Raiders left tackle Jared Veldheer vs. Vikings defensive end Jared Allen -- This might be my favorite battle of the year. Veldheer is an unsung player who is playing at a high level. Allen leads the NFL n sacks with 13 1/2 The Raiders go into Minnesota knowing full well they have to keep Allen blocked to have success throwing the football.
Panthers receiver Steve Smith vs. Lions corners -- The Lions corners are beatable down the field. They rely on pressure up front to cover up their liabilities. Smith will eat them alive if the Panthers can protect Cam Newton. That's a huge if.
Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth vs. Ravens OLB Terrell Suggs -- Whitworth has given up 1 1/2 sacks this season. He is a top-level tackle, but Suggs is one of those players who never lets up. Whitworth will have to keep Suggs off Andy Dalton if the Bengals are to have a chance. I do expect the Bengals to help him some.
Bears cornerback Charles Tillman vs. Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson -- Tillman did a great job in man coverage against Calvin Johnson last week. I expect the Bears to put him on Jackson here. Jackson hasn't had the type of season many expected, but he is still a dangerous down-the-field threat.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers vs. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler -- I know they don't play against each other, but this rivalry is fierce. They don't like each other. Both love beating the other. That makes this game fun.
Browns left tackle Joe Thomas vs. Jaguars defensive end Jeremy Mincey -- This might seem like a mismatch in terms of name recognition, but don't be fooled. Mincey had 2 1/2 sacks last week against the Colts and brings it hard every play. Thomas is one of the game's best tackles, but if he has any letup here, Mincey will make him pay.
Bucs right tackle Jeremy Trueblood vs. Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews -- Matthews isn't putting up the sack numbers he did a year ago, but he's still playing at a high level. He seemed to come as a pass rusher last week against Minnesota. Trueblood has struggled as a pass rusher at times, so I expect the Bucs to help him a lot. If not, it could be a long day for Josh Freeman.
Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald vs. 49ers corners -- Fitzgerald had a huge day at Philadelphia last week against a good group of corners. The 49ers corners have played at a high level, but Fitzgerald is among the three best in the league. I expect some safety help over the top on Fitzgerald.
Titans left tackle Michael Roos vs. Falcons defensive end John Abraham -- Roos did a nice job last week on Charles Johnson of the Panthers. Abraham needs to get his pass rush going. Abraham is a veteran who still has a burst, but he has to do more in terms of getting to the quarterback.
Patriots tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez against Chiefs safeties -- Without Eric Berry, the Chiefs have struggled some on the back end. Kendrick Lewis is a solid player, but the other spot is a concern with Jon McGraw. Gronkowski is coming off a huge game last week and Hernandez is also a top threat. Tom Brady has to use his tight ends more than usual because of a lack of outside speed.