Start times of two NFL games pushed back
If you like to watch football played in the snow, you’ll love
Sunday’s NFL schedule.
The storm that swept across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast,
dumping more than a foot of the white stuff in some areas, will
turn many games into a slip-sliding exercise.
Outdoor-stadium teams hosting games include the Buffalo
Bills, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Ravens.
The Eagles-49ers game in Philadelphia and the Bears-Ravens
game in Baltimore had their starting times changed from 1 to 4:15
p.m. ET to accommodate fans and allow more time for city and
stadium personnel to clear streets and walkways in and around the
Both games will be televised on FOX.
The Bears’ scheduled flight to Baltimore on Friday never got
off the ground, as travel was crippled. The team didn’t make it to
Baltimore until 10:45 p.m. ET Saturday.
At the Meadowlands, the Jets have revived playoff hopes after
three wins in a row over struggling opponents. They’ll have
quarterback Mark Sanchez back after a sprained right knee kept him
out last week.
The Jets (7-6) are tied with Miami for second in the AFC
East, one game behind New England, although they don’t hold
tiebreakers over either team.
A wild-card berth might be the Jets’ more likely route to the
postseason, but they may have to win their remaining three games
against Atlanta (6-7), unbeaten Indianapolis and AFC North-leading
Cincinnati to have a chance. New York is battling seven teams for
two wild-card spots.
“They know how I feel,” coach Rex Ryan said. “Our official
stance is it’s improbable right now. That’s the way everybody will
approach it right now. Our stance is we believe we’re going to win
every game. That’s the way it’s been since Day 1.”
Sanchez was medically cleared by team doctors after
practicing for the third straight day Friday, when he took all of
the snaps with the first-team offense.
Sanchez, hurt in a 19-13 win over Buffalo on Dec. 3 after a
headfirst slide, will wear custom-fitted braces on both knees. He
already had been wearing one on the left from a previous injury.
“It’s going to be a Joe Namath throwback game for Mark,” Ryan
said Friday. “He slid right in front of me in practice to make sure
I knew he was ready to go. He feels confident.”
In Orchard Park, N.Y., the New England Patriots hope to
finally earn their first true road win of 2009.
There’s probably no opponent the Patriots would rather visit
than the Buffalo Bills, losers of 12 straight overall to the
Patriots and trying to avoid clinching their fifth straight losing
New England (8-5) spent last week fielding questions about a
defense that had struggled in back-to-back defeats and four players
who had been sent home from practice after showing up late for a
Despite those distractions, the Patriots beat Carolina 20-10
to keep a one-game lead over both Miami and the Jets as they try to
reclaim the division they won five straight times from 2003-07.
New England may be without perhaps its most important player
on defense, however, after standout nose tackle Vince Wilfork left
Sunday’s game with a foot injury. His status is unclear, as is that
of fellow defensive lineman Ty Warren, who hurt his ankle against
That could further weaken a defense that has struggled,
especially against the pass and on the road, where the Patriots are
0-5 aside from a win over Tampa Bay in London.
In Philadelphia, the Eagles are looking to win a fifth
straight game for the first time since 2006, and get a step closer
to a division title when they host the 49ers, who need to reverse
their road woes to maintain any realistic playoff hopes.
Philadelphia (9-4) had dropped two straight and three of five
after a 31-23 loss at San Diego on Nov. 15, falling into a
second-place tie with the New York Giants while Dallas held a
one-game division lead.
Four wins later, both the Giants and Cowboys are looking up
at the Eagles. Philadelphia has put up more points each week during
its streak – its longest since winning the final five games of 2006
– after earning a sweep of New York with a 45-38 win Sunday night
at Giants Stadium to move to 4-1 in the division.
A victory Sunday plus either a Giants loss or tie or a
Cowboys win or tie would put Philadelphia in the playoffs.
In Baltimore, a second consecutive game against a struggling
NFC North opponent might be what the Baltimore Ravens need to win
consecutive games for the first time in nearly three months and
remain in the mix for an AFC wild-card berth.
The Ravens look to build off their most complete effort of
the season when they host the reeling Chicago Bears on Sunday.
Ray Rice rushed for a career-high 166 yards on 13 carries and
the Ravens set team records for rushing touchdowns (five) and total
yardage (548) in a 48-3 home rout of Detroit last Sunday.
The Ravens (7-6) are in the wild-card mix with Jacksonville,
Miami, Denver and the New York Jets, but they have alternated wins
and losses in their last seven contests. Baltimore hasn’t won
consecutive games since opening 3-0.
“We know what we have to do,” said running back Willis
McGahee, who ran for two TDs last weekend. “We know we have to win
the rest of our games, regardless of what happens.”
Baltimore has a favorable final stretch to make that happen
with Chicago (5-8) in town, followed by road games against slumping
Pittsburgh and Oakland.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.