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2013 NFL Week 7 Preview — 5 Intriguing Storylines to Watch

Peyton Manning
Getty Images

As the NFL nears the halfway mark of the 2013 season, division races are starting to heat up in both conferences. Here are five storylines we’re following this week:

The Eagles and Cowboys Duel for the NFC East Lead

Lincoln Financial Field; 1 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Oct. 20

Nick Foles
Getty Images

With Michael Vick still injured, Nick Foles starts at quarterback for the Eagles on Sunday when Philadelphia (3-3) hosts Dallas (3-3), with the NFC East division lead on the line. Vick is still recovering from a hamstring injury, so Foles is the favorite to start, but Kelly isn’t going to tip his hand to his franchise’s most bitter rival. His bigger concern: keeping Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo from lighting up his iffy secondary, which ranks 31st in the NFL in pass defense.

The Jets Are at a Crossroads

MetLife Stadium; 1 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Oct. 20

Geno Smith
Getty Images

It’s a study in managed expectations, but the New York Jets (3-3) are having a better season than expected. That could all change very soon. Under the direction of rookie quarterback Geno Smith, the Jets have been able to win games against the Buccaneers, Falcons and Bills, but last week’s loss to the previously winless Steelers might be a harbinger of things to come. Over the next three games, New York faces division leaders New England (5-1), Cincinnati (4-2) and New Orleans (5-1). The Patriots beat the Jets, 13-10, in a rainstorm-plagued game in Week 2. If New England blows out Rex Ryan’s team on the road, it might be a sure sign that the Jets “are who we thought they were.”

The Texans Last Chance to Save Their Season

Arrowhead Stadium; 4:25 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Oct. 20

Matt Schaub
Getty Images

Houston (2-4) was a pre-season favorite to win the AFC South and perhaps advance to the Super Bowl. Thanks to spotty play by quarterback Matt Schaub and the rest of the offense, the Texans are the league’s biggest disappointment in 2013. Things won’t get easier this week when they travel to Kansas City (6-0) to face the undefeated Chiefs, the world’s loudest crowd and a defense that recorded 10 sacks last week. If Houston can win in that environment, it could spark a season-saving turnaround. Schaub may not start because of the leg injury he suffered in last week’s loss to the Rams, but he’ll certainly get a better reception in Kansas City than he did from the Houston fans, who cheered when he was hurt.

Peyton Manning Returns to Indianapolis

Lucas Oil Stadium; 8:30 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Oct. 20

Peyton Manning
Getty Images

After 14 years and a Super Bowl win with the Colts, Peyton Manning moved on to Denver in 2012. The star quarterback will make his return to Indianapolis this Sunday night as the Broncos (6-0) face the Colts (4-2) in a battle of AFC division leaders. Manning is on a record-setting pace this season, while Indy QB Andrew Luck seems to be guiding his team back to the postseason, too. Earlier in the week, Colts owner Jim Irsay created a firestorm by hinting that not winning more than one Super Bowl title with Manning was disappointing. Irsay, unfortunately, isn’t scheduled to leave Indianapolis anytime soon.

The Vikings’ QB Carousel Spins into the Meadowlands

MetLife Stadium; 1 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Oct. 20

Matt Cassel
Getty Images

Good news: the Vikings have three quarterbacks who started in 2012. The bad news: they are Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman, all of whom played their way out of those starting jobs. Released by Tampa Bay after dismal play earlier this season, Freeman will step into the starting role for Minnesota (1-4) when the team visits the Giants (0-6) on Monday night. Keeping in mind that any Viking quarterback’s most important job is to hand off to running back Adrian Peterson, Freeman could be poised to have a good night. Tom Coughlin’s defense has yielded a league-high 34.8 points per game, which is the biggest reason New York has remained winless.

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