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Packers-Falcons highlights weekend of playoff rematches

It's playoff rematch week, people! Did you get the memo?

Week 5 is all about teams looking to get some revenge for beatdown losses in the 2010 postseason. The Patriots, top seeds at home in January, were big favorites over the Jets in the playoffs, but gave up 14 points in the fourth quarter and fell, 28-21. The Packers went into Atlanta and tore through the NFC's top seed, the Falcons, 48-21.


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No regular-season win would erase that pain, but it could be a step in the right direction. And, with the Jets and Falcons looking a little wounded and iffy, and Mark Sanchez and Matt Ryan not playing near the levels we've seen at times in the past, there will be no shortage of attention given to those two games.

We also get the return of the byes, so we're down to fewer games per week for quite some time now. First up with the week off: Baltimore, Washington, Dallas, Cleveland, St. Louis and Miami. So two winless clubs can't get their first win this week ... but then again at least they can't lose again, either. Remember, games here are rated as either a footlong, a six-inch, a pita or a finger sandwich.

    • Chicago at Detroit

      Mon 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN Get Tickets
    • Why to watch:

      This game will settle which is the second best team in the NFC North, behind Green Bay, and could be crucial for tiebreakers. No quarterback has been hit more than Jay Cutler the past couple of years, and few teams can get after the passer without a blitz like the Lions. Cutler is also coming in off three consecutive poor performances. A 4-0 Lions team hosting a "Monday Night Football" game? Don't you think Ford Field will be bonkers?
    • Inside slant:

      Controversial calls were a big part of the two games these teams played last year ("the Calvin Johnson rule" became a household term). The Lions thought they deserved to win both, but it was the Bears playing in the NFC Championship Game. Chicago's Julius Peppers marred Matthew Stafford's 2010 season with a shoulder injury in Week 1. The Lions haven't experienced a loss in quite some time, having won 12 consecutive games, including preseason, dating back to 2010.
    • Rating:

      Footlong
    • Watch: Game Preview
    • New York at New England

      Sun 4:15 p.m. ET, CBS Get Tickets
    • Why to watch:

      This is a great rivalry, with the Jets as one of the few teams that can find a way to slow the Patriots with some regularity. This is also another playoff rematch. New York suddenly is in despair after two straight troubling losses. The Patriots, meanwhile, are coming off a game in which they gave up 500 more yards. These games settle this division.
    • Inside slant:

      Bill Belichick's defense has all kinds of issues, but he will be licking his chops watching tape of the Jets' offensive line the past two weeks. Even if Nick Mangold plays, he won't be 100 percent and four-fifths of that line is struggling right now. Mark Sanchez just about threw in the towel against the Ravens. If Albert Haynesworth can play, this could be significant in generating A-gap pressure.
    • Rating:

      Footlong
    • Watch: Game Preview
    • Philadelphia at Buffalo

      Sun 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX Get Tickets
    • Why to watch:

      The Eagles (1-3) have become the best soap opera in the NFL, with plot twists and crazy endings every week, followed by constant mid-week drama as well. The Bills (3-1) are the anti-dream team; no offseason fanfare, no off-field drama, no hype. Both meet coming off second-half meltdowns.
    • Inside slant:

      Fred Jackson has been a beast and the Eagles can't stop the run. He will attack their linebackers in the screen game. If Eagles defensive line coach Jim Washburn keeps this unit playing the run on the way to the quarterback in that Wide 9, big problems could arise here. Former Bills left tackle Jason Peters is injured for Philadelphia, another key factor, though against Buffalo's inept pass rush not as much of an issue.
    • Rating:

      Footlong
    • Watch: Game Preview
    • Tennessee at Pittsburgh

      Sun 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS Get Tickets
    • Why to watch:

      Last week, Pittsburgh got outphysicaled, again. The Titans are fairly powerful on both sides of the line. Even with Rashard Mendenhall banged up, the Steelers know they need to re-establish the run and rediscover an offensive identity. The Titans have won three in a row despite some uneven play.
    • Inside slant:

      Chris Johnson finally hit 100 yards last week, and the Steelers have looked very vulnerable and beat up on the edges, where Johnson excels in outside zone plays. Ray Rice and Arian Foster have already gashed Pittsburgh in that manner, and key Steelers like Aaron Smith and James Harrison are either out or banged up. Smells like a potential statement game.
    • Rating:

      Six-inch
    • Watch: Game Preview
    • Oakland at Houston

      Sun 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS Get Tickets
    • Why to watch:

      Two of the best running football teams in the NFL get together in what will be a battle of the offensive lines. Arian Foster got healthy and cranked out 150 yards on the mighty Steelers. If you like zone-blocking schemes on offense, this is the game for you.
    • Inside slant:

      The Texans have to adjust to being without their best player, Andre Johnson, at least for some period of time. Raiders will likely bracket tight end Owen Daniels and force someone else to step up. Jacoby Jones becomes crucial for Texans now, but he lacks Johnson's size and strength to get off on press-man coverage, which the Raiders play. Last year, Houston beat Oakland without Johnson in the lineup.
    • Rating:

      Six-inch
    • Watch: Game Preview
    • Tampa Bay at San Francisco

      Sun 4:05 p.m. ET, FOX Get Tickets
    • Why to watch:

      Believe it or not folks, this could be a battle of two division winners. Frank Gore exploded back to form last week. It's worth noting that the 49ers originally thought they had a deal with Buccaneers running back LeGarrette Blount right after the 2010 draft as an undrafted free agent, but the verbal agreement got scuttled and he went to the Titans for a spell, and then signed with Tampa Bay. Still, then-49ers coach Mike Singletary thought he had him.
    • Inside slant:

      Travel. The Buccaneers have to fly a long, long ways on a short, short week coming off the Monday night game. The 49ers are back in their own beds and on West Coast time after spending a week in Youngstown, Ohio between two games in the Eastern time zone, both victories.
    • Rating:

      Six-inch
    • Watch: Game Preview
    • New Orleans at Carolina

      Sun 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX Get Tickets
    • Why to watch:

      Cam Newton goes for more than 300 yards in three of his first four starts. No one can stop Steve Smith. The Panthers have come close to jumping up and biting Chicago and Green Bay, but their injury-riddled defense will get a stern test against the Saints.
    • Inside slant:

      Look for the Saints to come out throwing and try to jump this game quickly. New Orleans is throwing the ball 68 percent of the time in the first half of games, second most in the NFL (Detroit is tops at 71 percent).
    • Rating:

      Six-inch
    • Watch: Game Preview
    • San Diego at Denver

      Sun 4:15 p.m. ET, CBS Get Tickets
    • Why to watch:

      If you are part of Tebow Nation, then you will bask in the inevitable signage, screaming and general hoopla that Broncos fans will make for Tim Tebow. But if you want to actually see him play football, you might not get more than another play or two.
    • Inside slant:

      Denver has the worst pass defense in the NFL -- though Champ Bailey should be back for this one -- and Philip Rivers has yet to really hit stride. Vincent Jackson could be in store for a big day.
    • Rating:

      Six-inch
    • Watch: Game Preview
    • Seattle at New York

      Sun 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX Get Tickets
    • Why to watch:

      Seattle has the NFL's best first-down run defense, and the Giants love to steamroll teams with their two-back approach. Tarvaris Jackson comes in off a rare 300-yard day, but faces a tough pass rush that should get another boost with Justin Tuck back on the field.
    • Inside slant:

      Defensive end Osi Umenyiora was a big factor in his first game of the season for the Giants, and the Seahawks were one of the teams most interested in him during the brief period New York shopped him for a first-round pick. Seattle tight end John Carlson could have been part of a package for him prior to getting hurt; this came at a time when Giants tight end Kevin Boss had just signed with Oakland as a free agent.
    • Rating:

      Pita
    • Watch: Game Preview
    • Arizona at Minnesota

      Sun 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX Get Tickets
    • Why to watch:

      Donovan McNabb's distinguished tenure as a starting quarterback could be coming to a close with another loss to a struggling opponent. Arizona got a breakthrough performance from running back Beanie Wells last week, but Minnesota still boasts a top-five rushing defense.
    • Inside slant:

      Kevin Kolb was drafted to be the understudy to McNabb in Philadelphia, and eventually replace him. Then McNabb was dealt in 2010, and Kolb lost the job to Michael Vick. Later, Kolb was dealt to Arizona, and well, you know the story: It's the Andy Reid Castoff Bowl!
    • Rating:

      Finger sandwich
    • Watch: Game Preview
    • Cincinnati at Jacksonville

      Sun 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS Get Tickets
    • Why to watch:

      Break up the Bengals. Cincinnati is 2-2, and coming in off an upset of the Bills, even though trailing by 14 at the half. Blaine Gabbert makes his third NFL start and second against a fellow 2011 draft pick, this time it's Andy Dalton.
    • Inside slant:

      It's a little bit hard to figure that in his first two NFL starts Gabbert chucks it up 63 times to a weak group of pass catchers, while Maurice Jones-Drew carries it just 35 times in those two contests. The Bengals have the league's top-ranked defense right now.
    • Rating:

      Finger sandwich
    • Watch: Game Preview
    • Kansas City at Indianapolis

      Sun 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS Get Tickets
    • Why to watch:

      If you really, truly care about which teams gets listed dead last in those zany power rankings everyone and their mom seem to do each week, well, this might be your favorite game of the week. Oh, and it could be a crucial tiebreaker in the sweepstakes for the No. 1 overall draft pick as well.
    • Inside slant:

      Watching Chiefs coach Todd Haley jaw at Matt Cassel on the sidelines just might be more entertaining and provide more offensive attack than four quarters of this football game. Play "Guess who will break them up this week?" (I correctly had Le'Ron McClain in last week's pool, by the way.) The Chiefs could have Jonathan Baldwin vs. Thomas Jones, the regular-season rematch, on the undercard.
    • Rating:

      Finger sandwich (more like a knuckle sandwich in this case)
    • Watch: Game Preview

Follow Jason La Canfora on Twitter @jasonlacanfora.

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