Manning, Giants try to upend Brady in New England this time

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Week 9 in the NFL features a rematch of one of the greatest Super Bowls ever played, a game of titanic proportions in the AFC East, and a clash between two of the game's most prolific passers in sunny San Diego.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has won an NFL-record 31 consecutive regular-season starts at home, a streak that will be in jeopardy Sunday when Eli Manning and the 5-2 New York Giants pay a visit to Gillette Stadium. Meanwhile, in upstate New York, the Buffalo Bills will put their perfect home record on the line against the New York Jets in a game with all kinds of playoff implications. And the undefeated Green Bay Packers travel to San Diego to meet the struggling Chargers, who cling to a share of first place in the AFC West.

The Giants, Jets and Packers are among teams in good position this week to get difficult road victories based on matchups, injuries, history and other circumstances.

N.Y. Jets at Buffalo (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Venue: Ralph Wilson Stadium

Last time at site: LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for 133 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Jets to a 38-14 victory over the Bills in Week 4 of the 2010 season.

Reason for road optimism: The Bills are undefeated at home this year and have already notched big wins over the Patriots and Eagles. The Jets will have to find a way to bottle up Fred Jackson and make Ryan Fitzpatrick throw against their outstanding secondary. Defensively, Rex Ryan's crew is tied for third in the league with 16 takeaways. Offensively, they are sixth in the league in red zone touchdown percentage at 61.9. The Bills' pass rush was at its best last week, sacking John Beck nine times, the most sacks any team has had in a game this year. Mark Sanchez has many more weapons at his disposal than Beck did, though, and he's more mobile.

San Francisco at Washington (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Venue: FedEx Field

Last time at site: Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts each rushed for more than 90 yards and Mark Brunell threw three touchdown passes as Washington beat up on San Francisco, 52-17, in Week 7 of the 2005 season.

Reason for road optimism: Coast-to-coast road trips can be tough, but the 49ers have won every road game they've played this year, including victories over the Eagles' "Dream Team" and the 6-2 Detroit Lions. The Redskins are reeling a bit with a struggling John Beck at quarterback and injuries to top offensive weapons such as Tim Hightower, Chris Cooley and Santana Moss. Veteran linebacker London Fletcher was a one-man tackling machine last Sunday, with 20 takedowns against the Bills, but he'll need a lot more help to corral a balanced 49ers offense that can pound it with Frank Gore and throw it to big, physical targets like Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree. And coach Mike Shanahan's offense will be hard-pressed to muster points against a 49ers D that has allowed the fewest points (15.3 per game) and fewest rushing yards (73.4 per game) in the league.

N.Y. Giants at New England (Sunday, 4:15 p.m. ET)

Venue: Gillette Stadium

Last time at site: Although Tom Brady was held to 112 yards passing, the Patriots picked off Giants quarterback Kerry Collins four times in a 17-6 victory in Week 6 of the 2003 season.

Reason for road optimism: Teams that can pressure Tom Brady have an excellent chance to beat the Patriots, and the Giants are definitely one of those teams. Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck are back to complement second-year man Jason Pierre-Paul, and the pressure created by New York's front four, combined with Eli Manning's improved ball security (only five picks this season, after throwing 25 last year), has proved to be a winning formula for Big Blue. Can New England put the same kind of pressure on Manning? Based on last week's performance against Pittsburgh, in which Ben Roethlisberger threw for 365 yards, it's doubtful. The Giants have played to the level of their competition this season, dropping games to Seattle and Washington and almost losing to Miami while beating the Eagles and the Bills. If they continue that trend Sunday, they could become the first team since the Jets in October 2006 to beat the Patriots at home in a game started by Tom Brady.

Green Bay at San Diego (Sunday, 4:15 p.m. ET)

Venue: Qualcomm Stadium

Last time at site: Brett Favre threw four touchdown passes in a 38-21 Green Bay victory in Week 15 of the 2003 season.

Reason for road optimism: With San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers struggling with turnovers this year and Green Bay's well-known propensity for creating them (the Packers are tied for third in the NFL with 16 takeaways this season), this game could get ugly for the fans in San Diego. The Packers are coming off a bye and will be looking to continue their seemingly effortless cruise through NFL defenses. They are the first team since the 2007 Patriots to rack up at least 390 yards of offense in each of their first seven games. Aaron Rodgers has had a quarterback rating of at least 110 in all seven games this season; no quarterback has ever done it in eight straight games. The Chargers struggle against good teams; they've lost to New England and the Jets this season, while their four wins have come against teams with a combined record of 8-21. The Packers have won eight of the nine games they've played against San Diego.




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