NFL Watchability Index, Week 7: Peyton Manning returns to Indy, plus some other games

Andy Lyons

Despite what the media will have you believe, there are other games happening this week that don't involve Peyton Manning or Jim Irsay. We're here to sort things out with another edition of the Watchability Index.

This week's slate of games almost resembles a boxing event. There is the one awesome title bout scheduled for primetime, loaded with hype and storylines, but first we have to sit through a bunch of crappy undercards. Just like with boxing, though, there are some potential gems here, and sometimes the undercards can be just as entertaining as the main event. Here is the Week 7 edition of the Watchability Index.

Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals

Thursday, 8:25 p.m., NFL Network

The Seahawks are 5-1, but the passing game remains stuck in a rut. The Cardinals thought they solved their quarterback woes by trading for Carson Palmer, but he already has 11 interceptions in six games. Both teams still have good defenses. This is shaping up to be yet another TNF clown show.

Watchability rating: 2

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons

Sunday, 1 p.m., FOX

Roddy White missed practice on Tuesday with a hamstring injury and might not play on Sunday. That leaves the Falcons down to Harry Douglas and Lucky Fan sitting in Section 8, Row 14, Seat 12 as the starting receivers. There is a glimmer of hope for Atlanta fans, though -- only two more weeks until the trade deadline passes and they won't have to hear any more Tony Gonzalez rumors!

Watchability rating: 1

St. Louis Rams at Carolina Panthers

1 p.m., FOX

The Rams traded up eight spots to select Tavon Austin in the 2013 NFL Draft. Their return on that investment in six games? 24 catches, 159 yards, 6.6 yards per catch and a grand total of four snaps played in Week 6. Austin may have a bigger NFL learning curve than people expected, but plenty of blame lies with the coaching staff for failing to utilize his unique skill set. I'm sure Panthers fans can sympathize, given their coaches' attempts to jam Cam Newton into a 1970s offense.

Watchability rating: 2

Cincinnati Bengals at Detroit Lions

1 p.m., CBS

The Lions have proven that they can win with Calvin Johnson at less than 100 percent. That's a huge step forward for the offense, which is now capable of doing things other than "chuck it up to Megatron and hope for the best." Reggie Bush might end up being the best free agent signing in the league.

I might be overrating this game a bit, but the context is too juicy to ignore. Two historically moribund franchises looking to stay in first place in their respective divisions? Sign me up.

Watchability rating: 4

San Diego Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars

1 p.m., CBS

The Jaguars put up a hell of a fight last week, beating the 27-point spread and putting a little scare into the Broncos at halftime. They're still one of the worst teams in the league, but if they put in that amount of effort every week, the 0-16 predictions might be premature. We still need to see how the offense responds when the entire secondary is keying on Justin Blackmon.

Watchability rating: 2

Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins

1 p.m., CBS

The football gods have spoken -- Buffalo isn't allowed to have nice things at quarterback. Thaddeus Lewis looked good in an overtime loss to the Bengals, but suffered a foot injury in the process. His new backup is Matt Flynn, who is on his third team in less than a calendar year. The Dolphins have problems of their own -- a horrid offensive line is threatening to derail an otherwise promising season. Ryan Tannehill is on pace to get sacked 77 times, which would break the NFL record. This bodes well going up against Mario Williams.

Watchability rating: 3

New England Patriots at New York Jets

1 p.m., CBS

This is a rematch of last year's infamous Thanksgiving game that made "buttfumble" a household term. Mark Sanchez won't be around this time, but Geno Smith has shown that he's more than capable of generating hilarious Jets moments of his own. They will be helped out somewhat by New England if Aqib Talib isn't able to play.

Watchability rating: 3

Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles

1 p.m., FOX

Playoff implications already? Possibly. With both teams at 3-3, the winner has a good leg up on the NFC East with an important tiebreaker in hand. That's enough to recommend this game on its own, but it helps that the teams are exciting to watch. Tony Romo is playing the best football of his life and Chip Kelly's offense didn't miss a beat with Nick Foles stepping in. There will be points. A lot of points. Don't miss this one.

Watchability rating: 4

Chicago Bears at Washington Redskins

1 p.m., FOX

Are the Redskins finally ready to take the leash off Robert Griffin III? He had the most read option plays yet last week, and is looking like his old self again. Washington needs him to be his old self, too, because that defense? Woof. Another game with shootout potential here. The Bears defense has crumbled after losing Henry Melton for the season.

Watchability rating: 3

San Francisco 49ers at Tennessee Titans

4:05 p.m., FOX

I never thought I would be saying this in August, but the Titans dearly miss Jake Locker. His absence stunts the entire offense, with Ryan Fitzpatrick's noodle arm and the artist formerly known as CJ2K stinking things up again. This game could get out of hand quickly if Tennessee's defense can't stop the 49ers.

Watchability rating: 1

Cleveland Browns at Green Bay Packers

4:25 p.m., CBS

The Packers were down to just two receivers last week after losing Randall Cobb and James Jones. Jones hopes to be back this week, but Cobb is out for about a month with a fractured fibula. Fortunately, they have a workhorse back in Eddie Lacy who can churn out yards if the passing game stalls. When was the last time we could actually say that about Green Bay's running game?

Watchability rating: 2

Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs

4:25 p.m., CBS

Matt Schaub, T.J. Yates or Case Keenum? It probably won't matter this week -- the Chiefs defense eats quarterbacks for lunch, getting an absurd 10 sacks on Terrelle Pryor in Week 6. It's looking like another bloodbath in front of an Arrowhead crowd that now holds the world record for loudest stadium.

Watchability rating: 2

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers

4:25 p.m., CBS

Which was the last team that made headlines by banning fun activities in the locker room? The Boston Red Sox, who decided that fried chicken and beer in the clubhouse were the real reasons their 2011 squad underachieved. They went on to hire Bobby Valentine and went through an even more hilarious meltdown in 2012. By that logic, I expect the Steelers to fire Mike Tomlin and hire Lane Kiffin next year. Now that the Pirates are finally good, I'm sure Pittsburgh fans can deal with at least one season of subpar football.

Watchability rating: 2

Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts

8:30 p.m., NBC

As if this week's game didn't have enough ridiculous storylines, we now have Jim Irsay waxing nostalgic about Peyton Manning and wishing his team won more Super Bowls with him, in the same way 20-something men reminisce about their high school sweetheart. He also drunk tweets, just to drive the metaphor home.

Watchability rating: 5

Minnesota Vikings at New York Giants

Monday, 8:40 p.m., ESPN

The two teams are a combined 1-11. Minnesota is starting a quarterback who had all of two weeks to learn the playbook. That's about all you need to know. Surely you can't find something better to do on a Monday night? Go take a walk or something while the weather is still nice.

Watchability rating: 1

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