With one week before Halloween, teams fighting for a playoff spot could either be tricked or get a treat. Some teams could get a prize in their bags or a rock. Week 7 got underway Thursday night in Foxoboro as Brady and the Pats hosted and beat a struggling New York Jets team 27-25 in Foxboro and ends with Pittsburgh hosting Houston in the Steel City on Monday night.

Six weeks into the NFL season, the standings remain close. Only Oakland and Jacksonville have yet to break into the win column. Twenty teams (62.5 percent) currently have a .500 or better record. And nearly half of the league (15 of 32 clubs, 46.9 percent) has a winning record.

“It’s not easy to win football games,” Denver QB Peyton Manning told KUSA-TV and USA Today about the 4-1 Broncos. “I learned long ago to never take winning for granted. It’s tough to win in the NFL.”

The Broncos are one of five teams with a winning percentage of at least .800: Dallas (5-1), Philadelphia (5-1), San Diego (5-1), Arizona (4-1) and Denver (4-1). All five of those teams won in Week 6.

“It’s not easy to stay in first place,” Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians told the Arizona Republic. His Cardinals lead the NFC West. “But we’re there and we want to make sure we stay there.”

Since 1990, 210 of the league’s 288 playoff teams (72.9 percent) had a winning record after six games. But nothing is a given in the NFL. More than a quarter of the playoff clubs since 1990 (78 of 288, 27.1 percent) had a .500 record or below after six games, including three teams from last year’s postseason field (Carolina, Philadelphia and San Diego).

There were some milestones reached in week 6…

Sunday’s Carolina-Cincinnati game ended in a 37-37 tie after each team traded field goals in the overtime period, marking the second overtime game to end in a tie after both teams scored points in the extra period since the modified sudden death overtime rules were implemented for the 2012 regular season. The format guarantees each team a possession or the opportunity to possess the ball in overtime, unless the team that receives the opening kickoff scores a touchdown on its initial possession.

The 74 combined points are the most ever in an NFL overtime game that ended in a tie. The game marks the most combined points in a tie game since the Boston Patriots tied the Oakland Raiders, 43-43, on October 16, 1964, which occurred before the advent of NFL overtime rules in 1974.

Chicago improved to 3-3 by defeating the Falcons 27-13 in Atlanta, becoming the first franchise in NFL history with 750 total wins. Chicago’s all-time record is 750-555-42.

Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco passed for 306 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions for a 146.0 passer rating in the Ravens’ 48-17 win at Tampa Bay. Flacco threw his fifth touchdown pass at the 13:57 mark of the the second quarter (16:03 into the game), becoming the fastest player to record five TD passes in a game since at least 1970.

Flacco also became the first player since 1986 with four touchdown passes in the first quarter of a game (Minnesota quarterback Tommy Kramer vs. Green Bay on 9/28/86) and the first player with five touchdown passes in the first half since Tom Brady (October 18, 2009 vs. Tennessee).

•Dallas running back De Marco Murray rushed for 115 yards and one touchdown in the Cowboys’ 30-23 win at Seattle and became the second player in NFL history to rush for at least 100 yards in each of his team’s first six games to start a season, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Brown (six games in 1958).

Tight end Jason Witten had two catches for 24 yards and one touchdown against the defending Super Bowl champs. The 32-year old Witten became the second-youngest player in NFL history to reach 900 career receptions. Only Houston’s Andre Johnson (32 years, 143 days) was younger when he recorded his 900th career catch. Witten and Tony Gonzalez (1,325) are the only tight ends with at least 900 career receptions and Witten is the youngest to reach the milestone.

•Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers passed for 264 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 99.7 passer rating in the Packers’ 27-24 win at Miami, including the game-winning four-yard TD pass to tight end Andrew Quarless with three seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.

Rodgers, who played in his 100th career game Sunday, now has 25,616 passing yards and 203 touchdown passes. His 203 touchdowns are the second-most of any player in his first 100 games, trailing only Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino, who threw 217 touchdowns in his first 100 career games. Rodgers’ 25,616 yards rank fourth all-time among players in their first 100 games.

•San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers completed 22 of 34 passes (64.7 percent) for 313 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 123.8 passer rating in the Chargers’ 31-28 win at Oakland.

Rivers has posted a passer rating of 120 or better in five consecutive games, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas (four in 1965) and Kurt Warner (four in 2009) for the longest such streak in NFL history (minimum 15 pass attempts in each game).

•Denver tight end Julius Thomas had four catches for 51 yards and two touchdowns in the Broncos’ 31-17 win at the New York Jets. Thomas leads the NFL with nine touchdown catches, tied for the most of any player in NFL history through his team’s first five games of a season (Calvin Johnson, 2011)

STILL ALIVE: Twenty teams (62.5 percent) are in or within one game of first place in their respective divisions, tied for the most through Week 6 since realignment in 2002 (20 teams in 2010).

SCORING HIGHS: NFL teams have combined for 4,250 points in 2014, the most points through six weeks in NFL history (4,233 in 2012).

That record total equates to 46.70 points per game. If the current average stays at this pace, it would rank as the second-highest of any season in history (2013, 46.82 points per game) since 1970.

The seasons with the highest scoring average since the merger:
* Through Week 6

TD GALORE: Teams have combined to score 479 touchdowns, the most at this point of any season in NFL history (466 in 2002 and 2013).

Of the 479 touchdowns, 303 have been touchdown passes, the most through the first six weeks of any season. The previous high was 289 in 2013.


A look at some notable individual accomplishments through Week 6:

With 15 touchdown passes this season, Denver quarterback Peyton Manning has 506 for his career, three away from surpassing Brett Farve (508) for the most career touchdown passes in NFL history.

Denver tight end Julius Thomas leads the NFL with nine touchdown catches, tied for the most of any player in NFL history through his team’s first five games of a season (Calvin Johnson, 2011).

Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco passed for 306 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions for a 146.0 passer rating in the Ravens’ 48-17 win at Tampa Bay. Flacco threw his fifth touchdown pass at the 13:57 mark of the second quarter (16:03 into the game), becoming the fastest player to record five TD passes in a game since at least 1970.

Flacco also became the first player since 1986 with four touchdown passes in the first quarter of a game (Minnesota quarterback Tommy Kramer vs. Green Bay on September 8, 1986) and the first player with five touchdown passes in the first half since Tom Brady (October 18, 2009 vs. Tennessee).

BEARS VICTORIES: Chicago improved to 3-3 by defeating Atlanta 27-13 on the road in the Big Peach, becoming the first franchise in NFL history with 750 total wins. Chicago’s all-time record is 750-555-42.

TAKE IT AND FLY: In Philadelphia’s 27-0 win over the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football, cornerback Bradley Fletcher forced a fumble which was recovered by the Eagles, extending their streak to 18 consecutive regular-season games with at least one takeaway, the longest current streak in the NFL.

The longest current streaks of consecutive games with a takeaway:

Philadelphia: 18 (14-4)
Green Bay: 14 (7-6-1)
Tennessee: 8 (4-4)
Houston: 7 (3-4)
3 Tied: 5

BETTER WITH AGE: Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

Baltimore wide receiver Steve Smith, Sr. had five catches for 110 yards and a 56-yard touchdown catch in the Ravens’ 48-17 win at Tampa Bay. The score was Smith’s third touchdown of 50 or more yards this season, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers James Lofton (1991) and Jerry Rice (1998) and Joey Galloway (2007) as the only players in NFL history with three touchdown catches of 50 or more yards in a season at age 35 or older.

In Dallas’ 30-23 win at Seattle, tight end Jason Witten had two catches for 24 yards and one touchdown. Witten, who turned 32 years  on Sunday, became the second-youngest player in NFL history to reach 900 career receptions. Only Houston’s Andre Johnson (32 years, 143 days) was younger when he recorded his 900th career catch.

Johnson had seven catches for 99 yards and a touchdown against Indianapolis on Thursday night. Now with 13,080 receiving yards, Johnson became the 15th player in NFL history to reach 13,000 career receiving yards.

MAXIMUM WATT: Houston defensive end J.J. Watt had two sacks and a 45-yard fumble return-touchdown Thursday night against Indianapolis. It was the third touchdown Watt scored this season following a one-yard touchdown catch in Week 2 at Oakland and an 80-yard interception-return touchdown in Week 4 against Buffalo.

Watt joined George Halas (1927), Jay Arnold (1938) and Billy Stacy (1961) as the only players to have scored a touchdown on a reception, interception return and return on an opponent’s fumble in the same season.

MONDAY NIGHT MILESTONE: San Francisco overcame a 14-0 deficit to defeat the St. Louis Rams 31-17 in the 700th game in the history of Monday Night Football, which debuted in 1970. San Francisco has a 46-25 record (.648) on Monday Night Football, the most wins of any team in the history of the primetime series.

San Francisco 49ers-46
Dallas Cowboys-43
Miami Dolphins-40
Pittsburgh Steelers-40
Oakland Raiders-37

The milestone games in the Monday Night Football series:

001 – 09/21/1970: Cleveland 31, New York Jets 21 (Browns LB Billy Andrews has 25-yard INT-TD)
100 – 11/14/1977: St. Louis Cardinals 24, Dallas 17 (Cardinals QB Jim Hart throws 2 TD passes)
200 – 10/15/1984: Denver 17, Green Bay 14 (Broncos return 2 fumbles for TDs)
300 – 11/19/1990: Los Angeles Raiders 13, Miami 10 (Raiders RB Marcus Allen totals 101 yards & TD)
400 – 10/28/1996: Chicago 15, Minnesota 13 (Bears RB Rashaan Salaam has rushing TD)
500 – 10/28/2002: Philadelphia 17, New York Giants 3 (Eagles rush for 295 yards)
600-0/20/2008: New England 41, Denver 7 (Patriots QB Matt Cassel has 3 TD passes)
700 – 10/13/2014: San Francisco 31, St. Louis 17 (49ers overcome 14-0 deficit en route to win)

Byes last week were Kansas City and New Orleans. Teams playing hooky this week are Philadelphia and Tampa Bay and they return to action next week. Last week, we went 10-4 (not bad), which makes the record for the season 35-24. There’s still a lot of football left before Thanksgiving and the post-season, which means that teams that are struggling still have a chance to either win their divisions or make the post-season party.

Atlanta (2-4) at Baltimore (4-2), 1 p.m. (FOX and DirecTV 705) M&T Bank Stadium It’s the battle of the birds in Charm City as Atlanta travels to Baltimore to take on the Ravens in Charm City.

Atlanta comes to Charm City with a pair of losses under their wings. In their 27-13 loss to Chicago in the Big Peach last Sunday, the Falcons were held 91 yards of total offense in the first half and 42 yards rushing for the game (Chicago ran for 110 yards in the win). Falcons QB Matt Ryan was sacked four times in the loss and the only time Atlanta came close to Chicago was in the third quarter when K Matt Bryant connected on a 54-yard field goal. Bears RB Matt Forte rushed for a pair of TDs in the contest, including a fourth quarter TD that all but iced the game away. Neither club did anything to write or Tweet home about on third down tries (Atlanta was 4-13 and 0-2 on fourth down, while Da Bears were 7-15) and the clock favored Chicago, who held the ball for 36:15 to Atlanta’s 23:45.

Baltimore scored 38 first-half points unchallenged in Tampa Bay as they took the Buccaneers to the woodshed 48-17. Ravens QB Joe Flacco threw five TD passes in the first half as the Ravens were never really threatened. The Ravens held Tampa Bay to 87 yards on the ground and sacked Bucs QB Mike Glennon five times. Baltimore RB Justin Forset ran like Ray Rice last Sunday in the Sunshine State, running for 111 of his team’s 169 yards in the contest. Baltimore was 7-13 on third down conversions,while Tampa Bay struggled on third down tries, going 2-12 (0-2 on fourth down). The clock was the ally of Baltimore, who kept the ball for 32:14, while Tampa? They held it for 27:46.

The series between the birds is even 2-2, while the Ravens have outscored Atlanta 81-69. Atlanta won last meeting in the Big Peach in 2010 by a final of 26-21, while Baltimore’s last win in the series came in Charm City in 2006 24-10. Baltimore’s favvored by 6 1/2 in Charm City and the over/under’s 49 1/2. It’s possible that the over/under could be reached. The 6 1/2? Hard to say. Atlanta may have lost two in a row but we don’t think three’s the charm. Dirty Birds pull the upset in Charm City and fly away with the win, even though the 6 1/2 may not get covered.

Miami (2-3) at Chicago (3-3), 1 p.m. (CBS and DirecTV 710) Soldier Field. Miami travels to the Windy City to face a Bears team that bounced back in a big way in the Big Peach.

Miami had Green Bay on the ropes late in their 27-24 loss to the Packers before Aaron Rodgers channeled his inner Dan Marino and called for a fake spike play. The play. a pass to WR Randall Cobb worked to perfection, allowing the Pack to move the ball and take the lead for good when Rodgers and WR Andrew Quarless connected on a 4-yard TD with four ticks on the clock left to give the Packers the come-from-behind win. Green Bay (121) and Miami (112) each shattered the 100-yard rushing barrier in the contest and Rodgers threw three TDs in the win. The Pack was 8-17 and 1-1 on third and fourth downs, possessing the ball for 37:12, while Miami kept it for 22:48, going 4-10 and 0-1 on third and fourth down.

Chicago erased a 13-13 tie late in the third quarter as Da Bears’ Matt Forte ran for a pair of TDs to give them a 27-13 win over Atlanta in the Big Peach. The Monsters of the Midway held Atlanta to 42 yards rushing in the contest and sacked Matt Ryan twice, while rushing for 110 yards in the contest. Chicago led 13-3 at the half before Atlanta roared back to tie things up in the third quarter. Chicago went 7-15 on third down tries, hibernating with the ball for 36:15, while Atlanta was 4-13 on third down, 0-2 on fourth down, keeping the ball for 23:45.

Miami holds a 7-4 lead in the series and have outscored Da Bears 277-194. Chicago won the last meeting with Miami, shutting out the Dolphins 16-0 in 2010 in the Sunshine State, while Miami’s last win came in 2006 in the Windy City by a final of 31-13. Da Bears are favored in the Windy City by 3 and the over/under’s 49. This might be one to watch, especially if you’re a fan of one on these teams. Da Bears make things interesting but Miami comes away with the win and covers the 3.

New Orleans (2-3) at Detroit (4-2), 1 p.m. (FOX and DirecTV 707) Ford Field. The Saints travel to the Motor City to take a shockingly good Lions team and it’s also a chance for Lions RB Reggie Bush to face his old team. Bush, a former Heisman winner from Southern California, was the second pick in 2006 by the Saints and played five seasons in the Big Easy from 2006 to 2010. With the Saints, he had 33 TD (17 rushing, 12 recieving and 4 punt returns) and looks to get some payback against his old club.

New Orleans was idle last week after their 37-31 overtime win over Tampa Bay in the Big Easy. In that contest, the Saints trailed 24-20 after 45 minutes of play before rallying to tie things up and send the NFC South contest into overtime, where they came away with the win on a 18-yard run by Khiry Robinson in the extra period. New Orleans held Tampa Bay to 66 yards on the ground and went 6-13 on third down tries, keeping the ball for 38:32 (including overtime), while Tampa Bay was 3-9 and held the ball for 27:04.

The Lions have been shocking the football world of late and their latest triumph came last week in the Twin Cities against the Vikings at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. First-place Detroit led Adrian Peterson-less Minnesota 10-0 at the half and held on to win in the Land of 10,000 Lakes 17-3. While the Lions ran for 100 yards in the contest, they held Minnesota to 69 yards rushing and sacked Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater eight times, while picking him off three times. Third down tries? Nothing to cheer about for either club. Detroit was 1-13 (1-2 on fourth down) and held the ball for 32:21 to Minnesota’s 27:39 (the Vikings were not much better, going 3-14 and 0-1 on third and fourth downs).

New Orleans leads the series 11-9-1 and have outscored the Lions 422-359. New Orleans’ last win in the series came in 2011, when the Saints marched away with a 31-17. Detroit’s last win in the series didn’t come in New Orleans but in San Antonio (the Superdome was damaged thanks to Katrina) in 2005, when they edged the Saints 13-12. Detroit’s favored by 3 in the Motor City and the over/under comes in at 49. Will the bye week hurt New Orleans? The Lions hope so. Detroit roars to the win at home and covers the 3.

Carolina (3-2-1) at Green Bay (4-2), 1 p.m. (FOX and DirecTV 708) Lambeau Field. Cam Newton and Carolina travels to the land of bratwurst and cheese to take on Green Bay at Lambeau.

The Panthers enter Week 7 in first place in the NFC South. Last week, Carolina left Cincinnati with a 37-37 tie, the highest-scoring tie game since October 16, 1964 when the Boston Patriots and Oakland Raiders tied 43-43. Quarterback Cam Newton passed for 284 yards with two touchdowns and rushed for 107 yards with a score. Newton is the only player in NFL history with at least 250 passing yards, two touchdown passes, 100 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown in a single game. And this is the second time in his career the former Heisman winner has done it (December 9, 2012).

“When he gets out there and starts running and gets in that flow, it’s what makes him different from anybody else,” says Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, who leads NFC tight ends with five receiving touchdowns.

Carolina’s contest with the Bengals had six lead changes, with neither leading by more than seven in the contest. The Panthers led 24-17 after three quarters of play before Cincy roared back to tie things up for keeps and the Bengals had a chance to win things in overtime but Matt Nugent’s 36-yard FG try in the extra period sailed wide right. Both clubs managed to shatter the 100-yard barrier (Carolina had 147, Cincy had 193, with Bengals RB Giovani Bernard outpacing Newton with 137)

and the Bengals ruled third down conversions, going 10-16, while Carolina was 8-17 (2-2 on fourth down). Time was on the side of Carolina, who kept the ball for 39:30 to Cincinnati’s 35:30.

The Packers improved to 4-2 with a 27-24 win at Miami as quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw the game-winning touchdown pass to tight end Andrew Quarless with three seconds remaining. Rodgers, who was playing in his 100th career game, has 203 touchdown passes, the second-most ever by a player in his first 100 games, trailing only Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino (217).

“You want the opportunity to make a play there at the end,” says Rodgers, who is the first player in NFL history with at least 15 touchdown passes and one or zero interceptions in his team’s first six games.

Green Bay leads the 7-4 and lead the Panthers in scoring 303-246. Green Bay’s last win in the series came in 2011 in Charlotte when they came away with 30-23 victory, while Carolina’s last win came in the land of bratwurst and cheese in 2008 by a 35-31 count. Green Bay’s a 7-point favorite and the over/under is 49. Carolina will throw everything at Green Bay at Lambeau but the Pack will prevail and cover the 7 with the win at home.

Cleveland (2-3) at Jacksonville (0-6), 1 p.m (CBS and DirecTV 712) EverBank Field. An improved Cleveland Browns team travels to the Sunshine State to take on a Jacksonville team that is searching to crack the win column in 2014.

The Browns led Pittsburgh 21-3 at the half and never looked back, taking the Steelers down 31-10. Both the Browns (158) and Steelers (138) managed to rush for 100 yards in the game that wasn’t as close as some thought it would be. Both teams struggled on third down tries (Pittsburgh was 6-16 and 0-2 on fourth down, while Cleveland was 4-11) and the clock favored Pittsburgh, who held the ball for 33:05 to Cleveland’s 26:55.

On the other side of the coin, Jacksonville returns home to Florida’s East Coast after their 16-14 loss to Tennessee in Nashville. The Jaguars trailed 10-7 at the half and rallied late to make things close with 37 seconds left when Clay Harbor and rookie QB Blake Bortles connected on a 20-yard TD pass. After the extra point, Jacksonville tried and failed on their onside kick attempt, allowing the Titans to take control of the ball and win the contest. Despite the loss, Jacksonville did manage to outrush Tennessee 82-70. That was the good news for Jacksonville fans. Now for the bad news. Bortles was sacked six times and Jacksonville turned the ball over twice.

Jacksonville leads the series 10-5 and the Jaguars have outscored Cleveland 339-240. Jacksonville’s last win in the series came last year along the shores of Lake Erie 32-28. In the week 13 meeting, the Jaguars led 20-14 at half and then held off the Browns in the final 30 minutes of play. Cleveland was held to 97 yards rushing, while Jacksonville tallied 112. Both clubs went a combined 13-29 on third down tries (Jacksonville 7-16, Cleveland 6-13 and 1-1 on fourth down) and the clock favored Jacksonville, who held the ball for 30:36 to Cleveland’s 29:24.

Cleveland, who lost at home, was favored by 7 and the over/under was 40 1/2. While both teams did manage to cover the over/under by combining for 60 points, Jacksonville took the win but did not cover the spread, winning by 4. Cleveland’s favored by 5 on the road and the over/under’s 45. Both numbers make sense. This one you might want to skip (unless you’re a fan of either team) and watch that “Southern Justice” marathon on the National Geographic Channel. Browns win this one and cover the 5.

Minnesota (2-4) at Buffalo (3-2), 1 p.m. (FOX and DirecTV 706) Ralph Wilson Stadium. A pair of teams with experience in the Super Bowl (0-6 combined) meet in the Twin Cities Sunday afternoon. Buffalo travels to Minneapolis to take on Minnesota at TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities Campus. Both teams enter Sunday’s contests with losses under their belts from week six.

The Purple Gang had all sorts of problems against Detroit last Sunday in the Twin Cities, falling to the Lions, who lead the NFC North, 17-3. Minnesota found themselves being held to 69 yards rushing and QB Teddy Bridgewater was sacked eight times and picked off three times in the 14-point loss at TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus, while going a dismal 3-14 on third down and 0-1 on fourth down, keeping the ball for only 27:39, while the Lions weren’t that much better on third and fourth downs, going 1-13 and 1-2 respectively, holding the ball for 32:21.

Buffalo made things interesting against their AFC rivals from Foxboro last Sunday but fell to Tom Brady and the Pats 37-22 in Orchard Park. The Bills trailed 13-7 at the half before New England managed to pull away from their hosts, outscoring Buffalo 24-15 in the final 30 minutes of play. As far as rushing over 100 yards went between the two teams, let’s just say that neither breached the 100-yard mark, although the Bills did outrun New England 68-50. That was the good news. The bad news was that QB Kyle Orton was sacked five times and Buffalo turned the ball over three times in the loss. The Bills also outpaced New England in another category, that being third down tries (Buffalo was 8-15 and 1-2 on fourth down1, while New England was 7-15). Time was on the side of New England, who held the ball for 30:20 to Buffalo’s 29:40.

The Purple Gang leads the series 8-4, have outscored the Bills 298-205 and won the last meeting with Buffalo in 2010 in the Land of 10,000 Lakes at the old Metrodome by a 38-14 final. The Bills last win over Minnesota? 2006 along the shores of Lake Erie by a 17-12 count. Buffalo’s favored by 5 1/2 along the shores of Lake Erie and the over/under is 43. Both teams can be either really good or really bad. It’s a lot like having a crazy ex-girl friend. One minute, she’s as kind as she can be and makes you cookies… the next, she’s setting your clothes on fire. Buffalo’ll make this one interesting but Vikings bounce back at home to win and cover the 5 1/2.

Cincinnati (3-1-1) at Indianapolis (4-2), 1 p.m. (CBS and DirecTV 711) Lucas Oil Stadium. A pair of former high draft picks and future Hall of Fame QBs meet in the Hoosier State in the great indoors. Dalton vs. Luck. A pair of young guns going at it in Indy.

With a 3-1-1 record and .700 winning percentage, the Bengals remain in first place in the AFC North. Last week, the Bengals and Carolina Panthers tied 37-37. Running back Giovani Bernard rushed for a career-high 137 yards, including an 89-yard touchdown run, the second-longest in franchise history (Corey Dillon, 96 yards).

“It’s a weird feeling,” says Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, who passed for 323 yards and two touchdowns against Carolina. “I’ve never been involved in a tie before. We had our chances. It’s not a win. That’s the thing that’s tough.”

Carolina and Cicinnati each shattered the 100-yard barrier (Carolina had 147, Cincy had 193, with Bernard outpacing Cam Newton with 137). Cincinnati may have won the third down conversion battle with Carolina (the Bengals were 10-16, while Carolina was 8-17 and 2-2 on fourth down) but the Panthers ruled the clock, as Carolina kept the ball for 39:30 to Cincinnati’s 35:30.

The Colts have won four in a row after an 0-2 start. Last Thursday, Indianapolis built a 24-0 lead before holding on for a 33-28 win at Houston. Quarterback Andrew Luck passed for 370 yards and three touchdowns while wide receiver T.Y. Hilton hauled in nine catches for 223 yards with a score. Indy was held to 93 yards rushing, while Texans RB Adrian Foster ran for 109 of Houston’s 136 in the Lone Star State.

“T.Y. is a big playmaker and has become a true wide receiver, not just a deep threat,” says Luck, who leads the NFL with 1,987 passing yards and 17 touchdown passes. “He’s a heck of a football player.”

Indy ruled third down conversions last Thursday night in Houston, going 8-16, while the Texans were 1-8 and 0-1 on fourth down tries. The Colts were also kings of the mountain as far as time of possession went, keeping the ball for 36:49 to Houston’s 23:11.

The Colts have outscored Cincy 666-597, while leading the series 16-10. The Bengals have won the last two meetings with the Colts, however and that last win in the series came last year in Cincy 42-28. Indy’s last win in the series came in 2010 in the great indoors of Lucas Oil Stadium by a 23-17 count.

In that contest in week 14 last year, the Bengals led 14-0 at the half and then the two teams played pretty evenly in the final 30 minutes of play. Both Dalton and Luck combined to throw seven TD passes (Luck with 4, Dalton with 3) in the contest that saw the Colts rush for 155 to the Bengals’ 63. The Bengals were 50 percent on third down conversions at 6-12 (1-1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 37:45, while the Colts kept it for 22:15 and went 2-10 on third down tries. Indy, favored by 5 1/2, won by 14, covering the spread. Both teams also covered the over/under of 43 1/2 as they would combine to score 70.

Indy’s favored by 3 and the over/under’s 49. It might be closer than the 3. The 49? That sounds plausible. The Bengals are trying to find some swagger after their sister-kisser in Cincy last Sunday, while the Colts are looking to keep the momentum going their way. Colts may not cover the 3 but they win back home again in Indiana.

Tennessee (2-4) at Washington (1-5), 1 p.m. (CBS and DirecTV 713) FedEx Field. Two teams struggling to catch the leaders in their respective divisions meet in Landover Sunday afternoon.

The Titans held off a late Jacksonville rally to come away with a 16-14 win in Music City last Sunday. Tennessee led the winless Jaguars 10-3 at half before Jacksonville rallied to make things close but allowed Jacksonville to pull no closer.

Although they were outrushed by Jacksonville 82-70, Tennessee did manage to sack rookie QB Blake Bortles six times in the win. Third downs…. Tennessee was 3-11, while Jacksonville was 8-15. Time of possession favored Jacksonville, who kept the ball for 31:07 to Tennessee’s 28:53.

Washington trailed 14-13 at Arizona and then allowed things to get away from them in the desert last Sunday in Glendale, allowing the Desert Angry Birds to outscore them in the second half 16-7 to lose 30-20. Neither Washington or Arizona cracked the 100-yard barrier in the contest (Washington-72, Arizona-74) and Kirk Cousins, taking over for Robert Griffin III (ankle) threw three interceptions and was sacked twice. Washington was 2-10 on third down tries (1-1 on fourth down) and held the football for 25:41, while the Desert Angry Birds were 7-17, keeping the football for 34:19.

Including games played when the Titans were known as the Houston Oilers, Tennessee leads the series 6-5, while outscoring the Redskins 232-215. The two clubs have not faced each other since 2010, when Washington needed overtime in the Music City to win 19-16, while the Titans won in Landover in 2006 by a 25-22 final. Washington’s favored by 5 1/2 and the over/under’s 46.while this one might not be a great game, it will be entertaining to watch. ‘Skins have a lot on their plate and while the Titans make it close, Washington fans will be singing “Hail to the Redskins” this week instead of “HELL, IT’S THE REDSKINS!” Washington wins, even though they may not cover the 5 1/2.

Seattle (3-2) at St. Louis (1-4), 1 p.m. (FOX and DirecTV 709) Edward Jones Dome. A pair of NFC West foes with losses under their belts last Sunday meet in the Gateway City.

The defending Super Bowl champs are looking to right their ship after their 30-23 loss to Dallas last Sunday in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle was held to 80 yards on the ground, while allowing Dallas’ DeMarco Murray to rush for 115 of the Cowboys’ 162. Seattle turned the ball over once (Russell Wilson interception) but that one turnover came toward the end of the contest as the Seahawks were driving to tie things up. Seattle went 5-13 and 0-1 on third and fourth downs, holding the ball for 22:21, while Dallas was 10-17 and kept it for 37:39.

St. Louis led San Francisco 14-0 after one quarter of play Monday night and then lost the lead for keeps as the 49ers and Colin Kaepernick outscored the Rams 31-3 in the last 45 minutes of play to fall 31-17. The Rams outrushed San Francisco 93-89 in the Monday night affair but starting QB Austin Davis was sacked five times in the contest, throwing an interception and TD for St. Louis. The Rams on third down tries were 5-14 (San Francisco was 6-14) and kept the ball for 31:22 to the 49ers’ 28:38.

Seattle and St. Louis have played 31 times, which includes contests played when the Rams were in Los Angeles and the defending Super Bowl champs lead the series 20-11, outscoring St. Louis 690-611. The Rams’ last win over Seattle came in 2012 in the Gateway City by a 19-13 score, while Seattle swept the series with St. Louis in 2013.

In the first meeting in St. Louis in week eight, the Seahawks led 7-3 at the half and held on to take a 14-9 win. Wilson, sacked seven times, managed to throw a pair of TD passes in the contest to WR Golden Tate for the win as Seattle was held to 44 yards, while the Rams’ Zac Stacy ran for 134 of his team’s 200. Neither the Seahawks or Rams did anything to call home about on third down tries (Seattle was 2-11, St. Louis was 5-14 and 0-1 on fourth down), while the Rams ruled the clock,keeping the ball for 38:09 to Seattle’s 21:51.

The Seahawks, on their march to the Lombardi Trophy, made it a clean sweep in the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks in week 17 as they came out on top 27-9. Seattle led 13-0 at the break and kept the Rams in check in the second half. This time, it was St. Louis that was held to under 100 yards, as they could only tally 13 in the game, while Seattle had 111. Again, it was third down that caused problems for both teams, with Seattle going 4-13 (1-1 on fourth down) and St. Louis going 2-11. seattle not only ruled the roost in the Pacific Northwest, they ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 33:40, while the Rams had it for a mere 26:20.

Seattle was favored in both contests in 2013. In week eight in the Gateway City, the Seahawks were favored by 11 1/2 with a  42 1/2 over/under. While the Seahawks did come away with the win, they won by five and did not cover the spread and both teams combined for 23 points, missing the over/under. The oddsmakers like Seattle in week 17 as a 10 1/2 favorite at home with a 43 over/under. Seattle came away with the 18-point win, covering the spread but again, the two teams missed the over/under by 7, scoring only 36 points.

Seattle’s favored by 6 1/2 and the over/under’s 43. Seattle’s a bit on the ticked off side after losing to Dallas at home last Sunday and they’re looking for a whipping boy of sorts. St. Louis, you’ve been nominated. Seahawks win in St. Louis and cover the 6 1/2.

Kansas City (2-3) at San Diego (5-1), 4:05 p.m. (CBS and DirecTV 714) Qualcomm Stadium. A pair of old AFL/AFC teams meet in sunny California as the Chiefs travel to Qualcomm to take on Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers.

Kansas City had a bye week last week after their 22-17 loss at San Francisco. The Chiefs trailed 13-10 at the half before San Francisco managed to pull away, outscoring them 9-7 in the second half. The 49ers’ Frank Gore ran for 107 of San Francisco’s 171 yards in the contest, while Kansas City tallied only 90. As far as third down conversions, the Chiefs were 6-11, while San Francisco was 6-16 (1-1 on fourth down) and time was the ally of the home team, who kept the ball for 36:04, while the Chiefs kept it for 23:56

The Bolts broke a 21-21 tie at Oakland and pulled away to a 31-28 win over their AFC West and instate rivals. The Bolts outrushed Oakland 116-114 (with RB Brandon Oliver leading all rushers with 101 yards) and went 8-14 on third down tries (0-1 on fourth), holding the ball for 37:02, while the Raiders were 8-13, keeping the ball for 22:58.

Including contests played when the Chargers were in Los Angeles and the Chiefs played their home games as the Dallas Texans, the Chargers hold a 54-52-1 lead in the series and have outscored Kansas City 2,311-2,196. The Bolts have won five of the last six meetings, including sweeping the season series in 2013 (Kansas City’s last win over San Diego came in 2011 at Arrowhead as they needed overtime to win 23-20).

In the first meeting in week 12, it was one for the ages as both teams exchanged the lead nine times before the Chargers left Arrowhead Stadium with a 41-38 win. Kansas City led 38-34 with 1:22 on a 5-yard TD pass to WR Dwayne Bowe from Alex Smith before the Chargers marched down the field and came out on top when Seyi Ajirotutu and Rivers connected on a 26-yard TD pass with 26 seconds left, sending the home crowd deflated and unhappy. The Chiefs outrushed San Diego 114-104 (KC RB Jamaal Charles led all rushers with 115) and both Rivers and Smtih threw three TD passes in the late-afternoon thriller in mid-America. Neither team did well on third down conversions (San Diego was 7-15 and 1-1 on fourth down, while Kansas City was 3 -9) and the Chargers won the time of possession battle, keeping the ball for 30:57 to Kansas City’s 29:03.

San Diego completed the sweep in week 17 as the Chargers took a 27-24 overtime win to advance to the post-season party with the Chiefs. Kansas City led 24-14 after 45 minutes of play before the Bolts scored the last 13 points of the contest unchallenged. The Chiefs won the toss in the overtime but could not move the ball and were forced to punt in their first possession in the extra period. That gave all the momentum back to the home team, who marched down the field and sent the home fans at Qualcomm home happy when K Nick Novak kicked a 36-yard field goal through the uprights for the win. San Diego outrushed their guests from the Show-Me State 186-143 and Chargers RB Ryan Mathews led all rushers with 144. Despite being sacked three times, Rivers did manage to throw three TD passes in the contest. San Diego was much better on third down tries in the second meeting, going 9-17 (1-1 on fourth down), while the Chiefs were 6-14, 0-1 on fourth. The Chargers again won the battle of clock management, keeping the ball for 37:08 to Kansas City’s 34:36, which included the overtime period.

Kansas City was favored by 4 1/2 in the week 12 contest and the over/under was 41 1/2. While both clubs did manage to score 79 points, the Chargers won by 3, failing to cover the spread. In the week 17 matchup on the left coast, the season finale, the Chargers did manage to take the 3-point win but failed to cover the 9 1/2-point spread. The two clubs did manage to cover the 45 over/under by scoring 51 points. The Bolts are favored by 4 1/2 and 44 1/2’s the over/under. Kansas City’s coming off a bye week, while the Bolts barely survived Oakland last Sunday. Chargers make it two in a row on the West Coast and take the Chiefs to task at home, covering the 4 1/2.

Arizona (4-1) at Oakland (0-5), 4:25 p.m. (FOX and DirecTV 716) O.co Coliseum. Arizona travels westward as the leaders of the NFC West travel to the Bay Area to take on a Raiders team that seeks their first win of the 2014 campaign.

Arizona led Washington 14-13 at the half in Glendale and then proceeded to outscore Washington 16-7 to win 30-20. The Desert Angry Birds were held to 74 yards, which was not much better than Washington, who ran for 72. Arizona did manage to force four Washington turnovers in the desert last Sunday while sacking backup QB Kirk Cousins twice. Third down tries? Not a lot to chirp about for either team; Washington was 2-10 (1-1 on fourth down), while Arizona was 7-17. Arizona did manage to play keep-away with the ball, holding it from Washington for 34:19, while the Redskins kept it for 25:41.

Oakland kept things close under interim head coach Tony Sparano but still fell to AFC West rival San Diego 31-28. The Raiders led 28-21 late in the game before K Nick Novak and RB Brandon Oliver accounted for San Diego’s last 10 points of the game, with Oliver scoring on 1-yard TD run with 1:56 left to play. Both teams managed to break the 100-yard barrier (San Diego with 116, Oakland 114) and QB David Carr (282 yards) tossed three TDs and an interception in the loss. Both the Bolts and Silver and Black did well on third down tries (San Diego was 8-14 and 0-1 on fourth down; Oakland was 8-15) and the Chargers led in time of possession, keeping the ball for 37:02 to Oakland’s 22:58.

The Silver and Black lead the series 5-3, which includes contests played when the Raiders were in Los Angeles and the Cardinals were in St. Louis before they moved out west. The Raiders have outscored the Desert Angry Birds 197-165. Their last meeting was in 2010 in Glendale as the Cardinals came out on top 24-23, while the Raiders last entered the win column in the series in 2009 in Oakland by a final of 22-9. Arizona’s favored by 3 1/2. The over/under’s 44.

Two things you need to know. The Desert Angry Birds at 4-1 rule the NFC West roost. The Silver and Black bring up the rear in the AFC West (which is already a tough division with Denver, Kansas City and San Diego in it). Desert Angry Birds win in Oakland and cover the 3 1/2, although the Raiders don’t plan on rolling over and playing dead any time soon.

New York Giants (3-3) at Dallas (5-1), 4:25 p.m. (FOX and DirecTV 715) AT&T Stadium. Old rivals meet again in the Lone Star State. Romo. Manning. A pair of NFC East rivals meet in Arlington Sunday afternoon. Dallas hosts the New York Football Giants in Jerry’s House and while the Cowboys are looking to add another feather in their cap, the Giants are looking to find answers as to what happened to them last Sunday in Philly.

Eli and the Giants could not regroup against Philadelphia last Sunday evening in the City of Brotherly Love, trailing the Eagles 20-0 and taking a 27-0 loss with them back to New Jersey. New York not only lost the game, they lost the services of WR Victor Cruz (knee), who was injured late in the first half. New York was not only held to 85 yards on the ground, they allowed Eli Manning to be sacked six times. Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy ran amuck on the ground against the G-Men, rushing for 149 of the Eagles’ 203 in the Sunday night shutout. New York was 2-14 on third down tries, 0-1 on fourth down and kept the ball for 27:34, while the Eagles, who have a bye week this week, went 4-13 and held the ball for 32:26.

Dallas went to the Pacific Northwest last Sunday and exorcised some demons that had haunted them the last time they were in the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks. In their 30-23 win over the defending Super Bowl champs, Dallas erased a 10-7 first quarter deficit against Seattle and outscored the Seahawks 23-13 in the last 45 minutes of play. The Cowboys held Seattle to 80 yards on the ground and sacked Russell Wilson twice and picked him off late in the contest. On the Cowboys side of the ball, RB DeMarco Murray ran as if he were the second coming of Tony Dorsett, tallying 115 of his team’s 162 yards and Tony Romo threw for a pair of TDs in the win. Dallas was 10-17 on third down tries and kept the ball for 37:39, while the defending Super Bowl champs were 5-13 and 0-1 on third and fourth downs, holding the ball for 22:21.

These old NFL/NFC rivals have met 103 times and Dallas leads the series 59-42-2, while outscoring the Giants 2,314-1,987. New York’s last win over Dallas came in 2012 by a 29-24 final in a winner-take-all contest for both clubs. Dallas swept the series with the G-Men in 2013.

Dallas led New York in the season opener at AT&T Stadium 13-10 at the break and held on for a 36-31 win. Neither club breached the 100-yard rushing barrier (New York with 50, Dallas with 87) and Romo was sacked twice but managed to throw a pair of TDs to TE Jason Witten, while Manning was sacked three times and threw four TDs, including a pair to WR Victor Cruz. New York was 6-11 on third down conversions in the Sunday night affair, while Dallas was 5-15. Dallas won the time of possession battle, keeping the ball for 37:10 to New York’s 22:50.

Dallas took the second contest in the series to complete the sweep in week 12 in upstate New Jersey, winning 24-21 in chilly Met Life Stadium (game-time temp? A balmy 25 with a wind chill of 6, which would be considered warm by some standards!). The Cowboys led 14-6 at half before holding off a late New York rally, as the Giants would outscore Dallas in the final 30 minutes of play 15-10. New York’s Aaron Brown led all rushers with 127 yards (the G-Men outrushed Dallas 202-107), while Romo (sacked four times) and Manning (two sacks) each threw a pair of TDs. With both teams out of the playoff picture, neither did anything to make their fan bases happy on third down (Dallas was 4-11; New York was 3-12 and 1-2 on fourth down) and New York did manage to win the time of possession fight, keeping the ball for 30:39 to Dallas’ 29:21.

In the week one contest, Dallas won by five, covering the 3 1/2-point spread (the Giants were favored) and both team breached the 48 1/2 over/under with 67 points. Big Blue was favored by 3 1/2 (Dallas won by 3, missing the spread) and both barely missed the 46 over/under with 45 points. In this 104th regular-season meeting, the Cowboys are favored by 6 with a 48 over/under.

The Giants are looking for redemption after losing to Philly last Sunday, while the Cowboys look to take first place in the NFC East all to themselves while the Eagles are off. Giants will make this one interesting but Cowboys take the win, even though they may not cover the 6.

San Francisco (4-2) at Denver (4-1), 8:30 p.m. (NBC) Sports Authority Field. Kaepernick. Manning. Two of the NFL’s best QBs meet in the Mile High City on Sunday night.

The 49ers will play their second consecutive primetime game. Last week, San Francisco defeated St. Louis 31-17 as Colin Kaepernick (343 yards, three touchdowns) became the first 49ers quarterback to pass for at least 300 yards and three touchdowns on Monday Night Football since Pro Football Hall of Famer Steve Young (September 14, 1998).

“We just want to win,” says Kaepernick, who rallied his team back from an early 14-0 deficit against the Rams. “Whatever it takes, if we’re up with the lead or if we have to come from behind.”

San Francisco trailed St. Louis 14-0 after the first 15 minutes of play before outscoring the Rams 31-3 enroute to their 31-17 win on Monday night. The 49ers, playing in the 700th Monday night contest, were held to 89 yards rushing, while the Rams ran for 93. San Francisco’s defense did manage to get to Rams QB Aaron Davis, sacking him fove times in the Monday NFC West win, while going 6-14 on third down and 0-2 on fourth down (St. Louis was 5-14). The clock was on the side of the Rams at 31:22 to San Francisco’s 28:38.

At 4-1, the Broncos trail only San Diego (5-1) in the AFC. Last week, Denver defeated the New York Jets 31-17 behind Peyton Manning’s three touchdown passes. Broncos tight end Julius Thomas had two touchdown catches and he now has nine this season, tied for the most in NFL history by any player through his team’s first five games (Calvin Johnson, 2011). GangGreen led Manning and the Broncos briefly 7-3 after one quarter before Denver went to work on the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! in the Meadowlands, outscoring the home team 28-10 the rest of the way. Denver held New York to 31 yards rushing and Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman ran for 100 of Denver’s 138 yards and Manning threw six TDs and 237 yards, while sacking QB Geno Smith four times. Third down tries? Let’s just say that fans of both teams didn’t exactly go home happy (Denver was 7-16, New York was 5-14) and the clock was the ally of Denver at 33:34 to New York’s 26:26.

“Any time you win on the road in the NFL,” Manning told the Rocky Mountain News and KUSA-TV, “it’s a good thing.” Manning has 506 career touchdown passes and needs three to pass Brett Farve (508) for the most in NFL history.

“I don’t know if any of these records are big for me, especially in the middle of the season,” says Manning. “We’re playing a tough schedule, we’ve got the 49ers at home and San Francisco’s been one of the dominant teams of the past couple years. That’s all I’m thinking about.”

Denver and the 49ers have met 12 times and the series is even at 6-6 and the 49ers have outscored Denver 282-280, winning the last meeting between the clubs in 2010 in London by a final of 24-16. Denver’s last win over San Fran came in 2002 at old Candlestick Park 24-14.

It’s a pair of pretty good QBs playing in the thin air of Colorado Sunday night. The old gun (Manning) vs. the kid (Kaepernick). It’s Sunday night and these two teams have some experience in big games. That means that this one’s Drill Worthy! (For those of you that know what The Drill is, you are excused. Everyone else, pay attention. We don’t want any rookie mistakes here, k?)

After you go to the 9:30 mass on Sunday (the 4:30 vigil mass on Saturday counts as a mass attended, people! Don’t make us send the nuns after you!), head to your favorite store (a trip to Wal Mart, Target, K-Mart or Costco counts) and get the vittles and the beverages (soda, beer, wine, coffee, et al… if you live in a state that allows the purchase of the items in question) and invite the co-workers, the neighbors (including that really cute kindergarden teacher that knows what to do with a cover-2 defense) and your cousin Connie (remember her? She’s the one that’s been married twice that’s 56 and dates a 41-year old ex-Marine, who’s now a football coach at the high school in your town. She’s also the one that not just ate but inhaled an entire Oreo cheesecake, two bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, two bacon cheeseburgers with blue cheese and chugged two 2-liter Cokes at your Super Bowl party last year and didn’t gain a pound. You look at her and say to yourself, “what the hell?”

Denver’s favored at home by 6 1/2 and the over/under’s 50 1/2. The 50 1/2 … makes sense. It’s possible that number could be reached by halftime. The 6 1/2 spread? That’s a bit high and this one could be closer. Denver’s the better team here and they come away with the win, even though they may not cover the 6 1/2.

Houston (3-3) at Pittsburgh (3-3), 8:30 p.m. (ESPN) Heinz Field. Houston takes a trip to the Keystone State to take on the Steelers in prime time in Steel City.

Both the Texans and Steelers enter Week 7 with a 3-3 mark and are among 10 of the 16 AFC clubs (62.5 percent) with a .500 or better record. Both teams lost last week and are trying to move above the .500 mark.

In Week 6, Houston defensive end J.J. Watt had a 45-yard fumble-return touchdown, his third touchdown of the season. Watt is the only player in the past 50 years to score a touchdown via a fumble return, an interception return (80 yards) and a reception (one yard) in a single season. The Texans rallied late against the Colts last week in Houston but Indy managed to come away with the 33-28 win. Houston managed to hold their guests from the Hoosier State to 93 yards rushing, while they tallied 136 (Adrian Foster had 109 to lead all rushers). The downside for Houston was Ryan Fitzpatrick getting sacked five times in the Thursday night affair. Houston had a problem with third down tries, going a somewhat dismal 1-8 (0-1 on fourth down) and held the ball for 23:11, while Luck and the Colts were 8-16, keeping the ball for 36:49.

Pittsburgh running back Le’Veon Bell leads the AFC in rushing (542) and scrimmage yards (793). The second-year running back has recorded at least 100 scrimmage yards in all six games this season and will look to continue that streak when he plays on Monday Night Football for the first time in his career. The Steelers ran for 138 yards, while Cleveland had 158 in their 31-10 loss to the Browns last Sunday. Pittsburgh trailed 21-3 at the half and could never really catch up to the Browns in the contest along the shores of Lake Erie. Pittsburgh kept the ball for 33:05 to Cleveland’s 26:55 and went 6-16 on third down (0-2 on fourth), while the Browns were 4-11.

“It’s is a big deal for everybody around the league just because everybody grew up watching Monday night games,” Texans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick told KPRC-TV, KHOU-TV and the Houston Chronicle.. “These are the games that all eyes are on you. It’s important to go out and play well because of that.”

The series is even at 2-2 and the Steelers have outscored Houston 81-65. Pittsburgh’s last win in the series came in 2008 in the Steel City by a 38-17 final, while the Texans’ last win in the series came in 2011 by a 17-10 count. Under the lights of prime time, the Texans are 3-4, while Pittsburgh is 40-24. Pittsburgh’s favored by 3 1/2 in the 701st MNF contest and the over/under is 45. Pittsburgh doesn’t lose at home very often and the Texans are a lot better than what they were last year.

Steelers win and cover the 3 1/2 under the lights in prime time in front of the home folks in Steel City.