New York Jets at Indianapolis

(4 p.m., WUSA-9)

Having beaten the Bills and Patriots over the past two weeks, the Jets would like to continue to play the spoiler against the Colts, who have won six straight and can take a one-game lead over Miami in the AFC East with a victory. When the teams first met on Oct. 17, New York held Indianapolis to less than 25 points for the only time this season. But Jets QB Ray Lucas, who made his first career start in that game, threw a costly interception late in the fourth quarter and the Colts won, 16-13. Lucas has improved since then, completing 16 of 20 passes and running for a touchdown last week against the Bills. But the Jets' pass defense has been suspect, giving up an average of 219.8 yards per game. Indianapolis QB Peyton Manning and WR Marvin Harrison might be the deadliest combination in the league, and rookie RB Edgerrin James has complemented them well. James has at least 180 yards of total offense in each of the past four games and is dangerous both as a running back and a receiver. The Colts have dominated this series of late, winning 19 of the past 25 games, but 11 of the past 16 meetings have been decided by seven or fewer points.


New England at Buffalo (1 p.m.)

This game could decide who gets the final wild-card berth in the competitive AFC East. The Bills were rolling until they scored only seven points in a loss to the Jets last week. After jumping out to a 4-0 start, the Patriots have faltered of late, losing four of their last six games. The offense is primarily to blame. The Patriots haven't had a drive of longer than six minutes all season, and their longest drive (5 minutes 56 seconds) was the first drive of their first game this season. Last week against Miami, the Patriots ran four or fewer plays in 11 of 15 series, putting too much pressure on the defense to perform. New England's offense has been faulted for being too predictable, and teams have been able to stop wide receivers such as Terry Glenn by pressuring them at the line of scrimmage. Meanwhile, the Bills are limping into this game. TE Jay Riemersma missed some practices this week with a strained groin, as did RB Antowain Smith (sprained toe). TE Sheldon Jackson (ankle), DT Shawn Price (back) and S Daryl Porter (foot) also were hindered by injuries. All are questionable for today. Bills WR Eric Moulds had 177 receiving yards in the last meeting with the Patriots, but New England CB Ty Law doesn't usually let the same wide receiver beat him badly twice in a row.


A look at this week's best subplots

Packers QB Brett Favre 15 interceptions are most in the NFL this season.


49ers DB Lance Schulters

Tied for the NFL lead with six interceptions.

Jaguars' defense

Leads NFL, allowing 160 yards per game.


Ravens' defense

Second in NFL, allowing 164.5 yards per game.

Titans' offense inside opponent's 20-yard line

Tops in the NFL with 58.1 scoring


Browns' offense inside opponent's 20-yard line

Second in NFL with 57.1 scoring percentage.percentage.

Panthers playing at home

Have outscored opponents 89-56 in four games, winning three times.


Falcons on the road

Have been outscored 108-53 in five games, winning just once.

Balance of Power

Remember the days when the AFC was the weaker of the two conferences? Those days are long gone. Of the five teams with records of 8-2 or better, only one, the St. Louis Rams, resides in the NFC. St. Louis can clinch its first NFC West title since 1985 and its first playoff berth since 1989 this week with a home win over the Saints and a Carolina loss to Atlanta. One of the reasons for the Rams' success has been their NFL-best seven returns of turnovers for touchdowns. LB Mike Jones has two in the last two weeks -- a 37-yard fumble return Nov. 14 against the Panthers and a 44-yard interception return against the 49ers last week. ... Under new coach Mike Holmgren, the Seahawks have a three-game divisional lead for the first time in team history and are off to their best start since 1984, when they opened the season 12-2. RB Ricky Watters has rushed for 469 yards and five TDs over the Seahawks' current five-game winning streak, but the Buccaneers, whom Seattle faces today, have allowed only one 100-yard rusher this season.

Tough When It Counts

This season's Vikings may not be as good as the team that reached the NFC championship game last season, but it's not the fault of a defense that has allowed only six touchdowns in 28 possessions inside an opponent's 20-yard line (21.4 percent). The league record is 32.6 percent, set by the 49ers in 1995. . . . Two of the AFC teams with eight wins have quarterbacks who didn't play Division I-A football in college. Seattle's Jon Kitna played at Central Washington of the NAIA, while Tennessee's Steve McNair went to Division I-AA Alcorn State.