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Week 9 Cheat Sheet

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Everything you need to know as kickoff approaches...

Harrison: Week 9 predictions
While Manning vs. Brady takes center stage, Elliot Harrison eyes other factors in Broncos-Pats. Check out his Week 9 picks. READ

Key game-time decisions


All players questionable unless noted

Tony Romo (back) -- OUT -- QB, Dallas Cowboys

The quarterback will not play this week, per NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Media's Desmond Purnell. The team later announced that the signal-caller is inactive.

A.J. Green (toe) -- ACTIVE -- WR, Cincinnati Bengals

The wideout was limited all week and appears that he could make his return after missing three games. UPDATE: Green will play Sunday against the Jaguars.

Jadeveon Clowney (knee, illness) -- OUT -- LB; Brian Cushing (knee) -- OUT -- LB, Houston Texans

Bill O'Brien didn't sound optimistic about the No. 1 overall pick playing Sunday. Cushing returned on a limited basis on Friday. UPDATE: Clowney will not play as he battles illness, per Rapoport. The team later announced that Clowney is inactive, as is Cushing.

Robert Griffin III (ankle) -- PROBABLE -- QB, Washington Redskins

Barring an unforeseen setback, RGIII will make his return to the starting lineup.

Patrick Willis (toe) -- OUT -- LB, San Francisco 49ers

Willis was limited Thursday and Friday. He could be on a snap count if he makes his return. UPDATE: Willis was ruled out ahead of Sunday's game. The team announced that rookie linebacker Chris Borland will start in Willis' stead.

Geno Smith (right shoulder) -- OUT -- QB, New York Jets

Smith will likely be Michael Vick's backup after being full-go Thursday and Friday. The Jets elevated quarterback Matt Simms from the practice squad Saturday, in case Smith can't playUPDATE: Smith was ruled out by the team ahead of Sunday's game.

Kam Chancellor (groin) -- QUESTIONABLE -- S; Russell Okung (calf) -- QUESTIONABLE -- OT, Seattle Seahawks

Neither player practiced on Friday.

Owen Daniels (knee) -- QUESTIONABLE -- TE, Baltimore Ravens

The tight end was moving well enough on Friday. He could be on a snap count restriction if he is able to go.

Brandon Flowers (concussion) -- ACTIVE -- CB, San Diego Chargers

The cornerback participated fully on Thursday and Friday after missing last week's game and is active for Sunday's game.

Doug Martin (ankle) -- OUT -- RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The struggling running back will miss his third game of the season.

MNF

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (back/hamstring) -- QUESTIONABLE -- CB, New York Giants

DRC was limited all week.

Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder) DE -- PROBABLE -- New York Giants

JPP missed practice Saturday. He's expected to play, but the injury is something to monitor moving forward.


Weather Tracking*


Bill Belichick doesn't believe weathermen, but we'll tell you what they are saying anyway.

Broncos at Patriots -- 38 degrees / Pre-game snow, winds (Around 18 mph at kickoff)
Jets at Chiefs -- 57 degrees / Winds (Around 19 mph)
Raiders at Seahawks -- 53 degrees / Slight chance of scattered showers (20 percent)
*Forecasts courtesy of Weather Underground


Three matchups to watch


Brooks: Must-see matchups
What are the most intriguing Week 9 battles in games across the NFL? Bucky Brooks provides his scouting eye. READ

DeMarcus Ware/Von Miller vs. Nate Solder/Sebastian Vollmer

Ware and Miller have been toying with offensive lines all season. The duo has a combined 16 sacks this season (more than 14 entire teams) and can throw timing offenses completely off-kilter with their constant play in the backfield. Solder and Vollmer have struggled at times this season as part of a rotating Pats O-line. If the two can't hold up against the Broncos' bludgeoning tandem, Tom Brady will be under siege. If the Patriots are forced to keep backs and tight ends in to help out in pass protection, it will handcuff Brady's options against an improved Broncos secondary. Brady could attempt to neutralize Miller and Ware with an increased pace as he has displayed in recent weeks.

Cardinals WRs vs. Cowboys DBs

Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and jitterbug rookie Josh Brown are a tough trio to clamp down on in Bruce Arians' field-stretching offense. The combination has combined for 71 receptions, 1,112 yards and eight touchdowns. Each possesses big-play ability that the Cowboys' secondary will have to neutralize. Orlando Scandrick, Sterling Moore and Brandon Carr have been solid in the Cowboys' secondary. Scandrick specifically has been a stud this season. However, if the Dallas pass rush continues to struggle getting to the quarterback, the Cowboys' corners will have to stick with the Cards' trio.

Antonio Brown vs. Lardarius Webb/Dominique Franks

Brown has been seemingly unstoppable this season. He's extended his streak of at least five catches and 50 yards to 24 straight games. In the first meeting against the Ravens in Week 2, Brown had seven catches for 90 yards in the loss (he missed time while getting tested for a possible concussion during the game). The key for the Ravens will be sticking with Brown when Ben Roethlisberger ad-libs and gets away from pressure. Baltimore will be without corner Jimmy Smith (foot) -- who is having a stellar season -- so the duty of slowing down Brown will fall to Lardarius Webb (who missed Week 2) and Dominique Franks.


Did You Know?


Jacksonville Jaguars at Cincinnati Bengals

Denard Robinson could become the first Jaguars running back to rush for 100-plus yards in three straight games since Maurice Jones-Drew did it in 2011. Robinson has 40 rushes for 235 yards in the last two weeks. He had 48 carries for 160 yards in his first 15 career games. Not bad for a quarterback.

Andy Dalton is on pace for a career-low 14 touchdown passes (he has six through seven games). However, the signal caller is also on pace to set career highs in completion percentage (65.4), yards per attempt (7.6), and passer rating (89.7).

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cleveland Browns

The Bucs' defense is dead last in points per game allowed (31.9) and yards per game (409.9); 31st in third-down percentage allowed (47.8!); 30th in passing yards allowed (286) and opponents' passer rating (107); and own the worst percentage of forced three-and-outs (12.3). Lovie Smith was a defensive guy, right? Right?!?

Your "Everything is still jolly in Cleveland" update (brought to you by, "For Now" stain removers): The Browns are above .500 after seven games for the first time since 2007 (started 5-3, finished 10-6).

The Cleveland rushing attack has floundered the past two weeks without center Alex Mack. In the first six weeks of the season the Browns averaged 146.4 yards per game on 33 attempts, for a 4.4 yards-per-rush average with eight touchdown runs. In the last two weeks they've averaged 54 yards on 27.5 totes for a paltry 2.0 average and just one touchdown.

Arizona Cardinals at Dallas Cowboys

The last time Cardinals were 6-1 or better was 1974 (started 7-0, finished 10-4 under Don Coryell).

The Cardinals own the NFL's second-best turnover differential at plus-9. One big reason for that is Carson Palmer, who has thrown just one interception in four games. He's on pace for just three interceptions this season. That would be the quarterback's lowest for any season (even 2008 when he only played four games he threw four picks). His current .25 interception rate is by far the lowest of his career. The next closest is the .75 rate in 2005 (12 picks in 16 games). Entering the season Palmer had a career average of 1.1 interceptions per game (152 picks in 138 games played).

At the midpoint of the season, DeMarco Murray already has 1,000-plus rushing yards, 200-plus carries and seven TDs. In 2013, only 10 players reached those numbers for the entire year. Murray would need 272 yards against the Cardinals to have the most rushing yards by any player through nine team games since 1960.

Murray has more rushing yards this season (1,054) than every other TEAM except the Jets and Texans and more rushing yards than LeSean McCoy (505) and Marshawn Lynch (482) combined.

Philadelphia Eagles at Houston Texans

The Eagles have converted only one of 11 third downs inside the red zone (9.1 percent), which is worst in NFL. Philadelphia is scoring a touchdown on 34.8 percent of red-zone possessions, also the worst in NFL. Their three red-zone giveaways ties for the most in the league.

J.J. Watt leads the NFL with 24 QB hits this season. That number is more than the Cardinals (22), Raiders (21), Falcons (19) and Rams (17) have as a team. Watt's 113 QB hits since 2012 are nearly twice as many as anyone else over that timespan -- Cameron Wake is second on this list with 61.

Arian Foster has 100-plus rushing yards in six of seven games this season. His 31 career 100-yard rushing games are tied with Priest Holmes for most in NFL history by an undrafted player.

New York Jets at Kansas City Chiefs

Rex Ryan's defense isn't exactly playing like a Jet. Gang Green has only three takeaways this season, fewest in NFL. It's allowed 24-plus points in each game during a seven-game losing streak and allowed multiple TD passes in all seven games (20 TDs, one INT in that span).

Alex Smith is averaging just 5.6 air yards per pass attempt this season, lowest in NFL (minimum 75 pass attempts). Smith averaged 2.0 air yards per attempt last week, lowest in the NFL among players with 20-plus attempts since Mark Brunell (1.9) in Week 3 of 2006 with the Redskins.

The Chiefs' quarterback has not thrown a TD pass further than five air yards this season. Of the 38 QBs with at least 30 such pass attempts, Smith is the only one without a TD pass greater than five air yards.

San Diego Chargers at Miami Dolphins

The Chargers have not won at Miami since the 1981 AFC Divisional Playoffs (SD beat Miami, 41-38 in OT). Kellen Winslow was helped off field after 13 receptions, 166 yards and a TD in the game. The Chargers have lost their last seven games at Miami.

Philip Rivers ranks in the top six in most passing categories: completion percentage, 68.3 (fourth); passing yards, 2,213 (sixth); passing TDs, 20 (third); and passer rating, 109.9 (third).

The Miami Dolphins, thanks to Ryan Tannehill's emergence as a rusher in recent weeks, have gone over 100 rushing yards in five straight games (the longest such streak under Joe Philbin). However, Lamar Miller has only one 100-yard rushing game this season (Week 3 loss).

Washington Redskins at Minnesota Vikings

Washington has allowed only five drives of 10-plus plays this season, fewest in NFL. However, opposing teams have thrown 17 TDs and only three INTs against the Redskins with a passer rating of 104.0, 5th highest in NFL. Jim Haslett's unit has 14 sacks when bringing the blitz this season, most in the NFL.

Meanwhile the Minnesota defense has compiled 15 sacks in the last three games (after getting 10 sacks in the first five) and are tied for second in the NFL with 25 sacks. They are led by "Making the Leap" candidate Everson Griffen (8), third most in the NFL. The Vikings are allowing just 24.3 percent of 20-plus air yard passes to be completed (fourth lowest in the NFL) and are the only team to not allow a completion of 20-plus air yards on third down. However, opponents have an 81.3 completion percentage and 134.1 passer rating in the red zone (both highest in the NFL).

St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers

The Rams' offense has been much less productive over the last three weeks compared to the first five weeks of the season (not counting their Week 4 bye). Through Weeks 6 through 8 St. Louis is averaging 3.7 fewer points on 131.5 fewer total yards (115.2 fewer passing yards and 16.3 fewer rushing yards).

According to Pro Football Focus, Colin Kaepernick has a completion percentage of 50.0 in play-action, which ranks 34th out of 36 QBs. His 66.7 completion percentage without play-action ranks tied for seventh out of 36 QBs.

Frank Gore has five 100-yard rushing games versus St. Louis (T-most versus single opponent -- five vs. SEA) and the Rams have allowed 100-plus yards rushing in six of seven games this season. However, Gore is averaging a mere 29 rushing yards in the past two Niners games.

Denver Broncos at New England Patriots

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning each threw 14 TD passes in October. It was the first calendar month in NFL history in which two players threw for at least 14 TDs (courtesy: Elias Sports Bureau).

Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders have 1,401 receiving yards combined, the most in the NFL for any receiving duo (86 yards more than Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb).

The Broncos' defense ranks in the top six in the NFL in both total defense and scoring D. Total defense: 315.3 YPG allowed (fourth); Scoring defense: 20.3 PPG allowed (sixth). They also boast the NFL's best rushing defense (72.4 YPG allowed) and have forced three-and-outs on 29.4 percent of opponents drives, the second-most in the NFL.

The Patriots flaunt the NFL's third-ranked scoring offense (29.8 points per game), scoring on 47.8 percent of drives this season (second-most in NFL). Brady's unit has scored 158 points in their last four games combined (4-0 record) after scoring 80 points in the first four games combined (2-2).

Oakland Raiders at Seattle Seahawks

The Oakland ground game has been nonexistent. Since Tony Sparano took over as head coach, only the Falcons (32 percent) and Buccaneers (33 percent) have rushed the ball less than the Raiders (34 percent). However, the Raiders were rushing the ball only 32 percent of the time under Dennis Allen, fewest in the NFL.

Russell Wilson isn't throwing deep as well or as often as last season when you compare 20-plus air yard passes in the first seven games of each season -- 2013: 13-of-29, 44.8 completion percentage, four touchdowns for a 102.9 passer rating. 2014: seven-of-18 passing, 38.9 completion percent, one touchdown and a 81.7 passer rating.

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers

Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger have met 11 times, which is the second-most meetings between active Super Bowl-winning QBs. Roethlisberger leads Flacco 7-4 in these matchups (regular and postseason). Only Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have met more often among active Super Bowl-winning QBs.

The Ravens' offense ranks in the top 10 in scoring (seventh, 27.1) and total offense (ninth, 375.5 YPG). It has scored on 47.1 percent of drives this season (third in the NFL), gone three-and-out on only 11.5 percent of drives (second-best percentage in NFL) and boasts 10 rushes of 20-plus yards this season (T-most in NFL with Dallas).

Ben Roethlisberger is on pace to set career highs in completion percentage (68.4), passing yards (4,760) and passer rating (105.9). He'd also tie his career high of 32 passing touchdowns on his current pace (set in 2007). Of course, a lot of that is thanks to Antonio Brown who leads the NFL in targets (87) and receptions (60).

Indianapolis Colts at New York Giants

Andrew Luck is on pace for 5,462 passing yards, which would leave him just 16 yards short of breaking the record set by Peyton Manning in 2013 with 5,477. Luck has more passing yards (2,731) than 18 teams have total yards this season.

Sixty-one of Andre Williams' 89 (68.5 percent) rush attempts this season have been for less than four yards. Rashad Jennings (who is out) hasn't been much better -- 47 of his 91 (51.6 percent) rush attempts this season went for less than four yards.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast previews every Week 9 game and recaps the Saints' one-sided TNF win over the Panthers. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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