Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans (Sunday, 1:00 PM on CBS):
On Thursday, Colts quarterback Peyton Manning underwent his second neck surgery this year and is expected to miss at least three months. Manning has the current longest streak of game starts among active players at 227 consecutive games, and that streak will, sadly, come to an end on Sunday. The Colts acquired veteran QB Kerry Collins late in the preseason, insurance against the possibility that Manning would be sidelined. Will Collins be able to step into Manning’s cleats and lead the Colts to a winning season that Indy fans have come to expect? Or will Sunday’s game, against a defense led by first-overall draft pick Mario Williams, be the first step on a long road of disappointment?
New York Giants @ Washington Redskins (Sunday, 4:15 PM on Fox):
The New York Giants face their division rival Washington Redskins with Eli Manning at the helm at QB. With big brother watching games from the sidelines, Eli takes the torch as the holder of the longest starting streak among active QBs. His streak stands at 110 games, so he has a loooong way to go before he can overtake his brother’s number. He faces a Redskins team that is high on optimism but low on proven talent. Rex Grossman has been named the starting QB for the ‘Skins, but can he hold onto the job? How much will emotion play a part in this game held on 9/11 between two cities directly impacted on that day?
Atlanta Falcons @ Chicago Bears (Sunday, 1:00 PM on Fox):
The Falcons made big moves in this year’s draft to get Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones to shore up their passing attack. With Pro Bowler QB Matt Ryan coming off his best year yet, there are high expectations in Atlanta for the Falcons offense. They face a Bears team with disgruntled stars (RB Matt Forte and LB Lance Briggs) and personnel issues that weren’t address in the off-season, including weaknesses on their offensive line. That line needs to protect QB Jay Cutler, who will be playing under a microscope this year. Cutler was criticized for his seemingly lackadaisical attitude when he was sidelined by injury in the Bears’ loss to the Packers in the NFC championship game last season.
Carolina Panthers @ Arizona Cardinals (Sunday, 4:15 on Fox):
Rookie Panthers QB Cam Newton will be feeling the heat on Sunday, and not just because his team will be playing in the desert of Glendale, Arizona. Newton, the Heisman winner and first overall draft pick this year, has a lot to prove in his pro debut. Can he make the transition to the pro game? Will he be playing with a chip on his shoulder because of the scandal surrounding his “pay-to-play” move to Auburn? We can’t overlook new Cardinals QB Kevin Kolb, either. He starts his first game for the Cardinals after being unceremoniously ousted from Philadelphia by Michael Vick.
Dallas Cowboys @ New York Jets (Sunday, 8:20 PM on NBC):
This one should be fun. The Dallas Cowboys, owned and largely managed by the big-personality, my-way-or-the-highway Jerry Jones face off against the New York Jets, dirty yankees coached by the brash I-hate-the-Patriots Rex Ryan. The Jets need to walk the walk as much as they talk the talk after losing the AFC championship game in the last two seasons. The Cowboys need to overcome their dreadful 2010 season that prompted the firing of their head coach around Thanksgiving.
As you can see, there should be plenty of entertainment this weekend, and lots to talk about on Monday!