It’s the third SUnday of the 2015 season and with that, the curtain has already been raised for this week’s action as things got underway with the New York Giants breaking into the win column against Washington Thursday night.

If you like tight, nail bitter games, then the first two weeks of the season were designed for you.

This season, NFL games are coming down to the wire.

Through Week 2, 24 of 32 games (75 percent) have been within one score at some point in the fourth quarter, the third-most such games at this point of any season in NFL history.

“A lot of real close, competitive games come down to the last possession, the last play or one key play right at the end of the game,” New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick told the Christian Scientist Monitor, Boston Globe and the Boston Herald. “The league is very competitive all the way across the board.”

In the first two weeks of the 2015 season, there have been six games in which the winning points were scored in the final 75 seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime.

WEEK – GAME (GAME-WINNING SCORE, TIME)
1 – ST. LOUIS 34, Seattle 31 (OT) (Greg Zuerlein, 37-yard field goal, 12:06 OT)
1 – DALLAS 27, New York Giants 26 (Jason Witten, 11-yard pass from Tony Romo, 0:07 4th)
2 – Denver 31, KANSAS CITY 24 (Bradley Roby, 21-yard fumble return, 0:27 4th)
2 – Atlanta 24, NEW YORK GIANTS 20 (Devonta Freeman, 2-yard run, 1:14 4th)
2 – JACKSONVILLE 23, Miami 20 (Jason Myers, 28-yard field goal, 0:40 4th)
2 – OAKLAND 37, Baltimore 33 (Seth Roberts, 12-yard pass from Derek Carr (0:26 4th)
(Home team ALL CAPS)

In Week 2, three AFC clubs recorded the game-winning points in the final minute – Denver, Jacksonville and Oakland.

The Broncos scored two touchdowns in the final minute to earn a 31-24 win at Kansas City on Thursday Night Football. The victory, which marked Denver’s NFL-record 13th consecutive divisional road win, was punctuated by a 21-yard fumble return-touchdown by cornerback Bradley Roby.

“You have to be able to win in all kinds of ways in this league,” says Denver head coach Gary Kubiak, whose Broncos are the first team to score game-winning defensive touchdowns in the second half of each of the first two games of a season since at least 1970. “You just need to keep battling.”

Second-year quarterback Derek Carr capped off his 351-yard, three-touchdown passing performance against Baltimore with a game-winning 12-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Seth Roberts with 26 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter of the Raiders’ 37-33 home win.

“To get a win against a quality opponent like that in front of our home crowd after not playing well here last week, that’s a plus,” says Raiders defensive end Justin Tuck. “What I liked is that everybody just kept fighting until we found a way to win.”

After leading 17-6 in the first half, Jacksonville earned its first win of the season after surviving a late rally by the visiting Dolphins. With the score tied at 20-20, first-year kicker Jason Myers capped a nine-play, 66-yard drive by converting a 28-yard field goal with 40 seconds remaining to seal the win.

“Coach Bradley always preaches starting fast and finishing faster,” says Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles, who passed for 273 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions for a career-best 102.2 rating. “We were able to showcase both tonight.”

Week three in the NFL. Three weeks down, 14 to go. There’s still a lot of football left to play and for teams that are 2-0, it’s not a good time to rest on your laurels. For those teams that are 0-2, there’s still a lot of ground to cover.

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers continues to post staggering numbers as he etches his name into the NFL record book. Drafted in the first round (No. 24 overall) of the 2005 NFL Draft, Rodgers has been selected to four Pro Bowls (2009, 2011, 2012 and 2014 seasons) and named the league’s Most Valuable Player two times (2011 and 2014).

“I’m driven to be the best,” says Rodgers. “I put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve the goals I set every year. I enjoy trying to meet the challenges those goals bring.”

Rodgers has the highest career passer rating (106.4) in NFL history and he is the only player in league annals to have more than four times as many touchdown passes (231) as interceptions (57) – no other player has three times as many.

The quarterbacks with the highest career passer rating in league history (minimum 1,500 attempts):

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (YEARS, PASSER RATING)
Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay (2005-2015, 106.4)*
Tony Romo – Dallas (2004-2015, 97.6)*
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis and Denver (1998-2015, 97.3)*
Steve Young – Tampa Bay and San Francisco (1985-1999, 96.8)
Tom Brady – New England (2000-2015, 96.2)*
*Active

On Monday night, Rodgers and the Packers will host the Kansas City Chiefs at Lambeau Field, a venue in which Rodgers has experienced a lot of success.

Over his past 18 home games, including the playoffs, Rodgers has completed 371 of 539 passes (68.8 percent) for 4,906 yards with 43 touchdowns and no interceptions for a 124.0 passer rating. At home, he has now thrown 545 consecutive passes without an interception, the longest streak in NFL history. Additionally, he has 43 touchdown passes in a row at home without an interception, also the longest such streak in league annals.

During that span, the Packers have won 16 of 18 home games, including last week’s 27-17 win over Seattle.

“It’s a culture change when you play at home, you expect to win,” says Rodgers. “We haven’t had that around here during all my years, so it’s fun to be around an organization that you’re seeing some culture change. It started last year with some of the blowout wins we had at home against some good opponents, continued in the playoffs against a really good Dallas team and it’s carried over. I think we can be special.”

In his career at home, Rodgers has completed 1,146 of 1,695 passes (67.6 percent) for 14,350 yards with 124 touchdowns and 22 interceptions for a 112.7 passer rating, the best mark in NFL history.

Rodgers has not thrown an interception at home since December 2, 2012 when he did it against Minnesota and hs career interception percentage of 1.6 percent (57 interceptions in 3,531 attempts) is the best mark in league history. Rodgers’ 1.3 interception percentage at home (22 interceptions in 1,695 attempts) is also tops in NFL history.

“Can he get any better?” asks tackle Bryan Bulaga about Rodgers. “He seems to every year.”

Two games down. Fourteen more to go. Nine teams are off to strong starts at 2-0: Arizona, Atlanta, Carolina, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Green Bay, New England and the New York Jets.

“I’m happy to be on a team that really has an opportunity to do something special,” says Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who had 112 receiving yards and three touchdown catches in the team’s 48-23 win at Chicago. “I’ve never been on a team that’s this deep. We’ve got guys that can really play.”

Among the 2-0 teams are the Falcons and Jets, who both missed the playoffs last season and are candidates to be turnaround teams in 2015. Since the 12-team playoff format began in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

Atlanta, under new head coach Dan Quinn, has started the season with consecutive come-from-behind fourth-quarter wins for the second time in franchise history (1979).

“It feels great to be 2-0,” says Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, who had 13 catches for 135 yards in the Falcons’ 24-20 win at the New York Giants last week. “It’s a new year and a new start.”

The Jets and new head coach Todd Bowles have recorded five takeaways in each of their first two games, the first team to accomplish that feat since Pittsburgh in 1992.

“There’s no better place to be than 2-0,” says Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, who had three takeaways in the team’s 20-7 Week 2 win at Indianapolis on Monday Night Football. “We feel confident and this is where we want to be.”

The chances of making the playoffs after a 2-0 start are good but far from a sure thing. Since 1990, when the current playoff format was adopted, 128 of the 203 teams (63.1 percent) to start 2-0 have qualified for the postseason.

“You look at the schedule and you want to start fast,” says Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, who threw three touchdown passes in the club’s 24-19 win over San Diego in Week 2. “Our goal was to be 2-0 and that’s where we are. Next week, our goal is to be 3-0.”

However, with 14 games remaining, there’s plenty of time to turn things around. Since realignment in 2002, more than 60 percent of the playoff teams (60.3 percent, 94 of 156) started the season at either 1-1 or 0-2. That includes six of the eight division champions from last year: Dallas (NFC East), Green Bay (NFC North), Indianapolis (AFC South), New England (AFC East), Pittsburgh (AFC North) and Seattle (NFC West).

“It’s a long season,” says San Diego head coach Mike McCoy, whose team fell to 1-1 with a loss at Cincinnati last week. “We’re 1-1 and we’ll bounce back. We’ve got great character on our football team. We’ll fight to the bitter end.”

The curtain on week 3 rose Thursday night and it falls on Monday night at Lambeau Field when Green Bay hosts Kansas City. As for last week, we went .500 at 8-8, which is better than nothing, which for the year makes us 20-12. There’s still a lot of football left on the docket. Here are the games for Sunday and Monday in week 3.

Atlanta (2-0) at Dallas (2-0), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 712. A pair of unbeatens meet in the Lone Star State as the Falcons travel to Arlington to face off against Dallas.

Both the Falcons and Cowboys enter Week 3 with 2-0 records. Atlanta has produced fourth-quarter comeback victories in both games, erasing a 10-point deficit last week by scoring 14 points in the final quarter against the New York Giants. Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones ties for the NFL lead with 22 receptions and is second with 276 receiving yards.

“Each week, we’re going to battle as hard as we can,” Falcons first-year head coach Dan Quinn told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, WSB-TV and WXIA-TV. “We won’t look too far ahead. We’re trying to stay in the present and continue to battle for wins every week. Our goal is to see how good we can get every week and keep improving.”

The Cowboys find themselves alone in first place in the NFC East but will have to adjust with the injury to quarterback Tony Romo (collarbone). Last week, Dallas limited Philadelphia to 226 total net yards and just seven net yards rushing in a 20-10 victory. The Cowboys boast the league’s top-ranked run defense (53 yards per game) and are third in overall defense (257.5 yards per game).

“Any time you play a division team, it’s great to get a win,” says Dallas linebacker Sean Lee, who had 14 tackles and an interception in the end zone against the Eagles. “The coaches came up with an unbelievable game plan and the defensive line did a great job in the run game.”

Dallas leads the series 14-9, while outscoring Atlanta 562-430. Dallas’ last win in the series came in 2009 in the Lone Star State by a final of 37-21, while Atlanta’s last win came in the Big Peach in 2012 with a 19-13 win under their wings. The Falcons are favored by 1 1/2 and the over/under is 44. Dallas is Romo-less and Dez-less. The Falcons will remain unbeaten as they leave the Lone Star State with the win and covers the 1 1/2.

Cincinnati (2-0) at Baltimore (0-2), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705. A pair of AFC North rivals meet in Baltimore as Cincinnati looks to remain unbeaten, while the Ravens look to break into the win column.

Cincinnati took a 14-6 lead against San Diego with them into the locker room and made it work for them, coming away with the 24-19 win over the Chargers last Sunday. The Bengals outrushed San Diego 175-113 and sacked Philip Rivers four times, while Andy Dalton threw three TDs without a sack or interception. Third downs… not a lot of excitement, as the Bengals were 4 of 10, while the Chargers were 4 of 11. San Diego did win the clock battle, keeping the ball for 30:09 to Cincy’s 29:51.

The Ravens found themselves tied with Oakland at halftime before the Raiders outscored them in the second half 17-13 to fall 37-33 on the West Coast. Baltimore did manage to outrush Oakland 109-97 in the contest but lost the game late when Raiders QB David Carr and WR Sean Roberts connected on a 12-yard TD pass with 26 seconds left in the contest. Ravens QB Joe Flacco outpaced Carr 384-351 in passing yardage but Carr threw three TDs to Flacco’s two. Baltimore went 4 of 11 and 2 of 2 on third and fourth down tries and the Ravens held the ball for 30:27 to Oakland’s 29:33 (Oakland on third down conversions 9 of 14).

The Ravens hold a 20-18 lead in the series and they may have outscored Cincy 826-690 but the Bengals have won three of the last four meetings, including sweeping the series in 2014. (Baltimore’s last win in the series came in Charm City in 2013, where they needed overtime to win 20-17).

In the week one matchup in Charm City, the Bengals led 15-0 after the first 30 minutes of action and then held off Baltimore, taking a 23-16 win. Neither club dented the 100-yard mark (Baltimore had 91, while Cincy had 79) and Cincinnati managed to force a pair of Ravens turnovers. Dalton (301) and Flacco (345) did manage to break the 300-yard passing mark and each threw a TD pass in the contest. It was a good thing that both men threw for over 300 yards, because both teams were dismal on third down tries (Cincinnati was 4 of 14, Baltimore was 8 of 17 and 1 of 2 on fourth down) in the contest. Time was on the side of Cincinnati, who kept the ball for 30:30 to Baltimore’s 29:30.

They met again in the Buckeye State in week eight and the Bengals once again held on for dear life and managed to come away with a 27-24 win at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals led 7-6 at the half before managing to outscore the Ravens in the final 30 minutes of play 20-18 to take the win. This time, both teams did manage to shatter the 100-yard rushing barrier in the second meeting (Baltimore tallied 111, while the Bengals had 107). Unlike the last meeting, neither Flacco (195 yards) and Dalton (266) threw a TD pass, while Flacco had a pair of interceptions. The Bengals were a lot better on third down tries in the second meeting, going 8 of 14 (1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 30:44, while Baltimore held the pigskin for 29:16 and went 5 of 13 on third and 1 of 3 on fourth downs.

The Ravens covered the 1 1/2 point spread with their 7-point win but both clubs missed the 43 by four in the first meeting in Charm City. In the week eight matchup in Cincy, the Bengals covered the 1-point spread with their 3-point win and both teams managed to score 51 points, passing the 46 over/under. Baltimore’s a 2 1/2 point favorite in Charm City and the over/under is 44 1/2. It’s Dalton vs. Flacco and this time, it’s Cincy that will keep the Ravens winless in Charm City, even though it will be closer than the 2 1/2.

New Orleans (0-2) at Carolina (2-0), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. It’s beignets vs. Carolina bbq as the Saints play their second divisonal oppoent in as many weeks when they travel to the Tar Heel State to face Cam Newtown and the Carolina Panthers.

New Orleans suffered their second loss of the 2015 campaign, a 26-19 loss to divisonal rival Tampa Bay in the Big Easy. Although they trailed 10-7 at the intermission, Tampa Bay proceeded to outscore the home team (who will be without Drew Brees for this contest) in the second half 16-12 to seal the win. The Bucs outrushed New Orleans 139-104 and sacked Brees four times (Jameis Winston was sacked three times) in the game, with both QBs tossing a TD pass and Tampa Bay forced three Saints turnovers in the win. New Orleans did reasonbly well on third down tries, going 7 of 14 (1 of 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for 31:28, while the Bucs kept the pigskin for 28:32 and went 5 of 14 on third down.

The Panthers held off a late Texans rally at home last Sunday to come away with their nine lives and a 24-17 win over Houston. Carolina and Newton led 10-3 after the first 30 minutes of play and the two teams played pretty even football in the second half. The defending NFC South champs rushed for 172 yards, with Newton leading the way with 76 yards and a rushing TD (he threw a pair of TD passes), while Houston could only scratch out 61. It was the Carolina defense that held things together as they would hold off a late Texans drive in the final quarter of play, stopping Houston in the final seconds of the contest. Neither club gave their fans anything to write home about on third down conversions (Houston was 5 of 19, 2 of 4 on fourth down; Carolina was 4 of 13) and the Panthers ruled the clock, holding the ball for 32:29 to Houston’s 27:31.

Carolina leads the series 21-19 and have outscored the Saints 851-827. Both teams spilt the two meetings last year with each team winning in the other’s stadium. In the first meeting in week 9 in Charlotte, the Saints came away with a 28-10 win. New Orleans led 14-0 at halftime and never looked back, even though they were outrushed by the Panthers 109-105 and sacked Newton four times (Brees was also sacked four times). New Orleans went 7 of 13 on third down tries (1 of 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for 34:53, while Carolina struggled on third down, going 6 of 14, while keeping the ball for 24:42.

Carolina and Newton would get revenge in the second meeting in the Big Easy in week 14, taking the Saints to the woodshed with a 41-10 win. Newton would throw three TDs and rush for one in the lopsided win over their NFC South foes in the Big Easy. Carolina’s John Stewart ran for 155 of his team’s 271 yards, while the Saints were held to 92 in the 31-point loss. New Orleans, who turned the ball over twice, went 5 of 13 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth down tries, holding the ball for 24 minutes, while Carolina kept it for 36 and went 7 for 15 on third down.

In the first meeting in week 9 in the Tar Heel State, New Orleans won by 18 (they were favored by 2) but both clubs missed the 49 over/under, scoring only 38 points. Carolina was a 9 1/2 underdog in the week 14 matchup in the Big Easy and won by 31, covering the spread with ease and this time, both clubs managed to cover the over/under, scoring 51 points. The Saints, without Brees, are 3 1/2 underdogs in Charlotte and the over/under is 44. Carolina’s finer at home and takes this one to send the Saints marching to 0-3 and covers the 3 1/2.

Oakland (1-1) at Cleveland (1-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706. A pair of teams that evened their records last week meet along the shores of Lake Erie as the Raiders travel to the Buckeye State to face off against the Cleveland Browns.

The Raiders notched their first win of the season last week with a come-from-behind 37-33 victory over Baltimore. Quarterback Derek Carr threw for 351 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winning score to wide receiver Seth Roberts with 26 seconds remaining in the game. Rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper registered his first career 100-yard game by hauling in seven balls for 109 yards and a touchdown (68 yards). The Raiders broke a 10-10 tie at the half against Baltimore and outscored them in the second half 17-13. Baltimore did manage to outrush Oakland 109-97 in the contest but lost the game late when Raiders QB David Carr and WR Sean Roberts connected on a 12-yard TD pass with 26 seconds left in the contest. Ravens QB Joe Flacco outpaced Carr 384-351 in passing yardage but Carr threw three TDs to Flacco’s two. Baltimore went 4 of 11 and 2 of 2 on third and fourth down tries and the Ravens held the ball for 30:27 to Oakland’s 29:33 (Oakland on third down conversions 9 of 14).

“Derek showed poise and he stood there in the pocket and made some great throws,” says Raiders veteran safety Charles Woodson about Carr. “This guy, he’s special. You saw that with that last drive.”

Cleveland’s Travin Benjamin sparked the Browns to the club’s first victory of the season, a 28-14 triumph over Tennessee. Benjamin had touchdown catches of 60 and 50 yards and added a 78-yard punt-return score in the victory. Cleveland led 21-0 at the half and held off the Titans in the second half for the win. The Browns defense managed to sack Titans rookie QB Marcus Mariota seven times in the contest, while Johnny Manziel threw a pair of TDs in the win at home without being sacked himself. Tennessee did manage to outrush Cleveland 166-116 in the game but the Browns forced three Titans turnovers (fumbles) to seal the win. The Titans kept the ball for 35:11, while going 7 of 16 on third down tries (2 of 2 on fourth down), while Cleveland held on to the pigskin for all of o 24:49, going 4 of 11 on third down (0 of 1 on fourth down).

“As an offensive unit, we know that it takes 11 guys to run a play,” Benjamin told the Cleveland Plain Dealer when asked about his success. “We know the goals we set for ourselves as an offense. I’m always confident and just go out there and play at my highest ability possible. Good things are going to happen.”

Benjamin, who also had a 54-yard touchdown catch in Week 1, is the first player to score four 50+ yard touchdowns in the first two games of a season since Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Brown in 1963.

Oakland leads the series with the Browns 11-10 and have outscored Cleveland 440-380. The two clubs met last year in Cleveland and the Browns took a 9-6 halftime lead and held off the Silver and Black 23-13. Neither club came anywhere near the 100-yard barrier (the Browns tallied 39, while Oakland won that matchup with a somewhat dismal 71) and Oakland turned the ball over three times in the contest. As for third down tries? Not a lot going in that catagory, either (Oakland went 6 of 19 but did manage to go 3 of 3 on fourth down, while the Browns were 2 of 12) but time was on the side of Oakland, who kept the ball for 34:52 to Cleveland’s 25:08.

Cleveland won by 10 (they were favored by 7) and both clubs missed the 43 1/2 over/under, as they combine for 36 points. Cleveland’s favored again in this matchup by 4 1/2 and the over/under’s 42 1/2. These teams are a lot better than their records would indicate. Brownies cover the 4 1/2 and win along the shores of Lake Erie.

Tampa Bay (1-1) at Houston (0-2), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 713. Tampa Bay travels to the Lone Star State to face off against a Houston Texans team searching for its first win of the 2015 campaign.

Tampa Bay and rookie QB Jameis Winston even their record to 1-1 win a 26-19 win over New Orleans in the Big Easy. Leading 10-7 at the intermission, Tampa Bay proceeded to outscore New Orleans in the second half 16-12 to seal the win. The Bucs outrushed New Orleans 139-104 and sacked Drew Brees four times (Winston was sacked three times) in the game, with both QBs tossing a TD pass and Tampa Bay forced three Saints turnovers in the win. New Orleans did reasonbly well on third down tries, going 7 of 14 (1 of 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for 31:28, while the Bucs kept the pigskin for 28:32 and went 5 of 14 on third down.

Houston suffered their second loss of the 2015 campaign as a late-game drive fell short at Carolina, with the Texans losing Carolina and Cam Newton 24-17. Houston tralied 10-3 after the first 30 minutes of play and the two teams played pretty even football in the second half. Carolina ran for 172 yards, with Newton leading the way with 76 yards and a rushing TD (he threw a pair of TD passes), while Houston could only scratch out 61. It was the Carolina defense that held things together as they would hold off a late Texans drive in the final quarter of play, stopping the Texans in the final seconds of the contest. Third down conversions… neither club gave their fans anything to write home about (Houston was 5 of 19, 2 of 4 on fourth down; Carolina was 4 of 13) and the Panthers ruled the clock, holding the ball for 32:29 to Houston’s 27:31.

Houston leads the series 2-1, has outscored Tampa Bay 68-38 and won the last two meetings in the brief series, including taking a 37-9 win in the Sunshine State in 2011. Tampa Bay’s only win was in 2003 in Tampa by a final of 16-3. The boys and girls in Vegas like Houston as a 6 1/2 point favorite and the over/under’s 41 1/2. It could be a lot closer than 6 1/2 but both clubs could pass the over/under with ease. Houston breaks into the win column at home, although the Bucs will cause them some problems.

San Diego (1-1) at Minnesota (1-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707. The Bolts make the long trip to the Land of 10,000 Lakes to face the Vikings in the Twin Cities.

San Diego trailed Cincinnati 14-6 at the half before the Bengals would eventually pull away to lose 24-19 in the Buckeye State last Sunday. San Diego was outrushed by the Bengals 175-113 and Philip Rivers was sacked four times in the 5-point loss. Rivers threw for 241 yards and a pair of TDs but was sacked four times in the game. Both the Bengals and Chargers did nothing on third down tries to endear them to their fan base, with the Bengals going 4 of 10, while the Chargers were 4 of 11. That was the bad news. The good news? San Diego won the clock battle in the game, holding the pigskin for 30:09 to Cincy’s 29:51.

Meanwhile, the Vikings evened their record with a 26-16 win over Detroit in the Twin Cities last Sunday, sending the Lions to their second loss of the 2015 campaign in the process. Adrian Peterson was back to his old form, rushing for 134 of Minnesota’s 199, while the defense held Detroit to 38. Although he was sacked only once, Teddy Bridgewater did manage to throw for 153 yards and a TD without tossing an interception. Minnesota went 7 of 14 on third down and held the ball for 31:06, while the Lions held it for 28:54, going 6 of 13 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth.

The Bolts hold a 6-5 lead in the series, which includes contests that were played at old Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington and the Metrodome. San Diego has outscored the Purple Gang Chargers 286-248 and won the last meeting in San Diego in 2011 by a 24-17 final. (Minnesota’s last win over the Chargers came in 2007 by a final of 35-17 in the Twin Cities). Minnesota is favored by 1 and the over/under is 45 1/2. Vikings improve to 2-1 at home, covering the 1.

Jacksonville (1-1) at New England (2-0), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708. Jacksonville broke a 20-20 tie late in the fourth quarter thanks in part to a 28-yard field goal by rookie K Jason Myers with 40 second left in regulation to win over their instate rivals from Miami 23-20. Jacksonville led 20-13 at the half before the Dolphins rallied to tie things up in the third quarter when TE Jake Stoneburner and QB Ryan Tannehill connected on a five-yard pass early in the third quarter. Jacksonville did manage to outrush Miami 123-42 and Jaguar QB Blake Bortles threw a pair of TDs without being sacked or picked off. Jacksonville and Miami struggled on third down conversions in the Sunshine State battle (the Jaguars were 5 of 14, Miami was 5 of 15; Miami was 0 of 1 on fourth down conversions) and the clock was the ally of Jacksonville, who kept the ball for 30:08, while Miami had it for 29:52.

New England made life somewhat miserable for Bills QB Tyrod Taylor, sacking him eight times and coming away with a hard-earned 40-32 win in Orchard Park. New England led 24-13 at the half and then managed to hold the Bills at bay in the second half. Buffalo did manage to outrush New England 160-56 but New England managed to force three turnovers in the contest. Buffalo was 4 of 13 on third down tries, while the Pats were 3 of 10 (Buffalo on fourth down went 1 of 1, while New England was 0-2). As far as the clock… time was on the side of the Bills, who held the ball for 30:03, while the Pats kept it for 29:57.

They’ve met six times and the Pats have taken all six meetings, with the last win coming in Jacksonville in 2012 by a 23-16 final. New England’s favored by 14 and the over/under is 47 1/2. Jacksonville’s played some decent football of late but the Pats are the defending champs. The Jaguars make this one closer than the 14 but New England prevails at home.

Philadelphia (0-2) at New York Jets (2-0), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 714. Philly makes the 93 minute drive up I-95 to face off against the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! at Met Life Stadium in the Meadowlands. It’s cheesesteak vs. Manhattan clam chowder in upstate New Jersey.

The Eagles dropped their second contest in as many tries, falling to Dallas 20-10 in the City of Brotherly Love last SUnday. Even though they trailed 6-0 at the half, the Eagles saw the wheels come off the bus in the second half as they were outscored 14-10 in the final 30 minutes of play. Philadelphia was held to a really dismal 7 yards rushing. while Dallas tallied 109. The Eagles’ defense did manage to sack Tony Romo three times, knocking him out of the contest with a broken collarbone, while Sam Bradford threw for 224 yards in the loss. Philly turned the ball over in the 10-point loss at home, while going 2 of 11 on third down conversions (they did manage to go 1 of 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for 19:30, while Dallas played keep-away with the pigskin, holding it for 40:30, going 4 of 12 on third down.

GangGreen led from start to finish last Monday night against Indianapolis, taking a 20-7 win with them out of the Hoosier State. The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! led 10-0 at the half and never looked back, forcing the Colts to turn the ball over five times (three Luck interceptions) to lose 20-7. Indy was held to 93 yards, while the Jets, who led from start to finish, tallied 101. Third down tries? The Jets were 4 of 12, while the Colts were 6 of 14. The Jets also won the time of possession battle, keepin the ball for 31:48 to Indy’s 28:12.

They’ve met nine times and the Eagles have won all nine games, outscoing GangGreen 247-154. The two clubs last met in 2011 in the City of Brotherly Love and Philly came out on top 45-19. Philly’s favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under’s 48 1/2. Philly has been struggling of late and the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! would like nothing more than to make them pay for it. GangGreen covers the 2 1/2 and wins at home.

Pittsburgh (1-1) at St. Louis (1-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 709. A pair of 1-1 teams meet in the Great Midwest as Pittsburgh and St. Louis square off in the great indoors.

The Steelers manhandled Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers 43-18 at Heinz Field last Sunday afternoon. Even though they were outrushed by San Francisco 111-84, Ben Roethlisberger threw for 369 yards and three TDs without being sacked or intercepted, while Kaepernick was sacked five times, despite throwing a pair of TDs.

The Rams lead the series 15-7-2 and have outscored Pittsburgh 481-436, which includes contests that were played when the Rams were in Cleveland before moving to Los Angeles, then moving to St. Louis and the Steelers were knonw as the Pittsburgh Pirates. Pittsburgh has won the last two meetings, including shutting out the Rams 27-0 in the Steel City in 2011, while the Rams’ last win in the series came in 2003 in Pittsburgh by a final of 33-21. The two met in Super Bowl XIV and it was Pittsburgh coming away with a 31-19 win in the Rose Bowl. In front of 103,985 people, the Steelers won their fourth Super Bowl and the only team to win back-to-back Super Bowls twice, while Terry Bradshaw was named the game’s MVP. The Steelers are favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under’s 48. Steelers cover the 2 1/2 and win on the road.

Indianapolis (0-2) at Tennessee (1-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 710. It’s a pair of top draft picks facing off against one another as Andrew Luck and the winless Colts host Marcus Mariotta and the Tennessee Titans in the Hoosier State.

In the battle of former Heisman winners, it was Johnny Manziel coming out on top against Mariotta, as he threw a pair of TDs to give Tennessee a 28-14 loss along the shores of Lake Erie last Sunday. Tennessee trailed 21-0 at the half and made things closer than expected in the second half. Mariotta was sacked seven times in the contest, while Johnny Manziel threw a pair of TDs in the win at home without being sacked himself. Tennessee did manage to outrush Cleveland 166-116 in the game but turned the ball over three times (fumbles) to seal the win. Tennessee went 7 of 16 on third down tries (2 of 2 on fourth down), keeping the ball for 35:11 to Cleveland’s 24:49, with the Browns going 4 of 11 on third down (0 of 1 on fourth down).

Indy trailed the New York Jets 10-0 at the half last Monday night at home before the wheels came off completely, with the Colts turning the ball over five times (three Luck interceptions) to lose 20-7. Indy was held to 93 yards, while the Jets, who led from start to finish, tallied 101. Third down tries? The Jets were 4 of 12, while the Colts were 6 of 14. The Jets also won the time of possession battle, keepin the ball for 31:48 to Indy’s 28:12.

The Colts lead the series 27-13 (which includes games that were played when the Colts were in Baltimore and the Titans were in Houston and known as the Oilers), have outscored Tennessee 1,020-757 and have won seven of their last eight meetings.. They met last year and the Colts swept both meetings (Tennessee’s last win over Indy came in 2011, taking a 27-10 win in the Volunteer State) in last year’s campaign. They met in week four in Indy with the Colts winning 41-17. The Colts led 20-10 at the half and never looked back, holding Tennessee to 85 yards rushing , while rushing for 105 themselves. Luck threw for four TDs in the win, despite being picked off once (Charlie Whitehurst was sacked three times). Indy went 7 of 14 on third down conversions in the contest and kept the ball for 42:21, while the Titans were 1 of 9, keeping the pigskin for 17:39.

The second meeting was in the Music City in week 17 and the Colts led 17-7 at the half, going on to win 27-10. The Titans did manage to break the 100-yard rushing barrier in the second meeting, rushing for 142 (Indy could only muster 64) but Whitehurst again was the victim of being sacked four times in a game that meant nothing to Tennessee and a dress rehearsal for the Colts. Again, third down tries for both teams were slim pickings at best (Indy was 5 of 16, while Tennessee was 4 of 16) but both clubs managed to go 1 of 3 on fourth down tries. Indy won the battle of the clock, keeping the ball for 33:26 to Tennessee’s 26:34.

Indy won by 24 in the week four contest at home, covering the 7 1/2 point spread with ease and both teams easily covered t    45 1/2 over/under with 58 points. The week 17 contest, which closed out the regular season for both clubs, saw the Colts, win by 17 (they were favored by 7). That was the good news. The bad news? They missed the 46 1/2 over/under, scoring only 37 points. The oddsmakers are being kind to the Colts, making them 4 1/2 points favorites with the over/under at 48. The Colts are struggling, the Titans are trying to find their way back to relevance. If you’re a fan of either team, watch; otherwise, watch that “NCIS” marathon on USA (yes, we still think that Ziva headslapping Tony is worth the time). Colts cover the 4 1/2 and win back home again in Indiana.

San Francisco (1-1) at Arizona (2-0), 4:05 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 714. A pair of NFC West foes meet in the desert Sunday afternoon as San Francisco travels to Glendale to face the Arizona Cardinals.

San Francisco struggled in the Steel City last Sunday and fell to Ben Rothlisberger and Pittsburgh 43-18 at Heinz Field. Even though San Francisco outrushed the Steelers 111-84, Pittsburgh managed to sack Colin Kaepernick five times, while Rothlisberger threw for three TDs without being sacked or intercepted. Pittsburgh was 6 of 11 on third down tries in the 25-point win at home and kept the ball for 23:01, while the 49ers held it for 36:59 and struggled on third down, going 7 of 17 (3 of 5 on fourth).

The Desert Angry Birds won their second game in as many weeks as they took Da Bears to the woodshed last Sunday at Soldier Field 48-23. Arizona led 28-20 at the half in the Windy City before pulling away from Chicago in the second half 20-3. Arizona outrushed Da Bears 115-109 and forced a pair of Chicago turneovers in the win. The Desert Angry Birds went 5 of 9 on third down and 1 of 1 on fourth down, while Chicago was 2 of 12 and 0 of 1 in the same catagories. Arizona also won the battle of the clock, keeping the ball for 30:04 to Chicago’s 29:56.

The 49ers lead the series 29-18 (which includes contests that were played when the Cards were in St. Louis and the 49ers played their home games at Candlestick) and have outscored the Desert Angry Birds 1,118-917. San Francisco and Arizona spilt their two meetings in the 2014 campaign, with each team winning in front of their home crowds. In week three in the desert, Arizona trailed 14-6 at the half before scoring 17 second half points unchallenged to take a 23-14 win. Neither club broke or came close to the 100-yard barrier (San Francisco tallied 82 yards, while the Cards tallied 84) and it became an arms race of sorts at Kaepernick barely outpassed Drew Stanton 245-244, although Stanton did have a pair of TD passes in the game (Arizona’s Michael Floyd led all recievers with 114 yards, while San Francisco’s Sean Johnson had 103 yards). The Desert Angry Birds were 8 of 13 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 27:40, while the 49ers were 6 of 13, keeping the ball for 32:20 (both clubs were successfull in their only fourth down try in the contest).

Game two would be the end of the regular season for both clubs and it would wind up along San Francisco Bay in Santa Clara and this time, the 49ers got revenge on Arizona by rallying in the third quarter to take a 20-17 win after trailing 17-13 at halftime. This time, San Francisco’s running game went to work, as Frank Gore ran for 144 yards (San Francisco rushed for 206, while Arizona failed to reach the 100-yard barrier again, rushing for 98 yards). Floyd was once again the star of the passing game, taking 153 yards on eight catches. As far as third down tries? Not a lot to talk about there (San Francisco went 5 of 12, Arizona went 4 of 10) but Arizona did win the time of possession battle, keeping the ball for 30:36 to the 49ers’ 29:24.

The week three contest in the desert saw San Francisco go in as 3 points favorites and Arizona covered the spread, winning by 9. Neither team managed to reach the 42 1/2 over/under, as they combined for 37 points. San Francisco was favored again in the week 17 contest on the Left Coast at 5 1/2 points but won by 3. However… both teams barely covered the 36 1/2 over/under by combining for 37 points. Arizona’s a 6 1/2 point favorite in the desert this Sunday and the over/under is 44 1/2. Both numbers make a lot of sense and while this one’s not quite “Drill worthy,” it’ll be worth your time and energy. Arizona may not cover the 6 1/2 but they take the win at home in their nest.

Buffalo (1-1) at Miami (1-1), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 716. Miami returns to South Beach to host the Bills in the Sunshine State in a late afternoon AFC East matchup. Both teams enter the contest with even records and losses from last week under their belts.

The Bills fell to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots last Sunday in Orchard Park by a 40-32 final. Buffalo trailed the defending Super Bowl champions 24-13 at the half and made things a bit too close for the comfort of the Pats. Buffalo did manage to outrush New England 160-56 but turned the ball over three times in the loss with QB Tyrod Taylor being sacked eight times. Neither club did anything of great excitement on third down tries, as Buffalo was 4 of 13, while the Pats were 3 of 10 (Buffalo on fourth down went 1 of 1, while New England was 0-2). As far as the clock… time was on the side of the Bills, who held the ball for 30:03, while the Pats kept it for 29:57.

Miami leads the series 57-40-1, while outscoring Buffalo 2,096-1,823 and the two teams spilt last year’s meetings with each team taking wins at home. In the first meeting, along the shores of Lake Erie in week two, Buffalo took a 9-0 halftime lead over Miami and held the Dolphins to 10 third quarter points to win in Orchard Park 29-10. Buffalo rushed for 113 and held Miami to 80 in the 19-point win in upstate New York, while sacking Tannehill four times and picking him off once. Third down conversions in the first meeting was like kryptonite to Superman, as neither club breached the 50 percent mark (Buffalo was 5 of 15, Miami was 5 of 14 and 1 of 4 on fourth down tries) but Miami had the clock in their favor, keeping the ball for 31:17 to Buffalo’s 28:43.

Game two would see Miami get revenge in the Sunshine State, as the Dolphins erased a 6-3 halftime lead to win 22-9. This time, Miami managed to outrush the Bills 125-74 in the second meeting in week 11. Although Tannehill was sacked five times in the contest, he did manage to play a interception-free contest, throwing for 240 yards and a pair of TDs. The two clubs on third down were nothing to write home about in the rematch (Buffalo was 6 of 15, 0 of 2 on fourth down; Miami 4 of 9) and Miami ruled the clock again, keeping the ball for 32:22, while the Bills kept it for 27:38.

In the first contest in week two in upstate New York, Buffalo was a 1-point favorite and covered the spread with their 19-point win but both teams missed the 42 1/2 over/under, scoring 39 points. Miami covered the 5 point spread in week 11 in the Sunshine State by winning by 13 but both clubs missed the over/under again, scoring 31 points. Miami’s favored by 2 1/2 in the Sunshine State and the over/under is 43 1/2. Both numbers make a lot of sense. Both teams are 1-1. Miami covers the 2 1/2 and wins at home in the Sunshine State.

Chicago (0-2) at Seattle (0-2), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 717. A pair of 0-2s meet in the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks as Chicago travels westward to Seattle to face off against the defending NFC champion Seahawks.

Da Bears struggled against Arizona last Sunday at Solider field and fell to the Desert Angry Birds 48-23. Even though they only trailed 28-20 at halftime, Arizona managed to pull away from Chicago in the second half to take the loss. Chicago was outrushed 115-109 and Jimmy Clausen, who took over for Jay Cutler, was sacked twice in the loss. Chicago was a dismal 2 of 17 on third down tries in the lopsided loss in front of the home crowd (0 of 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for 29:56, while Arizona held the pigskin for 30:04, while going 5 of 8 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth down tries.

In their 27-17 loss to Green Bay at Lambeau last Sunday night, Seattle was outrushed by the Packers 127-119 and Russell Wilson, despite throwing for a pair of TDs, was sacked twice and threw an interception in the 10-point loss. Seattle trailed 13-3 at the break but managed to play the Packers pretty even in the second half. Seattle went 3 of 9 on third down tries (Green Bay was 4 of 11) and held the ball for 26:42 to Green Bay’s 33:18.

Seattle holds a 10-4 lead in the series, have outscored Chicago 307-290 and have won the last three regular season contests with Da Bears, including a 23-17 overtime win in 2012 in the Windy City (Chicago’s last win in the series came in 2009 in the Pacific Northwest by a final of 25-19. Seattle’s favored by 15 1/2 (the largest spread this year) and the over/under’s 45. Both teams have struggled and both are pretty but they’re not 15 1/2 points bad. If you’re a fan of either team, go ahead and watch this one; otherwise beg your wife/girlfriend/significant other to take you to that Seattle wins this one but they won’t cover the 15 1/2.

Denver (2-0) at Detroit (0-2), 8:30 p.m. on NBC. Denver and Detroit, a pair of teams with mirror records meet in the Motor City as the Broncons and Peyton Manning square off against Megatron (Calvin Johnson), Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions.

The Broncos improved to 2-0 last week by scoring 14 points in a nine-second span in the final minute of the fourth quarter to pull out a stunning 31-24 win at Kansas City. Denver quarterback Peyton Manning connected with wide receiver Emmanuel  Sanders on a 19-yard touchdown pass – the pair’s second TD connection of the game – with 36 seconds left to tie the game at 24. On the ensuing drive, Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby returned a fumble 21 yards for the game-winning score with 27 seconds remaining in the game. Kansas City outrushed Denver 144-61 but turned the ball over five times in the loss. The Chiefs on third down tries in the loss to their AFC West rivals were dismal, as in 0 for 7 and held the ball for 28:59, while Denver was 6 of 16 on third down and 0 of 1 on fourth down, keeping the ball for 31:01.

“I’m not quite sure I’ve ever been in one quite like that,” says Manning, who became the second quarterback in NFL history to reach 70,000 passing yards (70,122). “I’ve been involved in a couple of pretty crazy games but nothing quite like this.”

The Lions, who won 11 games and advanced to the postseason last year, are seeking their first victory of 2015. Johnson had 10 catches and a touchdown last week. Since the start of the 2011 season, Johnson leads the NFL with 6,336 receiving yards and is averaging more than 100 yards per game (103.9). Over that same span, Stafford has passed for 19,444 yards, the second most in the league. Detroit trailed Minnesota last Sunday in the Twin Cities at halftime 17-10 before the Vikings pulled away to win at home 26-16. Adrian Peterson ran amok, rushing for 134 of the Vikings’ 199, while holding Detroit to a dismal 38. Johnson did manage to catch 10 balls for 83 yards and a TD (Stafford had a pair of TD passes but also threw an interception). Minnesota held serve on third down tries, going 7 of 14 (1 of 1 on fourth down), as they would hold the ball for 31:06, while the Lions were 6 of 13 and 2 of 2 on third and fourth down, holding the pigskin for 28:54.

“We’ve got to be more consistent,” Detroit head coach Jim Caldwell told the Detroit Free Press. “We’re going to make sure that we get ourselves headed in the right direction.” Denver leads the series 6-5 but Detroit has outscored the Broncos 248- 235 and has won the last two meetings, including a 45-10 win in the Motor City in 2011 (Denver’s last win in the series? A 20-16 win in the Mile High City in 2003).

Detroit’s favored by 7 with a 48 over/under. Both clubs have pretty good QBs but Manning’s better. Denver covers the 7 in the Motor City and comes away with the win.

Kansas City (1-1) at Green Bay (2-0), 8:30 p.m. Monday on ESPN. A rematch of the very first Super Bowl takes place in the land of cheese, beer and bratwurst as the Chiefs travel to Lambeau Field to take on Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packes as the curtain for week three draws to a close.

The Chiefs let a late fourth-quarter lead slip away in Week 2 and dropped their first game of the season by a final of 31-24 to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. They’ll look to rebound on Monday night when they travel to Green Bay in a rematch of Super Bowl I. Jamaal Charles led all rushers in the Thursday night affair with 125 yards on the ground (Kansas City outrushed 144-61) but turned the ball over five times in the loss. The Chiefs on third down tries in the loss to their AFC West rivals were dismal, as in 0 for 7 and held the ball for 28:59, while Denver was 6 of 16 on third down (0 of 1 on fourth down), keeping the ball for 31:01.

“We love the challenge of playing good football teams,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid told the Kansas City Star and USA Today. “You work like crazy to be a good team yourself and you cherish those opportunities to be challenged. That’s what kind of game this will be.” Manning in the win threw for 256 yards and three TDs, while Alex Smith was sacked four times and picked off twice.

One challenge will be shutting down Green Bay’s vaunted offense led by its quarterback and reigning NFL Most Valuable Player Aaron Rodgers, who threw two touchdown passes and posted a 116.9 passer rating in last Sunday night’s 27-17 win over Seattle. Over his past 18 games at home (including the postseason), he has now thrown 43 touchdowns and no interceptions while posting a 124 passer rating. The Packers outrushed Seattle 127-119 and Rodgers outpaced Russell Wilson 249-206 (each threw a pair of TDs. Neither club did anything to write home about on third down tries as the Seahawks were Seattle 3 of 9 on third down tries and Green Bay was 4 of 11. The Packers also won the battle of the clock, holding on to the ball for 33:18 to Seattle’s 26:42.

“It was a good win for us,” says Rodgers about beating the Seahawks. “But it’s only Week 2. All it means is that we’re 2-0.”

The Chiefs lead the series 7-2-1 and have outscored Green Bay 202-166 (which includes games that were played in Milwaukee), with Kansas City’s last win in the series coming in 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium by a final of 19-14. while the Packers’ last win also came at Arrowhead in 2007 33-22. It was the first meeting between the two teams in 1966 that started the ball rolling as they met in Los Angeles (CBS and NBC covered the game) and Bart Starr outpaced Len Dawson and the Chiefs in that very first meeting 35-10. Green Bay’s favored by 6 1/2 and the over/under comes in at 48. Both numbers make a ton of sense.

Even though it’s a Monday night contest, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a gathering of family and friends over. That means that this one is “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 just turned 55 and dates a 40-year old ex-Marine, who’s now a football coach at the high school in your town. She’s also the one that ate 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?”
The Chiefs are 23-17 on Monday night, while the Packers have okay but not great in prime time, carrying a 29-31-1 mark with them into the contest. Chiefs make it close but Green Bay takes the win at home in the land of cheese, beer and bratwurst.

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