Six of the 13 NFL games in Week 9 are division matchups after just three such games in Week 8.
The first is Thursday, an AFC East tilt between the Bills (5-2) and Jets (3-5) at MetLife Stadium (8:25 p.m. ET, NFL Network).
Bills fans might see the debut of wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, acquired Tuesday in a last-minute trade-deadline deal with the Panthers. The 6-5 Benjamin, who has 32 receptions for 475 yards and two touchdowns, was added to boost Buffalo’s 29th-ranked pass offense (running back LeSean McCoy is the team’s leading receiver with 38 catches for 242 yards).
Still, Buffalo has scored 30 or more points in each of the last two weeks and will try to keep things rolling against a Jets team that has lost three straight.
Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor could find some success against a vulnerable Jets defense that ranks 26th overall, 20th against the pass with only 11 sacks. McCoy, who is eighth in the NFL with 521 rushing yards, could also have a big day against New York’s 27th-ranked rush defense.
A Jets loss would all but eliminate them from AFC East contention with only one more division game on the schedule.
Here’s a look at the weekend’s marquee Week 9 games
Falcons (4-3) vs. Panthers (5-3), 1 p.m. ET Sunday (Fox)
The Panthers offense has had a hard time getting on track — and they just traded their top wide receiver to Buffalo. Carolina has failed to score a touchdown in two games but split those contests thanks to the NFL’s second-rated defense.
While the Carolina offense is 21st in yards and 23rd in scoring, the Panthers defense has gone four games without allowing an offensive touchdown.
The Falcons had the NFL’s top offense last season en route to the Super Bowl. Atlanta is fifth in total offense so far this year, but those yards aren’t translating into points as it ranks 15th at 21.9 per game.
The Falcons have enough weapons to test Carolina’s defense, but turnovers have been an issue. Atlanta is minus-5 in turnover margin, and Matt Ryan has thrown six interceptions after having only seven all last season.
Raiders (3-5) at Dolphins (4-3), 8:30 p.m. ET, Sunday (NBC)
As quarterback Derek Carr said this week, nobody expected the Raiders to be 3-5. They were 12-4 last season and considered a Super Bowl contender entering this season.
Oakland’s sixth-ranked offense from a season ago is struggling to find any consistency and sits at 20th in yards per game.
The most inconsistent player has been third-year receiver Amari Cooper, who has 404 receiving yards at the midway point after averaging 1,100 yards over his first two seasons. He has to get on track if the Raiders are going to push for a playoff berth.
The Dolphins are somehow above .500 despite a points differential of minus-60, a margin that grew significantly after last week’s 40-0 loss to the Ravens.
Lions (3-4) at Packers (4-3), 8:30 p.m. ET, Monday (ESPN)
Packers coach Mike McCarthy had a bye week to better tailor the offense around Brett Hundley, who took over as the starting quarterback after Aaron Rodgers’ Week 6 collarbone injury.
While he heals, Rodgers has been mentoring Hundley, who has thrown just one touchdown pass with four interceptions so far.