OK, this might be it. With New England, Baltimore, Tennessee, Houston and Jacksonville — which just won at Indianapolis — on their radar, the Colts' best shot to avoid 0-16 ignominy could be in this one.
To get that win, though, the Colts must slow the No. 5 overall offense, led by dynamic rookie QB Cam Newton and revitalized wideout Steve Smith.
"We're not really in a position to judge anybody's record," Panthers tight end Greg Olsen said. "When you're 2-8, at that point we're all just kind of in the same boat. We're just looking to win. I'm sure they're looking at us the same way, saying this is great opportunity for us to right the ship."
Buffalo (5-5) at New York Jets (5-5)
The Jets do everything in bunches: two wins, three losses, three wins, two losses. Their offense has struggled as quarterback Mark Sanchez has regressed behind a suddenly ineffective offensive line. Rex Ryan, who was fined $75,000 this week for cursing out a fan during a loss to New England, was stunned by his defense's collapse against Tebow and the Broncos on Nov. 17.
Buffalo is in even worse shape, dropping three in a row, including 21-11 to the Jets, a game in which the Bills were manhandled. They won't have their best offensive player, RB Fred Jackson, who is sidelined the rest of the way by a right leg injury.
Coach Chan Gailey doesn't want to hear about sagging spirits, though.
"If you've got a professional football team that's in the hunt and I've got to go give them some kind of talk to keep them motivated, we're in trouble," Gailey said. "My feeling is that if you've got a team that is that fragile, you're in trouble. I believe we have guys that understand about fighting through tough times and fighting through adversity."
Cleveland (4-6) at Cincinnati (6-4)
Cincinnati's chore is easy: beat the dregs of the league and likely make the playoffs. After the Browns, the Bengals do have Houston, Pittsburgh and Baltimore, but also St. Louis and Arizona. A 9-7 mark might be good enough, and a win over one of those better teams would get Cincinnati to 10 wins and almost certainly a wild-card berth.
The Bengals won at Cleveland to open what has been an uplifting season even though they have lost to their toughest opponents, the Ravens, Steelers and 49ers. Rookie Andy Dalton has progressed nicely at quarterback, and the defense is strong.
Cleveland has the No. 1 pass defense in football, yardage-wise, but only because teams run the ball down the Browns' throat every week.
Tampa Bay (4-6) at Tennessee (5-5)
Tampa gave Green Bay all it could handle last week but, like so many times this season, the disappointing Bucs fell short.
They bring an old, uh, friend back to Tennessee in DT Albert Haynesworth, a former All-Pro in his Titans days and now a situational player for the Bucs. Whether he gets a chance to sack Matt Hasselbeck is problematic: Hasselbeck injured his right arm in a loss to Atlanta, but vows he will start Sunday with Tennessee still in the thick of the wild-card race.
Washington (3-7) at Seattle (4-6)
Seattle seems to have found some spark with consecutive victories over Baltimore and St. Louis. It's too late for the Seahawks to repeat their NFC West crown — they're on the verge of elimination — but three more future opponents have losing records, so a .500 season isn't impossible.
The Redskins almost certainly won't get to the break-even mark. On a six-game skid, they have a pitiful run game and their minus-10 turnover differential is tied for last in the league.
Arizona (3-7) at St. Louis (2-8)
Among the league's most lopsided rivalries, this game also has become the least inviting on the holiday schedule. The Cardinals have won nine of the last 10 in the series, six straight in St. Louis, and outscored the Rams 278-161 in those 10 games. This is the third straight road game for Arizona, which won at Philadelphia and lost at San Francisco.
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