bryant has three touchdowns in two games vs. the Lions.
Miami @ New England
The time: 1 p.m., ET
The line: Patriots by 6-1/2
The story: Yes, the Patriots are hurting, but they had wide receiver Danny Amendola and cornerback Aqib Talib back at practice this week, and talk about perfect timing. They're coming off a bad loss to the Jets, their division lead is down to one and they have been off their game for three weeks.
The proof? Tom Brady has one touchdown pass in that time, and that only came in the last 10 seconds vs. New Orleans. Tight end Rob Gronkowski returned last week, and Amendola is likely to reappear Sunday. Just a hunch, but the Patriots bounce back. They don't lose often at home, and they rarely lose there following a loss.
Plus, there's this: Miami is a mess. The Dolphins are on a three-game bender, their quarterback has a sore shoulder, the pass protection (OK, Ryan Clabo) has been a disaster and critics are beginning to hammer the coaching staff. In short, the Dolphins aren't what they were supposed to be, with another loss making them look like AFC East also-rans all over again.