Yahoo Sports NFL senior writers Terez Paylor, Charles Robinson and Kimberley A. Martin select games this week that will leave us buzzing heading into Monday and Tuesday.
Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys
Ah, my favorite type of game. Don't you love those matchups where you know you'll learn something crucial about both teams?
Take Green Bay, for instance. Its new offense under Matt LaFleur hasn't been a well-oiled machine, but if it can move the ball against a speedy Dallas defense, it will show the Packers are at least moving in the right direction.
As for Dallas, I was surprised to see its offense basically get wiped out last week in New Orleans. Now the Cowboys face a ferocious front led by Preston Smith that's back-ended by one of football's better secondaries. If they can't move the ball on a good defense for the second straight week, I'll tend to believe it's a theme, not a fluke.
Either way, the football-watching public wins.
Packers at Cowboys
This one was already good before Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott made it clear the team is heated coming out of last week’s loss to the New Orleans Saints.
It’s one thing to carry yourself like you think you’re a great team – and a whole other thing to back it up emphatically after a loss.
If Dallas is as good as Prescott believes it is, the Cowboys won’t lose at home to a good Packers team. And Green Bay has a chance to help itself after flubbing away a shot at victory late to the Philadelphia Eagles last week.
The bottom line: One of these 3-1 teams has an opportunity to put a stamp on itself as a concrete elite, while the loser is going to be relegated to the second tier and face some questions about how and where it fits in the NFC playoff tier.
Cleveland Browns at San Francisco 49ers
How good are the 49ers, really? We’re about to find out Monday night.
There are only three undefeated teams left, and San Francisco is hoping its streak continues after this prime-time affair. That’s easier said than done considering the injuries the 49ers need to contend with at key positions — i.e., left tackle Joe Staley, who isn’t expected back for another six weeks.
The 49ers are in first place in the NFC West for the first time since 2012 and are eager to keep the momentum going before they start facing divisional opponents soon.
The Browns, meanwhile, are looking to prove they’re legit as well. Freddie Kitchens’ club was considered the preseason favorite in the AFC North, but early-season offensive struggles raised questions about the Year 2 version of Baker Mayfield. Last week’s impressive win at Baltimore — and Nick Chubb’s career-high three touchdowns, which earned him AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors — was a step in the right direction for the 2-2 Browns.
Can the 49ers’ defense — which is allowing just 3.4 yards per carry — stifle Chubb on a big stage? Or will the Browns again be victorious on Monday Night Football?
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