November has arrived and the NFL season enters its second half. Baseball season’s over, which means that football has the stage to itself for a while.

At the midpoint, there are nine teams with a .600 or better winning percentage, including two teams with just one loss – New England (7-1) and Dallas (6-1). The AFC West boasts three teams with a .700+ winning percentage – Denver (6-2, .750), Oakland (6-2, .750) and Kansas City (5-2, .714) – and the NFC East is the only division with all four teams holding a winning record – Dallas (6-1), the New York Giants (4-3), Philadelphia (4-3) and Washington (4-3-1).

On the field, the games have been close, including three overtime games in Week 8. Through the first eight weeks, 88 games have been within one score in the fourth quarter, the most such games in a season’s first eight weeks in NFL history.

The first half of the season has been packed with thrilling comebacks and close finishes, but the excitement will only intensify as the playoff push begins. And there’s still plenty of football to be played so don’t count teams out yet.

Since 2000, 40 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. Last year, there were five such teams: Houston (3-5), Kansas City (3-5), Washington (3-5), Seattle (4-4) and Pittsburgh (4-4).

Of those 40 clubs, five have advanced to the Conference Championship Game, including the 2001 New England Patriots, who won Super Bowl XXXVI.

STILL IN THE MIX: History shows that a losing record at this point of the season does not negate a team’s chances of making the playoffs. Since 2000, 40 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. Last year, there were five such teams: Houston (3-5), Kansas City (3-5), Washington (3-5), Seattle (4-4) and Pittsburgh (4-4).

Of those 40 clubs, five have advanced to the Conference Championship Game, including the 2001 New England Patriots, who won Super Bowl XXXVI.

AWESOME AJAYI: Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi has rushed for 418 yards over his past two games on his way to becoming the fourth player in NFL history to rush for at least 200 yards in consecutive games.

With 182 yards on Sunday against the Jets, Ajayi would join Pro Football Hall of Famers O.J. Simpson (647) and Walter Payton (604) as the only players in NFL history to rush for 600 yards in a three-game span.

Most rushing yards over a three-game span in NFL history:

PLAYER – SEASON, TEAM (RUSHING YARDS OVER 3-GAME SPAN)
O.J. Simpson – 1976, Buffalo (647)
Walter Payton – 1977, Chicago (604)
O.J. Simpson – 1976, Buffalo (594)
Ricky Williams – 2002, Miami (587)
Earl Campbell – 1980, Houston (583)
Jay Ajayi – 2016, Miami (418)*
*In two games

CLUTCH CARR: Raiders quarterback Derek Carr passed for 513 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions last week in Oakland’s 30-24 overtime victory over Tampa Bay.

With 387 passing yards on Sunday night against Denver, Carr would become the fifth player with 900 passing yards in a two-game span in NFL history.

The most passing yards in a two-game span in NFL history:

PLAYER – SEASON, TEAM (MOST PASSING YARDS IN TWO-GAME SPAN)
Phil Simms – 1985, New York Giants (945)
Tom Brady – 2011, New England (940)
Billy Volek – 2004, Tennessee (918)
Drew Brees – 2006, New Orleans (908)
Derek Carr – 2016, Oakland (513)*
*In one game

BIG TIME BREES: Saints quarterback Drew Brees has passed for 18 touchdowns this season, including two four-touchdown games, bringing his career total to 446.

With four touchdown passes on Sunday at San Francisco, Brees would become the third player in NFL history to throw 450 touchdown passes, joining PEYTON MANNING (539) and Pro Football Hall of Famer BRETT FAVRE (508).

The quarterbacks with 450 touchdown passes:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (TD PASSES)
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis and Denver (539)
Brett Favre – Atlanta, Green Bay, New York Jets and Minnesota (508)
Drew Brees – San Diego and New Orleans (446*)
*Active

SUPER SACKERS: Green Bay linebacker Julius Peppers registered a sack last week against Atlanta, bringing his career total to 139.5. With 2.5 sacks on Sunday against Indianapolis, Peppers would pass Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Strahan (141.5) for the fifth-most sacks since sacks became an official statistic in 1982.

Denver linebacker De Marcus Ware has 136.5 career sacks, the ninth-most all-time. With 1.5 sacks on Sunday night at Oakland, Ware (136.5) would pass Pro Football Hall of Famers John Randle and Richard Dent (137.5) for the eighth-most sacks since 1982.

The players with the most sacks in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (SACKS)
Bruce Smith – Buffalo and Washington (200)^
Reggie White – Philadelphia, Green Bay and Carolina (198)^
Kevin Greene – Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Carolina and San Francisco (160)^
Chris Doleman – Minnesota, Atlanta, San Francisco (150.5)^
Michael Strahan – New York Giants (141.5)^
Jason Taylor – Miami, Washington and New York Jets (139.5)
Julius Peppers – Carolina, Chicago and Green Bay (139.5)*
Richard Dent – Chicago, San Francisco, Indianapolis and Philadelphia (137.5)^
John Randle – Minnesota and Seattle (137.5)^
DeMarcus Ware – Dallas and Denver (136.5)*
*Active
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

LORENZO ON THE RISE: Entering his tenth season with nine career sacks, Bills linebacker LORENZO ALEXANDER leads the NFL with nine sacks this season. With one sack against Seattle on Monday night, Alexander would become the first player to begin his career in 1982 or later with a career total of fewer than 10 sacks to record 10 sacks in his 10th season.

ICYMI: Oakland quarterback Derek Carr passed for 513 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in the Raiders’ 30-24 overtime win at Tampa Bay. Carr completed a 41-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Seth Roberts with 1:45 remaining in overtime for the game-winning score. Carr became the third quarterback in NFL history to pass for at least 500 yards and four touchdowns without an interception in a single game, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Y.A. Tittle (October 28, 1962) and Ben Roethlisberger (October 26, 2014).

New England quarterback Tom Brady passed for 315 yards and four touchdowns in the Patriots’ 41-25 win at Buffalo. Brady has 26 career wins against the Bills, tying Pro Football Hall of Famer BRETT FAVRE (26 vs. Detroit) for the most victories against a single opponent in NFL history. The victory also marked Brady’s 48th career win in October, the most in the month in NFL history. Brady has 25 career games with at least four touchdown passes, the third-most in NFL history behind Peyton Manning (35) and Dew Brees (29).

HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF: In a rematch of last year’s NFC Championship Game, Carolina defeated Arizona 30-20 in Charlotte. Carolina, who defeated Arizona 49-15 in the 2015 NFC Championship Game (January 24, 2016), is the first team since 2003 to win both a Championship Game and the rematch the following season by 10+ points each. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 27-10 in the 2002 NFC Championship Game (January 19, 2003) and 17-0 in the 2003 regular season (September 8, 2003).

A tie is kinda like kissing one’s sister and the Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals smooched and played to a 27-27 tie in the first-ever overtime game played in London. The third of three 2016 International Series games in the United Kingdom was played in front of a sellout crowd of 84,488 fans at Wembley Stadium.

Sunday’s tie marks the second consecutive week there has been a tie (Seattle-Arizona in Week 7). It is the first time there have been ties in back-to-back weeks since 1997 (Weeks 12-13). In Week 12, 1997, Baltimore and Philadelphia tied 10-10. The following week (Week 13), the New York Giants and Washington tied 7-7.

Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins passed for 458 yards, the most ever in an International Series game. Cousins has 15 career games with at least 300 passing yards, tying Pro Football Hall of Famer Sonny Jurgensen for the most in franchise history.

In the fourth quarter, Cousins threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jamison Crowder. It marked the 100th touchdown scored in London in the 17th overall game in the NFL International Series.

Week nine began in Tampa with Atlanta beating Tampa Bay 43-28 Thursday night in the Sunshine State and the Sunday action concludes in Oakland as a pair of AFC West rivals engage with the defending Super Bowl champs taking on the Raiders and it’s Buffalo wings vs. Salmon as the Bills travel to the land of grunge, Salmon and Starbucks on Monday night to face Seattle. Arizona, Chicago, Cincinnati, Houston, New England and Washington have byes this week, while Baltimore, Los Angeles, Miami, the New York Giants, Pittsburgh and San Francisco return to action from byes last week. As for last week, 11-2. For the season… 79-39. There’s still a lot of football left to play and we haven’t even discusssed Thanksgiving.

Pittsburgh (4-3) at Baltimore (3-4), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705. The road to the AFC North travels through Pittsburgh and that’s where a pair of divisonal rivals meet at the Steelers travel to Baltimore for an early afternoon contest in Charm City.

Both teams return to action from the bye week and both teams had losses on the road before their week off. Pittsburgh fell to Miami 30-15 at Hard Rock Stadium and saw QB Ben Roethlisberger (189 yards, TD, 2 interceptions) leave the contest with a knee injury. They also saw Miami RB Jay Ajayi rush for 204 yards and a pair of TDs. Pittsburgh led 8-3 with 5:39 left in the opening 15 minutes of action before Miami went to work on the Steelers, scoring 16 points unchallenged, trailing 16-8 at the break.

The Ravens are thankful they don’t have to go to the Meadowlands again in the 2016 season and dropped their second contest at MetLife Stadium in as many weeks, this time losing to the New York Jets 24-16. The Ravens led 16-14 at the intermission before seeing New York and Ryan Fitzpatrick score their final 10 points of the contest without a challenge. Jets RB Matt Forte ran for 100 of New York’s 155 yards, while they held Baltimore to a somewhat dismal 6 yards on the ground and picked off Joe Flacco twice.

The Steelers lead the series 21-19 and they have outscored Baltimore 784-766. That’s the good news for Steeler fans. Here’s the bad news. Baltimore won three of the last four meetings, including sweeping the series last year (Pittsburgh’s last win over Baltimore came in 2014, when they won 42-23 in the Steel City.)

The first meeting… week four in the Steel City and the Ravens trailed 13-7 at the half at Heinz Field and needed overtime to come away 23-20 winners. Baltimore got three Jeff Tucker field goals to tie and take the win on the road in the final quarter and overtime. It was a battle of the running backs in the first meeting, as Baltimore’s Justin Forsett (150 yards) and Pittsburgh’s LeVeon Bell (129 yards) found holes in the other team’s defense, while Joe Flacco threw for 189 yards and a TD, while being sacked four times and Michael Vick, who took over for Roethlisberger, threw for 124 yards and a TD with four sacks.

Round two… week 16 in Charm City. For the Ravens, second verse, same as the first. Baltimore led 13-3 at the break and then held off the Steelers 20-17. As was the case in the first meeting, both teams rushed for over 100 yards (Baltimore ran for 121, while Pittsburgh tallied 110) and the Steelers’ DeAngelo Williams led all rushers with 100 yards and a pair of TDs in the loss. Roethlisberger (220 yards) did return to the lineup but was not very effective, as he was sacked three times and picked off twice (the Steelers had three turnovers), while Ryan Mallett took over for Flacco and threw for 274 yards with a TD and no interceptions.

The Ravens are favored by 1 1/2 and the over/under’s 44. Both teams have struggled at times and both have lost two contests in a row. Pittsburgh may (or may not) have Ben Roethlisberger but they get revenge on Baltimore and cover the spread in Charm City.

Jacksonville (2-5) at Kansas City (5-2), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706. A pair of AFC teams with mirror image records meet in Kansas City as the Chiefs host Jacksonville at Arrowhead.

Jacksonville trailed 27-0 at Tennessee at the half last Thursday night and rallied late in the final 30 minutes of action but still came up on the short end of a 36-22 loss to the Titans. The Jaguars trailed 27-0 at the half before outpacing their AFC South rivals in the Music City. While being held to 48 yards rushing, Jacksonville saw Tennessee’s DeMarco Murray run for 123
yards (the Titans managed to tally 214 yards) but the one bright spot for the Jaguars was Blake Bortles (three TDs), who managed to outpass Marcus Mariota 337-270.

For the Chiefs, it was good news/bad news at Indianapolis last Sunday. First the good news. They led the Colts 17-7 at the half and went on to win in the Hoosier State 30-14. The bad news? They lost the services of Alex Smith to a first half concussion. Smith had left the contest because of the injury and came back to throw for 127 yards and a TD but left the contest again. With that, Nick Foles (223 yards and a pair of TDs) took over and will be under center Sunday at Arrowhead. Kansas City did find themselves being outrushed by the Colts 105-88 but did manage to sack Andrew Luck six times.

While Jacksonville leads the series 6-4, Kansas City has outscored the Jaguars 221-209 and has won the last two meetings, including a 28-2 win in the Sunshine State in 2013, while Jacksonville’s last victory over the Chiefs came in 2009 (also in the Sunshine State) by a 24-21 final.

Kansas City’s favored by 9 and the over/under’s 45 1/2. Jacksonville’s not that bad but even without Alex Smith in the lineup, they’ll drop their second contest in a row. Chiefs win this one at home but expect Jacksonville to make it closer than 9 points.

New York Jets (3-5) at Miami (3-4), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707. A pair of struggling AFC East rivals meet in the Sunshine State when Miami hosts the New York Jets at Hard Rock Stadium.

New York trailed lowly Cleveland 20-7 at the break in upstate Ohio, then rallied to survive with a 31-28 win in their hands last Sunday. GangGreen outscored Cleveland 24-8 in the final 30 minutes of play and managed to outrush Cleveland 171-68 but the Browns’ Josh McCown managed to outpace Ryan Fitzpatrick (two sacks) 341-228. Jets running back Matt Forte rushed for two touchdowns in the team’s 31-28 win at Cleveland last week. Forté is one of four players in NFL history with at least 50 rushing touchdowns (51), 500 receptions (507) and 20 receiving touchdowns (20), joining Pro Football Hall of Famers Marcus Allen and Marshall Faulk and Herschel Walker, while wide receiver Quincy Enunwa, who had four catches for 93 yards and a touchdown against the Browns. Enunwa leads the Jets with a career-high 36 catches (502 yards) and three touchdown receptions.

Miami returns from their bye week, returning to action after their 28-25 win over Buffalo at home two Sundays ago. Miami trailed 10-6 at the half before restoring order at home. Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi rushed for 214 of Miami’s 256 yards, while Ryan Tannehill threw for 204 yards in the 3-point win in the Sunshine State.

Miami, who has won two contests in a row, has amassed more than 450 total yards of offense in each of the team’s past two victories and Ajayi has rushed for 200+ yards in each of the team’s past two games and is one of four players in NFL history with back-to-back 200-yard rushing performances – Pro Football Hall of Famers O.J. Simpson (twice) and Earl  Campbell and Ricky Williams. Ajayi is the only player since at least 1970 to rush for 200+ yards in two of his first three career starts.

GangGreen leads the series 53-46-1 and the Dolphins lead in scoring 2,176-2,163 (which includes games that took place at Shea Stadium and the old Orange Bowl). The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! won three of the last four contests, including sweeping the 2015 series, taking wins in London and in upstate New Jersey (the last Dolphins’ win in the series came in 2014 when they came out of the Meadowlands 16-13 winners).

The first meeting was in week four across the pond in London and GangGreen took a 20-7 and came out 27-14 winners. Curtis Ivory ran for 166 of his team’s 207 yards, while the Jets held Miami to 59 on the ground. Fitzpatrick threw for 218 yards and a TD, while Tannehill threw for 198 yards and a pair of TDs but also threw a pair of interceptions.

Round 2… upstate New Jersey and for the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS!, it was second verse, same as the first, coming away 38-20 winners. New York led 14-0 at the half at MetLife Stadium and never looked back, holding Miami to 12 yards rushing, while tallying 137. Although Tannehill (3 TDs) did outpace Fitzpatrick in passing yardage 351-277, Fitzpatrick managed to throw four TDs in the second meeting.

Miami’s favored by 3 1/2 and the over/under’s 4 1/2. When they play well, the Jets and the Dolphins are decent teams but not great teams. The winner pulls a little bit closer to the Pats in the AFC East… the loser? They get a rock. vice may not be nice but Miami pulls a Crockett and Tubbs on GangGreen and covers the 3 1/2.

Dallas (6-1) at Cleveland (0-8), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 708. A resurging Dallas Cowboys, led by rookie QB Dak Prescott travels to the shores of Lake Erie to face a winless Cleveland Browns team.

Dallas trailed 13-10 at the break against Philadelphia in Arlington and then fought their way back to tie things up at 23-23 with 3:04 left in regulation when WR Dez Bryant and Prescott connected on a 22-yard TD pass and then the home crowd home happy when he and TE Jason Witten connected on a 5-yard TD pass to take a 29-23 overtime win over the Eagles last Sunday night. Prescott had a rushing TD of his own and threw for 287 yards and the two TDs in the contest that saw the first-place Cowboys outrush Philadelphia 187-97.

The Browns saw their best opportunity to break into the win column get away from them against the New York Jets last Sunday in Cleveland and eventually fell to the Jets 31-28. Browns fans had their hearts broken as Cleveland was outpaced by the Jets 24-8 in the final 30 minutes of play and were outrushed 171-68. The lone bright spot for Cleveland was Browns QB Josh McCown, who managed to outpace Ryan Fitzpatrick (two sacks) 341-228.

Cleveland leads the series 15-12 and has outscored Dallas 585-525. Dallas has won the last three meetings in the series, with their last win coming in 2012 in the Lone Star State by a final of 23-20 in overtime (Cleveland’s last win in the series? 1994, in Dallas, when they were 19-14 winners).

Dallas is favored by 7 1/2 and the over/under is 47. If you’re a Cowboys’ fan, by all means, watch this one. On the other hand… if you’re a Browns’ fan, you’re much better off watching that “NCIS” marathon on USA (and yes, seeing Abby smack Tony on the head is pretty damned funny!). Dallas covers the 7 1/2 and wins on the road.

Detroit (4-4) at Minnesota (5-2), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 709. A pair of contending NFC North rivals meet in the Twin Cities as the first-place Minnesota Vikings host Detroit in the Land of 10,000 Lakes at US Bank Stadium.

Both enter the Sunday contest in Minneapolis with losses under their belts. The Lions enter with a 20-13 loss at Houston last Sunday. Detroit trailed the Texans 14-3 at the intermission but outscored them 10-6 in the last 30 minutes of action, pulling to within 7 on a 34-yard field goal by Matt Prater with 2:53 left in regulation. The Lions were held to 58 yards on the ground but Matthew Stafford threw for 240 yards and a TD.

The Vikings dropped their second game in a row, falling to Chicago 20-10 in the Windy City Monday night. Minnesota trailed Da Bears 10-3 at intermission at Soldier Field and were held to 57 yards on the ground, while Chicago’s Jordan Howard ran for 153 of his team’s 158 yards.

Including contests that were played at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Tiger Stadium, the Metrodome and the Silverdome, the Vikings lead the series 71-36-2, have outscored Detroit 2,366-2,024 and swept last year’s series, taking wins in the Motor City and the Twin Cities (Detroit’s last win over Minnesota came in 2014, when they swept the series).

TCF Bank Stadium, on the campus of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in week two. Minnesota led 17-10 at the half and came away 26-16 winners. Detroit found themselves held to 38 yards rushing, while Adrian Peterson ran for 134 of Minnesota’s 199. Stafford did manage to outpace Bridgewater with 286 yards passing and a pair of TDs (connecting with Megatron… aka Calvin Johnson on one of those throws) but Detroit turned the ball over three times (two fumbles, Stafford interception).

Round two… week seven in the Motor City and the Purple Gang completed the sweep, taking a 28-19 win over the Lions. Minnesota trailed 17-15 at the intermission before pulling away to outscore Detroit 13-2 in the last 30 minutes of action. Once again, the Vikings outrushed Detroit 140-77 and Bridgewater (316 yards) and Stafford (256 yards) each threw a pair of TDs but Stafford was sacked seven times in the contest at Ford Field.

Minnesota’s favored by 6 1/2 in the Land of 10,000 Lakes and the over/under’s 42. Both numbers make a lot of sense. Both teams are playoff contenders and both would love to keep the Packers at bay. Expect this one to be a lot closer, given what’s at stake here. Vikings win this one but expect Detroit to make things closer than the 6 1/2.

Philadelphia (4-3) at New York Giants (4-3), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710. They’re separated by a mere 96 miles and they’re 90 minutes apart by car. They’re also chasing the Dallas Cowboys for first place in the NFC East. The Philadelphia Eagles and rookie QB Carson Wentz make the trip down I-95, leaving the City of Brotherly Love for a date with Eli Manning and the New York Giants in upstate New Jersey.

The Eagles let a 13-10 at the break against Dallas in Arlington get away from them Sunday night as the Cowboys clawed their way back to tie things up at 23-23 with 3:04 left in regulation when WR Dez Bryant and Prescott connected on a 22-yard TD pass and then the home crowd home happy when he and TE Jason Witten connected on a 5-yard TD pass to take a 29-23 overtime win over the Eagles last Sunday night. Prescott had a rushing TD of his own and threw for 287 yards and the two TDs in the contest that saw the first-place Cowboys outrush Philadelphia 187-97.

Eli and the Giants return to the Meadowlans after their bye week. Their last action was across the pond in London as they took on and defeated the Los Angeles Rams 17-10 at Twickenham. New York broke a 10-10 tie at the half and scored the game-winning TD in the final quarter when RB Rashad Jennings scored from a yard out with 9:23 left to play. Although Manning threw for 196 yards, he had no TDs or interceptions and the Giants ran for a somewhat less-than-impressive 36 yards (the Rams were not much better with 74) but New York’s defense stepped by, picking off Case Keenum four times.

The Giants are seeking their third consecutive win. Giants safety Landon Collins had two interceptions, including a 44-yard touchdown return, in the victory over the Rams and was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week. According to Next Gen Stats, Collins recorded the most total distance traveled (111.7 yards) on an interception-return touchdown this season.

Including contests that were played at old Yankee Stadium, the Yale Bowl, Meadowland Stadium and JFK and Veterans Stadium in New York and Philadelphia, the Giants lead the series 82-78-2 and have outscored the Eagles 3,106-3,042. However, the Eagles have won five of the last six meetings, sweeping last year’s series in the process (New York’s last win came in 2013 by a final of 15-7 in the City of Brotherly Love).

Meeting one… week six in the City of Brotherly Love and Philadelphia held the Giants to a first-quarter TD catch by Odell Beckham from Manning, coming away 27-7 winners. The Eagles led 17-7 at the break and proceeded to shut out Big Blue in the second half. New York was held to 81 yards rushing and Manning threw for 189 yards with three sacks and a pair of interceptions, while Philly ran for 158 on the ground (De Marco Murray accounted for 112 of those yards with a TD) and Sam Bradford threw for 280 yards with three interceptions and a TD.

Meeting two… week 16 at Met Life and with both teams out of the post-season party (by then, Chip Kelly had been fired and Tom Coughlin was about to step down), both clubs played with almost nothing to lose. Philly led 21-20 at the half and then held on to take the 35-30 win in upstate New Jersey. Despite the five-point loss, New York’s Rashad Jennings led all rushers in the week 16 rematch with 170 yards and a TD as the Giants outrushed Philadelphia 208-120 and both Bradford (320 yards) and Manning (302 yards) threw a pair of TDs in the contest.

The favorite in this one? New York by 3. The over/under? 43. It’s the youth of Wentz vs. the experience of Eli. Experience wins this one. Giants cover the 3 and win in upstate New Jersey.

Carolina (2-5) at Los Angeles (3-4), 4:05 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. Cam Newton and the defending the NFC champions travel to the Left Coast for a late-afternoon contest (Eastern time) with the Los Angeles Rams.

Carolina once again manhandled Arizona, taking the Cardinals 30-20 in Charlotte last Sunday. The Panthers outrushed the Desert Angry Birds 141-24 and sacked Carson Palmer eight times. The Panthers forced a pair of Arizona turnovers in the NFC Championship rematch at Bank of America Stadium.

The Rams are back in action after their bye week and a 17-10 loss to the New York Giants in London the week before. Los Angeles and the Giants were tied 10-10 tie at the half before New York scored the game-winning TD in the final quarter when RB Rashad Jennings scored from a yard out with 9:23 left to play. Los Angeles did manage to rush for 74 yards but Case Keenum was picked off four times.

Including contests that took place in St. Louis and at Clemson University, the Panthers leads the series 11-8 and each team has scored 392 points in the 19 meetings. Carolina won the last meeting with the Rams, coming away 30-15 winners in Charlotte in 2013, while the Rams were last victorious over the Panthers in 2010 in St. Louis by a 20-10 count.

Carolina’s favored by 3 and the over/under’s 45. The Panthers know they need to win to keep up with Atlanta, who won Thursday night in Tampa. Carolina may be on the Left Coast but they’ll be finer in LA. Panthers cover the 3 and win in Tinseltown.

New Orleans (3-4) at San Francisco (1-6), 4:05 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 712. It’s gumbo meets wine country as the Saints travel to northern California for a meeting with the 49ers at Levis Stadium.

New Orleans erased a 14-13 deficit at the intermission in the Big Easy and came away 25-20 winners over Seattle last Sunday. The Saints took the lead for the first time and for keeps with 12:24 left in regulation when Drew Brees (265 yards) and WR Brandin Cooks connected on a 2-yard TD pass, then sealed the deal with a 41-yard field goal by Will Lutz with 1:57 and held off a late Seattle charge led by Russell Wilson. Saints RB Tim Hightower ran for 102 of New Orleans’ 123 yards, while the Saints defense held the Seahawks to 74.

San Francisco returns to play after their 34-17 loss against Tampa Bay two Sundays ago (they had a bye last week). Although they trailed 17-14 at the half, Tampa Bay pulled away from the 49ers and were held to a Pat Dawson field goal in the fourth quarter. Tampa Bay outrushed San Francisco 249-160 (the Bucs’ Josh Rodgers led all rushers with 154 yards) and Colin Kaepernick (143 yards, TD) was sacked four times with an interception, while Jameis Winston burned San Francisco for 269 yards and three TDs.

Including contests that were played at old Tulane Stadium, Keezar Stadium and Candlestick Park, the 49ers hold a 47-25-2 lead in the series (they were both in the NFC West before realingment) and they’ve outscored New Orleans 1,791-1,354. San Francisco won the last meeting between the clubs in 2014 in the Big Easy by a final of 27-24, while the Saints were 23-20 winners (also in the Big Easy) in 2013.

New Orleans’ a 3-point favorite and the over/under’s 51. If you’re a Saints fan, by all means watch; if you’re a 49ers fan, you might want to take a pass on this one. Gumbo wins this one. Saints cover the 3 and win in wine country.

Indianapolis (3-5) at Green Bay (4-3), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 713. Luck vs. Rodgers. A pair of QBs with losses under their belts meet in the land of cheese, beer and Bratwurst on the not-quite frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. The Colts meet with Green Bay in upstate Wisconsin.

Despite outrushing the Chiefs 105-88, Indy fell to Kansas City 30-14 at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts trailed 17-7 at the half and knocked Alex Smith (concussion) out of the contest before he went on to throw for 127 yards and a TD. For the Colts, Luck was sacked six times in the loss, throwing for 210 yards and a pair of TDs.

Green Bay let a 32-26 lead at Atlanta get away from them as the Falcons reclaimed the lead for keeps, falling 33-32 in the Big Peach. The Falcons’ game-winning score came when Matt Ryan (288 yards, 3 TDs, two sacks) and Mohamed Sanu connected on an 11-yard TD pass with 31 seconds left to play. Green Bay led 24-19 at the intermission at the Georgia Dome before the Falcons’ DeVonta Freeman gave them the lead again with 3:31 left in the third quarter. Green Bay would then take the lead back for the last time when Rodgers (246 yards, four TDs, three sacks) and WR Jeff Janis hooked up on a 7-yard strike with 3:58 left in regulation. After the Falcons reclaimed the lead, using an 11-play, 75-yard drive that used 3:27 of clock, Green Bay got the ball back and got as far as their 32-yard line before three Rodgers’ pass attempts fell short.

The Colts lead the series 21-20-1 (including games that were played in Baltimore and Milwaukee), have outscored Green Bay 950-922 and won the last meeting in the series, coming away 30-27 winners in the Hoosier State in 2012 (Green Bay’s last win over the Colts came in 2008 at Lambeau by a final of 34-14)

Green Bay’s favored by 7 at Lambeau and the over/under’s 54. In the battle of pitchmen (Luck – AmeriTrade; Rodgers – State Farm), it’s one QB with a Super Bowl ring, while the other is looking for his first. Better doublecheck that one, Colts fans. Packers bounce back in the land of cheese, beer and Bratwurst but expect the Colts to make this one close.

Tennessee (4-4) at San Diego (3-5), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 714. It’s Marcus Mariota vs. Philip Rivers in sunny southern California as San Diego and Tennessee meet at Qualcomm.

The Titans led 27-0 at the intermission against Jacksonville and went on to beat the Jaguars 36-22 at Nissan Stadium. Tennessee held Jacksonville to 48 yards rushing, while DeMarco Murray run for 123 yards of his team’s 214 yards, allowing them to reach the .500 mark. Mariota threw for 270 yards and a pair of TDs in the win over Jacksonville.

San Diego fell to Denver last Sunday in the Mile High City, as the defending Super Bowl champs got pay back for their week five loss at Qualcomm and fell to the Broncos 27-19 winners at Sports Authority Field at Mile High last Sunday. San Diego kept it close for the first 30 minutes of play and trailed 10-7 at the half before Denver pulled away from the Chargers in the second half. Melvin Gordon ran for 111 of San Diego’s 123 yards, while Denver was held to 57 and Rivers threw for 267 yards wtih a pair of TDs but threw three interceptions in the rematch.

Including games that took place in Los Angeles and Houston, San Diego leads the series 25-14-1 and the Bolts have outscored the Titans 1,025-867. Tennessee won the last meeting, taking a 20-17 win in the Music City in 2013, while the Chargers’ last victory in the series came in 2012 at Qualcomm by a final of 38-10.

The Bolts are favored by 5 1/2 and the over/under’s 47. Both numbers make sense. Both QBs are pretty decent and this could be a lot closer than 5 1/2. Tennessee makes it interesting but San Diego takes this one and wins at home.

Denver (6-2) at Oakland (6-2), 8:30 p.m. on NBC. Rivals square off in prime time as Denver and Oakland meet in the “Black Hole.”

The defending Super Bowl champs got a measure of revenge against San Diego, paying back the Chargers for their week five loss at Qualcomm to come away 27-19 winners at Sports Authority Field at Mile High last Sunday. Denver led 10-7 at the half and pulled away from the Chargers in the second half. San Diego did outrush Denver 123-57 (Melvin Gordon led all rushers with 111 yards) but Trevor Siemian (276 yards) outpaced Philip Rivers (267 yards, two TDs, three interceptions) in the rematch.

Oakland also picked up a win last week and won another contest in the Sunshine State, staying on the East Coast and needing overtime to come away 30-24 winners at Tampa Bay last Sunday. Oakland, who trailed 10-3 at the half, had a chance to win in regulation but K Sebastian Janikowski’s 52-yard try as time ran out sailed wide right. The Bucs and Raiders each had chances to score in the overtime before Oakland made the most of their last chance in the extra period, using a 5-play, 60-yard drive that used 1:36 and ended the contest when Derek Carr and WR Seth Roberts connected on a 41-yard TD strike with 1:45 left in overtime. Oakland outrushed Tampa Bay 128-102 and Carr threw for 513 yards and four TDs, while Jameis Winston for Tampa Bay threw for 180 yards and a pair of TDs.

Oakland holds a 60-49-2 lead in the series (including games that were played in Los Angeles) and they have outscored Denver 2,376-2,286. They met last year and split the series, each taking wins on the road.

Week five… Oakland. The Broncos erased a 7-3 deficit at the intermission and came away 16-10 winners. Denver used a pair of Brandon McManus field goals and a 74-yard interception return by Chris Harris to come from behind. Denver, despite being held to 43 yards on the ground, got 266 yards from Peyton Manning, while Oakland was not much better running the ball, tallying 65 and turned the ball over three times.

The Raiders got their revenge in week 14 in the Mile High City and took a 15-12 win at Sports Authority Field. Denver led 12-0 at the half before Oakland scored their 15 points in the second half unchallenged. As was the case in the first meeting, neither team came anywhere near the 100 yard rushing barrier (Denver 34, Oakland 27) and Brian Osweiler (who took over for Manning) threw for 308 but was sacked five times, while Carr (135 yards) threw a pair of TDs passes in the come-from-behind win.

Denver’s favored by 1 in the clash of the titans and the over/under’s 43 1/2. They’re both 6-2 and fighting for first in the AFC West, they’re rivals in the AFC West and that makes this one so “DRILL WORTHY” it’s not close to funny. (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?”

They’ll meet again in Week 17 in Denver, when there could be snow on the ground and it could be for all the marbles. You might want to tape “The Simpsons” this week. Denver wins this one and covers (barely) the win on Sunday night.

Buffalo (4-4) at Seattle (4-2-1), 8:30 p.m. Monday on ESPN. It’s Buffalo wings vs. Salmon, grunge and Starbucks as Buffalo and Seattle meet to close out play in week nine at Century Link Field. Both clubs come into the Monday night contest with losses under their belts.

The Bills were manhandled by New England and Tom Brady 41-25 in upstate New York. Trailing 24-10 at the break, the Bills could never really get on track in Orchard Park and were outscored by New England 17-15 in the second half. Buffalo’s lone bright spot in the AFC East contest was that they did outrush the Pats 167-72, while Brady burned them for 315 yards and four TDs (Tyrod Taylor threw for 183 yards in the loss at New Era Field in Orchard Park).

Seattle let a 14-13 lead against New Orleans at the intermission in the Big Easy get away from them and fell to the Saints 25-20 last Sunday. The Saints took the lead for the first time and for keeps with 12:24 left in regulation when Drew Brees (265 yards) and WR Brandin Cooks connected on a 2-yard TD pass, then sealed the deal with a 41-yard field goal by Will Lutz with 1:57 after K Steven Hauschka made it a 2-point game with 6:38 left. Seattle had one last chance to come away with the win but Russell Wilson’s TD try to WR Jermaine Kearse failed when he could not complete the catch inbounds. Seattle was held to 74 yards rushing, while Saints RB Tim Hightower accounted for for 102 of New Orleans’ 123 yards on the ground.

Seattle leads the series 7-5 (which includes a 2012 meeting in Toronto) and have outscored the Bills 295-286. The 2012 meeting North of the border was the last time they met and Seattle came away 50-17 winners at Rodgers Centre, while the Bills’ last win came in upstate New York by a final of 34-10 in 2008. The Bills are 17-24 on Monday night all-time and lost their only primetime meeting last year, while the Seahawks are 22-8 and won their only meeting in 2015. Seattle has won seven consecutive Monday-night games at home.

Seattle’s favored by 7 and the over/under’s 44. Buffalo’s trying to catch New England in the AFC East, while the Seahawks are trying to hold on to the top spot in the NFC West. Wings vs. Salmon. Salmon wins this one and covers the 7.

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