Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 9:
Third down after halftime: The Jacksonville Jaguars have struggled on third down on both sides of the ball, particularly in the second half. Per ESPN Stats and Information, Jacksonville’s offense is the worst in the NFL after intermission, converting only 20 percent. The defense ranks 26th in the second half at 43.1 percent. Third-down efficiency obviously keys time of possession. The Jaguars are expected to be without both starting corners Sunday against the Lions, so they need to keep the ball out of the hands of Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. They can do so by extending drives on offense -- converting more third downs and by getting the Lions off the field with third-down stops.
Rookie quarterbacks: According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Dolphins-Colts is the second game since the merger in which both teams enter with winning records and rookie starting quarterbacks, the Colts' Andrew Luck and Miami's Ryan Tannehill. The first such matchup was last year, when the Texans and T.J. Yates beat the Bengals and Andy Dalton in Week 14. To beat Tannehill, the Colts will have to diagnose play-action well. He ranks second in completion percentage (72.7) and yards per attempt (11.8) on play-action.
Arian Foster versus the Bills' run defense: Buffalo is allowing an NFL-worst 6.0 yards per rush this season. The only team in NFL history to allow more than 5.6 yards per rush in a season is the 1934 Cincinnati Reds (6.4). The Bills have allowed 5.8 yards per rush between the tackles this season, with an average of 4.1 yards coming before first contact, both worst in the NFL. The Bills have allowed league highs in touchdowns (10) and 20-yard gains (10) between the tackles this season. That’s not good news for Buffalo considering nearly 75 percent of the Texans’ rushes have been between the tackles.
Watch throws outside the numbers: The Bears' pass defense and Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck will be an interesting matchup based on what they’ve done so far this season. Chicago has intercepted 10 passes on throws outside the painted numbers this season and has allowed only one touchdown on such throws. It’s a breakneck pace -- last season the Packers led the NFL in such interceptions with 13. Hasselbeck has the most attempts (71) without an interception on throws outside the numbers this season.
Also: Johnson has exactly the same number of receptions through seven games as he did last year, but nine fewer touchdowns for Detroit. ... The Jaguars have lost each of their three home games by at least 17 points, and each of their four road games has been decided by single digits. … Jacksonville’s opponents have dropped back 50 times in the first quarter without being sacked. … Indianapolis has three takeaways this season, four fewer than any other team. The only other team in the Super Bowl era to have three or fewer takeaways through seven games is the 2011 Steelers (three). … The Titans have scored 14 points or fewer in all five of their losses and have scored at least 26 points in all three wins.