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Minnesota can’t afford to slip here and fall into a three-game hole behind the division leader. After their bye next week, the Vikings get the Jets, Cowboys, Packers and Patriots in October.

The Lions have been just good enough to lose close games.

New York Jets (1-1) at Miami (2-0)

Another bad-blood matchup for the Jets. First it was the Ravens, then the Patriots. While we’re not hearing words of hatred toward Rex Ryan’s bunch from the Dolphins, the Miami-New York rivalry has been as intense as any in the league.

Miami will need to get more from its passing game, which ranks 28th overall, because the Jets excel against the run. Dolphins WR Brandon Marshall doesn’t have to worry about CB Darrelle Revis (hamstring), so his matchups with Antonio Cromartie and rookie Kyle Wilson could be pivotal.

Buffalo (0-2) at New England (2-0)

The Bills simply don’t beat the Patriots. In the 2009 opener, with Tom Brady returning from missing almost the entire 2008 season with a knee injury, Buffalo blew a late lead and lost. The Patriots’ mastery over the Bills is at 13 straight games.

This is an especially bad week to be meeting New England, which was manhandled by the Jets in the second half last Sunday. Plus, Buffalo’s awful offense (a league-low 17 points) might not be equipped to victimize the Patriots’ struggling D, even with the quarterbacking change from Trent Edwards to Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Atlanta (1-1) at New Orleans (2-0)

Another game with strong divisional implications and one the Falcons might have dreaded with Michael Turner ailing (groin). But Jason Snelling, who filled in pretty well last year when Turner was sidelined, stepped in against the Cardinals with 129 yards rushing, 57 yards receiving and three TDs. Turner is projected to start, but Snelling could see a lot of action.

Atlanta’s improved defense, which ranks 10th against the pass and has allowed only 22 points, one behind NFC leader Tampa Bay, needs to be just as stingy against Drew Brees and his prolific receivers. Even without RB Reggie Bush (broken leg), the Saints figure to be formidable with the ball.

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