We’re at the halfway point!

As the NFL enters Week 8, one of the themes of the season has been close games. Through the first seven weeks, 80 games have been within one score in the fourth quarter, the most such games in a season’s first seven weeks in NFL history.

And not only are the games close but the standings are also tight. As the season nears the halfway point, 25 of the 32 teams are either in or within two games of the top spot in the division. So even for teams that sit in the bottom of their divisions, there’s still hope.

Currently, there are 16 teams with a winning record. Since 1990, when the 12-team playoff format was adopted, 274 of the league’s 312 playoff teams (87.8 percent) had a winning record through seven games. But nothing is a given in the NFL. There have been 38 teams since 1990 which had a .500 or lower record after seven games to advance to the postseason. That includes four teams last season – Houston (2-5), Kansas City (2-5), Seattle (3-4) and Washington (3-4).

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIR: London calling! The 2016 International Series in the United Kingdom concludes in Week 8 with the Cincinnati Bengals hosting the Washington Redskins at Wembley Stadium at 9:30 a.m. Eastern on FOX and it will be the last of three games played in London this season. The New York Giants defeated Los Angeles 17-10 last week in the first-ever game played at London’s Twickenham Stadium and Jacksonville beat the Indianapolis 30-27 in Week 4 at Wembley.

The NFL will return to Mexico City on Monday, November 21 at 8:30 p.m. Eastern on ESPN when Oakland hosts Houston in the first-ever Monday Night Football game to be played outside the United States.

The International Series has seen some very close contests since its inception in 2007. In the first 16 games in London, nine have been decided by one score, including both games so far this season.

The 16 regular-season games played in London, England:

DATE (WEEK) – Score
October 23, 2016 (7) – New York Giants 17, Los Angeles 10
October 2, 2016 (4) – Jacksonville 30, Indianapolis 27
November 1, 2015 (8) – Kansas City 45, Detroit 10
October 25, 2015 (7) – Jacksonville 34, Buffalo 31
October 4, 2015 (4) – New York Jets 27, Miami 14
November 9, 2014 (10) – Dallas 31, Jacksonville 17
October 26, 2014 (8) – Detroit 22, ATLANTA 21
September 28, 2014 (4) – Miami 38, Oakland 14
October 27, 2013 (8) – San Francisco 42, Jacksonville 10
September 29, 2013 (4) – Minnesota 34, Pittsburgh 27
October 28, 2012 (8) – New England 45, St. Louis 7
October 23, 2011 (7) – Chicago 24, Tampa Bay 18
October 31, 2010 (8) – San Francsico 24, Denver 16
October 25, 2009 (7) – New England 35, Tampa Bay 7
October 26, 2008 (8) – New Orleans 37, San Diego 32
October 28, 2007 (8) – New York Giants 13, Miami 10

CLOSE GAMES: There have been 80 games within one score in the fourth quarter through Week 7, the most such games in the first seven weeks of a season in NFL history. So if you like really close contests, then this is the year for you.

The most games within one score in the fourth quarter through Week 7:

SEASON – GAMES WITHIN ONE SCORE IN THE 4TH QUARTER THROUGH WEEK 7
2016 – 80
2013 – 77
2004 – 76
2012 – 74
2015 – 73
2010 – 73
2007 – 73

Seven teams – Baltimore, Carolina, Detroit, Indianapolis, the New York Giants, Tennessee and Washington – have had all of their games within one score in the fourth quarter this season.

PASSING FANCY: Quarterbacks have been historically efficient through Week 7 of the 2016 season, combining for a league-wide completion percentage of 63.5, on pace to be the highest of any season in NFL history (63.0 in 2015). The current league-wide passer rating of 90.0 is on pace to be the second-highest all-time (90.2 in 2015).

The league-wide yards-per-pass attempt average, currently at 7.25, is on pace to tie the highest of any season in the Super Bowl era (2015).

The seasons with the highest league-wide yards-per-pass attempt average in the Super Bowl era (since 1966):

SEASON – YARDS/PASS ATTEMPT
2015 – 7.25
2014 – 7.21
2011 – 7.20
1983 – 7.18
1989 – 7.15
2016 – 7.25*
* Through Week 7

AMAZING AJAYI: Miami running back Jay Ajayi rushed for 214 yards and one touchdown in the Dolphins’ 28-25 win against Buffalo at Hard Rock Stadium. Ajayi, who rushed for 204 yards in Week 6, is the first player since 1970 to rush for 200 yards in two of his first three career starts.

Ajayi became the fourth player in NFL history to rush for at least 200 yards in
consecutive games and he’s in some pretty good company, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers O.J. Simpson (twice) and
Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams.

The players with consecutive 200-yard rushing performances:

PLAYER – TEAM, SEASON (WEEK – RUSHING YARDS; WEEK – RUSHING YARDS)
Jay Ajayi – Miami, 2016 (6 – 204; 7 – 214)
Ricky Williams – Miami, 2002 (13 – 228; 14 – 216)
Earl Campbell – Houston, 1980 (7 – 203; 8 – 202)
O.J. Simpson – Buffalo, 1976 (12 – 273; 13 – 203)
O.J. Simpson – Buffalo, 1973 (13 – 219; 14 – 200)

CONSISTENT KICKER: Indianapolis kicker ADAM VINATIERI made both field-goal attempts in the Colts’ 34-26 win at Tennessee. Vinatieri has now converted 43 consecutive field-goal attempts, the longest streak in NFL history.

The most consecutive field goals made in NFL history:
PLAYER, SEASONS (CONSECUTIVE FIELD GOALS MADE)
Adam Vinatieri, 2015-present (43)*
Mike Vanderjagt, 2002-2004 (42)
Gary Anderson, 1997-1998 (40)
Matt Stover, 2005-2006 (36)
*Active streak

COOL BREES: New Orleans quarterback DREW BREES passed for 367 yards, three touchdowns and one interception for a 110.3 passer rating in the Saints’ 27-21 loss at Kansas City.

Brees, who has four 300-yard passing games this season, is the first quarterback in NFL history with 100 career 300-yard passing games.

The players with the most 300-yard passing games in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S)(MOST CAREER 300-YARD PASSING GAMES)
Drew Brees – New Orleans and San Diego (100)*
Peyton Manning – Denver and Indianapolis (93)
Tom Brady – New England (73)*
Dan Marino – Miami (63)
Brett Favre – Atlanta, Green Bay, New York Jets and Minnesota (62)
*Active

DETROIT DRAMA: Detroit quarterback Matthew STafford threw the game-winning 18-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Anquan Boldin with 16 seconds remaining in the Lions’ 20-17 win against Washington at Ford Field.

The comeback victory marked the third consecutive week in which Detroit overcame a fourth-quarter deficit to win at home, becoming the fifth team in NFL history to come from behind in the fourth quarter to win at home in three consecutive weeks in the same season (1926 Frankford Yellow Jackets, 1990 Buffalo Bills, 2009 Indianapolis Colts and 2011 Arizona Cardinals).

Stafford, who passed for 266 yards in the victory and was playing in his 100th career game, has 27,890 passing yards, the most by any player in his first 100 games to begin a career.

MARVELOUS MATTHEW: Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford threw the game-winning 18-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Anquan Boldin with 16 seconds remaining in the Lions’ 20-17 win against Washington in Week 7, the 24th game-winning drive in the 4th quarter or overtime in his eight-year career.

With a game-winning drive in the 4th quarter or overtime on Sunday at Houston, Stafford would tie Peyton Manning (25) and Jake Plummer (25) for the second-most such drives in a player’s first eight seasons since 1970.

The most game-winning drives in the 4th quarter or overtime in a player’s first eight seasons since 1970:

PLAYER – TEAM (GAME-WINNING DRIVES IN 4TH QUARTER OR OT IN FIRST EIGHT SEASONS)
Matt Ryan – Atlanta (30)
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis (25)
Jake Plummer – Arizona and Denver (25)
Matthew Stafford – Detroit (24)*
*In his eighth season

RISING RYAN: Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan, who has passed for at least 300 yards four times this season, leads the league with 2,348 passing yards.

With 406 passing yards on Sunday against Green Bay, Ryan would surpass Philip Rivers (2,753 yards in 2015) for the second-most passing yards through eight games in NFL history.

The players with the most passing yards through eight games:

PLAYER – TEAM, SEASON (MOST PASSING YARDS THROUGHT EIGHT GAMES)
Peyton Manning – Denver, 2013 (2,919)
Philip Rivers – San Diego, 2015 (2,753)
Drew Brees – New Orleans, 2011 (2,746)
Andrew Luck- Indianapolis, 2014 (2,731)
Tom Brady – New England, 2015 (2,709)
Matt Ryan – Atlanta, 2016 (2,348)*
*Through seven games

ELITE ELLIOTT: Dallas rookie running back Ezekiel Elliot leads the NFL with 703 rushing yards. He has rushed for at least 130 yards in four consecutive games, the first rookie in NFL history to accomplish the feat.

With 130 rushing yards against Philadelphia on Sunday night in Arlington, Elliott would become just the seventh player in NFL history to rush for at least 130 yards in five consecutive games.

The players to rush for 130+ yards in five consecutive games:

PLAYER – TEAM, SEASON (CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH 130+ RUSH YARDS)
Eric Dickerson – Los Angeles Rams, 1984 (6)
Earl Campbell – Houston Oilers, 1980 (6)
Chris Johnson – Tennessee, 2009 (5)
Larry Johnson – Kansas City, 2005-2006 (5)
Clinton Portis – Denver and Washington, 2003-2004 (5)
Barry Sanders – Detroit, 1997 (5)
Ezekiel Elliott – Dallas, 2016 (4)*
*Active streak

GREAT GREEN: Cincinnati wide receiver A.J. Green had eight receptions for 169 yards and a touchdown in the Bengals’ 31-17 victory over Cleveland last week. The performance marked Green’s ninth career game with at least 150 receiving yards and a touchdown, the fourth-most among players in their first six seasons.

With at least 150 receiving yards and a touchdown catch in London on Sunday against Washington, Green would tie Randy Moss (10) for the third-most such games in a player’s first six NFL seasons.

The players with the most games with 150 receiving yards and a touchdown catch in their first six NFL seasons:

PLAYER – TEAM (MOST GAMES WITH 150+ REC. YARDS & TD CATCH IN FIRST SIX SEASONS)
Lance Alworth – San Diego (13)
Jerry Rice – San Francisco (11)
Randy Moss – Minnesota (10)
A.J. Green – Cincinnati (9)*
*In his sixth NFL season

Carolina and Dallas had byes last week and return to the gridiron this weekend. Byes this weekend: Baltimore, Miami, New York Giants, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Last week was pretty good. How good? 11-3 good, which means for the season we’re 68-37.

Week 8 began on Thursday night with an AFC South matchup as Tennessee beat Jacksonville 36-22 in Nashville and the action continues “across the pond” on Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. on FOX when Washington faces Cincinnati at London’s Wembley Stadium. The game marks the third and final 2016 International Series game in the United Kingdom. In Week 4, the Jaguars defeated Indianapolis  30-27 at Wembley and last week, the New York Giants knocked off Los Angeles 17-10 at London’s Twickenham Stadium.

The action in week eight concludes with a pair of primetime contests as Dallas hosts Philadelphia in an NFC East showdown on Sunday night on NBC at 8:30 p.m. and Minnesota traveling to the Windy City for a visit with Chicago on Monday night at 8:30 p.m. in a battle of NFC North rivals.

With that, here are the Sunday and Monday picks for week 8.

Green Bay (4-2) at ATLANTA (4-3), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 709. A pair of future Hall of Fame QBs (Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan) meet in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome for a late-afternoon NFC matchup, which could be a preview of the playoffs.

Green Bay took care of Chicago last Thursday night at Lambeau, taking a 26-10 win over the Bears. The Packers led 6-3 at the break before pulling away in the second half, outscoring Chicago 20-7 the rest of the way. Rodgers threw for 326 yards and three TDs, two to WR Davante Adams and the other to WR Randall Cobb. Green Bay, without Eddie Lacy (knee), outrushed Chicago 103-69 in the land of beer, cheese and Bratwurst.

Atlanta let a 27-17 halftime lead against San Diego get away from them in the Big Peach and fell to Philip Rivers and the Chargers 33-30 in overtime. The Falcons did outrush San Diego 130-78 but Rivers outpassed Ryan 371-273 (both men threw a TD pass) to drop their second contest in a row. Atlanta could have won the game in regulation but a 58-yard field goal try by Matt Bryant fell short of its mark. The Falcons then got the ball to start overtime but failed on a fourth down try that would have allowed them to give them a chance at either a game-winning TD or a field goal that would have given them the lead.

Green Bay leads the series 15-12 (which includes contests that took place in Milwaukee and at Fulton County Stadium), have outscored the Falcons 660-553 and have won the last the last three meetings, including a 43-37 win at Lambeau in 2014. Atlanta’s last win came in the Big Peach in 2010 by a final of 20-17. The oddsmakers like the Falcons as 3-point favorite in the Big Peach and the over/under’s 52 1/2. Both offenses have been struggling at times. The Falcons are atop the NFC South mountain, while the Packers are looking to catch Minnesota in the NFC North. It’ll be a lot closer than the 3 but Atlanta breaks their 2-game losing streak in the Big Peach with the win.

Washington (4-3) at Cincinnati (3-4), 9:30 a.m. Eastern (1:30 p.m. London) on FOX. The final game in London takes place at Wembly Stadium as a pair of playoff teams from 2015 meet in Merry Old England for an early morning start in the Eastern Time Zone.

Washington let a 17-13 lead in Detroit get away from them and dropped a 20-17 decision to the Lions Sunday afternoon at Ford Field. The Redskins led by 4 with 16 seconds left to play when Anquan Boldin and Matthew Stafford connected on an 18-yard TD pass to take the lead for keeps. Despite the loss, there were two bright sides for the defending NFC champs. First, they outrushed the Lions 134-94. Secondly, Cousins outpaced Stafford in passing yardage 301-266 (each QB threw a TD and Stafford was sacked three times, Cousins was sacked twice).

Cincinnati went back to their winning ways last Sunday against the winless Cleveland Browns, taking their instate and AFC North rival to the woodshed and coming away 31-17 at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals led 21-10 at the intermisson and never looked back, outrushing Cleveland 271-180 (Cincinnati’s Jeremy Hill ran for 168 yards and a TD, while Cleveland’s Keith Hogan ran for 104). Dalton threw for 308 yards and a pair of TDs, including a strike to WR A.J. Green as the first half was coming to an end.

The Bengals lead the series 5-4, while Washington has outscored Cincinnati 197-188. The Bengals have won the last three meetings, including taking a 38-31 win in Landover in 2012, while the Redskins’ last win in the series came in 1991 by a final of 34-27 at old Riverfront Stadium.

The Bengals are favored by 3 across the pond and the over/under’s 46 1/2. Both teams can be either hot or cold at times and there’s a lot of talent on both clubs. If you have the 9:30 mass at church, you might want to tape this one. Even in London, Washington fans will be singing “Hail to the Redskins!” this week. Washington covers the 3 and wins on the other side of the Atlantic.

New England (6-1) at Buffalo (4-3), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705. They meet again and this time, it’s in upstate New YOrk. Bills fans, did we also mention that Tom Brady’s back and has a somewhat chip on his shoulder? A pair of AFC East rival meet for the second time, this time at New Era Stadium.

New England took apart a Ben Roethlisberger-less Pittsburgh Steelers team, coming away 27-16 winners at Heinz Field. New England led 14-10 at the break and never looked back. Brady threw for 222 and a pair of TDs (connecting with All-Pro TE Ron Gronkowski on one strike), while LeGarrette Blount ran for 127 of New England’s 140 of his team’s 140 yards, as the Pats held Pittsburgh to 94.

Buffalo fell to Miami 28-25 in south Florida last Sunday. The Bills let a 10-6 lead at the break get away from them as Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi had his second 200-yard game of the year, joining Earl Campbell, Ricky Williams and O.J. Simpson as the only men to have two consecutive 200 yard games (Simpson did it twice). Miami went on to outscore Buffalo 22-15 in the final 30 minutes of play, outrushing the Bills 256-67 (Ajayi led all rushers with 214 yards and had a TD that started the Miami ball rolling)

They met in Foxboro in week four and the Bills shutout the Brady-less Pats 16-0. Buffalo led 13-0 at the break and held New England in check the rest of the way. RB LeSean McCoy scored the contest’s only TD, connecting with Taylor on a 7-yard TD pass to open the scoring and K Dan Carpenter added three field goals to close out the scoring. Buffalo in the first meeting outrushed New England 134-90 and sacked Jacoby Brissett three times.

In the first meeting, New England was favored by 7 and the over/under was 45. While Buffalo covered the 7, winning by 16, they did not cover the 45, scoring only 16 points. The oddsmakers like the Pats in upstate New York as 6 1/2 point favorites and this time, the over/under’s 47 1/2. For the Bills, it’s a chance to sweep New England for the first time since 1999, while the Pats are looking for revenge from the week four shutout in Foxboro. Buffalo had better duck and cover. Brady’s back and he’s out for revenge for missing the first meeting. He’ll get that revenge, although Buffalo will make it closer than the 6 1/2. New England avoids the sweep and takes the win in upstate New York.

Arizona (3-3-1) at Carolina (1-5), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 713. It’s an NFC Championship rematch in the Tar Heel State as Arizona travels to Charlotte for a meeting with Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers.

Arizona and Seattle fought to a 6-6 overtime tie in the desert Sunday night, with Cardinals K Chris Catanzaro connecting on a pair of field goals from beyond 40 yards (46 and 45) but missed a chip shot from 24 yards out that would have given them the win. The Desert Angry Birds led 3-0 at the break before the Seahawks’ Steven Hauschka connected on a 40-yard field with 4 minutes left in the third quarter. Both Hauscka and Catanzaro connected on field goals in the overtime and the game wound up being a tie. Arizona held Seattle to 52 yards on the ground, while the Cardinals’ David Johnson ran for 113 of his team’s 132.

The defending NFC champs are coming back into action after their bye week, with their last action coming in New Orleans, where they lost to the Saints 41-38. Carolina and Cam Newton trailed their NFC South rivals 24-10 at the half and managed to tie the contest when Newton (322 yards, 2 TDs) scored on a 2-yard TD run with 2:58 left in regulation, only to see the Saints take the lead back on a 52-yard field goal by Will Lutz.

Carolina leads the series 8-4 and have outscored the Desert Angry Birds 258-216. Their last regular season meeting came in 2013 in the desert and the Desert Angry Birds came away 22-6 winners, while Carolina’s last win in regular season play came in 2010 in Charlotte by a final of 19-12.

The two clubs did meet in 2015 and it was for the NFC championship game in Charlotte and it was not a good day for the Desert Angry Birds as Carolina punched their ticket to Santa Clara and Super Bowl 50 (L), falling to the Panthers and Newton 49-15. Carolina led 24-7 at the intermission and never looked back as Newton threw a pair of TD passes, ran for a TD and the Panthers iced the game away when LB Luke Kuechly picked off Palmer and returned the ball 22 yards for the game’s final score. Carolina outrushed Arizona 152-60 and the Panthers defense forced seven turnovers at Bank of America Stadium.

Carolina’s favored by 3 and the over/under? 48. The Desert Angry Birds are looking for revenge from their loss in the Tar Heel State last January, while Cam and the Panthers are looking to get back on track in the NFC South. Panthers are finer in Carolina and bounce back from the loss in New Orleans two weeks ago, covering the 3.

New York Jets (2-6) at Cleveland (0-7), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706. A pair of struggling teams, in the cellars of their respective divisions, meet along the shores of Lake Erie as GangGreen travels to Cleveland for a meeting with the winless Cleveland Browns.

For the second weekend in a row, another New York team handed Baltimore a loss and this time, it was the neighbors of the Giants, the Jets. GangGreen led the Ravens 14-13 at the half at MetLife Stadium and proceeded to shutout the Ravens 10-0 in the last 30 minutes of action for the 24-13 win at home. The win proved to be a bit more costly for the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! as Gino Smith got the start, then came out of the contest when he injured his ACL. Ryan Fitzpatrick (120 yards) then came in to lead GangGreen to the win. New York outrushed Baltimore 155-6 (that’s not a misprint… the Ravens had 6 yards on the ground) and Matt Forte accounted for 100 of those yards.

Cleveland lost their seventh game of the 2016 campaign and their 10th overall (including their last three games in 2015) 31-17 at Paul Brown Stadium to Cincinnati. Cleveland trailed 21-10 at the intermisson and could never get on track on the road, as they were outrushed 271-180 (Cincinnati’s Jeremy Hill ran for 168 yards and a TD, while Cleveland’s Keith Hogan ran for 104 and threw for 100).

The Browns hold a 12-10 lead in the series (which includes games that took place at old Muncipal Stadium in Cleveland and at Shea Stadium) and have out scored New York 448-438. However… GangGreen has won the last three contests, all in New Jersey, with the last win in the series coming last year, when they won 31-10 (Cleveland’s last win in the series also came in upstate New Jeresy, as they came away from the Meadowlands 24-18 winners in 2007). The week one meeting at MetLife saw the Jets take a 14-10 lead with them to the locker room at the half after the two clubs were scoreless in the first quarter. The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! would go on to shutout Cleveland in the second half and make life miserable for Johnny Manziel, who they sacked three times. (New York outrushed Cleveland 154-104 and Fitzpatrick threw for 179 yards and a pair of TDs, connecting with WRs Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker.)

New York’s favored by 3 and the over/under’s 43 1/2. Cleveland may rock but the Browns will still be winless. GangGreen covers the 3 and wins in Cleveland.

Kansas City (4-2) at Indianapolis (3-4), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707. A pair of resurging teams meet in the Hoosier State as the Colts are back home again in Indianapolis for a meeting with the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chiefs held on at home at Arrowhead and beat Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints 27-21. Kansas City led 21-7 at the break, then managed to hold off New Oreleans in the second half and sealed the game with a 41-yard field goal by Chris Santos with 28 seconds left to play in regulation. Kansas City’s Alex Smith threw for 214 yards and a pair of TDs, while Brees threw for 367 yards and three TDs.

Indy trailed Tennessee 23-20 with 6:02 left to play before striking back to come away 34-26 winners over the Titans last Sunday. Andrew Luck (353 yards, 3 TDs) and TE Jack Doyle teamed up for the TD that gave them the lead for good and Robert Mathis’ fumble recovery took place within eight seconds of each other and all but iced the game away for Indy in the fourth quarter. Tennessee’s Ryan Succop’s 44-yard field goal with 43 seconds left pulled the Titans to within eight but they could come no closer. De Marco Murray ran for 107 yards and a TD (the Titans outrushed Indy 124-81) and Mariota threw for 232 yards and a pair of TDs but was sacked three times.

Including contests that took place in Baltimore when the Colts called Charm City home, the Colts lead the series 12-8 and have outscored the Chiefs 420-403. Both team’s last wins in the series came away from their home fields; Indy’s last win came in 2012 in Kansas City by a final of 20-13, while Kansas City’s last victory came in Indy in 2011, with the Chiefs coming away 28-24 winners.

The Chiefs are favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under is 50. Both numbers make sense. The Colts are trying to keep Houston in their sights, while the Chiefs are trying to keep pace with both Denver and Oakland in the AFC West. Chiefs keep the train going, covering the 2 1/2 and win on the road in the Hoosier State.

Oakland (5-2) at Tampa Bay (3-3), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708. The Raiders continue their trip to the Sunshine State as they travel down I-4 for the 191-mile, 3 1/2-hour trip to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Oakland took Jacksonville to task last Sunday at EverBank Field and came away 33-16 winners in the Sunshine State. Aided by four Sebastian Janikowski field goals (the longest coming from 52 yards out), the Silver and Black led 20-6 at the half and went on to outscore the Jaguars 13-10 in the last 30 minutes of play, picking off QB Blake Bortles (246 yards, TD) was picked off twice in the loss, as Oakland outrushed Jacksonville 144-105.

Tampa Bay swept a 14-0 first quarter deficit against San Francisco last Sunday and came away 34-17 winners over the 49ers and Colin Kaepernick at Levis’ Stadium. The Bucs took a 17-14 lead to the halftime with them and held the 49ers to a second half field goal by Pat Dawson, outscoring them 17-3 in the last 30 minutes of action. James Rodgers ran for 154 of Tampa Bay’s 249 (San Francisco ran for 160), while Jameis Winston threw for 269 yards and three TDs (Tampa Bay sacked Kaepernick, who threw for 143 yards, four times and picked him off once).

The Silver and Black lead the series 6-2 and have outscored Tampa Bay 249-158 (which includes contests that took place when the Raiders were in Los Angeles). Both teams won in the other team’s ballpark for their last win in the series. Tampa Bay came away 42-32 winners in Oakland in 2012, while Oakland’s last win came in the Sunshine State in 2008 by a final of 31-24.

Tampa Bay’s favored by 1 and the over/under’s 50. These two teams are pretty decent. Not great but pretty decent, so that makes this one a good game to watch. Oakland completes their Sunshine State swing and “just wins, baby!” covering the 1.

Detroit (4-3) at Houston (4-3), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710. A pair of contending team meet in the Lone Star State as the Texans host Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions.

The Lions trailed Washington 17-13 late in the final period of play in Detroit before the Lions rallied to come away 20-17 winners against the Redskins. Sunday afternoon at Ford Field. Washington led by 4 with 16 seconds left to play when Anquan Boldin and Stafford connected on an 18-yard TD pass to take the lead for keeps. Stafford threw for 266 yards and a TD, while the Lions were outrushed by Washington 134-94.

Houston saw a 6-0 first quarter lead against the defending Super Bowl champs get away from them as they fell to the Broncos 27-9 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Texans trailed 14-6 at the break and could never get on track afterward. Brad Osweiler returned to face his former teammates and threw for 131 yards against his old team, while the Texans’ running game tallied 140 yards (Denver tallied 190 yards rushing-wise, with C.J. Anderson accounting for 107 of those yards).

They’ve only met three times and the Texans lead the series 2-1. Houston won the last two meetings, including taking a 34-31 overtime win in the Motor City on Thanksgiving Day 2012, while the lone Lions win came in the first meeting, a 28-16 victory in the Motor City in 2004.

Houston’s favored by 3 and the over/under is 45 1/2. Houston’s sitting on top in the AFC South, while the Lions are a 1/2 game behind Green Bay in the NFC North. This one may well wind up being a pretty good contest. Still, Houston prevails at home and covers the 3 in the process.

Seattle (4-1-1) at New Orleans (2-4), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. It’s Salmon, grunge and Starbucks vs. crawfish, beingnets and Cafe Au Lait as Seattle travels to the Big Easy for a meeting with the New Orleans Saints.

Seattle and Arizona clawed their way to a 6-6 overtime tie in the desert. Steven Hauschka kicked a pair of field goals in the second half but missed a 28-yard try that sailed wide to the left. Seattle, led by Russell Wilson’s 225 yards in the air, was held to 52 yards on the ground, while the Cardinals’ David Johnson ran for 113 of his team’s 132.

Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints fell 27-21 to the Chiefs at Arrowhead last Sunday afternoon. Kansas City led 21-7 at the break, then managed to hold off New Oreleans in the second half and sealed the game with a 41-yard field goal by Chris Santos with 28 seconds left to play in regulation. New Orleans had trailed by as much as 10 before Brees and WR Brandon Coleman connected on a 10-yard TD strike with 2:33 left to play. Kansas City’s Alex Smith threw for 214 yards and a pair of TDs, while Brees threw for 367 yards and three TDs.

The series? Even at 6-6 and the Seahawks have outscored New Orleans 290-241. Seattle won the last meeting with New Orleans in the land of grunge, Salmon and Starbucks, coming away 34-7 winners in 2013, while the Saints were 34-19 victors in the Big Easy in 2010.

Seattle’s favored by 3 and the over/under’s 48. Given that there are two QBs in this contest with Super Bowl rings, those numbers make a lot of sense. Seattle’s the king of the NFC West mountain, while the Saints are chasing Atlanta in the NFC South. Long live the king! Seattle takes the win in the Big Easy but New Orleans makes it closer than 3 points.

San Diego (3-4) at Denver (5-2), 4:05 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 712. They meet again and this time, it’s in the house of the defending Super Bowl champs. San Diego and Denver meet in a late-afternoon AFC West rematch in the Mile High City.

San Diego rallied from a 27-17 deficit at the half to come away 33-30 overtime winners in Atlanta. San Diego scored their final 13 points of the contest (10 in the fourth quarter, 3 in the overtime) on a 5-yard TD pass from Rivers to RB Melvin Gordon with 5:59 left. San Diego then tied the score with 18 seconds left on a 33-yard field goal in regulation by Joe Lambo. San Diego then avoided being upset when Matt Bryant’s 58-yard field goal try fell short. In the overtime, Atlanta got the ball first but failed to convert on a fourth down try, allowing the Chargers to get the ball back. Using a 6-play, 19-yard drive that took all of 3:11, Lambo connected on a 42-yard field goal with 9:01 left in the extra period. San Diego has overcome a 17+ point deficit in each of the past three seasons and the Chargers are only the fifth team in NFL history to register a 17+ point comeback victory in three consecutive seasons.

Denver’s defense is allowing 291.6 total net yards per game, the best mark in the AFC. The Broncos are allowing 16.7 points per game, the second-fewest in the AFC. Denver’s defense has recorded 22 sacks this season, the most in the league. Broncos linebacker Von Miller ranks second in the NFL with 7.5 sacks. Denver and Trevor Siemian erased a 6-0 first quarter against Houston Monday night and came away 27-9  winners at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Denver led the Texans and former Broncos QB Brad Osweiler 14-6 at the intermission. Denver outrushed the Texans 190-140 and C.J. Anderson accounted for 107 of those yards and a TD.

The defending Super Bowl champs are looking to avenge a week six 21-13 loss to the Chargers at Qualcomm. In that contest, the Broncos trailed 10-3 at the half but were outscored by San Diego 11-10 in the final 30 minutes of action. San Diego outrushed Denver 99-84 but Trevor Seimian outpaced Rivers 230-187 (each man threw a TD pass and each was sacked twice).

In the first meeting in Cali, Denver was favored by 3 and the over/under was 44 1/2. The two clubs combined for 34 points, missing the over/under but San Diego’s 8-point win allowed them to cover the spread with ease. This time, Denver’s favored by 6 and the over/under’s 44 1/2. Revenge is a dish best served cold, as the old saying goes. The Broncos will be going back for seconds. Devner gets their revenge and takes San Diego at home, although the Chargers could make this one closer that the 6.

Philadelphia (4-2) at Dallas (5-1), 8:30 p.m. on NBC. The young guns take center stage on Sunday night in the Lone Star State as rookie top draft pick QBs Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz meet in a key NFC East contest in Arlington.

The Eagles are the only team in the NFL this season to return a kickoff for a touchdown – and they’ve done it in back to back weeks. In Week 6, Wendell Smallwood had an 86-yard kickoff-return touchdown and last week, in the team’s 21-10 win over Minnesota, Josh Huff returned a kickoff 98 yards for a score. Philadelphia is only the fifth team since 1970 to have a kickoff-return touchdown by a different player in consecutive weeks. The Eagles, who outrushed Minnesota 101-93, led 11-3 at the half against Minnesota after the teams played a scoreless first quarter, sacked Sam Bradford six times and forced four turnovers in the win in the City of Brotherly Love. Although he threw a pair of interceptions, Wentz threw for 138 yards and a TD at Lincoln Financial Field.

Dallas returns to action after their 30-16 win over Green Bay at Lambeau Field (the Cowboys had a bye last week). The Cowboys led 17-6 at the break in the land of beer, cheese and Bratwurst and never looked back. Ezikiel Elliot ran for 157 yards (Dallas tallied 191, holding Green Bay to 78) and Prescott threw for 247 yards and three TDs.

Dallas leads the series 61-49 and has outscored the Eagles 2,386-2,187. The division foes met last year and both teams split the two meetings, with each winning in the other’s stadium.

The first meeting? Week two in Philadelphia and the Cowboys had a somewhat healthy Tony Romo under center before he injured his shoulder in the 20-10 win at Lincoln Financial Field. Dallas led 6-0 at the intermission and then outscored Philly 14-10 in the last 30 minutes of action. Romo threw for 195 yards in the contest before being knocked out with the injury as Dallas ran for 109 yards, while holding the Eagles to a somewhat dismal 9 yards. Dallas ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 40:25, while the Eagles kept it for 19:35.

Meeting number two… week nine in Arlington and this time, it was a Sunday night affair that could have gone either way but the Eagles managed to prevail in the Lone Star State, coming away 33-27 overtime winners. The two rivals found themselves tied at 7-7 at the half, 14-14 at the end of the third quarter and 27-27 at the end of regulation. Dallas managed to tie the contest on a 44-yard field goal by Dan Bailey with 2 seconds left. Philly outrushed Dallas 172-134, with Dallas RB Darren McFadden accounting for 117 of those yards, while Matt Cassell, who took over for Romo, threw for 299 yards and three TDs.

Dallas is favored by 4 1/2 and the over/under is 43 1/2. Two rookie QBs, two teams in the hunt for the NFC East title and looking to bounce back from less-than-impressive seasons in 2015. Just that alone makes this one “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! 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 57 last June and dates a 42-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?”

4 1/2 spread. 43 1/2 over/under. Two rookie QBs and their teams in contention. This one could very well go to overtime… or not. Dallas takes this one at home but expect the Eagles to make it closer than the 4 1/2.

Minnesota (5-1) at Chicago (1-6), 8:30 p.m. Monday on ESPN. Week eight action closes in the Windy City as a pair of NFC North rivals meet at Soldier Field with Da Bears hosting the first-place Minnesota Vikings in primetime.

Both enter the Monday night affair with road losses under their belts.

Minnesota had a somewhat less-than-impressive day in Philadelphia against the Eagles and fell 21-10 in the City of Brotherly Love. After a scoreless first quarter, the Vikings trailed 11-3 at the break and things went from bad to worse, as Sam Bradford was sacked six times and turned the ball over four times (three fumbles, Bradford interception) and were outrushed 101-93 in the 11-point road loss.

Chicago, in last place in the NFC North, fell to divisonal rival Green Bay 26-10 at Lambeau last Thursday. Chicago tried to keep it close and trailed the Packers led 6-3 at the break before the Packers pulled away in the second half, as Da Bears would be outscored by Green Bay in the second half 20-7. Aaron Rodgers threw for 326 yards and three TDs, two to WR Davante Adams and the other to WR Randall Cobb. Green Bay, without Eddie Lacy (knee), outrushed Chicago 103-69 in the land of beer, cheese and Bratwurst, while the Packers took advantage of a pair of Bears interceptions. The one bright spot for Da Bears? They get Jay Cutler (thumb) back under center in hopes of adding another win to their column.

Minnesota holds a 57-50-2 lead in the series (which includes games that took place at Wrigley Field and Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington), they’ve outscored Da Bears 2,293-2,124 and they’ve won three of the last four meetings, including sweeping last year’s series (Chicago’s last win over the Purple Gang came in 2014 by a final of 21-13 in the Windy City).

First meeting… Windy City… week eight. The Vikings erased a 13-10 deficit at the end of the third quarter and came away 23-20 winners. Minnesota scored their final 13 points in the fourth quarter, using a pair of Blair Walsh field goals and a 40-yard TD from Teddy Bridgewater (187 yards) to WR Stefon Diggs for the win. Walsh’s second field goal of the quarter, a 36-yard try, came as the clock struck :00. In the first contest, Adrian Peterson ran for 103 of the Vikings’ 147 yards (Chicago ran for 97) and Cutler threw for 211.

Round two… the Twin Cities… week 15. while the game time temp in the Windy City meeting was a balmy 62 degrees, things were a little on the chilly side (36 with a wind chill of 34) and they played in the great outdoors of TCF Bank Stadium, on the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities campus. For the Vikings, second verse, same as the first. Minnesota led Da Bears 17-7 at the half and came away 38-17 winners. Bridgewater (231 yards) threw for four TDs and was interception-free, while Culter was sacked five times and threw an interception in the contest. Once again, the Vikings outrushed Chicago 129-94 and forced a pair of Bears’ turnovers in the win.

Minnesota may the road team but the boys and girls in Vegas like them as 5 1/2 point favorites with a 41 over/under. Both teams played one Monday night contest in 2015, with Chicago picked up a win and the Vikings lost their only MNF matchup. Overall, both teams are below the .500 mark (Chicago 29-36, Minnesota 26-30). Although the records wouldn’t indicate it, this might be worth your time on Monday night. Just don’t overdo on the Halloween candy. Vikings win this one in the Windy City, although Chicago could make it closer than the 5 1/2.

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