When the 3-3 Patriots come off their bye week to host Buffalo on Sunday night, New England fans and a national TV audience will look for the answer to one question: Can linebacker Tedy Bruschi pick up where he left off? Last season Bruschi (right) was an invaluable member of the Super Bowl champions. Over the Pats' final four games he had 39 tackles, an interception, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. Then Bruschi suffered a minor stroke three days after the Pro Bowl, and in July he announced that he would sit out the 2005 season. But he received medical clearance to resume playing on Oct. 16 and returned to practice three days later. "I have confidence in my doctors," Bruschi said. "It's up to me whether I want to play or not." If Bruschi comes back at full strength--he's been working out on his own since the spring--it will be a boost to the Patriots' injury-plagued defense. "Football isn't the same without him," says Steelers running back Jerome Bettis.
After his first 20 NFL starts, who is Carson Palmer's statistical twin? Would you believe Tom Brady? Check out their numbers at the same point in their careers.
TDs 31 ¬†
HEAD TO HEAD
Miami vs. New Orleans at Baton Rouge
The first NFL game played in Louisiana since Hurricane Katrina has about 3,000 subplots. For instance, Dolphins coach Nick Saban (left) returns to the scene of his prime, LSU's Tiger Stadium. Terminally unpopular Saints owner Tom Benson sets foot in Louisiana while the mayor of San Antonio, Phil Hardberger (a friend of Benson's), lobbies Benson to move the team to Texas permanently in 2006. And Ricky Williams, who in his first two games had more rushing yards negated by penalty (16 yards, on two carries) than net rushing yards gained (seven, on 11 carries), tries to get untracked.
1The 7-0 Colts have earned the tag of best team in the first half of the season. But they still have to go to Foxborough on Nov. 7 and beat the Patriots to be anything more than that.
2 It's hard to believe that offensive gurus Brian Billick and Jim Fassel, opposing coaches in Super Bowl XXXV, now oversee the lowest-scoring team in the league (11.5 points per game) as coach and offensive coordinator, respectively, of the Ravens.
3 How the Bills can surrender 38 points and 416 yards in a loss to the struggling Raiders is beyond me. Buffalo's on the verge of displacing Minnesota as the season's most disappointing team.
Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback, every week at SI.com/football.
ELISE AMENDOLA/AP (BRUSCHI)
DAVID BERGMAN (SABAN)