NFL: This week's preview
The NFL preview ...
A year ago, Green Bay was the hunted, spotless for three months before finally losing, but winding up 15-1 for the season.
Now, the Packers are struggling and have become the spoiler in Week 6 as they face unbeaten Houston.
When the NFL scheduled this game for prime time, it hoped to have a team with a perfect record. That it's the Texans who are 5-0 for the first time in their history is a bit of a surprise.
That Green Bay is 2-3 and can't find the dominant passing offense that it rode to such a gaudy record a year ago was not in NBC's plans. Nor the Packers'.
"Being 2-3 isn't where we expected to be, but we finally get a regular week where we have some time," Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said. "I know Houston's coming off a Monday night game so they'll have a short week."•Also today, Atlanta tries to remain unbeaten when it hosts Oakland; the New York Giants are at San Francisco; Dallas at Baltimore; Denver at San Diego; New England at Seattle; Minnesota at Washington; Detroit at Philadelphia; Buffalo at Arizona; St. Louis at Miami; Cincinnati at Cleveland; Indianapolis at the New York Jets; and Kansas City at Tampa Bay.
Off this week are Carolina (1-4), Chicago (4-1), Jacksonville (1-4) and New Orleans (1-4).•Oakland (1-3) at Atlanta (5-0)
The Falcons would appear to have the easier road to 6-0, a record they haven't managed since, well, ever.
NY Giants (3-2) at San Fra (4-1)
A rematch of the NFC championship game in January that the Giants survived in overtime before beating New England in the Super Bowl. The 49ers have upgraded their offense and are just as formidable on defense, while the Giants haven't found the overpowering pass rush that catapulted them to the NFL title.
Dallas (2-2) at Baltimore (4-1)
The Ravens never have lost to the Cowboys - it's only three meetings - but they face a rested Dallas team coming off a bye with a bit of desperation. Dallas has been among the most erratic of NFL teams, plagued by turnovers and dropped passes on offense, and a mediocre run defense.
Denver (2-3) at San Diego (3-2). Monday night
San Diego is one of the few teams Peyton Manning has struggled against in his illustrious career, and now he's in the same division. The winner will lead the weak AFC West.
Minnesota (4-1) at Washington (2-3)
The Vikings visit the nation's capital for the third straight year, and they won the previous two games in down seasons. Now, they appear to be on the rise, sparked by the rapid recovery of Adrian Peterson, who again is one of the league's top runners after tearing knee ligaments near the end of 2011. With Chicago idle, the Vikes would be alone in first place in the NFC North with a win.
Washington expects to have rookie QB Robert Griffin III available after he sustained a concussion in last Sunday's loss to Atlanta. The Redskins also have another rookie weapon on offense in running back Alfred Morris, averaging 4.9 yards a try for the league's No. 4 rushing attack.
Detroit (1-3) at Philadelphia (3-2)
Expectations that these would be two of the most dynamic NFL teams have fizzled, although the Eagles are in first place in the NFC East.
Buffalo (2-3) at Arizona (4-1)
After a horrible performance in San Francisco, the Bills headed to the desert. No, they weren't being punished, just prudent, avoiding thousands of miles in travel back and forth.
St. Louis (3-2) at Miami (2-3)
What looked like a dog of a matchup when the schedule came out has a lot more interest as both the Rams and Dolphins have been better than anticipated. Miami isn't far away from a 4-1 record, has the league's stingiest run defense and has been surprisingly efficient on offense behind rookie QB Ryan Tannehill and a revamped receiving corps.
Cincinnati (3-2) at Cleveland (0-5)
The league's only winless team keeps games relatively close, but youthful mistakes do in the Browns every week. Indianapolis (2-2) at NY Jets (2-3)
Fresh off one of the more emotional games - and wins - in team history, the Colts head to the Meadowlands, where the Jets' found a little bit of fire last weekend, too. But they didn't win.
Kansas City (1-4) at Tampa Bay (1-3)
Here's a couple of clubs with high hopes entering 2012 that now are teetering.Kansas City turns to Brady Quinn, who replaces Matt Cassel after the QB was ruled out with a concussion sustained last week.
The Chiefs have been their own worst enemies, leading the league in giveaways (19), fumbles lost (10), interceptions thrown (9) and at the bottom with a minus-15 turnover margin that is astoundingly inept for five games.
The Buccaneers are vulnerable in the air, ranking 32nd against the pass and 29th trying to complete them.