For all their woes, no team has done a better job grooming running backs this season than the Bucs. Position coach Earnest Byner helped turn Mike James into a world-beater after Doug Martin went down. Now that James has been lost, Bobby Rainey steps in and rolls the Falcons for 163 yards and two scores. Can he repeat the trick against Detroit?
One consistent knock on Geno Smith has been the rookie's knack for turnovers: He leads the NFL with 20 giveaways this season. That's at the heart of New York's Jekyll-and-Hyde act in which Gang Green has alternated wins and losses an NFL-record 10 straight times in 2013.
The Packers are mired in their first three-game losing streak since 2008, placing pressure on young passer Scott Tolzien to dial up a win. He'll benefit from facing arguably the worst defense in football in Minnesota. It would be a fine time to get rookie runner Eddie Lacy back in the mix after he ran for just 27 yards against the Giants last week.
The Texans have lost a franchise-record eight in a row, but we continue to be impressed with rookie quarterback Case Keenum. He comes into this game with the highest passer rating and second-highest completion percentage on throws of 20-plus yards through the air. Gary Kubiak would be wise to keep Matt Schaub attached to a clipboard this weekend.
The Chargers are history unless they pull off an upset in rowdy Arrowhead. San Diego is one of the few AFC wild-card hopefuls with a legitimate quarterback, but the Bolts will be lucky to get back to .500 against the NFL's toughest remaining strength of schedule.
The Rams have played like a different team since Sam Bradford's injury, mostly because of their defense. Robert Quinn and Chris Long are second in the league among sack duos, and are especially good at home. It will be the toughest test yet for the vastly improved Chicago offensive line, which ranks third in the league with only 16 sacks given up.
The Giants' four-game winning streak happened because of easy opponents and improved defensive line play. Justin Tuck is playing better than he has in years. Jason Pierre-Paul looks healthy again and Cullen Jenkins is making plays as a run defender. This will be a tough test because Dallas' offensive line has played well all season.
Colin Kaepernick is still capable of throwing a handful of gorgeous passes to the outside every game. He struggles to make anticipation throws and his receivers struggle to get open against man coverage. That dooms the 49ers offense most weeks, but San Francisco can win one-on-one matchups against the hapless Redskins defense. Look for a bounceback game.