The Jets get serious for about three days, the Cowboys make us wish we had Mental Image Wipes and the Saints teach us how little this week's opposing quarterback has in common with last week's opposing quarterback. Peyton Manning is the Chuck Berry of the no-huddle offense, but Joe Flacco's tribute band is shaping up, and if the Raiders don't remind you to get your oil changed, nothing will. Or, as the Chiefs might say on Twitter: Get a clue! This week's Lowdown was made possible by a handshake agreement.

(All times Eastern; all Sunday games ranked by quality of matchup.)

Detroit Lions at San Francisco 49ers

8:20 p.m. Sunday, NBC
Line: 49ers by 8

There's a standard exercise called The Handshake Problem that can be found in most elementary math textbooks. "Seven people are at a dinner party. Each person shakes hands with every other person exactly once. How many total handshakes occur?"

There are three correct answers to this problem: 1) Twenty-one handshakes. 2) If the people who wrote math textbooks were ever invited to dinner parties, they would know that people do not stand around shaking hands. Seriously, all of that awkward human contact sounds like it's happening around the Dungeon Master's kitchen table. 3) If Jim Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz are two of the guests, there is one handshake, followed by 30 minutes of cursing and bludgeoning.

The Handshake Problem for promoting an NFL game is different for the one used to teach counting principles. "Two playoff teams featuring diverse and fascinating characters like Randy Moss, Ndamukong Suh, Calvin Johnson and Patrick Willis square off in a nationally televised prime-time game. How do you promote the game?"

The accepted answer: as a pro-wrestling grudge match between the coaches, with photos of each pictured in the throes of a wide-mouthed bellow, as if they are about to swallow each other's faces. A better answer: as a chance for the 49ers to prove, just as they did against the Packers, that one-dimensional passing offenses are no match for their defense.

Prediction: 49ers 22, Lions 20

* * *

New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers

4:25 p.m. Sunday, CBS
Line: Steelers by 5

In the long history of motivational speeches, Henry V on Saint Crispin's Day and "Win one for the Gipper" may have to move over for Rex Ryan's Week 1 sermon to the Jets: "If you're tired of the media portraying you as a bunch of clowns, honk your noses twice."

As every parent of a teenager knows, nothing projects maturity like stomping your feet, rolling your eyes and demanding to be treated like an adult. The Jets cleaned their room without being asked one time; now, they expect the car keys and no curfew. Beat a playoff opponent on the road, boys, and then we'll talk. Darrelle Revis (concussion) is questionable, and the Jets are already retreating from their Week 1 offensive success, dropping coy Tim Tebow hints to scare the Steelers into preparing for the quarterback who stunned them in last year's playoffs. Meanwhile, Bart Scott ended four days of merciful media boycott to lobby for the Jets to bring back Plaxico Burress, who helped make 2011 so magical. So if you were trying to pinpoint exactly when the Jets' counterproductive habits would return, don't bother. They're already here.

Prediction: Steelers 23, Jets 10

* * *

Baltimore Ravens at Philadelphia Eagles

1 p.m. Sunday, CBS
Line: Eagles by 1

Forget everything you thought you knew about the Ravens' offense, which used to be the 1976 Mercury Cougar of NFL schemes. The Ravens now have fuel injectors. Their new no-huddle offense allows Flacco to make adjustments at the line and distribute short passes instead of just methodically handing off to Ray Rice or trying to launch a low-orbital aircraft. The new system takes some getting used to -- while Peyton Manning appears to be barking invasion plans at the line of scrimmage, Flacco looks like he's taking lunch orders -- but it worked to the tune of 430 total yards against the Bengals. Also, the Ravens' defense is still great, and the more Ed Reed hems and haws about his hamstring, the more likely he is to play.

Meanwhile, Andy Reid is slightly adjusting the Eagles' homeopathic run-pass ratio so LeSean McCoy can have more than seven first-half carries. In a world where the Ravens' offense is opening up, is it possible to dream of the Eagles' passing game throttling down?

Prediction: Ravens 20, Eagles 16

* * *

New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers

1 p.m. Sunday, Fox
Line: Saints by 2½

Cam Newton, the quarterback the Saints face this week, sure does have a lot in common with Robert Griffin III, the quarterback whose Redskins beat them last week. For example, they're both … quarterbacks! And Heisman Trophy winners! (So is Sam Bradford, who for some reason doesn't draw the same comparisons.) And … they're both fast, as are most young quarterbacks. Also … hey, help me out, Panthers coach Ron Rivera!

"They are two different guys physically," Rivera told "Cam's got probably 50 pounds and four inches [on Griffin]."

No, no, coach. We are looking for similarities. Both are right-handed, for example, unlike Tim Tebow, a recent Heisman-winning quarterback who can run. Perhaps Saints defender Jonathan Casillas, who has prepared for both quarterbacks, can pinpoint what makes Newton and Griffin so similar.

"Cam is like Ben Roethlisberger. He holds the ball looking to make a play, and it can hurt him at times, but he's so strong and so powerful, he can throw the ball downfield with D-linemen hanging on him."

Roethlisberger? We're talking about Newton and Griffin here, who are nearly identical except that Newton is much bigger and has a markedly different college background (one-year phenom in the SEC versus three-year starter for a rebuilding program) and playing styles.

There is one other big difference between Griffin and Newton: The Saints showed last season that they could figure out Newton. Newton threw two touchdowns and ran for a third in a narrow Saints win in their first meeting, but was held to just 158 passing yards in a 45-17 Saints win in the rematch. So really, this is a matter of apples and oranges, and it's easy to see the difference if you peel beneath the surface.

Prediction: Saints 34, Panthers 27

* * *

Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills

1 p.m. Sunday, CBS
Line: Bills by 3

No two teams punish preseason optimism like the Bills and Chiefs, who treat the start of the year like a boozy Flugtag, their lovingly assembled contraptions never able to fly so much as plummet. An early Chiefs-Bills game is a favor by the schedule-makers to those of us who were yet again taken in by each team's veneer of competence: At least one team will justify our preseason enthusiasm by being .500 for a few days. Unless there is a tie. Please don't be a tie.

Ryan Fitzpatrick called the Bills' loss to the Jets a "wake-up call." A team that went seven years without a winning record, then 0-4 in the preseason, does not need a wake-up call. It needs the hotel manager standing over the bed with a strobe light and a bullhorn. The Chiefs, meanwhile, used their official Twitter account to tell a disgruntled fan to "get a clue." Hey, if we were looking for a clue, we wouldn't be following the Chiefs on Twitter!

Prediction: Bills 19, Chiefs 13

* * *

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Giants

1 p.m. Sunday, Fox

Line: Giants by 9

No coach preaches fundamentals as often or as vehemently as Tom Coughlin, but Greg Schiano is doing his darnedest to catch up. Schiano's emphasis on Football 101 during the Buccaneers' offseason became mythology; we were left with an image of Schiano pointing down and stating "this is grass" while his players took copious notes. The back-to-basics approach paid off against the Panthers, who were shocked to discover that Bucs defenders knew how to wrap their arms around ball carriers and force them to the ground, a technique Schiano refers to as "tackling."

Coughlin is not one to be outdone when it comes to stressing the mundane, particularly after a sloppy season opener in which the Giants demonstrated poor fundamentals. Coughlin spoke of "a renewed conviction about preparation and about practice," and ordered his Giants to "grind," which doesn't sound racy or awkward the way he says it. Eli Manning, meanwhile, mouthed the usual Coughlin-isms about better practice principles and execution. If only all of life's problems could be solved by doing the same things we always do, only slightly better. Wait, maybe they can be …

Prediction: Giants 24, Buccaneers 14

* * *

Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks

4:05 p.m. Sunday, Fox
Line: Cowboys by 3

Poor Jerry Jones. His Cowboys defeated the Super Bowl champions in the season opener. A new star emerged in wide receiver Kevin Ogletree. The Cowboys' brightest stars -- Tony Romo, DeMarcus Ware, Jason "Titanium Spleen" Witten -- twinkled as brightly as possible under the prime-time television lights. But all anyone wanted to talk about was Jones' son-in-law, Shy Anderson, who in the fine Carlo Rizzi tradition ("give him a living"), was immortalized as the First Eyeglass Wiper to the King.

Now, Anderson has a plan to market "Jerry Wipes." Yes, it has come to pass that one of the marquee sports franchises on the planet, the one that helped invent the idea of using brand recognition to create an international fan base, is planning to market a product that sounds like it should be advertised during midday health-and-well-being programs hosted by women in lab coats on local cable. Again, poor Jerry Jones, who brought all of this on himself.

Prediction: Seahawks 23, Cowboys 20

* * *

Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins

1 p.m. Sunday, CBS
Line: Raiders by 1

Whenever a long snapper gets hurt, 31 other teams scramble to find backups on their active roster, while the rest of us suddenly remember to tend to life's easy-to-neglect periodic maintenance tasks. Have your smoke-alarm batteries been changed this millennium? Did you install your most recent anti-virus software from a floppy disk? Have you changed the baking soda in the fridge, or is the crisper supposed to smell like Cameron Wake's gym bag? A long-snapper cataclysm like the Raiders suffered on Monday night has a silver lining: No one is talking about their lifeless, checkdown-heavy offense. The Dolphins could use a distraction like that. But first, they must determine who their backup long-snapper is. And make sure there isn't a family of raccoons nesting in the dryer vent.

Prediction: Dolphins 16, Raiders 10

* * *

Arizona Cardinals at New England Patriots

1 p.m. Sunday, Fox
Line: Patriots by 15

Having noticed how rugged and courageous Tom Brady looked while playing with a gauze bandage over the bridge of his nose, Kevin Kolb takes the field this week with his entire face wrapped up like a mummy from a "Scooby-Doo" cartoon. The illusion of bravery is shattered, however, when Kolb sees his own image on the stadium screen, panics and runs screaming toward the right sideline.

Prediction: Patriots 27, Cardinals 13

* * *

Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars

1 p.m. Sunday, CBS
Line: Texans by 8

Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt, who had 1½ sacks and several deflected passes against the Dolphins, said that he figured out the Dolphins' snap count by watching HBO's "Hard Knocks." Watt sounds like the detective in forensics shows who finds the clue in the hostage video that everyone else misses. "There, over the victim's shoulder, magnify and enhance! Out the window … see it? It's the sign for Pariani's Bakery! The hideout is in the wharf district! Also, if you look at the television in the corner of the room, Ryan Tannehill is bobbing his head before taking the snap!" Watt's plan to get an edge this week backfired when he cued up tape of the Jaguars' offense and immediately lost consciousness.

Prediction: Texans 21, Jaguars 13

* * *

Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals

1 p.m. Sunday, CBS
Line: Bengals by 8

Much has been made about the fact that Brandon Weeden's current quarterback rating of 5.1 is roughly comparable to the 5.02 ERA he amassed when he was a minor league pitcher. But the numerological coincidences do not end there. Weeden's average score during his three years as a competitive figure skater (he wedged it in between his pitching stint with the Staten Island Yankees and his brief sumo period) was 5.35. When Weeden refinanced his home in the fall of 2007, he earned a 5.05 percent interest rate. And the thunderous sound of Browns fans demanding Colt McCoy registered 5.2 on the Richter scale on Monday morning. Weeden is sure to perform better in the future than he did against the Eagles. Take it from the Browns, who have averaged 5.25 wins over the last eight years.

Prediction: Bengals 19, Browns 6

* * *

Minnesota Vikings at Indianapolis Colts

1 p.m. Sunday, Fox
Line: Even

Maybe it's just the transcription, but when describing the Vikings' offense Christian Ponder sounds like an 8-year-old who just drank the milk at the bottom of a bowl of Cocoa Frosted Hyperactivity Blasts cereal. "I just go out there and play with that sense of urgency and I think that starts with the tempo that you call the play and you break the huddle immediately and you get everyone to get up there and run the play," he told ESPN 1500 in the Twin Cities. "With our no-huddle, it can be a very fast-paced offense. But also, we can slow it down and try to make sure we try to get in the right play and stuff." Maybe the Vikings should rechristen their scheme the Run-on Sentence Offense.

Prediction: Colts 24, Vikings 20

* * *

Washington Redskins at St. Louis Rams

4:05 p.m. Sunday, Fox
Line: Redskins by 3

Robert Griffin III has already become so ubiquitous that his face is more recognizable among American preschoolers than those of President Obama and SpongeBob combined. Griffin also looms large over the Saints-Panthers capsule, so let's use this space to say a few pertinent things about the Rams. 1) Their defense appears to be much improved, now that Cortland Finnegan has replaced the little rabbit from the dog track at cornerback. 2) Their offense still operates like some kind of cosmic punishment for Steven Jackson's past-life sins. 3) Their special teams are spearheaded by kicker Greg "The Leg" Zuerlein, who had three field goals last week, and by kickoff returner Isaiah Pead, whose name is impossible to say out loud without picturing a soccer mom changing a diaper.

Prediction: Redskins 26, Rams 16

* * *

Tennessee Titans at San Diego Chargers

4:25 p.m. Sunday, CBS
Line: Chargers by 7

Chargers running backs ran 17 times for 22 yards on Monday night. Titans running backs rushed 14 times for nine yards on Sunday. The Chargers are waiting for Ryan Mathews to return from a collarbone injury, but he's doubtful for Sunday, which means more Ronnie Brown and Curtis Brinkley. The Titans are waiting for the Earth to start spinning backward so Chris Johnson can go back in time and have his 2009 season all over again, which means another week of Titans running backs averaging 23 inches per rush.

Prediction: Chargers 17, Titans 10

* * *

Denver Broncos at Atlanta Falcons

8:30 p.m. Monday, ESPN
Line: Falcons by 3

There's a classic scene in the movie "Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll" in which Berry complains to Keith Richards that a roadie has changed the settings on his amplifier. "It sounds the way I wish it to sound. The way it's GOING to sound if I am playing," Berry says. "That's the way Chuck Berry plays it! You understand?"

Someone messed with Peyton Manning's settings in the first half of the Steelers game. The Broncos huddled, the offense looked highly scripted and Manning took a few uncharacteristic hits in the pocket. In the second half, the Broncos looked the way Manning wishes them to look, the way they are going to look if Manning is playing. The no-huddle is Manning's 12-bar blues, the audible at the line his note-bending guitar fill.

Matt Ryan may not be a legend like Manning, but Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez support him with an impressive wall of sound arrangement. The Broncos may not be up to beating a solid-all-around team like the Falcons on the road, but they are going to be very good as long as they play the way Peyton Manning plays.

Prediction: Falcons 27, Broncos 24