Packers at Falcons: Aaron Rodgers vs. Matt Ryan
Don't be surprised if this matchup does not become what the Peyton Manning-Tom Brady rivalry has been over the past five years. While technically the two won't be on the field at the same time, this is a tilt between two players with outstanding work and study habits.
Rodgers is the face of the Packers, but will always be remembered as the player who took Brett Favre's place. He makes good decisions and goes to many receivers. He can make all the throws. To play outdoors in Green Bay, you have to have a strong arm, and he has it, to go along with outstanding accuracy.
Ryan was drafted to become the face of the Falcons in 2008, and he's become just that. He is like a mini Peyton Manning with his dedication and intelligence. He is accurate and has Manning-type arm strength. He only has five picks in 377 throws this year.
Steelers at Bills: Ike Taylor vs. Steve Johnson
Ike Taylor is an underrated player. In some games he will move from side to side to cover the opponent's best receiver. He is a very good blitzer off the corner. He has good hips, which help him turn and run. He plays loose in certain blitz situations and is a solid tackler in the run game. He does a nice job jamming receivers in press coverage. Johnson has the height and speed needed for the position. He has not played a lot of football, however. He is a first-year starter, and has nine TDs this season. He has great hands and will catch the crossing routes. He has a knack for getting open, and has been one of the biggest surprises of the year.
Panthers at Browns: Jon Beason vs. Peyton Hillis
Beason is very strong at the point of attack and is an elite athlete who plays well in space. He has outstanding football temperament and competes hard on every play. He is a very good leader. To win, the Panthers have to stop the run and Beason is central to those efforts.
Hillis leads the team in rushing and receiving. He is a size/speed player with good running ability. He is not just a straight-line runner. He is very important to the Browns' success. You need to run late in the year at Cleveland due to the heavy winds.
Titans at Texans: Jason Jones vs. Arian Foster
Jones is playing at a very high level. He has long arms (36 inches) and very good first-step quickness and overall speed. He uses his hands well and is very consistent, but has a tendency to play high and lose leverage. He is having a Pro Bowl season. His job Sunday won't be easy against Foster.
Foster leads the NFL in rushing and touchdowns. He has the quickness needed to be an outstanding rusher to go with great vision and cut-back ability. He does an excellent job catching the ball out of the backfield. He and his Titans counterpart Chris Johnson are elite players for any position.
Jaguars at Giants: Terrance Knighton vs. Brandon Jacobs
Look for both teams to try to run the ball. Each squad will likely be without their best receiver, and the winds at New York make it tough to pass, anyways.
Knighton is a big man with long arms, good feet and solid athleticism for his size. He will pursue and make plays. He is an up-and-coming player with potential.
Jacobs will start this week after the benching of Ahmad Bradshaw. He has not played a lot this season. He is a big, strong inside runner with good speed. He is not a major factor in the passing game. It would seem with this move, the Giants plan to run more than usual against the Jaguars. Once Jacobs gets started, he is tough to bring down.
Vikings at Redskins: Adrian Peterson vs. London Fletcher
Peterson leads the NFC with 980 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. He has the ability and speed to get outside to the edge. He is on pace for 1,568 yards. He would be only the second player in NFL history to rush for 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns in his first four seasons. He is improving in the passing game.
Fletcher is a tackling machine. He is the leading tackler in the NFL over the past decade. He is very competitive and has good athletic ability. He can play well in space, and will have to show that skill against Peterson.
Chiefs at Seahawks: Tamba Hali vs. Matt Hasselbeck
Hali leads the team with eight sacks. Everything he's done is based on quickness and get-off. He has the speed needed to beat tackles and get to the quarterback. He has a feel for pass rushing and likes to use the head fake, but struggles some against tight ends who can match his quickness.
Hasselbeck is playing hurt with his left wrist in a cast. He is tough and smart and knows how to run the offense. He takes a lot of hits, but comes back for more. He has put together back-to-back 300-yard passing games.
Dolphins at Raiders: Vontae Davis vs. Jacoby Ford
Davis is a very physical player at the line of scrimmage and likes to jam receivers. He has a tendency to lose focus at times and rely on his athletic skills, instead of using the proper technique.
Ford might be the fastest player in the NFL. He is a matchup problem due to his quickness. He has small hands, but does a good job overcoming that and catching the ball in traffic. He is a very tough player.
Buccaneers at Ravens: Josh Freeman vs. Ed Reed
Freeman has played beyond expectations for a second-year quarterback. He has won six of his last seven road starts and nine of his past 13 starts overall. He has excellent arm strength and poise. Rookie wide receiver Mike Williams has helped him with 43 catches and six TDs. Freeman has very good athletic ability and is outstanding at avoiding the rush. This will be a good test for him.
Reed missed the first half of the season with an injury, but is still tied for the AFC lead with four picks in four games. He is a dynamic player who sets the tone for the defense. He is very smart and has great ball skills. It is almost uncanny how he always seems to be in the right place at the right time.
Eagles at Bears: Michael Vick vs. Brian Urlacher
Vick has people wondering how he is playing so well. He likes to throw downfield to his speedy receivers and is completing passes at an all-time high percentage. He will still run at times, but stays in the pocket more now. Chicago presents a good challenge for him.
Urlacher is having a very good season after missing almost all of last year. As a pass defender, he plays the Cover 2 very well by breaking on the ball and reading the quarterback's eyes. By the nature of the scheme, he makes a lot of plays.
Rams at Broncos: Sam Bradford vs. Champ Bailey
Bradford set a rookie record with 169 attempts without an interception, before he was picked off last week. He is on pace to have the most attempts and completions of any rookie quarterback in NFL history. He is smart, but can be fooled by new schemes. He is capable of making all the throws and avoids the blitzers and rushers with ease. His receivers lack speed, making it tough for him to attack deep.
Bailey has been to nine Pro Bowls and is tied with Mike Haynes for the most ever for the position. He is not afraid to play against the run. Bailey has a great size-speed combination to go with excellent ball skills. He is no longer the shutdown corner he once was, but is still very good.
Chargers at Colts: Quentin Jammer vs. Peyton Manning
Jammer is a solid corner, but most likely will not line up on the right side against Reggie Wayne. Double moves have given him trouble in the past. Manning will try and pump-fake him. He needs to try to force a turnover for San Diego to win.
Manning is the Colts' offense. Edge pressure does not affect him as he just steps up in the pocket. He is on pace for 4,900 yards and 32 TDs, while playing with a lot of backups that make it tougher to find offensive balance.
49ers at Cardinals: Frank Gore vs. Darnell Dockett
Gore has played well in the past vs. the Cardinals with 10 rushing touchdowns in eight games. He is the first running back in 49ers history to gain 1,000 yards for four consecutive years. He is a tough inside runner, who can block on the blitz. He has very good hands as a receiver and plays hard every down.
Dockett was the starting defensive tackle for the NFC in the Pro Bowl last year. He can be nasty and aggressive at times. He has a good upper body and uses his hands well. He possesses an impressive rip and swim move as a pass rusher, and also has good quickness. To beat the 49ers, Dockett needs to be active and help stop the run.