(EDS: Times are Eastern. Picks do not reflect the betting line.)
Arizona Cardinals (6-2) at Seattle Seahawks (4-4)
8:30 p.m., NBC
When these teams met in Seattle last season, Arizona was 9-1 and held a three-game lead in the NFC West on the second-place Seahawks. Seattle won that game, 19-3, and did not lose again until falling to the Patriots in the Super Bowl. The Cardinals, though, lost three of their last five games and finished second in the division to Seattle. You can bet that the fact that this game marked a turning point for both teams last season is on the minds of their coaches heading into this one.
It should be noted that the Cardinals lost quarterback Carson Palmer before that 2014 game, and his absence led to some unstable play at quarterback that contributed greatly to their late-season slide. Arizona is 19-4 in the last 23 games started by Palmer dating to 2013. The Seahawks’ Pete Carroll, who coached the 35-year-old Palmer at Southern California, has certainly taken notice.
“Carson is playing phenomenal football,” Carroll said during the week. “He looks as good as he’s ever looked. The best I’ve ever seen him in all of the years he’s been out there playing.”
In addition to Palmer, two other players in their 30s are experiencing career rejuvenations in Arizona: Chris Johnson, 30, and Larry Fitzgerald, 32. Written off by many as being on the downside of their careers, the two are playing some of their best football. Johnson is third in the NFL in rushing yards, while Fitzgerald ranks eighth in receptions and ninth in receiving yards.
If the Seahawks have any chance of making a late run to snatch the NFC West title away from the Cardinals, it probably needs to win this game. Working in their advantage: Coming off a bye week, they will be near full strength for one of the few times this season.
Line: Seahawks by 3. Pick: Seahawks.
New England Patriots (8-0) at New York Giants (5-4)
4:25 p.m., CBS
The Patriots have been a dominant team in the Bill Belichick era, but the Giants have been a thorn in their side. When the Patriots and the Giants last faced off in a regular-season game in New Jersey, in 2007, New England was on its way to a perfect regular season. The Patriots won that game, but the Giants went on to upset them in the Super Bowl a few weeks later and again in the 2012 Super Bowl. Giants coach Tom Coughlin is 5-1 against Belichick.
But the Giants enter the game last in the NFL in total defense, and one has to wonder if they can contain an explosive Patriots offense led by quarterback Tom Brady, who has rarely looked better than he has through the first eight games of this season. Brady is no doubt licking his chops after watching film of Drew Brees shredding the Giants’ secondary for 505 yards and 52 points without being sacked in Week 8. Still, the recently returned Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is confident his presence will lead to some changes.
“They’re undefeated, but they have to come through here,” Pierre-Paul told reporters after practice Wednesday. “We’ll get to the quarterback. I’m sure of it. I know I will.”
Unfortunately for the Giants, Michael Strahan and Justin Tuck will not also be returning to suit up on Sunday.
Line: Patriots by 7. Pick: Patriots.
Minnesota Vikings (6-2) at Oakland Raiders (4-4)
4:25 p.m., FOX
With only three picks separating them in the 2014 draft, it is probably inevitable that Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (the 32nd pick) and Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (36th) will draw comparisons over the course of their careers, and to this point they are the shining stars of that quarterback class. (The two selected ahead of them, Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles, have not been as successful.) Bridgewater has the Vikings, who have won four straight for the first time since 2012, in a position to win the NFC North, while Carr is having a Pro Bowl season statistically, and a wild-card playoff berth is not an impossibility for Oakland.
Line: Raiders by 3. Pick: Raiders.
Dallas Cowboys (2-6) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5)
1 p.m., FOX
Will the Cowboys ever win without quarterback Tony Romo? They keep trying, bless their hearts, but have fallen short each time since Romo went down in Week 2, the most recent being a 33-27 overtime heartbreaker to the Eagles. Perhaps the football gods are punishing Jerry Jones for signing Greg Hardy. Dallas’ last chance to win without Romo may be this one, since he is expected to return for its Nov. 22 game against the Dolphins.
But this one will not come easy. The Buccaneers, led by quarterback Jameis Winston, have proved to be a feisty bunch, a team capable of beating anyone when it is playing well and the ball bounces its way a time or two.
Line: Buccaneers by 1. Pick: Buccaneers.
New Orleans Saints (4-5) at Washington Redskins (3-5)
1 p.m., FOX
The Saints were dealt a major setback last week, losing 34-27 in overtime to the Titans. New Orleans entered the game having won three in a row after a dreadful start to pull even at .500. The Saints were in command of the game early, but a bumbled potential interception that led to a fluky touchdown by Tennessee gave the Titans new life and swung the momentum. It was the type of loss so devastating that it has the potential to derail a team’s season, so it will be interesting to see how New Orleans responds.
The Redskins are still in the thick of it in the weak NFC East, and Kirk Cousins could have the game of his life against a Saints defense that has given up 83 points and 899 yards in its last two games.
Line: Saints by 1. Pick: Redskins.
Detroit Lions (1-7) at Green Bay Packers (6-2)
1 p.m., FOX
The Packers return to Lambeau Field after dropping two straight on the road to Denver and Carolina, and they will do so with a new starting running back. The team announced Wednesday that James Starks would replace Eddie Lacy in that role.
The good news for the Packers is that the team they are playing this week is the Lions, maybe the NFL’s worst team and an organization that appears to be in disarray after a rash of recent firings. The only thing the Lions appear to have going for them is having an offensive coordinator with perhaps the best name in football: Jim Bob Cooter.
Line: Packers by 12. Pick: Packers.
Cleveland Browns (2-7) at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4)
1 p.m., CBS
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had to be taken to the locker room on a cart after spraining his left foot in last week’s 38-35 victory against the Raiders, but he refused to rule himself out for this one against the Browns, against whom he is 18-2 in his career. But coach Mike Tomlin sounded less optimistic, stating that the team would “leave the door ajar” for Roethlisberger, though only “slightly ajar.”
If Big Ben cannot go, Landry Jones will start for Pittsburgh. In his only start this season, a 23-13 loss to the Chiefs, Jones completed 16 of 29 passes for 209 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Pittsburgh may also be without running back DeAngelo Williams, who also has a foot injury. Williams rushed for 170 yards last week filling in for the injured starter Le’Veon Bell.
Cleveland is also facing some uncertainty at quarterback. Starter Josh McCown is still struggling with a rib injury, meaning Johnny Manziel may be under center for the Browns once again.
Line: Steelers by 4.5. Pick: Steelers.
Kansas City Chiefs (3-5) at Denver Broncos (7-1)
4:25 p.m., CBS
When these teams met this season in Kansas City, the Broncos won in improbable fashion, returning a Jamaal Charles fumble for a touchdown with seconds left in regulation as the Chiefs were attempting to run out the clock and send the game into overtime.
Denver will be without cornerback Aqib Talib after he was suspended by the league for a game after hitting the Colts’ Dwayne Allen with a Three Stooges-esque eye poke. Starting in Talib’s place will be rookie Bradley Roby. It was Roby who scooped up the aforementioned fumble and returned it for the game-winning touchdown in Week 2.
Line: Broncos by 6. Pick: Broncos.
Carolina Panthers (8-0) at Tennessee Titans (2-6)
1 p.m., FOX
Coming off a 37-29 victory against Green Bay that served to emphasize that the Panthers are indeed a legitimate force, Carolina appears to be walking directly into a classic trap game. The Titans with Marcus Mariota under center are a more dangerous team than they are without him. Mariota’s performance against the Saints in a 34-28 overtime win earned him AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors, and he became the first rookie in NFL history to toss four touchdown passes with no interceptions in a game twice in a season. He is also performing well where it matters most — Mariota’s 115.6 passer rating in the red zone leads the NFL.
Line: Panthers by 5. Pick: Titans.
Chicago Bears (3-5) at St. Louis Rams (4-4)
1 p.m., CBS
Desperate to add weapons to their passing game, the Rams have signed concussion-plagued wide receiver Wes Welker. They are among the league’s worst teams at converting on third down this season and hope that Welker, something of a third-down catch specialist throughout his career as a slot receiver, can help in that regard. In their last three games, the Rams have attempted to convert on third down 37 times and have succeeded only four times.
Line: Rams by 7. Pick: Rams.
Miami Dolphins (3-5) at Philadelphia Eagles (4-4)
1 p.m., CBS
It took a while to get going, but the Eagles appear to have gotten their swagger back. They have won three of their last four, with Chip Kelly’s offense piling up yardage and points in those games; the Eagles have averaged 438 yards and 28 points per game in their last four.
The Dolphins appear to have been dealt a reality check in the last couple of weeks after winning two straight after Joe Philbin was fired as coach. After blowing out the Titans and the Texans under their new coach, Dan Campbell, Miami has been beaten handily by the Bills and the Patriots in its last two games.
Line: Eagles by 6.5. Pick: Eagles.
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6) at Baltimore Ravens (2-6)
1 p.m., CBS
Raise your hand if you looked at the schedule before the season and thought the Ravens and the Jaguars would have matching records heading into this game. Those of you with your hands raised are either charlatans or clairvoyants, or perhaps a little of both.
Line: Ravens by 5.5. Pick: Ravens.
Houston Texans (3-5) at Cincinnati Bengals (8-0)
8:30 p.m. Monday, ESPN
While the Bengals enter this week as one of only three undefeated teams, with quarterback Andy Dalton having probably the best season of his career, Cincinnati and Dalton have struggled mightily in recent years against the Texans. Behind Dalton, the Bengals are 1-3 against the Texans, with two of the losses coming in the playoffs. Further, Dalton has tossed two touchdowns and five interceptions in those games, with the team averaging only 16 points.
The Texans enter the week only a half-game behind the Colts in the AFC South. For Houston to have a chance in this one, its J.J. Watt-led defense will have to play up to the lofty expectations set for it going into the season and keep this a close, low-scoring game. Otherwise, it’s doubtful Houston’s anemic offense can score enough points to keep up with the Bengals’ scoring output.
Line: Bengals by 10.5. Pick: Bengals.