GAME OF THE DAY New York Jets (8-1) at Atlanta (5-3-1), 10 a.m. Nothing has slowed the Jets in their part of the drive toward a New York Super Bowl in Pasadena. They are 4-0 on the road and have won seven straight despite losing quarterback Ken O'Brien, runner Freeman McNeil, linebacker Lance Mehl, nose tackle Joe Klecko, defensive end Mark Gastineau and other fixtures at one time or another. O'Brien, the league's top-rated passer, said before last week's blowout at Seattle that he even caught the flu from receiver Al Toon, who has caught everything else from O'Brien to lead the league in receiving. The fading Falcons, once the surprise of the season, are a slumping 1-3-1 in the heart of a sledgehammer schedule and need quarterback David Archer to return to his true form. Or, maybe he has. Otherwise, even great runners such as Gerald Riggs can be stopped when there is nobody else to worry about. The Jets haven't allowed a rushing touchdown this season.
NFC GAMES St. Louis (2-7) at San Francisco (5-3-1), 1 p.m. Just when the Rams thought they had left the 49ers for dead in the NFC West, Joe Montana returns as the starting quarterback only 55 days after back surgery. He'll be looking for hotshot Jerry Rice (nine touchdowns) and old reliable Dwight Clark. The Cardinals have benched quarterback Neil Lomax, ending his consecutive starts at 52, the longest active streak in pro football. Cliff Stoudt pulled out a 13-10 win over the Eagles last week.
Chicago (7-2) at Tampa Bay (2-7), 10 a.m. Quarterback Jim McMahon's absence because of an injury might have made the difference against the Rams, but it shouldn't matter here. Mike Tomczak, promoted ahead of backup Steve Fuller, should do just fine handing off against the league's worst defense. Doug Flutie, now activated, could also get a shot. Steve Young's sprint-out passing could defuse the Bears' rush and give Tampa a few bright moments for its first sellout (74,314) in four years.
Minnesota (5-4) at Detroit (3-6), 10 a.m. The Lions contained the Vikings in the opener nine weeks ago, 13-10, but have beaten only the Oilers and Packers since. Viking quarterback Tommy Kramer is hot and won't face much pressure from the Lions' pass rush. The Lions will try to keep the ball out of Kramer's hands by controlling it on the ground.
New York Giants (7-2) at Philadelphia (3-6), 1 p.m. Joe Morris was all the offense the Giants needed to beat Dallas, so he should be adequate against one of the weakest defenses against the run. The Eagles don't run or pass very well, and their defense hasn't scored all season. It looks like a shutout. It almost was a month ago, when the Giants won, 35-3.
Washington (7-2) at Green Bay (1-8), 10 a.m. America's Dairyland is an inviting opportunity for the Redskins to fatten their statistics, even if Max Zendejas can't kick an extra point. The Packers' pushover defense leads the league in permitting 27.7 points per game. Redskin quarterback Jay Schroeder is maturing rapidly, and running back George Rogers should equal John Riggins' NFL record of scoring in 13 straight games.
AFC GAMES San Diego (1-8) at Denver (8-1), 1 p.m. The Broncos don't lose often at Mile High Stadium, or anywhere else this season. The Chargers are 2-13-1 there since 1970, and this doesn't look like a year when they will break the trend. At this point, the Chargers' new coach, Al Saunders, must be thinking about a quarterback of the future, but he isn't sure it's Tom Flick. Last week he connected on only eight passes--four to each side.
Cincinnati (6-3) at Houston (1-8), 10 a.m. Bengal Coach Sam Wyche insists, "We haven't played any weak sisters yet," but the AFC Central co-leaders have given up 30 points more than they've scored while playing the likes of the Bills, Packers and Oilers. Oiler Coach Jerry Glanville can't make up his mind. He tried passing two weeks ago, running last week, and then put quarterback Warren Moon on the bench for the second half, but the result always comes out the same.
New England (6-3) at Indianapolis (0-9), 10 a.m. The Colts, front-runners in the Vinny Testaverde draft sweepstakes, may be caught looking ahead to the Oilers and Chargers late this month. The Patriots have a chance to rest some of their casualties from the Atlanta game while Tony Eason plays Space Invaders in the Colts' punchboard secondary. New Colt safety Dextor Clinkscale, released by Dallas, could help, although he says, "I don't particularly like this part of the country."