Chiefs at Bills
When: 1 p.m. EST
Story line: The NFL's only unbeaten squad lays it on the line. Chiefs fans, listen up. Fifteen teams have started 8-0 since the league went to a 16-game schedule in 1978. Nine reached the Super Bowl and eight won it.
About the Chiefs: For some inexplicable reason, KC has a devil of a time in Buffalo. The Chiefs have lost six straight there and haven't won on the eastern shores of Lake Erie since 1986. Overall, the Chiefs have dropped four of the past five against the Bills. KC has caught lots of breaks this year. Its first eight opponents have a combined 21-40 record; the second-half foes are 35-24.
About the Bills: They could be down to their third-string quarterback, undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel or recently signed Matt Flynn. Buffalo has had thrillers at home, the four games decided by a total of 10 points. The running backs, like the QBs, are beaten up, so it's hard seeing from where the offense will come.
Prediction: Chiefs, 27-17. Everything is going KC's way this year.
Saints at Jets
When: 1 p.m.
Story line: The bluster bowl. New Orleans defensive coordinator Rob Ryan vs. New York head coach Rex Ryan. Between the two, there'll be enough hot air to fill up MetLife Stadium. FYI: Rex holds a 6-3 advantage, going back to their college days.
About the Saints: Drew Brees has found yet another new weapon, rookie WR Kenny Stills from Oklahoma. Stills has 193 yards and three scores in his past two games. LB Curtis Lofton, subbing for the injured Jonathan Vilma, is having a great year, providing leadership and a team-high 55 tackles About the Jets: Allowing the fewest yards rushing per game (77.9) and also leading the league by holding opponents to a 3.1-yard rushing average, including a mere 12 runs of 10 yards or more. Geno Smith has been sacked 28 times, and he's facing a Saints team that tops the NFC with 3.4 sacks per game.
Prediction: Saints, 27-17. Rob has Drew; Rex has Geno.
Vikings at Cowboys
When: 1 p.m.
Story line: Having worked their way through the flop against the Lions and the flap involving volatile Dez Bryant, the Cowboys look to take out their frustration on an opponent, not each other.
About the Vikings: Adrian Peterson is fired up to be playing in his home state and just for the second time in Dallas. Too bad he doesn't have anyone around him. Peterson also has just 36 carries over his past three games. The Minny D is allowing a league-high 51 percent conversions on third down.
About the Cowboys: You would think it would be easy. When they give DeMarco Murray the ball 18 times or more, the 'Boys are 11-0. Murray (knee) should be healthy, and Minny has allowed nine rushing scores. Sean Lee is a defensive playmaker. Since 2010, Lee leads NFL linebackers with 11 interceptions and 305 return yards.
Prediction: Cowboys, 35-14. The Vikings serve as the punching bag for an agitated team that needs one right now.
Chargers at Redskins
When: 1 p.m.
Story line: San Diego QB Philip Rivers makes the next stop on his renaissance tour, facing erratic Robert Griffin III.
About the Chargers: Rivers is hot. He's completing 74 percent of his passes, and his 111.1 rating is No. 2 to Peyton Manning. Rivers already has three games in which he's completed at least 20 passes and 80 percent of his attempts, tying Brett Favre (2009) and Drew Brees (2011) for the single-season record. And now Ryan Mathews has his first back-to-back 100-yard rushing efforts.
About the Skins: Griffin, by contrast, is completing 59 percent with nine TDs, eight INTs and a 79.2 rating. But he is finding rookie TE Jordan Reed of Florida, who has 17 catches for 224 yards in the past two games. Washington has the worst average starting field position in the league (22.7-yard line).
Prediction: Redskins, 31-28. San Diego has never been known for flying across the country and winning.
Falcons at Panthers
When: 1 p.m.
Story line: Atlanta tries to break its precipitous fall after losing four of five. Carolina is darting in the other direction, winning four of five.
About the Falcons: The offense is stuck in neutral, held under 300 total yards and 30 rushing yards for two games in a row. Steven Jackson returned last week, though one would hardly know it based on his 11 carries for 6 yards. The defense is being gashed on the ground and has generated just six turnovers.
About the Panthers: Everything looks good, and now swift RB Jonathan Stewart is ready to make his season debut, though DeAngelo Williams remains the No. 1 and Mike Tolbert the goal-line guy. Carolina is first in time of possession, and Cam Newton has eight TDs and no turnovers in his past three games.
Prediction: Panthers, 31-27. The Falcons are 0-3 on the road and just a general mess right now.
Titans at Rams
When: 1 p.m.
Story line: Quarterback Jake Locker, recovered from hip and knee injuries, returns for Tennessee, facing longtime Titans coach Jeff Fisher.
About the Titans: Locker was off to a good start, completing 62 percent of his passes for 1,047 yards with eight TDs and one pick, and the Titans were averaging 24.5 points. Since then, they are 0-3, averaging 15.7 points. CB Alterraun Verner tops the league with 13 passes defended.
About the Rams: Perhaps they have uncovered their franchise running back in Zac Stacy. The rookie from Vanderbilt was third in the league with 344 yards rushing in October and is fresh off a 134-yard game. Stacy has to be the offense because scrub QB Kellen Clemens can't do anything.
Prediction: Titans, 16-10. One look at Clemens last week makes you wonder why Fisher can't make peace with Vince Young.
Eagles at Raiders
When: 4:05 p.m.
Story line: It's Nick Foles vs. Terrelle Pryor in a matchup of interesting young quarterbacks working on building their resumes.
About the Eagles: Foles is an interesting prospect. He's completed 57.8 percent with six TDs, no INTs and a 101.3 rating. When in doubt, he can hand off to LeSean McCoy, whose 733 yards rushing and 1,017 yards from scrimmage top the NFL. Philly has held its past four foes under 100 yards rushing.
About the Raiders: Pryor had a 93-yard touchdown run last week; this time he'll want to wing it because the Eagles have the No. 31 pass defense. He is 3-0 at home as a starter. Oakland's next four opponents have a combined 10-20 record and none of the next six has a winning mark.
Prediction: Raiders, 35-28. Oakland has shown more life than expected, especially in the black hole.
Buccaneers at Seahawks
When: 4:05 p.m.
Story line: Seattle plays game two of four against the cupcake portion of its schedule, although game one, a 14-9 dogfight in St. Louis went down to the wire.
About the Bucs: Basically, nothing has gone right for this 0-7 team, but LB Lavonte David is the shining exception, with 60 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, five sacks and an interception. Rookie Mike James had 39 yards on 10 carries in his first game replacing injured Doug Martin.
About the Seahawks: The ferocious defense should eat up an opponent that averages 14.3 points and 297.7 yards. LB Bruce Irvin is the newest standout in that group. CB Richard Sherman aims to prove he's better than the Bucs' Darrelle Revis. On offense, WR Sidney Rice is out for the year, but Percy Harvin is about to make his debut.
Prediction: Seahawks, 28-3. Seattle has won 11 in a row at home and is 7-1 vs. Tampa.
Steelers at Patriots
When: 4:25 p.m.
Story line: CBS is playing up Ben Roethlisberger vs. Tom Brady, but neither one is having a particularly good year. To the Patriots' credit, they're still winning.
About the Steelers: They are 14-2 since 2011 when rushing for at least 100 yards. The problem for this 2-5 team is getting to 100. Pittsburgh has been a terrible starter in 2013, outscored 54-19 in the first quarter and 84-54 in the first half. Opponents are uncharacteristically rushing for 122 yards per game.
About the Patriots: It's been a long time since they hit the halfway marker with a middling 18th-ranked offense. The ground game is on the rise as Stevan Ridley has four TDs in the past three games, and this would be a good week to stick with the run. The Pats have a takeaway in each of their past 35 games.
Prediction: Patriots, 27-20. Steeler rookie RB Le'Veon Bell busts loose, but the Patriots are money.
Ravens at Browns
When: 4:25 p.m.
Story line: The old Browns attempt to win their 12th consecutive game against the new Browns. It remains a bitter pill for the Clevelanders to swallow.
About the Ravens: All kinds of stats are stacked on their side in this matchup. Coming off a bye, Baltimore is 12-5 overall, 10-1 since 2002 and 5-0 under John Harbaugh. Joe Flacco is 11-0 vs. Cleveland. The Ravens are 22-10 in AFC North games under Harbaugh.
About the Browns: The defense keeps them close almost every week, allowing a league-low 4.54 yards per play. Jason Campbell, the third starting QB this year, had a nice opening, and Josh Gordon is a dangerous wideout, but the Browns can't generate any running game.
Prediction: Ravens, 23-20. The sluggish Ravens are ripe for the kill, but it's hard for the tormented Browns to buck history.
Colts at Texans
When: 8:30 p.m.
Story line: This was supposed to be a battle between AFC South heavy Houston and its plucky challenger. Instead, it's the top-dog Colts vs. the self-destructing Texans.
About the Colts: They're 9-3 in the past dozen of this series, and Houston's Gary Kubiak is 4-10 vs. Indy. Andrew Luck, who went to high school in Houston, is excited to show the home folks what he can do. It will be interesting to see if slumping RB Trent Richardson can get off the canvas after a bye. LB Robert Mathis has 151/2 career sacks vs. Houston.
About the Texans: One look at the stats and you scratch your head. Houston has the No. 1 defense in total yardage, the No. 8 offense yet is foundering at 2-5. Leadership? Coaching? QB Case Keenum, who had an encouraging debut, makes his second start. He needs ground support from Arian Foster and Ben Tate, both banged up.
Prediction: Texans, 23-21. Houston's gotta get this one to have any chance of turning the season around. J.J. Watt and the defense deliver.
Bears at Packers
When: Monday, 8:30 p.m.
Story line: Green Bay has won six straight in the NFL's oldest rivalry, which goes back to 1921.
About the Bears: Journeyman Josh McCown gets the call with Jay Cutler (groin) out for a few weeks. That doesn't bode well for WRs Brandon Marshall or Alshon Jeffery. It's a bad matchup all the way around because the Pack can be attacked through the air, not on the ground, where Matt Forte might be spinning his wheels.
About the Packers: A model of consistency on offense, the Pack has rolled for at least 350 yards in 10 straight games. And now they can hurt you badly on the ground. Rookie Eddie Lacy has racked up an NFL-high 395 yards in the past four games. Aaron Rodgers loves the Bears: 110.7 passer rating, 64 TDs, 15 INTs, 9-2 record.
Prediction: Packers, 35-17. Green Bay is on a 20-2 run vs. the NFC North at Lambeau. The usually formidable Bears D isn't up to snuff (ranked 27th), so it's a stretch to see this one being close.
BYE WEEK: Arizona, Denver, Detroit, Jacksonville, N.Y. Giants, San Francisco
(c)2013 Austin American-Statesman, Texas
Visit Austin American-Statesman, Texas at www.statesman.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services