Three are left standing.

Cincinnati, Carolina and New England.

Unbeaten.

Unblemished.

Denver is no longer among the unbeatens. They were like Goliath, knocked off by Indianapolis, with Andrew Luck playing the role of David to the hilt with their 27-24 win in the Hoosier State last Sunday. There’s a lot of football left before the big game in Santa Clara in February. While the Bengals, Pats and Panthers are kings of the mountain, others are hoping to have a seat at the dance when action in week 17 comes to a close. There’s still week 10 to deal with, though; so let’s not get too ahead of ourselves, k?

GREAT COMPETITION: Close contests remain a staple of the 2015 season as nine of 13 games in Week 9 were decided by eight points or fewer. Through Week 9, the average margin of victory is 10.28 points, which would be the lowest for a full season since at least 1970.

The lowest average margin of victory since 1970:

SEASON – AVERAGE MARGIN OF VICTORY
2015 – 10.28*
1994 – 10.42
1982 – 10.63
1995 – 10.75
1978 – 10.76
*Through Week 9

OVERTIME EXCITEMENT: Week 9 continued the trend of close games, as three games were decided in overtime. Fourteen games have gone to overtime this season, the second-most through Week 9 in NFL history.

The most overtime games through Week 9 in NFL history:

SEASON – OVERTIME GAMES THROUGH WEEK 9
1995 – 17
2015 – 14
1983 – 14
2003 – 13
2002 – 13

THE HURRY-UP: A quick look at some other notable trends and milestones through Week 9:

LEAGUE:
•Scoring in 2015 averages 47.0 points per game, on pace to be the highest average in the Super Bowl era (46.8 in 1948). Teams have combined for 6,199 points this season, the third-most points through nine weeks in NFL history. The high is 6,272 last season.

•There have been 73 individual 300-yard passing games, tied for the most through Week 9 in NFL history (73 in 2012).

•Passers are also on pace to set NFL records with a combined 63.6 completion percentage (62.6 in 2014), 499.2 net passing yards per game average (473.6 in 2014) and 1.88 touchdown to interception ratio (1.79 in 2014).

•​The league-wide kickoff-return average of 23.7 yards is on pace to be the third-highest of any season in NFL history (23.8 in 2011 and 2014).

TEAMS:
•Carolina and New England joined Cincinnati as the only 8-0 teams in the NFL. That marks the most 8-0 teams in a season in NFL history. Carolina defeated Green Bay 37-29 and New England knocked off Washington 27-10. On Thursday night, Cincinnati beat Cleveland 31-10.

Entering 2015, 21 teams started a season 8-0 during the Super Bowl era. Of those 21 clubs, all 21 made the playoffs, 12 advanced to the Super Bowl and eight of those teams won the Super Bowl.

•The Panthers and Bengals are 8-0 for the first time in franchise history.

MUCH IMPROVEMENT: Five teams – Atlanta (6-3; 6-10 in 2014), the New York Jets (5-3; 4-12 in 2014), Oakland (4-4; 3-13 in 2014), Tampa Bay (3-5; 2-14 in 2014) and Tennessee (2-6; 2-14 in 2014) – have already matched or surpassed their win totals from last season.

PLAYERS:

100 BILLS: Buffalo defeated Miami 33-17 and became the first team to have two 100-yard rushers – running backs Le Sean McCoy (112 rushing yards) and Karlos Williams (110) – and a 150-yard receiver – wide receiver Sammy Watkins (168 receiving yards) – in the same game in NFL history.

Williams also had two touchdowns against Miami, becoming the seventh player in NFL history to score a touchdown in each of his first five career games.

PROLIFIC PITTSBURGH: The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated Oakland 38-35 and became the first team in NFL history to have one player with at least 300 scrimmage yards and another player with at least 200 scrimmage yards in the same game.

Wide receiver Antonio Brown had 306 scrimmage yards, including franchise records for catches (17) and receiving yards (284). Running back De Angelo Williams posted 225 scrimmage yards (170 rushing, 55 receiving) and two rushing touchdowns.

​ROLLING RIVERS: San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers completed 26 of 42 passes (61.9 percent) for 280 yards and a touchdown on Monday Night Football against Chicago. With 3,033 passing yards this season, Rivers (10) joins Brett Farve (18), Peyton Manning (13), Drew Brees (11) and Eli Manning (10) as the fifth quarterback in NFL history with 10 consecutive seasons with at least 3,000 passing yards.

AWESOME ANDREW: Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck passed for 252 yards and two touchdowns in the Colts’ 27-24 win against Denver. Luck (101) reached 100 career touchdown passes in his 55th career game. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino (44 games), Kurt Warner (50) and Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas (53) reached the milestone in fewer games.

MARVELOUS MARIOTA: Tennessee rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota passed for 371 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions for a 135.7 passer rating, including the game-winning five-yard touchdown pass to tight end Anthony FasanoO in overtime of the Titans’ 34-28 win at New Orleans. Mariota, who also passed for four touchdowns with no interceptions on Kickoff Weekend, is the first rookie in NFL history to have two games with four touchdown passes and no interceptions.

Mariota also became the second player in NFL history to pass for at least 350 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions, including the game-winning touchdown pass in overtime (Minnesota’s DAUNTE CULPEPPER, October 10, 2004 vs. Houston).

BIRTHDAY BRADFORD: Philadelphia quarterback Sam Bradford completed 25 of 36 passes (69.4 percent) for 295 yards and threw a game-winning 41-yard touchdown to wide receiver Jordan Matthews in overtime to defeat the Dallas Cowboys 33-27 on Sunday Night Football. Bradford, who celebrated his 28th birthday on Sunday, became the first quarterback to start and win a regular-season overtime game on his birthday in NFL history.

BIG LEG: St. Louis kicker Greg Zuerlein converted four field goals against Minnesota, including a 61-yarder in the second quarter. Zuerlein, who also kicked a 60-yard field goal in 2012, joined Sebastian Janikowski as the only players with two 60-yard field goals in NFL history.

HOME SUCCESS: Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger passed for 334 yards and two touchdowns in the Steelers’ 38-35 home victory against Oakland. Roethlisberger has thrown at least one touchdown pass in 35 consecutive home games, tying Aaron Rodgers (35) for the fourth-longest streak of consecutive home games with at least one touchdown pass.

New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, who threw three touchdowns in Week 9, extended his record streak to 51 consecutive games at home with at least one touchdown pass.

The players with the most consecutive home games with at least one touchdown pass:

PLAYER – TEAM, DATES (CONSECUTIVE HOME GAMES WITH AT LEAST ONE TOUCHDOWN PASS)
Drew Brees – New Orleans, 10/18/2009-present (51)*
Tom Brady – New England, 9/14/2009-12/14/2014 (47)
Dan Marino – Miami, 10/9/1983-11/14/1988 (39)
Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh, 12/19/2010-present (35)*
Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay, 10/5/2008-12/2/2012 (35)
Johnny Unitas – Baltimore, 12/23/1956-9/30/1962 (34)
* Active streak

IT’S HOW YOU FINISH: In every season since 1987, at least one team with a .500 or worse record through eight games has qualified for the postseason. Last year, the Carolina Panthers accomplished the feat and advanced to the Divisional Playoffs after a 3-4-1 start.

Over the past seven seasons, 15 teams started 4-4 or worse and rebounded to qualify for the postseason. Eight of those teams, including the 2014 Panthers, won at least one playoff game.

The teams in the past seven seasons (2008-2014) that started the season at .500 or below through eight games and earned a playoff berth:

YEAR – TEAM, RECORD (8 GAMES); FINAL RECORD, PLAYOFF RESULT
2008 – Indianapolis, 4-4; 12-4, Advanced to Wild Card
2008 – Miami, 4-4; 11-5, Advanced to Wild Card
2008 – Minnesota, 4-4; 10-6, Advanced to Wild Card
2008 – San Diego, 3-5; 8-8, Advanced to Divisional
2009 – Green Bay, 4-4; 11-5, Advanced to Wild Card
2009 – New York Jets, 4-4; 9-7, Advanced to AFC Championship
2009 – Baltimore, 4-4; 9-7, Advanced to Divisional
2010 – Seattle, 4-4; 7-9, Advanced to Divisonal
2011 – Denver, 3-5; 8-8, Advanced to Divisonal
2012 – Cincinnati, 3-5; 10-6, Advanced to Wild Card
2012 – Seattle, 4-4; 11-5, Advanced to Divisonal
2012 – Washington, 3-5; 10-6, Advanced to Wild Card
2013 – Philadelphia, 3-5; 10-6, Advanced to Wild Card
2013 – San Diego, 4-4; 9-7, Advanced to Divisonal
2014 – Carolina, 3-4-1; 7-8-1, Advanced to Divisonal

TURNAROUND TEAMS: Six teams – Atlanta (6-3; 6-10 in 2014), Carolina (8-0; 7-8-1 in 2014), the New York Jets (5-3; 4-12 in 2014), Oakland (4-4; 3-13 in 2014), Tampa Bay (3-5; 2-14 in 2014) and Tennessee (2-6; 2-14 in 2014) – have already matched or surpassed their win totals from last season.

In Week 10, four more teams – Jacksonville (2-6; 3-13 in 2014), Minnesota (6-2; 7-9 in 2014), the New York Giants (5-4; 6-10 in 2014) and Washington (3-5; 4-12 in 2014) – can also match their 2014 win totals.

The teams that have matched or exceeded their 2014 win totals:

TEAM, 2014 RECORD; 2015 RECORD, WEEK 10 OPPONENT
Atlanta, 6-10; 6-3, Bye
Carolina, 7-8-1; 8-0, at Tennessee
New York Jets, 4-12; 5-4, lost to Buffalo Thursday night
Oakland, 3-13; 4-4, vs. Minnesota
Tampa Bay, 2-14; 3-5, vs. Dallas
Tennessee, 2-14; 2-6, vs. Carolina
Jacksonville, 3-13; 2-6, at Baltimore*
Minnesota, 7-9; 6-2 at Oakland*
New York Giants, 6-10; 5-4 vs. New England*
Washington, 4-12; 3-5 vs. New Orleans*

* Need win in Week 10 to match 2014 win total

PATRIOT PLACE: The New England Patriots have scored at least one point in 31 consecutive quarters, which is tied for the longest streak in NFL history. By scoring in the first quarter against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, New England would surpass the St. Louis Rams (1999-2000) and Indianapolis Colts (2005) for the longest such streak in NFL annals.

The most consecutive regulation quarters with at least one point:

TEAM, YEAR(S) (CONSECUTIVE REGULATION QUARTERS WITH POINTS SCORED)
St. Louis Rams, 1999-2000 (31)
Indianapolis Colts, 2005 (31)
New England Patriots, 2015 (31)*
New England Patriots, 1993-1994 (27)
Kansas City Chiefs, 2002 (27)
Oakland Raiders, 2002 (27)
*Active streak

The Patriots (8-0) are one of three remaining undefeated teams this season and have won 11 consecutive games dating back to the 2014 playoffs. With a win or tie this Sunday against the Giants, the Patriots would become the fifth team in NFL history and first since the 1983-1998 San Francisco 49ers to post at least 15 consecutive winning seasons.

The most consecutive seasons with a winning record:
TEAM, YEARS (CONSECUTIVE WINNING SEASONS)
Dallas, 1966-1985 (20)
Oakland 1965-1980 (16)
San Francisco, 1983-1998 (16)
Chicago, 1930-1944 (15)
Green Bay, 1934-1947 (14)
New England, 2001-2014 (14)*
*Active streak; 8-0 record in 2015

HIGH WATTAGE: Since entering the NFL in 2011, Houston defensive end J.J. Watt leads the league with 65.5 sacks. With one sack against Cincinnati on Monday Night Football in Week 10, Watt would surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas (66.0) for the second-most sacks by an NFL player in his first five seasons since the statistic became official in 1982.

The players with the most sacks in their first five NFL seasons (since 1982):
PLAYER, YEARS (SACKS)
Reggie White, 1985-1989 (81.0)
Derrick Thomas, 1989-1993 (66.0)
J.J. Watt, 2011-2015 (65.5)*
DeMarcus Ware, 2005-2009 (64.5)
Richard Dent, 1983-1987 (61.5)
*Eight games remaining in 2015

This weekend’s matchups feature a pair of Super Bowl rematches (New York Giants-New England, Oakland-Minnesota).

It’s week 10 and nothing’s been settled as far as divisions and/or wild cards. There’s still hope, even for Lions fans.

Byes this week? Atlanta, Indianapolis, San Diego and San Francisco. Arizona, Baltimore, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City and Seattle return to action from their bye week. Week 11 will be the final bye week for the 2015 season and the teams that have byes that week are Cleveland, New Orleans, New York Giants and Pittsburgh.

The second half of the NFL season gets underway this week and the race to the playoffs is in full swing.

Three teams remain undefeated – Carolina (8-0), Cincinnati (8-0) and New England (8-0). That marks the most 8-0 teams in a season in NFL history.

“It’s huge,” says Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, who ranks second in the NFL with a 111.0 passer rating, about the team’s first 8-0 start in franchise history. “We’ve put ourselves in the position that we’re in and there aren’t a lot of teams that get to 8-0. We understand that. We know that it’s something that’s hard to do. We’ve got to keep pushing and keep the same mentality that we’ve had the first half of the season and do whatever we can to keep winning these games in the second half.”

Entering 2015, 21 teams in the Super Bowl era started 8-0. Of those 21 clubs, all 21 made the playoffs, 12 advanced to the Super Bowl and eight won the Super Bowl.

“It’s not a pretty eight, but it is eight, and that’s gorgeous in itself,” says Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, who threw three touchdown passes and rushed for one score in the team’s 37-29 win over Green Bay, about the club’s 8-0 start, the first in team history.

As the season moves into the second half, it’s all still to be decided, with plenty of football left to play. And while every club would like to be 8-0, don’t count anyone out. Since 2000, 35 teams have reached the halfway point of their season with a .500 or below winning percentage and advanced to the playoffs, including at least one in each season.

“We’re just trying to win each week and then we’ll pick our heads up after that last game and see if we won enough to get into the playoffs,” says Philadelphia head coach Chip Kelly, whose Eagles defeated Dallas in overtime 33-27 to even their record at 4-4. “Our mentality every single week is that we’ve got to go out and play. Every single game is important.”

In every season since 1987, at least one team with a .500 or worse record through eight games has advanced to the postseason. Last year, Carolina (3-4-1) accomplished the feat and advanced to the NFC Divisional Playoffs.

A note from the NFL: In the wake of the violence that took place in Paris Friday night (early Saturday morning in Paris), the National Football League issued a statement regarding public safety. This is the statement from the league office.

The safety of our fans, stadium personnel, and teams at all NFL games is our priority, and security at our games is robust.  Our procedures have been certified and designated by the Department of Homeland Security since 2008 as effective anti-terrorism technology. All NFL clubs use mandatory metal detector screening and multiple layers of perimeter security external to the stadium to safeguard fans and the stadium from explosive threats.

Following the events in Paris on Friday, we are closely monitoring events and have been in communication with the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, which have informed us that there are no known threats against NFL stadiums.

In addition to our standard procedures described above, there will be an increased security and law enforcement presence both inside and outside stadiums in the parking lots of our stadiums this weekend.  We have been in contact with clubs hosting games to reinforce our standard procedures and the league’s best practices.

We strongly recommend that fans do not bring bags with them to the stadium. If it is essential to bring a bag, it must be in compliance with the clear bag policy which requires that it be made of clear plastic, vinyl or PVC and not exceed 12″ x 6″ x 12.”  It is important that all fans comply with these requirements, and we appreciate their efforts to cooperate with these security measures.

The NFL and team security departments work closely with stadium operation personnel and federal, state, and local law enforcement to provide a safe experience for the more than 17 million fans who annually attend NFL games. The NFL and its teams continually evaluate and improve our comprehensive security plan.

Commissioner Goodell has asked NFL teams to hold a pre-game moment of silence this weekend for victims & families of Paris terror attacks.

In other words, be vigilant if you go to the stadium this weekend.
Week 10 got underway Thursday night when Buffalo beat the New York Jets 22-17 in an AFC East showdown in upstate New Jersey and will conclude on Monday night (8:30 PM ET, ESPN) when the Bengals host the Houston Texans. As for last week? Not a good week but not a bad one at .500 (7-7) and for the year, that’s 91-41. Here are the Sunday and Monday games for week 10.

Jacksonville (2-6) at Baltimore (2-6), 1 p.m. (CBS and DirecTV 705). A pair of 2-6 teams meet in Charm City as Jacksonville travels 750 miles north on I-95 to face the Baltimore Ravens.

The Jaguars nearly came out of the Meadowlands with a win over the New York Jets last Sunday but fell to GangGreen 28-23.  With one last chance and no time outs and their backs to their goal line, Bortles threw what would be an ill-advised pass as CB Marcus Williams picked him off, ending the game for Jacksonville and sending Jets fans home happy. The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! were 5 of 15 on third down tries but found success in their only fourth down try in the contest, keeping the ball for 30:44, while Jacksonville held the pigskin for 29:16 and was 7 of 16 on third down. The Jets led 14-10 at the half at MetLife Stadium, then held off a furious Jaguar rally, barely outscoring Jacksonville in the second half by a 14-13 margin, despite being held to 29 yards rushing, while Jacksonville ran for 98. Jets RB Chris Ivory ran for a pair of TDs in the 5-point win and the Jets defense sacked Blake Bortles six times and picked him off twice, while Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 272 yards without an interception and a pair of TDs in the process.

Baltimore returns to action from their bye week, taking a 29-26 last-second win over San Diego in Charm City. Trailing the 16-13 at the intermission, the Ravens rallied in the second half, outscoring San Diego 16-10 in the final 30 minutes and Ravens K Jeff Tucker broke the hearts of Chargers fans as he nailed a 39-yard field goal as the clock expired. There were three bright spots for San Diego last Sunday. First, they outrushed Baltimore 81-72, second, Philip Rivers threw for 301 yards and three TDs and third, the Charger defense sacked Joe Flacco three times. There was one more thing (to paraphrase Columbo)… the Chargers did well on third down conversions, going 7 of 13 and held the ball for 30:06, while the Ravens were 5 of 12 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down and held on to the ball for 29:54.

Jacksonville holds a 10-8 lead in the series and have outscored the Ravens 392-355. Baltimore did win the last meeting with Jacksonville last year in Charm City, taking a 20-12 win over the Jaguars (Jacksonville’s last win over the Ravens came in 2011 in north Florida by a 12-7 final).

They met in week 15 along the Chesepeake and the Jaguars led 12-10 at the half before the Ravens would score their last eight points of the contest unchallenged. Baltimore took the lead for keeps in the third quarter when Flacco and TE Owen Daniels connected on a 3-yard TD pass with 8:34 left in the quarter. Neither club breached the 100-yard rushing barrier but the Ravens were the closest, rushing for 93, while Jacksonville ran for 82. Flacco threw for 221 yards without being sacked, while Jaguars signal caller Blake Bortles was sacked eight times and picked off once. Third down tries in the contest were nothing to write, text or tweet about in the contest (Jacksonville was 5 of 18 and 1 of 3 on fourth down; Baltimore was 4 of 12) and time was on the side of Jacksonville, whol held the ball for 31:42 to Baltimore’s 28:18.

Baltimore was favored by 13 1/2 in Charm City in the week 15 contest but won by only eight and the 45 over/under was never in danger, as they only mustered a combined 32 points. The Ravens are favored by 6 with a 50 over/under. Although they have played better than their records would indicate, this is one you might want to avoid (unless you’re a fan of either team) and beg the wife/girlfriend/significant other to take you early Christmas shopping at Victoria’s Secret. Baltimore covers the 6 at home in Charm City with the win.

Detroit (1-7) at Green Bay (6-2), 1 p.m. (FOX and DirecTV 708). A pair of NFC North rivals meet in the land of cheese, beer and bratwurst as the Packers host the struggling Detroit Lions at Lambeau.

The Lions return from the bye week after their 45-10 loss to Kansas City in London. Detroit could never get on track in the contest on the other side of the Atlantic, trailing 24-3 at the break. Lions QB Matthew Stafford was sacked six times and picked off twice as Detroit was held to 81 yards rushing, while the Chiefs tallied 206. Detroit went 2 of 12 on third down and 1 of 2 on fourth down conversions, keeping the ball for 25:46, while the Chiefs were 8 of 13 on third down tries, holding the ball for 34:14.

After wins in their first six contests, Green Bay returns to Lambeau with two losses in a row under their belts. The Pack lost their second contest in as many tries in Charlotte against the Carolina Panthers and Cam Newton 37-29. Green Bay was held to 71 yards on the ground, while allowing Carolina to run for 130 yards. The one bright spot for Green Bay was Aaron Rodgers, who threw for 369 yards and four TDs (Rodgers was sacked five times and picked off once). For his part, Newton threw for 297 and three TDs without being sacked or intercepted. Carolina was 5 of 15 on third down tries and held the ball for 32:12, while Green Bay, who lost their second game in a row, was 3 of 14 on third down, 2 of 3 on fourth down and kept the ball for 27:48.

The Cheeseheads lead the series 95-67-7 and have outscored the Lions 3,578-3,073 (that includes games that the Lions played when they were in beautiful downtown Portsmouth and known as the Spartans, who were not prepared for glory back then). They split the season series in the 2014 campaign and each took wins at home.

The first meeting was in week three in the Motor City in the great indoors of Ford Field and Detroit came away 19-7 winners. Green Bay, who trailed 12-7 at halftime, was held to 76 yards on the ground, while the Lions tallied 115. Detroit went 11 of 18 on third down conversions, while holding the ball for 38:13, while the Packers were 4 of 10 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down, keeping the ball for 21:47.

That was game one.

Game two.

The land of cheese, beer and bratwurst.

Week 17 at Lambeau Field and the frozen tundra. While it was a comfortable and balmy 68 degrees in the indoors of Ford Field, such was not the case in upstate Wisconsin (how cold, you ask? 27 degrees with a wind chill of 21) and the Packers took a 14-7 halftime lead over the Lions and came away 30-20 winners. This time, the Packers found success with their rushing game, tallying 152 yards (Packers RB Eddie Lacy accounting for 100), while the Lions ran for 111. Stafford and Rodgers combined for five TD passes in the second meeting (Stafford with 3, Rodgers with 2) but Stafford found himself being sacked twice in the 10-point loss. Green Bay also improved on third down conversions in front of the home crowd, going 8 of 13 (0 of 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for 34:18, while Detroit kept the pigskin for 25:42 and went 4 of 11 and 1 of 3 on third and fourth down.

Detroit was favored by 1 in the first contest in week three and covered the spread with their 12-point win but neither club reached the over/under of 52, scoring only 26 points. In the second meeting in week 17 at Lambeau, Green Bay won by 10, which allowed them to cover the 7 1/2 spread and unlike the first meeting, both clubs managed to cover the 47 1/2 over/under with 52 points.

The Packers are favored by 12 and the over/under’s 48. The Packers have been struggling of late in their last two contests, while the Lions are trying to get out of the NFC North cellar. Detroit’s bad but not 12 points bad. They’ll make a game of it but Green Bay gets back on track with the win at home in the land of cheese, beer and bratwurst.

Miami (3-5) at Philadelphia (4-4), 1 p.m. (CBS and DirecTV 706). It’s a North-South battle in the City of Brotherly Love as Miami travels to Philadelphia to face off against the Eagles.

Miami makes the 1,200 mile trip up I-95 after their 33-17 loss to Buffalo in Orchard Park. Miami was outrushed by the Bills 266-106 (RBs LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams each rushed for over 100 yards, with McCoy tallying 112 and a TD, while Williams chipped in with 110 and two TDS) and the Bill defense sacked Miami QB Ryan Tannehill twice, once for a safety to open the scoring in the contest. Miami found themselves trailing 19-7 at halftime and could never get back on track in upstate New York. Miami went 4 of 9 on third down conversions, holding the ball for 28:47, while the Bills kept the pigskin for 31:13, going 8 of 13 on third down tries.

The Eagles return home with a 33-27 overtime win over NFC East rival Dallas last Sunday in Arlington. The Sunday evening contest was tied at 7-7 at the intermission (the game had five lead changes and was tied four times) and the Cowboys never led, eventually tying things up at 27-27 when K Dan Bailey connected on a 44-yard field goal with 2 seconds left in regulation. In the overtime, Philly saw to it that the Dallas offense would never see the field again, as Philadelphia marched down the field in the extra period of play, using 9 plays, 80 yards and 4:01 to take the win when wR Jordan Matthews and QB Sam Bradford connected on an 41-yard TD pass to end the contest. Cowboys RB Darren McFadden ran for 117 of his team’s 134 yards in the contest, while the Eagles tallied 172 and QB Matt Cassel threw for three TDs but was sacked four times. Dallas was 8 of 16 on third down tries, while going a perfect 2 of 2 on fourth down and held the ball for 38:19. Philly went 3 of 13 on third down but also had success on fourth down, going 2 of 2 and kept the ball for 25:42, including the overtime.

Miami leads the series 7-6 but the Eagles have outscored Miami 259-239 and have won the last three meetings, including a 26-10 in Miami in 2011 (Miami’s last win in the series also came in Miami in 1999 by a 16-13 final) Philadelphia’s favored by 6 and the over/under’s 47. Eagles fans, get ready for more celebratory cheesesteak this week. Philly may not cover the 6 but they win at home.

Cleveland (2-7) at Pittsburgh (5-4), 1 p.m. (CBS and DirecTV 707). The Steelers host the struggling Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field in a key AFC North matchup in the Steel City.

Cleveland was held to 69 yards rushing and Johnny Manziel was sacked three times in the 31-10 loss at Cincinnati last Thursday night. The Browns were held to their 10 points in the first half and shutout for the rest of the contest. Cleveland in the 21-point loss last Thursday went 4 of 13 on third down tries (1 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 23:57, while the Bengals were 8 of 14 on third down, keeping the ball for 36:03 and found success in their only fourth down try.

The Steelers found themselves in a battle with the Oakland Raiders last Sunday and needed to fight their way to a 38-35 win over the Silver and Black. Pittsburgh led 21-14 at the half before Oakland rallied in the second half to even things up at 35-35 when RB Michael Crabtree and QB David Carr connected on a 38-yard TD pass with 75 seconds left to play. The Steelers would then take 1:13, seven plays and 79 yards to take the lead back for good when K Chris Boswell connected on a 18-yard field goal with 2 seconds left in regulation. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger threw for 334 yards and a pair of TDs before leaving the contest with an ankle injury, while Carr threw four TDs and 301 yards. On third down tries, both teams were good but not great, as neither team breached the 50 percent mark (Oakland was 6 of 14, Pittsburgh was 6 of 17 and went 1 of 2 on fourth down). Time was the ally of the Steelers, who kept the ball for 32:04 to Oakland’s 27:56.

Pittsburgh holds a 66-58 lead in the series and have outscored Cleveland 2,508-2,405. The two clubs spilt last season’s meetings with both clubs taking wins at home.

The first meeting was in week one in the Steel City and the Steelers needed a 41-yard field goal by Sean Suisham as time expired to win 30-27. LeVeon Bell ran for 109 yards and a TD for the Steelers, who were outrushed by Cleveland 183-127 (Cleveland’s Terrance West ran for 100) and the Browns managed to sack Roethlisberger four times. Cleveland trailed 27-3 at the half before they rallied in the final 30 minutes of play, outscoring the Steelers 24-3. The Browns on third down tries were 2 of 11 and held the ball for 27:33, while the Steelers were 4 of 12 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down and kept the ball for 32:27.

Game two… Cleveland… week six. This time, the Browns got revenge against their AFC North rivals and came away with 31-10 winners along the shores of Lake Erie. The Browns trailed 3-0 after the first 15 minutes of play and outscored Pittsburgh 31-7 the rest of the way, leading 21-3 at the half. Again, both teams managed to break the 100-yard rushing barrier and Cleveland outrushed Pittsburgh 158-138, while Roethlisberger threw for 228 yards and a TD, while Brandon Hoyer threw for 217. The two teams struggled on third down tries in the second meeting (Pittsburgh was 6 of 16, Cleveland 4 of 11) and time was the ally of the Steelers, who kept the ball for 33:05 to Cleveland’s 26:55 (Pittsburgh had two fourth down tries and failed on both).

The Steelers were 6 1/2 point favorites at Heinz Field in week one but won by three but both clubs covered the 40 1/2 over/under, combining for 57 points. In the week six contest in Cleveland, the Browns easily covered the 1 1/2 point spread, winning by 21 but the teams missed the 47 over/under by 6. Pittsburgh’s favored by 4 1/2 and the over/under 41. Both numbers make a lot of sense. Both teams are trying to catch the AFC North-leading Bengals, who play at home against Houston Monday night. Pittsburgh makes life miserable for Cleveland at Heinz, as the Steelers take the win and cover the 4 1/2.

Chicago (3-5) at St. Louis (4-4), 1 p.m. (CBS and DirecTV 709) Chicago takes a trip to the great indoors as they travel to St. Louis to face off against the Rams.

Da Bears trailed San Diego 16-9 at the half at Qualcomm Stadium last Monday night and came away 22-19 winners, outscoring the Chargers 15-3 in the final 30 minutes of play. Chicago outrushed San Diego 109-77 and held off a late Chargers rally in the final quarter when QB Philip Rivers threw a pair of incompletions that would have extended their drive and given the home team a chance to either tie things up or win in regulation. Meanwhile, Rivers’ passing counterpart Jay Cutler threw for 345 yards and a pair of TDs, despite being sacked once and picked off once. Both Da Bears and the Chargers did well on third down tries (Chicago was 9 of 15, San Diego was 7 of 13, 0 of 1 on fourth down) and the clock was the ally of Da Bears, who kept the ball for 33:35 to San Diego’s 26:25.

St. Louis let a 15-10 lead at the half in the Land of 10,000 Lakes get away from them, then rallied to tie things up in regulation, only to come away from the Twin Cities with a 21-18 overtime loss to Minnesota. The Rams tied the contest up with 12 seconds left in regulation when Rams’K Greg Zuerlein connected on a 53-yard field goal. St. Louis went three and out after getting the ball in overtime and punted to the Vikings, who proceeded to march their way down the field at TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, with Vikings K Brad Walsh connecting on a 40-yard field goal with 9:20 left in the extra period. St. Louis did manage to outrush the Vikings 160-145 with rookie RB Todd Gurley leading his team with 89 yards, while Vikings RB Adrian Peterson led all rushers with 125 yards and a TD. Minnesota on third down went 3 of 13 on third down and kept the ball for 33:13, while the Rams were 2 of 16 on third down (1 of 1 on fourth down), holding the pigskin for 32:27.

Including games that were played in Cleveland when the Rams were headquartered there, then moved to Los Angeles and then to St. Louis and Da Bears played their home games at Wrigley Field, Chicago holds a 51-35-3 lead in the series and have outscored St. Louis 2,064-1,810. St. Louis’ last win in the series came in 2013 when they took a 42-21 win in St. Louis, while Chicago’s last win came in the Windy City by a 23-6 final in 2012. The Rams are favored by 7 and the over/under’s 43. This one could go either way, as both teams are trying to catch the leaders in their respective divisions. Chicago makes it close but St. Louis picks itself up from the loss in the Twin Cities and wins at home.

Dallas (2-6) at Tampa Bay (3-5), 1 p.m. (FOX and DirecTV 710). A pair of struggling teams meet in the Sunshine State when Dallas travels to Tampa Bay to face off against the Bucs in the new Sombrero.

Dallas’ latest woes continue as they struggled to pull even with NFC East rival Philadelphia last Sunday night in Arlington before falling to the Eagles 33-27 in overtime. The Sunday evening contest was tied at 7-7 at the intermission (the game had five lead changes and was tied four times) and the Cowboys never led, eventually tying things up at 27-27 when K Dan Bailey connected on a 44-yard field goal with 2 seconds left in regulation. Dallas would kick the ball off to the Eagles in the overtime and the offense would never see the field again, as Philadelphia marched down the field in the extra period of play, using 9 plays, 80 yards and 4:01 to take the win when wR Jordan Matthews and QB Sam Bradford connected on an 41-yard TD pass to end the contest. Cowboys RB Darren McFadden ran for 117 of his team’s 134 yards in the contest, while the Eagles tallied 172 and QB Matt Cassel threw for three TDs but was sacked four times. Dallas was 8 of 16 on third down tries, while going a perfect 2 of 2 on fourth down and held the ball for 38:19. Philly went 3 of 13 on third down but also had success on fourth down, going 2 of 2 and kept the ball for 25:42, including the overtime.

Tampa Bay trailed the New York Football Giants 17-9 at halftime last Sunday at Raymond James Stadium, falling 32-18 in the Sunshine State. The one bright spot for Bucs fans was that they did manage to outrush Eli and the G-Men 136-114 but turned the ball over three times. New York on third down tries went 9 of 16, keeping the ball for 34:55, while the Bucs were 6 of 13 on third down tries (neither club had a fourth down conversion attempt) and held the ball for 25:05.

Dallas leads the series 11-3, have outscored Tampa Bay 268-198 and have taken wins in the last five contests the teams have played, including a 16-10 win in Arlington in 2012. Tampa Bay’s last win over Dallas came in 2003 in the Sunshine State, as they shutout Dallas 16-0. Tampa Bay’s favored by 1 and the over/under’s 43 1/2. This one will be a good game to watch but not a great one. Dallas recovers from its woes and miseries on and off the field and takes this one, covering the 1.

Carolina (8-0) at Tennessee (2-6), 1 p.m. (FOX and DirecTV 711) A pair of Heisman winners meet in the Music City as Carolina travels to Nashville to face off against the Tennessee Titans. Both teams enter the interconference contest with huge wins under their belts.

The Panthers have won 12 consecutive regular-season games dating back to last season and are the NFC’s lone unbeaten team. In last week’s win over Green Bay, quarterback Cam Newton recorded his 15th game with at least two touchdown passes and a touchdown run, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers Steve Young (17) and Fran Tarkenton (16) as the only players in NFL history to have 15 such performances. Carolina’s defense sealed the victory with five sacks of Aaron Rodgers and a late interception by linebacker Thomas Davis, who is the only player in the NFL this season with at least three sacks and three interceptions. Carolina led Green Bay 27-3 at the half last Sunday at Bank of America Stadium and held off a late Packers rally to win 37-29. The Panthers outrushed Green Bay 130-71 and Newton threw for 297 and three TDs without being sacked or intercepted. Carolina was 5 of 15 on third down tries and held the ball for 32:12, while Green Bay, who lost their second game in a row, was 3 of 14 on third down, 2 of 3 on fourth down and kept the ball for 27:48.

“The next game is always the biggest game,” says Davis. “That’s the approach we are taking right now and we’re going to continue to take that approach the rest of the season. It’s all about coming away with the victory. That’s all that matters.”

The Titans knocked off New Orleans 34-28 in overtime last week. Rookie quarterback Marcus Mariotta passed for 371 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions against the Saints and is the only rookie in NFL history to have two games with four TD passes and no interceptions. Mariota, who connected with tight end Anthony Fasano on the game-winning touchdown in overtime, has now thrown eight touchdowns and no interceptions in two games against NFC South opponents.

“Our team just stayed composed,” Mariota told the Tennesseean about the team’s performance at New Orleans. “We believe in each other and for us moving forward, that’s what we need. We’re going to continue to work hard. We’ll keep doing that and hopefully we’ll keep pulling out some of these wins.” Tennessee, who broke a six-game losing streak and gave interim head coach Mike Mularkey his first win, trailed 21-17 before eventually rallying scoring to make the contest a 2-point affair when TE Justin Hunter and Mariota connected on an 8-yard TD pass with 7:06 in regulation. Tennessee went for the tie and evened things up on the 2-point conversion when Mariota and TE Delanie Walker (who had caught two TD passes on tipped balls) caught the 2-point try to tie things up. Tennessee would then go on to take the win, not allowing the Saints offense to take the field as they won the toss in overtime and marched down the field in 9 plays and 80 yards, ending the game and sending Saints fans home sad from the Superdome when Mariota and TE Anthony Fasano connected on a 5-yard pass. Drew Brees did manage to throw a pair of TDs and 387 yards but was sacked four times and picked off once (Mariota threw for 371 yards and four TDs without being sacked or intercepted). The Saints were 6 of 11 on third down tries and kept the ball for 32:49, while Tennessee, who broke a six-game losing streak, went 5 of 13 on third down and held the ball for 32:21, including the overtime.

Tennessee leads the series 3-1, have outscored the Panthers 93-58 and won the last three meetings, with the last Titan win coming in 2011 in the Tar Heel State by a 30-3 final (Carolina’s only win in the series was the first meeting in 1996, when the Titans were in Houston and known as the Oilers, by a final of 31-6). The Panthers are favored in the Music City by 6 1/2 and the over/under’s 42 1/2. The Panthers are looking to stay unbeaten, while Tennessee would like nothing better than to be David and knock off Goliath. The Titans will have to get a few more rocks to do that in the Music City as Carolina covers the 6 1/2 and wins on the road to stay unbeaten.

New Orleans (4-5) at Washington (3-5), 1 p.m. (FOX and DirecTV 712). A pair of teams struggling and losses under their belts from last week meet in Landover as Drew Brees and the Saints square off against the Washington Redskins.

New Orleans blew a 21-17 lead against Tennessee last Sunday in the Big Easy and would eventually fall to the Titans 34-28 in overtime. The Saints led 28-20 early in the fourth quarter before Tennessee WR Justin Hunter and QB Marcus Mariota connected on an 8-yard TD pass with 7:06 in regulation. Tennessee would then tie things up on the 2-point conversion when Mariota and TE Delanie Walker (who had caught two TD passes on tipped balls) caught the 2-point try to tie things up. Tennessee would then go on to take the win, not allowing the Saints offense to take the field as they won the toss in overtime and marched down the field in 9 plays and 80 yards, ending the game and sending Saints fans home sad from the Superdome when Mariota and TE Anthony Fasano connected on a 5-yard pass. Drew Brees did manage to throw a pair of TDs and 387 yards but was sacked four times and picked off once (Mariota threw for 371 yards and four TDs without being sacked or intercepted). The Saints were 6 of 11 on third down tries and kept the ball for 32:49, while Tennessee, who broke a six-game losing streak, went 5 of 13 on third down and held the ball for 32:21, including the overtime.

Washington was held by New England to 37 yards in their 27-10 loss at Foxboro, while RB LeGarrette Blount ran for 129 of New England’s 161. Washington trailed 17-3 at the break and could never really get on track against the defending Super Bowl champs. New England went 9 of 16 on third down tries and found success in their only fourth down conversion, holding the ball for 37:05, while the ‘Skins were 7 of 14 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down, keeping the ball for 22:55.

Washington leads the series 16-8 and have outscored the Saints 562-466. Washington won the last meeting with New Orleans in the Big Easy in 2012 by a 40-32 final, while New Orleans’ last win came in 2003 at old RFK Stadium by a final of 24-20. The oddsmakers like the Saints as a 1-point favorite and the over/under is 50. Both teams are struggling in their respective divisions and both have been pretty inconsistent at times. Redskins fans will be saying “HELL! IT’S THE REDSKINS” this week as the Saints cover the 1 1/2 and win in Landover.

Minnesota (5-3) at Oakland (4-4), 4:05 p.m. (CBS and DirecTV 713). A pair of former Super Bowl foes meet in northern Californa as Minnesota takes on Oakland in a late afternoon affair across the bay.

The Vikings have won six of their past seven games, including last week’s 21-18 overtime win over St. Louis. One week after kicking the game-winning field goal at the end of regulation at Chicago, Minnesota’s Blair Walsh converted the game-winner from 40 yards out to beat the Rams in OT.

“I really like our football team,” Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and KARE-TV. “We’re a pretty resilient football team. They believe in each other. It’s not always pretty but it’s always pretty when you get the win.” Minnesota trailed 15-10 at the half in the Land of 10,000 Lakes before rallying to catch up to the Rams in regulation when Teddy Bridgewater scored on a 6-yard TD run and a 2-point conversion for an 18-15 lead. That lead would not last all that long when the Rams’ Greg Zuerlein connected on a 53-yard field goal with 12 seconds left in regulation. St. Louis went three and out after getting the ball in overtime and punted to the Vikings, who proceeded to march their way down the field at TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, with Walsh sending the home fans happy with smiles on their faces when he connected on the game-winning field goal. Vikings RB Adrian Peterson led all rushers wtih 125, even though his team was outrushed by the Rams 160-145 in the overtime affair, while rookie RB Todd Gurley ran for 89. Minnesota on third down went 3 of 13 on third down and kept the ball for 33:13, while the Rams were 2 of 16 on third down (1 of 1 on fourth down), holding the pigskin for 32:27.

The Raiders enter the midpoint at 4-4 and have won two of their past three games. Oakland quarterback Derek Carr has thrown 11 touchdowns and just one interception over the past three games (119.3 passer rating) and aims for his fourth start in a row with at least three touchdown passes. Raiders wide receiver Amarii Cooper leads all rookies with 45 catches, 653 receiving yards and four touchdown catches. Oakland looks to recover from a 38-35 loss over Pittsburgh last Sunday in the Steel City.

Pittsburgh led 21-14 at the half before Oakland rallied in the second half to even things up at 35-35 when RB Michael Crabtree and QB David Carr connected on a 38-yard TD pass with 75 seconds left to play. The Steelers would then take 1:13, seven plays and 79 yards to take the lead back for good when K Chris Boswell connected on a 18-yard field goal with 2 seconds left in regulation. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger threw for 334 yards and a pair of TDs before leaving the contest with an ankle injury, while Carr threw four TDs and 301 yards. On third down tries, both teams were good but not great, as neither team breached the 50 percent mark (Oakland was 6 of 14, Pittsburgh was 6 of 17 and went 1 of 2 on fourth down). Time was the ally of the Steelers, who kept the ball for 32:04 to Oakland’s 27:56.

“We have a great group of guys here,” says Carr. “This team is a very resilient bunch. We’re just going to keep fighting.”

The Silver and Black lead the series 9-4 (which includes contests that were played when the Raiders played in Los Angeles and the Vikings played at old Metropolitan Stadium) and have outscored the Purple Gang 321-250. Oakland’s last win over Minnesota came in 2011 in the Twin City, leaving the Metrodome with a 27-21 win, while Minnesota’s last win in the series came in 2007, also in the Twin Cities by a 29-22 final.

They also met in Super Bowl XI and the Raiders were 32-14 winners in Pasadena at the Rose Bowl. Oakland’s Fred Biletnikoff had four catches in the contest but three set up short TDs for the 18-point win over the Vikings, who led 16-0 at the half and were never really challenged after that. Oakland’s favored by 3 and the over/under is 40. Both numbers make sense and both offenses are capable of scoring points. Oakland takes this one at home to go over the .500 mark but expect Minnesota, without Teddy Bridgewater (concussion) to fight to the end.

Kansas City (3-5) at Denver (7-1), 4:25 p.m. (CBS and DirecTV 714). A pair of old AFC rivals meet in the Rocky Mountains as the Chiefs travel to the thin air of Denver to face off against the Broncos and Peyton Manning.

Kansas City returns to action from their bye after their 45-10 win over Detroit in London. The Chiefs led 24-3 at the break and never found themselves threatened by Detroit, outscoring the Lions in the second half 21-7 and sacking Matthew Stafford six times and picking him off twice. Kansas City in the win held Detroit to 81 rushing yards, while they tallied 206. The Chiefs went 8 of 13 on third down tries and kept the ball for 34:14, while the struggling Lions were 2 of 12 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth downs, keeping the ball for 25:46.

Denver returns to Sports Authority Field at Mile High suffering their first loss after reeling off seven wins in a row, falling to Manning’s old team Indianapolis 27-24. Trailing 17-7 at halftime, Denver did manage to pull themselves even when Manning and TE Owen Daniels connected on a 1-yard TD pass with 8:54 left to play in regulation. That tie would last all of 2:41, as Colts K Adam Vinatieri nailed a 55-yard field goal with 6:13 left in the contest. Indy picked Manning (281 yards and two TDs) off to stop a Denver drive and later tried another Vinatieri field goal to seal the win but things got a bit on the “Stooge” side of things as CB Aqib Talib picked up an unsportsmanlike penalty (the second of two penalties in that drive) when he poked a Colts player in the eye. Talib would later be fined and is suspended for the contest for his attempt to be the fourth Stooge for his eye poke. Denver was held to 35 yards rushing, while the Colts won the catagory, rushing for 120. Both clubs did quite well on third down tries last Sunday (Denver was 6 of 12, Indy 12 of 20) and the clock favored Indy at 38:39 to Denver’s 21:21.

These old AFC West rivals meet for the 110th time and the Chiefs lead the series 56-53. While Kansas City has outscored the Broncos 2,491-2,249, the Broncos have won seven of the last eight contests, including sweeping the series in 2014 (Kansas City’s last win came in 2011 by a 7-3 final in Denver).

Week two… Denver. The Broncos escaped with a 24-17 win. Denver led 21-10 at the half and then held off Kansas City in the second half. Kansas City outrushed Denver 133-88 but Manning threw for 242 yards and three TDs in the win at Sports Authority Field at Mile High (Alex Smith threw for 255 but was sacked twice) and both teams played turnover-free football. Kansas City was 11 of 16 on third down tries and 0 of 1 on fourth down, while the Broncos were 3 of 8 and 1 of 1 but time was the ally of Kansas City, who kept the ball for 36:14, while Peyton and the Broncos kept the pigskin for 23:46.

Game two… chilly Arrowhead in week 13 and for Denver, second verse, same as the first, with the Broncos coming away from Arrowhead Stadium 29-16 winners. Denver led 20-7 at the break and the two teams played even football in the final 30 minutes of action. Broncos K Connor Barth connected on five field goals in the contest, with his longest coming from 37 yards away in a contest that was played in ideal conditions (if you were a snowman… temperature at kickoff was 27 degrees with a 14 wind chill). This time, the Broncos running game found some energy, as they tallied 214 yards and held Kansas City to 41 (Broncos RB C.J. Anderson ran amok, rushing for 168 yards in the second meeting) and the Denver defense made life somewhat miserable for Smith, sacking him six times in the game that really meant nothing to the Chiefs. Third down tries in the second contest? Nothing of great excitement (Denver was 9 of 21 but 2 of 2 on fourth down; Kansas City was 1 of 9 and 1 of 2 third and fourth down-wise) and this time, Denver ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 38:47 to Kansas City’s 21:13.

Although they were favored by 12, the Broncos only won by 7 and both teams combined for only 41 points, missing the 51 1/2 over/under in the week two contest in the Rocky Mountains. In the week 13 meeting in Kansas City, the Broncos did manage to cover the 1 1/2 point spread with their 13-point win but again, neither team covered the over/under of 51, missing by 6.

This time, the Broncos are the darling of the oddsmakers in Vegas, favored by 7 with a 42 1/2 over/under. Both numbers make a lot of sense. The Chiefs are coming off the bye week after their trip across the big pond, while the Broncos are looking to right their ship after losing for the first time in 2015. It’ll be a lot closer than the 7 but Denver comes away with the win.

New England (8-0) at New York Giants (5-4), 4:25 p.m. (CBS and DirecTV 715). Brady vs. Manning. They meet again. The Pats, who look to remain unbeaten, while the Giants, who lead the NFC East, look to knock off the defending Super Bowl champions in the Meadowlands.

The Patriots defeated Washington 27-10 last week and became the fourth defending Super Bowl champion to begin a season 8-0 (1990 San Francisco, 1998 Denver and 2011 Green Bay). New England has scored a point in 31 consecutive quarters, tied for the longest streak in NFL history (1999-2000 St. Louis and 2005 Indianapolis). The defending Super Bowl champs held Washington to 37 yards, while RB LeGarrette Blount ran for 129 of New England’s 161. New England went 9 of 16 on third down tries and found success in their only fourth down conversion, holding the ball for 37:05, while the ‘Skins were 7 of 14 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down, keeping the ball for 22:55.

“That was a good win for our team,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick told the Boston Globe. “We had to grind it out and had a lot of guys step up. They played well and did a good job of being ready to go. We made plays in all three phases of the game. That was good. It’s always good to win and we’re staying in the NFC East with the Giants.”

The Giants have won the past three meetings between these teams, including Super Bowls XLII (17-14) and XLVI (21-17). In New York’s two Super Bowl wins over New England, Giants quarterback Eli Manning was named Super Bowl MVP both times. Manning, who guided New York to a 32-18 win at Tampa Bay last week, recorded his 96th career regular-season win, passing Phil Simms (95) for the most regular-season wins by a starting quarterback in franchise history. Big Blue took a 17-9 halftime lead at Tampa Bay and made that lead last, taking down the Bucs 32-18. Although they were outrushed by Tampa Bay 136-114, the Giants led from start to finish in the win with Manning throwing a pair of TD passes, including one to WR Rueben Randle. The G-Men forced three Tampa Bay turnovers on defense and on offense was 9 of 16 on third down tries and kept the ball for 34:55, while the Bucs were 6 of 13 on third down tries (neither club had a fourth down conversion attempt) and held the ball for 25:05.

“They’re undefeated and one of the top teams in this league,” Randle said about the Patriots. He told the New York Times and USA Today, “We’re trying to approach this as another week. Another week that we have to go out and win to remain at the top of our division. We’ve got to look forward to the challenge and we all know that they’re a great team.”

New England leads the series 5-4 (which includes games played in New Haven), while the Giants have outscored the defending Super Bowl champs 167-162. They last met in regular season play in 2011 in Foxboro and the Giants were 24-20 winners in that meeting (New England’s last regular season victory came in 2007 in the Meadowlands by a final of 38-35).

That was regular season. They’ve met twice in the big game (Super Bowl) and the Giants took wins in both contests. Meeting number one came in Super Bowl XLII and the Giants came away 17-14 winners in Glendale. In front of a crowd of 71,101, the Giants ruined New England’s hope to run the table unbeaten and become the first to go post to post since the ’73 Dolphins. Manning followed his brother, Peyton, of the Indianapolis Colts, to become a Super Bowl MVP. His 13-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Plaxico Burress with 35 seconds remaining. During the game-winning drive, Manning made the play of the game by doing his best Houdini impression, escaping the grasps of two Patriots’ defensive linemen, spinning away and launching a deep pass downfield that wide receiver David Tyree caught in midair and cradled against his helmet as he fell to the ground for a 32-yard gain. Manning completed 19 of 34 passes for 255 yards and two touchdowns (Tyree also caught a five-yard scoring pass early in the fourth quarter to give the Giants a 10-7 lead).

They met again in Super Bowl, this time in Super Bowl XLVI and Pats fans found more heart-ache from Big Blue, as Manning beat Brady and the Pats 21-17 in Indy. Manning won his second Super Bowl MVP award in five seasons, leading the Giants to the victory. Manning completed 30 of 40 passes for 296 yards and one touchdown, a two-yard scoring throw to wide receiver Victor Cruz in the first quarter. Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks was Manning’s most popular target with 10 receptions for 109 yards in the title game.

Brady vs. Eli. Unbeaten vs. wanting to ruin the party for the Pats. There’s no way this one is not “DRILL WORTHY” and so with that… (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! If we do, it is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OVER!), 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 56 last June 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 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?”

New England’s favored by 7 and the over/under is 54. New England’s trying to make history, while the Giants are hoping to make trouble for Brady and the defending Super Bowl champs. It may not be the Super Bowl but the Pats get revenge on the Giants and take this one in upstate New Jersey, although the Giants could make it closer than the 7.

Arizona at Seattle, 8:30 p.m. (NBC). The Cardinals and Seahawks will meet on Sunday night in a key NFC West matchup. Arizona leads the division by two games over St. Louis and Seattle. Both the Cardinals and Seahawks had a bye in Week 9 and have won two games in a row. Both teams enter the contest with wins and byes under their wings.

The Desert Angry Birds return from their bye week after their 34-20 win over Cleveland. Cleveland led 20-10 at halftime before the Cardinals managed to pull away from the Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium, shutting out Cleveland in the second half 14-0. Cleveland was held to 39 yards rushing, while Arizona ran for 119 (with RB Chris Johnson leading his club with 109) in the loss at home along the shores of Lake Erie. Both clubs did reasonably well on third down conversions in upstate Ohio (Arizona was 13-16, Cleveland 9 of 16 and 0 of 1 on fourth down) and the Desert Angry Birds ruled the clock, keeping the pigskin for 34:23 to Cleveland’s 25:37.

Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer, who leads the NFC with 20 touchdown passes and a 110.2 passer rating, has won 19 of his past 23 starts. The Cardinals have won at least six of their first eight games for the second season in a row (7-1 in 2014), the first time the club has done that in back-to-back seasons since 1975-76. Arizona ties for the NFL lead with 13 interceptions and has four players with at least two INTs, led by safety Rashad Johnson (four).

“We’ve got a really tough challenge coming down the road,” says Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who leads the team in catches (55), receiving yards (706) and touchdowns (seven), about the team’s second-half schedule. “We understand that but I think we’re ready for the challenge. We’re excited about it.”

The Seahawks, who have won the NFC West and advanced to the Super Bowl in each of the past two seasons, are looking for a strong second half. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson has won four of his past five starts against the Cardinals and is 28-3 in his career at home, including the postseason.

“We’re getting there,” Wilson told KING-TV and KIRO-TV. “The confidence is there in the locker room. The belief, the energy and the passion are all there. Every game is going to be a tough one, and the goal is to progress and get better week in and week out.”

Seattle led Dallas 10-6 at the half in Arlington two weeks ago and allowed the Cowboys to lead briefly 12-10, thanks to a 27-yard field goal by Dan Bailey before the defending NFC champs took the lead back and for keeps when Seahawks K Steven Hauschka connected on a 24-yard field goal with 66 seconds left to play in regulation. Dallas did manage to outrush Seattle 129-113 but Cassel had only 97 yards passing (13 of 25), while Russell Wilson threw for 210. Dallas on third down tries went 4 of 14 (1 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 30:22, while the victorious Seahawks were 5 of 12, holding the ball for 29:38.

The series between the defending NFC champions and the Desert Angry Birds? Even at 16-16, which includes contests that were played when the Cards were in St. Louis, while the Seahawks have outscored Arizona 798-606 and swept the series last year (Arizona’s last win in the series came in the Pacific Northwest in 2013 by a 17-10 final).

The first meeting took place in week 12 in the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks as Seattle led 9-3 at the half and came away 19-3 winners. Seattle held Arizona to a 23-yard field goal by Chris Catanzaro with 14 seconds left before halftime, while Seahawks K Steven Hauschka connected on four field goals (his longest was 52 yards) and Cooper Helfet and Russell Wilson (who threw for 211 yards) connected on a 20 yard TD pass for the game’s only TD. Arizona was held to 64 yards rushing, while the Seahawks tallied 124 (Wilson led the way for Seattle with 73) and Drew Stanton was sacked three times (Wilson was sacked seven). Arizona was 3 of 12 on third down tries and kept the ball for 24:33, while the Seahawks ruled the clock, keeping the pigskin for 35:27 but struggled on third down conversions, going 5 of 13.

Game two… they met in the desert in week 16 and again, Seattle held the Desert Angry Birds to a pair of Catanzaro field goals and the Seahawks were 35-6 winners. Leading 14-3 at the intermission, Seattle held Arizona in check in the second half, outscoring them 21-3 in the final 30 minutes of play. Marshawn Lynch was in “beast” mode, running for 113 yards and a pair of TDs, while Seattle ran for 267 and held Arizona to a somewhat dismal 29 yards in the 29-point win. Third down tries in the second meeting were an issue again for both clubs, with Seattle going 5 of 12, while Arizona was 3 of 15 but found success in their only fourth down try and as in the first game, Seattle ruled the roost with the win and the clock, keeping the ball for 33:03 to Arizona’s 26:57.

Seattle in the week 12 contest at CenturyLink Field was favored by 6 1/2 and won by 16, covering the spread with ease. That was the good news. The bad news? Neither team reached the 41 1/2 over/under, scoring only 22 points. Seattle covered the spread again in week 16, winning by 29 (they were favored by 7 1/2) and this time, both teams covered the over/under, which was 37, by four. The oddsmakers like the Seahawks as 3 1/2 point favorites with a 46 over/under. Arizona may be in first place in the NFC West but the Seahawks are the defending NFC champs. Seattle covers the 3 1/2 and wins in the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks.

Houston (3-5) at Cincinnati (8-0), 8:30 p.m. Monday (ESPN). J.J. Watt. Andy Dalton. The young guns meet in Cincinatti to close out play in week 10 Monday night along the banks of the Ohio.

Houston comes out of the bye week after their 20-6 win over Tennessee in the Lone Star State. Erasing a 3-0 first quarter deficit against the Titans, Houston would lead 10-3 at the half and hold Tennessee to a Ryan Succop field goal in the second half for the win, which gave the Titans their sixth loss in a row and forced them to make a coaching change as Ken Whisenhunt was given the pink slip and Mike Mularkey would take over on an interim basis. Suprisingly, Tennesee did manage to outrush the Texans 86-56 but Titans QB Zack Metzenberger would be sacked seven times, while Texans signal called Brian Hoyer threw for 235 yards and a pair of TDs without an interception. Houston was 4 of 15 on third down tries and kept the ball for 28:52, while the Titans were 1 for 12 on third down, keeping the pigskin for 31:08 (both teams failed in their only fourth down try).

The Bengals remained unbeaten as they took Cleveland to the woodshed in Cincy, coming away 31-10 winners over their instate and AFC North rivals. Cleveland was held to 69 yards rushing and Johnny Manziel was sacked three times in the Thursday night contest at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals held Cincinnati to their 10 points in the first half and shut them out for the rest of the contest, holding the Bronws in check. The Bengals kept the ball for 23:57, going 8 of 14 on third down tries (1 of 1 on fourth down), while Cleveland went 4 of 13 on third down tries (1 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 23:57.

Bengals lead the series 4-3 with the Texans and have outscored Houston 152-136. Their last meeting was last year in the Lone Star State and the Bengals were 22-13 winners, while the Texans’ last win in the series came in 2011 in Cincy by a 20-19 final. They met in week 12 and the Bengals led 9-3 at the break before outscoing Houston 13-10 in the last 30 minutes of action. Cincinnati outrushed Houston 139-64 and Dalton outpassed Ryan Mallett 233-189 and had a TD pass to WR Mohamed Sanu in the contest. The Bengals went 11 of 20 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down tries, while the Texans were 4 of 14 on third down and 2 of 3 on fourth.  Cincinnati also ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 39:10 to Houston’s 20:50. Houston was favored by 1 1/2 in the week 12 contest in the Lone Star State and the Bengals covered the spread, winning by 9 but both clubs missed the over/under of 43 1/2, scoring only 35. This time, the Bengals are favored by 12 and the over/under is 48.

Neither team has done anything to write home about on Monday night as Cincinnati is 11-20, while Houston is 3-5. Both clubs played one MNF game in the 2014 campaign (Houston lost their Monday night contest, while the Bengals won theirs). Houston, you have a problem. The Texans will make this one closer but the Bengals move on to 9-0 with the win at home.

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