Week 12 Preview
Quarterback injuries and play-off implications highlight Sunday's action
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH. Last Updated: 27/11/11 4:27pm
Matt Leinart: Starting for Houston with Schaub injured
Just in case NFL fans were not stuffed with a tasty Thanksgiving triple, the rest of the NFL resumes hostilities on Sunday with the remainder of Week 12, including the regular double helping of live action on Sky Sports.
We firstly get to see how the Houston Texans handle life without star quarterback Matt Schaub, who is out for the season, as former Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart steps under centre with something to prove after his NFL struggles.
Houston are 7-3 and have won their last four. They top the AFC South and face divisional rivals Jacksonville in what should be a great chance for Leinart to get off to a good start - especially with giant receiver Andre Johnson back from injury.
Our second helping of action on Sunday sees another team trying to adjust after losing their quarterback as the Chicago Bears head to Oakland without Jay Cutler, as Caleb Hanie tries to keep them on track for a play-off place.
The Bears are also 7-3 behind unbeaten Green Bay in the NFC North but Cutler is a huge loss and a game at the AFC West leading Raiders, who could have Darren McFadden back in action, will be a tough baptism for young Hanie's first league start.
With 11 weeks gone and still nothing in the win column, the spectre of the dreaded 0-16 season is now well and truly hanging over the Indianapolis Colts, and they will not want that 'achievement' in the record books when they host the Super Bowl in February.
A home game, after a bye, against the 2-8 Panthers actually looks like a winnable game for these lowly Colts, and the recent struggles of Cam Newton will give them hope, even if they still have to make do with Curtis Painter as their own QB.
Even if Newton has had four TDs but five interceptions in his last three games, he still has nine rushing TDs on the season, the Panthers still average over 400 yards a game and the Colts' awful defence has allowed almost as much.
Vince Young will get the start again for Philadelphia as Michael Vick is forced out again with injury, so for the second week in succession it will be up to the former Texas Longhorns QB to keep the Eagles' slender play-off hopes alive.
Young struggled last week but rallied late on to get the Eagles over the line against the Giants and just about keep them in the hunt, but this week they welcome Tom Brady and the Patriots to Philly and that will be a different story altogether.
Adrian Peterson is doubtful for Minnesota's trip to Atlanta with a high ankle sprain, and expect the Falcons to be the ones using the power running game as they face a must-win scenario to remain in the NFC play-off picture.
Tim Tebow no longer has Kyle Orton to worry about as he looks to extend his bewildering winning run in a pivotal AFC West trip to San Diego to face the slumping Chargers, who have lost five on the spin and one more could signal the end of their season.
A loss in Denver last week left the Jets hanging on in there, and their game against the Bills could be a straight knockout in play-off terms, with both teams on 5-5 and stuck on losing runs, meaning defeat would almost certainly put them too far behind.
The Bengals have played well but lost the last two, and an ugly win will do as they face the Browns in Cincinnati, while the Titans look to get back to winning ways against the out-of-form Buccaneers who have lost the last four.
The Steelers are playing catch-up behind Baltimore and only a win will do as they travel to face the Kansas City Chiefs, who have signed Kyle Orton but will start Tyler Palko. He could be in for a long day if they don't improve.