1. Is Jason Garrett the answer in Big D? » As mastermind and coordinator of the once-prolific Cowboys offense, Garrett was dubbed “Red Jesus,” and christened the heir apparent to the Dallas head coaching job. But upon his long-awaited promotion this week — replacing fired Wade Phillips — Garrett has been seen as one of the problems — not the solution— of the 1-7 Cowboys . His first assignment is difficult — on the road against the Giants. New York has won five straight in dominating fashion, averaging 6 yards per carry on first down. It will be interesting to watch the Cowboys in the second half of the season to see if Garrett can light a spark. – Kevin Dunleavy
2. Ryan vs. Ryan » It’s Sibling Rivalry Sunday as Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will host the Jets led by his twin, Rex. There’s only one thing that is certain in this game: The only thing more plentiful than the blitzes will be the expletives coming out of the twins’ mouths. Rex and Rob are definitely their father’s sons —tough on defense and as rough and tumble as they come. The Jets (6-2) stand a good chance to beat the underdog Browns (3-5), but Rob has never beaten Rex in an NFL game. While the brothers have often teamed up to fight others, reports of their few fraternal squabbles are legendary. Don’t expect Rob to let Rex take the family record to 4-0 without an all-out brawl. – Brian McNally
3. Are the Chiefs for real? » If so, then this is the week to prove it. Yes, winning on the road in the NFL is always difficult. But Kansas City sits at 5-3 in the AFC West and has a winnable game at Denver on Sunday afternoon. Once a house of horrors for the Chiefs, the Mile High City has watched its home team lose four in a row and apparently quit on its coach. A playoff team finds a way to get this win. Do so and Kansas City will hold a one-game lead on Oakland (5-4) and is two games up on resurgent San Diego (4-5). Both of those teams are on their bye this week. But lose to the Broncos and things get sticky in an up-for-grabs division. – Leon Saffelle
GAME OF THE WEEK
Patriots at Steelers, 8:20 p.m., ESPN
In the four games without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers scored more than 19 points one time. In the four games with him, they’ve scored 23 or more three times. But in this potential AFC Championship Game preview, the Patriots toughest task might be stopping Rashard Mendenhall, one week after getting pounded by Peyton Hillis. Mendenhall has rushed for 702 yards and seven touchdowns. Pittsburgh, obviously, needs to stop Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Their offense relies on his arm, but he’ll be facing the fourth-ranked defense (and first in points allowed). However, the Steelers are 24th vs. the pass. – John Keim
San Francisco 49ers over St. Louis Rams
Fact: The 4-4 Rams have been one of the biggest surprises of the season. Fact: The 2-6 49ers are one of the worst teams in the NFL. But consider that San Francisco is 1-2 at home, and consider that those two losses were to the Saints (by three) and the Eagles (by three), and then factor in Troy Smith’s emergence —115.2 QB rating in San Francisco’s 24-16 win over Denver in the London Bowl. Is Sam Bradford really that good? Are the Rams really ready to take control of the NFC West? Nope, not yet. – James Irwin
PLAYER TO WATCH
Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans
This is an indirect way of writing about Randy Moss for the umpteenth time. But with the talented, but maligned, receiver now on the Titans, teams won’t be able to stack the line of scrimmage to stop Johnson. And that should make him even more dangerous. How will Miami handle him? There’s no way you can let Johnson run wild. Though he’s rushed for 721 yards (4.1 yards per carry) and eight touchdowns, he’s coming off two subpar games (a combined 125 yards on 39 carries). Having Moss to deflect attention should help. – John Keim
Five to start
1. QB David Garrard » The last three games Garrard has started and finished, he’s thrown a combined nine touchdowns, including four last week vs. the Cowboys.
2. RB Jahvid Best » The Lions back is struggling with a toe injury, but a game against the Bills’ last-ranked rush defense (178.2 ypg) should help.
3. RB Thomas Jones » After two weeks of being held out of the end zone, Jones faces a Broncos’ defense that has allowed an NFL-high 14 rushing touchdowns this season.
4. WR Mike Wallace » The Steelers’ deep threat has had a touchdown in three of the four games since Ben Roethlisberger returned from his suspension.
5. WR Steve Johnson » The Bills are winless, but Johnson has been a nice find. He has 145 or more receiving yards in two of the last three games.
Five to sit
1. QB Tom Brady » After throwing for 300 yards in seven games last year, Brady hasn’t done it once this season — he ranks 14th in passing yards.
2. RB Peyton Hillis » He’s coming off a 184-yard rushing performance, but Hillis had 138 yards rushing the previous three weeks.
3. RB LaDainian Tomlinson » The Jets are looking for a more balanced approach and Tomlinson hasn’t broke 60 yards rushing for three games.
4. WR Jeremy Maclin » Michael Vick is back, but so is his favorite receiver DeSean Jackson. Maclin had just 48 yards last week.
5. WR Miles Austin » Man, his stock has fallen. Austin has been held to 38 yards or less in four of the last six games.
– Jeffrey Tomik
EXAMINER POWER RANKINGS
— Craig Stouffer
|No. Team » Comment » Last week
1. Giants (6-2) » With Cowboys in town, the top spot will be easy to keep » 2
2. Falcons (7-2) » Yes, there are two NFC teams at the top of the rankings » 7
3. Steelers (6-2) » Since Roethlisberger took the helm, they’re 3-1 – barely » 4
4. Jets (6-2) » Ryan lampooning his bro won’t be funny if Browns win » 5
5. Ravens (6-2) » Refs didn’t see McClain spit — or Roddy’s push » 6
6. Patriots (6-2) » Being NFL’s last one-loss team was coincidence, nothing more » 1
7. Colts (5-3) » Sight of a motionless Collie certainly moved the stomach » 3
8. Packers (6-3) » Pronouncements that they were done should be revoked » 8
9. Eagles (5-3) » No surprise Vick outdueled Manning in midseason. Riiiight » 10
10. Saints (6-3) » Have bounced back, and have the luxury of a late bye week » 11
11. Titans (5-3) » Talk about Moss stretching the D assumes he’ll actually try » 13
12. Dolphins (4-4) » To put faith in Pennington, Miami reaches deep into its wallet » 9
13. Raiders (5-4) » 2nd in AFC West but have commanding 3-0 division record » 16
14. Chiefs (5-3) » Can’t freak out, can’t afford to lose many more close games » 12
15. Buccaneers (5-3) » One of NFL’s best stories of first half, not sure it’ll last » 14
16. Chargers (4-5) » Two-game winning streak in hand; is it time to believe? » 17
17. Texans (4-4) » 18 inches from giving up 400 yards a game (399.5) » 15
18. Browns (3-5) » Ryan vs. Ryan & Mangini zingers highlight pregame hype » 23
19. Redskins (4-4) » FYI, can’t game plan injuring Vick » 18
20. Vikings (3-5) » Favre leads comeback, says won’t play next year. Uh huh » 25
21. Bears (5-3) » Vikes are one of few teams with a losing record left on sked » 19
22. Rams (4-4) » Winning record, first in NFC West on the line at Frisco » 20
23. Jaguars (4-4) » Gotta, gotta start Garrard in fantasy vs. Houston » 21
24. Lions (2-6) » Battle of teams that compete but still lose a lot in Buffalo » 24
25. Seahawks (4-4) » To all D-linemen in the Northwest, Seattle needs you » 22
26. Cardinals (3-5) » Still need proof that Beanie Wells is injury prone? » 26
27. Bengals (2-6) » Carson Palmer’s 15 minutes are over » 27
28. 49ers (2-6) » Can Troy Smith be integrated if he left during the bye? » 28
29. Broncos (2-6) » A lot of good reasons to stay away from Invesco Field » 29
30. Cowboys (1-7) » In no way is Garrett’s promotion actually a regime change » 30
31. Panthers (1-7) » At least it’s a short trip to go see A.J. Green in person » 31
32. Bills (0-8) » Just call him Stevie — Johnson is having a wonderful season » 32