That four-way knot at the top of the AFC East standings will be dissolved by today’s New York Jets at New England Patriots game and other events.
The Jets-Patriots winner, of course, will be 4-3 and assured of at least a share of the division lead and own first place if the Bills lose at home to Tennessee. Miami is idle and will drop back half a pace.
The Pats vs. Jets is one of five divisional games on the schedule and two of those involve first-place teams in the NFC.
Aside from the Jets and Patriots, the most interesting divisional clash finds the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants at home against the Washington Redskins and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III. The Redskins could gain a share of the division lead at 4-3 with an upset.
NFC North leader Chicago will be at home against the Detroit Lions.
In the AFC, Pittsburgh visits Cincinnati with the winner looking to possibly gain ground on first-place Baltimore in the AFC North. The Ravens are a solid underdog against the Texans in Houston.
Atlanta, the only unbeaten team in the league, is off this week. The Falcons own a 3½-game lead over Tampa Bay in the NFC South and a 4½-game lead over New Orleans. The Saints and Buccaneers meet today in Tampa with each hoping to stay within hailing distance of the Falcons, who still must play both teams twice.
A look at the Week Seven games:
Game of the day
Jets (3-3) at Patriots (3-3)
TV: Ch. 4, 4 p.m.
The line: Patriots (-10½)
The scoop: New England swept season series last year, but Rex Ryan is 3-4 against Patriots and talking big again. … New York’s ground-and-pound attack rolled over Colts last Sunday with Shonn Greene running hard for 161 yards and three touchdowns. But can he do it every week? … Jets brought in safeties LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell to counter New England TEs. We’ll see if plan works.
Outlook: Looking for Jets to hang in against divisional rival. New England, 30-24.
Ravens (5-1) at Texans (5-1)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Texans (-7)
The scoop: Two supposed AFC Super Bowl contenders meet. Texas coming off blowout loss at home to Packers. … Baltimore is 4-0 versus Houston under John Harbaugh, including 29-14 win in 2011. … Texans RB Arian Foster leads league with seven rushing TDs. Ray Rice of Ravens has five. Both QBs (Matt Schaub of Houston and Joe Flacco of Baltimore) have 8-4 TD-INT numbers. … Ravens jolted this week by injuries to LB Ray Lewis and CB Lardarius Webb. Texans LB Brian Cushing is also out for year.
Outlook: Like Ravens getting almost a touchdown spot, but expect Houston to rebound, 24-21.
Redskins (3-3) at Giants (4-2)
TV: Ch. 29, 1 p.m.
The line: Giants (-6)
The scoop: Giants will introduce themselves to RGIII, who led upset of Vikings. Big Blue stopped 49ers cold at Candlestick last week, making a huge statement. … Beating division rival Redskins may be tougher assignment, no matter what the relative strengths of the teams. Wash won last visit to MetLife, 23-10, last December. Giants haven’t been blown teams away at home.
Outlook: People might have forgotten how good a coach Mike Shanahan is. Redskins don’t fall easily. Giants, 24-20.
Lions (2-3) at Bears (4-1)
TV: ESPN, Monday, 8:30 p.m.
The line: Bears (-6½)
The scoop: Rivalry goes back to 1930, when Lions were Portsmouth (Ohio) Spartans. Bears still are a stumbling block for hopeful Lions. Detroit won opener of series between NFC North rivals last year, Lions’ only win in last eight against Chicago. … Bears allowing just 65.8 yards on the ground, best in the league.
Outlook: 29.7 percent (a record pace) of NFL games this season have been decided by three or fewer points. This one looks tight, too. Bears, 17-14.
Steelers (2-3) at Bengals (3-3)
TV: Ch. 2, 8:20 p.m.
The line: Steelers (-1)
The scoop: Pittsburgh is 9-2 since 2006 versus Cincy. The losses were Bengals sweep in ’09. However, last two Steeler wins at Paul Brown Stadium were by a touchdown or less. … Surprise. Steelers next to last in the league with 74.8 rushing average. Bengals giving up almost 25 points a game.
Outlook: Steelers starting to fray on the edges. Bengals, 20-17.
Best of the rest
Titans (2-4) at Bills (3-3)
TV: Ch. 4, 1 p.m.
The line: Bills (-3½)
The scoop: Chris Johnson of the Titans ran for 1,047 yards last season. So far this season he has a disappointing 301 yards, a 3.3 average and no TDs, and Titans are last in league in rushing. He did gash the Bills for 153 in Titans’ 23-17 win in Orchard Park last season. … Bills righted the ship — just barely — with OT win at Arizona, but are their run defense problems really over? … Tennessee has won last four in rivalry that dates back to AFL days when Titans were Houston Oilers. Remember Luv Ya Blue?
Outlook: Can’t help envisioning Johnson running through and around the Bills. Just his threat is matter of concern. Titans, 27-20.
Cardinals (4-2) at Vikings (4-2)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Vikings (-6½)
The scoop: People forget that John Skelton, not Kevin Kolb, won Arizona QB job in preseason, then was hurt. Skelton is back as starter with Kolb (ribs) out. … Vikings laid huge egg at Washington last week after winning three in a row, including upsets of Niners and Lions.
Outlook: Cards don’t have enough offense and Vikings’ pass rush should bother Skelton. Minny bounces back, 33-17.
Packers (3-3) at Rams (3-3)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Packers (-5)
The scoop: Aaron Rodgers (6 TD passes) decimated Texans last Sunday night. Packers “D” with Clay Matthews running wild can be disruptive but Green Bay trending toward bottom half of league in total defense. … At home in dome, Rams pass rushers Chris Long and Robert Quinn may bother Rodgers.
Outlook: Packers seemed to wake up last week, but don’t underestimate Jeff Fisher and Rams. Green Bay, 21-16.
Saints (1-4) at Buccaneers (2-3)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: (Saints (-2)
The scoop: Saints lost (26-20) last time they visited Tampa. New Orleans coming off bye after comeback win over Chargers. Bucs blew out Chiefs, 38-10. Where did all that offense come from? Tampa Bay is 2-1 at home.
Outlook: Saints are last in league in defense (Yes, even worse than Bills), but don’t think Buccaneers will run up 38 this time. Saints, 33-28.
Cowboys (2-3) at Panthers (1-4)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Cowboys (-2)
The scoop: Dallas has won last eight regular-season games against Carolina, but Panthers are 2-0 against 'Boys in postseason. Teams last met in 2009. … Ex Lew-Port, Syracuse and Cowboys standout Daryl Johnston does analysis for Fox. Bet Tobacco Road fans are going to love that. … Dallas without RB DeMarco Murray (foot). WR Dez Bryant had huge game (13 catches, two TDs) last week in close loss at Baltimore. … Carolina and disappointing Cam Newton (4 TDs, 5 INTs, 80.9 rating) coming off a bye week.
Outlook: Dallas can’t afford loss if it is going to stay in contention in NFC East. Cowboys, 24-17.
Browns (1-5) at Colts (2-3)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Colts (-1½)
The scoop: Browns ended 10-game losing streak last week with 34-24 win over Bengals. Now they tackle a 10-game road slump. Cleveland’s last road win was at Indy, 27-19, early in 2011. … Rookie QBs Brandon Weeden (7-10 TD-INT) and Andrew Luck (7-7) clash in this one.
Outlook: Give edge to Browns “D” and run game, 20-16.
Dog of the day
Jaguars (1-4) at Raiders (1-4)
Kickoff: 4:15 p.m.
The line: Raiders (-6)
The scoop: Oakland punter Shane Lechler is still considered the league’s best but Jacksonville rookie Bryan Anger leads league with 51.3 average. … Silver and Black played surprisingly strong game at Atlanta, before losing on last-play field goal from 55.
Outlook: Worst offense in NFL will not thrive on the road in Oakland. Raiders, 27-13.
Last week’s results: 4-9 outright, 2-12 versus spread. Season’s record: 43-42 outright, 32-51-3 versus spread.