The second half of the NFL season is here and the race to the playoffs is in full swing. There’s still a lot of football left, which means that nothing’s settled.

Three teams have won a league-best seven games – Dallas (7-1), New England (7-1) and Oakland (7-2). Right behind them are three teams with six wins each – Kansas City (6-2), Atlanta (6-3) and Denver (6-3). The AFC West has three teams with at least six wins (Oakland, Kansas City and Denver) and the division has combined for 23 victories (Oakland 7-2, Kansas City 6-2, Denver 6-3 and San Diego 4-5), the most by any division in the NFL this season.

As the season moves into the second half, it’s all still to be decided, with plenty of football left to play. So don’t count anyone out. 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).

On the field, the games continue to be close. Through the first nine weeks, 99 games have been within one score in the fourth quarter, the most such games in a season’s first nine weeks in NFL history.

For the fourth consecutive week, at least one game has gone to overtime. There have been seven overtime contests over the past four weeks. Last week, the Detroit Lions, who have overcome a fourth-quarter deficit in all five of the team’s victories this season, defeated the Minnesota Vikings 22-16 at U.S. Bank Stadium. Lions kicker Matt Prater converted a 58-yard field goal as time expired in the fourth quarter to force overtime and Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford threw the game-winning 28-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate in the extra session. Prater, who is now 23 of 23 in his career on game-tying or go-ahead field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter or overtime, now owns the two longest game-tying field goals in the final minute of the fourth quarter in NFL history (59 yards on December 11, 2011 with Denver).

ICYMI: Dallas rookie quarterback Dak Prescott completed 21 of 27 passes (77.8 percent) for 247 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 141.8 passer rating in the Cowboys’ 35-10 win at Cleveland. Prescott, who has a 104.2 passer rating this season, is the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to have six starts with a 100+ passer rating in his team’s first eight games of a season. Prescott has guided Dallas to a 7-1 start and is the first rookie quarterback in the Super Bowl era to start and win seven of his team’s first eight games of a season.

Dallas rookie running back Ezekiel Elliot rushed for 92 yards and two touchdowns in the Cowboys’ win at Cleveland. Elliott, who has rushed for 891 yards and seven touchdowns this season, is the third running back in NFL history to rush for at least 875 yards and seven touchdowns in a player’s first eight career games. Elliott joins Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson and Adrrian Peterson as the only players to accomplish the feat.

New Orleans quarterback (and NyQuil pitchman) Drew Brees passed for 323 yards and three touchdowns in the Saints’ 41-23 win at San Francisco. Brees has 55 career games with at least 300 passing yards and three touchdown passes, the most in NFL history.

Brees, who did not throw an interception, is the first player in NFL history to record 30 career games with at least 300 passing yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. caught two touchdown passes in the Giants’ 28-23 win over Philadelphia in the Meadowlands. Beckham, who has 30 touchdown receptions in 35 career games, is the sixth player in NFL history to record at least 30 touchdown catches in his first 35 career games. Beckham joins Pro Football Hall of Famers Lance Alworth and Bob Hayes and Cloyce Box, Bill Groman and Harlon Hill as the only players to accomplish the feat.

Baltimore wide receiver Mike Wallace had four catches for 124 yards, including a 95-yard touchdown reception, in the Ravens’ 21-14 win over Pittsburgh. Wallace, who had a 95-yard touchdown catch for Pittsburgh in 2011 (October 23, 2011 at Arizona), is the third player in NFL history (John Taylor and Gus Tinsley) to have two career 95+ yard touchdown receptions. Wallace is the only player in league annals to have a 95+ yard touchdown catch with two different teams.

Indianapolis running back Frank Gore rushed for 60 yards with two touchdowns and added two catches in the Colts’ 31-26 win at Green Bay. Gore, who has 12,632 career rushing yards and 400 receptions, is the fifth player in NFL history with at least 12,500 rushing yards and 400 receptions. He’s in pretty good company, as he joins Pro Football Hall of Famers Curtis Martin, Walter Payton, Emmitt Smith and La Dainian Tomlinson as the only players to accomplish the feat.

Detroit kicker Matt Prater converted a 58-yard field goal as time expired in the fourth quarter to force overtime in the Lions’ 22-16 win at Minnesota. It marked the second-longest game-tying field goal in the final minute of the fourth quarter in NFL history; Prater also holds the record for the longest such field goal (59 yards on December 11, 2011 with Denver against Chicago). In his career, Prater is now 23 of 23 on game-tying or go-ahead field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter or overtime.

The Lions have overcome a fourth-quarter deficit in all five of the team’s victories this season.

Detroit wide receiver Anquan Boldin had a touchdown reception against Minnesota, his fifth touchdown catch this season. Boldin has now had a season with at least five touchdown receptions with four different teams (Arizona, Baltimore, San Francisco and Detroit) and is the fourth player in NFL history to accomplish the feat. Boldin joins Terrell Owens (five teams), Irving Fryar and Brandon Marshall as the only players in league annals to accomplish the feat.

Miami rookie Kenyan Drake returned a kickoff 96 yards for the game-winning touchdown in the Dolphins’ 27-23 win over the New York Jets. The Dolphins, who had a 74-yard punt-return touchdown from rookie Jakeem Grant in Week 5 (October 9 vs. Tennessee), are the only team in the NFL this season with both a punt-return touchdown and a kickoff-return touchdown.

Drake’s 96-yard kickoff-return touchdown is the second-longest by a rookie in franchise history (Mercury Morris, 105 yards, September 14, 1969).

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN WEEK 10

ROOKIES ON THE RISE: Dallas rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 92 yards and two touchdowns in the Cowboys’ 35-10 win at Cleveland last week. Elliott leads the league with 891 rushing yards, the third-most in NFL history in a player’s first eight career games.

With 109 yards on Sunday against Pittsburgh, Elliott would join Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (1,096) and Adrian Peterson (1,081) as the only players in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in their first nine career games.

The players with 1,000 rushing yards in their first nine career games:

PLAYER, SEASON – TEAM (RUSHING YARDS IN FIRST NINE GAMES)
Eric Dickerson, 1983 – Los Angeles (1,096)^
Adrian Peterson, 2007 – Minnesota (1,081)
Ezekiel Elliott, 2016 – Dallas (891)*
*Through eight games
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Dallas rookie quarterback Dak Prescott completed 21 of 27 passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions for a 141.8 rating in last week’s win. Prescott leads all rookies in passing yards (2,020), touchdown passes (12) and passer rating (104.2).

Prescott and Elliott can become the second rookie quarterback and rookie running back teammates in NFL history with at least 2,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in a season, joining Robert Griffin III (3,200 passing yards) and Alfred Morris (1,613 rushing yards) who accomplished the feat with Washington in 2012.

SEASON – TEAM; PLAYER – PASSING YARDS; PLAYER – RUSHING YARDS
2012 – Washington; Robert Griffin III – 3,200; Alfred Morris – 1,613
2016 – Dallas; Dak Prescott – 2,020; Ezekiel Elliott – 891*
*Through eight games

Prescott and Elliott would become the first pair of rookie teammates in NFL history to accomplish the feat in the team’s first nine games.

JULIO AT 75: Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones had eight receptions for 111 yards and one touchdown in the Falcons’ 43-28 victory at Tampa Bay in Week 9. Jones has 51 receptions and leads the NFL with 970 receiving yards.

Entering his 75th career game on Sunday against Philadelphia, Jones already has the most receptions (465) in NFL history by a player in his first 75 career games.

The players with the most receptions in their first 75 career games:

PLAYER, TEAM(S)(SEASONS, RECEPTIONS IN FIRST 75 GAMES)
Julio Jones, Atlanta (2011-2016, 465)*
Anquan Boldin, Arizona (2003-2008, 462)
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh (2010-2015, 427)
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona (2004-2008, 421)
Lionel Taylor, Chicago and Denver (1959-1964, 417)
*Through 74 games

Jones has 7,171 receiving yards through his first 74 career games and is one of only two players in NFL history to record at least 7,000 receiving yards in his first 75 career games, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Lance Alworth (7,532).

The players with the most receiving yards in their first 75 career games:

PLAYER – TEAM, MOST RECEIVING YARDS IN FIRST 75 CAREER GAMES
Lance Alworth – San Diego, 7,532^
Julio Jones – Atlanta,7,171*
Torry Holt – St. Louis, 6,373
Charley Hennigan – Houston, 6,267
Jerry Rice – San Francisco, 6,263^
*Through 74 games
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

PROTECTING THE PIGSKIN: New England quarterbacks Tom Brady (134), Jimmy Garoppolo (60) and rookie Jacoby Brissett (55) have combined for 249 consecutive passing attempts without an interception this season.

On Sunday night against Seattle, the Patriots can become the second team in NFL history to not throw an interception in a team’s first nine games of a season, joining the 1960 Cleveland Browns.

The teams with the most consecutive games to start a season without throwing an interception:

TEAM – SEASON, GAMES WITHOUT INTERCEPTION; TEAM PASSING ATTEMPTS
Cleveland – 1960, 9; 184
New England – 2016, 8; 249*
Washington – 2008, 8; 232
*Active streak

The Patriots’ 249 passing attempts without an interception mark the second-longest streak to start a season in NFL history, trailing only the 2008 Washington Redskins (251).

TEAM, SEASON – CONSECUTIVE PASSING ATTEMPTS WITHOUT INT TO START SEASON
Washington, 2008 – 251
New England, 2016 – 249*
*Active streak

ENVYING GREEN: Cincinnati wide receiver A.J. Green leads the NFL with 59 receptions and ranks second in the league with 896 receiving yards entering Week 10. With 104 receiving yards on Monday night against the Giants, Green would join Randy Moss as the only players in NFL history to record 1,000 receiving yards in each of their first six seasons.

PLAYER, TEAM – CONSECUTIVE 1,000+ YARD SEASONS TO START CAREER
Randy Moss, Minnesota – 6
A.J. Green, Cincinnati – 5*
*Active streak

THE 300 CLUB: San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers completed 24 of 33 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions for a 117.6 rating in the Chargers’ 43-35 victory over Tennessee last week. With two touchdown passes on Sunday against Miami, Rivers would become the ninth player in NFL history with 300 career passing touchdowns.

Rivers (298 career touchdown passes) and New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (306), who were both selected in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft, can become the second quarterback duo from the same draft class to each reach 300 touchdown passes. Pro Football Hall of Famers John Elway (300 career touchdown passes) and Dan Marino (420) were both selected in the first round of the 1983 NFL Draft.

The quarterbacks with 300 career touchdown passes:

PLAYER – CAREER TOUCHDOWN PASSES
Peyton Manning – 539
Brett Favre – 508^
Drew Brees – 449*
Tom Brady – 440*
Dan Marino – 420^
Fran Tarkenton – 342^
Eli Manning – 306*
John Elway – 300^
Philip Rivers – 298*
*Active
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

BIG BEN IN THE BOOKS: Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger enters Sunday’s contest against Dallas with 44,944 career passing yards. With 56 passing yards this week, Roethlisberger would become the 11th quarterback in NFL history with 45,000 passing yards, and the eighth QB to accomplish the feat with one team.

Additionally, Roethlisberger can become the fifth-fastest quarterback in NFL history to reach 45,000 career passing yards, accomplishing the feat in his 179th career game.

The quarterbacks to reach 45,000 career passing yards in the fewest games:

PLAYER – TEAM(S), FEWEST GAMES TO REACH 45,000 PASSING YARDS
Drew Brees – San Diego and New Orleans, 168
Dan Marino – Miami, 172
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis, 174
Tom Brady – New England, 178
Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh, 178*
*Has 44,944 passing yards through 178 games

CLOSE GAMES: There have been 99 games within one score in the fourth quarter through Week 9, the most such games in the first nine weeks of a season in NFL history. Four teams – Baltimore, Detroit, the New York Giants and Washington – have had all of their games within one score in the fourth quarter this season.

The most games within one score in the fourth quarter through Week 9:

SEASON – GAMES WITHIN ONE SCORE IN THE 4TH QUARTER THROUGH WEEK 9
2016 – 99
2013 – 96
2004 – 93
2015 – 92
2010 – 91
2007 – 91

Additionally, there have been 77 games decided by eight points or fewer and 71 games decided by seven points or fewer through Week 9, both the most such games in the first nine weeks of a season in league annals.

The most games decided by eight points or fewer through Week 9:

SEASON – GAMES DECIDED BY EIGHT POINTS OR FEWER THROUGH WEEK 9
2016 – 77
2015 – 73
2010 – 73
2012 – 72
1999 – 70
1988 – 70

The most games decided by seven points or fewer through Week 9:

SEASON – GAMES DECIDED BY SEVEN POINTS OR FEWER THROUGH WEEK 9
2016 – 71
2015 – 68
1987 – 68
1988 – 66
1983 – 66

FLYING FALCONS: Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan completed 25 of 34 passes (73.5 percent) for 344 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions for a 144.7 passer rating in the Falcons’ 43-28 win at Tampa Bay.

Ryan, who has 3,133 career completions, surpassed Peyton Manning (3,131) for the most completions in a player’s first nine seasons in NFL history.

The players with the most pass completions in their first nine NFL seasons:

PLAYER, TEAM(S) (SEASONS; COMPLETIONS IN FIRST 9 SEASONS)
Matt Ryan, Atlanta (2008-2016; 3,133)*
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (1998-2006; 3,131)
Dan Marino, Miami (1983-1991; 2,798)
Drew Brees, San Diego and New Orleans (2001-2009; 2,697)
Joe Flacco, Baltimore (2008-2016; 2,686)*
*Currently in ninth season

Ryan’s favorite target, Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones had eight receptions for 111 yards and a touchdown in the victory. Jones, who was playing in his 74th career game, has 465 career receptions and surpassed Anquan Boldin (462) for the most receptions in a player’s first 75 career games.

The players with the most receptions in their first 75 games:

PLAYER – TEAM(S), SEASONS (RECEPTIONS IN FIRST 75 GAMES)
Julio Jones – Atlanta, 2011-2016 (465)*
Anquan Boldin – Arizona, 2003-2008 (462)
Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh, 2010-2015 (427)
Larry Fitzgerald – Arizona, 2004-2008 (421)
Lionel Taylor – Chicago and Denver, 1959-1964 (417)
*Through 74 games

REMARKABLE RAIDER: Oakland running back Latavius Murray rushed for 114 yards and three touchdowns in the Raiders’ 30-20 victory against Denver.

Murray’s performance marked the third time a player has rushed for at least 100 yards and three touchdowns against the defending Super Bowl champions, joining DeAngelo Williams (2008) and Warrick Dunn (2000).

The players to rush for 100 yards and three touchdowns against the defending Super Bowl champions:

PLAYER, SEASON; TEAM-OPPONENT (SUPER BOWL) (RUSH YARDS, RUSH TDS)
Latavius Murray – 2016; Oakland-Denver (50)(114, 3)
DeAngelo Williams – 2007; Carolina-New York Giants (XLII)(108, 4)
Warrick Dunn – 2000; Tampa Bay-St. Louis Rams (XXXIV)(145, 3)

RISING ROOKIES: Dallas rookie quarterback Dak Prescott passed for 247 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 141.8 passer rating in the Cowboys’ 35-10 win at Cleveland. Cowboys rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott, who leads the NFL with 891 rushing yards, rushed for 92 yards and two touchdowns in the victory.

The game marked the second time in NFL history in which a rookie passed for three touchdowns and a rookie teammate rushed for two touchdowns in the same game.

The feat was last accomplished on November 21, 1948, when New York Giants rookie quarterback Charlie Conerly threw three touchdown passes and rookie running back Ray Coates rushed for two touchdowns in the Giants’ 49-3 win at Green Bay.

MIRACULOUS MCDONALD: San Francisco tight end Van McDonald had three receptions for 84 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown catch, in the 49ers’ 41-23 loss to New Orleans.

McDonald, who had a 75-yard touchdown reception in Week 2, became the fourth tight end since 1970, and the first since 1997, with two touchdown catches of at least 65 yards in the same season.

The tight ends with two touchdown catches of at least 65 yards in the same season since 1970:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON, 65-YARD TD CATCHES)
Vance McDonald, San Francisco (2016)(2, 75 yards, 65 yards)*
Shannon Sharpe, Denver (1997)(2, 68 yards, 65 yards)^
Rodney Holman, Cincinnati (1989)(2, 73 yards, 65 yards)
Rich Caster, New York Jets – 1972 (2; 80 yards, 79 yards)
*Through Week 9
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

NFC NORTH DRAMA: Detroit kicker Matt Prater converted a game-tying 58-yard field goal as time expired in regulation to force overtime in the Lions’ 22-16 win at Minnesota.

Prater, who is now 23 of 23 on game-tying or go-ahead field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter or overtime in his career, holds the record for the two longest game-tying field goals in the final minute of the fourth quarter in NFL history. Prater converted a 59-yarder with three seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to force overtime on December 11, 2011 with the Denver Broncos.

Before Prater’s kick, Minnesota tight end Rhett Ellison had a one-yard touchdown run to give the Vikings a 16-13 lead with 23 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Ellison, whose touchdown run was the first carry of his five-year career, became the first player in NFL history to score a go-ahead touchdown in the final minute of regulation on the first carry of his career.

Byes this week? Buffalo, Detroit, Indianapolis and Oakland. Arizona, Chicago, Cincinnati, Houston, New England and Washington come back to action from their byes last week.

Week 10 got underway on Thursday night with an AFC North matchup between the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens with the Ravens coming away 28-7 winners Thursday night. The Ravens knocked off Pittsburgh last week to move into a tie with the Steelers for first place in the division (4-4). Baltimore wide receiver Mike Wallace had four catches for 124 yards, including a 95-yard touchdown. Wallace is the only player in NFL history to have a 95+ yard touchdown catch with two different teams (Baltimore and Pittsburgh).

The action in week 10 concludes with a pair of primetime contests. On Sunday night, the New England Patriots host the Seattle Seahawks in a rematch of Super Bowl XLIX at 8:30 p.m. on NBC and on Monday night, the Cincinnati Bengals visit the New York Giants at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN in an important interconference contest featuring two teams in the middle of the playoff race.

9 weeks down. 8 to go. Last week, we were 9-4 and for the season, we’re 88-43. As ESPN’s Chris Berman says, “that’s why they play the games!” With that, here’s the Sunday (and Monday) picks for week 10.

ATLANTA (5-3) at Philadelphia (4-4), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 709. Peach pie meets cheesesteak as the Atlanta Falcons travel to the City of Brotherly Love for an inter-division contest at Lincoln Financial Field. For the Falcons, it will be a homecoming of sorts, as Matt Ryan returns to his hometown to face the team he cheered for as a kid.

Atlanta erased a 14-13 defict at Tampa Bay with 8:35 left before the half and came away 43-28 winners at Raymond James Stadium. The Falcons, in first place in the NFC South, outrushed Tampa Bay 136-73 and Ryan burned Tampa Bay for 344 yards and four TDs, one to his favorite target, All-Pro WR Julio Jones.

Philadelphia, in a logjam in the NFC East, lost their second contest in a row, falling to the New York Giants 28-23 in the Meadowlands. The Eagles trailed 21-10 at the intermission at MetLife Stadium before outscoring Eli Manning and the Giants, pulling to within five, thanks to a pair of Caleb Sturgis field goals in the fourth quarter. Rookie QB Carson Wentz threw for 364 yards but was sacked twice and picked off twice, while Manning threw for 257 yards and four TDs (Philly actually outrushed the Giants 96-54).

Philadelphia leads the series 15-13-1 and have outscored Atlanta 628-547. However, the Falcons have come away winners in the three meetings, including a 26-24 in the Big Peach on Opening night last year (Philly’s last win in the series came in 2010 in the City of Brotherly Love by a final of 31-17).

In that Monday night contest at the Georgia Dome, Atlanta led 20-3 at the break, then held off the Eagles in the second half as Philadelphia would outscore Atlanta 17-6 in the final 30 minutes of action. Ryan threw for 298 yards and a pair of TDs, both to Jones, while Bradford threw for 336 with a TD (both men threw a pair of interceptions) and Atlanta outrushed the Eagles 105-63.

The Eagles are favored by 1 and the over/under’s 50. Philly’s been struggling of late, while the Falcons have been on top of the NFC South since opening day. It’s a pair of really good QBs on the field, the rookie vs. the veteran. The veteran wins this one. Falcons cover the 1 and win in the City of Brotherly Love.

Kansas City (6-2) at Carolina (3-5), 1 p.m. on and DirecTV 705. Cam Newton and The defending NFC champs return to the Tar Heel State for an early afternoon contest in Charlotte with Alex Smith and the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chiefs held off Jacksonville 19-14 last Sunday at Arrowhead. Kansas City led 10-7 at half, then held off the Jaguars in the second half for the five-point win. Jacksonville did outrush Kansas City 205-62, with Curtis Ivory rushing for 107 of those yards on the ground. The Jaguars also outpassed the Chiefs 252-187 with Blake Bortles throwing for a pair of TDs, while Nick Foles, who took over for Smith (concussion) threw a TD with a pair of sacks. Kansas City did manage to force four turnovers at Arrowhead last Sunday afternoon (three fumbles, interception) in the win.

Although he was sacked five times, Newton managed to throw for 225 yards and a TD to TE Greg Olsen, as Carolina came away 13-10 winners over Los Angeles last Sunday on the West Coast. Both teams rushed for 59 yards in the contest, that saw the Panthers take a 7-0 lead into the final quarter of play. Carolina would then add a pair of Greg Gano field goals before the Rams ended their bid for a shutout when Greg Zuerlein connected on a 37-yard field goal with 3:18 left in regulation and then got a 10-yard TD pass from Case Keenum to WR Kenny Britt with 34 seconds left.

The Chiefs hold a lead series of 3-2 but Carolina has outscored Kansas City 111-94. Carolina’s last win in the series came in 2008 in Charlotte, when they shutout Kansas City 30-0, while the Chiefs were 27-21 winners at Arrowhead in 2012. Carolina’s favored by 3 and the over/under’s 44. The Chiefs have been hot of late, while the Panthers have been struggling and trying to keep pace with Atlanta in the NFC South. Kansas City may not cover the 3 but they win on the road in the Tar Heel State.

Houston (5-3) at Jacksonville (2-6), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706. A pair of AFC South rivals, separated by 871 miles along I-10, meet at NRG Stadium in the Lone Star State.

Jacksonville fell to Kansas City 19-14 last Sunday at Arrowhead. The Jaguars trailed 10-7 at half, then rallied to put themselves closer, thanks to a 13-yard TD pass from Blake Bortles to T.J. Yeldon with 4:10 left but could come no closer. There were two bright spots for the Jaguars last Sunday. First, Jacksonville outrushed Kansas City 205-62, with Curtis Ivory rushing for 107 of those yards on the ground. Second, the Jaguars outpassed Kansas City 252-187 with Bortles throwing for a pair of TDs, while Nick Foles, who took over for Alex Smith (concussion) threw a TD with a pair of sacks. Now for the bad news, Jaguar fans… Kansas City forced four turnovers at Arrowhead last Sunday afternoon (three fumbles, interception) in their second loss in a row.

The Texans, on top of the AFC South mountain, return to action from their bye week, coming into the game with a 20-13 win over Detroit under their belts. After a scoreless first quarter, Houston led 14-3 at the break and held off the Lions in the second half for the win as they held the Lions to 58 yards on the ground at NRG Stadium.

The Texans lead the series 17-11, have outscored Jacksonville 648-553 and have won the last four meetings, including sweeping the 2015 series (Jacksonville’s last win over Houston came in 2013, when they swept the series that year).

First meeting… week six in the Sunshine State and Houston scored 21 fourth quarter points enroute to a 31-20 win at EverBank Field. Houston trailed 14-10 after three periods of play (they led 10-3 at the half) before coming away with the win. The rushing game in the first meeting was non-existant but Houston did manage to outrush the Jaguars 95-83 and Hoyer and Bortles each threw three TD passes (Bortles was picked off three times).

They met again in the Lone Star State in week 17 (it was Jacksonville’s turn to make the trip down I-10) and the Texans used Jacksonville to tune up for the playoffs with a 30-6 win to close out the regular season. Houston’s Alfred Blue ran for 102 of the Texans’ 160 (Jacksonville was held to a somewhat weak 32 yards on the ground… and that’s being kind!) and Hoyer threw for 249 yards in the win (Bortles was sacked eight times and picked off twice).

Houston’s favored by 1 1/2 and the over/under’s 42 1/2. Jacksonville’s not a bad team but Houston has had their number over the last few years in the series. Jacksonville, you’ve got a problem. Houston covers the 1 deep in the Heart of Texas.

Denver (6-3) at New Orleans (4-4), 1 p.m. on and DirecTV 707. The defending Super Bowl champs wend their way to the Big Easy for a meeting with the New Orleans Saints.

Denver lost to AFC West rival Oakland 30-20 last Sunday night in northern California. The Broncos, held to 33 yards rushing, trailed 20-10 at the intermission, while Oakland’s Latavius Murray ran for 114 yards (Oakland ran for 218). The bright spot for Denver was Trevor Siemian, who outpaced David Carr 283-184 (both Carr and Siemian were sacked twice; Siemian threw a pair of TDs and an interception).

Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints made short work of San Francisco 41-23 at Levi’s Stadium last Sunday. Mark Ingram showed his Heisman winning form, rushing for 158 of New Orleans’ 248 yards last Sunday in Santa Clara, while San Francisco was held to 93 yards rushing. New Orleans led 31-20 at the break and never looked back as Brees threw for 323 yards and three TDs.

The defending Super Bowl champs lead the series 8-2, the Broncos have outscored the Saints 276-203 and have won the last four contests in the series, including a 34-14 win in the Mile High City in 2012. New Orleans’ last win over Denver? 1994 in Denver (Bill Clinton was finishing his first term) by a final of 30-28.

The Saints are favored by 1 and the over/under’s 49. Denver’s trying to keep pace in the AFC West, while the Saints are trying to catch Atlanta in the NFC South. Denver gets back on track in the Big Easy and covers the 1.

Los Angeles (3-5) at New York Jets (3-6), 1 p.m. on DirecTV 708. It’s the West Coast traveling to the East Coast when Los Angeles travels to upstate New Jersey for a showdown in the Meadowlands with the New York Jets. The contest features a pair of struggling QBs as both teams try to stay out of the cellar in their respective divisons, bringing losses with them from last week into the Sunday afternoon contest.

The good news for Rams fans… they sacked Cam Newton (225 yards, TD) five times. The bad news… they came up on the short end of a 13-10 loss to Newton’s Panthers in Los Angeles last Sunday. Newton and TE Greg Olsen connected on the first score of the contest at the Coliseum, a 9-yard strike with 3:44 left in the first quarter. Carolina and the Rams stayed scoreless in the second and third quarters before the the Panthers added a pair of Greg Gano field goals. Los Angeles, who had 10 penalties for 109 yards, then ended Carolina’s bid for a shutout when Greg Zuerlein connected on a 37-yard field goal with 3:18 left in regulation and then got a 10-yard TD pass from Case Keenum to WR Kenny Britt with 34 seconds left. Both teams ran for 59 yards, while Keenum threw for 296 yards and was sacked four times.

New York let a 23-20 lead at Miami get away from them as the Jets fell to the Dolphins 27-23 in the Sunshine State. GangGreen led by 3 with 5:42 left in regulation when Ryan Fitzpatrick and rookie WR Jalin Marshall connected on an 18-yard TD pass before the wings and wheels fell off the plane. On the ensuing kickoff, Dolphins KR Kenyan Drake returned the kickoff 96 yards for the game-losing TD. New York did manage to outrush Miami 140-137 but Miami RB Jay Ajayi ran for 111 yards and a TD in the AFC East contest at Hard Rock Stadium.

Including games that took place in the Coliseum and Shea Stadium, the Rams lead the series 9-4 and have outscored GangGreen 310-258. However… the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! have won the last two contests in the series, including a 27-13 win in St. Louis in 2012. The Rams’ last win came in 2004, also in St. Louis by a final of 32-29 in overtime.

GangGreen’s favored by 1 1/2 and the over/under’s 39 1/2. You might want to take a pass on this one and watch that “Law & Order: SVU” marathon on Ion Channel (there’s nothing sexier than Olivia Benson slapping the cuffs on someone!). Rams make the trip to the East Coast worthwhile and cover the 1 1/2 in upstate New Jersey.

Chicago (2-6) at Tampa Bay (3-5), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710. A pair of struggling teams meet in south Florida as Tampa Bay hosts Da Bears at Raymond James Stadium.

Da Bears manhandled Minnesota two Monday nights ago (Chicago had a bye last week) 20-10 at Soldier Field. The Monsters of the Midway led 13-3 at the half and held the Vikings to 57 yards rushing, sacking Sam Bradford (228 yards) five times, while Da Bears ran for 158 yards at Soldier Field, with RB Jordan Howard leading all rushers with 153.

Tampa Bay let a 14-13 lead against Atlanta get away from them last Thursday night in the Sunshine State and came out on the short end of a 43-28 NFC South loss. Tampa Bay found themselves outrushed by the Falcons 136-73 and Jameis Winston threw for 261 yards and three touchdowns but was sacked three times.

Da Bears lead da series 38-18, have outscored Tampa Bay 1,214-887 and have won the last three meetings, including a 26-21 win in the Sunshine State last year (Tampa Bay’s last win in the series came in 2008 in the Windy City by a final of 27-24 in overtime).

They met in week 16 at Raymond James Stadium and then-Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith squared off against his old team. Chicago led 13-7 at the break, then held off a late Tampa Bay rally when Winston and Seferian-Jenkins connected on a 43-yard TD pass with 1 second left. Chicago outrushed Tampa Bay 174-104 and Winston outpaced Cutler 295-156 (Winston had a pair of TDs in the contest).

Da Bears are favored by 1 1/2 and the over/under’s 45. Take a pass on this one, kids and get that Christmas shopping done. The economy will thank you. Chicago wins in the Sunshine State and covers the 1 1/2.

Green Bay (4-4) at Tennessee (4-5), 1 p.m. on and DirecTV 711. Aaron Rodders and the Green Bay Packers limp into the Music City for a inter-conference contest in Nashville with Marcus Mariota and the Titans.

Green Bay dropped their third game in a row and second at Lambeau, falling to Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts 31-26. Green Bay trailed 24-10 at the half in the land of beer, Bratwurst and cheese before the Colts pulled away from them in the second half. Packer fans had a couple of bright spots to be happy about. First… Rodgers threw for 297 yards and three TDs, despite being sacked three times and second… the Packers outrushed the Colts 116-85.

Tennessee trailed San Diego 19-14 at the intermission at Qualcomm, then rallied late, only to fall to the Chargers 43-35 last Sunday on the West Coast. The Titans were held to 80 yards rushing, while Philip Rivers threw for 275 yards and a pair of TDs, with RB Melvin Gordon running for 196 of the Chargers’ 208. Mariota threw for 313 yards and three TDs, San Diego did manange to pick him off twice.

Including contests that were played in Houston when the Titans were known as the Oilers, Tennessee leads the series 6-5 and have outscored the Packers 253-244. Green Bay came away 55-7 winner at Lambeau in 2012, while the Texans needed overtime in Nashville to take a 19-16 win in 2008.

The Packers are favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under’s 49 1/2. While it’s not a great game to watch, it’ll be a good game, since both teams have pretty decent QBs. Packers recover from their free-fall and take the win in Music City but won’t cover the 2 1/2.

Minnesota (5-3) at Washington (4-3-1), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 712. The defending NFC East champs host the Minnesota Vikings and Sam Bradford in Landover.

Minnesota dropped their second contest in a row. falling to NFC North rival Chicago 20-10 last Monday night. The Vikings trailed 13-3 at the half but found themselves being held to 57 yards rushing, while Bradford was sacked five times, despite throwing for 228 yards (Chicago ran for 158 yards at Soldier Field, with RB Jordan Howard leading all rushers with 153).

The Redskins have recovered from their jet lag and return from their trip across the Big Pond, tying Cincinnati at Wembley 27-27. Washington, who led 10-7 at halftime, trailed 27-24 with 67 seconds left in regulation before Redskins K Dustin Hopkins connected on a 40-yard field goal to even things up. The contest remained tied throughout the overtime and ended in a tie. Cincinnati outrushed Washington 152-100, while Kirk Cousins threw for 458 yards and a pair of TDs.

Including contests that were played at Metropolitan and RFK Stadiums, the Vikings lead the series 10-9, have outscored the Redskins 480-425 and have won the last two contests with Washington, including a 29-26 win in the Twin Cities in 2014, while Washington’s last win over the Purple Gang came in 2012 in Landover by a finual of 38-26.

Washington’s favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under’s 41 1/2. Hail to the Redskins! Washington gives Minnesota their third loss in a row at home in Landover and covers the 2 1/2.

Miami (4-4) at San Diego (4-5), 4:05 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 713. Philip Rivers vs. Ryan Tannehill. A pair of future Hall of Fame QBs square off in San Diego as a pair of contenders meet in a late afternoon (Eastern time) contest.

Miami erased a 23-20 fourth quarter deficit against the New York Jets and took a 27-23 win in the Sunshine State. The Jets led by 3 with 5:42 left in regulation when Ryan Fitzpatrick and rookie WR Jalin Marshall connected on an 18-yard TD pass before the wings and wheels fell off the plane. On the ensuing kickoff, Dolphins KR Kenyan Drake electrified the home crowd as he returned the kickoff 96 yards for the game-losing TD. Although New York outrushed Miami 140-137, Miami RB Jay Ajayi led all rushers as he ran for 111 yards and a TD in the AFC East contest at Hard Rock Stadium.

The Chargers led Tennessee 19-14 at the intermission at Qualcomm, then hung on to take a 43-35 win over the Titans last Sunday on the West Coast. Rivers threw for 275 yards and a pair of TDs, while Melvin Gordon ran for 196 of the Chargers’ 208, holding the Texans to 80 and picking off Marcus Mariota (313 yards, three TDs) twice.

Miami holds a 14-13 lead in the series, which includes contests that took place in the Orange Bowl, while the Chargers have outscored Miami 604-596. The Bolts won the last meeting with Miami last year in southern California by a final of 30-14 (Miami’s last win over San Diego came in the Sunshine State in 2014, as they shutout San Diego 37-0).

San Diego led 23-0 at the intermission in the week 15 contest at Qualcomm and never looked back, coming away with the 16-point win, as they held the Dolphins to 44 yards rushing (San Diego had 140 yards on the ground) and Rivers threw for 311 yards and three TD passes to Danny Woodhead. San Diego’s favored by 4 and the over/under’s 49. Both numbers make a lot of sense and both are pretty decent qbs. Both teams have played some decent but not great football of late and both are trying to make the post-season party. San Diego wins this one but Miami makes it closer than the 4.

San Francisco (1-7) at Arizona (3-4-1), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV. It’s an NFC West rematch in the desert as the struggling 49ers travel to Glendale for a meeting with Arizona at University of Phoenix Stadium.

The struggling 49ers fell to Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints 41-23 at Levi’s Stadium last Sunday. San Francisco, held to 93 yards rushing, while watching Mark Ingram run amok for 158 yards (the Saints had 248), had one bright spot and that was Colin Kaepernick, who threw for 398 yards and a TD in the loss (the 49ers trailed 31-20 at the half).

The Desert Angry Birds return to play after their trip East, where they ran into Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers in an NFC Championship rematch and the results were the same… Arizona fell to Carolina 30-20 at Bank of America Stadium. Although they trailed 24-7 at the intermission in the Tar Heel State, the Desert Angry Birds outscored Newton and the Panthers in the second half 13-6. Carolina held the Desert Angry Birds to 24 yards on the ground, while Carson Palmer (363 yards, three TDs) was sacked eight times in the 10-point loss on the East Coast.

They met in week five in Santa Clara and for the 49ers, the wheels fell off the bus as Blaine Gabbert was sacked seven times and picked off twice and Arizona outscored San Francisco 26-14 in the final 30 minutes of play, as the Desert Angry Birds took a 33-21 win at Levis’ Stadium. Drew Stanton, who took over for Carson Palmer (concussion) threw a pair of TD passes to All-Pro WR Larry Fitzgerald, tallying 124 yards, while RB David Johnson ran for 157 yards (Arizona tallied 172, San Francisco had 151) and a pair of TDs.

In the week five meeting on a Thursday night, the Desert Angry Birds were favored by 4 and the over/under was 43 1/2. Arizona not only covered the 4, winning by 12 and the 54 points scored by both teams covered the over/under with ease. This time, the Cardinals are a whopping 13 1/2 points with a 48 1/2 over/under. We will grant you that the 49ers are a bad team, a dumpster fire in the NFC West and we’re not going to dispute that. We are going to dispute the 13 1/2. While Arizona’s going to win this one, expect the 49ers to at least make it interesting.

Dallas (7-1) at Pittsburgh (4-4), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTv 715. It’s youth vs. experience as Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys meet in the Steel City for a late afternoon contest again Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Dallas kept Cleveland winless, coming away 35-10 winners in upstate Ohio, The Cowboys and rookie QB Dak Prescott (247 yards, three TDS) and the Cowboys went on to shutout Cleveland in the second half, keeping them winless for the ninth time in the 2016 campaign (their 12th loss in row, including the last three games last year), leading 21-10 at the half. While the Browns were held to 45 yards rushing, the Cowboys ran amok for 168 yards in the lopsided win. The Cowboys have won seven consecutive games, the longest current streak in the NFL.

Pittsburgh lost their fifth in a row, falling to Baltimore 21-14 in Charm City last Sunday. The struggling Steelers trailed 10-0 at the half before Roethlisberger and the Steelers before Pittsburgh rallied in the final quarter with a pair of TDs to pull to within seven. Things got a little strange afte the Steelers pulled to within seven with 48 seconds left when Roethlisberger scored on a 4-yard run, the Steelers’ kickoff team had a major meltdown. Pittsburgh attempted an onside kick (the operative word here being attempted). Chris Boswell tried and failed on the attempt, then kicked the ball in the hopes that he would not be caught. Flags were then thrown for an illegal kick and Baltimore got the ball back at the spot where the ball was kicked illegally. (Pittsburgh was flagged 13 times for 99 yards) The contest was not a game for those that like running backs, as neither club came anywhere near the 100-yard barrier (Baltimore had 50, Pittsburgh had 36), Joe Flacco threw for 241 yards and a TD, connecting with WR Mike Wallace on an 95-yard strike to open the scoring.

Dallas leads the series with the Steelers 15-13 and have outscored them 629-565. Dallas won the last meeting between them, coming away 27-24 winners in 2012 in Arlington, while the Steelers’ last win in the series came in the Steel City by a final of 20-13 in 2008. Pittsburgh’s favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under’s 50. Both teams look to play some meaningful football in the postseason. Dallas may have won seven in a row after opening with a loss against the New York Giants and Eli at home but that streak comes to an end in the Steel City. Steelers bounce back and win at home, covering the 2 1/2.

Seattle (5-2-1) at New England (7-1), 8:30 p.m. on NBC. Tom Brady. Russell Wilson. They meet again, this time in Foxboro. Salmon faces off against Clam Chawda as the New England Patriots host the Seattle Seahawks in a Sunday primetime contest.

Seattle erased a 14-7 first quarter lead against Buffalo and came away 31-25 winners in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks. The Seahawks led 28-17 at the intermission at CenturyLink Field in a contest that had some major controversy. To make a long story short, Seattle’s Richard Sherman jumped offsides on a Buffalo field goal try by Dan Carpenter. The officials then forgot to reset the play clock and there were some words exchanged (words that can’t be repeated) by Sherman and Bills head coach Rex Ryan. The controversy took away from an otherwise fine game in the Pacific Northwest, as the Seahawks held off Buffalo for the 6-point win. Buffalo did outrush Seattle 162-33 and Tyrod Taylor threw for 289 yards and a TD but was sacked five times, while Wilson was sacked four times with a pair of TDs and 282 yards.

The Pats return to action after they took care of Buffalo 41-25 in Orchard Park two Sundays ago. New England got revenge for their 16-0 loss to the Bills at Foxboro in week four and Brady threw for 315 yards and four TDs, splitting the wealth between TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Josh Edleman, WR Danny Amendola and WR Chris Hogan. New England’s rushing game was not so great in the rematch, as they were held to 72 yards on the ground, while the Bills ran for 167.

The series is even at 8-8 and the Pats have outscored Seattle 321-295. The Seahawks won the last regular season meeting in 2012 in the Pacific Northwest by a final of 24-23, while New England’s last regular season win in the series also came in the Pacific Northwest by a final of 24-21 in 2008.

It was their last meeting in 2014 in Glendale in Super Bowl XLIX that many are still talking about as the Pats ended Seattle’s hope of repeating as Super Bowl champs, coming away with the Lombardi Trophy and a 28-24 win in the process. Brady and the Pats took the lead for keeps when he and WR Julian Edleman connected on a 3-yard TD strike with 2:02 left to play. Seattle had one last chance to defend their title as World Champs and marched down the field before Wilson (247 yards, two TDs) was picked off by Malcom Butler at the goal line. Marshawn Lynch ran for 102 of Seattle’s 162, while Brady threw for 328 yards and four TDs, despite being picked off twice.

New England’s favored by 7 1/2 and the over/under? 48 1/2. Both numbers make a lot of sense. Both are playoff contending teams, which 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?”

Even though this isn’t a Super Bowl game, there is some sense of revenge in the backs of Seattle’s mind. Seattle comes away with the win on Sunday night but expect this to be a really close contest.

Cincinnati (3-4-1) at New York Giants (5-3), 8:30 p.m. Monday on ESPN. Week 10 closes in upstate New Jersey as Andy Dalton and the Bengals travel to East Rutherford for a primetime meeting with Eli Manning and the New York Giants.

Cincinnati dropped a 27-24 lead against Washington two week ago at Wembley as they and the Redskins played to a 27-27 tie in overtime. The Redskins 10-7 at halftime and Cincy led by 3 with 67 seconds left in regulation before Redskins K Dustin Hopkins connected on a 40-yard field goal to even things up. The contest remained tied throughout the overtime and ended in a tie. Cincinnati outrushed Washington 152-100, while Kirk Cousins threw for 458 yards and a pair of TDs. For the Bengals, Dalton threw for 284 yards in the tie, despite being sacked three times and picked off once.

The Giants kept close to Dallas in first place in the NFC East as they held off divisonal foe Philadelphia 28-23 at MetLife Stadium. Although they were outrushed by the Eagles 96-54, Manning did manage to throw for 257 yards and four TDs, two of them to WR Odell Beckham Jr. New York led 21-10 at the break and sacked Eagles rookie signal caller Carson Wentz twice, while picking him off twice.

The Bengals lead the series 6-3, have outscored Eli and the Giants 229-194 and were 31-13 winners along the shores of the Ohio River in 2012, while Big Blue’s last win in the series came in 2008 in the Meadowlands, with the Giants needing overtime to win 26-23.

On Monday night… the Bengals were 0-2 in 2015 and are 11-22 overall, while the Giants are 23-36-1 overall and split their two MNF contests last year.

Big Blue’s favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under’s 47. You might want to tape “2 Broke Girls” and “Scorpion” this week. Giants win at home and cover the 2 1/2.

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