The Miami Dolphins have allowed just 38 points in five games, by far the best in the NFL.
The Buffalo Bills are third in yards allowed and shut down the Colts last week until Peyton Manning pulled things out in the final 1:03.
Then there's Thurman Thomas, the ex-Bill who is primed for Buffalo's visit to Miami on Sunday. He's angry at everyone on his old team, particularly safety Henry Jones, defensive end Phil Hansen and linebacker John Holocek.
"I'm angry at those guys and the organization as a whole," says Thomas, released last winter by the Bills after 13 seasons in their purge of venerable veterans. "Every time I get the ball, I'm going to try to stick it and let them know I didn't forget what happened in the offseason and the past couple of years."
Thomas, who sat out last week's win in Cincinnati with a groin pull, won't miss this one. He's been pretty productive, averaging 7.1 on 10 carries and catching eight passes for 56 yards and a TD.
But there's more to this game, especially for the Bills.
Miami enters a surprising 4-1, a half-game behind the New York Jets and a half-game ahead of Indianapolis. Buffalo's 18-16 loss to the Colts left it at 2-2 in the NFL's most competitive division.
So while it's too early to call this a must win ("World War II was a must win," Marv Levy, the Bills' old coach, said before one Super Bowl), it's a game Buffalo needs badly.
"Should've, could've, would've," wide receiver Eric Moulds said after last week's loss. "We can't live like that. We need to go down there and score points."
That won't be easy against Miami, particularly at Pro Player Stadium, where the Dolphins have yet to allow a touchdown, surrendering three field goals in three games. That's allowed Jay Fiedler, Dan Marino's replacement, to run a prevent offense. Fiedler has averaged an un-Marinolike 155 yards passing a game, but has made no fatal mistakes yet.
Then, of course, there's Thomas.
"We know Thurman. I think he's pulling everybody's chain," coach Wade Phillips says. "He's a great guy and a great leader. He'll do whatever it takes. Thurman's got his own reasons for everything."
In this case, beating the Bills.
In other games Sunday, New Orleans is at Chicago; Pittsburgh at the Jets; Green Bay at Detroit; Tennessee at Cincinnati; Indianapolis at New England; Washington at Philadelphia; the Giants at Atlanta; Denver at San Diego; Oakland at San Francisco; Seattle at Carolina; Cleveland at Arizona; and Baltimore at Jacksonville.
Tampa Bay is at Minnesota on Monday night.
Kansas City, Dallas and St. Louis are off.
Baltimore (3-1) at Jacksonville (2-3)
Since blowing a 17-point lead and losing 39-36 in Baltimore, the Jaguars are 1-2, but the only win was over Cincinnati, the pro equivalent of a 1-AA team. The Ravens have three shutouts in I-AA, over the Bengals, Browns and Steelers.
But the Jags lost to those Steelers last week, gaining just 26 yards on the ground, fewest in team history. That's largely because the offensive line is banged up and reshuffled.
"We've all been in situations when things aren't going well," Mark Brunell says. "We've also been in situations when it's turned around. That's what we're counting on."
Washington (3-2) at Philadelphia (3-2)
The Redskins are back -- two straight wins -- but go to a stadium where they've lost nine of their last 10.
And they face Brian Mitchell, purged by owner Daniel Snyder in his big bucks spending spree. Mitchell had 290 total yards last week against Atlanta, including an 89-yard kickoff return and an 85-yard TD run, and will replace the injured Duce Staley at running back for the Eagles.
"It's a disgrace," Mitchell says. "They didn't think I was worth the money and they kept saying that I lost a step. Snyder befriended me, then turned his back on me. I don't trust people like that."
Pittsburgh (1-3) at New York Jets (4-0)
The Jets are getting breaks this season, like having a week off to cool down from their win over Keyshawn and the Bucs. The Steelers' victory in Jacksonville last week means the Jets probably won't be overconfident.
The strange doings in Pittsburgh continue. Even though Kordell Stewart was the QB in the win over Jacksonville, Bill Cowher said he'd go with Kent Graham if Graham is healthy. Then he backed off, saying Graham would have to be VERY healthy.
Seattle (2-3) at Carolina (1-3)
Strange doings and interlocking relationships.
Bill Musgrave quit this week as the Panthers' offensive coordinator, just as Mike Holmgren was coming to town with Gil Haskell, Carolina's former offensive coordinator. And Holmgren apprenticed in San Francisco under George Seifert, the Panthers' coach, although they haven't been the best of friends since Holmgren flew the coop a decade ago.
Brock Huard will start for Jon Kitna at quarterback for Seattle.
Green Bay (2-3) at Detroit (3-2)
The Lions have beaten the Packers five of six times at the Silverdome, losing only in 1996, Green Bay's Super Bowl season. Every division game is critical now. The Packers did themselves no favors by losing at home to the previously winless Bears.
Dorsey Levens, the running back whose work is crucial to take pressure off Brett Favre, reinjured his ankle against Chicago and will miss this game.
Tennessee (3-1) at Cincinnati (0-4)
Despite losing yet another receiver, Carl Pickens, the Titans finally looked like a Super Bowl team last week against the Giants, getting Eddie George over 100 yards for the first time this season. Pickens, cut by the Bengals, is questionable, but like Thomas and Mitchell, isn't likely to miss such a personal revenge game.
The Bengals scored a moral victory in Dick LeBeau's first game as Bruce Coslet's replacement, almost doubling their season's output with 13 points. The wins will come -- Cincinnati traditionally starts something like 1-11, then wins a couple to leave its few optimistic fans hopeful for next year.
Oakland (3-1) at San Francisco (2-3)
The baseball teams from these cities have taken some of the hype from this game. But Terrell Owens is back for the Niners to add some drama. Maybe Tim Brown will prance on the 49ers' logo at midfield at the former Candlestick Park.
The 49ers are getting better. Jeff Garcia looks like a major-league quarterback for a team averaging 28 points a game, and the defense, with five rookie starters, has potential for improvement.
Indianapolis (3-1) at New England (1-4)
Last year, the Colts went to New England, took a 28-7 lead, and lost 31-28. They went on to win 12 of the next 13.
Last week, the Patriots managed to score touchdowns rather than field goals and upset Denver. That could make this a second straight tough division road game for Indy, which was outplayed in Buffalo, but won 18-16 on Mike Vanderjagt's 45-yard field goal as time expired.
New York Giants (3-2) at Atlanta (2-3)
The Giants beat up on teams in their class or worse, then went up a level and got handled easily by Washington and Tennessee. Now they're back playing with their equals and hope that Thunder and Lightning will return: Ron Dayne and Tiki Barber combined for 1 yard on eight carries against the Titans last week.
This is the second time Dan Reeves has faced the team he used to coach. But there may be more Giants from his era on the current Falcons than on the Giants.
Denver (2-3) at San Diego (0-5)
With all of the Chargers' quarterback problems, a bigger question is what's happened to the defense. It's allowed 156 points, better than only San Francisco and Atlanta. All three have played St. Louis, which explains some of that.
Terrell Davis probably sits again for the Broncos, but Mike Anderson has done fine in his place.
New Orleans (1-3) at Chicago (1-4)
With all the positive changes in the Saints, their offense is still nearly as bad as last year. But Ricky Williams is doing some good things while going relatively unnoticed. He's averaging 4 yards a carry and is on pace to gain almost 1,400 yards.
Cade McNown, almost benched after a dismal performance against the Lions, passed for 203 yards and scrambled for 54 more in the win in Green Bay.
Cleveland (2-3) at Arizona (1-3)
If the Browns don't surpass last season's win total here, they've always got a rematch with the Bengals. Rookie RB Travis Prentice replaces Errict Rhett, out for the season with a foot injury.
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