Week 9 in the NFL marks the halfway point of the long season, and the schedule is about as exciting as you might expect from a normal hump-day scenario.
Of the 13 games scheduled to be contested, only one features two winning teams, as noted by Bill Bender of the Sporting News. The Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers finish the week off at Lambeau Field on Monday Night Football:
This underwhelming slate of games is partly due to the fact that the Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers are all on a bye.
Heading into the second half of the season, only the Kansas City Chiefs remain undefeated, with a record of 8-0. On the opposite end of the spectrum, two teams remain winless, and the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers appear destined for top-three picks in the 2014 NFL draft.
Here's a look at when and where you can catch every game on the schedule in Week 9, followed by a closer look at a few things worthy of keeping your eye on this weekend.
|Thursday, Oct. 31||Time (ET)||TV||Location|
|Cincinnati at Miami||8:25 PM||NFL||Sun Life Stadium|
|Sunday, Nov. 3||Time (ET)||TV||Location|
|Kansas City at Buffalo||1 PM||CBS||Ralph Wilson Stadium|
|Minnesota at Dallas||1 PM||FOX||AT&T Stadium|
|Tennessee at St. Louis||1 PM||CBS||Edward Jones Dome|
|New Orleans at NY Jets||1 PM||FOX||MetLife Stadium|
|San Diego at Washington||1 PM||CBS||FedEx Field|
|Atlanta at Carolina||1 PM||FOX||Bank of America Stadium|
|Philadelphia at Oakland||4:05 PM||FOX||O.co Coliseum|
|Tampa Bay at Seattle||4:05 PM||FOX||CenturyLink Field|
|Baltimore at Cleveland||4:25 PM||CBS||FirstEnergy Stadium|
|Pittsburgh at New England||4:25 PM||CBS||Gillette Stadium|
|Indianapolis at Houston||8:30 PM||NBC||Reliant Stadium|
|Monday, Nov. 4||Time (ET)||TV||Location|
|Chicago at Green Bay||8:30 PM||ESPN and Watch ESPN||Lambeau Field|
Will Carolina Take Another Step Toward the Playoffs?
The Carolina Panthers are on the verge of breaking through with a playoff berth in 2013. With a record of 4-3, Carolina is currently in seventh place in the NFC.
But the Panthers have yet to face the two teams that have dominated the NFC South the past few years.
Winning against the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints will truly signal this team's readiness for the postseason, and the Panthers get their first chance to make a big statement within the division this weekend at home against the Falcons.
This is a game Carolina should win.
Atlanta was just creamed by the Arizona Cardinals, and it has lost four of its last five games.
The Panthers' stifling defense will take care of business at home this weekend.
The key is Newton. He's played the best football of his career the past three games, throwing six touchdowns and zero interceptions while adding another two scores on the ground. If he continues to take on the mantle of "game manager," then the Panthers will easily move to 5-3 on the season.
Will Indianapolis Sink or Swim without Reggie Wayne?
Reggie Wayne is done for the year with a torn ACL, and while it's a tough blow for the Indianapolis Colts to absorb, it'll be fascinating to see how Andrew Luck responds without his trusted target.
There's hope for Colts fans.
As shown by ESPN Stats & Info, while Wayne was certainly Luck's favorite target, he wasn't his most profitable:
Andrew Luck has 7 TD passes and 12 interceptions when targeting Reggie Wayne. He has 26 TD, 9 interceptions when targeting others.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 22, 2013
Losing Wayne puts the spotlight on T.Y. Hilton and free-agent acquisition Darrius Heyward-Bey. The two of them, along with tight end Coby Fleener, must rise to the occasion this Sunday night when the Colts travel to Houston to take on divisional rival Houston.
This Colts team has impressively knocked off three of the top teams in the league this year, but a loss to the Texans could signal a rough road ahead.
How Will Chicago Play Minus Jay Cutler and Lance Briggs?
The Green Bay Packers host the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football, but the Bears will be without their leader on both sides of the ball.
Jay Cutler and Lance Briggs both suffered injuries in Week 8 and will not play in this contest, though they both hope to return to action sooner than the estimates first given, as noted by Bleacher Report's Zach Kruse:
Both Jay Cutler (groin) and Lance Briggs (shoulder) said yesterday that they expect to be back ahead of schedule. Player talk or reality?— Zach Kruse (@zachkruse2) October 30, 2013
In Cutler's place will be veteran backup Josh McCown, who played well last weekend, throwing for 204 yards and a touchdown against Washington.
Which team will win the NFC North?
If McCown can play with similar effectiveness this week against the Packers, then the Bears will have a chance to steal a road win in Lambeau.
However, Chicago's defense will surely miss Briggs, who is the leader in the huddle and who was having one of his best seasons to date before getting injured. Rookie Jon Bostic was already pressed into service after D.J. Williams' injury earlier this year, and now Khaseem Greene, who is also a rookie, will have to fill in for Briggs.
You have to believe Aaron Rodgers and his offensive teammates are licking their chops for a chance to exploit these rookies.
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