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Sunday Primer: Week 13

Everything you need to know as kickoff approaches. ...

Key game-time decisions


All players questionable unless noted

Darrelle Revis, CB (groin) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Revis sounded optimistic about his chances of playing after practice Friday. Still, he'll have to work out prior to the game before a decision is made.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB (shoulder), Julius Thomas, TE (knee) Denver Broncos

DRC was limited Thursday and Friday after missing Wednesday. Orange Julius was limited all week in practice. 

Tamba Hali, LB (ankle), Mike DeVito, DE (knee) Kansas City Chiefs

Hali will play through the ankle injury. DeVito sat out practice Friday.

Jonathan Stewart, RB (ankle), Mike Tolbert, RB (knee), DeAngelo Williams, RB (thigh) Carolina Panthers

The entire backfield for the Panthers is questionable. Ron Rivera said he was "concerned" about Williams. Stewart and Tolbert have good shots to play after being limited Thursday and Friday.

Jordan Reed, TE (concussion) Washington Redskins

The rookie tight end was limited all week.

Santonio Holmes, WR (foot, hamstring), Antonio Cromartie, CB (hip) New York Jets

Rex Ryan said he was "concerned" about Holmes' injuries. It would be a surprise if we see him considering he didn't practice all week. Cro returned to practice Friday on a limited basis.

Tony Gonzalez, TE (toe) Atlanta Falcons

The legend was limited in practice all week.

Andre Ellington, RB (knee) Arizona Cardinals

The rookie injured his knee Thursday in practice. He told The Arizona Republic he was "hopeful" to play Sunday.

Stephen Paea, DT (toe), Jay Ratliff, DT (groin), Major Wright, S (hamstring) Chicago Bears

A major boost for the Bears if Paea and Ratliff can play. Wright injured himself in practice Friday (it's been that sort of season for the Bears).

Vontaze Burfict, LB (ankle) Cincinnati Bengals

The team's leading tackler sprained his ankle during Friday's practice.

Mike Brown, WR (shoulder) Jacksonville Jaguars

Brown was limited all week in practice and expects to play.

Rob Gronkowski, TE (back, forearm, hamstring) New England Patriots

Gronk was limited all week in practice. We aren't worried about him missing the game.

Eddie Royal, WR (toe, chest) San Diego Chargers

Royal added a chest injury to the toe injury that has kept him on this list the past month. He still keeps playing, despite not practicing.

Three QBs To Watch


Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos

The playoff picture
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Manning has to be bristling with how last week's loss to the Patriots turned out. The Broncos' offense has been slowly declining as the season grows older and the weather becomes colder. Denver's O has dipped by 17.3 points, 77.8 total yards and 117.8 passing yards over the last three weeks, compared to the season's blistering start. Manning is still leading the MVP conversation, and the Broncos could begin to pull away in the AFC West with a win in Kansas City.

Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles

Foles has the highest passer rating in a single month since 1960 at 152.8. After naming him the permanent starter, Chip Kelly mentioned Foles wouldn't have to look over his shoulder if he had a bad game. That is a convenient statement for Kelly to make considering the Arizona Cardinals are coming to town, and they will be by far the best defense Foles has faced this season. If the second-year QB dices up the Cards the way he has other defenses, the Eagles should be considered front-runners in the NFC East.

Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

Rivers' game-winning drive last week kept the Chargers' playoff hopes alive. He'll have to put up similar numbers against another playoff-bound team in the Bengals. With his defense giving him next to no help, Rivers has had a marvelous season. He needs another big game to keep pace in the tightly packed AFC playoff hunt.

Weather Tracking


Great news for Peyton Manning fans: It is not projected to be less than 30 degrees at kickoff at Arrowhead Stadium.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers -- 49 degrees/chance of rain late in the game
Jacksonville Jaguars at Cleveland Browns -- 37 degrees/chance of snow
Miami Dolphins at New York Jets -- 42 degrees/chance of rain
Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles -- 42 degrees
Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs -- 46 degrees/partly cloudy
New York Giants at Washington Redskins -- 39 degrees/partly cloudy 

Did you know?


» The Houston Texans have the NFL's top-ranked total defense (290.4 YPG) despite their 2-9 record. No top-ranked total defense has ever finished with fewer than five wins in a season.

» The Chicago Bears have allowed 40-plus points three times this season. During Lovie Smith's nine seasons as head coach, the Bears allowed 40-plus points in a game a total of four times.

Sunday's storylines


Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers

Cam Newton has orchestrated a game-winning drive in three consecutive weeks. His evolution as a passer has vaulted the Panthers into the Super Bowl contender discussion. He's never thrown the medium-to-short ball better than he has this season, which has allowed him to be much more efficient as a passer. He'll need to show similar moxie against a Buccaneers team that is gaining confidence by the game.

Mike Glennon will face the toughest defense he's seen all season. The rookie quarterback has improved leaps and bounds. His deep ball, specifically, has been money. If he can get time against the Panthers' defensive front seven, he could have success against a nondescript secondary.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Cleveland Browns


The Brandon Weeden Era Part III: The Dearth of Options airs Sunday afternoon at a Factory of Sadness near you. The maligned quarterback has been downright awful for the majority of his snaps this season. Third time is said to be the charm, but I'm not so optimistic that phrase rings true for Weeden.

The Jaguars have a chance to steal a road victory if they can force the Browns into a few turnovers, and give Chad Henne a short field to work with. Henne isn't the Jags' future quarterback, but he's looked like a decent backup for the last several weeks as the Jags have gone 2-1. He is capable of making a few plays against the Browns' D. Like Weeden, he needs to avoid bad turnovers.

New England Patriots at Houston Texans


It's shocking that the Texans remain the top defensive team in terms of total defense but have lost nine consecutive games. If their offense can provide consistency against a banged-up Patriots D, which will be without cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, Case Keenum is capable of pulling off the biggest upset of the week.

When the Patriots don't turn the ball over, they are expertly efficient. Anyone who wrote off Tom Brady early this season should be ashamed, as he's starting to wedge his name into the MVP discussion. The key will be avoiding backbreaking turnovers, especially from the running backs (looking at you, Stevan Ridley).

Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts


Chris Johnson was fantastic in the first quarter of the Week 11 matchup, running for two touchdowns and 70 yards in the first quarter. He had just 16 yards after that. The Titans need Johnson to be more consistent this time around to keep pace in the playoff race.

Andrew Luck still hasn't lost back-to-back games in his career. He'll have to get his offense going out of the gate early this week. There are only so many times a team can come back from the dead. Luck is clearly missing Reggie Wayne and needs someone other than T.Y. Hilton to step up Sunday.

Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings


This looks like a nightmare matchup for a Bears defense that has struggled to stop the run. If either (or both) Stephen Paea and Jay Ratliff are able to go, it would be a big boost. Still, on paper it looks like this will be another game in which Josh McCown will be forced to sling it a ton for the Bears to keep pace in the NFC North.

Adrian Peterson should collect his first back-to-back 100-yard rushing games of the season. It would be a huge, huge coaching mistake if A.P. doesn't get the ball 30-plus times Sunday. However, the way things have gone in Minnesota this season, nothing would be a surprise anymore.

Miami Dolphins at New York Jets

Mike Wallace busted out last week in a loss to the Panthers. He faces a Jets D that is susceptible to the deep ball. Wallace and Ryan Tannehill need to prove that last week was a sign of things to come in their relationship, not an aberration.

The Jets might consider running the ball every play against the Dolphins' 25th-ranked run defense. The GenoCoaster is just stuck on a permanent downhill. Last week, Geno Smith became just the sixth QB since 2000 to record 10 or fewer completions in three straight starts. (The last man to do that was Tim Tebow in Denver.)

Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles


Surely, a game pitting Chip Kelly's offense vs. Bruce Arians' offense should be a shootout, no? However, both offenses are going up against defenses that have been very stingy of late. The Eagles' defense is allowing 16.2 PPG in their last five contests, while the Cardinals' D is allowing 15.5 PPG in their last four games.

The Cardinals have the second-best run defense in the NFL. LeSean McCoy will test them often Sunday.

Atlanta Falcons at Buffalo Bills


Matt Ryan's struggles have been well documented. On the positive side, he's found a good rapport with Harry Douglas, and youngster Darius Johnson flashed potential last week. With the season lost, the Falcons need to start figuring out what pieces they have for the future.

The Bills, on the other hand, know they have good young players for the future. This is a stepping-stone game for EJ Manuel. There isn't much reason the Bills' offense shouldn't be able to move the ball up and down the field against a deplorable Falcons defense.

St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers


The 49ers have allowed the second-lowest passer rating to opposing QBs this season at 73.7 (behind only Seattle). The defense should be able to easily hold down Kellen Clemens, allowing the front seven to focus on slowing rookie running back Zac Stacy.

Rams defensive ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn have been menacing to opposing quarterbacks this season. They should have success against Colin Kaepernick, provided they don't get too deep on their rush and allow him to escape the pocket. A game like the one we saw them have earlier this season against Russell Wilson is not out of the question.

Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs

Oh, what happened to the Chiefs' defense? The group surrendered 462.7 yards per game in November, the worst mark in the NFL. The Chiefs won't have Justin Houston, and Tamba Hali is banged up. If they don't get more pressure on Peyton Manning than they got in their previous matchup, it will be another long day.

I like that Alex Smith is starting to have more confidence looking downfield. The Chiefs need to break some big plays to win an important division game. Otherwise, they'll likely be looking at a road game to start the playoffs.

Cincinnati Bengals at San Diego Chargers


Two of the biggest enigma teams in the NFL face off. The Chargers' proficient offense can move the ball against any defense. However, their defense is so unbelievably terrible that they have to win shootouts every week. Keenan Allen could have a good week against a banged-up Bengals secondary.

Andy Dalton has zero excuses if he doesn't absolutely shred the Chargers' D. His weapons far and away outclass the Chargers' defenders in just about every aspect. The Bengals should move the ball easily -- if Dalton avoids boneheaded mistakes and allows his teammates to make plays for him.

New York Giants at Washington Redskins


The Giants will be without Jason Pierre-Paul and several other key defenders. If there was a time for Robert Griffin III to get right, it would be Sunday night. Unfortunately, he's shown no signs that he is confident running Kyle Shanahan's offense. The desperation throws and crushing blows have become all too familiar to Redskins fans.

The Redskins' secondary has been kind to most quarterbacks this season. It shouldn't be any different for Eli Manning, who has thrown just two interceptions in the past five weeks (after throwing 15 in the previous six weeks). Manning is the veteran presence in a game between two teams in evaluation mode.

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