The Fight Card organizes this week's NFL matchups as if they were a night at the fights, with prelim matches, the mid-card, the upper-card, and the main event. Also included for handy reference are game times, networks, commentary teams and "Vegas expectations," we'll call them. Thanks to The 506 for the broadcast info and BetUS for the numbers.
THE PRELIM BOUTS:
Arizona Cardinals @ Minnesota Vikings
1 p.m. ET, FOX: Chris Myers and Tim Ryan
Vikings favored by 3, Over/Under of 45½
Kevin Kolb and Donovan McNabb are reunited in the "Guys Who Were Made Extremely Expendable by Someone Who Just Spent 18 Months in Federal Prison" Bowl. Maybe this will be the week when the Vikings finally say to hell with this season and put Christian Ponder under center. We can't be far away from that.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Jacksonville Jaguars
1 p.m. ET, CBS: Bill Macatee and Steve Tasker
Jaguars favored by 1, Over/Under of 37
Blaine Gabbert, who has a passer rating of 62.9 (32nd in the league), leads the NFL's 31st-ranked offense against Cincinnati's top-ranked defense. Somehow the Jaguars are still favored by a point.
THE SPECIAL PILLOW FIGHT:
Kansas City Chiefs @ Indianapolis Colts
1 p.m. ET, CBS: Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots
Patriots favored by 2, Over/Under of 39
One year after both of these teams won their divisions, here we are in Week 5, and they've got one win between them. The Colts have finally given Curtis Painter the nod as starter, and he put down a nice coat of primer on Monday night against the Bucs. He didn't win, but maybe this week he can apply the finishing coat. Also, I love painting puns. All season long, baby.
THE MID-CARD BOUTS:
Seattle Seahawks @ New York Giants
1 p.m. ET, Fox: Thom Brennaman and Troy Aikman
Giants favored by 10, Over/Under of 43½
One would think that the Giants would squash the Seahawks, but they needed Victor Cruz's uncle to be working as the head official (that's my theory, anyway) to beat Arizona last week, so who knows? Also of note: Joe Buck has the week off from NFL duty to call the MLB playoffs. Enjoy yourselves, Joe Buck haters.
San Diego Chargers @ Denver Broncos
4 p.m. ET, CBS: Marv Albert and Rich Gannon
Chargers favored by 4½, Over/Under of 46½
The last time these two teams played, Tim Tebow was thrilling fans with a two-touchdown, two-interception performance that meant nothing, but got people unreasonably excited anyway. Many Broncos fans remain in that same state. The Chargers should win, but it's never easy for them in Mile High, and you never know when they're going to show up on Sunday and just repeatedly jab themselves in the ear with a potato peeler.
Tennessee Titans @ Pittsburgh Steelers
1 p.m. ET, CBS: Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf
Steelers favored by 3, Over/Under of 43½
There's a lot on the line in this game, at least in terms of establishing expectations for the rest of the season. If the Titans win, it will feel like they're legitimately decent, and it will feel like the Steelers are legitimately mediocre. If the Steelers win, it'll feel like everybody jumped the gun in counting them out, and that the Titans maybe aren't there yet. Maybe Chris Johnson can have a bounce-back game against the league's 22nd-ranked rushing defense. Yeah, that's you, Pittsburgh.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ San Francisco 49ers
4 p.m. ET, Fox: Kenny Albert, Moose Johnston and Tony Siragusa
49ers favored by 3, Over/Under of 41½
I know I pointed this out earlier in the week, but I think it's worth repeating: Alex Smith currently has a quarterback rating of 97.7. I think I keep typing it just to convince myself that it's true. If that continues, Jim Harbaugh should not only win NFL Coach of the Year, but the Nobel people should invent a Nobel Prize for Quarterback Coaching or something. The Bucs looked pretty vulnerable on Monday night, did they not?
New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers
1 p.m. ET, Fox: Dick Stockton and John Lynch
Saints favored by 7, Over/Under of 51
I hope this turns into a defense-optional shootout. I don't think the Panthers can win it, but if they push the Saints and make them win 45-34, everyone will have gotten their money's worth. The Saints seem to prefer that type of game anyway. Both defenses are giving up more than 24 points per game. Bombs away, gentlemen.
THE UPPER-CARD BOUTS:
Oakland Raiders @ Houston Texans
1 p.m. ET, CBS: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts
Texans favored by 5½, Over/Under of 48
It's a nice break for the Raiders to catch the Texans without Andre Johnson. Unfortunately, though, Arian Foster looked last week like he was ready to resume being the yardage monster he was last year, and that's not good when you're giving up 5.9 yards per carry like the Raiders. On the other side of the coin, the Texans rush defense hasn't been spectacular, either.
Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions
8:30 p.m. ET (Monday), ESPN: Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden
Lions favored by 6, Over/Under of 48½
Man, the Booty Lounge is going to be poppin' on Monday night. I worry that this will be one of those "too emotional" games for the Lions. In primetime, with the nation watching, when they finally have something to celebrate ... teams seem to get overwhelmed in that situation sometimes. But then I think about that Chicago offensive line against Suh and company. Keep Jay Cutler in your thoughts, everybody.
Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons
8:20 p.m. ET, NBC: Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth
Packers favored by 7, Over/Under of 53½
The good news about this matchup for the Falcons is that it's a great opportunity to get back on track. The bad news about that is that it means they're currently off-track, and they get to play the Green Bay Packers. I'm not a big believer in the effects of bulletin-board material, but if it were up to me, I'd still play it safe with making Aaron Rodgers feel disrespected.
New York Jets @ New England Patriots
4 p.m. ET, CBS: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms
Patriots favored by 9, Over/Under of 49½
In most weeks, this bad boy is your main event. It's the best ongoing rivalry we have in the NFL right now, but it seems like it's been a little subdued this week. The Patriots aren't saying anything. Rex Ryan hasn't said much. Antonio Cromartie's talking, but why would anyone listen to Antonio Cromartie anymore? We need the Patriots captains to come out for the coin toss barefoot or something, to taunt (and possibly distract, in ways I don't want to think about) Rex Ryan. Subdued or not, it's still a must-see game.
THE MAIN EVENT:
Philadelphia Eagles @ Buffalo Bills
1 p.m. ET, Fox: Sam Rosen, Brian Billick
Eagles favored by 3, Over/Under of 51
I don't believe the NFL can offer anything better in terms of good vs. evil. The Eagles are the big market, big money team who openly compare themselves to the reviled Miami Heat. The adorable little Bills play in a small market, couldn't attract a star free agent if they held his family hostage, and lack the self-esteem to even compare themselves to the Milwaukee Bucks. Both teams are coming off losses and need a win, too, so we'll get their best shot.