Perfect Patriots face nemesis in Eli, Coughlin
The Patriots have a perfect record. Their next opponent is the Giants.
If there is one team that seems to have figured out how to deal with Tom Brady and company, it's Tom Coughlin's G-Men from the Meadowlands.
New York has a 3-1 record against New England under Coughlin, including a couple of rather important victories: the 2008 and 2012 Super Bowls.
In all of their meetings, the Patriots (8-0) were favored, and the Giants (5-4) had an inferior record. Once more, that's the case.
The major caveat: New England has been playing lights-out against everyone, while the Giants have struggled to grasp first place in the NFC East.
Coughlin sees little to no gain from looking at the past meetings for his Giants.
''No, then is then, now is now,'' he says. ''I really don't see any benefit because we're always looking at the personnel. We're looking at the people that play and the people that are manning the positions. When you're doing that and keeping track of personnel first and foremost and then scheme, I just don't see any benefit from going back.''
Brady has struggled against New York's dynamic pass rush in the past. That pass rush has been dormant for most of 2015, though.
If Jason Pierre-Paul, back from his long hiatus after losing a finger in a fireworks accident, can't spark that rush, it could be the decider on Sunday.
''They're obviously really well-coached, so they're just a tough team,'' Brady says. ''We've always played them, I mean, we've always had very, very close games against them even when we've won. We just haven't won as many of them as I would've liked to have won.''
The week's action, featuring several division matchups, began with Rex Ryan's successful return to the Meadowlands in Buffalo's 22-17 victory over the New York Jets.
Ryan was fired by the Jets after six seasons and immediately hired by Buffalo last January. Buffalo's defense shut down Ryan's former team for much of the game, and the Bills (5-4) scored on offense and special teams. The Jets (5-4) have lost three of their last four games.
Off this week are Atlanta (6-3), San Diego (2-6), San Francisco (3-6) and Indianapolis (4-5).
Arizona (6-2) at Seattle (4-4)
This could be the most physical game of the season. Both teams are staunch on defense with aggressive schemes, and these are pretty fierce opponents.
An Arizona victory puts it in command of the NFC West, but with a daunting schedule ahead: Seven of the Cardinals' final eight games are against teams currently at .500 or better. They are equipped for such a challenge on offense now that Chris Johnson has brought some reliability at running back, and Carson Palmer is the top-rated passer in the NFC at 110.2.
The Seahawks have shown some vulnerability at home for the first time in years, but have matched up well with the Cardinals. Key offseason acquisition TE Jimmy Graham is coming on, so now the Seahawks need to get Beast Mode, Marshawn Lynch, back into his powerful running style.
Kansas City (3-5) at Denver (7-1)
Their previous game was a total meltdown in the final moments for Kansas City and sent the Chiefs on a slide. Kansas City yielded two TDs in a 9-second span, with Bradley Roby's 21-yard fumble return with 27 seconds remaining winning it for the Broncos. One thing going for KC: Coach Andy Reid is 14-2 following the bye week.
''I'm sure that they'll try to have some stuff ready for me since I'm starting now and kind of ended the game as the bad guy the first time around,'' Roby says.
Denver has won 11 straight regular-season home games and Peyton Manning is one win away from passing Brett Favre as the NFL's all-time winningest QB. Manning also needs 3 yards to pass Favre's mark of 71,838 yards passing.
Cleveland (2-7) at Pittsburgh (5-4)
It's been 12 years since the Browns won at archrival Pittsburgh, and the Steelers are 27-5 against Cleveland since the Browns came back into the league in 1999. Only seven of the past 22 meetings have been close.
Pittsburgh likely will be without QB Ben Roethlisberger and already is minus 2014 All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell, done for the season with a knee injury.
Cleveland also has uncertainty at quarterback as Josh McCown battles injuries. Indeed, the Browns have been ravaged on both sides of the ball.
Detroit (1-7) at Green Bay (6-2)
Just what the Packers need to get healthy after two straight mediocre road performances since their bye: a home contest with the Lions.
Detroit has lost 24 straight games to the Packers in Wisconsin; Barry Sanders was toting the ball for the Lions in their previous win at Lambeau Field. These Lions come off a major shakeup when they fired team president Tom Lewand and general manager Martin Mayhew during their bye week.
The Packers are playing the first of four straight games in 19 days against divisional opponents, including two against the Lions. They have won their past six NFC North games.
Houston (3-5) at Cincinnati (8-0), Monday night
The second of three straight prime-time affairs for the Bengals; shows what being unbeaten does for a franchise's popularity.
Although both teams rank decently on defense, this could be a shootout. Texas native Andy Dalton has been terrific for Cincinnati, second in the NFL with a passer rating of 111. TE Tyler Eifert leads the league with nine TD catches.
For Houston, DeAndre Hopkins had eight catches for 94 yards against the Titans, passing Andre Johnson (2,806) for most yards receiving by a Texan in his first three seasons. Hopkins is fourth in the league with 66 catches.
Carolina (8-0) at Tennessee (2-6)
The NFC's lone unbeaten, the Panthers have won 12 straight regular-season games dating to 2014. They're getting balance virtually everywhere, particularly from quarterback Cam Newton. He had three TD passes and one TD rushing last week in Carolina's most impressive victory, against Green Bay. The defense is as good as any in the league.
Tennessee has not struck many listenable chords in Music City, losing the past nine at home. But the Titans went to New Orleans and won in interim head coach Mike Mularkey's first game. QB Marcus Mariota became the first rookie in NFL history with two games with four TDs and no interceptions.
Minnesota (6-2) at Oakland (4-4)
The Vikings have established themselves as a playoff contender behind a solid defense that has held opponents to 23 or fewer points every game, and league rushing leader Adrian Peterson. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was knocked from last week's win over St. Louis with a concussion, but Minnesota is hopeful he can go at the Black Hole.
Oakland's progress took a hit when it allowed a franchise-worst 597 yards last week in a last-second loss to Pittsburgh. Three key Raiders are battling injuries: rookie standout WR Amari Cooper, RB Latavius Murray and center Rodney Hudson.
Miami (3-5) at Philadelphia (4-4)
With the Giants facing New England, the Eagles need to seize this opportunity in their division. They haven't lost to Miami since 2003 and two keys to their offense, RB DeMarco Murray and WR Jordan Matthews, seem to be coming alive.
The Dolphins have stagnated again after a nice burst following the replacement of coach Joe Philbin with Dan Campbell. Their defense ranks 31st against the run, so Murray, Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles must be salivating.
Chicago (3-5) at St. Louis (4-4)
Jay Cutler showed plenty of moxie and creativity on Monday night in a win at San Diego, and he might get back the offense's focal point, running back Matt Forte (knee). He'll need some balance against the Rams' powerful pass rush that leads the NFL with 27 sacks.
Chicago is so-so against the run, and St. Louis wants to turn loose superb rookie Todd Gurley whenever it can.
Gurley has 664 yards rushing in only six games.
Dallas (2-6) at Tampa Bay (3-5)
Looking to snap their six-game slide since Tony Romo broke his collarbone - and with the hope the quarterback will return next week - the Cowboys have the right opponent. They have won five straight in this series.
Dez Bryant had a big game last week against the Eagles, although he tired badly toward the end. He made five receptions for 104 yards.
Tampa actually has some impressive statistics despite its record. The Bucs have forced a league-leading 12 fumbles, recovering nine. They also have gone three-and-out on just 10 of 91 offensive drives, the lowest mark in the NFL, even ahead of the unbeaten Patriots and Bengals.
New Orleans (4-5) at Washington (3-5)
Drew Brees is on quite a tear. In his past two games, he threw for 892 yards and 10 TDs, only the second player to reach those numbers in a two-game span. But the Saints went 1-1 because their defense has been a sieve, ranked 31st overall.
Washington is a much different team at FedEx Field and has won its past three home games. In those games, Kirk Cousins has put up Brees-type numbers: for five TDs, zero picks and a 110.9 rating. He's also run for two scores.
Jacksonville (2-6) at Baltimore (2-6)
The loser can concentrate on the race for the top overall draft pick for the second half of the schedule, which would be really odd for the Ravens. Baltimore is a perennial playoff contender and 2012 league champion that normally selects toward the end of the first round each spring.
Jacksonville has some good young players, but in Gus Bradley's third season as coach, the progress has been agonizingly slow. The Jaguars were in position to upset the Jets last week, then made critical mistakes - just like young teams do.
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