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Dallas (0-2) at Houston (2-0)

What an opportunity for the Texans to move from the lower rungs of football in the Lone Star State to near the top. Not only would they own pro ball in Texas by beating the Cowboys, but they’d stamp themselves a legitimate candidate for their first playoff berth.

Houston has the offense to hand the reeling Cowboys a third successive loss, although the Texans need to be patient, just as they were in rallying to beat the Redskins last week.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones doesn’t want to contemplate 0-3, and patience rarely has been one of his virtues. He’s built what he believes is a Super Bowl contender, and another false step could set off personnel movement within the organization.

Pittsburgh (2-0) at Tampa Bay (2-0)

For those who wondered if the Steelers could go 2-2 before Ben Roethlisberger returns from suspension, well, they are 2-0 using third-stringer Dennis Dixon and fourth-stringer Charlie Batch at quarterback. They bring back Byron Leftwich, who would have opened the season as the starter before damaging his left knee. Leftwich wasn’t even on the roster for last weekend’s win over Tennessee, but was re-signed Monday and will back up Batch against the Bucs.

Tampa Bay has no such upheaval at QB; second-year player Josh Freeman is developing nicely. That development might take a few hits _ and sacks _ against the latest version of the Steel Curtain, which forced seven turnovers by Tennessee last Sunday.

Indianapolis (1-1) at Denver (1-1)

Where did all those doomsayers go after Houston belted the Colts in the season opener? Perhaps a vintage showing by Peyton Manning and Indy’s offense, and a dominant game on defense against the Giants silenced them.

This is a terrible matchup for the Broncos, who have a hobbled secondary. Manning must be frothing in anticipation.

So might be DEs Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, who had two sacks apiece against the Giants and know the Broncos’ pass protection has been shaky.

Tennessee (1-1) at New York Giants (1-1)

Story Continues →