Senior NFL Columnist

Ten things from NFL Week 7 that intrigue me

Buffalo's Mario Williams could have a field day against the Dolphins' O-line. (USATSI)
Buffalo's Mario Williams could have a field day against the Dolphins' O-line. (USATSI)

Peyton Manning's return to Indianapolis -- If it wasn't already going to be huge, the comments by Colts owner Jimmy Irsay only added to it. He dissed Manning, and you know Manning didn't like it, even if he didn't say so. The Colts plan to honor Manning before the game. I get the feeling they will be cursing him after it.

The return of Rob Gronkowski (we think) -- The word Friday was that Gronkowski, the Patriots' great tight end, was cleared to play this week against the Jets. But you never know with this saga. As he returns to the field from his forearm injury for the first time since last season, how rusty will he be? What will his impact be on the New England offense? If he plays, that is.

Texans quarterback Case Keenum is making his fist NFL start -- I spent time with Keenum at the NFL scouting combine in 2012 and came away impressed with his swagger. I also thought he looked good this summer in camp. Now we get a chance to see if he can do it in a game as he starts for the injured Matt Schaub this week at Kansas City. That's a tough place to play. But I think he will be just fine.

Josh Freeman taking over as the quarterback in Minnesota -- The Vikings need to find out if Freeman is their long-term answer. After being released by the Bucs, he gets his shot Monday night against the Giants. Freeman did throw 27 touchdown passes in 2012 for the Bucs, but his conflict with Greg Schiano led to his release. The Vikings need some down-the-field throws.

Buffalo's pass rush vs. the Dolphins offensive line -- The Bills have 21 sacks, eight by Mario Williams, while the Dolphins have given up 24 in five games. That's horrible. Miami is coming off a bye, so maybe that helped fix their troubles. I doubt it.

Colts DE Robert Mathis vs. Broncos LT Chris Clark and RT Louis Vasquez -- Mathis is tied for the NFL lead in sacks with 9 1/2. Clark took over for the injured Ryan Clady three weeks ago and has done a solid job. Mathis moves from the left side to the right side during games, so he will also work against Vasquez, who is moving from right guard to right tackle with Orlando Franklin out. Mathis has a good chance to get to Manning here.

Jets defense vs. Tom Brady -- The last time the Jets faced the Patriots in Week 2, they held Brady and the Pats to nine first downs -- and still lost. The Patriots have grown some on offense since then, and getting Gronkowski back will help. But the Jets defensive front is tough and they can get after Brady.

Eagles offense with Nick Foles vs. a banged-up Dallas defense -- Foles was impressive last week against Tampa Bay on the road. What if he follows up with another big game here against a hurting Dallas defense? Does Chip Kelly keep him as the starter? Or back to Mike Vick when his hamstring is healed?

Steelers-Ravens: Which offensive line will make strides? -- Both of these offenses have struggled because of their lines. In the past, they've been two physical teams, but the line struggles have hurt both offenses. Can either one get it going this week when they meet in Pittsburgh?

Can Cam Newton keep building on last week's performance -- Newton had his best day last week at Minnesota. Why? He was protected. The offensive line did a better job, and it showed. That line faces a tough Rams defensive line this week, so it will be interesting to see if they can keep it up.

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