Buffalo Bills defensive end Mario Williams returned to Houston on Sunday and was booed.
The former Texans star found that flattering.
"It was great," Williams told the Buffalo News after the 21-9 Texans win. "The biggest thing for me is, if you go out and make a play and get booed, I know I'm in your heart. That's the most important thing. If it'd been quiet, then I would've felt something different. I know you're thinking about me."
Next week's NFL games feature other intriguing reunions, including Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Vincent Jackson facing his former San Diego Chargers teammates; Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley drawing up a game plan against the Kansas City Chiefs, the team that fired him as head coach last season; and the Seattle Seahawks' Pete Carroll facing the New York Jets' Mark Sanchez, the USC quarterback he tried to persuade to stay in school.
Most interesting of those story lines is the Monday night game pitting Haley and the Chiefs, although that's a mismatch on paper. Kansas City is 1-7 and the first team in the Super Bowl era to get this deep into the season without holding a lead in regulation. (Its lone win came in overtime.) It has an NFL-high 29 turnovers.
The Steelers, meanwhile, are on an upward trend with three consecutive wins, including Sunday's 24-20 upset at the New York Giants. The Steelers defense is playing well, as are their offensive line and running game.
Pittsburgh has the 10th-ranked passing offense — recently described by Ben Roethlisberger as "dink and dunk" — and the Chiefs are tied for 11th in pass defense. The passing game is Haley's specialty, and that's where it will be most interesting to watch this reunion.
Unlike Williams, Haley wouldn't relish the boos. This game's in Pittsburgh.
Youth is served
In a remarkable coincidence, the Denver Broncos' Peyton Manning and Indianapolis Colts' Andrew Luck have identical passing-yardage totals at the midpoint of the season (2,404 yards) and each is quarterback of a 5-3 team. Outstanding as Manning has been — he leads the league in completion percentage (69.5) and passer rating (108.6) — it's astounding that Luck, his successor in Indianapolis, has taken the Colts this far.
There's no Broncos-Colts game on the schedule this season, but can you imagine the hype if Manning and Luck were to meet in the playoffs? (Cue Jim Mora's "Playoffs?!?")
Each team has won three in a row. The Broncos will play at Carolina on Sunday, and the Colts will play at Jacksonville.
Super Bowl preview?
Something has to give Sunday night when the Texans play the Bears at Chicago. Both teams are 7-1 and have smothering defenses. The Bears are 4-0 at home; the Texans are 3-0 on the road.
Whereas the Texans are an excellent plus-8 in turnover differential, the Bears are a league-leading plus-16 and are coming off a 51-20 road rout of the Tennessee Titans in which cornerback Charles Tillman forced four fumbles.
The two teams that fumble the least in the NFL? Chicago and Houston, naturally, with four each.