Archives for category: Da Bears

They’re still standing.

The Kansas City Chiefs remain the lone team that has yet to suffer a loss after their 42-34 win over Houston last Sunday night at NRG Stadium. While there’s still a lot of football yet to be played and we haven’t gotten to the halfway point of the season, one would think that the 1972 Miami Dolphins are getting a little nervous. Anything can happen between now and the end of the 2017 campaign. As the saying goes, “on any given Sunday…”

While the Chiefs remain kings of the NFL mountain, San Francisco, Cleveland and the New York Giants are still looking for their first wins of the 2017 season. When week five got underway, four teams were winless. The Los Angeles Chargers broke into the win column last Sunday in the Meadowlands as they beat the Giants 27-22. For those teams that are struggling, there’s still time.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN WEEK 6

BRADY’S BUNCH OF WINS: New England quarterback TOM BRADY leads the NFL with 1,702 passing yards, ranks second with a 112 passer rating and ties for third with 11 touchdown passes this season.

With a win over the New York Jets on Sunday, Brady, who has 186 career regular-season victories, will surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Farve (186) and Peyton Manning (186) for the most regular-season victories by a starting quarterback in NFL history. Brady has 211 career wins (including the postseason), the most all-time by a quarterback.

The most regular-season wins by a starting quarterback in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (REGULAR-SEASON WINS)
Tom Brady – New England (186)
Brett Favre – Green Bay, New York Jets and Minnesota (186)^
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis and Denver (186)
John Elway – Denver (148)^
Dan Marino – Miami (147)^
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

SUPER SMITH: Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith has completed 121 of 158 passes (76.6 percent) for 1,391 yards with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions for an NFL-best 125.8 passer rating while leading the Chiefs to a 5-0 start.

With two touchdown passes and no interceptions against Pittsburgh on Sunday, Smith will surpass Randall Cunningham (12 in 1998) for the most touchdown passes without an interception through a team’s first six games of the season.

Smith, who has had a passer rating of at least 100 in every game this season, can join Aaron Rodgers (2011), Tom Brady (2007) and Carson Palmer (2005) as the only players with a passer rating of at least 100 in each of his team’s first six games to start a season. Rodgers and Brady both won NFL MVP honors in the years they accomplished the feat.

The players with a passer rating of at least 100 in each of their team’s first six games to start a season:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON)
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (2011)
Tom Brady, New England (2007)
Carson Palmer, Cincinnati (2005)
Alex Smith, Kansas City (2017)*
*100+ rating in each of team’s first five games

REMARKABLE ROOKIE: Kansas City rookie running back Kareem Hunt had 116 scrimmage yards (107 rushing, nine receiving) in the Chiefs’ 42-34 win over Houston last Sunday night

With 159 scrimmage yards against Pittsburgh on Sunday, Hunt, who leads the NFL with 775 scrimmage yards, will surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (933 in 1983) for the most scrimmage yards by a rookie in his team’s first six games of a season.

The rookies with the most scrimmage yards in their team’s first six games of a season:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON – SCRIMMAGE YARDS IN TEAM’S FIRST 6 GAMES)
Eric Dickerson, Los Angeles Rams (1983 – 983)^
Billy Sims, Detroit (1980 – 914)
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota (2007 – 857)
Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas (2016 – 801)
Kareem Hunt, Kansas City (2017- 775)*
*Through five games
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

LEGENDS CLIMB LEADERBOARDS: Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers, who ranks third in the NFC with 5.5 sacks this season, has 149 sacks in his 16-year NFL career. With a sack on Thursday against Philadelphia, Peppers will become the fifth player with 150 career sacks since the sack became an official statistic in 1982. All four players currently ahead of Peppers are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Peppers, who has 11 career interceptions, would also become the only player in NFL history with at least 150 sacks and 10 interceptions.

With two sacks on Thursday, Peppers will surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer Chris Doleman (150.5) for the fourth-most sacks since 1982.

The players with the most sacks since 1982:

PLAYER – TEAMS (CAREER SACKS)
Bruce Smith – Buffalo and Washington (200)^
Reggie White – Philadelphia, Green Bay and Carolina (198)^
Kevin Greene – Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh, Carolina and San Francisco (160)^
Chris Doleman – Minnesota, Atlanta and San Francisco (150.5)^
Julius Peppers – Carolina, Chicago and Green Bay (149)

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who leads the NFC with 32 receptions and ranks fifth in the conference with 327 receiving yards, has 14,716 career receiving yards in his 14-year NFL career.

With 16 receiving yards on Sunday against Tampa Bay, Fitzgerald will surpass Steve Smith, Sr. (14,731) for the seventh-most receiving yards in NFL history.

The players with the most receiving yards in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (CAREER RECEIVING YARDS)
Jerry Rice – San Francisco, Oakland and Seattle (22,895)^
Terrell Owens – San Francisco, Philadelphia, Dallas, Buffalo and Cincinnati (15,934)
Randy Moss – Minnesota, Oakland, New England, Tennessee and San Francisco (15,292)
Isaac Bruce – Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams and San Francisco (15,208)
Tony Gonzalez – Kansas City and Atlanta (15,127)
Tim Brown – Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay (14,934)^
Steve Smith, Sr. – Carolina and Baltimore (14,731)
Larry Fitzgerald – Arizona (14,716)
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

FOURNETTE FOR SIX: Jacksonville rookie running back Leonard Fournette ranks second in the NFL with 466 rushing yards and ties for the league lead with five rushing touchdowns.

With a touchdown on Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams, Fournette, who has scored at least one touchdown in each of his team’s first five games this season, will join New England’s Robert Edwards (1998) as the only rookies to score at least one touchdown in each of his team’s first six games of a season.

PLAYER, TEAM – SEASON
Robert Edwards, New England – 1998
Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville – 2017*
*Touchdown in each of team’s first five games

UPSIDE BROWN: Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown leads the NFL with 40 receptions and 545 receiving yards.

Brown, who has 8,922 career receiving yards, will be playing in his 107th career game on Sunday at Kansas City. With 88 receiving yards against the Chiefs, Brown will tie Randy Moss (107) for the fourth-fewest games played to reach 9,000 career receiving yards.

The players to reach 9,000 career receiving yards in the fewest games:

PLAYER – GAMES TO REACH 9,000 CAREER REC. YARDS
Lance Alworth – 98^
Calvin Johnson – 102
Torry Holt – 105
Randy Moss – 107
Jerry Rice – 108^
Antonio Brown – 106*
*8,922 career receiving yards
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

SEVEN FROM SUNDAY: Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed 19 of 29 passes (65.5 percent) for 221 yards with three touchdowns – including the game-winner with 11 seconds remaining – and no interceptions for a 122.9 passer rating in the Packers’ 35-31 win at Dallas. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott completed 25 of 36 passes (69.4 percent) for 251 yards with three touchdowns and one interception for a 105.2 passer rating.

The game featured the quarterbacks with the highest career passer ratings in NFL history among players with at least 500 attempts. Including today’s contest, Rodgers has an NFL-best 104.1 career passer rating while Prescott ranks second all-time with a 101.6 mark.

Jacksonville rookie running back Leonard Fournette rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns, including a 90-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, in the Jaguars’ 30-9 victory at Pittsburgh.

Fournette (22 years, 263 days old) is the youngest player in NFL history with a touchdown run of at least 90 yards and is the fifth rookie in league annals with a 90+ yard rushing touchdown. Fournette, who has scored a touchdown in each of his first five games this season, is the fifth rookie to score at least one touchdown in each of his team’s first five games of a season.

The Jaguars’ defense recorded five interceptions on Sunday, including interception-return touchdowns by linebacker Telvin Smith (28 yards) and safety Barry Church (51). The two interception-return touchdowns are the most in a single game in franchise history.

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers threw three touchdown passes in the team’s 27-22 win at the New York Giants. Giants quarterback Eli Manning had two touchdown passes in the contest.

The game was the first in NFL history in which the opposing starting quarterbacks were from the same Draft class and each came into the game with at least 300 career touchdown passes. Manning, who was selected No. 1 overall in the 2004 NFL Draft, entered the game with 326 touchdown passes while Rivers, who was chosen No. 4 overall, came into the contest with 320 touchdown passes.

The pair’s 646 combined touchdown passes entering the game were the second-most by opposing starting quarterbacks from the same Draft class, trailing only Pro Football Hall of Famers Dan Marino and John Elway of the 1983 Draft class, who combined for 699 touchdown passes when they faced each other on December 21, 1998.

Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz completed 21 of 30 passes (70 percent) for 304 yards with four touchdowns and one interception for a 128.3 passer rating in the Eagles’ 34-7 win over Arizona. Wentz completed seven of nine passes (77.8 percent) for 121 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 158.3 passer rating in the first quarter. He is the only quarterback in franchise history to throw three touchdown passes in the first quarter of a game.

Indianapolis kicker Adam Vinatieri converted all four of his field goal attempts, including the game-winning 51-yard field goal in overtime in the Colts’ 26-23 victory over San Francisco.

Vinatieri has 24 game-winning field goals in the regular season in the final minute of the fourth quarter or overtime and 10 game-winners in overtime, both the most in NFL history. Vinatieri, who scored 14 points today, has 2,411 career points and became the third player in NFL history to score 2,400 career points, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Morten Andersen (2,544) and Gary Anderson (2,434).

Colts running back Frank Gore rushed for 48 yards in the victory. Gore, who has 13,304 career rushing yards, surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (13,259) for the seventh-most rushing yards in NFL history. All six players ahead of Gore are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Carolina tight end Ed Dickson had five catches for 175 yards in the Panthers’ 27-24 win at Detroit. Dickson is the second tight end in NFL history to have at least 175 receiving yards on five or fewer catches in a single game. Dave Kocourek of the San Diego Chargers had three catches for 175 yards on December 10, 1961 against Buffalo.

Cleveland rookie defensive end Myles Garrett made his NFL debut on Sunday, recording two sacks in the Browns’ loss to the New York Jets at First Energy Stadim.

Garrett, who was the No. 1 overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, is the only player selected first overall to record multiple sacks in his NFL debut since the sack became an official statistic in 1982.

The NFL enters Week 6 after a thrilling weekend of action. In Week 5, 10 of the 14 games (71.4 percent) were decided by six points or fewer – tied for the highest percentage of such games in a single week over the past 25 seasons. The average margin of victory in Week 5 was 7.93 points, the fifth-lowest mark in a single week over the past five seasons.

While the competition on the field remains close, so do the standings. There are currently 20 teams with a .500 or better record. Leading the pack is the league’s only remaining unbeaten club, the 5-0 Kansas City Chiefs. Since 1990, when the current 12-team playoff format was adopted, 44 of the previous 50 teams (88 percent) to start 5-0 made the playoffs.

There are three teams – all in the NFC – with four victories this season: Carolina (4-1), Green Bay (4-1) and Philadelphia (4-1). Two other clubs – Atlanta (3-1) and Denver (3-1) – also have only one loss through Week 5. Since 1990, 111 of the previous 145 teams (76.6 percent) to start 4-1 have made the playoffs.

Heading into Week 6, there are four teams which have currently won at least three consecutive games: Kansas City (five), Green Bay (three), the New York Jets (three) and Philadelphia (three). And while not every team is on a hot streak, there are plenty of games remaining in the season for teams to turn it around. Since 1990, 57 teams have advanced to the postseason after starting the season 2-3 or worse. There were three such teams last season – Miami (1-4), Detroit (2-3) and the New York Giants (2-3).

So don’t count anyone out. The only thing predictable about the NFL is the unpredictability.

CLOSE GAMES, ROAD WINS & MORE: Ten of 14 games (71.4 percent) in Week 5 were decided by six points or fewer, tied for the highest percentage of games decided by six or fewer points in a single week in the past 25 seasons.

The highest percentage of games decided by six or fewer points in a single week in the past 25 seasons:

SEASON (WEEK – PERCENTAGE OF GAMES DECIDED BY 6 OR FEWER POINTS)
2017 (5 – 71.4)
2001 (5 – 71.4)
1999 (5 – 71.4)
1993 (5 – 71.4)

 

In Week 5, the average margin of victory was 7.93 points, the fifth-lowest average margin of victory in a single week in the past five seasons.

The lowest average score margin in a single week since 2013:

SEASON (WEEK – AVERAGE MARGIN OF VICTORY)
2013 (1 – 7.63)
2013 (2 – 7.63)
2016 (1 – 7.63)
2016 (8 – 7.85)
2017 (5 – 7.93)

Ten teams – Baltimore, Carolina, Green Bay, Jacksonville, Kansas City, the Los Angeles Chagers, Minnesota, New England, the New York Jets and Seattle – were victorious on the road in Week 5, the most road wins in a single week since Week 13, 2015 (11) and the highest road winning percentage (.714) in a single week since Week 10 of the 2015 season (.786).

ROCKING ROOKIES: Rookies across the league continued to make an impact in Week 5. Through the first five weeks of the season, rookies have accumulated 7,176 yards from scrimmage, the most by rookies through Week 5 since 1970.

The seasons with the most yards from scrimmage by rookies through Week 5 since 1970 (excluding 1987 season):

SEASON – MOST SCRIMMAGE YARDS BY ROOKIES THROUGH WEEK 5*
2017 – 7,176
2014 – 6,100
1983 – 5,711
2015 – 5,671
1971 – 5,429
*Excludes 1987 season

Rookies have also totaled 51 touchdowns through Week 5, the most through the first five weeks of a season since 1970.

The seasons with the most touchdowns by rookies through Week 5 since 1970 (excluding 1987 season):

SEASON – MOST TOUCHDOWNS BY ROOKIES THROUGH WEEK 5*
2017 – 51
1983 – 45
2014 – 42
2008 – 40
2015 – 39
1980 – 39
*Excludes 1987 season

SMITH’S SPOTLESS START: Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith completed 29 of 37 passes (78.4 percent) for 324 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 130.2 passer rating in the Chiefs’ 42-34 win over Houston on Sunday Night Football.

Smith, who has 11 touchdown passes and no interceptions this season, joined Steve Bartkowski (1983) and Roman Gabriel (1969) as the only quarterbacks in NFL history with at least 11 touchdown passes and zero interceptions through their team’s first five games of a season.

The quarterbacks with the most touchdown passes without an interception in their team’s first five games of a season:

PLAYER, TEAM (YEAR, TD PASSES/INTERCEPTIONS)
Alex Smith, Kansas City (2017, 11/0)
Steve Bartkowski, Atlanta (1983, 11/0)
Roman Gabriel, Los Angeles Rams (1969, 11/0)

ELEMENTARY FOR WATSON: Houston rookie quarterback DeShaun Watson passed for 261 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions for a 119.8 passer rating in the Texans’ loss to Kansas City in Week 5.

Watson became the fourth rookie quarterback in NFL history to pass for five touchdowns in a single game and the third to accomplish the feat without throwing an interception.

The rookie quarterbacks with at least five touchdown passes in a single game in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM; DATE (TOUCHDOWNS/INTERCEPTIONS)
Deshaun Watson, Houston; October 8, 2017 (5/0)
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay; November 22, 2015 (5/0)
Matthew Stafford, Detroit; November 22, 2009 (5/2)
Ray Buivid, Chicago; December 5, 1937 (5/0)

Watson, who was 22 years, 24 days old on Sunday, became the third youngest quarterback in NFL history with five touchdown passes in a single game, trailing only Matthew Stafford (21 years, 288 days) and Jameis Winston (21, 320).

Watson, who ranks second in the NFL with 12 touchdown passes, has the most touchdown passes by a rookie quarterback in his team’s first five games of a season, surpassing Marcus Mariota, who had nine TD passes in his team’s first five games in 2015.

ON THE HUNT: Kansas City rookie running back Kareem Hunt had 116 scrimmage yards (107 rushing, nine receiving) in the Chiefs’ win over Houston in Week 5.

Hunt, who has at least 100 scrimmage yards in each of his first five games this season, joined Adrian Peterson (2007) as the only rookies in NFL history with at least 100 scrimmage yards in each of his team’s first five games of a season. Hunt’s 755 scrimmage yards are the third-most scrimmage yards by a rookie in his team’s first five games of a season, trailing only Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (787 in 1983) and Adrian Peterson (782 in 2007).

The rookies with the most scrimmage yards in their team’s first five games to start a season:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON, SCRIMMAGE YARDS IN TEAM’S FIRST 5 GAMES)
Eric Dickerson, Los Angeles Rams (1983 – 787)^
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota (2007 – 782)
Kareem Hunt, Kansas City (2017 – 775)
Billy Sims, Detroit (1980 – 761)

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

FIVE FOR FOURNETTE: Jacksonville rookie running back Leonard Fournette rushed for 181 yards with two touchdowns, including a 90-yard touchdown run, in the Jaguars’ 30-9 win at Pittsburgh last week.

Fournette, who has scored a touchdown in each of his first five games this season, is the fifth rookie to score at least one touchdown in each of his team’s first five games of a season.

The rookies with at least one touchdown in each of their team’s first five games of a season:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON)
Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville (2017)
Robert Edwards, New England (1998)
Joe Cribbs, Buffalo (1980)
Alan Ameche, Baltimore Colts (1955)
Billy Howton, Green Bay (1952)

Fournette (22 years, 263 days old) is the youngest player in NFL history with a touchdown run of at least 90 yards and is the fifth rookie in league annals with a 90+ yard rushing touchdown.

The rookies with a touchdown run of at least 90 yards in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (DATE; YARDS)
Bobby Gage, Pittsburgh (December 4, 1949; 97t)
DeMarco Murray, Dallas (October 23, 2011; 91t)
Bo Jackson, Los Angeles Raiders (November 30, 1987; 91t)
Sid Blanks, Houston Oilers (December 13, 1964; 91t)
Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville (October 8, 2017; 90t)

DOMINATING DEFENSE: Jacksonville recorded five interceptions, including interception-return touchdowns by linebacker Telvin Smith (28 yards) and safety Barry Church (51), in the team’s victory at Pittsburgh.

Jacksonville, which leads the NFL with 20 sacks, 10 interceptions and four defensive touchdowns, is the fourth team in NFL history and the first since the 1984 Seahawks with at least 20 sacks, 10 interceptions and four defensive touchdowns in their first five games of a season.

The teams with at least 20 sacks, 10 interceptions and four defensive touchdowns in their first five games of a season:

TEAM, SEASON (SACKS/INTERCEPTIONS/DEFENSIVE TOUCHDOWNS)
Jacksonville, 2017 (20/10/4)
Seattle, 1984 (22/11/4)
Cincinnati, 1976 (20/10/4)
Washington, 1973 (26/11/5)

200 AND COUNTING: Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald had six catches in the Cardinals’ loss at Philadelphia in Week 5.

Fitzgerald, who has a reception in 200 consecutive games, joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (274) and Tony  Gonzalez (211) as the only players in NFL history with at least one catch in 200 consecutive games.

The most consecutive games with a reception in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM(S) (SEASONS/CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH A RECEPTION)
Jerry Rice, San Francisco and Oakland (1985-2004/274)^
Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City and Atlanta (2000-2013/211)
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona (2004-Present/200)*
Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis (1996-2008/190)^
Hines Ward, Pittsburgh (1998-2010/186)
*Active streak
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

VICTORIOUS VINATIERI: Indianapolis kicker Adam Vinatieri converted all four of his field-goal attempts, including the game-winning 51-yard field goal in overtime, in the Colts’ 26-23 victory over San Francisco last week.

Vinatieri has 24 game-winning field goals in the regular season in the final minute of the fourth quarter or overtime and 10 game-winners in overtime, both the most in NFL history.

The kickers with the most regular-season game-winning field goals in overtime in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S)(GAME-WINNING FIELD GOALS IN OVERTIME)
Adam Vinatieri – New England and Indianapolis (10)
Jim Breech – Oakland, Cincinnati (9)
Steve Christie – Tampa Bay, Buffalo, San Diego and New York Giants (9)
Jason Elam – Denver and Atlanta (9)
Jason Hanson – Detroit (9)

Vinatieri, who scored 14 points on Sunday, has 2,413 career points and became the third player in NFL history to score 2,400 career points, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Morten Andersen (2,544) and Gary Anderson (2,434).

Last week was a pretty decent week, going 9-5. It’s not great but it’s pretty good. For the season, we’re 50-28. There’s still a lot of football left to play.

Byes in week 6? Buffalo, Cincinnati, Dallas and Seattle. Atlanta, Denver, New Orleans and Washington return to action this week, which got underway in Charlotte as Philadelphia edged Carolina and Cam Newton 28-23 Thursday night in Charlotte and concludes in the Music City as the Tennessee Titans host the Indianapolis Colts on Monday night.

Miami (2-2) at ATLANTA (3-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705. The defending NFC champions return to the Big Peach for a Sunday afternoon meeting with the Miami Dolphins at Mercedes Benz Stadium.

Miami took care of Tennessee 16-10 last Sunday in the Sunshine State. The ‘Fins led 10-3 at half time and took their first win at home in the process. Miami outrushed Tennessee 100-69 and Jay Cutler threw for only 92 yards but did manage to connect with WR Jarvis Landry for Miami’s only TD in the contest. Miami sacked Matt Cassel four times (subbing for Marcus Mariota) and forced a pair of Titan fumbles, while going 5 of 15 on third down tries, keeping the ball for 29:45, while the Titans were 2 of 13 on third down, holding on to the ball for 30:15.

Atlanta returns from their bye week after suffering a 23-17 loss to Buffalo at home in the Big Peach. The defending NFC champs led Buffalo 10-7 at the half before the Bills took the lead for the first time when rookie CB Tre’Davious White picked up a Matt Ryan fumble and ran the ball back 52 yards for a score. The Falcons challenged, saying that Ryan’s arm was going forward and at best should have been ruled an incomplete pass. Atlanta lost the challenge and the Bills took the lead. Stephen Hauschka would kick a 24-yard field goal to make it a 17-10 game. That lead would not last long as Ryan (242 yards, two interceptions) and WR Justin Hardy would tie things up on a 3-yard TD strike. Hausckha would go on to kick two more field goals to give the Bills a 6-point lead but Atlanta would threaten, getting as close as the Bills’ 10-yard line before Ryan threw a pair of incompletions to dash Atlanta’s hopes of the win at home. Atlanta outrushed Buffalo 149-117 in the loss in the Big Peach and the Falcons went 5 of 13 on third down (1 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 31:15, while Buffalo was 6 of 13 on third down, keeping the ball for 28:45.

Miami leads the series 8-4 and they have outscored Atlanta 250-223. Miami won the last meeting between the clubs, coming away 27-23 winners in the Sunshine State in 2013, while Atlanta’s last win over Miami came in 2009 in the Big Peach by a final of 19-7.

Atlanta’s favored by 11 and the over/under’s 47. These two teams are pretty good, so we’re going to make 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?”

Expect this one to be closer than the 11 but Atlanta bounces back from the loss to Buffalo and wins at home.

New England (3-2) at New York Jets (3-2), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706. A pair of AFC East foes meet in Jersey Meadowlands as the defending Super Bowl champs take on the New York Jets at Met Life Stadium.

New England led Tampa Bay 13-7 at the half at Raymond James Stadium last Thursday night, then held off the Buccaneers 19-14. Pats K Stephen Gostkowski kicked four field goals in the victory in the Sunshine State, while the Pats outrushed Tampa Bay 113-90. Tom Brady threw for 303 yards and a TD pass, while Jameis Winston threw for 334 yards and a TD (Brady was sacked three times, Winston was sacked twice). New England was 4 of 12 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 30:50, while Tampa Bay was 4 of 13 on third down, keeping the ball for 29:10.

The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! gave Cleveland their fifth loss of the 2017 campaign, coming away 17-14 winners along the shores of Lake Erie. Gang Green led 3-0 at the half and got a pair of TD passes from Josh McCown (194 yards) to take the win. Cleveland did manage to outrush New York 140-34 but were plagued by three turnovers in the contest. The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! were 4 of 12 on third down tries and held the ball for 25:34, while the Browns kept the ball for 34:26, going 6 of 14 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth downs.

The Patriots lead the series with their AFC East rivals 59-53-1 and New England has outscored the Jets 2,579-2,370. New England took wins in Foxboro and East Rutherford last year (New York’s last win came in 2015, when they took a 26-20 overtime win in East Rutherford).

Their first meeting was in the Jersey Meadowlands in week 12. Brady and the Pats broke a 10-10 tie at the intermission at Met Life Stadium and came away 22-17 winners. New England outrushed GangGreen 91-64 and Brady (286 yards) threw a pair of TDs in that first contest, while Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 269 yards in the loss. The Pats on third down tries in upstate New Jersey went 4 of 14 and kept the ball for 30:36 (New England was 1 of 1 on fourth down), while the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! were 5 of 11 on third down, keeping the ball for 29:24.

Meeting number two… Foxboro in week 16. With the Jets out of the playoff picture, they tried to make life miserable for the Pats. New England was having none of it, coming out on top 41-3 at Gillette Stadium. New England led 27-0 at the intermission, allowing only a fourth quarter field goal by Nick Folk. Brady threw three TD passes, throwing for 214 yards in the win, while the Pats outrushed New York 114-111. New England in the second meeting went 11 of 18 on third down tries and the Pats held on to the pigskin for 34:43, while GangGreen held on to the ball for 25:17, going 1 of 11 and 2 of 3 on third and fourth downs.

New England was an 8-point favorite in the contest that took place the Sunday after Thanksgiving and they would win by only 5. The 47 1/2 over/under was untouched in that contest, as both teams combined for 39 points. In the second meeting in Foxboro in week 16, a contest that was played on Christmas Eve afternoon, the Pats won by 38, allowing them to blanket the 16 1/2-point spread like snowfall on a New England day and both teams matched the 44 over/under by scoring 44 points.

The Pats are favored by 9 1/2 and the over/under’s 47 1/2. The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! would love nothing more than to unseat the defending champs, while the Pats want to stay king of the mountain. Pats win in the Meadowlands but expect GangGreen to make it closer than 9 1/2.

Cleveland (0-5) at Houston (2-3), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707. A pair of struggling teams meet in the Lone Star State as the Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans meet in Houston at NRG Stadium. Both suffered losses at home last weekend.

Cleveland suffered their fifth loss of the 2017 campaign, falling to the New York Jets 17-14 along the shores of Lake Erie. Gang Green led 3-0 at the half and got a pair of TD passes from Josh McCown (194 yards) to take the win. Cleveland, who narrowed the gap to 3 with 1:49 left, did manage to outrush New York 140-34 but were plagued by three turnovers in the contest. New York went 4 of 12 on third down tries and held the ball for 25:34, while the Browns kept the ball for 34:26, going 6 of 14 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth downs.

The Texans lost the services of DT J.J. Watt to a broken leg as they fell to the Kansas City Chiefs 42-34 at NRG Stadium. Houston trailed the Chiefs 23-7 at the half before they put on a late second half rally that gave Texans fans hope, as they outscored Kansas City 27-19 in the final 30 minutes of play. Watson and WR DeAndre Hopkins hooked up for three TD passes, including a 1-yard TD strike as time expired (Watson had five TDs, throwing for 261 yards). Kansas City rookie RB Kareem Hunt ran for 107 yards, while the Texans outrushed Kansas City 144-127. For the Chiefs, QB Alex Smith threw for 324 yards and three TDs, two of them to RB Charcandrick West in the Sunday night contest. Houston went 3 of 10 on third down (1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 21:43, while the Chiefs were 9 of 16 on third down tries in the Lone Star State, keeping the ball for 38:17.

Houston leads the series 5-3, have outscored Cleveland 150-130 and the Texans have won the last three contests, including a 23-7 win in 2014 in Cleveland (The Browns’ last win in the series came in 2007, when they were 27-17 winners in Cleveland). Houston’s favored by 9 1/2 and the over/under’s 44 1/2. Cleveland’s bad but not 9 1/2 bad. Houston takes this one but Cleveland makes this one close.

San Francisco (0-5) at Washington (2-2), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 708. A winless San Francisco club limps into Landover as they take on the Washington Redskins at Fed Ex Field.

The 49ers took their fifth loss in as many tries last Sunday in Indianapolis, dropping a 26-23 overtime loss to the Colts in the Hoosier State. Tied at 6-6 at the half, the 49ers trailed 16-6 at the end of three quarters but managed to tie things up with 20 seconds left in regulation when Blaine Hoyer (353 yards, 2 TDs) and rookie TE George Kittle connected on a 5-yard TD pass. San Francisco would then fail in its possession in overtime and punted the ball to the Colts, who used an 8-play, 49 yard drive that took 2:01 and ended when K Adam Vinatieri kicked a 51-yard field goal with 98 seconds left. Indy outrushed San Francisco 159-66 and Jacoby Brissett, subbing for the injured Andrew Luck, threw for 314 yards, despite being sacked four times. San Francisco on third down conversions went 4 of 14 (they were 2 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 31:05, while the Colts went 8 of 16 on third down, keeping the ball for 37:17.

Washington saw a 10-7 lead at Kansas City get away from them as they fell to the Chiefs 29-20 at Arrowhead two weeks ago. The Chiefs outscored Washington 22-10 in the final 30 minutes of play and had insult added to injury when Chiefs LB Justin Houston picked up a fumble and ran it back 13 yards for a TD as the clock struck :00. Kansas City outrushed Washington 168-111, with rookie RB Kareem Hunt leading all rushers with 101 yards. For the Redskins, QB Kirk Cousins threw for 220 yards and a pair of TDs, while Kansas City’s Alex Smith threw for 293 yards with a TD and four sacks. Washington on third down conversions in the Monday night affair went 4 of 11 (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and the Redskins held the ball for 22:51, while the Chiefs kept the pigskin for 37:09, going 8 of 13 on third downs.

San Francisco leads the series 17-9-1, the 49ers have outscored Washington 655-514 and they have won the last four meetings, including taking a 17-13 win in San Francisco in 2014. Washington’s last win in the series came in Landover in 2005 by a final of 52-17.

Washington’s favored by 9 1/2 and the over/under is 46 1/2. The 49ers are trying to win their first game, while the Redskins are trying to get over the .500 mark after their loss to Kansas City. Washington fans this week will be saying “Hail to the Redskins” instead of “Hell! It’s the Redskins” this week. San Francisco makes it close but Washington prevails in Landover.

Green Bay (4-1) at Minnesota (3-2), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 709. A pair of NFC North (or NFC Norris, as ESPN’s Chris Berman calls it) rivals meet in the Land of 10,000 Lakes when first-place Green Bay travels to US Bank Stadium for a meeting with the Minnesota Vikings.

Green Bay and Dallas met at AT&T Stadium in an NFC Divisional rematch and this was a game for the ages, as there were six lead changes in their game, which saw the Packers come away with the 35-31 win over Dallas last Sunday. Dallas led 21-12 at the intermission before Green Bay took the lead for the first time as CB Damarious Randall picked off Dak Prescott and returned the pass 21 yards to give the Packers a 28-24 lead with 9:56. Dallas would then use a 17-play, 79-yard drive that used 8:43 of clock, ending when Prescott redeemed himself with an 11-yard run with 73 seconds left in regulation. But Rodgers once again pulled another rabbit out of his hat, as he and WR Davante Adams would connect on their second TD pass of the day, good from 12 yards with 11 seconds left to play. Dallas would get the ball back on the kickoff and after burning a timeout, used several lateral passes to move downfield to Green Bay’s 42 yard line before the drive stalled.

Minnesota led Chicago 3-2 last Monday night in the Windy City, then rallied to come away 20-17 winners over the Bears at Soldier Field. Chicago eventually tied the contest up with 12:24 left in regulation when rookie QB Mitchell Trubisky and TE Zach Milled connected on a 20-yard TD strike, tying things up at 17-17. That tie would not last very as the Vikings used a 6-play, 20-yard drive that took 2:08 and ended with a 26-yard field goal by Keith Fobarth with 12 seconds left to play. Minnesota outrushed Chicago 159-115 and Case Keenum, taking over for Sam Bradford (knee) threw for 140 yards and a TD, while Trubisky threw for 128 yards and an interception in his NFL debut. Minnesota was 6 of 15 on third down conversions, keeping the ball for 31:24, while Chicago was 3 of 12 on third down (1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 28:36.

It was the battle of running backs as Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliot (116 yards) and Green Bay’s Aaron Jones (125 yards, TD) paced their teams (Dallas outrushed Green Bay 163-160). Rodgers threw for 221 yards in the contest, while Prescott threw for 251 yards and each man threw three TDs. Green Bay went 3 of 7 on third down (1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 24:54, while Dallas ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 35:06, going 7 of 12 on third down, 3 of 3 on fourth down.

The Packers lead the series 59-49-2 and Green Bay has outscored Minnesota 2,449-2,150. The two NFC North foes split the series last year, each winning at home.

Meeting number one… week two in the Twin Cities on a Sunday night. Minnesota sacked Rodgers five times and won 17-14. Minnesota led 10-7 at the intermission and took a 17-7 lead with them to the fourth quarter before the Packers made the contest a 3-point affair with 12:41 left when Rodgers scored on a 10-yard run (Rodgers did toss a 1-yard TD pass to WR Jordy Nelson to open the scoring in the contest). Green Bay outrushed Miami 83-30, while Rodgers threw for 213 yards. For Minnesota, Bradford threw for 286 yards and a pair of TDs but was sacked four times. Green Bay was 6 of 13 on third down tries (the Packers were 0 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 29:42, while the Vikings were 4 of 14 on third down (1 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 30:18.

Game two of the series went to the land of cheese, beer and Bratwurst and the Packers would get their revenge. This time, in the outdoors (where the gametime temperature was a balmy 37 degrees with a wind chill of 31), the Packers led 28-13 at the half at Lambeau, then held off the Vikings for the 38-25 win in week 16. Minnesota again outrushed Green Bay 93-40 but Rodgers burned Minnesota for 347 yards and four TDs, despite getting sacked four times, while Bradford threw for 382 yards and four TD (Bradford was sacked four times). The Packers on third down were 6 of 13 and kept the ball for 28:59, while the Vikings held the pigskin for 31:01, going 5 of 15 and 3 of 3 on third and fourth down conversions.

Green Bay was favored by 2 1/2 in the first meeting and the Vikings barely covered the spread, winning by 3. The 43 1/2 over/under? That stayed safe and sound, because both clubs combined for only 31 points. In the week 16 matchup at Lambeau, the Packers covered the 6 1/2 spread, winning by 13 and both teams covered the 43 over/under with 63 points.

The Pack? They’re favored by 3 and the over/under’s 46 1/2. Both numbers make sense. Both teams could very well decide who wins the NFC North. Right now, we’re deciding that the Packers are going to win this one on the road and cover the 3 in the Land of 10,000 Lakes in the process.

Detroit (3-2) at New Orleans (2-2), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710. Bradford vs. Brees. A pair of future Hall of Fame QBs meet in the Big Easy as Detroit makes a trip to the Bayou for a date with the New Orleans Saints.

Cam Newton needed to hold off the Detroit Lions last Sunday in the Motor City by a final of 27-24 at Ford Field. Carolina led 17-10 at the break and 27-10 after three quarters before the Lions roared back to make the contest a 7-point affair when Matthew Stafford and TE Darren Fells connected on their second TD pass of the quarter. Neither club breached or came anywhere near the 100-yard rushing barrier but Detroit did outrush Carolina 50-28, while Stafford threw for 229 yards and was sacked six times (Newton threw for 355 yards and three TDs, while being sacked three times). Carolina went 7 of 16 on third down tries in the win, keeping the ball for 35:23, while the Lions were 5 of 13 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down and kept the ball for 24:37.

The Saints come back to action from their bye after they shut out Miami 20-0 in London. Leading 3-0 at the intermission, New Orleans scored the final 17 points of the contest on the other side of the Atlantic unchallenged. The Saints, who traded RB Adrian Peterson to Arizona Tuesday, outrushed Miami 86-58 at Wembley Stadium and Brees threw for 268 yards and a pair of TDs. New Orleans went 6 of 13 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth downs in merry ole England and kept the ball for 34:28, while Miami held the pigskin for 25:32, going 1 of 8 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth.

Detroit leads the series 12-11-1 and the Saints have outscored Detroit 485-446. However… the Lions have been victors in the last three contests, with the last win coming last year in the Big Easy by a final of 28-13 (New Orleans’ last win in the series came in 2011 in the Big Easy by a final of 31-17.

In the week 13 matchup in the Big Easy, Stafford and Prater were the stars of the show against the Saints, with Prater kicking five field goals, while Stafford threw a pair of TD passes in the road win. Detroit led 16-6 before they would pull away to take the win. Detroit outrushed New Orleans 85-50 and Stafford threw for 341 yards, while Brees threw for 326 yards with three interceptions. Detroit went 5 of 12 on third down conversions, keeping the ball for 36:52; as for the Saints? They held the ball for 23:08, going 6 of 13 on third down.

Although the Saints were favored by 5 1/2, the Lions covered the spread with their 15-point win in the Big Easy. Both teams combined to score 41 points in the contest, which meant that the 53 1/2 over/under was safe. This time, New Orleans is favored by 4 in the Big Easy and the over/under’s 51. Both numbers make sense. We’re not saying that this one’s drill worthy but it’s worth your time. Saints cover the 4 at home and give the Lions another loss to a team from the NFC South in the process.

Chicago (1-4) at Baltimore (3-2), 1 p.m. on and DirecTV 711. Chicago travels to Baltimore to take on the Ravens in Charm City.

Da Bears trailed Minnesota 3-2 last Monday night in the Windy City before falling to the Vikings 20-17 at Soldier Field. In his NFL debut, rookie QB Mitchell Trubisky and Chicago eventually tied the contest up with 12:24 left in regulation when he and TE Zach Milled connected on a 20-yard TD strike, tying things up at 17-17. That tie would not last very as the Vikings used a 6-play, 20-yard drive that took 2:08 and ended with a 26-yard field goal by Keith Fobarth with 12 seconds left to play. Minnesota outrushed Chicago 159-115 and Case Keenum, taking over for Sam Bradford (knee) threw for 140 yards and a TD, while Trubisky threw for 128 yards and an interception in his NFL debut. Minnesota was 6 of 15 on third down conversions, keeping the ball for 31:24, while Chicago was 3 of 12 on third down (1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 28:36.

The Ravens manhandled Oakland 30-17 at the Coliseum last Sunday afternoon. Baltimore led 24-10 at the intermission and never looked back, outrushing the Raiders 143-108 in the 13-point win. Baltimore sacked E.J. Manuel (159 yards, TD to Michael Crabtree) three times in the win, while Ravens QB Joe Flacco threw for 222 yards on the West Coast (neither threw an interception). Both clubs were 50 percent on third down tries (Baltimore was 7 of 14, while the Raiders were 6 of 12 and 0 of 1 on fourth down) and the Ravens ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 33:43 to Oakland’s 26:17.

Da Bears hold a 3-2 lead in the series but Baltimore has outscored Chicago 77-70. Chicago picked up the win in the last meeting, which took place at Soldier Field in 2013, when they needed overtime to win 23-20, while Baltimore’s last victory in the series also came in the Windy City, as Baltimore were 31-7 winners in 2009. Baltimore’s favored by 7 in Charm City and the over/under is 41 1/2. Ravens may not cover the 7 but they win at home in Charm City.

Tampa Bay (2-2) at Arizona (2-3), 4:05 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 712. A pair of NFC teams with losses under their belts meet in the desert as Tampa Bay travels to Glendale for a late afternoon contest with the Arizona Cardinals.

Tampa Bay found themselves falling to the defending Super Bowl champs 19-13 at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay trailed 13-7 at the half and could have made things closer but K Nick Folk missed a pair of field goals in the contest. For the Pats, K Stephen Gostkowski kicked four field goals in the victory in the Sunshine State, while the Pats outrushed Tampa Bay 113-90. Tom Brady threw for 303 yards and a TD pass, while Jameis Winston threw for 334 yards and a TD (Brady was sacked three times, Winston was sacked twice). New England was 4 of 12 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 30:50, while Tampa Bay was 4 of 13 on third down, keeping the ball for 29:10.

Philadelphia manhandled Carson Palmer (291 yards, TD) and the Arizona Cardinals 34-7 at Lincoln Financial Field last Sunday afternoon. Philly led 21-7 at the break before scoring their final 13 points of the contest in the second half unchallenged. Eagles QB Carson Wentz threw for 304 yards and four TDs in the win in the City of Brotherly Love, while the Eagles outrushed the Desert Angry Birds 122-31. Philadelphia went 9 of 14 on third down tries and kept the ball for 35:47, while Arizona was 4 of 14 and 2 of 3 of 3 on third and fourth downs, holding the ball for 24:13.

Including contests that took place in St. Louis, when the Cardinals called that city home, Arizona leads the series 10-9, the Cardinals have outscored Tampa Bay 358-333 and they have taken wins in the last two meetings, including a 40-7 win in desert last year (Tampa Bay’s last win over Arizona came in 2010, when they were 38-35 winners in the desert).

Arizona led 24-0 at the half win the week two contest (they were scoreless after the first quarter) and never looked back, as Palmer threw for 308 yards and three TDs, connecting with Fitzgerald on one of them. The Desert Angry Birds outrushed Tampa Bay 101-85 and picked off Winston (243 yards, TD) four times. Arizona was 6 of 14 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 29:03, while the Buccaneers were 5 of 13 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth downs, keeping the ball for 30:57. Arizona covered the 7-point spread with the 33-point win in the week two matchup and the two clubs missed the 50 over/under, tallying 47 points. The odds makers like Tampa Bay a 2 1/2 point favorite and the over/under’s 44 1/2. Both numbers make a lot of sense but the Desert Angry Birds are the better team here. Arizona covers the 2 1/2 and beats Tampa Bay in Glendale.

Los Angeles Rams (3-2) at Jacksonville (3-2), 4:05 p.m. on and DirecTV 713. A pair of contending teams meet in north Florida as the Los Angeles Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars meet in a late afternoon contest at EverBank Stadium.

The Rams saw Seattle break a 10-10 halftime time at the Coliseum last Sunday as the Seahawks left Los Angeles with a 16-10 win under their belts in NFC West play. Seattle used a pair of Blair Walsh field goals in the second half to take the win over their divisional rivals. The Rams outrushed Seattle 100-62 and Jared Goff threw for 288 yards and three interceptions, while Russell Wilson threw for 198 yards and a 4-yard pass to TE Jimmy Graham for Seattle’s only TD. Los Angeles went 8 of 15 on third down conversions (0 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 28:44, while the defending NFC West champs went 8 of 17 on third down, keeping the ball for 31:16.

Jacksonville held Pittsburgh to three Chris Boswell field goals and Ben Roethlisberger threw five interceptions, two of them returned for TDs as they took down the Steelers 30-9 at Heinz Field last Sunday. The Steelers trailed 7-6 at the half before the Jaguars turned the heat up on Pittsburgh and took control in the second half, using interceptions by LB Tevin Smith and S Barry Church to score TDs in the third quarter. Jacksonville took advantage of the five turnovers and got a 181 yard, two TD day from rookie RB Leonard Fournette to take the win. Pittsburgh was 7 of 15 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 31:08, while the Jaguars took advantage of the five Roethlisberger miscues, going 6 of 12 on third down, holding the ball for 28:52.

Including games in St. Louis, the Rams lead the series 3-1 and they have outscored Jacksonville 95-78. The Rams were winners in their last meeting which took place in 2013, when they were 34-20 winners in St. Louis, while Jacksonville’s lone win in the series came in 2009, when they needed overtime to come away 23-20 winners in the Sunshine State. Jacksonville’s favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under’s 43 1/2. This could very well be an entertaining game to watch. Jacksonville covers the 2 1/2 and wins at home.

Pittsburgh (3-1) at Kansas City (5-0), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 714. They met twice last year, once in the regular season, once in the post-season. While one team remains unbeaten, the other looks to right their ship from a bad game in front of the home crowd. Kansas City and Pittsburgh meet again in an AFC showdown at Arrowhead.

Pittsburgh was held to three Chris Boswell field goals and Roethlisberger threw five interceptions, two of them returned for TDs as they dropped a 30-9 decision to Jacksonville at Heinz Field last Sunday. The Steelers trailed 7-6 at the half before the Jaguars turned the heat up on Pittsburgh and took control in the second half. Jacksonville took advantage of the five turnovers and got a 181 yard, two TD day from rookie RB Leonard Fournette to take the win. Pittsburgh was 7 of 15 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 31:08, while the Jaguars took advantage of the five Roethlisberger miscues, going 6 of 12 on third down, holding the ball for 28:52.

Kansas City remained unbeaten, as they held off Houston 42-34 at NRG Stadium last Sunday night. Houston trailed the Chiefs 23-7 at the half before they put on a late second half rally that gave Texans fans hope, as they outscored Kansas City 27-19 in the final 30 minutes of play. Watson and WR DeAndre Hopkins hooked up for three TD passes, including a 1-yard TD strike as time expired (Watson had five TDs, throwing for 261 yards). Kansas City rookie RB Kareem Hunt ran for 107 yards, while the Texans outrushed Kansas City 144-127. For the Chiefs, QB Alex Smith threw for 324 yards and three TDs, two of them to RB Charcandrick West in the Sunday night contest. Houston went 3 of 10 on third down (1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 21:43, while the Chiefs were 9 of 16 on third down tries in the Lone Star State, keeping the ball for 38:17.

Pittsburgh leads the series 21-10 and have outscored the Chiefs 744-563. They met twice in the 2016 campaign, once in the regular season and once in the post-season and Pittsburgh took both meetings (Kansas City’s last win over the Steelers came in 2015 at Arrowhead by a final of 23-13).

Meeting number one… week four in the Steel City. Roethlisberger burned Kansas City for five TDs passes as the Steelers came away 43-14 winners at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh led 36-0 after three quarters of play (they lead 29-0 at the half) and took control of things in western Pennsylvania. LeVeon Bell led all rushers with 144 yards as Pittsburgh outrushed Kansas City 149 -87, while Roethlisberger threw for 300 yards without an interception. Kansas City’s Alex Smith threw for 287 yards with a pair of TDs but was sacked four times and threw an interception. Pittsburgh was 6 of 11 on third down conversions and held on to the ball for 29:24, while the Chiefs were 8 of 17, 2 of 3 on third and fourth down conversions, keeping the ball for 30:36.

Meeting number two… the AFC Divisional Playoffs in Kansas City. While the regular season meeting was somewhat of a blowout, such was not the case in the second meeting but Pittsburgh did prevail at Arrowhead, coming away 18-16 winners to advance to the AFC Championship for a meeting with New England. Pittsburgh used six Chris Boswell field goals before Kansas City’s Spencer Ware made the contest a 2-point affair, as he scored from a yard out with 2:43 left in regulation. The game, played in somewhat icy conditions (Kansas City was hit with an ice storm the day before) saw Pittsburgh outrush Kansas City 171-61 (Bell led all rushers with 170 yards) and Roethlisberger throw for 224 yards, while Smith threw for 172 (both men threw an interception and both were sacked once). Pittsburgh on third down went 7 of 15 and kept the ball for 34:13, while the Chiefs held the ball for 25:47, going 2 of 9 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth down.

Pittsburgh’s 29-point win in week four on a Sunday night allowed them to cover the 5 1/2-point spread and the 47 1/2 over/under was covered as the two teams combined for 57 points. Pittsburgh covered the 2-point spread in the AFC Divisional Playoff, winning by 2 but neither club covered the 45 over/under, tallying only 34 points.

The Chiefs are favored by 4 and the over/under’s 46. Pittsburgh’s been struggling, the Chiefs have been hot. Kansas City’s staying hot this week. Chiefs cover the 4 and wins at Arrowhead.

Los Angeles Chargers (1-4) at Oakland (2-3), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 715. They once played in the same city at one point and time. They’re still up I-5 and they’re still in the same state and division. The one difference is that the Chargers moved north to Los Angeles. That means nothing as these AFC West rivals meet in northern California as the Chargers make the 372-mile trip up I-5 for a meeting with the Silver and Black. There was concern that this contest would not be played because of the wild fires in the northern California area but the Raiders were monitoring the situation and determined that it would be safe to play.

The Chargers broke their four-game losing streak last Sunday afternoon in the Meadowlands as they came away 27-22 winners over Eli Manning and the New York Giants. The Chargers led 10-9 at the intermission, then trailed 22-17 with 13:31 left in regulation when Manning and WR Odell Beckham, Jr. connected on a 48-yard TD pass. (Beckham would later break his ankle in the contest) Los Angeles would score the last 10 points of the contest when Nick Novak made it a 2-point contest with 4:50 left on a 31-yard field goal and took the lead for keeps when Philip Rivers (258 yards, 3 TDs) and RB Melvin Gordon connected on a 10-yard pass with 2:58 left in the contest. New York managed to rush the Bolts 152-104 and Manning threw for 225 yards (Beckham caught five balls for 97 yards before his departure from the contest) in the loss. The Chargers were 8 of 18 on third down tries and kept the ball for 31:45, while the Giants, who kept the ball for 28:15, went 5 of 16 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth downs.

Oakland without Derek Carr was held in check by Baltimore 30-17 at the Coliseum last Sunday afternoon. The Raiders were outrushed by the Ravens 143-108 and trailed 24-10 at the intermission. Baltimore sacked E.J. Manuel (159 yards, TD to Michael Crabtree) three times in the win, while Ravens QB Joe Flacco threw for 222 yards on the West Coast (neither threw an interception). Both clubs were 50 percent on third down tries (Baltimore was 7 of 14, while the Raiders were 6 of 12 and 0 of 1 on fourth down) and the Ravens ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 33:43 to Oakland’s 26:17.

Including contests that took place in San Diego and Los Angeles, the Raiders lead the series 62-50-2, the Silver and Black have outscored the Bolts 2,521-2,462 and the Raiders have won the last four meetings, sweeping the season series last year (The Chargers’ last win over Oakland came in 2014, when they were 13-6 winners at Qualcomm and in that year, they swept that series).

Meeting one… week five along the San Francisco bay and the Raiders trailed 10-9 at the intermission and came away 34-31 winners at the Coliseum. Both Rivers and Carr put on a passing clinic in the first meeting, with Carr (317 yards, two TDs) and Rivers (359 yards, four TDs) throwing for over 300 yards in the contest, while the rushing game for both teams was as if it were on a milk carton and gone missing (Oakland did manage to outrush San Diego 89-72). San Diego did eventually threaten in their final possession when Rivers completed a pass to Travis Benjamin with 11 seconds left for no gain. Benjamin then fumbled the ball out of bounds, the clock ran out and the Raiders took home the win. Oakland was 5 of 14 on third down but hit pay-dirt on fourth down in their only attempt in the contest, keeping the ball for 36:18, while the Chargers, who kept the pigskin for 23:42, went 2 of 8 on third down tries, 0 of 1 on fourth down.

Oakland made it a clean sweep of the series and like the first meeting, it was a close contest but the Silver and Black prevailed, taking a 19-16 win at Qualcomm in week 15. Tied 10-10 at the half, the Raiders used a pair of Sebastian Janikowski field goals to erase a 16-13 deficit and then take the lead for keeps with 2:40 left in regulation. Oakland outrushed San Diego 145-73 and Rivers threw for 206 yards and a pair of TDs but was sacked three times, while Carr threw for 213 yards with a TD and a pair of sacks. The Bolts were 8 of 15 on third down tries (0 of 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for 27:43, while the Raiders ruled the clock and held the pigskin for 32:17, going 4 of 13 on third down.

Favored by 3 1/2 in the week five contest in Northern California, the Raiders would wind up winning by 3. The 50 over/under was not a problem, as both teams would combine for 65 points. The Raiders in the week 15 matchup in southern California covered the 3-point spread (they were favored by 3) but the 50 over/under stayed intact as Oakland and San Diego only scored 35 points. Oakland’s favored by 3 1/2 and the over/under’s 50 1/2. Both teams are trying to catch Kansas City in the AFC West and they’re better than their records indicate. Los Angeles could make this interesting but Raiders take this one at home and covers the 3 1/2.

New York Giants (0-5) at Denver (3-1), 8:30 p.m. on NBC. Week six Sunday action concludes in the Mile High City as the winless New York Giants limp into Denver to face the Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

For the Giants, their bad luck continued in the Meadowlands last Sunday against the Los Angeles chargers at Met Life. First, they lost all-Pro WR Odell Beckham, Jr. to a broken ankle, then Eli and the Giants went on to lose to the Chargers 27-22. The Chargers led 10-9 at the intermission, then trailed 22-17 with 13:31 left in regulation when Manning and WR Odell Beckham, Jr. connected on a 48-yard TD pass. Los Angeles would score the last 10 points of the contest when Nick Novak made it a 2-point contest with 4:50 left on a 31-yard field goal and took the lead for keeps when Philip Rivers (258 yards, 3 TDs) and RB Melvin Gordon connected on a 10-yard pass with 2:58 left in the contest. New York managed to outrush the Chargers 152-104 and Manning threw for 225 yards (Beckham caught five balls for 97 yards before his departure from the contest) in the loss. The Chargers were 8 of 18 on third down tries and kept the ball for 31:45, while the Giants, who kept the ball for 28:15, went 5 of 16 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth downs.

Denver comes out of the bye week after their 16-10 win over AFC rival Oakland two weeks ago in the Mile High City. The Broncos led 10-7 at the intermission, then held the Raiders off in the second half to seal the win. Denver outrushed Oakland 143-24 and Trevor Siemian threw for 179 yards and a TD, while knocking David Carr (back injury) out of the contest (Carr threw for 143 yards and a TD). Denver in the win went 5 of 16 on third down and ruled the clock, holding the ball for 32:57, while the Raider were 2 of 12 on third down (0 of 3 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 27:03

Denver leads the series 6-5, the Broncos have outscored the Giants 232-190 and they have won the last two meetings, including taking a 41-23 win in the Meadowlands in 2013, while the Giants’ last win over Denver came in the Meadowlands in 2005 by a final of 24-23. Denver’s favored by 12 and the over/under’s 40. The Giants are bad. They’re not 12 point bad but they’re bad. If nothing else, they’ll give Denver all they can throw at them. Denver prevails in this one but expect the Giants to make it closer than 12.

Indianapolis (2-3) at Tennessee (2-3), 8:30 p.m. Monday on ESPN. A pair of AFC South rivals meet in the Music City as week six play concludes when Tennessee hosts Indianapolis at Nissan Stadium.

Indy needed overtime to take down San Francisco 26-23 in the Hoosier State. Tied at 6-6 at the half, the Colts led 16-6 at the end of three quarters but San Francisco managed to tie things up with 20 seconds left in regulation when Blaine Hoyer (353 yards, 2 TDs) and rookie TE George Kittle connected on a 5-yard TD pass. San Francisco would then fail in its possession in overtime and punted the ball to the Colts, who used an 8-play, 49 yard drive that took 2:01 and ended when K Adam Vinatieri kicked a 51-yard field goal with 98 seconds left. Indy outrushed San Francisco 159-66 and Jacoby Brissett, subbing for the injured Andrew Luck, threw for 314 yards, despite being sacked four times. San Francisco on third down conversions went 4 of 14 (they were 2 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 31:05, while the Colts went 8 of 16 on third down, keeping the ball for 37:17.

Tennessee fell to Miami 16-10 last Sunday in the Sunshine State. The Titans trailed 10-3 at halftime at Hard Rock and saw the Dolphins take their first win in their home park in the process. Miami outrushed Tennessee 100-69 and Jay Cutler threw for only 92 yards but did manage to connect with WR Jarvis Landry for Miami’s only TD in the contest. Miami sacked Matt Cassel four times (subbing for Marcus Mariota) and forced a pair of Titan fumbles, while going 5 of 15 on third down tries, keeping the ball for 29:45, while the Titans were 2 of 13 on third down, holding on to the ball for 30:15.

Including contests in Baltimore and Houston, the Colts lead the series 31-13, have outscored the Titans 1,143-857 and they have won the last 11 meetings in the series, including sweeping the series last year (Tennessee’s last win over the Colts came in 2011 in the Music City, when they were 27-10 winners).

The first meeting? Week seven in the Music City and the Colts took the 34-26 win at Nissan Stadium. Indy led 17-13 at the break before pulling away from the Titans in the final 30 minutes of play. Tennessee’s DeMarco Murray led all rushers with 107 yards in the contest as the Titans outrushed Indy 124-81, while the Colts’ Andrew Luck threw for 353 yards and three TDs, while Mariota (three sacks) threw for 232 yards and a pair of TDs. The Titans were 9 of 15 on third down conversions at home, keeping the ball for 27:30, while the Colts were 4 of 10 third-down wise, keeping the ball for 32:30.

Meeting number two… Indy in week 11 and the Colts made it a sweep, taking a 24-17 win at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts led 21-7 at the half and then held off the Titans in the final 30 minutes of play. The Colts were outrushed again by Tennessee, this time by a 97-76 margin and Mariota threw for 290 yards and a pair of TDs but was sacked five times, while Luck threw for 262 yards with a pair of TDs and two sacks. Tennessee was 5 of 14 on third down tries (1 of 3 on fourth down) and ruled he clock as they kept the ball for 31:01, while the Colts held the pigskin for 28:59, going 5 of 12 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

Tennessee was favored by 2 1/2 in the week seven contest and the Colts covered the spread, winning by 8. The 60 combined points in the first meeting was more than enough to cover the 48 1/2 over/under. Indy covered the 3-point spread in the rematch in the Hoosier State, winning by 7 but both clubs could only muster 41 points, missing the 53 1/2 over/under.

The Colts on Monday night are 23-16 and won their only contest they played in prime time last year, while the Titans are 21-17, with their last MNF appearance coming in 2014, which was a loss. At the time this column was written, there was no line on this game, according to our odds provider Don Best in Las Vegas. We’re going with Indy to win this one in the Music City.

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And then, there was one.

Kansas City remains the last team that has yet to lose a game in the 2017 campaign. They’re the last ones standing and it seems that the 1972 Dolphins may get worried. Stay tuned.

The NFL heads into the second quarter of the regular season after a thrilling Week 4 which saw nine games decided by seven points or fewer. Nine games were decided in the final two minutes or overtime, including seven in the final minute or OT. And four games featured the winning points scored on the final play of the game.

Along with close games, the standings are also tight. Entering Week 5, 24 of the league’s 32 teams (75 percent) have a .500 or better record.

The Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) are the league’s only remaining unbeaten team. Since 1990, when the current 12-team playoff format was adopted, 64 of the previous 79 teams (81 percent) to start 4-0 have made the playoffs. However, nothing is a given as the two teams to start 4-0 in 2016 – Denver and Minnesota – both missed the postseason.

All 32 teams know there’s room for improvement. And while not every club has gotten off to a great start, there’s plenty of season left. There’s still a lot of football left to play.

Since 1990, 121 teams (37.3 percent of the 324 playoff clubs) have advanced to the postseason after starting the season 2-2 or worse. There were four such teams – Detroit (1-3), Miami (1-3), Kansas City (2-2) and the New York Giants (2-2) – last season, including the Chiefs who won the AFC West.

As the NFL enters October, there are six teams with a winning record that did not make the postseason in 2016 – Buffalo (3-1), Carolina (3-1), Denver (3-1), the Los Angeles Rams (3-1), Philadelphia (3-1) and Tampa Bay (2-1). Since the 12-team playoff format began in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

That’s all part of the unpredictability of the NFL. So entering Week 5, while it certainly helps to be near the top of the standings, don’t count anyone out.

TOM AT THE TOP: New England quarterback Tom Brady leads the NFL with 1,399 passing yards, ties for the league lead with 10 touchdown passes and ranks second with a 116.6 passer rating this season.

With a win over Tampa Bay on Thursday Night Football, Brady, who has 185 career regular-season victories as a starting quarterback, would tie Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Farve and Peyton Manning for the most regular-season victories by a quarterback in NFL history. Brady has 210 career wins (including the postseason), the most by a quarterback in NFL history.

The most regular-season wins by starting quarterbacks in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (REGULAR-SEASON WINS)
Brett Favre – Green Bay, New York Jets and Minnesota (186)^
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis and Denver (186)^
Tom Brady – New England (185)(played Thursday night at Tampa Bay )
John Elway – Denver (148)^
Dan Marino – Miami (147)^
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

LARRY LEGEND: Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald had four catches, including the game-winning 19-yard touchdown catch with 32 seconds remaining in overtime, in the Cardinals’ 18-15 win against San Francisco in Week 4.

With a catch at Philadelphia on Sunday, Fitzgerald, who has a reception in 199 consecutive games, he would put himself in some pretty good company, as he would join Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (274) and Tony Gonzalez (211) as the only players in NFL history with at least one catch in 200 consecutive games.

The most consecutive games with a reception in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (SEASONS; CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH A RECEPTION)
Jerry Rice – San Francisco and Oakland (1985-2004; 274)^
Tony Gonzalez – Kansas City and Atlanta )2000-2013; 211)
Larry Fitzgerald – Arizona (2004-present; 199)*
Marvin Harrison – Indianapolis (1996-2008; 190)^
Hines Ward – Pittsburgh (1998-2010; 186)
*Active streak
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

REMARKABLE ROOKIE: Kansas City rookie running back Kareem Hunt had 121 scrimmage yards (101 rushing, 20 receiving) in the Chiefs’ 29-20 win over Washington on Monday Night Football last week.

With 100 scrimmage yards at Houston on Sunday night, Hunt, who has at least 100 scrimmage yards in each of his first four games, would join Adrian Peterson (2007) as the only rookies in NFL history with at least 100 scrimmage yards in each of his team’s first five games of a season.

With 129 scrimmage yards in Week 5, Hunt, who has 659 scrimmage yards in his first four games, would surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (787 in 1983) for the most scrimmage yards by a rookie in his team’s first five games of a season.

The rookies with the most scrimmage yards in their team’s first five games to start a season:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON – SCRIMMAGE YARDS IN TEAM’S FIRST 5 GAMES)
Eric Dickerson, Los Angeles Rams (1983-787)^
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota (2007-782)
Billy Sims, Detroit (1980-761)
Kareem Hunt, Kansas City (2017-659)*
Beattie Feathers, Chicago Bears (1934-633)
Marshall Faulk, Indianapolis (1994-633)^
*Through four games
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

STRONG OUT OF THE GATES: Last week, Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley had 215 scrimmage yards (121 rushing, 94 receiving) and a touchdown catch in the team’s 35-30 win at Dallas. Kansas City rookie running back Kareem Hunt had 121 scrimmage yards (101 rushing, 20 receiving) in the Chiefs’ 29-20 win over Washington Monday night.

In Week 5, Gurley (596 scrimmage yards, seven touchdowns) and Hunt (659, six) can join Pro Football Hall of Famers Marshall Faulk (2000), Emmitt Smith (1995), Eric Dickerson (1983) and Jim Brown (1958, 1963) and Priest Holmes (2002) as the only players in NFL history with at least 700 scrimmage yards and eight touchdowns in their team’s first five games of a season.
Gurley is only 404 yards away from the 1,000 mark, while Hunt needs 341 to reach that plateau.

The players with at least 700 scrimmage yards and eight touchdowns in their team’s first five games of a season:

PLAYER, TEAM (YEAR, SCRIMMAGE YARDS/TOUCHDOWNS)
Jim Brown, Cleveland (1958, 857/14)^
Jim Brown, Cleveland (1963, 988/10)^
Eric Dickerson, Los Angeles Rams (1983, 787/9)^
Emmitt Smith, Dallas (1995, 776/9)^
Marshall Faulk, St. Louis Rams (2000, 797.8)^
Priest Holmes, Kansas City (2002, 803/10)
Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams (2017, 596/7)*
Kareem Hunt, Kansas City (2017, 659/6)*
*Through four games
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

GORE GAINING GROUND: Indianapolis running back Frank Gore has rushed for 13,256 yards and 76 touchdowns in 13 career seasons. With four rushing yards against San Francisco on Sunday, Gore, who spent the first 10 seasons of his career with the 49ers and is the franchise’s all-time leading rusher (11,073), will surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (13,259) for the seventh-most rushing yards in NFL history. All seven players currently in front of Gore are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The players with the most rushing yards in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (RUSHING YARDS
Emmitt Smith – Dallas and Arizona (18,355)^
Walter Payton – Chicago (16,726)^
Barry Sanders – Detroit (15,269)^
Curtis Martin – New England and New York Jets (14,101)^
LaDainian Tomlinson – San Diego and New York Jets (13,684)^
Jerome Bettis – Los Angeles Rams, St. Louis Rams and Pittsburgh (13,662)^
Eric Dickerson – Los Angeles Rams, Indianapolis, Los Angeles Raiders and Atlanta (13,259)^
Frank Gore – San Francisco and Indianapolis (13,256)
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

PRECISION PASSERS: New England’s Tom Brady (10 touchdown passes, zero interceptions), New Orleans’ Drew Brees (eight, zero) and Kansas City’s Alex Smith (eight, zero) each have least eight touchdown passes with zero interceptions through their team’s first four games this season.

In Week 5, Brady and Smith can join Steve Bartkowski (1983) and Roman Gabriel (1969) as the only quarterbacks in NFL history with at least 11 touchdown passes and zero interceptions through their team’s first five games of a season. Brees, who has a bye this week, will attempt to join the list in Week 6.

The quarterbacks with the most touchdown passes without an interception in their team’s first five games of a season:

PLAYER, TEAM (YEAR, TD PASSES/INTS)
Steve Bartkowski, Atlanta (1983, 11/0)
Roman Gabriel, Los Angeles Rams (1969, 11/0)
Randall Cunningham, Minnesota (1998, 10/0)
Craig Morton, Dallas (1969, 10/0)
Tom Brady, New England (2017, 10/0)*
Alex Smith, Kansas City (2017, 8/)*
Drew Brees, New Orleans (2017, 8/0)*^
*Through four games; Brady played at Tampa Bay Thursday night
^Has bye in Week 5

DEMARCUS DOMINATING: Dallas defensive end Demarcus Lawrence recorded a sack and forced fumble in the Cowboys’ Week 4 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

Lawrence, who has recorded at least one sack in each of his team’s first four games of the season, leads the NFL with 7.5 sacks. With 1.5 sacks against Green Bay on Sunday, Lawrence would become the fifth player with at least nine sacks in his team’s first five games of a season since the sack became an official statistic in 1982.

The players with the most sacks in their team’s first five games of a season since 1982:

PLAYER, TEAM (YEAR-SACKS IN TEAM’S FIRST 5 GAMES)
Kevin Greene, Carolina (1998-10)^
Robert Mathis, Indianapolis (2013-9.5)
Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, Green Bay (2001-9)
Mark Gastineau, New York Jets (1984-9)
Demarcus Lawrence, Dallas (2017-7.5)*
*Through four games
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

PRIMETIME DEBUT: Chicago rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, the No. 2 overall selection of the Bears in the 2017 NFL Draft, is expected to make his NFL debut on Monday Night Football against Minnesota.

Trubisky would be the third rookie quarterback selected in the first round to make his first career start on Monday Night Football, joining Detroit’s Chuck Long (December 15, 1986 vs. Chicago) and Philadelphia’s John Reaves (October 2, 1972 vs. New York Giants).

ROCKING ROOKIES: Rookies across the league continued to make an impact in Week 4. Through the first four weeks of the season, rookies have accumulated 5,835 yards from scrimmage, the most by rookies through Week 4 since 1970.

The seasons with the most yards from scrimmage by rookies through Week 4 since 1970:

SEASON – MOST SCRIMMAGE YARDS BY ROOKIES THROUGH WEEK 4
2017 – 5,835
2014 – 4,765
1987 – 4,449
1976 – 4,444
2016 – 4,406

Rookies have also totaled 43 touchdowns through Week 4, the most through the first four weeks of a season since 1970.

The seasons with the most touchdowns by rookies through Week 4 since 1970:

SEASON – MOST TOUCHDOWNS BY ROOKIES THROUGH WEEK 4
2017 – 43
1987 – 37
1978 – 34
Many tied with 33

FOUR MORE: Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdown passes in the Packers’ 35-14 win against Chicago on Thursday Night Football in Week 4.

Rodgers, who has 21 career games with at least four touchdown passes, tied Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino for the fifth-most games with at least four touchdown passes in NFL history.

The players with the most games with at least four touchdown passes in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (GAMES WITH AT LEAST 4 TD PASSES)
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis and Denver (35)
Drew Brees – San Diego and New Orleans (31)
Tom Brady – New England (27)
Brett Favre – Green Bay, New York Jets and Minnesota (23)^
Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay (21)
Dan Marino – Miami (21)^
^Pro Football Hall of Fame

PUT IT ON THE BOARD: Houston rookie quarterback Deshaun Watons passed for 283 yards with four touchdowns and added a rushing touchdown in the Texans’ 57-14 win against Tennessee.

Houston’s 57 points against Tennessee in Week 4 were the most in franchise history and marked the third highest single-game point total in NFL history with a rookie starting at quarterback.

The highest single game point totals with a rookie starting at quarterback:

QUARTERBACK – TEAM (DATE – POINTS SCORED)
Tony Banks – St. Louis Rams (November 10, 1996 – 59)
Russell Wilson – Seattle (December 9, 2012 – 58)
Deshaun Watson – Houston (October 1, 2017 – 57)
Johnny Unitas – Baltimore Colts (November 25, 1956-56)^
Chris Chandler – Indianapolis (October 31, 1988 – 55)
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Watson joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton (September 17, 1961 vs. Chicago) as the only rookie quarterbacks in NFL history with at least 250 passing yards, four touchdown passes and a rushing touchdown in a single game.

Watson, who has seven touchdown passes and two rushing touchdowns this season, is the only rookie quarterback in NFL history with at least seven passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns in his team’s first four games of a season.

QUARTER POLL: New England quarterback Tom Brady completed 32 of 45 passes (71.1 percent) for 307 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 104.6 passer rating in the team’s Week 4 loss to Carolina in Foxboro.

Brady, who has 1,399 passing yards with 10 touchdowns and no interceptions, became the first player in NFL history to pass for at least 1,000 yards with 10 touchdowns and no interceptions through his team’s first four games twice in his career, having also accomplished the feat in 2015.

The quarterbacks with at least 1,000 passing yards, 10 touchdown passes and no interceptions through their team’s first four games of a season:

PLAYER, TEAM (YEAR; PASSING YARDS-TD PASSES/INTs)
Tom Brady, New England (2017; 1,399-10/0)
Tom Brady, New England (2015; 1,387-11/0)
Peyton Manning, Denver (2013; 1,470-16/0)
Don Meredith, Dallas (1966; 1,089-14/0)

13K FOR KIRK: Kirk to bridge! Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins passed for 220 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 116.7 passer rating in the team’s Week 4 loss to Kansas City.

Cousins, who has 13,117 career passing yards, became the sixth quarterback in NFL history to record at least 13,000 passing yards in his first 50 career games.

Cousins, who has thrown 43 interceptions, has the fewest interceptions through 50 career games among the quarterbacks who reached 13,000 passing yards during that span.

The players with the most passing yards in their first 50 career games:

PLAYER, TEAM (PASSING YARDS – INTERCEPTIONS)
Matthew Stafford, Detroit (14,331 – 57)
Kurt Warner, St. Louis Rams (13,864 – 62)^
Marc Bulger, St. Louis Rams (13,551 – 52)
Dan Marino, Miami (13,514-57)^
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis (13,450-48)
Kirk Cousins, Washington (13,117-43)
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

RUMBLING RUNNING BACKS: Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley had 215 scrimmage yards (121 rushing, 94 receiving) and a touchdown catch in the team’s 35-30 win at Dallas.

Gurley, who has 596 scrimmage yards and seven touchdowns this season, joined Pro Football Hall of Famers Jim Brown (1958, 1963) and Emmitt Smith (1995) as the only players in NFL history to have at least 575 scrimmage yards and seven touchdowns in his team’s first four games of a season.

The players with at least 575 scrimmage yards and seven touchdowns in his team’s first four games of a season:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON, SCRIMMAGE YARDS-TOUCHDOWNS)
Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams (2017, 596-7)
Emmitt Smith, Dallas (1995, 643-9)^
Jim Brown, Cleveland (1963, 779-7)^
Jim Brown, Cleveland (1958, 687-10)^
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

HUNT STAYS HOT: Kansas City rookie running back Kareem Hunt had 121 scrimmage yards (101 rushing, 20 receiving) in the team’s 29-20 win against Washington on Monday Night Football in Week 4.

Hunt, who has 659 scrimmage yards through four games, surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (567) and Adrian Peterson (549) for the second-most scrimmage yards by a player in his first four career games.

The rookies with the most scrimmage yards in their team’s first four games to start a season:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON, SCRIMMAGE YARDS IN TEAMS’S FIRST 4 GAMES)
Billy Sims, Detroit (1980, 745)
Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs (2017, 659)
Eric Dickerson, Los Angeles Rams (1983, 567)^
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota (2007, 549)
Beattie Feathers, Chicago Bears (1934, 536)
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

TAG TEAM: New York Jets running backs Bilal Powell (163 rushing yards, 75-yard touchdown run) and rookie Elijah McGuire (93 rushing yards, 69-yard touchdown run) each rushed for a touchdown in the team’s 23-20 overtime win against Jacksonville.

McGuire and Powell are the first pair of teammates in franchise history to each record a touchdown run of at least 65 yards in the same game and the fifth pair of teammates in NFL history with rushing touchdowns of at least 69 yards in the same game.

The teammates who scored a rushing touchdown of at least 69 yards in the same game in NFL history:

TEAM – DATE (PLAYER – YARDS; PLAYER – YARDS)
New York Jets – October 1, 2017 (Bilal Powell – 75; Elijah McGuire – 69)
Baltimore – December 20, 2008 (Le’Ron McClain – 82; Willis McGahee – 77)
Pittsburgh – October 7, 1979 (Franco Harris – 71; Rocky Bleier – 70)
Los Angeles Rams – December 3, 1961 (Dick Bass – 73; Ollie Matson – 69)
San Francisco – October 26, 1952 (Hugh McElhenny – 83; Joe Perry – 78)
(Note: Harris, Matson, Perry and McElhenny are Pro Football Hall of Famers)

ELVIS ENTERS RECORD BOOKS: San Francisco linebacker Elvis Dumervil had two sacks in the team’s 18-15 overtime loss at Arizona in Week 4, his first two sacks as a member of the 49ers.

Dumervil, who has 101 career sacks, is the third active player to record at least 100 career sacks.

The active players with at least 100 career sacks:

PLAYER (TEAMS – SACKS)
Julius Peppers Carolina, Chicago and Green Bay – 148)
Terrell Suggs (Baltimore – 117.5)
Elvis Dumervil (Denver, Baltimore and San Francisco – 101)

MR. AUTOMATIC: Los Angeles Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein converted all seven of his field-goal attempts and both of his PAT attempts in the team’s 35-30 win at Dallas in Week 4.

Zuerlein became the eighth player to convert at least seven or more field goals in a single game and his 23 total points scored is tied for the third-highest single-game total by a kicker in NFL history.

The kickers with the highest single-game point totals in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (DATE – TOTAL POINTS)
Rob Bironas, Tennessee (October 21, 2007 – 26)
Jay Feely, Arizona (December 12, 2010 – 25)
Greg Zuerlein, Los Angeles Rams (October 1, 2017 – 23)
Billy Cundiff, Dallas (September 15, 2003 – 23)
Jim Bakken, St. Louis Cardinals (September 24, 1967 – 22)

SEVEN FROM SUNDAY: New Orleans defeated Miami 20-0 in front of 84,423 fans at London’s Wembley Stadium in the second of four 2017 London Series games in the United Kingdom. New Orleans, which has not turned the ball over this season, is only the third team in the modern era (since 1933) without a turnover in each of its first four games of a season (1995 St. Louis and 2013 Tennessee).

•Houston rookie quarterback DeShaun Watson passed for 283 yards with four touchdowns and added a rushing touchdown in the Texans’ 57-14 win against Tennessee. Houston’s 57 points are the most in a single game in franchise history. Watson put himself in some pretty good company, as he joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton (September 17, 1961 vs. Chicago) as the only rookie quarterbacks in NFL history with at least 250 passing yards, four touchdown passes and a rushing touchdown in a single game. Watson, who has seven touchdown passes and two rushing touchdowns this season, is the only rookie quarterback in NFL history with at least seven passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns in his team’s first four games of a season.

•Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley had 215 scrimmage yards (121 rushing, 94 receiving) and a touchdown catch in the team’s 35-30 win at Dallas. Gurley, who has 596 scrimmage yards and seven touchdowns this season, joined Pro Football Hall of Famers Jim Brown (1958, 1963) and Emmitt Smith (1995) as the only players in NFL history to have at least 575 scrimmage yards and seven touchdowns in his team’s first four games of a season. Under head coach Sean McVay, the Rams have scored 142 points, which is the fourth-highest total by a team in its first four games of a season with a first-year head coach. Only the 2002 Oakland Raiders (Bill Callahan, 162 points), 2000 St. Louis Rams (Mike Martz, 160) and 1920 Buffalo All-Americans (Tommy Hughitt, 149) scored more.

•Carolina quarterback Cam Newton passed for 316 yards with three touchdowns and rushed for a touchdown in the Panthers’ 33-30 win at New England. Newton, who has six career games with at least three passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown, tied Pro Football Hall of Famer Steve Young, Drew Brees, Jack Kemp, Tobin Rote and Billy Wade for the most such games in NFL history. Newton scored his 50th career rushing touchdown on Sunday and is the only quarterback in NFL history with 50 rushing touchdowns.

•New England quarterback Tom Brady completed 32 of 45 passes (71.1 percent) for 307 yards with two touchdown passes and no interceptions for a 104.6 passer rating in the Patriots’ loss to Carolina. Brady, who has 1,399 passing yards with 10 touchdowns and no interceptions this season, became the first player in NFL history to pass for at least 1,000 yards with 10 touchdowns and no interceptions through his team’s first four games in two different seasons during his career. He also accomplished the feat in 2015.

•New York Jets running backs Bilal Powell (163 rushing yards, 75-yard touchdown run) and rookie Elihan McGuire (93 rushing yards, 69-yard touchdown run) each rushed for a touchdown in the team’s 23-20 overtime win against Jacksonville. McGuire and Powell are the first pair of teammates in franchise history to each record a touchdown run of at least 65 yards in the same game.

•Buffalo kicker Stephen Hauschka converted all three of his field goal attempts, including makes of 55 and 56 yards, in the Bills’ 23-17 win at Atlanta. ​Hauschka, who has converted three field goals of at least 55 yards this season, trails only Detroit’s Matt Prater, who has converted four field goals of at least 55 yards in 2017, for the most by a player in a single season in NFL history.

For week four, we went 11-5, which was a huge improvement. For the year? 41-23. There’s still a lot of football to be played between now and December 31st, when the regular season comes to an end. For this time of year, you lose, your next game’s next week, which is a lot better than the post-season, where if you lose, your next game’s next year.

The first round of byes take place in week five and the teams that will be off this week are Atlanta, Denver, New Orleans and Washington. They’ll get back to action next week. Week 5 began Thursday night with the New England beating Tampa Bay Thursday night in the Sunshine State and week 5 concludes with a pair of primetime matches as the Houston Texans host the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night at 8:30 p.m. on NBC and the Minnesota Vikings visit the Chicago Bears in an NFC North divisional showdown on Monday night at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN.

Here are the Sunday and Monday picks for week five.

Los Angeles Chargers (0-4) at New York Giants (0-4), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705. A pair of winless teams, sitting in the bottom of their respective divisions, meet in the Meadowlands as Eli Manning and the New York Giants host the Los Angeles Chargers at Met Life Stadium.

The Chargers lost another close contest last Sunday at StubHub Center, falling to Philadelphia 26-24. Los Angeles trailed 16- 10 at the intermission on the West Coast but managed to make things close, trailing 19-17 with 13:42 left to play in the contest, then pulled to within seven with 6:44 left when Rivers and TE Hunter Henry connected on a 4-yard TD pass and that would be the closest that Los Angeles would get in the contest. Philadelphia outrushed Los Angeles 214-58, with LeGarrette Blount doing most of the work, tallying 136 of those yards.

The winless Giants dropped a 25-23 decision to Jameis Winston and Tampa Bay at Raymond James Stadium last Sunday afternoon. The Bucs led 13-10 at the intermission before Manning and the Giants took the lead with 3:16 left in regulation when he and TE Rhett Ellison connected on a 2-yard TD strike. The Giants missed the extra point and led 23-22 at that point. For Giant fans, there was hope. That hope would not last very long. Tampa Bay then proceeded to make their way down the field, using all of the 3:16 on the clock, ending an 9-play, 59-yard drive that ended with K Nick Folk sending a 34-yard field goal try through the uprights for the win. Tampa Bay outrushed Big Blue 111-91 and Winston threw for 332 yards and three TDs without an interception, while Manning threw for 288 yards and a pair of TDs in the Sunshine State. The Giants were 8 of 17 on third down tries and kept the ball for 34:13, while the Bucs were 3 of 11 on third down, keeping the ball for 25:47 (both teams were 0 for 1 on fourth down conversions).

The Chargers lead the series 6-5, have outscored New York 292-259 and have won the last three contests (including games that were played when the Chargers were in San Diego), including a 37-14 win at Qualcomm Stadium in 2013. New York’s last win in the series also came at Qualcomm, when they walked away with a 34-16 win in 1998. The Giants are favored by 3 1/2 and the over/under’s 44 1/2. If you’re a fan of either team, feel free to watch this one; otherwise, you might want to beg your wife or significant other to take you shopping at Victoria’s Secret (that way, you’ll have an idea as to what to get her for Christmas). There’s going to be a winner in this one. While the Chargers have played some decent but not great football, the Giants were a playoff team last year. Add to that the fact that Eli’s got two Super Bowl rings and Rivers is still looking for his first. Giants break out of the winless column with the win at home and covers the 3 1/2.

Tennessee (2-2) at Miami (1-2), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706. Miami returns to the other side of the Atlantic for a meeting in the Sunshine State wit Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans at Hard Rock Stadium.

Tennesee was taken to task by AFC South rival Houston last Sunday, as the Texans manhandled the Titans 57-14 at NRG Stadium last Sunday. Tennessee could never get on track, trailing 30-14 at the half and saw the defending AFC South champs score their final 27 points of the contest unchallenged. Tennessee was outrushed 173-86 and Mariota threw for only 96 yards with a pair of interceptions. Meanwhile, Texans rookie QB Deshaun Watson threw for 283 yards and four TDs through the air and had a rushing TD of his own as his defense forced five Titan turnovers in the Lone Star State. Tennessee went 2 of 8 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 20:19, while the Texans ruled the clock, keeping the pigskin for 39:41, while going 6 of 12 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

Miami went to London and were shutout by New Orleans and Drew Brees 20-0 at Wembley Stadium. The Dolphins trailed 3-0 at the half before things went haywire for them, as the Saints would score the remaining 17 points of the contest unchallenged. New Orleans rushed for 86 yards, while Miami could only muster 58 and Jay Cutler was sacked four times and picked off once, while throwing for 164 yards (Brees threw for 268 yards and a pair of TDs). Miami in merry ole England was 1 of 8 on third down tries on the other side of the Atlantic (0 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 25:32, while the Saints were 6 of 13 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth down, keeping the ball for 34:28.

Including contests that took place when the Texans were in Houston and known as the Oilers and the Dolphins played their home games at the Orange Bowl, the Dolphins lead the series 19-16 and have outscored Tennessee 667-665. Tennessee won the last meeting between the two clubs last year, coming away 30-17 winners in the Sunshine State (Miami’s last win in the series came in 2015 in Nashville by a final of 38-10).

They met in the Sunshine State in week five and the Titans led 21-14 at the half at Hard Rock Stadium before they would pull away for the road win. Mariota threw for three TDs passes and ran for a TD, while tallying 163 yards of passing. Ryan Tannehill threw for 191 yards for Miami but was sacked six times and picked off twice. Tennessee outrushed Miami 235-51, with RB DeMarco Murray accounting for 121 of their rushing yards. Tennessee went 5 of 12 on third down (0 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 36:44, while Miami kept the ball for 23:16, goning 4 of 11 on third down.

Miami was favored by 3 1/2 in the week five contest and the Titans covered the spread, winning by 13 in the Sunshine State. The two teams combined for 47 points, which coved the 43 1/2 over/under. Tennessee’s favored by 3 and the over/under is 43 1/2. Miami bounces back from last week and takes this one in the Sunshine State.

Buffalo (3-1) at Cincinnati (1-3), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707. A pair of AFC teams have a Sunday afternoon meeting along the banks of the Ohio River when the Cincinnati Bengals host the Buffalo Bills at Paul Brown Stadium. Both clubs enter the contest with win under their belts last Sunday afternoon in week four play.

Buffalo knocked Atlanta out of the ranks of the unbeatens last Sunday in the Peach State, taking a 23-17 win over the Falcons last Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Bills trailed 10-7 at the break before rookie CB Tre’Davious White recovered a Matt Ryan fumble and returned it 52 yards for a TD. Atlanta challenged the call, saying that Matt Ryan’s arm was going forward and at best should have been ruled an incomplete pass. The powers that be saw things differently and the call on the field stood, giving Buffalo a 14-10 lead. K Stephen Hauschka would add the first of his three field goals to give the Bills a 17-10 lead.
That lead would not last long, as Ryan (242 yards) and WR Justin Hardy would tie things up with a 3-yard TD strike with seven minutes left in regulation.

Hauskcka was not finished, kicking a 56-yarder with 4:44 left to play and then nailing a 55-yarder with 3:06 left to play. Atlanta would eventually have one last drive in the contest and came as close as Buffalo’s 10-yard line before a pair of Ryan incompletions stopped the drive and gave the ball back to the Bills. Atlanta did outrush the Bills 149-117, while QB Tyrod Taylor threw for 182 yards and a TD, while being sacked three times. Buffalo was 6 of 13 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 28:45, while the Falcons ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 31:15, going 5 of 13 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth downs.

The Bengals got four TD passes from Andy Dalton last Sunday against Cleveland, breaking their three-game losing streak with a 31-7 win over the Browns last Sunday along the shores of Lake Erie. After a scoreless first quarter, Cincy led 21-0 at the half and 31-0 at the end of the third quarter and were never threatened. The Browns’ only tally of the contest came with 1:54 left, when the outcome was already decided, as RB Duke Johnson scored from a yard out. The Bengals outrushed Cleveland 86-45 and Dalton threw for 286 yards, in addition to the four TDs. The Bengals were 6 of 11 on third down tries and kept the ball for 35:02, while the Browns, who suffered their fourth loss in a row, went 5 of 16 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth downs, while holding the ball for 24:58.

Buffalo leads the series 16-12 and has outscored Cincinnati 691-619. Buffalo won the last meeting with the Bengals, taking a 16-12 win in Cincinnati last year (The Bengals’ last win over Buffalo came in Orchard Park in 2015 by a final of 34-21).

They met in week 11 at Paul Brown Stadium and the Bengals led 12-10 at the half before David Carpenter kicked a pair of field goals to put the Bills in the win column. Buffalo outrushed Cincinnati 183-93 and Tyrod Taylor threw for 166 yards, while Dalton threw for 207 yards with a pair of interceptions. Buffalo on third down tries went 3 for 12 (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down tries) and the Bills kept the ball for 32:11, while the Bengals were 8 of 15 on third down conversions, keeping the ball for 27:49.

Cincinnati was favored by 3 1/2 in the week 11 matchup and the Bills covered the spread, winning by four. As for the 46 1/2 over/under? It was untouched, as both teams scored only 22 points. The Bengals were 3 1/2 point favorites in the contest along the shores of the Ohio River and the Bills covered the spread, winning by 4. The 46 1/2 over/under was untouched, as both clubs tallied only 28 points. Cincinnati’s favored by a field goal and the over/under’s 39. Could the Bengals make it two in a row? The oddmakers think so and so do we. Cincy wins but expect the Bills to make things closer than 3.

Jacksonville (2-2) at Pittsburgh (3-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708. Pittsburgh and Ben Roethlisberger hosts the Jacksonville Jaguars in an AFC matchup in the Steel City.

The Jaguars fell to the New York Jets 23-20 in overtime at Met Life Stadium last Sunday afternoon. The Jags and Jets were tied at 10-10 at the half before they would trailed 20-10 after the third quarter came to an end. Jacksonville would then go on to score ten points of their own in the final 15 minutes of action, with K Jason Myers kicking a 22-yard field goal with 46 seconds left in regulation to tie the contest. Jacksonville then failed in their first possession of overtime after winning the toss, which allowed the Jets to get the ball back.

New York used a 4-play, 2-yard drive that used only 70 seconds, which saw the Jets take the win when K Chandler Catanzaro connected on a 41-yard field goal with 28 seconds left in the extra period. New York’s Bilal Powell ran for 163 of his team’s 256 yards, while Jacksonville ran for 175 and Blake Bortles threw for 140 yards, while New York’s Josh McCown threw for 224 yards with five sacks and an interceptions. Jacksonville was 4 of 15 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 35:08, while the Jets, who kept the ball for 34:24, went 6 of 17 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

Pittsburgh manhandled Baltimore 26-9 last Sunday in Charm City in an AFC North matchup. Roethlisberger threw for 216 yards in the win and LeVeon Bell rushed for 144 yards and a pair of TDs. Although they 19-0 at the half, Pittsburgh was outscored by the Ravens in the second half 9-7 but did manage to outrush the Ravens 173-82 and picked Joe Flacco (235 yards, four sacks) off twice. The Steelers on third down went 7 of 13 and held the ball for 35:29, while the Ravens were 5 of 13 on third down (0 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the pigskin for 24:31.

This series? Even at 11-11. Jaguars has outscored Pittsburgh 392-375 but the Steelers have won the last three meetings, including coming away with a 17-9 win in the Sunshine State in 2014, while the Jaguars’ last win in the series came in 2007 in the Steel City by a final of 29-22. Pittsburgh’s favored by 8 1/2 and the over/under’s 44. The Jaguars are a decent team but not quite great. Pittsburgh wins this one but expect Jacksonville to make it closer than the 8 1/2.

Arizona (2-2) at Philadelphia (3-1), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 709. The Desert Angry Birds head east to the City of Brotherly Love for an early afternoon contest with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Arizona trailed 15-12 in overtime against San Francisco before Carson Palmer and WR Larry Fitzgerald connected on a 19-yard TD pass in Glendale last Sunday to take an 18-15 win over their NFC West rivals. Tied 6-6 at the half, the Desert Angry Birds trailed late in the fourth quarter before K Phil Dawson tied things up with a 32-yard field goal in regulation. San Francisco would win the toss to start the overtime and took the lead with 2:24 left in the extra period when Robbie Gould connected on a 23-yard field goal. The 49er lead would not last very long, as Arizona would use a 7-play, 75-yard drive that used 1:52 of clock and ending with the winning score with 32 seconds left in the game. San Francisco did manage to outrush Arizona 95-51, while Palmer, despite being sacked six time,s threw for 357 yards and the game winning score. The 49ers’ Brian Hoyer threw for 234 yards in the loss and was sacked three times and picked off once. Arizona was 5 of 16 on third down tries in the desert and kept the ball for 36:15, while the 49ers were 5 of 19 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth and held on to the ball for 33:13.

Philadelphia headed west last week and came out with a 26-24 over the Los Angeles Chargers on the Left Coast. Philadelphia led 16-10 at the intermission at Stub Hub Centre but the Chargers managed to make things close, trailing 19-17 with 13:42 left to play in the contest, then pulled to within seven with 6:44 left when Rivers and TE Hunter Henry connected on a 4-yard TD pass and that would be the closest that Los Angeles would get in the contest. Philadelphia outrushed Los Angeles 214-58, with LeGarrette Blount doing most of the work, tallying 136 of those yards.

Including games that were played in Chicago and St. Louis when the Cardinals called those cities home, Arizona leads the series 57-54-5, while the Eagles have outscored Arizona 2,472-2,286. Arizona’s won the last two meetings, including a 40-17 win in Philly in 2015, while the Eagles’ last win in the series came in 2013 at Lincoln Financial Field by a final of 24-21.

Philadelphia’s favored by 6 1/2 at home and the over/under’s 45. Both numbers make sense. While this one’s not quite “DRILL WORTHY,” it’s worth your time. Philly covers 6 1/2 at home and takes the win.

Carolina (3-1) at Detroit (3-1), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710. A pair of 3-1 teams meet in the Motor City as the Carolina Panthers travel to Detroit for an indoor meeting with the Detroit Lions.

Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers came from behind in Foxboro, coming away 33-30 winners at Gillette Stadium against the defending Super Bowl champs. New England led 17-16 at the half before Carolina roared back in the final 30 minutes of action. Carolina would eventually take a 23-16 lead with 2:47 left in the third when Newton tossed a 16-yard TD pass to WR Devin Funchess. Newton, who threw for 316 yards and three TDs, would later score from seven yards out with 12:58 left in regulation.

The Pats would eventually pull even when Tom Brady (307 yards, two TDs) and WR Danny Amendola connected on a 1-yard TD strike with 3:09 left. Carolina then went on to use that remaining 3:09, taking a 10-play, 46-yard drive that would send Pats fans home sad when Graham Gano, who missed an extra point earlier in the contest, booted a 48-yard field goal as time expired.
Carolina outrushed New England 140-80 and the Panthers were 6 of 9 on third down tries and held the ball for 28:53 (which included the final drive of the game), while the defending Super Bowl champs were 7 of 14 on third down (2 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 31:07.

Detroit used a Matt Prater field goal and a two-point conversion in the Twin Cities last Sunday to take a 14-7 win over Minnesota last Sunday. Minnesota led 7-3 at the half before the Lions scored their 11 points in the third quarter unchallenged. First, Prater connected on a 37-yard field goal try. Detroit would then take the lead for keeps when RB Ameer Abdullah scored from three yards out with 8 minutes left in the quarter. The Lions then went for two and it was Stafford (209 yards) and T.J. Jones connected on the successful try. Detroit outrushed Minnesota 97-87 and the Vikings’ Case Keenum threw for 219 yards at US Bank Stadium. Detroit was 3 of 13 on third down tries in the NFC North contest and kept the ball for 36:27, while the Vikings clung to the pigskin for 23:33, going 3 of 10 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down.

Carolina leads the series 5-2 and have outscored Detroit 171-143. Carolina’s last win in the series came in 2014 in the Tar Heel State by a 24-7 final, while Detroit’s last win came in 2011 by a final of 49-35 in the Motor City. The Lions are favored by 3 and the over/under’s 44. Carolina will make this one interesting but Detroit prevails at home and takes the win, even though they may not cover the 3.

New York Jets (2-2) at Cleveland (0-4), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. A somewhat improved New York Jets team travels to upstate Ohio for a Sunday afternoon meeting with the winless Browns.

As for the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS!, they needed overtime to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 23-20 at Met Life Stadium last Sunday afternoon. Tied at 10-10 at the half, GangGreen would leadd 20-10 after the third quarter came to an end. Jacksonville would then go on to score ten points of their own in the final 15 minutes of action, with K Jason Myers kicking a 22-yard field goal with 46 seconds left in regulation to tie the contest. Jacksonville then failed in their first possession of overtime after winning the toss, which allowed the Jets to get the ball back.

New York used a 4-play, 2-yard drive that used only 70 seconds, which saw the Jets take the win when K Chandler Catanzaro connected on a 41-yard field goal with 28 seconds left in the extra period. New York’s Bilal Powell ran for 163 of his team’s 256 yards, while Jacksonville ran for 175 and Blake Bortles threw for 140 yards, while New York’s Josh McCown threw for 224 yards with five sacks and an interceptions. Jacksonville was 4 of 15 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 35:08, while the Jets, who kept the ball for 34:24, went 6 of 17 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

The Browns were burned by four TD passes from Andy Dalton last Sunday against Cleveland, sending them to a four-game losing with a 31-7 loss last Sunday along the shores of Lake Erie. After a scoreless first quarter, Cincy led 21-0 at the half and 31-0 at the end of the third quarter and were never threatened. The Browns’ only tally of the contest came with 1:54 left, when the outcome was already decided, as RB Duke Johnson scored from a yard out. The Bengals outrushed Cleveland 86-45 and Dalton threw for 286 yards, in addition to the four TDs. The Bengals were 6 of 11 on third down tries and kept the ball for 35:02, while the Browns, who suffered their fourth loss in a row, went 5 of 16 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth downs, while holding the ball for 24:58.

Cleveland leads the series by a slim 12-11 margin and the Browns have outscored GangGreen 476-469. However… the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! have won the last four meetings, including a 31-28 victory last year (Cleveland’s last win in the series came in 2007 in the Meadowlands by a final of 24-18).

The week eight contest along the shores of Lake Erie saw the Browns blow a 20-7 lead at the intermission, allowing GangGreen to win the second half by outscoring the Browns 24-8 to take a 31-28 win. New York outrushed Cleveland 171-68 and while Josh McCown threw for 341 yards and a pair of TDs, he did suffer a sack and was picked off twice. Ryan Fitzpatrick led New York with 228 yards passing and Matt Forte led all rushers with 82 yards and a pair of TDs. GangGreen went 7 of 15 on third down conversions (1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 33:41, while the Browns, who held the ball for 26:19, went 8 of 16 on third down tries.

The Jets won by 3, allowing them to cover the 3-point spread exactly and both clubs covered the 43 1/2 over/under with 59 points. Cleveland’s favored by 2 and the over/under’s 39. Both numbers make a lot of sense. The Browns are looking to pick up their first win of the season. GangGreen’s looking to go over the .500 mark. GangGreen covers the 2 and wins on the shores of Lake Erie.

San Francisco (0-4) at Indianapolis (1-3), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 712. A pair of teams trying to restore some sembliance of order meetin the Hoosier State as the San Francisco 49ers search for their first win, coming to Indianapolis and Lucas Oil Stadium for a meeting with the Colts.

San Francisco led 15-12 in overtime against Arizona before they saw that lead get away from them as Arizona QB Carson Palmer and WR Larry Fitzgerald connected on a 19-yard TD pass in Glendale last Sunday to take an 18-15 win over their NFC West rivals. Tied 6-6 at the half, the Desert Angry Birds trailed late in the fourth quarter before 49ers K Phil Dawson tied things up with a 32-yard field goal in regulation. San Francisco would win the toss to start the overtime and took the lead with 2:24 left in the extra period when Robbie Gould connected on a 23-yard field goal. The 49er lead would not last very long, as Arizona would use a 7-play, 75-yard drive that used 1:52 of clock and ending with the winning score with 32 seconds left in the game. San Francisco did manage to outrush Arizona 95-51, while Palmer, despite being sacked six time,s threw for 357 yards and the game winning score. The 49ers’ Brian Hoyer threw for 234 yards in the loss and was sacked three times and picked off once. Arizona was 5 of 16 on third down tries in the desert and kept the ball for 36:15, while the 49ers were 5 of 19 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth and held on to the ball for 33:13.

For the Colts, they let a 15-10 halftime lead against Seattle last Sunday night get away from them, as Indy would lose 46-18 in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle restored order in the final 30 minutes of play at Century Link Field, outscoring the Colts 36-3 in that frame. Seattle outrushed Indy 194-98, while Russell Wilson threw for 295 yards and a pair of TDs and had a rushing TD of his own. For the Colts, Jacoby Brissett, taking over for the injured Andrew Luck, threw for 157 yards and a TD but was sacked three times and picked off once. Seattle did quite well on third and fourth down, going 10 of 15 and 1 of 1 in both catagories and kept the ball for 32:12, while the Colts were 6 of 14 on third down, keeping the ball for 27:48.

The Colts lead the series 25-18, which includes contests that took place when the Colts were in Baltimore and the 49ers played their home games in Keezar Stadium and Candlestick Park and the Colts have outscored the 49ers 1,017-843. The Colts were 27-7 winners in their last meeting on the West Coast in 2013, while the 49ers’ last win over Indy came in 2001 in the Hoosier State by a final of 40-21.

Indy’s favored by 1 1/2 and the over/under 43. Both teams are better than their records indicate. You might want to take a pass on this one and watch that “Mythbusters” marathon on “Science Channel” (unless you’re a fan of either team… that Kari Byron is not only smart, she’s kinda cute!). Colts cover the 1 1/2 and win at home again in Indiana.

Seattle (2-2) at Los Angeles Rams (3-1), 4:05 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 713. It’s an NFC West contest as Seattle makes the 1,137 mile trip down I-5 for a meeting with the first-place Rams in the Coliseum. Both teams enter the contest winning their last contest last Sunday.

Seattle chipped away at a 15-10 halftime deficit against Indianapolis last Sunday night and came away 46-18 winners in the land of grunge, Salmon and Starbucks. The Seahawks would restore order in the final 30 minutes of play at Century Link Field, outscoring the Colts 36-3 in that frame. Seattle outrushed Indy 194-98, while Wilson threw for 295 yards and a pair of TDs and had a rushing TD of his own. For the Colts, Jacoby Brissett, taking over for Andrew Luck, threw for 157 yards and a TD but was sacked three times and picked off once. Seattle did quite well on third and fourth down, going 10 of 15 and 1 of 1 in both catagories and kept the ball for 32:12, while the Colts were 6 of 14 on third down, keeping the ball for 27:48.

Los Angeles erased a 24-16 deficit at AT&T Stadium get away from them as the Rams came back to beat the Cowboys 35-30. Todd Gurley led all rushers with 121 yards in the comeback win, while Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliot ran for 85 yards in a losing cause. (the Rams ran for 168, while Dallas tallied 189). Second-year QB Dak Prescott threw for 252 yards and three TDs (two sacks, interception) for Dallas, while Jarred Goff threw for 255 yards with a pair of TDs, connecting with Gurley on one of the tosses. Dallas was 7 of 14 on third down tries, 1 of 2 on fourth down and kept the ball for 29:28, while the Rams ruled the clock by keeping the ball for 30:32, while going 5 of 13 on third down.

Seattle leads the series 22-15 and the Seahawks have outscored the Rams 811-714 (which includes contests that were played in St. Louis). They split the two games in the series last year, each winning at home.

Meeting one… Los Angeles in week two. If you liked field goals, this was your game, as all the points came by way of the kickers. The Rams led 6-3 at the half in the Coliseum and came out on top 9-6. Greg Zuerlein and Stephen Hauschka accounted for all of the scoring in that meeting in Tinseltown and neither club breached the 100-yard barrier (Seattle outrushed Los Angeles 67-64) and Wilson threw for 254 yards, while Case Keenum threw for 239 (Keenum was sacked three times, Wilson was sacked twice). Seattle was 4 of 13 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 30:03, while the Rams were 3 of 12, keeping the pigskin for 29:57.

Seattle got revenge in front of the home folks in the land of grunge, Salmon and Starbucks in their week 15 Thursday night contest at CenturyLink Field, holding the Rams to a 2nd quarter field goal by Zuerlien to take a 24-3 win. Leading 10-3 at the half, the Seahawks controlled the second half, scoring on a pair of Wilson TD passes to take the win. Seattle once again outrushed the Rams, tallying 72 yards on the ground to Los Angeles’ 47 and Wilson threw for 229 yards with the two TDS, while Jarred Goff threw for 135 yards and was sacked four times. The Seahawks on third down in the rematch did a little better job in Seattle than they did in Los Angeles, going 7 of 15 (they did find paydirt in their only fourth down conversion), while the Rams were once again 3 of 12 in the same catagory. Seattle ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 32:31, while the Rams kept it for 27:29.

In the week two contest in Los Angeles, there were only 12 points scores and the Rams barely missed the 6 1/2 point spread, winning by 6. Seattle did take care of business in the second meeting in the Pacific Northwest, winning by 21, allowing them to cover the 14-point spread. Neither club covered the 38 1/2 over/under in the second contest, as both teams scored only 27 points.

The Rams are favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under’s 46 1/2. While no one should sleep on the Rams, be mindful that the Seahawks are the defending NFC West champs. Seattle covers the 2 1/2 on the road and wins in Tinseltown.

Baltimore (2-2) at Oakland (2-2), 4:05 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 714. The Silver and Black return home to square off against the Baltimore Ravens in a late afternoon (Eastern) contest in Oakland.

Baltimore was kept in check by Pittsburgh, losing to the Steelers 26-9 last Sunday in Charm City in an AFC North matchup. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger threw for 216 yards in the win and LeVeon Bell rushed for 144 yards and a pair of TDs. Although they 19-0 at the half, the Ravens did manage to outscore Pittsburgh in the second half by a 9-7 margin. Pittsburgh outrushed the Ravens 173-82 and picked Joe Flacco (235 yards, four sacks) off twice. The Steelers on third down went 7 of 13 and held the ball for 35:29, while the Ravens were 5 of 13 on third down (0 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the pigskin for 24:31.

Held to 24 yards on the ground last Sunday, the Raiders fell to Denver 16-10 at Sports Authority Field. The Raiders trailed 10-7 at the half before it became a battle of field goal kickers as Denver’s Brian McMannus kicked a pair of third qaurter field goals, while Giorgio Tavecchio, taking over for the injured Sebastian Janikowski, booted a 38 yarder to keep his team close. Denver rushed for 143 yards in the win at home, while Trevor Siemian threw for 179 yards and a TD (Siemian was sacked four times). The Denver defense then closed things out, stopping a late Raider drive that would have given Oakland the lead, when Justin Simmons picked off E.J. Manuel (106 yards), who took over for David Carr (back), who threw for 143 yards to take the win. Neither club did anything to write home about on third down tries…. Oakland went 2 of 12, while the Broncos were 5 of 16 (Oakland was 0 of 3 on fourth down tries) and Denver ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 32:57, while the Raiders held it for 27:03.

The Ravens lead the series 6-3 and have outscored the Silver and Black 237-158. Oakland has won the last two meetings in the series, including a 28-27 win in Charm City last year (Baltimore’s last win over Oakland came in 2009 in Oakland by a final of 21-13).

They met in week four in Charm City and the Raiders led 14-6 at the half before the Ravens stormed back to give Oakland fans a pre-Halloween scare in the second half. Baltimore outrushed Oakland 130-62 and Flacco threw for 298 yards and a TD, while Carr (199 yards) threw four TD passes, three of them to Michael Crabtree. Oakland was 3 of 12 on third down and held the ball for 25:16, while the Ravens, who kept the ball for 34:44, went 5 of 17 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth down tries.

The week four contest in Charm City had Baltimore as a 3 1/2-point favorite and the Raiders came away with the 1-point win. Both teams did manage to break the 46 1/2 over/under by combining for 55 points. The Silver and Black are favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under’s 39. Both teams are coming off losses and both would like nothing more than to right their ships. Raiders just win, baby and cover the 2 1/2.

Green Bay (3-1) at Dallas (2-2), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 715. They met in the post-season last year. They meet again this year. Green Bay travels to Arlington for a late-afternoon contest with the Dallas Cowboys.

Green Bay made life miserable for Chicago at Lambeau last Thursday night, taking down the Bears 35-14. The Packers and Rodgers led 21-7 at the break and were never really challehged in the game. Rodgers threw for 179 yards and four TDs, two of them to Jordy Nelson, although Green Bay was held to 91 yards rushing, while Chicago came away with 103 yards. Green Bay went 7 of 14 on third down conversions (1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 28:09, while Chicago kept the pigskin for 31:51, going 5 of 12 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth down.

Dallas saw a 24-16 lead at AT&T Stadium get away from them as the Cowboys would fall to the Los Angeles Rams 35-30. Elliot ran for 85 of the Cowboys’ 189 in the loss with a pair of TDs, while Todd Gurley ran amok, leading all rushers with 121 yards in the win (the Rams ran for 168). Second-year QB Dak Prescott threw for 252 yards and three TDs (two sacks, interception) for Dallas, while Jarred Goff threw for 255 yards with a pair of TDs, connecting with Gurley on one of the tosses. Dallas was 7 of 14 on third down tries, 1 of 2 on fourth down and kept the ball for 29:28, while the Rams ruled the clock by keeping the ball for 30:32, while going 5 of 13 on third down.

Green Bay leads the series 14-13 and the Packers have outscored Dallas 620-575. They met twice, once in the regular season and then again in the post-season.

Meeting one… week 6… Lambeau. Prescott threw for 247 yards and three TD passes, two to Cole Beasley, as Dallas came away 30-16 winners. Dallas led 17-6 at the break and never looked back, outrushing Green Bay 191-78 (Elliot accounted for 157 of those yards), while Rodgers threw for 294 yards and a TD with an interception. Dallas was 3 of 11 on third down tries (1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 29:50, while the Packers ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 30:10, going 7 of 13 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down tries.

That was the first meeting.

The second, you ask?

The Divisional Round of the NFC Playoffs. Dallas was the number one seed, while Green Bay was the fourth seed. The site? Arlington. Green Bay led 21-13 at the break, then held off a Dallas rally in the second half and came out 34- 31 winners to advance to the NFC Championship Game and a date in Atlanta. Leading 28-13 at the end of three quarters, Dallas stormed back to tie things up in the final quarter of play and Prescott connected with Jason Witten and Dez Bryant on TD passes (Prescott also scored on a 2-point try) and a 52-yard field goal by Dan Bailey with 35 seconds left. The tie would not last long as Green Bay would use all the 35 seconds left in the contest, when Rodgers threw a deep pass to Jeff Cook for 32 yards. Cook then ran out of bounds at the Cowboys’ 32-yard line. The play was reviewed and the call was upheld. Mason Crosby then put an end to the 6-play, 43-yard drive, kicking the game winner as the clock struck :00. Elliot again led all rushers with 125 yards, as the Cowboys again outrushed Green Bay 138-87 and both Prescott (302 yards) and Rodgers (356 yards, two TDS) threw for over 300 yards in the contest. Both teams were 6 of 11 on third down conversions and Green Bay kept the ball for 29:46, while Dallas had the ball for 30:14.

Green Bay was favored by 4 1/2 in the week six contest and Dallas covered the spread, winning by 14. The 47 1/2 over/under was just missed, as both teams scored 46 points. In the Divisional round, the Cowboys were favored by 4 1/2 but the Packers would win by 3 in the Lone Star State. Green Bay and Dallas did manage to take care of the 52 over/under, tallying 65 points.

Saying that this one is not “DRILL WORTHY” is like saying Wile Coyote likes to fall off cliffs. This one’s “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 Co stco 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?”

Dallas is favored by 2 and the over/under’s 52 1/2. Could they meet again in the postseason? It could happen. If history has a way of repeating itself, then Green Bay’s in good shape. Packers pull the upset in the Lone Star State and covers the 2 on the road with the win.

Kansas City (4-0) at Houston (2-2), 8:30 p.m. on NBC. A pair of rookies meet in the Lone Star State at Kareem Hunt and the Kansas City Chiefs take on the Houston Texans and Deshaun Watson at NRG Stadium.

Kansas City erased a 10-7 deficit against Washington last Monday evening at Arrowhead and came away 29-20 winners to remain unbeaten. Hugh Butker kikcked three field goals and QB Alex Smith (293 yards) and TE Travis Kelce connected on a TD pass (Smith had a rushing TD), while Hunt ran for 101 yards in the contest. Kansas City outrushed the Redskins 168-111 in the come from behind win that ended when LB Justin Houston picked up a Kirk Cousins (220 yards, two TDs) fumble and retured it for a TD as the clock struck :00. Kansas City went 8 of 13 on third down tries and ruled the clock, holding the ball for 37:09, while the Redskins were 4 of 11 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down and held the ball for 22:51.

Houston last Sunday manhandled the Titans 57-14 at NRG Stadium last Sunday. The Texans led from start to finish in the AFC South contest at NRG Stadium, leading 30-14 at the half and then score their final 27 points of the contest unchallenged. Tennessee was outrushed 173-86 and Mariota threw for only 96 yards with a pair of interceptions. Meanwhile, Watson threw for 283 yards and four TDs through the air and had a rushing TD of his own as his defense forced five Titan turnovers in the Lone Star State. Tennessee went 2 of 8 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 20:19, while the Texans ruled the clock, keeping the pigskin for 39:41, while going 6 of 12 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

The series between the Chiefs and Texans? Tied 4-4 and the Chiefs have outscored the Texans 198-165. Houston won the last meeting between the clubs, taking a 19-12 win in the Lone Star State last year (Kansas City’s last regular season win came in 2015, when they won 27-20 in Houston).

In that week two contest in Houston, the Texans used four Nick Novak goals in the contest, with the only TD for either team coming in the first quarter of play when Brock Osweiler and Dereck Hopkins connected on a 27-yard TD pass to open the scoring. Houston led 13-3 at the break, although Kansas City ruled the roost in the second half and outscored the Texans 9-6. Kansas City outrushed Houston 119-97, while Osweiler accounted for the game’s only TD pass, throwing for 268 yards, while Smtih threw for 186 with four sacks. Houston went 4 of 15 on third down (1 of 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for 33:59, while the Chiefs, who kept the ball for 26:01, went 3 of 14 on third down conversions.

Houston covered the 2 1/2-point spread, winning by 7 in the week two contest. As for the 43 1/2 over/under? It was safe, as both teams merged for only 31 points. The boys and girls in Vegas like the Chiefs as a 1-point road favorite and the over/under’s 47. Both numbers make a lot of sense. Is this one “DRILL WORTHY?” There’s nothing that says you can’t have two “DRILL WORTHY” games (just be sure to follow the instructions from the Green Bay-Dallas game). Kansas City’s the last team standing that’s unbeaten. Houston would like to knock the Chiefs from that perch. Houston pulls the upset and takes the win at home, covering the 1.

Minnesota (2-2) at Chicago (1-3), 8:30 p.m. Monday on ESPN. Week five concludes in the Windy City as a pair of NFC North (or NFC Norris, as ESPN’s Chris Berman would say) meet at Soldier Field on Monday night. Both teams played conference rivals last week and both teams took losses.

Minnesota let a 7-3 halftime lead against Detroit get away from them as the Lions used a Matt Prater field goal and a two-point conversion in the Twin Cities last Sunday to fall 14-7 last Sunday. Minnesota led at the half before the Lions scored their 11 points in the third quarter unchallenged. First, Prater connected on a 37-yard field goal try. Detroit would then take the lead for keeps when RB Ameer Abdullah scored from three yards out with 8 minutes left in the quarter. The Lions then went for two and it was Stafford (209 yards) and T.J. Jones connected on the successful try. Detroit outrushed Minnesota 97-87 and the Vikings’ Case Keenum threw for 219 yards at US Bank Stadium. Detroit was 3 of 13 on third down tries in the NFC North contest and kept the ball for 36:27, while the Vikings clung to the pigskin for 23:33, going 3 of 10 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down.

Chicago struggled against NFC North opponent Green Bay last Thursday night at Lambeau and fell to the Packers 35-14. Chicago trailed 21-7 at the break and could never get on track as Packers QB Aaron Rodgers threw for 179 yards and four TDs, two of them to Jordy Nelson. It was also an equally frustrating night for Chicago as LB Danny Trevathan was flagged for a late hit on Nelson in the contest. Trevathan would later be fined and suspended by the league without pay for two games (that suspension would later be dropped to one game). Trevathan will be eligible to return to the Bears’ active roster next week. The one bright spot was that Da Bears held Green Bay held to 91 yards rushing, while Chicago came away with 103 yards. Green Bay went 7 of 14 on third down conversions (1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 28:09, while Chicago kept the pigskin for 31:51, going 5 of 12 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth down.

Minnesota leads the series 58-51-2 and the Vikings have outscored Chicago 2,341-2,154. They split the two meetings last year, with both teams winning in their home facility.

First meeting… week 8 in the Windy City. While Chicago was getting ready to celebrate the Cubs winning the World Series, Da Bears took down Minnesota 20-10 at Soldier Field. Chicago led 13-3 at t he half, holding Minnesota to 57 yards rushing, while they tallied 158 (Chicago’s Jordan Howard led all rushers with 153 yards and a TD). Jay Cutler threw for 252 yards and a TD pass, while Minnesota’s Sam Bradford was sacked five times, while throwing for 228 yards and a TD. Chicago went 7 of 14 on third down tries in the Windy City and keot the ball for 32:41, while the Vikings held on to the ball for 27:19, going 2 of 13 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth down.

Meeting number two… week 17 in the Twin Cities. With both teams out of the playoff picture, Chicago and Minnesota were basically playing with house money in the season finale and the Vikings got revenge from their week 8 loss, taking a 38-10 win in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Minnesota led 24-10 at the break and scored their final 14 points of the contest unchallenged. Chicago outrushed Minnesota again in the second meeting, tallying 183, while the Vikes tallied 124 and once again, Howard was front and center in this one, rushing for 135 in a losing effort. Bradford threw for 250 yards in the win at US Bank Stadium, tossing three TDs. In the second meeting, it was the Vikings that did well on third down tries, going 6 of 12 (they were 0 of 1 on fourth down), while Chicago was 2 of 9 third down wise (1 of 2 on fourth down). Minnesota ruled the clock and kept the ball for 30:12, while Da Bears kept the pigskin for 29:48.

On Monday night, both teams are below the .500 mark all time. Minnesota? 27-31 (they played two games last year in prime time and split the two contests. Da Bears? 30-37 (they too played two games and like the Vikings, split the two contests).

The week eight contest was a Monday night game and the Vikings were favored by 5 1/2. Da Bears covered the 5 1/2, winning by 10. However, the 41 over/under was safe and sound as both teams combined for 30 points. Minnesota covered the 5-point spread in the season finale in the Twin Cities and both teams covered the 41 over/under with 48 points. Minnesota’s favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under’s 40. While it’s not exactly a great game to watch, it may well be worth your time. That means you might want to tape “Scorpion” this week. Minnesota covers the 2 1/2 in the Windy City and beats Da Bears on Da Road.

 

Sunday and Monday Broadcast Information (All times Eastern)

Sunday, September 24
ATLANTA at Detroit, 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711: Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston, Laura Okmin (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 99 (Atlanta), 135 (Detroit); XM: 386 (Atlanta), 230 (Detroit)

Baltimore at Jacksonville, 9:30 p.m. Eastern (2:30 p.m. London) Streamed globaly on Yahoo, Local TV in Baltimore and Jacksonville: Andrew Catalon, James Lofton, Alex Flanagan (Field reporter); Westwood One: Ryan Radtke, Ross Tucker; SIRIUS: 93 (WestWood1), 81 (Baltimore), 83 (Jacksonville); XM: 226 (WestWood), 225 (Baltimore), 83 (Jacksonville)

Pittsburgh at Chicago, 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Jamie Erdahl (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 113 (Pittsburgh), 81 (Chicago); XM: 385 (Pittsburgh), 225 (Chicago)

Denver at Buffalo, 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706: Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta; SIRIUS: 108 (Denver), 83 (Buffalo); XM: 383 (Denver), 226 (Buffalo)

Houston at New England, 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn (Field reporter); Westwood One: John Sadak, Al Groh; SIRIUS: 125 (Houston), 84 (New England); XM: 388 (Houston), 227 (New England)

Miami at New York Jets, 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708: Tom McCarthy, Steve Beuerlein, Steve Tasker (Field reporter): SIRIUS: 112 (Miami), 127 (New York Jets); XM: 382 (Miami), 229 (New York Jets)

Cleveland at Indianapolis, 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 709: Beth Mowins, Jay Feely; SIRIUS: 121 (Cleveland), 146 (Indianapolis) XM: 380 (Cleveland), 231 (Indianapolis)

New York Giants at Philadelphia, 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 133 (New York Giants), 82 (Philadelphia); XM: 381 (New York Giants), 82 (Philadelphia)

Tampa Bay at Minnesota, 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 712: Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman, Peter Schrager (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 145 (Tampa Bay), 83 (Minnesota); XM: 387 (Tampa Bay), 83 (Minnesota)

New Orleans at Carolina, 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 713: Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber, Kristina Pink (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 134 (New Orleans), 126 (Carolina); XM: 384 (New Orleans), 228 (Carolina)

Seattle at Tennessee, 4:05 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 714: Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis, Pam Oliver (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 83 (Seattle), 82 (Tennessee); XM: 83 (Seattle), 82 (Tennessee)

Cincinnati at Green Bay, 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 715: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson (Field reporter): SIRIUS: 93 (Cincinnati), 81 (Green Bay); XM: 226 (Cincinnati), 225 (Green Bay)

Kansas City at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 716: Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon; SIRIUS: 84 (Kansas City), 136 (Los Angeles Chargers); XM: 227 (Kansas City), 232 (Los Angeles Chargers)

Oakland at Washington, 8:30 p.m. on NBC: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (Field reporter); Westwood One: Kevin Kugler, Jason Taylor; SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 81 (Oakland), 83 (Washhington); XM: 88 (WestWood1), 225 (Oakland), 83 (Washington)

Dallas at Arizona, 8:30 p.m. Monday on ESPN: Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters (Field reporter); Westwood One: Kevin Harlan, Kurt Warner; SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 81 (Dallas), 83 (Arizona); XM: 88 (WestWood1), 225 (Dallas), 83 (Arizona)

Sunday and Monday Odds (HOME TEAM IN CAPS)

Sunday’s Games

Favorite                 Spread    Underdog           O/U
Atlanta                  –  3      DETROIT            49
Baltimore                –  4      Jacksonville       39*
Cleveland                –  1      INDIANAPOLIS       40
Pittsburgh               –  7 1/2  CHICAGO            45
Miami                    –  6      NEW YORK JETS      41 1/2
Denver                   –  3      BUFFALO            40 1/2
NEW ENGLAND              – 13      Houston            45 1/2
CAROLINA                 –  6      New Orleans        48
MINNESOTA                –  2 1/2  Tampa Bay          39 1/2
PHILADELPHIA             –  6      New York Giants    43 1/2
TENNESSEE                –  2 1/2  Seattle            43
Kansas City              –  3      LA CHARGERS        46
GREEN BAY                –  9      Cincinnati         44 1/2
Oakland                  –  3      WASHINGTON         54

Monday’s Games

Favorite                 Spread    Underdog           O/U
Dallas                   –  3      ARIZONA            47

*Game in London, Jacksonville is designated home team

Sunday and Monday Referees
ATLANTA at Detroit, 1 p.m.: Walt Coleman
Baltimore vs. Jacksonville in London, 9:30 p.m. Eastern (2:30 p.m. in London): Pete Morelli
Pittsburgh at Chicago, 1 p.m.: Clete Blakeman
Denver at Buffalo, 1 p.m.: Carl Cheffers
Houston at New England, 1 p.m.: John Parry
Miami at New York Jets, 1 p.m.: Terry McAulay
Cleveland at Indianapolis, 1 p.m.: Ed Hochuli
New York Giants at Philadelphia, 1 p.m.: Jerome Boger
Tampa Bay at Minnesota, 1 p.m.: John Hussey
New Orleans at Carolina, 1 p.m.: Bill Vinovich
Seattle at Tennessee, 4:05 p.m.: Ronald Torbert
Cincinnati at Green Bay, 4:25 p.m.: Gene Steratore
Kansas City at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 p.m.: Walt Anderson
Oakland at Washington, 8:30 p.m.: Tony Corrente
Dallas at Arizona, 8:30 p.m. Monday: Craig Wrolstad

Sunday and Monday Injury Report

Atlanta at Detroit, 1 p.m.

Atlanta
OUT: LB Vic Beasley (Hamstring), T Ryan Schraeder (Concussion), DE Courtney Upshaw (Ankle), RB Terron Ward (Neck)

Detroit
OUT: LB Jarrad Davis (Concussion), RB Dwayne Washington (Quadricep), C Travis Swanson (Ankle), DE Ezekiel Ansah (Knee), G
Joseph Dahl (Lower Leg)

Baltimore vs. Jacksonville in London, 9:30 a.m. Eastern (2:30 p.m. London)

Baltimore
OUT: CB Jaylen Hill (Thigh), DT Brandon Williams (Foot), TE Maxx Williams (Ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Terrance West (Calf), WR Michael Campanaro (Ankle), S Anthony Levine (Chest), LB Za’Darius Smith (Knee), WR
Chris Matthews (Ankle)

Jacksonville
OUT: LB Lerentee McCray (Knee), WR Jaelen Strong (Hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: QB Chad Henne (Illness), CB Jalen Ramsey (Ankle), T Cameron Robinson (Shoulder)

Denver at Buffalo, 1 p.m.

Denver
OUT: CB Brendan Langley (Knee), QB Paxton Lynch (Right Shoulder)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Bennie Fowler (Concussion), T Garett Bolles (Lower Leg)

Buffalo
OUT: DT Marcell Dareus (Ankle), DT Jerel Worthy (Concussion), T Cordy Glenn (Ankle)

New Orleans at Carolina, 1 p.m.

New Orleans
OUT: T Terron Armstead (Shoulder), CB Marshon Lattimore (Concussion), CB Sterling Moore (Chest), T Zach Strief (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: DE Collins Hendrickson (Knee)

Carolina
OUT: LB Jeremy Cash (Calf), C Ryan Kalil (Neck)
QUESTIONABLE: QB Cam Newton (Right Shoulder)

Pittsburgh at Chicago, 1 p.m.

Pittsburgh
OUT: T Marcus Gilbert (Hamstring), LB Trent Watt (Groin)
QUESTIONABLE: T Jerald Hawkins (Knee), DE Stephon Tuitt (Biceps)

Chicago
OUT: LB Nicholas Kwiatkoski (Chest)
DOUBTFUL: G Josh Sitton (Ribs)
QUESTIONABLE: T Thomas Compton (Hip)

Cleveland at Indianapolis, 1 p.m.

Cleveland
OUT: LB Jamie Collins (Concussion)
DOUBTFUL: WR Sammie Coates (Hamstring), DE Myles Garrett (Ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: DT Torrone McGill (Back)

Indianapolis
OUT: C Ryan Kelly (Foot), QB Andrew Luck (Right Shoulder), RB Marlon Mack (Shoulder), WR Chester Rogers (Hamstring), LB Anthony Walker (Hamstring), CB Quincy Wilson (Knee)
DOUBTFUL: CB Vontae Davis (Groin)
QUESTIONABLE: TE Brandon Williams (Calf), WR Kamar Aiken (Hip), S Darius Butler (Hamstring), CB Christopher Milton
(Hamstring)

Tampa Bay at Minnesota, 1 p.m.

Tampa Bay
OUT: LB Shanderious Alexander (Hamstring)
DOUBTFUL: DT Christopher Baker (Illness), DE Jacquies Smith (Illness)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Devante Bond (Knee), CB Brent Grimes (Shoulder), DT Gerald McCoy (Ankle)

Minnesota Vikings
OUT: QB Sam Bradford (Knee)

Houston at New England, 1 p.m.

Houston
OUT: G Jeffery Allen (Ankle), CB Kevin Johnson (Knee), WR William Fuller (Shoulder)
QUESTIONABLE: RB Alfred Blue (Ankle), DT Brandon Dunn (Knee)

New England
OUT: RB Michael Burkhead (Ribs)
QUESTIONABLE: T Marcus Cannon (Ankle), WR Danny Amendola (Concussion), WR Phillip Dorsett (Knee), S Nate Ebner (Shoulder), CB
Stephon Gilmore (Groin), TE Rob Gronkowski (Groin), LB Qualin Hightower (Knee), WR Chris Hogan (Knee), LB Elandon Roberts
(Thumb), CB Nelson Rowe (Groin), WR Matt Slater (Hamstring)

Miami at New York Jets, 1 p.m.

Miami
OUT: LB Rey Maualuga (Hamstring)
DOUBTFUL: DT Jordan Phillips (Ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: RB Jay Ajayi (Knee), wR DeVante Parker (Ankle), RB Damien Williams (Rib), WR Jarvis Landry (Knee)

New York Jets
OUT: TE Eric Tomlinson (Elbow), G Brian Winters (Abdomen)
DOUBTFUL: TE Jordan Leggett (Knee), S Rontez Miles (Eye)
QUESTIONABLE: DE Muhammad Wilkerson (Shoulder)

New York Giants at Philadelphia, 1 p.m.

New York Giants – New York Giants report no injuries

Philadelphia
OUT: CB Ronald Darby (Ankle), S Corey Graham (Hamstring), DT Destiny Vaeao (Wrist), S Jaylen Watkins (Hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: S Rodney McLeod (Hamstring)

Seattle at Tennessee, 4:05 p.m.

Seattle
OUT: CB Neiko Thorpe (Ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Donell Alexander (Hamstring), LB Terence Garvin (Shoulder), TE Jimmy Graham (Ankle)

Tennessee
OUT: S Johnathan Cyprien (Hamstring), WR Corey Davis (Hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: RB DeMarco Murray (Hamstring)

Cincinnati at Green Bay, 4:25 p.m.

Cincinnati
OUT: TE Tyler Eifert (Back), G Trey Hopkins (Knee), WR John Ross (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: DE Michael Johnson (Concussion), CB KeiVarae Russell (Hamstring), S Derron Smith (Ankle)

Green Bay
DOUBTFUL: T David Bakhtiari (Hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: S Kentrell Brice (Groin), WR Randall Cobb (Chest), DT Michael Daniels (Hip), CB Davon House (Quadricep), LB
Nicholas Perry (Hand), LB Jake Ryan (Hamstring), WR Jordy Nelson (Quadricep), T Bryan Bulaga (Ankle)

Kansas City at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 p.m.

Kansas City
OUT: C Mitchell Morse (Foot)
DOUBTFUL: G Parker Ehinger (Knee)

Los Angeles Chargers
OUT: CB Jason Verrett (Knee), WR Michael Williams (Back)
QUESTIONABLE: T Joseph Barksdale (Foot), RB Melvin Gordon (Knee), LB Hayes Pullard (Knee)

Oakland at Washington, 8:30 p.m.

Oakland
QUESTIONABLE: CB Sean Smith (Neck)

Washington
QUESTIONABLE: LB Mason Foster (Shoulder), RB Robert Kelley (Rib), s Montae Nicholson (Shoulder), CB Joshua Norman (Shoulder), TE Jordan Reed (Rib)

Dallas at Arizona, 8:30 p.m. Monday

Dallas
OUT: CB Chidobe Awuzie (Hamstring), CB Nolan Carroll (Concussion), LB Anthony Hitchens (Knee), DT Stephen Paea (Knee), WR Terrance Williams (Ankle), WR Brice Butler (Ankle)

Arizona – Arizona reported no injuries

Sunday and Monday Weather
ATLANTA at Detroit, 1 p.m.: Game indoors
Baltimore at Jacksonville, 9:30 p.m. Eastern (2:30 p.m. London): Partly cloudy and 69 degrees
Pittsburgh at Chicago, 1 p.m.: Sunny and 85 degrees
Denver at Buffalo, 1 p.m.: Sunny and 83 degrees
Houston at New England, 1 p.m.: Sunny and 84 degrees
Miami at New York Jets, 1 p.m.: Sunny and 88 degrees
Cleveland at Indianapolis, 1 p.m.: Game indoors; if roof is open, sunny and 86 degrees
New York Giants at Philadelphia, 1 p.m.: Sunny and 88 degrees
Tampa Bay at Minnesota, 1 p.m.: Game indoors
New Orleans at Carolina, 1 p.m.: Partly cloudy and 83 degrees
Seattle at Tennessee, 4:05 p.m.: Partly cloudy and 88 degrees
Cincinnati at Green Bay, 4:25 p.m.: Sunny and 87 degrees
Kansas City at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 p.m.: Sunny and 82 degrees
Oakland at Washington, 8:30 p.m.: Partly clear and 75 degrees
Dallas at Arizona, 8:30 p.m. Monday: Game indoors; if roof is open, partly sunny and 87 degrees

Broadcast information, officials and injury report courtesy the National Football League, odds courtesy Don Best, weather information courtesy The Weather Channel

 

 

Two weeks down, 15 to go.

It’s week three of the 2017 NFL season. There’s still a lot of football left to play between now and the end of the season. For the teams that are in the ranks of the unbeaten, it’s a chance to hang on for their spot at the table. For those that are winless, there’s still time.

Eight teams are off to strong starts at 2-0: Atlanta, Baltimore, Carolina, Denver, Detroit, Kansas City, Oakland and Pittsburgh. Two others – Miami (1-0) and Tampa Bay (1-0) – will attempt to join them this week.

Among the undefeated teams are the Ravens, Panthers, Broncos and Buccaneers, who each missed the playoffs last season and are candidates to be turnaround teams in 2017. Since the 12-team playoff format began in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

The chances of making the playoffs after a 2-0 start are good but far from a sure thing. Since 1990, when the current playoff format was adopted, 138 of the 220 teams (62.7 percent) to start 2-0 have qualified for the postseason.

However, with 14 games remaining, there’s plenty of time to turn things around. Since realignment in 2002, 60 percent of the playoff teams (108 of 180) started the season at either 1-1 or 0-2, including eight of 12 last year.

Also this week, the NFL returns to London for the first of a record four games in the UK this season. On Sunday at 9:30 a.m. Eastern, the Jacksonville Jaguars will host the Baltimore Ravens at Wembley Stadium in a contest that will be streamed globally on Yahoo (https://nflstream.yahoo.com). Ravens and Jaguar fans will not be left out of the loop. They will get to see their teams locally on their CBS affiliates in both the Jacksonville and Baltimore markets. The Jaguars are returning to London for the fifth consecutive year while the Ravens are making their first trip to the UK for the franchise’s first international game.

SEVEN THINGS FROM WEEK 2: New England quarterback Tom Brady completed 30 of 39 passes (76.9 percent) for 447 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 139.6 passer rating in the Patriots’ 36-20 win at New Orleans. Brady has 52 career games with at east three touchdown passes and no interceptions, passing Peyton Manning (51) for the most such performances in NFL history.

Brady (61,849 passing yards and 456 touchdown passes) and New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees (66,402 and 466) entered the game with a combined 128,251 passing yards and 922 touchdown passes. Both totals are the most in NFL history for opposing starting quarterbacks in a game.

Kansas City rookie running back Kareem Hunt rushed for two touchdowns in the Chiefs’ 27-20 win over Philadelphia at Arrowhead Stadium. Hunt, who scored three touchdowns (two receiving, one rushing) in his NFL debut last week, is the first player in NFL history to have at least three rushing touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns in his first two career games.

Hunt has scored five touchdowns in his first two career games. Only Dutch Sternaman (six) of the 1920 Decatur Staleys has scored more touchdowns in his first two career games.

Hunt had a 53-yard rushing touchdown in the win over Philadelphia. Combined with his 78-yard touchdown reception in Week 1, Hunt is the third player in NFL history to record a 50+ yard scrimmage touchdown in each of his first two career games (Dub Jones, 1950 and Alan Ameche, 1955).

Los Angeles Chargers tight end Antonio Gates had a touchdown catch in the team’s loss against Miami. Gates has 112 career touchdown catches and passed Tony Gonzalez (111) for the most receiving touchdowns by a tight end in NFL history.

Gates’ 112 touchdown receptions are the sixth-most in NFL history.

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed 23 of 35 passes (65.7 percent) for 243 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 104.8 passer rating in the Steelers’ 26-9 win over Minnesota at Heinz Field. Roethlisberger has thrown a touchdown pass in 45 consecutive home games, the third-longest streak in NFL history and the longest active streak. Only Drew Brees (60 games) and Tom Brady (47) have longer streaks all-time.

Baltimore recorded four interceptions and three sacks in the team’s 24-10 win against Cleveland. The Ravens, who had five sacks and intercepted four passes in Week 1 at Cincinnati, are the only team with at least four interceptions and three sacks in each of its first two games of a season since the sack became an official statistic in 1982.

The Ravens are the third team since 1970 – and the first since the 1992 Pittsburgh Steelers – to have at least four interceptions in each of the first two games of a season. The 1971 Cleveland Browns are the only other team to accomplish the feat since 1970.

Cleveland tackle Joe Thomas started his 162nd consecutive game in the Browns’ loss at Baltimore. Thomas, who entered the game having played 9,996 consecutive offensive snaps, reached 10,000 consecutive snaps played on the Browns’ fourth offensive play of the game.

Thomas, who played every snap of today’s game and extended his consecutive snap streak to 10,062, has not missed an offensive snap in his 11-year NFL career.

Indianapolis running back Frank Gore had a rushing touchdown in the Colts’ overtime loss to Arizona, his 75th career TD run.

Gore, who also has 16 career receiving touchdowns, is the sixth player in NFL history with at least 75 rushing touchdowns and 15 receiving touchdowns in his career, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers Marcus Allen, Jim Brown, Marshall Faulk, Walter Payton and La Dainian Tomlinson.

ROCKING ROOKIES: Youth is being served! Rookies across the league are off to a fast start. Through the first two weeks of the season, rookies have accumulated 2,733 total yards from scrimmage, the most by rookies through two weeks of a season since 1970.

The seasons with the most total yards from scrimmage by rookies through Week 2 since 1970:

SEASON – MOST SCRIMMAGE YARDS BY ROOKIES THROUGH WEEK 2
2017 – 2,733
2008 – 2,455
1979 – 2,130
2016 – 2,057
1976 – 2,048

Rookies have also totaled 19 touchdowns through Week 2, the most through two weeks of a season since 1978 (21).

The seasons with the most total touchdowns by rookies through Week 2 since 1970:

SEASON – MOST TOTAL TOUCHDOWNS BY ROOKIES THROUGH WEEK 2
1978 – 21
1975 – 20
2017 – 19
2010 – 17
1984 – 17
1980 – 17

A look at some notable rookie numbers:

•Three rookies rank in the top five in rushing yards through Week 2: Kansas City’s Kareem Hunt (1st in NFL, 229 yards), Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook (3rd, 191) and Jacksonville’s Leonard Fournette (5th, 140).

•Hunt has scored five touchdowns (three rushing, two receiving) in his first two career games. Only Dutch Sternaman (six) of the 1920 Decatur Staleys has scored more touchdowns in his first two career games.

•Hunt and Detroit rookie wide receiver Kenny Golladay are both tied for second in the NFL with two receiving touchdowns.

•Detroit rookie cornerback Jamal Agenw (88-yard punt-return touchdown) is the only player in the league this season with a kick-return touchdown.

•Pittsburgh rookie wide receiver Ju Ju Smith-Schuster had a four-yard touchdown catch in the Steeler’s 26-9 win over Minnesota in Week 2.

Smith-Schuster, who is 20 years old, is the youngest player to score a touchdown in the NFL since 1964 (Chicago’s AndyLivingston) and the youngest NFL player to catch a touchdown pass since 1930 (Green Bay’s Arnie Herber).

300-CLUB: Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers passed for 343 yards and two touchdowns in the Packers’ loss at Atlanta in Week 2. Rodgers’ second touchdown pass of the game – a one-yard shovel pass to running back Ty Montgomery – was the 300th of his career. He is the 11th quarterback in NFL history with 300 career touchdown passes.

Rodgers’ 300th touchdown pass came on his 4,742nd career attempt, the fewest attempts at the time of a player’s 300th touchdown pass in NFL history.

The players with the fewest career pass attempts to reach 300 touchdowns:

PLAYER – PASS ATTEMPTS AT TIME OF 300TH CAREER TD PASS
Aaron Rodgers – 4,742
Peyton Manning – 5,306
Tom Brady – 5,321
Dan Marino – 5,460^
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

GOLDEN GATES: Los Angeles Chargers tight end Antonio Gates had a touchdown catch in the Chargers’ Week 2 loss to Miami. Gates now has 112 career touchdown receptions, surpassing Tony Gonzalez (111) for the most by a tight end in NFL history.

The tight ends with the most touchdown receptions in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (SEASONS, CAREER TD CATCHES)
Antonio Gates – Los Angeles Chargers (2003-present, 112)*
Tony Gonzalez – Kansas City and Atlanta (1997-2013, 111)
Rob Gronkowski – New England (2010-present, 69)*
Jason Witten – Dallas (2003-present, 65)*
Shannon Sharpe – Denver and Baltimore (1990-2003, 62)^

*Active
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

FAST START: Houston rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson had a 49-yard touchdown run in the Texans’ 13-9 win at Cincinnati on Thursday Night Football. Watson’s touchdown run was the longest by a quarterback in his first career start in NFL history.

The quarterbacks with the longest touchdown runs in their first career start in NFL history:

PLAYER – DATE (TEAM, YARDS)
Deshaun Watson – September 14, 2017 (Houston, 49t)
Tim Tebow – December 19, 2010 (Denver, 40t)
Joe Flacco – September 7, 2008 (Baltimore, 38t)

JOLTING JONES: Kansas City defensive end Chris Jones had three sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception in the Chiefs’ 27-20 win over Philadelphia in Week 2.

Jones is the first player since Pittsburgh’s James Harrison in 2007 to have at least three sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception in a single game.

PLAYER – DATE (TEAM, SACKS/FORCED FUMBLES/INTERCEPTIONS)
Chris Jones – September 17, 2017 (Kansas City, 3/2/1)
James Harrison – November 5, 2007 (Pittsburgh, 3.5/3/1)

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIR: Get your fish and chips! The 2017 London Series begins in Week 3, with the Jacksonville Jaguars hosting the Baltimore Ravens, at London’s Wembley Stadium at 9:30 a.m. on Yahoo. It will be the first of a record four games to be played in London this season. On Sunday, October 1 at 9:30 a.m. on FOX, the Miami Dolphins will host the New Orleans Saints at Wembley Stadium. The action will move to Twickenham Stadium for the final two London games, the first of which will feature the Los Angeles Rams and the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, October 22 at 1 p.m. on FOX. The 2017 London Series will conclude on Sunday, October 29 at 9:30 a.m. on NFL Network, as the Cleveland Browns take on the Minnesota Vikings.

The London Series has seen some very close contests since its inception in 2007. In the first 17 games, 10 have been decided by one score, including a tie between the Cincinnati Bengals and Washington Redskins on October 30, 2016.

The 17 regular-season games played in London:

DATE (WEEK) – RESULT
October 30, 2016 (8) – Cincinnati 27, Washington 27 (OT)
October 23, 2016 (7) – New York Giants 17, Los Angeles Rams 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 Rams 7
October 23, 2011 (7) – Chicago 24, Tampa Bay 18
October 31, 2010 (8) – San Francisco 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

CAREENING KAREEM: Kansas City rookie running back Kareem Hunt had 109 scrimmage yards (81 rushing, 28 receiving) and two rushing touchdowns in the Chiefs’ 27-20 Week 2 win against Philadelphia.

With 98 scrimmage yards in Week 3 against the Los Angeles Chargers, Hunt, who has 355 scrimmage yards in his first two games, would surpass SID BLANKS of the 1964 Houston Oilers (452 yards) for the second-most scrimmage yards by a player in his first three career games.

The players with the most scrimmage yards in their first three career games:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON – SCRIMMAGE YARDS IN 1ST 3 CAREER GAMES)
Billy Sims, Detroit (1980 – 562)
Sid Blanks, Houston Oilers (1964 – 452)
Beattie Feathers, Chicago Bears (1934 – 435)
Cadillac Williams, Tampa Bay (2005 – 454)
Marshall Faulk, Indianapolis (1994 – 432)^
Kareem Hunt, Kansas City (2017 – 355)*
*Through two games
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

With two touchdowns against the Chargers, Hunt would pass Billy Sims and Dutch Sternaman for the most touchdowns by a player in his first three career games.

The players with the most career touchdowns in their first three career games:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON, TOUCHDOWNS IN 1ST 3 CAREER GAMES)
Billy Sims, Detroit (1980-6)
Dutch Sternaman, Decatur Staleys (1920, 6)
Many tied with 5
Kareem Hunt, Kansas City (2017, 5)*

*Through two games

Hunt is the first player in NFL history with at least three rushing touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns in his first two career games.

GOLDEN ANNIVERSARIES: Oakland quarterback Derek Carr threw three touchdown passes in the Raiders’ 45-20 win over the New York Jets in Week 2.

Carr, who has 86 career touchdown passes, will be making his 50th career start on Sunday Night against Washington. With four touchdown passes against the Redskins, Carr would become the sixth quarterback in NFL history to record at least 90 touchdown passes in his first 50 career games.

The players with the most touchdown passes in their first 50 career games:

PLAYER – TEAM (TD PASSES THROUGH 50 GAMES)
Dan Marino – Miami (114)^
Kurt Warner – St. Louis Rams (101)^
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis (91)
Johnny Unitas – Baltimore Colts (91)^
Carson Palmer – Cincinnati (90)
Derek Carr – Oakland (86)*
*Through 49 career games
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Pittsburgh running back Le’Veon Bell, who will be playing in his 50th career game on Sunday at Chicago, has 6,188 career scrimmage yards. With 107 scrimmage yards on Sunday, Bell would surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson for the third-most scrimmage yards in NFL history through his first 50 career games.

The players with the most scrimmage yards through 50 career games:

PLAYER – TEAM (SCRIMMAGE YARDS THROUGH 50 GAMES)
Edgerrin James – Indianapolis (6,506)
LaDainian Tomlinson – San Diego (6,425)^
Eric Dickerson – Los Angeles Rams (6,294)^
Le’Veon Bell – Pittsburgh (6,188)*
Terrell Davis – Denver (6,048)^
*Through 49 career games
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

PLATINUM ANNIVERSARY: New England tight end Rob Gronkowski and Dallas wide receiver Dez Bryant each had a touchdown catch in Week 2. Both players can join some elite company in Week 3.

Gronkowski, who has 69 touchdown catches in 90 career games, and Bryant, who has 68 TD receptions in 99 games, can each join Pro Football Hall of Famers Jerry Rice, Don Hutson and Lance Alworth and Randy Moss as the only players in NFL history with at least 70 touchdown catches in their first 100 career games.

The players with the most receiving touchdowns in their first 100 career games:

PLAYER – TEAM (RECEIVING TOUCHDOWNS THROUGH 100 GAMES)
Jerry Rice, San Francisco (87)^
Don Hutson, Green Bay (86)^
Randy Moss, Minnesota (84)
Lance Alworth, San Diego (78)^
Rob Gronkowski, New England (69)*
Dez Bryant, Dallas (68)**
*Through 90 career games
**Through 99 career games
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

CATCH IT LIKE BECKHAM: New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. had four catches in his season debut in Week 2.

With eight catches on Sunday at Philadelphia, Beckham, who has 292 receptions in 44 career games, would reach 300 career receptions in the fewest games in NFL history.

The players to reach 300 career receptions in the fewest games:

PLAYER, TEAM (FEWEST GAMES TO 300 CAREER RECEPTIONS)
Anquan Boldin, Arizona (47)
Jarvis Landry, Miami (49)
Julio Jones, Atlanta (51)
Lionel Taylor, Denver (54)
A.J. Green, Cincinnati (55)
Odell Beckham, Jr., New York Giants (44)*
*Has 292 career receptions

DAZZLING DEFENSES: Carolina defeated Buffalo 9-3 in Week 2 to improve to 2-0 on the season. The Panthers have not allowed more than three points in each of their first two games.

With three or fewer points allowed against New Orleans on Sunday, Carolina would become the first team since the 1937 Chicago Bears to allow three or fewer points in each of its first three games of a season.

Baltimore defeated Cleveland 24-10 last week behind five total takeaways (four interceptions, one fumble recovery) to improve to 2-0.

Baltimore has recorded five takeaways in each of the team’s first two games of the season. With five takeaways against Jacksonville in London on Sunday, the Ravens would become the first team since the 1962 Green Bay Packers to force at least five turnovers in each of the team’s first three games of a season.

CLIMBING THE RANKS: Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has 1,134 catches for 14,484 receiving yards and 104 touchdowns in his 14-year career. With 97 receiving yards against Dallas on Monday Night Football, Fitzgerald would pass Pro Football Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison (14,580) for the eighth-most receiving yards in NFL history.

The players with the most career receiving yards in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (CAREER RECEIVING YARDS)
Jerry Rice – San Francisco, Oakland and Seattle (22,895)^
Terrell Owens – San Francisco, Philadelphia, Dallas, Buffalo and Cincinnati (15,934)
Randy Moss – Minnesota, Oakland, New England, Tennessee and San Francisco (15,292)
Isaac Bruce – Los Angeles/St. Louis and San Francisco (15,208)
Tony Gonzalez – Kansas City and Atlanta (15,127)
Tim Brown – Los Angeles/Oakland and Tampa Bay (14,934)^
Steve Smith, Sr. – Carolina and Baltimore (14,731)
Marvin Harrison – Indianapolis (14,580)^
Larry Fitzgerald – Arizona (14,484)*
*Active
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Indianapolis running back Frank Gore has 13,153 rushing yards in his 13-year career. With 107 rushing yards against Cleveland on Sunday, Gore would surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (13,259) for the seventh-most rushing yards in NFL history. The seven players ahead of Gore on the NFL’s all-time rushing list are all enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The players with the most career rushing yards in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (CAREER RUSHING YARDS)
Emmitt Smith – Dallas and Arizona (18,355)^
Walter Payton – Chicago (16,716)^
Barry Sanders – Detroit (15,269)^
Curtis Martin – New England and New York Jets (14,101)^
LaDainian Tomlinson – San Diego and New York Jets (13,684)^
Jerome Bettis – Los Angeles/St. Louis and Pittsburgh (13,662)^
Eric Dickerson – Los Angeles Rams, Indianapolis, Los Angeles Raiders and Atlanta (13,259)^
Frank Gore – San Francisco and Indianapolis (13,153)*
*Active
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

We had a much better week in week 2 than we did in week 1… we went 13-3. For the year, that’s 22-9. Not bad. Week three got underway in Santa Clara Thursday night as the Rams held off San Francisco and closes out in the desert as Arizona hosts Dallas in a Monday night contest in Glendale.

There’s a lot on the football plate this week, so let’s get to it. Here are the Sunday and Monday picks for week three.

ATLANTA (2-0) at Detroit (2-0), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. A pair of unbeatens meet in the Motor City to open week three Sunday action as Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons face off against Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.

Atlanta picked up their second win in as many tries in the 2017 campaign, taking Green Bay to the woodshed in their new nest, Mercedes Benz Stadium, coming away 34-23 winnners over the Packers in a rematch of last season’s NFC Championship Game. For the Falcons, it ws their first open air game in the Big Peach since 1991. Atlanta led 24-7 at the intermission last Sunday night and never looked back, holding Green Bay to 59 yards on the ground,
while rushing for 141. Atlanta’s DeVonta Freeman led all rushers with 84 yards and Ryan (19 of 28) threw for 252 yards, while Aaron Rodgers (33 of 50) threw for 343 yards and a pair of TDs but was sacked three times. Atlanta was 5 of 11 on third down tries in the prime time contest in the Big Peach and kept the ball for 28:37, while Green Bay kept the pigskin for 31:23, going 5 of 12 and 3 of 3 on third and fourth down tries.

The Lions knocked off the New York Giants 24-10 on Monday night to improve to 2-0. Detroit broke a 7-7 tie in the second quarter and took the lead back for keeps with Stafford (15 of 21, 122 yards) and TE Eric Ebron connected on a 7-yard TD pass with 8:43 left before halftime. The Giants somehow managed to keep things close before rookie CB/KR Jamal Agnew returned a punt 88 yards for his first career touchdown to extend Detroit’s lead in the fourth quarter and break the hearts of Giants fans at Met Life Stadium. Detroit outrushed New York 138-62 and sacked Eli Manning (22 of 32, 239 yards) five times, picking him off once. Detroit was 7 of 15 on third down conversions Monday night and held the ball for 32:47, while the Giants were 4 of 12, keeping the pigskin for 27:13 (Both clubs failed in their fourth down tries, Detroit going 0 of 1, while the Giants were 0 of 2).

Detroit leads the series 24-12 and have outscored Atlanta 803-744. Detroit’s last win in the series came in 2014, when both clubs crossed over the big pond (Atlantic Ocean) and played in London, with the Lions coming away 22-21 winners, while Atlanta’s last win over the Lions took place in the Motor City in 2012 by a final of 31-18. Atlanta’s favored by 3 and the over/under’s 49. Both numbers make a lot of sense, 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?”

Detroit’s trying to unseat Green Bay in the NFC North… the Falcons are the defending NFC champs. Atlanta prevails in this one and covers the 3.

Baltimore (2-0) at Jacksonville (1-1), 9:30 p.m. Eastern (2:30 p.m. London) (Network TBA). A pair of AFC teams, separated by 757 miles, meet on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean as the Ravens and Jaguars meet in the first of four contests that will take place in merry old England.

The Ravens improved to 2-0 after their 24-10 win over AFC North foe Cleveland last Sunday in Charm City. Baltimore led 21-7 at the half and never looked back, holding the Browns to 93 yards on the ground and took advantange of five Cleveland turnovers (the Ravens ran for 136) and Joe Flacco threw for 217 yards and a pair of TDs, going 25 of 34 on the day.  Neither club wowed their fan base last Sunday on third down conversions at M&T Bank Stadium last Sunday… the Ravens? 4 of 11. Cleveland? 2 of 12 (1 of 2 on fourth down). The Ravens ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 33:24, while Cleveland kept it for 26:36.

Jacksonville suffered their sixth home opener loss last Sunday at EverBank, losing to Tennessee 37-16. Tennessee led 6-3 at the half in the Sunshine State before the Titans pulled away in the second half for the win, outscoring Jacksonville 31-9 in the last 30 minutes of action. Tennessee outrushed the AFC South foes 179-99 and Marcus Mariota threw for 215 yards, while Blake Bortles threw for 223 yards with a pair of sacks and a pair of interceptions. Both teams were 6 of 13 on third down tries and the Titans kept the ball for 30:46 to Jacksonville’s 29:14.

Jacksonville leads the series 11-9 and have outscored Baltimore 431-394. Their last meeting took place last year in the Sunshine State and the Ravens were 19-17 winners (Jacksonville’s last win over Baltimore was in Charm City in 2015 by a final of 22-20.

The week three contest at EverBank Stadium saw the Ravens take a 13-7, then hold off the Jaguars in the second half (Jacksonville outscored Baltimore 10-6 in the final 30 minutes of action). Baltimore outrushed Jacksonville 84-48 and Flacco threw for 214 yards (two sacks, two interceptions), while Bortles threw for 194 yards with a pair of TDs but was sacked four times and picked off three times.

Third down tries? Not a lot to talk about in the contest; Baltimore? 3 of 13. Jacksonville? 6 of 16. (The Ravens were sucessfull in the only fourth down try in the contest and to paraphrase Mick Jagger, time was on the side of Baltimore, who kept the ball for 31:06 to Jacksonville’s 28:54.

Baltimore was a 1 1/2 point favorite and the over/under was 45 1/2. Both temas failed to cover the 36 over/under and the Ravens barely covered the spread, winning by 2. Baltimore’s favored by 4 and the over/under’s 39. You might want to set the VCR for this one and watch it when you get back from 9:30 mass. Jacksonville pulls the upset and wins on the other side of the Atlantic.

Pittsburgh (2-0) at Chicago (0-2), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705. Pittsburgh travels to the Windy City for a meeting with the struggling Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.

Pittsburgh held Minnesota in check last Sunday at Heinz Field, as they beat the Sam Bradford-less Vikings 26-9. The Steelers rushed for 102 yards (LeVeon Bell led all rushers with 82), sacked backup QB Case Keenum (20 of 37, 167 yards), held Minnesota to 91 yards rushing, while Ben Roethlisberger (243 yards) threw a pair of TD passes in the lopsided win. Pittsburgh on third down tries went 3 of 13 and held the ball for 34:22. As for Minnesota, they kept the pigskin for 25:38, going 5 of 15 and 0 of 3 on third and fourth downs.

Chicago was held to a fourth quarter TD catch by WR Deonte Thompson as they dropped a 29-7 decision to Tampa Bay in the Sunshne State last Sunday. Da Bears trailed 26-0 at the intermission and never got on track in the Buccaneers’ season opener. Chicago, was outrushed 117-20 and turned the ball over four times at Raymond James Stadium, while Mike Glennon threw for 301 yards and the lone TD with a pair of interceptions. Glennon’s counterpart, Jameis Winston, threw for 204 yards and a TD to Mike Evans for the game’s first TD. Both clubs did quite well on third down conversions in the Sunshine State, Chicago was 7 of 14 (0 of 2 on fourth down), while the Bucs were 8 of 15 and Tampa Bay ruled the clock, holding the ball for 33:11 to Chicago’s 26:49.

Including contests that were played at Wrigley Field, Soldier Field and Three Rivers Stadium (the Steelers were known as the Pittsburgh Pirates before 1940), Da Bears lead da series 18-7-1 and Chicago has outscored Pittsburgh 587-390. Chicago won the last meeting 40-23 in the Steel City, while Pittsburgh’s last win came in 2005 in the Steel City by a final of 21-9.

Pittsburgh’s a 7 1/2-point favorite in the Windy City and the over/under’s 45. Da Bears are not a bad team… but the Steelers are better. Pittsburgh wins this one but expect Chicago to make it closer than the 7 1/2.

Denver (2-0) at Buffalo (1-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706. A pair of AFC rivals meet in upstate New York as the Broncos travel to Orchard Park for a Sunday afternoon contest with the Buffalo Bills.

Denver endured a 62-minute weather delay against Dallas last Sunday, then took Dak Prescott and the Cowboys to task at Sports Authority Field at Mile High 42-17. Denver led 21-10 at half and were never really threatened by Dallas in the second half for their second win at home. Denver was led by C.J. Anderson, who accounted for 118 yards and TD as the Broncos outrushed Dallas 178-40 and Trevor Siemian threw for 231 yards and four TDs (two to WR Emmanuel Sanders). Prescott threw for 238 yards and a pair of TDs, one to WR Dez Bryant and the other to TE Jason Witten, while being sacked twice and picked off twice. Denver went 9 of 15 on third down tries in the Mile High City and kept the ball for 33:50, while the Cowboys were 3 of 14, 2 of 5 on third and fourth downs and held the ball for 26:10.

IT was a day for field goal kickers as Carolina’s Graham Gano connected on three of them as the Panthers took a 9-3 win over Buffalo last Sunday at Bank of America Stadium. Carolina outrushed Buffalo 77-69 and Newton threw for 228 yards but was sacked six times, while Tyrod Taylor threw for 125 yards and three sacks. Buffalo, who got their lone score, thanks to a Stephen Hauschka field goal from 45 yards, went 4 of 13 (0 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 21:07, while the Panthers kept the ball for 38:53, while going 7 of 16.

Buffalo leads the series 19-16-1 and have outscored Denver 855-795. Denver did manage to win the last meeting between the two teams, taking a 24-17 win in the Mile High City in 2014, while Buffalo came away 40-14 winners in upstate New York in 2011. Denver’s favored by 3 and the over/under’s 40 1/2. This one’s going to be pretty entertaining, so it’ll be worth your time. Denver covers the 3 and wins in upstate New York.

Houston (1-1) at New England (1-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707. A pair of playoff teams meet in Foxboro as the defending Super Bowl champs host the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium.

Houston held off Cincinnati last Thursday night in the Queen City, coming away 13-9 winners over the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. The Texans led 10-6 at the break to take the road win. Houston outrushed Cincinnati 168-82 and the Houston defense sacked Andy Dalton three times in the win. Houston and Cincinnati each went 4 of 15 (Cincy went 1 of 2 on fourth down) and the Texans kept the ball for 32:15, while the Bengals kept the pigskin for 27:45.

The defending Super Bowl champs led New Orleans 30-13 and Brady and the Patriots took a 36-20 win out of the Big Easy last Sunday. New England outrushed the winless Saints 119-81 and Brees threw for 356 yards and a pair of TDs, while Brady burned the Saints for 447 yards and three TDs, including one to TE Rod Gronkowski. New England on third down tries went 6 of 12 and kept the  ball for 35:06, while the Saints, who held the pigskin for 24:54, went 4 of 12 on third down and 1 of 2 on fourth down.

The defending Super Bowl champs lead the series 6-1, have outscored the Texans 220-112 and have won the last four regular season contests, including taking a 27-0 win in Foxboro last year (Houston’s lone win over the Pats came in 2009 in the Lone Star State by a 34-27 count.

They met twice in the 2016 campaign, once in the regular season and once in the post-season.

Meeting one. Week three at Gillette Stadium. LeGarrett Blount rushed for 105 yards and a pair of TDs as the Brady-less Pats took Houston to the woodshed, shutting out the Texans 27-0. New England led 10-0 at the half and never looked back, scoring the final 17 points of the contest in the fourth quarter unchallenged. New England outrushed Houston 185-109 and while Jacoby Brissett was no Tom Brady that evening, he did manage to throw for 103 yards without an interception and had a rushing TD of his own. The Pats were 4 of 14 on third down tries in western Massachusetts and kept the ball for 28:38, while the Texans kept the pigskin for 31:22, while going 6 of 15 and 0 of 3 on third and fourth down tries.

Meeting number two… AFC Divisional Playoff. While Houston did manage to get on the scoreboard, the Pats came away with the 34-16 win to advance to the AFC Championship Game. Brady. (287 yards, two interceptions, two sacks) was back under center in this one, throwing a pair of TDs passes to eliminated the Texans from further post-season action. Leading 17-13 at the break, New England found another gear and pulled away from Houston in the final 30 minutes of play. Houston did manage to outrush New England 104-98 and Brock Osweiler threw for 198 yards but was sacked thre times and picked off three times. As was the case in the regular season affair, third down conversions were nothing to talk about. Houston? The Texans had a problem, going 3 of 16, while the Pats were 5 of 14 in the playoff contest. The Texans again ruled the clock, holding the ball for 32:30 to New England’s 27:30.

While the Texans were favored by 2 1/2, New England easily covered the spread with their 27-point shutout win. However.. neither team came anywhere near the 41 over/under, as New England mustered the 27 points. In the divisional playoff contest, the Pats covered the 16-point spread, winning by 18 and both clubs covered the 44 1/2, scoring 50 points.

New England’s favored by 13 in Foxboro and the over/under’s 45 1/2. The over/under makes sense, the spread doesn’t. Houston is not 13 points bad. The Texans will make a game of it but New England prevails in this one.

Miami (1-0) at New York Jets (0-2), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708. A pair of AFC East rivals meet in upstate New Jersey as Miami travels to the Meadowlands and Met Life Stadium for a meeting with the New York Jets.

Miami had to wait a week to open their season because of Irma but made the wait worthwhile for Dolphins fans as they survived a scare from the Los Angeles Chargers, taking a 19-17 win on the West Coast. Miami trailed 10-3 at the half before they came back in the second half, then took the win when the Chargers’ Younghoe Koo’s 44-yard field goal try sailed wide right at the clock ran down to :00. Miami outrushed Los Angeles 111-44, with Jay Ajayi rushing for 122 of those yards (Miami had three rushers with negative yardage) and Jay Cutler threw for 230 yards and a TD. Miami went 5 of 13 on third down tries and kept the ball for 33:22, while the Chargers kept it for 26:38, going 2 of 8 on third down (Miami was 0 of 1 on fourth down).

The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! were also on the West Coast but did not fare as well as Miami, dropping a 45-20 loss at Oakland last Sunday. It was the Michael Crabtree show for the Raiders as he caught three TD pass from David Carr (230 yards, three TDs), while RB Marshawn Lynch added a rushing TD in his hometown. The Jets had a pair of bright spots in the lost. First was Jevon Kearse, who caught a 34-yard TD pass from Josh McCown (166 yards, two TDs, four sacks). Oakland outrushed 180-126 and forced a pair of Jets fumbles in the contest. The second bright spot for GangGreen? They went 7 of 12 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 28:58, while the victorious Raiders were 8 of 12 and held on to the ball for 31:02.

The Jets lead the series 53-48-1 (which includes games that were played at Shea Stadium and the Orange Bowl) and the Dolphins have outscored New York 2,237-2,199. Miami swept last year’s series, taking wins in the Sunshine State and in the Meadowlands (New York’s last win over Miami came in 2015, when they took a 38-20 win at Met Life Stadium.

The first meeting took place in the Sunshine State at Hard Rock Stadium in week nine and the Dolphins held off a late New York rally to come away 27-23 winners. Miami led 14-13 at the break and New York made things a lot closer than Dolphins fans wanted them to in the last 30 minutes of action. While GangGreen outrushed Miami 140-137, Miami’s Jay Ajayi led all rushers with 111 yards and a TD. Ryan Tannehll threw for 149 yards with a TD and was not picked off, while the Dolphins defense sacked Ryan Fitzpatrick (193 yards, two interceptions) three times. Miami was 5 of 11 on third down tries (0 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 30:22, while the Jets, who held the pigskin for 29:38, was 3 of 11 on third down.

Miami made it a clean sweep with their AFC East rivals, leading 13-10 at the half and coming away from the Meadowlands with the 34-13 win in week 15. Miami took control of things in the second half, outpacing GangGreen 21-3. Once again, the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! managed to outrush Miami 116-67 but Matt Moore, who took over for Tannehill, burned them for 236 yards and four TDs at Met Life Stadium. Third down tries? Miami 5 of 12, the Jets 5 of 15 (0 of 3 on fourth down) and Miami kept the ball for 27:28, while the Jets held it for 32:32.

Miami covered the 3 1/2-point spread with their 4-point win in week nine in the Sunshine State and both clubs took care of the 44 1/2 over/under with 50 points. The Dolphins’ 21-point win helped them eclipse the 2 1/2-point spread and the 38 over/under was no issue as both clubs merged to score 47 points. Miami’s favored by 6 in the Meadowlands and the over/under’s 41 1/2. Miami remains unbeaten in this one, taking the win, although the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! could make this one closer than 6.

Cleveland (0-2) at Indianapolis (0-2), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 709. A pair of winless teams meet in the Hoosier State as both teams are looking for their first win of the 2017 campaign.

Cleveland fell to AFC North rival Baltimore 24-10 last Sunday in Baltimore. The Browns trailed 21-7 at the half and never got on track, rushing for 93 yards on the ground and turned the ball over five times (the Ravens ran for 136).Third down tries were nothing to write home about as neither club breached the 50 percent mark. Baltimore was 4 of 11, while the Browns were 2 of 12 (1 of 2 on fourth down) and Baltimore ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 33:24, while Cleveland kept it for 26:36.

The Andrew Luck-less Colts fell to Arizona 16-13 in overtime at Lucas Oil Stadium. Frank Gore (TD) and Adam Vinatieri (2 FGs) were responsible for all of the Colts’ scoring in the contest as Jacoby Brissett (216 yards) was under center for the second game in a row. Indy led 10-3 at the half before the Cardinals rallied back in the second half to tie the contest up. thanks to a 40-yard field goal by Phil Dawson with 3:25 left in regulation. After Arizona intercepted Brissett, it was Dawson to the recuse, connecting on a 30-yarder with 8:02 left in the extra period. Arizona outrushed Indy 83-76 and Carson Palmer threw for 332 yards and TD (both Palmer and Brissett were sacked four times). Arizona was 6 of 15 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down tries and held on to the ball for 28:49, while the Colts kept the ball for 33:09, going 8 of 18 on third down.

Including contests that were played when the Colts were in Baltimore and the Browns were in Cleveland before their move to Charm City, the series is tied 14-14 and the Browns have outscored Indy 572-527. The Colts won the last meeting between the two clubs, when they came away 25-24 winners in 2014 along the shores of Lake Erie, while the Brownss went to Indianapolis and took a 27-19 win in 2011.

New York Giants (0-2) at Philadelphia (1-1), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710. Separated by 96 miles along I-95, they meet again. Giants vs. Eagles. A pair of NFC East rivals meet in the City of Brotherly Love and both teams are coming off losses.

The winless Giants dropped a 24-10 decision Monday night against Detroit at Met Life Stadium. New York finally dented the endzone early in the second quarter when Manning and TE Evan Engram connected on an 18-yard TD pass. That tie would not last very long as Detroit broke it in the second quarter and took the lead back for keeps with Stafford (15 of 21, 122 yards) and TE Eric Ebron connected on a 7-yard TD pass with 8:43 left before halftime. The Giants somehow managed to keep things close before rookie CB/KR Jamal Agnew returned a punt 88 yards for his first career touchdown to extend Detroit’s lead in the fourth quarter and break the hearts of Giants fans at Met Life Stadium. Detroit outrushed New York 138-62 and sacked Eli Manning (22 of 32, 239 yards) five times, picking him off once. Detroit was 7 of 15 on third down conversions Monday night and held the ball for 32:47, while the Giants were 4 of 12, keeping the pigskin for 27:13 (Both clubs failed in their fourth down tries, Detroit going 0 of 1, while the Giants were 0 of 2).

A Philadelphia rally last Sunday at Arrownhead fell short, as the Chiefs and their former head coach Andy Reid took his former team 27-20. Kansas City led 6-3 at the half before both offenses decided to open things up in the final 30 minutes of play.  The Chiefs outrushed Philly 112-107 and the Kansas City defense sacked Carson Wentz (333 yards) six times in the game, while Alex Smith threw for 251 yards with four sacks. The Eagles were 8 of 15 on third down conversions at Arrowhead and held the ball for 30:49, while the Chiefs were 5 of 12, holding the ball for 29:11.

The Giants lead the lead series 83-79-2, which includes contests that were played at Yankee Stadium, the Polo Grounds, Veterans Stadium, New Haven, the Yale Bowl and Giants Stadium. Big Blue has outscored the Eagles 3,153-3,089. They met last year and they split the two contests, each winning at home.

Meeting one… week nine in the Meadowlands and the Giants and Eli were 28-23 winners at Met Life Stadium. New York led 21-10 at the half but Philly used a pair of Caleb Sturgis field goals to narrow the gap on the road. The first meeting didn’t have a lot in the rushing game, as neither club breached the 100-yard barrier. Philadelphia did manage to outrush New York 96-54 and Manning threw for 257 yards and four TDs, two of those to WR Odell Beckham, Jr. Philadelphia was 3 of 15 on third down tries in the Meadowlands (1 of 4 on fourth down) and held the ball for 32:40, while the Giants were 4 of 13 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth downs, keeping the ball for 27:20.

Meeting two… week 16 in the City of Brotherly Love. The Eagles got revenge on their NFC East rivals, taking a 24-19 win at Lincoln Financial Field. Philly led 21-13 at the half and proceeded to hold off the Giants in the second half, despite being outscored 6-3 in the final 30 minutes of action. Once again, the Eagles won the rushing battle, outpacing Big Blue 118-114 and Wentz threw for 152 yards and a TD, while Manning threw for 356 yards but was picked off three times. The Giants in the rematch in the Keystone State went 10 of 22 (1 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 34:04, while the Eagles were 4 of 12 on third down (0 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 25:56.

Winning by 5 in the first meeting in the Meadowlands allowed the Giants to cover the 3-point spread and the 51 points scored by both teams covered the 43 over/under. Although they were the underdog in the Thursday night meeting before Christmas Eve, Philadelphia covered the 2 1/2-point spread and both teams covered the 41 1/2 over/under with 43 points. The oddsmakers like the Eagles to win by 6 and the over/under’s 43 1/2. Philadelphia may not cover the 6 but they do win at home.

Tampa Bay (1-0) at Minnesota (1-1), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 712. Tampa Bay travels to the Land of 10,000 Lakes for an indoor meeting with the Minnesota Vikings at US Bank Stadium.

Tampa Bay held Chicago to a fourth quarter TD catch by WR Deonte Thompson as they opened their 2017 campaign by a 29-7 final in the Sunshne State last Sunday. Tampa Bay held at Da Bears in check, leading 26-0 at the intermission and kept things in check through a scoreless third quarter. Chicago was outrushed 117-20 and turned the ball over four times at Raymond James Stadium, while Mike Glennon threw for 301 yards and the lone TD with a pair of interceptions. Glennon’s counterpart, Jameis Winston, threw for 204 yards and a TD to Mike Evans for the game’s first TD. Both clubs did quite well on third down conversions in the Sunshine State, Chicago was 7 of 14 (0 of 2 on fourth down), while the Bucs were 8 of 15 and Tampa Bay ruled the clock, holding the ball for 33:11 to Chicago’s 26:49

Minnesota was held in check last Sunday at Heinz Field, as the Sam Bradford-less Vikings fell to Pittsburgh 26-9. Minnesota, with Case Keenum under center, was held to 91 yards on the ground, while the Steelers rushed for 102 yards (LeVeon Bell led all rushers with 82), Keenum was 20 of 37, for 167 yards and was sacked three times, while Ben Roethlisberger (243 yards) threw a pair of TD passes in the lopsided win. Pittsburgh on third down tries went 3 of 13 and held the ball for 34:22. The Vikings kept the pigskin for 25:38, going 5 of 15 and 0 of 3 on third and fourth downs.

The Vikings lead the series 32-22, have outscored Tampa Bay 1,149-983 and won the last meeting between the two teams, coming away 19-13 overtime winners in the Sunshine State in 2014, while the Bucs’ last win over the Purple Gang came in 2012 in the old Metrodome (now the parking lot for US Bank Stadium) by a final of 36-17. The Vikings are favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under’s 39 1/2. Minnesota is trying to forget the loss in Pittsburgh, while the Bucs are marching onward in an attempt to replace Atlanta as king of the NFC South mountain. Tampa Bay covers the 2 1/2 and wins on the road.

New Orleans (0-2) at Carolina (2-0), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 713. Drew Brees vs. Cam Newton. Gumbo vs. BBQ. A pair of NFC South foes with the goal of knocking Atlanta off the top of the NFC South mountain meet in the Tar Heel State.

The Saints trailed the defending Super Bowl champs 30-13 in the Big Easy and fell to Tom Brady and the Patriots 36-20. New England outrushed the winless Saints 119-81 and Brees threw for 356 yards and a pair of TDs, while Brady burned the Saints for 447 yards and three TDs, including one to TE Rod Gronkowski. New England on third down tries went 6 of 12 and kept the  ball for 35:06, while the Saints, who held the pigskin for 24:54, went 4 of 12 on third down and 1 of 2 on fourth down.

On the other side of the coin, Carolina got three Graham Gano field goals and took a 9-3 win over Buffalo last Sunday at Bank of America Stadium. Carolina outrushed Buffalo 77-69 and Newton threw for 228 yards but was sacked six times, while Tyrod Taylor threw for 125 yards and three sacks. Buffalo, who got their lone score, thanks to a Stephen Hauschka field goal from 45 yards, went 4 of 13 (0 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 21:07, while the Panthers kept the ball for 38:53, while going 7 of 16.

Carolina leads the series 24-20 (which includes one game played in Baton Rouge because of Katrina) and the Panthers have outscored New Orleans 980-948. They split last year’s series, with each winning in their home ballparks.

First meeting… week six in the Big Easy. New Orleans led 21-14 at the intermission, then held off Newtons and the Panthers 41-38 on a 52-yard field goal by Will Lutz with 11 seconds left. Newton tied things up at 38-38 with 2:58 left in regulation when he scored on a 2-yard TD run. Then Newton and WR Devin Funchess connected on the 2-point conversion to even things up. New Orleans then used an 11-play, 41-yard drive that took 2:47 to come to fruition. Carolina outrushed New Orleans 103-63 and Newton threw for 322 yards and a pair of TDs, while Brees threw for 465 yards and four TDs (both Newton and Brees threw an interception). New Orleans was 8 of 16 on third down in the contest, keeping the ball for 28:55, while the Panthers were 3 of 11 on third down, holding the ball for 31:05 (both teams were 1 of 1 on fourth down).

Meeting nubmer two… week 11 in Charlotte. Carolina held the Saints off in the second half, taking a 23-20 win at Bank of America Stadium. The Panthers led 20-3 at half before the Saints rallied to make things closer than Carolina fans would have liked, scoring the last 17 points of the game unchallenged. This time, it was New Orleans winning the rushing battle, outpacing Carolina 107-50 and Brees threw for 285 yards and a pair of TDs, while Newton threw for 192 yards and a TD (Brees was sacked three times, while Newton was sacked twice). Both clubs had trouble on third down tries in the rematch (New Orleans was 4 of 13, 2 of 2 on fourth down; Carolina was 7 of 17) and the Saints ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 32:15 to Carolina’s 27:45.

Carolina was favored by 2 1/2 in the week six affair in the Big Easy and the Saints covered the spread with the 3-point win. As for the 55 1/2 over/under? Both teams covered that, combining for 79 points. In the second meeting in the Tar Heel State, the Panthers barely missed the 3 1/2-point spread with their 3-point win and the 52 1/2 over/under was safe, as both teams could only muster 43 points. Carolina’s favored by 6 and the over/under’s 48. Carolina’s trying to stay unbeaten, New Orleans is trying to break into the win column. Saints fans will have to wait another week. Carolina wins this one in the Tar Heel State but expect New Orleans to make things closer than 6.

Seattle (1-1) at Tennessee (1-1), 4:05 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 714. It’s grunge vs. country as Seattle heads to the Music City for a late-afternoon against the Tennessee Titans.

The defending NFC West champs rallied in the final minutes at home in the Pacific Northwest and came awayt 12-9 winners over san Francisco at CenturyLink Field. The 49ers led 9-6 with 7:06 left to play before Seahawks QB Russell Wilson and WR Paul Richardson connected on the game’s only TD to take the win. San Francisco did outrush Seattle 159-131, with the 49ers Carlos Hyde led all rushers with 124. Although San Francisco sacked Wilson three times, he did manage to throw for 198 yards and the game-winning TD. San Francisco went 2 of 12 on third down conversions in the land of grunge, Salmon and Starbucks and kept the ball for 23:02, while Seattle ruled the clock, holding on to the ball for 36:58, while going 8 of 19 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth downs.

Tennessee gave Jacksonville their first loss in AFC South action, coming away 37-16 winners in the Sunshine State. Tennessee led 6-3 at the half in the Sunshine State, then pulled away in the second half for the win, outscoring Jacksonville 31-9 in the last 30 minutes of action. Tennessee outrushed the AFC South foes 179-99 and Marcus Mariota threw for 215 yards, while Blake Bortles threw for 223 yards with a pair of sacks and a pair of interceptions. Both teams were 6 of 13 on third down tries and the Titans kept the ball for 30:46 to Jacksonville’s 29:14.

The Seahawks lead the series 10-5, which includes contests that were played when the Titans were in Houston and known as the Oilers. Seattle has outscored Tennessee 298-274 and won the last meeting between the teams, coming away 20-13 winners in the Pacific Northwest, while Tennesse’s last win also came in the land of grunge, Salmon and Starbucks in 2009 by a final of 17-13.

Tennessee’s a 2 1/2-point favorite and the over/under’s 43. Both numbers make a lot of sense. Both teams are 1-1 and at the end of the day, somepne’s going to be 2-1. That someone will be Seattle. Seahawks pull the upset on the road and covers the 2 1/2.

Cincinnati (0-2) at Green Bay (1-1), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 715. The winless Bengals travel to the land of beer, cheese and Bratwurst to square off against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

Cincinnati fell to Houston 13-9 last Thursday night in the Queen City at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals trailed 10-6 at the break but could come no closer. Houston outrushed Cincinnati 168-82 and the Houston defense sacked Andy Dalton three times in the win. Houston and Cincinnati each went 4 of 15 (Cincy went 1 of 2 on fourth down) and the Texans kept the ball for 32:15, while the Bengals kept the pigskin for 27:45.

Green Bay was taken to the woodshed by Alanta in their new nest, Mercedes Benz Stadium, falling to the Falcons 34-23 in a rematch of last season’s NFC Championship Game. Green Bay never led in the contest and trailed 24-7 at the intermission. The defending NFC champs held Green Bay to 59 yards on the ground, while rushing for 141. Atlanta’s DeVonta Freeman led all rushers with 84 yards and Ryan (19 of 28) threw for 252 yards, while Aaron Rodgers (33 of 50) threw for 343 yards and a pair of TDs but was sacked three times. Atlanta was 5 of 11 on third down tries in the prime time contest in the Big Peach and kept the ball for 28:37, while Green Bay kept the pigskin for 31:23, going 5 of 12 and 3 of 3 on third and fourth down tries.

The Bengals lead the series 7-5, they’ve outscored the Packers 264-219 and have won the last three contests, including taking a 34-30 win in Cincinnati in 2013, while the Packers last win in the series came in 1998 in the Queen City by a 13-6 final.

Green Bay’s favored by 9 and the over/under’s 44 1/2. Bengals fans will get their first win. It won’t be at Lambeau. Green Bay may not cover the 9 but they win in the land of cheese, beer and Bratwurst.

Kansas City (2-0) at Los Angeles Chargers (0-2), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 716. Although one team’s changed location, it’s still a rivalry as Kansas City and the Los Angeles Chargers meet in an AFC West showdown on the West Coast.

Kansas City held off a late Philadelphia rally last Sunday at Arrownhead, allowing Andy Reid to beat his former team 27-20. The Chiefs led 6-3 at the half before both offenses decided to open things up in the final 30 minutes of play.  The Chiefs outrushed Philly 112-107 and the Kansas City defense sacked Carson Wentz (333 yards) six times in the game, while Alex Smith threw for 251 yards with four sacks. 8 of 15 on third down conversions at Arrowhead and held the ball for 30:49, while the Chiefs were 5 of 12, holding the ball for 29:11.

The Chargers let a 10-3 halftime lead against Miami get away from them, as they fell to the Dolphins a 19-17. Once again, the Chargers had a chance to tie or take a win but Chargers fans got their hearts broken for a second week in a row as  Younghoe Koo’s 44-yard field goal try sailed wide right at the clock ran down to :00. Miami outrushed Los Angeles 111-44, with Jay Ajayi rushing for 122 of those yards (Miami had three rushers with negative yardage) and Jay Cutler threw for 230 yards and a TD. Miami went 5 of 13 on third down tries and kept the ball for 33:22, while the Chargers kept it for 26:38, going 2 of 8 on third down (Miami was 0 of 1 on fourth down). For the Chargers, it was their sixth loss by 6 points or less and they’re 1-13 in contests decided by 7 points or less.

Including games played in Dallas, when the Chiefs were known as the Texans and the Chargers were in Los Angeles, Kansas City leads the series 58-54-1, have outscored the Bolts 2,466-2,283 and have won the last six meetings, sweeping the 2016 series (the Chargers’ last win over the Chiefs came in 2013, when the Chargers took a 27-24 overtime win at Qualcomm).

The two clubs got things underway right out of the box in week one, meeting at Arrowhead and the Chiefs needed overtime to take a 33-27 win. San Diego led 21-3 at the half before Kansas City roared back in the second half, tying things up with 63 seconds left in regulation when Stephen Ware scored from 5 yards out. Then in the overtime, Kansas City went to work, using a 10-play, 70-yard drive that used 5:07 of clock and sent their fans home happy when Alex Smtih (363 yards), who threw two TD passes, scored on a 2-yard TD run with 9:53 left, while the Chargers’ Philip Rivers threw for 243 yards in the overtime contest. San Diego outrushed the Chiefs 155-83 in the game and Kansas City went 5 of 13 on third down (2 of 2 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 31:06. As for the Chargers? The Bolts were 7 of 15 on third down and kept the ball for 34:01.

Round two… San Diego in week 17 and the Chargers said farewell to San Diego, falling to the Chiefs 37-27 at Qualcomm. Kansas City took control of things early in the season finale, leading 20-10 at the half and never looked back. The Chiefs were outrushed again, as San Diego tallied 129 yards to Kansas City’s 103 and Rivers threw for 269 yards to Smith’s 264 (both threw a pair of TD passes). Kansas City ruled the roost on third down tries in the season finale, going 8 of 12 and kept the ball for 30:48, while the Chargers were 3 of 10 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth down and the Bolts held the ball for 29:12.

The Chiefs barely missed the 7-point spread in the season opener, winning by 6 but both teams covered the 44 1/2 over/under with 60 points. In the rematch, which closed out the season for both teams and sent the Chargers up I-5 to Los Angeles, Kansas City’s 10-point win allowed them to cover the 4 1/2-point spread and the 45 over/under was easily covered by the teams combining for 64 points. Kansas City? Favored by 3. The over/under? 46. If you’re a Chiefs fan, watch this one by all means; if you’re a Chargers’ fan, you might want to consider watching that “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” marathon on Ion (We always thought Gorin was the smartest kid in class). Chiefc over the 3 and win in sunny Cali.

Oakland (2-0) at Washington (1-1), 8:30 p.m. on NBC. It’s West Coast meeting East Coast as Oakland travels to Landover for a meeting with the Washington Redskins in the NBC Sunday Night game at Fed Ex Field.

Oakland took care of the New York Jets 45-20 on the West Coast last Sunday. Michael Crabtree and Derek Carr (230 yards, three TDs) was more than enough offense for the Silver and Black last Sunday afternoon, while RB Marshawn Lynch added a rushing TD in his hometown. Oakland outrushed 180-126 and forced a pair of Jets fumbles in the contest. The second bright spot for GangGreen? They went 7 of 12 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 28:58, while the victorious Raiders were 8 of 12 and held on to the ball for 31:02.

Washington led 20-10 at the half at the Coliseum against the Los Angeles Rams last Sunday and hung on to win 27-20 on the Left Coast. Los Angeles’ Greg Zuerlein managed to pull his club even at 20-20 with 7:16 left in regulation before the Redskins took the lead back for keeps when Kirk Cousins (179 yards, TD, 18 of 27) and WR Ryan Grant connected on an 11 yard TD pass with 1:49 left in the contest and Redskins linebacker Mason Foster sealed the win with an interception on the Rams’ final drive. Washington running back Chris Thomspon rushed for two touchdowns (seven and 61 yards) in the second quarter against the Rams and finished the game averaging 25.7 yards per carry. Washington outrushed the Rams 229-92, while Jarred Goff threw for 224 yards and a TD for Los Angeles. The Rams on third down tries were 5 of 12 (they did have success in their only fourth down conversion) and held the ball for 23:41, while Washington was 5 of 13 and held the ball for 36:19.

The Silver and Black lead the series 7-5 and they’ve outscored Washington 265-263, which includes games that were played when the Raiders were in Los Angeles. However… Washington’s won the last two meetings, taking a 24-14 win in Oakland in 2013, while the Raiders’ last win over the Redskins came in Lanover in 2005 by final of 16-13. The Raiders are favored by 3 and the over/under’s 54. Both numbers make a lot of sense. This one may be worth watching, so you might want to tape “NCIS: Los Angeles” this week. Will Washington fans sing “Hail To The Redskins” or will they sing “Hell, it’s the Redskins” this week? Hail sounds a lot better. Washington covers the 3 and pulls the upset in Landover.

Dallas (1-1) at Arizona (1-1), 8:30 p.m. Monday on ESPN. Week three ends in the desert as Arizona welcomes Dallas to Glendale for a Monday night contest in the desert.

Dallas endured a 62-minute lighting delay in Denver and fell to the Broncos 42-17. Denver led 21-10 at half and were never really threatened by Dallas in the second half for their second win at home. Denver was led by C.J. Anderson, who accounted for 118 yards and TD as the Broncos outrushed Dallas 178-40 and Trevor Siemian threw for 231 yards and four TDs (two to WR Emmanuel Sanders). Dak Prescott threw for 238 yards and a pair of TDs, one to WR Dez Bryant and the other to TE Jason Witten, while being sacked twice and picked off twice. The Broncos went 9 of 15 on third down tries in the Mile High City and kept the ball for 33:50, while the Cowboys were 3 of 14, 2 of 5 on third and fourth downs and held the ball for 26:10.

Arizona needed overtime to take a 16-13 win over Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium.Indy led 10-3 at the half before the Cardinals rallied back in the second half to tie the contest up. thanks to a 40-yard field goal by Phil Dawson with 3:25 left in regulation. After Arizona intercepted Brissett, it was Dawson to the recuse, connecting on a 30-yarder with 8:02 left in the extra period. Arizona safety Tyran Mathieu’s interception on the first play of overtime set up Dawson’s game winner. The Desert Angry Birds outrushed Indy 83-76 and Carson Palmer threw for 332 yards and TD (both Palmer and Brissett were sacked four times). Arizona was 6 of 15 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down tries and held on to the ball for 28:49, while the Colts kept the ball for 33:09, going 8 of 18 on third down.

Dallas leads the series 55-31-1, which includes games that were played in St. Louis, the Cotton Bowl and Cowboys Stadium and the Cowboys have outscored Arizona 2,016-1,511. However… the Desert Angry Birds have taken wins in the last four meetings, including coming away 28-17 winners in Arlington in 2014, while Dallas’ last win came in 2006 in the desert by a final of 27-10.

Dallas on Monday Night? 45-33. Arizona on Monday night? 9-15-1. Both teams played one game under the prime time lights and both teams took wins.

 

NFL Sunday and Monday Broadcast Information (all times Eastern)

Sunday’s Games
ATLANTA at Chicago, 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711: Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis, Pam Oliver (Field reporter): SIRIUS: 118 (Atlanta), 135 (Chicago); XM: 386 (Atlanta), 228 (Chicago)

New York Jets at Buffalo, 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705: Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon; SIRIUS: 113 (New York Jets), 93 (Buffalo); XM: 385 (New York Jets), 226 (Buffalo)

Baltimore at Cincinnati, 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706: Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta, Melanie Collins (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 157 (Baltimore), 125 (Cincinnati); XM: 387(Baltimore), 230 (Cincinnati)

Pittsburgh at Cleveland, 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Jamie Erdahl (Field reporter); Westwood One: John Sadak, Ben Leber; SIRIUS: 84 (Pittsburgh), 146 (Cleveland); XM: 388 (Pittsburgh), 231 (Cleveland)

Jackonsville at Houston, 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708: Andrew Catalon, James Lofton, Steve Tasker (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 112 (Jacksonville), 121 (Houston); XM: 384 (Jacksonville), 227 (Houston)

Oakland at Tennessee, 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 709: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 98 (Oakland), 82 (Tennessee); XM: 382 (Oakland), 82 (Tennessee)

Philadelphia at Washington, 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710:  Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber, Kristina Pink (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 134 (Philadelphia), 83 (Washington); XM: 381 (Philadelphia), 83 (Washington)

Arizona at Detroit, 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 712: Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston, Laura Okmin (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 145 (Arizona), 113 (Detroit); XM: 380 (Arizona), 29 (Detroit)

Indianapolis at Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 714: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 145 (Indianapolis), 136 (Los Angeles Rams); XM: 380 (Indianapolis), 232 (Los Angeles Rams)

Seattle at Green Bay, 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 715: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (Field reporter): Westwood One: Brandon Gaudin, Ross Tucker; SIRIUS: 82 (Seattle), 83 (Green Bay); XM: 82 (Seattle), 83 (Green Bay)

Carolina at San Francisco, 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 716: Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman, Peter Schrager (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 93 (Carolina), 81 (San Francisco); XM: 226 (Carolina), 225 (San Francisco)

New York Giants at Dallas, 8:30 p.m. on NBC: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (Field reporter); Westwood One: Kevin Kugler, Mike Mayock; SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood 1), 81 (New York Giants), 83 (Dallas); XM: 88 (WestWood1), 225 (New York Giants), 83 (Dallas)

Monday’s Games
Minnesota at New Orleans, 7:10 p.m. on ESPN: Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters (Field reporter): Westwood One: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Ross Tucker (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 81 (New Orleans), 83 (Minnesota); XM: 88 (WestWood1), 225 (New Orleans), 83 (Minnesota)

Los Angeles Chargers at Denver, 10:20 p.m. on ESPN: Beth Mowins, Rex Ryan; Westwood One: Kevin Harlan, Kurt Warner, Ed Werder (Field reporter) | SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 145 (Los Angeles Chargers), 83 (Denver); XM: 88 (Westwood1), 227 (Los Angeles Chargers), 226 (Denver)

Sunday and Monday Odds (Home Teams in CAPS)

Sunday, September 10

Favorite             Spread   Underdog               O/U

Atlanta               – 6 1/2 CHICAGO                48 1/2
BUFFALO               – 8 1/2 New York Jets          40
HOUSTON               – 5     Jacksonville           39 1/2
WASHINGTON            – 1 1/2 Philadelphia           48
DETROIT               – 2     Arizona                48
TENNESSEE             – 2 1/2 Oakland                50
CINCINNATI            – 3     Baltimore              42
Pittsburgh            – 9 1/2 CLEVELAND              46 1/2
LOS ANGELES RAMS      – 4 1/2 Indianapolis           41 1/2
GREEN BAY             – 3     Seattle                51
Carolina              – 5     SAN FRANCISCO          47 1/2
DALLAS                – 4 1/2 New York Giants        48

Monday, September 11

Favorite             Spread   Underdog               O/U
MINNESOTA             – 3     New Orleans            48
DENVER                – 3     Los Angeles Chargers   43

Sunday and Monday Referees

Sunday’s Games
ATLANTA at Chicago, 1 p.m.: Jeff Triplette
New York Jets at Buffalo, 1 p.m.: John Hussey
Baltimore at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.: Walt Coleman
Pittsburgh at Cleveland, 1 p.m.: Craig Wrolstad
Jacksonville at Houston, 1 p.m.: Tony Corrente
Oakland at Tennessee, 1 p.m.: Jerome Boger
Philadelphia at Washington, 1 p.m.: Brad Allen
Arizona at Detroit, 1 p.m.: Walt Anderson
Indianapolis at Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m.: Ron Torbert
Seattle at Green Bay, 4:25 p.m.: John Parry
Carolina at San Francisco, 4:25 p.m.: Clete Blakeman
New York Giants at Dallas, 8:30 p.m.: Carl Cheffers
New Orleans at Minnesota, 7:10 p.m. Monday: Gene Steratore
Los Angeles Chargers at Denver, 10:20 p.m. Monday: Terry McAulay

Sunday and Monday Injury Report
ATLANTA at Chicago, 1 p.m.

Atlanta
QUESTIONABLE: T Austin Pasztor (Chest)

Chicago
DOUBTFUL: CB Prince Amukamara (Ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: G Kyle Long (Ankle), LB Pernell McPhee (Knee), WR Markus Wheaton (Finger)

New York Jets at Buffalo

New York Jets
OUT: S Rontez Miles (Eye)

Buffalo
OUT: DT Jerel Worthy (Concussion)

Baltimore at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.

Baltimore
DOUBTFUL: CB Sheldon Price (Concussion)

Cincinnati
OUT: TE Christopher Uzomah (Ankle)
S Shawn Williams (Elbow)

Pittsburgh at Cleveland, 1 p.m.

Pittsburgh
OUT: T Jerald Hawkins (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Alvin Dupree (Shoulder)

Cleveland
QUESTIONABLE: DT Danny Shelton (Knee)

Arizona at Detroit, 1 p.m.

Arizona
OUT: LB Deone Bucannon (Ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: G Mike Iupati (Tricep), DT Robert Nkemdiche (Calf)

Detroit
QUESTIONABLE: DE Ezekiel Ansah (Knee), T Corey Robinson (Foot)

Jacksonville at Houston, 1 p.m.

Jacksonville
QUESTIONABLE: S Tashaun Gipson (Ankle), RB Timothy Yeldon (Hamstring)

Houston
OUT: RB Alfred Blue (Ankle), WR William Fuller (Shoulder)

Oakland at Tennessee, 1 p.m.

Oakland
OUT: S Keith McGill (Foot), RB Jamize Olawale (Quadricep)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Cory James (Knee), K Sebastian Janikowski (Back)

Tennessee
OUT: CB LeShaun Sims (Groin)

Philadelphia at Washington, 1 p.m.

Philadelphia: Philadelphia reported no injuries

Washington
QUESTIONABLE: WR Jamison Crowder (Hip), C Spencer Long (Knee)

Indianapolis at Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m.

Indianapolis
OUT: CB Vontae Davis (Groin), C Ryan Kelly (Foot), QB Andrew Luck (Right Shoulder), WR Chester Rogers (Hamstring), G
Ian Silberman (Lumbar)

Los Angeles Rams: Los Angeles Rams reported no injuries

Seattle at Green Bay, 4:25 p.m.

Seattle
DOUBTFUL: LB Michael Wilhoite (Calf)
QUESTIONABLE: DT Jarran Reed (Shoulder), CB Richard Sherman (Thigh), DE Frank Clark (Wrist), WR Tyler Lockett (Knee), RB
Thomas Rawls (Ankle)

Green Bay
QUESTIONABLE: T Bryan Bulaga (Ankle)

Carolina at San Francisco, 4:25 p.m.

Carolina
OUT: LB Jared Norris (Groin)
DOUBTFUL: DT Vernon Butler (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: DT Alexander Love (Ankle), QB Cam Newton (Right Shoulder)

San Francisco
DOUBTFUL: S Jimmie Ward (Hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: DE Aaron Lynch (Back)

New York Giants at Dallas, 8:30 p.m.

New York Giants
OUT: LB Keenan Robinson (Concussion)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Odell Beckham (Ankle)

Dallas
OUT: LB Anthony Hitchens (Ankle)

New Orleans at Minnesota, 7:10 p.m. Monday

New Orleans

OUT: DE Trey Hendrickson (Illness), TT Terron Armstead (Shoulder), LB Nate Stupar (Hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Stephone Anthony (Ankle)

Minnesota

OUT: G Danny Isadora (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Tramiane Brock (Groin)

Los Angeles Chargers at Denver, 10:20 p.m. Monday

Los Angeles Chargers
OUT: WR Mike Williams (Back)
QUESTIONABLE: DE Jeremiah Attaochu (Hamstring), WR Dontrelle Inman (Groin), TE Sean McGrath (Knee), S Tre Boston (Calf)

Denver
OUT: RB Devontae Booker (Wrist), DE Jared Crick (Back), DT Zachariah Kerr (Knee), QB Paxton Lynch (Right Shoulder)
QUESTIONABLE: DT Kyle Peko (Foot)

Sunday and Monday Weather

Sunday’s Games
ATLANTA at Chicago, 1 p.m.: Sunny and 66 degrees
New York Jets at Buffalo, 1 p.m.: Partly cloudy and 63 degrees
Baltimore at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.: Sunny and 69 degrees
Pittsburgh at Cleveland, 1 p.m.: Sunny and 67 degrees
Jacksonville at Houston, 1 p.m.: Game indoors; if roof is open, sunny and 80 degrees
Oakland at Tennessee, 1 p.m.: Sunny and 75 degrees
Philadelphia at Washington, 1 p.m.: Sunny and 68 degrees
Arizona at Detroit, 1 p.m.: Game indoors
Indianapolis at Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m.: Partly cloudy and 88 degrees
Seattle at Green Bay, 4:25 p.m.: Sunny and 69 degrees
Carolina at San Francisco, 4:25 p.m.: Sunny and 86 degrees
New York Giants at Dallas, 8:30 p.m.: Game indoors; if roof is open, sunny and 82 degrees
New Orleans at Minnesota, 7:10 p.m. Monday: Game Indoors
Los Angeles Chargers at Denver, 10:20 p.m. Monday: Mostly cloudy and 74 degrees

Broadcast information, officials and injury report courtesy the National Football League; odds courtesy Don Best, weather information courtesy The Weather Channel.

After a Super Bowl for the ages, the draft, mini-camps and training camps, football season is finally here and kicked off last Thursday night in Foxboro as the New England Patriots got their accolades, Super Bowl rings and the Lombardi Trophy. The hunter is NOW the hunted as the other 30 teams start their trek to perhaps getting their own Lombardi. For teams that were in the post-season last year, it’s a chance to get back to the post-season party. As for those teams that struggled last year, it’s a chance to get some revenge. The beauty of the regular season is that if you lose this week, you have a whole week to think about what went wrong. It’s not the end of the world. Two teams have already started the journey Thursday night in western Massachusetts, while the other 30 teams will get their shot this weekend. Miami and Tampa Bay will have to sit out a week because of Hurricane Irma.

After all those days of OTA’s, preseason games, sleeping in dorms for the first time since college, the 2017 National Football League season got underway last Thursday night in Foxboro as the New England Patriots got their rings and lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in Foxboro. That was the first of a 17-week, 256-game regular-season schedule that comes to an end on Sunday, December 31 with 16 division games that will take place in week 17.

Like we said… The hunter is now the hunted.

New England has the Lombardi Trophy for now. There are 31 other teams that would like nothing more than to knock the Pats off the mountain.

SUPER STARTERS: History indicates that the best way for a team to start its drive toward a Super Bowl championship is to win in Week 1.

The 51 Super Bowl winners have a 41-9-1 record in the Kickoff Weekend games of their title seasons. The Super Bowl LI champion New England Patriots, who hosted Kansas City in the season opener Thursday night, have won their past eight home openers played on Kickoff Weekend and 12 of their past 13 overall in Week 1.

Since 1978 when the NFL went to the 16-game schedule and excluding the abbreviated season of 1982, teams that are victorious in their season openers are more than twice as likely to reach the playoffs than losers of an opening game:
•Of the 570 teams which won openers…297 went to the playoffs (179 won division titles).
•Of the 571 teams which lost openers…137 went to the playoffs (79 won division titles).

Note: There are a different number of winning and losing teams in season opening games due to the fact the NFL had 31 teams in each season from 1999 to 2001, which creates an odd number for the total number of results.

In 2016, nine of the 12 playoff teams – Detroit, Green Bay, Houston, Kansas City, New England, the New York Giants, Oakland, Pittsburgh and Seattle – were victorious on Kickoff Weekend.

STRONG OUT OF THE GATE: Over the past 10 years, six teams – New England (.758), Denver (.706), Dallas (.676), Green Bay (.676), Baltimore (.647) and Arizona (.618) – have a winning percentage of at least .600 through the season’s first month. Those six clubs have combined for 37 playoff berths and nine Super Bowl appearances – including five Super Bowl championships – during the span.

On Thursday night, the Patriots, who have an NFL-best 25-8 record in the month of September since 2007, hosted Kansas City and Denver (24-10, .706), who own the second-highest opening-month winning percentage in the NFL over the past 10 seasons, host the Los Angeles Chargers in an AFC West showdown in the second game of a Monday Night Football doubleheader at 10:20 p.m. on ESPN.

Teams with the best opening month records over the past 10 seasons (2007-16): (Thursday’s game not included)

TEAM (W-L, PCT)(PLAYOFF BERTHS)(SUPER BOWL BERTHS)(SUPER BOWL WINS)
New England (25-8, .758)(9)(4)(2)
Denver (24-10, .706) (5)(2)(1)
Dallas (23-11, .673) (4)(0)(0)
Green Bay (23-11, .676) (9)(1)(1)
Baltimore (22-12, .647) (6)(1)(1)
Arizona (21-13, .618)(4)(1)(0)

OUT OF THE BLOCKS: Dallas hosts the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football at 8:30 p.m. on NBC, as the two NFC East rivals meet on Kickoff Weekend for the fourth time in the past five seasons. The contest will feature two of the NFL’s most successful teams in season openers. The Cowboys’ .661 winning percentage (37-19-1) is tied with Denver for the highest of any team in NFL history, while the Giants have the third-most wins on Kickoff Weekend (50).

The teams with the best winning percentage on Kickoff Weekend:

TEAM (KICKOFF WEEKEND RECORDS, WIN PCT.)
Dallas (37-19-1, .661)
Denver (37-19-1, .661)
Houston Texans (9-6-0, .600)
Chicago (54-38-5, .587)
Green Bay (54-39-3, .581)
New York Giants (50-37-5, .575)
Note: Ties prior to 1972 did not count in winning percentage.

The teams with the most wins on Kickoff Weekend:

TEAM (KICKOFF WEEKEND WINS)
Chicago (54)
Green Bay (54)
New York Giants (50)
Detroit (47)
Pittsburgh (42)

STARTING STREAKS: Some clubs have excelled in openers. Below is a sampling of notable active NFL Kickoff milestones and streaks:

•Chicago, who hosts Atlanta to open their 2017 campaign, have the most wins (65) all-time in home openers.

•Dallas, who welcomes the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football, have 32 wins in home openers since 1970, the most in the NFC.

•Denver, who hosts the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday Night Football, have posted a 43-13-1 (.768) record in home openers, the top mark in the NFL. Denver has won 23 of its past 26 home openers.

•Green Bay, who welcomes Seattle on Kickoff Weekend into Lambeau, have won their past four home openers. The Packers are tied with the Bears for the most wins (54) on Kickoff Weekend.

•Houston, who hosts Jacksonville on Kickoff Weekend, have won six of their past seven home openers.

•San Francisco, who hosts Carolina on Kickoff Weekend, have the NFL’s longest active winning streak (six) on Kickoff Weekend.

START ME UP: Some players have excelled in openers. Below is a sampling of notable individual performances on NFL Kickoff Weekend:

•New Orleans running back Adrian Peterson has 885 rushing yards in 10 career season-opening games and needs 115 yards to become the fifth player with at least 1,000 rushing yards in season-opening games. The four players to accomplish the feat are Emmitt Smith (1,247), Walter Payton (1,067), Edgerrin James (1,062) and Jim Brown (1,043). Smith, Payton and Brown are all enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

•Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has 918 receiving yards and eight touchdown receptions in 13 career season-opening games and needs 82 yards to become the fifth player with at least 1,000 career receiving yards and eight touchdown catches in season-opening games, joining Jerry Rice (1,385 yards, nine TDs), Andre Reed (1,225, 10), Randy Moss (1,194, 10) and Don Maynard (1,025, nine). Rice, Reed and Maynard are all members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

MR. 300: Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers has 297 touchdown passes with 72 interceptions in 12 career seasons. With three touchdown passes against Seattle on Sunday, Rodgers would become the 11th quarterback in NFL history with 300 career touchdowns passes and the first quarterback in league history to reach 300 career passing touchdowns with fewer than 100 interceptions.

The quarterbacks who reached 300 career touchdown passes with the fewest interceptions:

QUARTERBACK – TEAM(S) (INTERCEPTIONS AT TIME OF 300TH TOUCHDOWN PASS)
Tom Brady – New England (115)
Philip Rivers – San Diego (142)
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis (152)
Drew Brees – San Diego and New Orleans (153)
Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh (160)
Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay (72)*
*Has 297 career touchdowns passes entering Week 1

START ’EM EARLY: Cleveland rookie quarterback De Shone Kizer, a second-round pick (No. 52 overall) in the 2017 NFL Draft, is expected to make his first career start against Pittsburgh on Sunday. With a start by Kizer on Sunday, at least one rookie quarterback will have started in Week 1 in 10 consecutive seasons, the longest streak in the NFL since at least 1950.

The rookie quarterbacks to start in Week 1 since 2008:

SEASON – QUARTERBACK (TEAM, STARTING RECORD AS ROOKIE)
2008 – Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens, 11-5)
2008 – Matt Ryan (Atlanta, 11-5)
2009 – Mark Sanchez (New York Jets, 8-7)
2009 – Matthew Stafford (Detroit, 2-8)*
2010 – Sam Bradford (St. Louis Rams, 7-9)*
2011 – Andy Dalton (Cincinnati, 9-7)
2011 – Cam Newton (Carolina, 6-10)*
2012 – Robert Griffin III (Washington, 9-6)
2012 – Andrew Luck (Indianapolis, 11-5)*
2012 – Ryan Tannehill (Miami, 7-9)
2012 – Brandon Weeden (Cleveland, 5-10)
2012 – Russell Wilson (Seattle, 11-5)
2013 – E.J. Manuel (Buffalo, 4-6)
2013 – Geno Smith (New York Jets, 8-8)
2014 – Derek Carr (Oakland, 3-13)
2015 – Marcus Mariota (Tennessee, 3-13)
2015 – Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay, 6-10)*
2016 – Dak Prescott (Dallas, 13-3)
2016 – Carson Wentz (Philadelphia, 7-9)
2017 – DeShone Kizer (Cleveland, 0-0)^
^Expected to start in Week 1
*No. 1 Overall Pick

RUN FORREST RUN! A tough, reliable running game allows an offense to command a game’s pace and in the majority of contests, it can also control the game’s result.

In 2016, NFL teams with a 100-yard rusher posted a 68-27-1 record for a .714 winning percentage. That rated higher than clubs with a 100-yard receiver (94-73-2, .562) or a 300-yard passer (56-60-2, .483).

Pittsburgh running back LE’VEON BELL ranked fifth in the NFL with 1,268 rushing yards last season, despite playing only 12 games. The Steelers were 6-0 in games in which Bell rushed for at least 100 yards.

“Le’Veon’s one of the greatest players on our team,” Steelers quarterback Ben Roethilsberger told KDKA-TV and the Pittsburgh Gazzette. “He’s one of the best running backs in the world. It’s an honor to play with him.”

Over the past five years, teams have compiled a 359-141-6 record (.715) a player has eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark. By comparison, clubs with a 100-yard receiver have a .558 winning percentage (509-403-4), while offenses with a 300-yard passer have won 51.5 percent of their games (316-298-3).

Here are the winning percentage of teams with a 100-yard rusher, 100-yard receiver or 300-yard passer over the past five seasons:

100-YARD RUSHERS
YEAR: W-L-T, WIN PCT.
2012: 83-35-1, .702
2013: 60-33-2 .642
2014: 75-23-2 .760
2015: 73-23 .760
2016: 68-27-1 .714
Total :359-141-6 .715

100-YARD RECEIVERS
YEAR: W-L-T WIN PCT.
2012: 92-78-1 .541                                      :
2013: 98-82 .544
2014: 105-74-1 .586
2015: 120-96 .556
2016: 94-73-2 .562
Total: 509-403-4 .558

300-YARD PASSERS
YEAR: W-L-T WIN PCT.
2012: 61-65 .484
2013: 60-58 .508
2014: 70-52-1 .573
2015: 69-63 .522
2016: 56-60-2 .483
Total: 316-298-3 .515

EVERY NFL SNAP STARTS UNDER CENTER: It all starts with the guy under center. Nothing begins on an NFL field without the quarterback. NFL QBs put together a historically proficient and prolific year in 2016.

The league-wide completion percentage (63.0) tied the previous record set in 2015, while the league-wide passer rating (89.3) ranked second behind only the 2015 season (90.2). There were touchdown passes thrown in 2016, the fourth-highest total in NFL history.

Games averaged 700.8 total net yards per game, the mark in NFL annals (705.3 in 2015). Explosive offenses fueled that trend, with an average of 483.0 yards per game, the second-highest total all-time in 2015).

The league-wide interception percentage of 2.3 percent lowest of any season in NFL history, surpassing previous mark of 2.4 in 2015. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, despite missing four games for his role in Deflategate, finished the 2016 season with interception percentage (two INTs in 432 passing attempts), the third-lowest interception percentage quarterback since 1960. Brady passed for 28 touchdown passes and two interceptions last season, recording the highest touchdown/interception ratio history.

There were 57 individual performances with three touchdown passes without an interception in 2016, the highest of any season in NFL history (59 in 2015, 2014). Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers led the league with seven games of at least touchdown passes without an interception, tied third-most in a single season in NFL history.

“It’s a passing league,” Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Light told the Tampa Tribune. “It’s a quarterback-driven league, so you want a great quarterback. If you’ve got a great quarterback, you’ve got a chance.”

As professional football has evolved, the sophistication and importance of the passing game have grown consistently. Defenders have grown stronger and faster while defensive coordinators have become more creative. Moving the ball downfield three yards at a time via the run has grown increasingly difficult.

This trend has helped allow the growing number of star NFL quarterbacks – ranging from established veterans like Brady, Rodgers, Drew Brees and Ben Roethilsberger to talented youngsters like Derek Carr, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota and Dak Prescott – to fully showcase their passing talents.

An NFL-record 13 passers reached the 4,000-yard mark in 2016, eclipsing 2015 for the most of any season in NFL history (12). Brees led the NFL with 5,208 passing yards, the fourth-highest passing yardage total in league history. Brees is the first player to lead the league in passing yards seven times, extending his NFL record.

Five quarterbacks recorded a 100+ passer rating in 2016, led by Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, whose 117.1 rating was the fifth-highest in NFL history.

4,000+ PASS YARDS
PLAYER – YARDS
Drew Brees – 5,208
Matt Ryan – 4,944
Kirk Cousins – 4,917
Aaron Rodgers – 4,428
Philip Rivers – 4,386
Matthew Stafford – 4,327                –
Joe Flacco – 4,317
Andrew Luck – 4,240
Carson Palmer – 4,233
Russell Wilson – 4,219
Andy Dalton – 4,206
Jameis Winston – 4,090
Eli Manning – 4,027

30+ PASS TDs
PLAYER – TDs
Aaron Rodgers – 40
Matt Ryan – 38
Drew Brees – 37
Philip Rivers – 33
Andrew Luck – 31

100+ PASSER RATING
PLAYER – RATING
Matt Ryan – 117.1
Tom Brady – 112.2
Dak Prescott – 104.9
Aaron Rodgers – 104.2
Drew Brees – 101.7

TIGHT ENDS ON THE RISE: NFL tight ends have been performing at an historic level and the 2016 season was no different.
Last year, tight ends recorded the second-most catches (2,494) and receiving yards (27,340) in a single season for the position.

SINGLE-SEASON TIGHT END RECORDS: Last season, four tight ends – Baltimore’s Dennis Pitta (86), Kansas City’s Travis Kelce (85), Minnesota’s Kyle Rudolph (83) and Carolina’s Greg Olsen (80) – reached the 80-reception mark, tied for the most tight ends with at least 80 receptions in a single season in NFL history.

In 2016, Olsen recorded 1,073 receiving yards and became the first tight end in NFL history to record three consecutive seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards

Los Angeles Chargers tight end Antonio Gates had seven receiving touchdowns in 2016 and has 111 career touchdown catches, tying Tony Gonzalez for the most by a tight end in history.

Gates brought his career receiving yardage total to 11,192, becoming the third tight end in NFL history to reach 11,000 career receiving yards, joining Gonzalez (15,127) and Dallas’ Jason Witten (11,888).

The importance of the tight end position was evident in this year’s NFL Draft as well. Three tight ends – O.J. Howard (Tampa Bay, No. 19), Evan Engram (New York Giants, No. 23) and David Njoku (Cleveland, No. 29) and) – were chosen in the first round, tied for the most first round tight ends (1970 and 2002) since the advent of the common draft in 1967.

YEAR – REC. YARDS
2015 – 27,553
2016 – 27,340
2013 – 27,284
2011 – 27,080
2012 – 26,197

YEAR CATCHES
2015 – 2,518
2016 – 2,494
2012 – 2,401
2013 – 2,384

SEASON MOST TEs W/ 80+ RECEPTIONS IN SINGLE SEASON
2016 – 4
2014 – 4
2011 – 4
2004 – 4
Many tied with 3

CONVERSION: Excelling on third down extends drives and keeps your opponent off the field, which can be an important factor in winning games.

Last season, six playoff teams converted at least 40 percent of their third-down attempts – Green Bay (46.7 percent), New England (45.8), Detroit (42.6), Dallas (42.3), Atlanta (42.1) and Pittsburgh (41.1).

Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb understands the importance of converting. “We talk about it continuously,” Cobb told the Milwaukee Sentinel. “Being able to break a tackle and picking up a first down is important. We try and do that consistently throughout games.”

Converting on third down extends drives ultimately leading towards the end zone. Last season, nine of the top 10 offensive scoring teams converted at least 40 percent of third downs. Atlanta and New England, who met in Super Bowl LI, both converted at least 40 percent of third downs last season.

FOURTH-AND-ONE: In fourth-and-one situations, the offense or defense must not only overpower its opponent but also outsmart it in order to retain or gain possession. It is an art that must be studied for mastery.

Three teams were perfect on fourth-and-one conversions in 2016 (minimum five attempts) – Dallas, Cleveland and Carolina. Three teams with perfect fourth-and-one conversion rates (minimum five attempts) are tied for the most in a single season in NFL history (2005).

Just as converting on third and fourth downs are important for the offense, it’s equally important for the defense to stop scoring drives and save games.

A stop on fourth-and-one for a defense is as important as forcing a turnover. While the offense needs to convert to prolong its drive hoping to control the clock and find the end zone, the defense can hand the ball over to its offense with field position by stifling an offense.

Thirteen teams stopped at least half of their opponents’ fourth-and-one attempts, including seven playoff teams – Houston, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Miami, New York Giants and Oakland.

TOTAL MILES TRAVELED AND NOTES ON 2017 TRAVEL (Mileage is based on the estimated round-trip distance for every regular-season road game)

Talk about frequent flyer miles! All 32 teams will board a plane or bus during the season to get from stadium to stadium during any given season.

• The total distance traveled by all teams during the regular season will be 564,820 miles.

• The teams of the NFC West (110,848) have the highest combined mileage total of all divisions.

• The remaining division totals ranking from highest to lowest are the AFC West (90,546), NFC East (80,956), AFC East (75,105), AFC South (67,352), NFC South (56,146), AFC North (48,797) and NFC North (35,070).

• Five teams – the Los Angeles Rams (32,600), Oakland (30,899), Arizona (30,035), Miami (27,520) and the Los Angeles Chargers (26,134) – will “travel around the world” at least once. A trip around the globe is 25,000 miles.

Below are the teams and the distance they will travel in 2017 (please return your trays to the upright position).

TEAM – MILES
1. Los Angeles Rams – 32,600
2. Oakland – 30,899
3. Arizona – 30,035
4. Miami – 27,520
5. Los Angeles Chargers – 26,134
6. Jacksonville – 24,522
7. Seattle – 24,121
8. San Francisco – 24,092
9. New York Giants – 21,883
10. New Orleans – 20,968
11. Washington – 20,762
12. Philadelphia – 20,227
13. Denver – 18,842
14. Houston – 18,546
15. Dallas – 18,084
16. Baltimore – 18,055
17. New England – 17,830
18. New York Jets – 16,483
19. Cleveland – 16,386
20. Kansas City – 14,671
21. Tampa Bay – 13,683
22. Buffalo – 13,272
23. Tennessee – 13,048
24. Atlanta – 11,687
25. Indianapolis – 11,236
26. Minnesota – 10,460
27. Carolina – 9,808
28. Chicago – 8,318
29. Detroit – 8,218
30. Green Bay – 8,074
31. Cincinnati – 7,662
32. Pittsburgh – 6,694

2017 NFL STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE
TEAM (OPPONENTS’ 2016 PCT AND RECORD) (GAMES VS. TEAMS, .500 OR BETTER) (GAMES VS. 2016 PLAYOFF TEAMS)
Denver (.578; 147-107-2) (8) (10)
Kansas City (.576; 147-108-1) (8) (11)
Los Angeles Chargers (.568; 145-110-1) (8) (11)
Oakland (.564; 144-111-1) (6) (11)
Buffalo (.561; 143-112-1 (7) (10)
Miami (.547; (140-116-0) (5) (9)
Washington (.543; 138-116-2) (7) (9)
New York Jets (.535; 137-119-0) (7) (9)
New York Giants (.535; 135-117-4) (6) (10)
Dallas (.531; 134-118-4) (7) (10)
Philadelphia (.531; 134-118-4) (7) (10)
New England P(.527; (135-121-0) (7) (9)
Atlanta (.521; 133-122-1) (6) (9)
Tampa Bay (.518; 132-123-1) (7) (8)
New Orleans (.510; 130-125-1) (6) (10)
Carolina (.504; 129-127-0) (6) (9)
Los Angeles Rams (.482; 121-130-5) (5) (9)
Green Bay (.480; 122-132-2) (6) (10)
Chicago (.479; 122-133-1) (6) (10)
San Francisco (.475; 119-132-5) (5) (8)
Cleveland (.469; 119-135-2 (5) (10)
Detroit (.469; 119-135-2) (5) (9)
Arizona (.467; 118-135-3) (6) (10)
Baltimore (.461; 117-137-2) (7) (10)
Houston (.455; 115-138-3) (4) (9)
Seattle (.455; 115-138-3) (5) (8)
Pittsburgh (.453; 115-139-2) (5) (10)
Minnesota (.453; 115-139-2) (6) (9)
Cincinnati (.449; 115-141-0) (5) (11)
Tennessee (.439; 111-142-3) (6) (9)
Jacksonville (.439; 111-142-3) (4) (9)
Indianapolis (.424; 107-146-3) (4) (8)

NFL fans continue to tune in to the sport they love. Here’s a look at what’s in store on TV in 2017. The regular-season schedule – spanning 17 weeks and 256 games – kicked off on Thursday night in New England and concludes on Sunday, December 31 with 16 division games. The season begins with the NFL’s annual primetime kickoff game. The opener on September 7 on NBC at 8:30 p.m. will feature the defending champion New England Patriots hosting Kansas City at Gillette Stadium.

Week 1 is a FOX national weekend with the key doubleheader game on Sunday, September 10 at 4:25 p.m. featuring Seattle traveling to Lambeau to take on Green Bay. week 3 is the first CBS national weekend with the key doubleheader game showcasing Cincinnati taking on Green Bay at Lambeau Field.

NBC’s Sunday Night Football gets underway on September 10 when Dallas hosts the New York Giants at 8:30 p.m. at AT&T Stadium. Kickoff Weekend concludes on Monday, September 11 with an ESPN Monday Night Football doubleheader. Minnesota hosts New Orleans at 7:10 p.m. in the first contest, while Denver hosts the Los Angeles Chargers at 10:20 p.m. in the nightcap.

ESPN will televise one game each Monday night in Weeks 2-16. There will be no Monday night game on the final regular-season weekend (Week 17) to provide more flexibility for the scheduling of the opening weekend of the NFL playoffs. The 2018 Pro Bowl will be played on Sunday, January 28 at 3 p.m. at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium and will be simulcast nationally on ABC and ESPN. It marks the first time the Pro Bowl will air on both broadcast and cable networks.

A select number of games will be “cross-flexed,” moving between CBS and FOX to bring potentially under-distributed games to wider audiences. Some of those contests have already been announced, including the Seahawks at the Giants (4:25 PM ET, CBS) in Week 7 and Minnesota at Carolina Panthers at 1 p.m. on CBS in Week 14. Other “cross-flexed” games will be decided during the season.

The regular season will conclude with Week 17 on Sunday, December 31. For the eighth consecutive year, all 16 games scheduled for Week 17 are division contests, enhancing the potential for more games with playoff ramifications.

Other highlights of the schedule include:

In Week 2, the Atlanta Falcons will open their new home – Mercedes-Benz Stadium – on Sunday, September 17 in primetime at 8:30 p.m. on NBC when they take on Green Bay in a rematch of last season’s NFC Championship Game. Earlier that day, the Chargers will make their return to Los Angeles as they host the Miami Dolphins at the StubHub Center at 4:05 p.m. on CBS.

The Patriots will host the Falcons in Week 7 on Sunday night, October 22 at 8:30 p.m. on NBC in a rematch of Super Bowl LI, the first Super Bowl in NFL history to go into overtime.

Thanksgiving will feature a tripleheader on Thursday, November 23. The first game will send the Vikings to Detroit to face the Lions at 12:30 p.m. on FOX for the second consecutive year. The late afternoon game will feature the Los Angeles Chargers visiting Dallas at 4:30 p.m. on CBS and the holiday concludes with Washington Redskins hosting the NeW York Giants in Landover on NBC at 8:30 p.m.

In Week 16, NBC’s Sunday Night Football game (Minnesota at Green Bay) will move to Saturday night, December 23 at 8:30 p.m. on  NBC due to Christmas Eve and is not subject to flexible scheduling. Christmas Day will feature a doubleheader on Monday, December 25 with Houston hosting Pittsburgh at 4:30 p.m. on NBC/NFLN/Amazon Prime) in the first game and Oakland visiting Philadelphia at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN in primetime.

The NFL’s international slate includes four games in London – the fi rst time the league will play four games in the UK – and one in Mexico City. On Sunday, September 24, Jacksonville will host the Baltimore Ravens at London’s Wembley Stadium (9:30 AM ET) in a contest that will be streamed globally by Verizon. The next weekend, on Sunday, October 1, Miami will host New Orleans at Wembley at 9:30 a.m. on FOX. In Week 7, the Los Angeles Rams will host Arizona at Twickenham Stadium on Sunday, October 22 at p.m. on FOX. The following week, Cleveland will host Minnesota at Twickenham on Sunday, October 29 at 9:30 a.m. on NFL Network. The NFL returns to Mexico City on Sunday, November 19 at 4:25 p.m. on CBS when Oakland hosts New England at Estadio Azteca.

The NFL has partnered with Amazon Prime this season and will once again use a “Tri-Cast” distribution model of broadcast (CBS/NBC), cable (NFL Network) and digital (Amazon Prime) for 10 Thursday Night Football games and a Christmas Day contest. CBS and NBC will each broadcast five Thursday Night Football games which will be simulcast on NFL Network and streamed to Amazon Prime members worldwide. NBC will also broadcast the Christmas Day game. CBS will start in Week 4 (Thursday, September 28) when the Packers host Chicago. NBC’s Tri-Cast package begins in Week 10 (Thursday, November 9) when the Seahawks visit the Arizona Cardinals. Additionally, NFL Network will also exclusively televise a seven-game schedule comprised of three Thursday Night Football games, three late-season Saturday contests and a Sunday morning London matchup.

The NFL’s 32 teams will each play 16 games over 17 weeks. Byes will begin in Week 5 and end in Week 11.

“Flexible scheduling” will be used in Weeks 10-15 and 17. Additionally, in Weeks 5-9, flexible scheduling may be used in no more than two weeks. In Weeks 5-15, the schedule lists the games tentatively set for Sunday Night Football on NBC. Only Sunday afternoon games are eligible to be moved to Sunday night, in which case the tentatively scheduled Sunday night game would be moved to an afternoon start time. Flexible scheduling will not be applied to games airing on Thursday, Saturday or Monday nights. A flexible scheduling move would be announced at least 12 days before the game. For Week 17, the Sunday night game will be announced no later than six days prior to December 31. The schedule does not list a Sunday night game in Week 17 but an afternoon game with playoff implications will be moved to that time slot. Flexible scheduling ensures quality matchups in all Sunday time slots in those weeks and gives “surprise” teams a chance to play their way into prime time.

The playoffs will include four division winners and two wild cards from each conference. The playoffs begin with Wild Card Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, January 6-7. The two division winners with the best records in each conference will earn first-round byes.

Wild Card Weekend winners join the top two division champions in each conference in the Divisional Playoffs on Saturday and Sunday, January 13-14. The AFC and NFC Championship Games will be played on Sunday, January 21. The winners meet two weeks later on Sunday, February 4 in Super Bowl LII at Minnesota’s U.S. Bank Stadium on NBC.

The Pro Bowl will be played on Sunday, January 28 at 3 p.m. on ABC/ESPN at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium.

The NFL is the only sports league that presents all regular-season and postseason games on free, over-the-air television in local markets. All postseason games are televised nationally.

FLEXIBLE SCHEDULING: Flexible scheduling will be used in Weeks 10-15 and 17. Additionally, in Weeks 5-9, flexible scheduling may be used in no more than two weeks.

In Weeks 5-15, the schedule lists the games tentatively set for Sunday Night Football on NBC. Only Sunday afternoon games are eligible to be moved to Sunday night, in which case the tentatively scheduled Sunday night game would be moved to an afternoon start time. Flexible scheduling will not be applied to games airing on Thursday, Saturday or Monday nights. A flexible scheduling move would be announced at least 12 days before the game.

For Week 17, the Sunday night game will be announced no later than six days prior to December 31. The schedule does not list a Sunday night game in Week 17 but an afternoon game with playoff implications will be moved to that time slot.

Flexible scheduling ensures quality matchups in all Sunday time slots in those weeks and gives “surprise” teams a chance to play their way into prime time.

Additionally, a select number of games are being “cross-flexed,” moving between CBS and FOX to bring potentially under-distributed games to wider audiences.

In the 2017 season, the City of Angels will have two teams for the first time since the 60s as the Chargers make their way up I-5 to relocate in Los Angeles, where they first started. The Atlanta Falcons will move into their new stadium, Mercedes Benz Stadium, located next to their old nest, the Georgia Dome. Speaking of new… this season, six NFL teams – the Buffalo Bills (Sean McDermott), Denver Broncos (Vance Joseph), Jacksonville Jaguars (Doug Marrone), Los Angeles Chargers (Anthony Lynn), Los Angeles Rams (Sean McVay) and San Francisco 49ers (Kyle Shannahan) – welcome new head coaches.

Once again, the NFL will have divisional games in the final week to close things out. Some games will have playoff implications, other games will be revenge matches.

Week 1 is a FOX national weekend with the key doubleheader game on Sunday, September 10 at 4:25 p.m. featuring the Seattle Seahawks at the Green Bay Packers. Week 3 is the first CBS national weekend with the key doubleheader game showcasing the Cincinnati Bengals facing the Packers at Lambeau Field.

NBC’s Sunday Night Football gets underway on September 10 when the Dallas Cowboys host the New York Giants at 8:30 p.m. at AT&T Stadium in a key NFC East matchup.

Will there be Monday Night Football? Of course! As an added bonus, Kickoff Weekend concludes on Monday, September 11 with an ESPN Monday Night Football doubleheader. The Minnesota Vikings will host the New Orleans Saints at 7:10 p.m. in the first game followed by the Los Angeles Chargers visiting the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in the nightcap at 10:20 p.m.

ESPN will televise one game each Monday night in Weeks 2-16 and there will be no Monday night game on the final regular-season weekend (Week 17) to provide more flexibility for the scheduling of the opening weekend of the NFL playoffs. A select number of games will be “cross-flexed,” moving between CBS and FOX to bring potentially under-distributed games to wider audiences. Some of those contests were announced  when the 2017 schedule was released, including the Seahawks traveling to upstate New Jersey to play at the New York Giants at 4:25 p.m. on CBS in Week 7 and the Vikings at the Carolina Panthers at 1 p.m. on CBS in Week 14. Other “cross-flexed” games will be decided during the season.

The 2017 schedule will also have an international flavor, as the international slate includes four games in London – the first time the league will play four games in the UK – and one in Mexico City. On Sunday, September 24, the Jacksonville Jaguars will host the Baltimore Ravens at London’s Wembley Stadium at 9:30 a.m. with distribution to be announced at a later date). The next weekend, on Sunday, October 1, the Dolphins will host the Saints at Wembley at 9:30 a.m. on FOX. In Week 7, the Los Angeles Rams will host the Arizona Cardinals at Twickenham Stadium on Sunday, October 22 at 1 p.m. in an NFC West matchup on FOX on Sunday, October 29. The following week, the Cleveland Browns will host the Minnesota Vikings at Twickenham on Sunday, October 29 at 9:30 a.m. on NFL Network. The NFL will return to Mexico City on Sunday, November 19 at 4:25 p.m. on CBS when the Oakland Raiders and Derek Carr host the Patriots and Tom Brady at Estadio Azteca.

Other highlights of the schedule include:

In Week 2, the Atlanta Falcons will open their new home – Mercedes-Benz Stadium – on Sunday, September 17 in primetime at 8:30 p.m. on NBC when they host the Packers in a rematch of last season’s NFC Championship Game. Earlier that day, the Chargers will make their return to Los Angeles as they host the Miami Dolphins at the StubHub Center at 4:05 p.m. on CBS.

As was the case last year, the two teams that met in last year’s Super Bowl will meet this year. New England hosts Atlanta in week 7 on Sunday night, October 22nd at 8:30 p.m. on NBC. It’s a rematch of Super Bowl LI in Houston, the first Super Bowl in NFL history to go into overtime.

Yes, there’s football on Turkey Day. Thanksgiving will feature a tripleheader on Thursday, November 23. The first game will send the Vikings to Detroit to face the Lions at 12:30 p.m. on FOX for the second consecutive year as NFC North foes meet in the Motor City. The late afternoon game will feature the Chargers visiting the Cowboys at 4:30 p.m. on CBS and the holiday concludes with an NFC East matchup in Landover as the Washington Redskins host Eli Manning and the New York Giants on NBC at  8:30 p.m.

The playoffs (PLAYOFFS?! PLAYOFFS! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!) will include four division winners and two wild cards from each conference. The playoffs begin with Wild Card Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, January 6-7. The two division winners with the best records in each conference will earn first-round byes. Wild Card Weekend winners join the top two division champions in each conference in the Divisional Playoffs on Saturday and Sunday, January 13-14. The AFC and NFC Championship Games will be played on Sunday, January 21. The winners meet two weeks later on Sunday, February 4 in Super Bowl LII at Minnesota’s U.S. Bank Stadium on NBC.

It’s time to get “Back to Football!”

The preseason is over. Training camp? Done.

Time to get it on for real.

“Being selected to play in the season-opening game and having a league-high six prime-time contests is a tremendous honor and a tribute to our team and organization,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid told the Kansas City Star. “We’ve already started preparation for these teams and we know we have a lot of great challenges ahead of us.”

Home teams have won 13 of the last 14 openers since 2002. That’s not bad at all and it keeps your fan base happy.

The NFL primetime kickoff games since 2002 (Home teams in CAPS):

September 5, 2002 at Giants Stadium – San Francisco 16, NEW YORK GIANTS 13 (San Francisco’s Jose Cortez kicks a 36-yard field goal with six seconds remaining in the NFL’s first Thursday night opener since 1949.)

September 4, 2003 at FedExField – WASHINGTON 16, New York Jets 13 (Washington kicker John Hall converts a game-winning 50-yard field goal with five seconds remaining to lift the Redskins.)

September 9, 2004 at Gillette Stadium – NEW ENGLAND 27, Indianapolis 24 (New England quarterback Tom Brady passes for 335 yards and three TDs as the defending Super Bowl champions defeat the Colts.)

September 8, 2005 at Gillette Stadium – NEW ENGLAND 30, Oakland 20 (New England quarterback Tom Brady throws for 306 yards and two TDs while running back Corey Dillon adds two scores for the defending Super Bowl champions.

September 7, 2006 at Heinz Field – PITTSBURGH 28, Miami 17 (Pittsburgh quarterback Charlie Batch, subbing for Ben Roethlisberger, passes for three TDs and running back Willie Parker adds 115 rushing yards as the defending Super Bowl champions defeat Miami.

September 6, 2007 at RCA Dome – INDIANAPOLIS 41, New Orleans 10 (The Super Bowl champion Colts rack up 452 yards of offense as quarterback Peyton Manning passes for 288 yards and three TDs.)

September 4, 2008 at Giants Stadium – NEW YORK GIANTS 16, Washington 7 (Quarterback Eli Manning scores a TD and the Giants’ defense allows just 209 total yards as the defending Super Bowl champions defeat division-rival Washington.

September 10, 2009 at Heinz Field – PITTSBURGH 13, Tennessee 10 (OT) (Pittsburgh’s Jeff Reed kicks a 33-yard game-winning field goal in overtime as the defending Super Bowl champions defeat Tennessee.)

September 9, 2010 Louisiana Superdome – NEW ORLEANS 14, Minnesota 9 (New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees throws for 237 yards and a TD to lead the Saints past the Vikings in a rematch of the 2009 NFC Championship Game.)

September 8, 2011 at Lambeau Field – GREEN BAY 42, New Orleans 34 (Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers passes for 312 yards and three TDs and the Packers’ defense makes a goal-line stand on the game’s final play as the defending Super Bowl champions defeat the Saints.)

September 5, 2012 at MetLife Stadium Dallas 24, NEW YORK GIANTS 17 (Dallas quarterback Tony Romo throws for 307 yards and three TDs, including two to Kevin Ogletree, as the Cowboys defeat the defending Super Bowl champion Giants.)

September 5, 2013 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High – DENVER 49, Baltimore 27 (Denver quarterback Peyton Manning ties an NFL single-game record with seven TD passes as the Broncos knock off the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens.)

September 4, 2014 CenturyLink Field – SEATTLE 36, Green Bay 16 (Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson throws two TDs while running back Marshawn Lynch rushes for 110 yards and two scores as the defending champion Seahawks win at home.)

September 10, 2015 at Gillette Stadium – NEW ENGLAND 28, Pittsburgh 21 (New England quarterback Tom Brady throws four touchdown passes as the defending champion Patriots defeat the Steelers.)

September 8, 2016 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High – DENVER 21, Carolina 20 (Denver running back C.J. Anderson scores two touchdowns as the Broncos defeat the Panthers in a rematch of Super Bowl 50.)

ANOTHER OPENING, ANOTHER SHOW… Since 1978 when the NFL went to the 16-game schedule and excluding the abbreviated season of 1982, teams that are victorious in their season openers are more than twice as likely to reach the playoffs than losers of an opening game:

Of the 570 teams which won openers…298 went to the playoffs (179 won division titles).

Of the 571 teams which lost openers…137 went to the playoffs (79 won division titles).

Note: There are a different number of winning and losing teams in season opening games due to the fact the NFL had 31 teams in each season from 1999 to 2001, which creates an odd number for the total number of results.

In 2016, nine of the 12 playoff teams – Detroit, Green Bay, Houston, Kansas City, New England, the New York Giants, Pittsburgh, Oakland and Seattle – were victorious on Kickoff Weekend.

HOME SWEET HOME: The Seattle Seahawks, who host San Francisco in Week 2, have won eight consecutive home openers, the longest active streak in the league…the Baltimore Ravens (14-7), who host Cleveland in Week 2, have a .667 winning percentage in home openers, the third-best mark in the AFC…the Pittsburgh Steelers, who open at home in Week 2 against Minnesota, have the most wins (49) among AFC teams in home openers…and the Detroit Lions, who begin the year by hosting Arizona, have a 52-35 (.598) record in openers at home, the third-most wins in NFL history.

HEAD COACHES: New England’s Bill Belichick is 15-7 (.682) on Kickoff Weekend and his 15 wins are the most among active head coaches…Belichick and Kansas City’s Andy Reid (10-8; .556) are the only active head coaches who have won at least 10 Kickoff Weekend games and own an opening weekend winning percentage above .500…Cincinnati’s Marvin Lewis has won three consecutive games on Kickoff Weekend, the longest current streak among active head coaches… Dirk Koetter (1-0) of the Buccaneers, Ben McAdo (1-0) of the Giants and Doug Pederson (1-0) of the Eagles are the only active head coaches with perfect records on Kickoff Weekend.

YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME! (Apologies to Herm Edwards!)… With only 16 games per team, every game is important. It’s just that, some weeks, some games seem to be even more important!

The following is a 2017 Weeks 1-17 list of “Headline Games” but far from the only ones:

Week  1: Kansas City at New England Thursday-night Kickoff Weekend opener features meeting of 2016 playoff clubs.
Week  2: Miami at Los Angeles Chargers/Green Bay at Atlanta – Chargers return to Los Angeles and Atlanta opens Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Week  3: Baltimore at Jacksonville (London) – 2017 international slate of games kicks off at London’s Wembley Stadium.
Week  4: Chicago at Green Bay – NFL’s oldest rivalry continues on Thursday Night Football in battle of NFC North foes.
Week  5: Kansas City at Houston – Texans host Chiefs in Sunday Night Football meeting of 2016 AFC division winners.
Week  6: Indianapolis at Tennessee – Battle between two contenders from AFC South on Monday Night Football.
Week  7: Atlanta at New England – Super Bowl LI rematch on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.
Week  8: Minnesota at Cleveland (London) – Showdown at Twickenham Stadium is last of four games played in UK in 2017.
Week  9: Atlanta at Carolina – Past two NFL MVPs – Matt Ryan and Cam Newton – face off in NFC South battle.
Week 10: Seattle at Arizona – NFC West rivalry will be tri-cast on NBC, NFLN and Amazon Prime.
Week 11: New England at Oakland (Mexico City) – Oakland hosts New England as NFL returns to Mexico for second consecutive year.
Week 12: Minnesota at Detroit/Los Angeles Chargers at Dallas/New York Giants at Washington – Thanksgiving triple-header featuring food, family and football!
Week 13: Denver at Miami – Broncos first-year head coach Vance Joseph squares off against his former team.
Week 14: Dallas at New York Giants – Giants host Cowboys as NFC East foes square off at MetLife Stadium.
Week 15: Chicago at Detroit/Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City – Saturday double-header features two divisional matchups.
Week 16: Pittsburgh at Houston/Oakland at Philadelphia – Christmas Day doubleheader showcases three teams from 2016 playoff field.
Week 17: 16 Division Matchups Final weekend features all division games with playoff berths on the line!

KEEPING HOPE ALIVE… The 2016 season was full of excitement, but that should be no surprise. Unpredictability is the norm in today’s NFL. Close games and great comeback victories, new teams making the playoffs and winning divisions, consistent teams excelling once again, records falling and so much more. The NFL never fails to surprise and 2016 was no different.

The 2016 season featured many exciting games with close finishes, as 57 percent were decided by one score – 146 of 256 games were decided by eight or fewer points, the most of any season since the NFL adopted the two-point conversion in 1994.

Games continued to have a flare for the dramatic, as tight contests frequently came down to the wire. In 2016, there were 72 games in which the winning team trailed at some point in the fourth quarter, the most such games in a season in NFL history, surpassing the previous high of 70 in The Detroit Lions won eight games when trailing in the fourth quarter in 2016, the most in a single season in NFL history.

The teams with the most wins after trailing in the fourth quarter in a single season in NFL history:
2016 – Detroit (8)
2009 – Indianapolis (7)
Many tied with 6

The 2017 season promises more of the same. Every enters the new year with hope.

Six teams that missed the postseason in 2015 – Atlanta (11-5) Dallas (13-3), Detroit (9-7), Miami (10-6), the New York Giants (11-5) and Oakland (12-4) – advanced to playoffs. Since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990, at least four teams have qualified the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

MILESTONES: In the 2017 campaign, players and teams will have opportunities to set milestones on the gridiron.

PLAYER MILESTONES

Drew Brees (New Orleans) needs 290 completions to surpass Peyton Manning (6,125) for the second-most all-time. Brees needs 465 completions to surpass Brett Favre (6,300) for the all-time record. In 16 seasons, Brees has 5,836 completions. Brees has led the league in completions five times and can tie Dan Marino (six) for the all-time record.

Brees can extend his NFL record streak of consecutive seasons with at least 30 touchdown passes. Brees has passed for at least 30 touchdowns in each of the past nine seasons and can surpass Favre (nine) and Peyton Manning (nine) to become the only quarterback to throw at least 30 touchdown passes in 10 different seasons.

Brees needs 35 touchdown passes to join Peyton Manning (539) and Favre (508) as the only players with 500 career touchdown passes. In seasons, Brees has touchdown passes.

Brees needs 3,889 passing yards to join P. Manning (71,940) and Favre (71,838) as the third quarterback with 70,000 career passing yards. In 16 seasons, Brees has 66,111 passing yards.

Brees needs f ve games with at least four touchdown passes to surpass P. Manning (35) and move into first place on the NFL’s all-time list for games with at least four touchdown passes.

Brees can become the first player to lead the league in passing yards eight times in his career. Sonny Jurgensen (five) and Dan Marino (five) are tied for the second-most such seasons in NFL history. Brees led the NFL with 5,208 passing yards in 2016.

Brees can extend his NFL-record streak of seasons with at least 4,000 passing yards. Brees has passed for at least 4,000 yards in 11 consecutive seasons.

Brees has four seasons with at least 35 touchdown passes and can become the first player in NFL history to pass for at least 35 touchdown passes in five seasons.

Brees can become the first quarterback in NFL history to pass for at least 40 touchdowns in three seasons. Brees has two seasons with at least 40 touchdown passes.

Tom Brady (New England) has six seasons with at least 30 touchdown passes and can join Favre (nine), Peyton Manning (nine) and Brees (nine) as the only players to pass for at least 30 touchdowns in seven seasons. Brady has four seasons with at least 35 touchdown passes and can become the first player in NFL history to pass for at least 35 touchdowns in five seasons. He has led the league in touchdown passes four times in his career and can tie Brees (five) as the only players to lead the league in touchdown passes five times.

Brady has 183 regular-season wins and needs four wins to pass Peyton Manning (186) and Favre (186) for the most regular-season wins by a starting quarterback in NFL history. Brady has 51 career games with three touchdown passes and no interceptions and needs one to pass P. Manning (51) for the most such games in NFL history. Brady has passed for at least 4,000 yards eight times in his career and can join Peyton Manning (14) and Brees (11) as the only players to pass for 4,000 yards in nine seasons.

Eli Manning (New York Giants) needs 1,786 passing yards to become the seventh player in NFL history with 50,000 career passing yards. In 13 seasons, Manning has 48,214 passing yards, Manning needs 30 touchdown passes to become the sixth player NFL history with 350 career touchdown passes. In 13 seasons and has 320 touchdown passes.

Philip Rivers (Los Angeles Chargers) needs 4,167 passing yards to become the seventh player in NFL history to reach 50,000 career passing yards. In 13 seasons, he has 45,833 passing yards. Rivers has 3,811 career completions and needs 189 to become the eighth player in history with at least 4,000 completions.

Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh) needs 3,186 passing yards to become the seventh player in NFL history with 50,000 career passing yards. In 13 seasons, he has 46,814 passing yards. Roethlisberger can become the eighth player in NFL history with 4,000 career completions. In 13 seasons, Roethlisberger has 3,804 career completions.

Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay) needs three touchdown passes to become the 11th player in NFL history to reach the 300 mark. In 12 seasons, Rodgers has 297 touchdown passes. Rodgers can become the first quarterback in NFL history to pass for at least 40 touchdowns in three seasons.

Rodgers has passed for at least 40 touchdowns in two seasons. Rodgers has four seasons with at least 35 touchdown passes and can become the first player in NFL history to pass for at least 35 touchdown passes in five seasons.

Carson Palmer (Arizona) needs 15 touchdown passes to become the 11th player in NFL history to reach 300 career touchdown passes (see Rodgers note). In 13 seasons, Palmer has 285 touchdown passes.

Matt Ryan (Atlanta) has passed for at least 4,000 yards in six consecutive seasons and can become the second player in NFL history with 4,000 passing yards in seven consecutive seasons, joining Brees (11)

Matthew Stafford (Detroit) has passed for at least 4,000 yards in six consecutive seasons and can become the second player in NFL history with 4,000 passing yards in seven consecutive seasons, joining Brees (11).

Derek Carr (Oakland) needs 3,000 passing yards to become the sixth player in NFL history to start their career with four consecutive 3,000 yard seasons.

Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay) needs 35 touchdown passes to become the fourth player in NFL history to pass for at least 85 touchdowns in his first three seasons. In two seasons, Winston has 50 touchdown passes.

Adrian Peterson (New Orleans) needs 10 rushing touchdowns to join LaDainian Tomlinson (nine) as the only players in NFL history to rush for 10 touchdowns in at least nine different seasons. Peterson is currently tied with Emmitt Smith (eight).

Peterson has six 200-yard rushing games in his career. He needs one 200-yard game to surpass O.J. Simpson (six) for the most all-time.

Peterson needs three rushing touchdowns to become the ninth player in NFL history with 100 rushing touchdowns. In 10 seasons, Peterson has 97 rushing touchdowns.

Peterson needs 566 rushing yards to pass Thurman Thomas (12,074), Franco Harris (12,120), Marcus Allen (12,243), Edgerrin James (12,246), Marshall Faulk (12,279) and Jim Brown (12,312) to move into 10th all-time in rushing yards. In 10 seasons, Peterson has 11,747 rushing yards.

Frank Gore (Indianapolis) needs 1,000 rushing yards to join Curtis Martin (10), Barry Sanders (10), Walter Payton (10) and Emmitt Smith (11) as the only players in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in at least 10 different seasons. In 12 seasons, Gore has rushed for 1,000 yards nine times.

Gore needs 935 rushing yards to become the fifth player in NFL history to reach 14,000 career rushing yards. In 12 seasons, Gore has 13,065 rushing yards.

Darren Sproles (Philadelphia) needs 672 all-purpose yards to move into fifth place in NFL history. In 12 seasons, Sproles has 19,011 all-purpose yards.

Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona) needs 75 receptions to join Jerry Rice (1,549) and Tony Gonzalez (1,325) as the only players in NFL history to record 1,200 receptions. In 13 seasons, Fitzgerald has 1,125 catches.

Fitzgerald needs eight touchdown catches to pass Gonzalez (111) and Antonio Gates (111) and move into sixth place all-time. In 13 seasons, Fitzgerald has 104 touchdown receptions.

Brandon Marshall (New York Giants), needs 59 receptions to become the 15th player in NFL history with 1,000 career catches. In 11 seasons, Marshall has 941 receptions.

Mike Evans (Tampa Bay) has at least 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first three seasons and can become the third player in NFL history to record at least 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first four seasons, joining A.J. Green and Randy Moss.

Jason Witten (Dallas) needs 112 receiving yards to join Gonzalez (15,127) as the only tight ends in NFL history to reach 12,000 career receiving yards. In 14 seasons, Witten has 11,888 receiving yards.

Witten needs 11 receptions to become the sixth player in NFL history to record at least 1,100 career receptions. In 14 seasons, Witten has 1,089 catches.

Antonio Gates (Los Angeles Chargers) needs one touchdown catch to pass Tony Gonzalez (111) for the most all-time by a tight end.

Rob Gronkowski (New England) has three seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards and can join Gonzalez (four) and Witten four) as the only tight ends with at least four seasons with 1,000 receiving yards.

Julius Peppers (Carolina) needs 6.5 sacks to become the fourth player with 150 sacks since the sack became an official statistic in 1982. In 15 seasons, Peppers has 143.5 sacks.

J.J. Watt (Houston) can increase his NFL record total of 20-sack seasons. In six seasons, Watt has two seasons with 20 sacks, the most since the sack became an official statistic in 1982.

Watt has three seasons with at least 15 sacks and can tie Reggie White (four) for the most seasons with at least 15 sacks since the sack became an official statistic in 1982.

Watt has led the league in sacks twice in his career and can become the first player to lead the league three times since the sack became an official statistic in 1982.

Elvis Dumervil (San Francisco) needs one sack to reach 100 career sacks. In 10 seasons, Dumervil has recorded 99 sacks.

Adam Vinatieri (Indianapolis) needs to convert 36 fi eld goals pass Morten Andersen (565) for the most made fi eld goals in NFL history. In 21 seasons, Vinatieri has converted 530 field goals. Vinatieri needs 22 points to become the third player in NFL history to record 2,400 career points. In 21 seasons, Vinatieri has 2,378 points.

Stephen Gostkowski (New England) has led the league in scoring fi ve times in his career and can surpass Don Hutson (five) and Gino Cappelletti (five) as the only player to lead the league in points scored six times.

Gostkowski has led the league in field goals three times in his career and can join Lou Groza (five), Ward Cuff (four) and Jack Manders (four) as the only player to lead the league in field goals at least four times.

With 30 field goals, Gostkowski will join David Akers (five) and John Carney (five) as the only players in NFL history with five seasons of 30 or more field goals.

Sebastian Janikowski (Oakland) needs 100 points to become the 12th NFL player with 11 career seasons scoring at least 100 points.

Janikowski needs 23 made field goals to move into eighth on the NFL’s all-time made field goals list.

Matt Prater (Detroit) needs four field goals of at least 50 yards to climb into the top five of converted 50-yard field goals in NFL history. In 10 seasons, Prater has 36 field goals of at least 50 yards.

TEAM MILESTONES

New England needs one Super Bowl victory to tie the Pittsburgh Steelers (six) for the most Super Bowl wins in NFL history.

The Patriots have recorded a winning record in 16 consecutive seasons (2001-16) and can surpass San Francisco (1983-98) and Dallas (1970-85) for the most consecutive seasons with a .500 or better record since the 1970 merger.

New England has qualified for the playoffs in eight consecutive seasons (2009-16), tied with Green Bay (2009-16), Pittsburgh (1972-79), the Los Angeles Rams (1973-80), Dallas (1966-73) and San Francisco (1983-90). With a playoff berth, New England would tie Dallas (1975-83) and Indianapolis (2002-10) for the most consecutive playoff appearances (nine) in NFL history.

Dallas needs seven wins to reach 500 regular-season victories. Dallas’ all-time regular-season record is 493-367-6.

Denver needs 12 victories to reach 500 total victories. Denver’s all-time record is 488-412-10.

Baltimore needs four victories to reach 200 total victories. Baltimore’s all-time record is 196-162-1.

Many NFL owners will be celebrating notable milestones in 2017, including Arizona’s William V. Bidwill, whose family has reached the 85th anniversary of when his father, Charles V. Bidwill, purchased the team when the franchise was located in Chicago.

Here are some of the notable owner milestones for 2017:

FRANCHISE – OWNER (RELATIONSHIP; YEAR ACQUIRED – MILESTONE)
Arizona Cardinals – William V. Bidwill (Son of Charles W. Bidwill; 1932 – 85th Anniversary)
Pittsburgh Steelers – Arthur J. Rooney II (Grandson of Art Rooney; 1933 – 85th Season)
Cincinnati Bengals – Mike Brown (Son of Paul Brown; 1967 – 50th Anniversary)
Indianapolis Colts – James Irsay (Son of Robert Irsay; 1972, 45th Anniversary)
San Francisco 49ers – Denise DeBartolo York (Daughter of Edward J. DeBartolo, Sr.; 1977 – 40th Anniversary)
Carolina Panthers – Jerry Richardson (1993 – 25th Season)
Seattle Seahawks – Paul Allen (1997 – 20th Anniversary)
Atlanta Falcons – Arthur M. Blank (2002 – 15th Anniversary)
Miami Dolphins – Stephen M. Ross (2008 – 10th Season)
Cleveland Browns – Jimmy Haslam (2012 – 5th Anniversary)

There are also going to be some celebrations of anniversaries of events that took place on the field over the last half century.

ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS
125th – William “Pudge” Heffelfinger becomes the first professional football player (1892).
120th – The Latrobe Athletic Association football team becomes the first team to play a full season with only professional players (1897).
115th – A precursor to what would eventually become the Super Bowl called the World Series of Pro Football is played for the first time (1902).
95th – The American Professional Football Association changes its name to the National Football League (1922).
85th – The Washington Redskins franchise plays its first season. The team is founded in Boston and is called the Braves (1932).
85th – Official statistics are kept for the first time (1932).
85th – On December 18, 1932, the NFL has its first playoff game and first indoor game. Chicago’s Wrigley Field is scheduled to host the game but a blizzard makes it impossible to play and the game is moved indoors to Chicago Stadium.
85th Season – The Pittsburgh Steelers franchise plays its first season. The team is called the Pirates (1933). The Philadelphia Eagles franchise plays its first season (1933).
65th – The Pittsburgh Steelers are the last pro team to abandon the single-wing in favor of the T-formation (1952).
55th – The NFL reaches a single-network agreement with CBS for telecasting all regular season games for $4.65 million annually (1962).
55th Season – The Pro Football Hall of Fame is established (1963).
55th Season – The Chiefs franchise moves to Kansas City (1963).
50th – The Green Bay Packers defeat the Dallas Cowboys 21-17 in the coldest NFL game on record: the 1967 NFL Championship dubbed forevermore as the “Ice Bowl.”
50th – On August 15, 1967, Denver defeats Detroit in a preseason game, 13-7, to notch the AFL’s fi rst win over an NFL team.
45th – The Miami Dolphins complete the NFL’s only perfect championship season (1972).
45th – The “Immaculate Reception” touchdown was scored in an AFC Divisional playoff game by the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Franco Harris on December 23, 1972.
45th – The inbounds lines are moved closer to the center of the field so that they are 23 yards, 1 foot, 9 inches from the sidelines (1972).
30th – The first two NFL games on ESPN produce the two highest-rated and most-watched sports programs in basic cable history (1987).
15th – The NFL kicks off the season on Thursday night for the first time in history (2002).
15th – The Houston Texans franchise is founded (2002).
10th – The first regular season game is played in London, as the New York Giants defeat the Miami Dolphins 13-10 at Wembley Stadium (2007).
10th – The New England Patriots become the first team to complete a perfect regular season since the league expanded to a 16-game season (2007).

Seven divisional rematches grace the Sunday and Monday part of week one’s schedule. Week one got underway in Foxboro and ends in Denver as the Broncos host the Los Angeles Chargers in the second game of a Monday night twin-bill.

The NFL returns this week and it’s time to get back to football. That means the next five months will be packed with the sizzle and suspense that comes only with the National Football League and will culminate with Super Bowl LII, which will be played on Sunday, February 4, 2018 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minnesota.

America’s favorite sport roared back into action Thursday night in the first game of NFL Kickoff 2017 Weekend. The opener featured Super Bowl champion New England hosting Kansas City.

Everybody is ready for the unique unpredictability of the NFL. And every team enters the new season with hope.

Last year, 146 games (57.0 percent) were decided by one score (eight points or fewer), the most of any season in NFL history. And there were six new playoff teams in 2016: Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, Miami, the New York Giants and Oakland. Since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

The 2017 season promises more of the same. As the season begins, it comes packed with changes, quests and questions:

•CAN THE SUPER BOWL CHAMPION PATRIOTS REPEAT?: It’s tough, having happened only eight times since the first Super Bowl in 1967. The last team to accomplish the feat was New England in 2004 (Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX).

•MILESTONES ON THE HORIZON: New Orleans QB Drew Brees (66,111) needs 3,889 passing yards to become the third QB in NFL history with 70,000. Brees (465) needs 35 touchdown passes to become the third player ever to reach 500…New England QB Tom Brady (183) needs four wins for the most victories by a starting QB…

New York Giants QB Eli Manning (48,214), Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger (46,814) and Los Angeles Chargers QB Philip Rivers (45,833) can each reach 50,000 career passing yards… New Orleans RB Adrian Peterson can become the second player in NFL history to rush for 10+ TDs in nine seasons…

Indianapolis RB FRANK GORE can become the fifth player all-time to rush for 1,000+ yards in 10 seasons…Arizona WR LARRY FITZGERALD (1,125) can become the third player in NFL history to record 1,200 receptions…Carolina DE JULIUS PEPPERS (143.5) needs 6.5 sacks to become the fifth player with 150…and Indianapolis K ADAM VINATIERI (530) needs 36 field goals for the most in NFL history.

•NEW COACHES/PLAYERS IN NEW PLACES: There are six new head coaches hired to lead their teams in 2017 – Vance Joseph in Denver, ANTHONY LYNN with the Los Angeles Chargers, DOUG MARRONE in Jacksonville, Sean McDermott in Buffalo, Sean McVay with the Los Angeles Rams and Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco.

And there are a lot of well-known players with new teams, including RBs Le Garrette Blount (Philadelphia), Jamaal Charles (Denver), Eddie Lacy (Seattle), Marshawn Lynch (Oakland) and Adrian Peterson (New Orleans); WRs Brandin Cooks (New England), DE Sean Jackson (Tampa Bay), Alshon Jeffery (Philadelphia), Brandon Marshall (New York Giants) and Sammy Watkins (Los Angeles Rams); TE Martellus Bennett (Green Bay); and defenders CB A.J. Bouye (Jacksonville), DE Calais Campbell (Jacksonville), CB Stephon Gilmore (New England), CB Joe Haden (Pittsburgh), S Tony Jefferson (Baltimore), DE Julius Peppers (Carolina), DL Sheldon Richardson (Seattle) and S T.J. Ward (Tampa Bay).

•ON-THE-FIELD TRENDS IN 2016: Close games and comeback victories…new teams making the playoffs…consistent teams excelling again…records falling…young players making their mark…and QBs performing at record levels.

In 2016, 135 games (52.7 percent) were decided by seven points or fewer, the most in NFL history…There were 184 games (71.9 percent) within one score in the fourth quarter, the most ever… There were 72 comeback victories by a team trailing in the fourth quarter, the most in NFL history… The margin of victory was 10.23 points per game, the lowest figure since 1935 (10.08)…A total of 11,661 points and 1,306 touchdowns were scored, both the third-most ever in a season… Games averaged 700.8 total net yards, the second-best mark in NFL history… The league-wide completion percentage (63.0) tied the previous record (2015) and the league-wide passer rating (89.3) ranked second in league annals (90.2 in 2015). The league-wide interception percentage of 2.3 percent was the lowest in NFL history.

•NEW RULES: With player health and safety remaining a priority, here are some of the key rules changes for 2017:

Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Makes permanent the rule that automatically disqualifies a player that is penalized twice in the same game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls. These types of fouls include:

Throwing a punch or kick without making contact

Use of abusive or threatening language

Any act that constitutes taunting

Also, it is now an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to commit multiple fouls during the same down designed to manipulate the game clock.

Replay Reviews: All sideline replay monitors will be replaced with a hand-held device and designated members of the NFL Officiating department will be authorized to make the final decision on replay reviews from the NFL league office.

Leaping: Prohibits a player who is off the line of scrimmage from running and jumping over offensive lineman on the line of scrimmage in an attempt to block a FG or PAT attempt.

Touchbacks: For the 2017 season, after a touchback resulting from a kickoff or safety kick, the ball will be placed at the receiving team’s 25-yard line. The rule, which was also used in 2016, was approved on a one-year basis for 2017.

Crackback Blocks: Prohibits crackback blocks by a backfield player in motion, even if he is not more than two yards outside the tackle when the ball is snapped.

Defenseless Receiver Protection: Gives a receiver running a pass route defenseless player protection when the defender approaches him from behind or the side.

Overtime: The length of preseason and regular season overtime periods is reduced from 15 minutes to 10 minutes.

Clock Stoppages: All illegal acts to conserve time are not permitted after the two-minute warning of either half. The previous rule applied inside of one minute of either half.

Additionally, after conversations with more than 80 current and former players, Commissioner Goodell announced in May that the league will relax its rules on touchdown celebrations to allow players more room to express themselves.

The 2017 season will also start with a postponement in Miami as the Dolphins home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, originally scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. ET at Hard Rock Stadium, will not be played in Miami on Sunday, the NFL announced Tuesday. In a statement from the league office, in the interest of public safety in light of the current state of emergency, the NFL, in consultation with state and local officials as well as both clubs, has decided that playing an NFL game in South Florida this week is not appropriate. Both clubs have a BYE week on November 16th (week 11) and will meet in Miami for that contest.

Now normally, we’d select a game and call that contest “DRILL WORTHY.” Since you’ve been so patient with waiting for the draft and the release of the regular season and pre-season schedules, we figure that we would make every game on the Sunday and Monday docket “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?”

Last year, we were 183-83 as far as picks go. That’s not bad. It would have been better if we had all of our picks right… but then again, that would be boring. Having said that, here are Sunday and Monday’s picks for week 1.

ATLANTA (11-5) at Chicago (3-13), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. It’s chicken and waffles vs. deep dish pizza as the defending NFC champs travel to the Windy City for their season opener with Chicago at Soldier Field.

The Falcons made it all the way to Super Bowl LI before letting a 21-point lead against New England get away from them in Houston get away from them, allowing New England to tie things up in regulation, then falling to the Pats 34-28 in overtime. Atlanta ruled the roost in the NFC South, losing just one contest in that division and the Falcons easily outrushed their opponents 1,928-1,672, while MVP QB Matt Ryan threw for 4,944 yards and 38 TDs (6 of them to All Pro WR Julio Jones) with only seven interceptions. Chicago finished last in the NFC North and would like to change that and unseat Green Bay as king of the NFC North mountain. The Monsters of the Midway closed out the 2016 campaign losing their last four in a row.

Da Bears lead the series 14-12, have outscored Atlanta 498-447 and have won the last two meetings in the series, with Chicago coming away 27-13 winners in 2014 in the Big Peach. Atlanta’s last win over Chicago also came in the Peach State, as the Falcons would take Da Bears to task by a final of 21-14 in 2009. Atlanta’s favored by 6 1/2 and the over/under is 48 1/2. Chicago’s better than their 3-13 record but they’re playing the defending NFC champs. Atlanta wins in the Windy City and covers the 6 1/2.

New York Jets (5-11) at Buffalo (7-9), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705. A pair of AFC East rivals meet in upstate New York as GangGreen travels to the shores of Lake Erie for a contest with the Bills. It’s also the debut of Sean McDermott as he roams the sidelines for the Bills. Both clubs are looking to forget their somewhat dismal seasons in the AFC East, as they look to unseat New England as leaders of that division.

Bill starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor was not a lock to play in the team’s season opener Sunday against the New York Jets. According to head coach Sean McDermott, Taylor is still making his way through the concussion protocol.

“I think he’s getting better, but he’s still in the concussion protocol,” McDermott told USA Today. It should be noted that a player in the concussion protocol can still practice as part of the Return-to-Participation process.

League guidelines state that a player may be considered to return to practice only after the player has returned to baseline status with rest and exertion, has repeat neurophysiological testing, which is interpreted by the team neuropsychology consultant as back to baseline levels of functioning, and has completed the Return to Participation protocol. He also must be cleared by the Team Physician and the Independent Neurological Consultant. With it being so early in the week, McDermott has not set a drop dead date to turn to backup QB Nate Peterman as the starter for this week’s game.

“With any starter it gets to the point in the week where you have to say, ‘Hey we’re going to have to go one way or another,’” McDermott said. “We’ll cross that road when we come to it.” Third-string QB T.J. Yates is also still in the concussion protocol, which is what prompted the signing of QB Joe Webb.

The Bills lead the series 59-53 and have outscored GangGreen 2,330-2,296 (including contests that were played when the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! were known as the Titans and played their home games at Shea Stadium) The two AFC East rivals met last year and it was GangGreen taking the series in contests in upstate New York and New Jersey.

Round 1 – Week two in upstate New York on a Thursday night. The Jets, then led by Rex Ryan, led Buffalo 20-10 at the half in Orchard Park and then held off the Bills 37-31. New York outrushed Buffalo 123-86, with Jets RB Matt Forte leading all rushers with 100 yards in the contest. Ryan Fitzpatrick’s 374 yards passing (24 of 34) outpaced Tyrod Taylor, who threw for 297 yards and three TDs. The Jets on third down tries in the first meeting went 8 of 13 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 39:12, while the Bills, who were 3 of 10 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth downs, kept the pigskin for 20:48.

The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! completed the sweep of the series in the Meadowlands in week 17, taking a 30-10 win in a game that meant nothing for either club, since both were long out of the playoff picture. GangGreen led 10-3 at the half after a scoreless first quarter and proceeded to pull away from the Bills. New York outrushed Buffalo 127-68 and Fitzpatrick threw for 210 yards and a pair of TDs, while Jets RB Bilal Powell ran for 122 yards. Neither club did anything to write home about on third or fourth downs in the season finale (Buffalo was 6 of 16 and 0 of 1, while the Jets were 4 of 13 and 0 of 2) but as was the case in the first meeting, the Jets ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 31:27, while Buffalo held it for 28:33.

In the week two contest in the Meadowlands, GangGreen was favored by 1 and the over/under was 40. New York won by 6, covering the spread and both clubs combined for 68 points, covering the over/under. Buffalo’s favored by 8 1/2 and the over/under’s 40. While these teams were somewhat bad last year, this one may be worth your time and energy. GangGreen makes this one interesting but the Bills prevail in upstate New York

Baltimore (8-8) at Cincinnati (6-9-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706. It’s a pair of AFC North rivals meeting along the shores of the Ohio River as the Ravens travel to the Queen City. The Ravens took Pittsburgh to the edge in a Winner-take-all contest in the Steel City to determine the champion for that division before falling to the Steelers on Christmas night, while the Bengals, who will be without the services of LB Vontaze Burfict (suspension) are looking to get back to the playoffs.

There have been 42 games played between these two teams and the series is even 21-21 and Baltimore has outscored Cincy 895-  783. Both teams split last season’s contests, each taking wins at home.

The first meeting took place in Charm City in week 12 and the Ravens led 16-3 at the half, holding off the Bengals to come away 19-14 winners at M&T Bank Stadium. Neither club ran for 100 yards in that first meeting but the Ravens managed to outrush Cincy 92-64 in the win. Flacco threw for 234, while Dalton threw for 283 (each had a TD pass in the contest and both men combined to be sacked five times; Flacco was sacked twice, Dalton sacked three times). Both clubs were a dismal 5 of 16 on third down tries, while the Bengals, who turned the ball over twice, went 1 of 1 on fourth down tries (Baltimore was 1 of 2). Time was the ally of the victorious Ravens, who held the pigskin for 31:17, while the Bengals held the ball for 28:43.

The second meeting was along the shores of the Ohio River in week 17 to close out the season and with neither team going to the post-season dance, it was a win for the Bengals, who took care of the Ravens 27-10 at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals led 20-3 at the half and never looked back, outrushing Baltimore 153-72 (Cincy’s Rex Burkhead led all rushers with 119 yards and a pair of TDs). In the season finale, Dalton threw for 226 yards for the home team, while Flacco threw for 267 yards and three sacks. The Ravens were much better on third down in the second meeting, going 8 of 16 (1 of 3 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 29:18. The Bengals struggled on third down at 1 of 8 but managed to rule the clock and kept the ball for 30:42.

Baltimore covered the 4 1/2 spread in the week 12 contest but neither club covered the 40 1/2 over/under, scoring only 31 ponits. The Bengals covered the 2 1/2 spread in the finale but as was the case in the first meeting, the over/under of 41 1/2 was safe with both clubs combining for a whopping 37 points. Cincy’s a 3-point favoring in this one and the over/under’s 42. Both numbers make sense. Cincinnati may not cover the 3 but they take the win at home.

Pittsburgh (11-5) at Cleveland (1-15), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707. A pair of teams that went in opposite directions meet along the shores of Lake Erie as Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers take on the Cleveland Browns. Pittsburgh made it all the way to the AFC championship game before falling to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Foxboro, seeing their Super Bowl hopes die at Gillette Stadium. For the Browns, it’s a chance to right their ship, as they struggled in the AFC North, taking their lone win at home on Christmas Eve.

Pittsburgh leads the series 70-58, have outscored Cleveland 2,617-2,459 and the Steelers have won the last four meetings, including taking wins last year, along the shores of Lake Erie in week 11 and in the Steel City in week 17. (Cleveland’s last win over Pittsburgh came in 2014, when they were 31-10 winners along the shores of Lake Erie.)

In the first meeting (week 11) in Cleveland, the Steelers led the Browns 14-0 at the half and never look back, coming away 24-9 winners in the Buckeye State. LeVeon Bell accounted for all 146 of Pittsburgh’s rushing yards, while the Browns were held to 33 in that first meeting. Neither club did much to talk about in the first meeting on third down (Pittsburgh was 5 of 12, Cleveland was 4 of 15) but both clubs did strike paydirt on fourth down (Pittsburgh 1 of 1, Cleveland 5 of 6) and the Steelers ruled the clock in the first contest, holding the ball for 33:58 to Cleveland’s 26:02.

The defending AFC North champs completed the series sweep in front of the home folks at Heinz Field in week 17, taking a 27-24 overtime win in the Keystone State. Pittsburgh led 21-14 with 3:28 left in regulation when the Browns’ Greg Atkinson scored on a 5 yard run. In the overtime, the Browns took the lead when K Chris Parkey connected on a 34-yard field goal with 7:17 left in the extra period. Pittsburgh, needing to either tie the contest or take the win, chose to take the win at home and they did. Landry Jones, taking over for Roethlisberger, engineered a 9-play, 75-yard drive that used 4:20 of clock and ended when Jones (277 yards, three TDs) and WR Chris Hamilton connected on a 26-yard TD strike with 2:57 left in overtime. The Steeler rushing game went missing as if they were on a milk carton, tallying only 69 yards, while the Browns’ Isiah Crowell ran amok, tallying 152 of his team’s 231 yards in the contest. Cleveland on third down? 8 of 15 and the Browns held the ball for 38:54, while Pittsburgh went 3 of 14 on third down (2 of 2 on fourth down) and the Steelers held on to the pigskin for 33:09.

The Steelers covered the 9-point spread in the first meeting, winning by 15 but neither club covered the 49 over/under, tallying only 33 points. The second meeting, Pittsburgh failed to cover the 7-point spread with their 3-point win but Cleveland and Pittsburgh scored 51 points, allowing them to cover the 44 over/under. The Steelers are a 9 1/2-point favorite on the road and the over/under’s 46 1/2. If you’re a Steelers’ fan, watch this one. On the other hand, if you’re a Browns fan, you might want to consider watching that “Bar Rescue” marathon on “Spike” (there’s nothing better than seeing Jon Tapper blow a fuse!). Steelers cover the 9 1/2 and win in Cleveland.

Arizona (7-8-1) at Detroit (9-7), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 712. Arizona leaves the desert and heads to Detroit for a meeting at Ford Field with Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions. For Arizona, they would love to take Seattle to task and win the NFC West, while the Lions look to go back to the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since they did the feat in the 1994 and 1995 seasons.

The Lions lead the series 31-28-5, which includes contests that took place when the Lions were in Portsmouth and known as the Spartans and the Cardinals called the Windy City home before moving to St. Louis and Arizona. Detroit has outscored Arizona in the series 1,147-1,062. However… the Desert Angry Birds have won the last seven meetings in the series, with Arizona coming away 42-17 winners in the Motor City in 2015, while Detroit’s last win came in 2005 (also in Detroit) by a final of 29-21.  Arizona’s favored by 2 in the Motor City and the over/under is 48. Lions roar over the Desert Angry Birds in the Motor City and covers the 2.

Jacksonville (3-13) at Houston (9-7), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708. They’re separated by 871 miles and they’re both in the same division. The Jaguars, who lost 10 of their last 11 games in 2016, will have a familiar face at the helm as Doug Marrone takes the interim title off and takes over as the team’s fifth head coach in their history. As for the Texans, while they were the defending AFC South champs, they have bigger things to deal with, such as helping their community recover from Hurricane Harvey last August. Houston and J.J. Watt took Oakland to task in the first round of the AFC playoffs at home before traveling to Foxboro and losing to New England in the divisional round.

Houston holds a 19-11 lead in the series along I-10, they’ve outscored Jacksonville 693-594 and have won the last six contests, including sweeping last year’s games. Both contests were close, both were single-digit wins and the Texans were on the good end of those games, taking wins in the Sunshine State and Lone Star State. (Jacksonville’s last win in the series came in the 2013 campaign, when they swept the Texans, with their last win coming in the Sunshine State by a final of 27-20).

Contest number one… week 10 at EverBank Field. Houston led 14-10 at the half and then held off the Jaguars in the second half for a 24-21 win. Houston outrushed Jacksonville 181-80 in the three-point win in the Sunshine State and that was a good thing, because Bortles out-passed Osweiller 265-96 (each threw a pair of TDs).  Jacksonville was 10 of 17 on third down tries in the loss at home and kept the ball for 32:10, while the Texans, who held on to the ball for 27:50, went 7 of 15 on third down tries (both clubs were 0 for 1 on fourth down).

Contest number two… week 15 in Houston at NRG Stadium. Jacksonville actually led 20-11 after 45 minutes of play before the Texans rallied in the final 15 minutes of the contest, coming away 21-20 winners. Trailing 13-5 at the break, Houston outscored Jacksonville 16-7 in the second half to take the 1-point win. Neither club shattered the 100-yard barrier in the first meeting (Jacksonville tallied 67, while the Texans mustered 79) and Houston’s Tom Savage took over for Osweiller, throwing for 260 yards, while Bortles tallied 92. As far as third down tries in the first meeting? Jacksonville was 3 of 13, Houston was 4 of 14 (both were 0 of 1 on fourth down) and the Texans ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 36:42, while Jacksonville kept it for 23:18.

In the week 10 contest in the Lone Star State, the Texans were favored by 1 1/2 and would come away with the 3-point win to cover the spread. Both clubs did well in covering the 42 1/2 over/under, scoring 45. In the week 15 meeting in north Florida, the Texans were favored by 6 but won by a single point. That was the bad news. The good news? Both Jacksonville and Houston covered the 39 over/under with their 41 combined points. Houston’s favored by 5 and the over/under is 39 1/2. Jacksonville gave the Texans a scare in both meetings last year and they could very well do the same. Houston will play inspired football after their city was hit by Harvey two weeks. Texans cover the 5 and win at home.

Oakland (12-4) at Tennessee (9-7), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 709. A pair of up and coming quarterbacks meet in the Music City as the Silver and Black come east to square off against the Tennessee Titans. For the Raiders and David Carr, who will call Oakland home for the last time before heading to Las Vegas, while they watched Kansas City win the AFC West, they did managed to get into post-season play as a Wild Card team, losing to J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans 27-14 in the Lone Star State. As for Tennessee and Marcus Marriota, although they failed to make the post-season and finish at the .500 mark after going 2-14 the season before, Tennessee was a much improved ball club, which made Titans fans happy.

Including games played in Houston, when the Titans were known as the Oilers and the Raiders called Los Angeles home, the Silver and Black lead the series 25-20 but the Titans have outscored Oakland 1,050-1,010.

The Silver and Black and the Titans met in week three in the Music City last year and the Raiders were 17-10 winners in that affair. Oakland took a 17-3 lead with them to the half and then held off the Titans in the second half for the 7-point win. Tennessee outrushed Oakland 181-123 with Titans RB DeMarco Murray (TD) accounting for 114 of those yards. Mariota threw for 214 yards and a pair of interceptions, while Carr threw for 249 with a TD and an interception (each man was sacked in the contest). The Titans were 2 of 12 on third down conversions and 0 of 1 on fourth down, keeping the ball for 30:57 at Nissan Stadium, while the Raider were 5 of 13 and held on to the pigskin for 29:03. Tennessee won by 7, covering the 1 1/2 spread and the 47 over/under was safe as the Silver and Black and the Titans could only muster 27 points. Tennessee’s favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under’s 50 1/2. The 50 1/2 is a bit high. The 2 1/2 makes sense. Tennessee covers the 2 1/2 and wins in the Music City.

Philadelphia (7-9) at Washington (8-7-1), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710. They meet again in the nation’s capital. A pair of NFC East rivals with a lot of history under their belts meet in Landover as the Redskins host Philadelphia at Fed Ex Field. Both clubs are looking to rule the NFC East and take out Dallas in the process. Philly lost five in a row in mid-season before beating the playoff-bound New York Giants and Dallas to close out the campaign. After winning the NFC East two seasons ago, Washington came back to Earth last year and missed the post-season party, falling to their 8-7-1 mark.

The Redskins lead the series with their NFC East rival 85-73-5… but the Eagles have outscored Washington 3,402-3,254.  Washington has won five of the last six meetings and swept the series with the Eagles in the 2016 campaign, taking wins at Landover and Philadelphia in weeks 6 and 14. (Philly’s last win in the series came in the City of Brotherly Love in 2014 by a final of 37-34.

Contest number one… Landover in week 6. Washington led 21-14 at the break at FedEx Field, then held off their NFC East rivals to come away 27-20 winners. While they sacked Wentz twice in the contest, the Redskins also outrushed Philly 230-94 and ‘Skins RB Matt Jones led the way with 135 yards and a TD (Cousins threw for 263 yards with a pair of TDs). Washington was 7 of 13 on third down conversions in northern Maryland and held the ball for 34:13, while Philly kept the ball for 25:47, going 4 of 12 on third down.

Game two… the City of Brotherly Love… week 14. The Redskins completed the series sweep, erasing a 13-7 deficit at the break to take a 27-22 win. Washington took the lead for keeps in the final two minutes of play when RB Chris Thompson scored on a 25-yard run with 1:56 left in regulation. As was the case in the first contest, Washington outrushed Philly 107-95 and Cousins threw for 234 yards and a pair of TDs, while Wentz threw for 314 yards and a TD (Wentz was sacked four times, Cousins was sacked twice). The Eagles were 9 of 18 on third down tries at Lincoln Financial Field (2 of 3 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 36:38, while the ‘Skins were 2 of 7 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth downs, holding on to the ball for 23:22. Philly was favored by 2 in the first contest in Landover and the ‘Skins covered with their 7-point win at home and both teams covered the 45 over/under with 47 points. In the second meeting in the City of Brotherly Love, the Eagles were again the favorite and the spread that day was 1 point, the over/under was 46 1/2 and Washington covered the spread, winning by 5 and the over/under was covered that day with 49 points. Although they’re the road team, the Eagles are favored by 1 1/2 and the over/under’s 48. Philly’s trying to stop a team that’s given them fits. The Redskins? They want to stay the course. Washington fans will be singing “Hail to the Redskins” this week. Washington covers the 1 1/2 and wins in Landover.

Indianapolis (8-8) at Los Angeles Rams (4-12), 4:05 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 714. A pair of teams looking for a chance to right their ships meet in Tinseltown as Chuck Pagano’s Colts travel to Los Angeles for a late afternoon (Eastern time) contest with the Rams. Indy finished 8-8 for the second straight season and still will not have the services of Andrew Luck (broken leg) and need to improve if Pagano wants to stay as head coach. As for the Rams, they have a new man on the sidelines as they hired Sean McVay to take over for a Los Angeles team that lost their last seven contests in 2016 and was outscored 221-75 in those games.

Indianapolis general manager Chris Ballard announced Monday that the team’s starting quarterback will not suit up for Sunday’s regular-season opener against the Los Angeles Rams, adding that “no timetable” exists for Luck’s return.

The decision comes as no great surprise to Colts fans. Still on the mend from offseason shoulder surgery, Luck has been a ghost all summer, missing all of training camp and the entire preseason. Colts owner Jim Irsay prefaced the confirmation by saying that “the odds are most likely he (Luck) probably won’t open up against the Rams.”

In his place, backup Scott Tolzien will make the start against Los Angeles, an ominous scenario after the overwhelmed quarterback struggled mightily from wire-to-wire during the preseason. The team also acquired quarterback Jacoby Brissett from New England in exchange for wide-out Phillip Dorsett but Ballard weighed in Monday, saying: “It’s Tolzien’s job [for now], because Brissett has to get up to speed.”

Including contests that were played when the Rams were in Los Angeles and then St. Louis and the Colts were in Baltimore, the Colts lead the series 23-18-2 but the Rams have outscored the Colts 950-936. Their last meeting took place in the Hoosier State in 2013, when the Rams came away 38-8 winners. Indy’s last win over the Rams came in 2009 when they played in St. Louis and Peyton Manning was under center, with the Colts coming away 42-6 winners. The Rams are favored by 4 1/2 on the West Coast and the over/under’s 41 1/2. Even with no Andrew Luck under center, Indy takes this one on the road, although the Rams make this one closer than 4 1/2.

Seattle (10-5-1) at Green Bay (10-6), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 715. Wilson. Rodgers. Two QBs with Super Bowl rings meet in the land of cheese, beer and Bratwurst as Seattle travels to Green Bay for a late afternoon meeting at Lambeau. Both teams won their respective divisions, allowing them to advance to the post-season, where they would eventually meet Atlanta and both lost in the Peach State (Seattle losing 36-20 in the NFC divisional playoffs, Green Bay losing in the NFC Championship game 44-21). Although they went 3-3 in their last six games, the Seahawks did manage to take the top spot in the NFC West over Arizona and took Detroit to task in the first round of the playoffs in the Pacific Northwest before losing at Atlanta in the Divisional Round. Green Bay won their last six regular season contests, taking Eli Manning and the New York Giants in the Wild Card round at Lambeau, then won in Dallas in the Divisional round in the final seconds before losing a chance to take on Brady and the Pats as they were manhandled by Atlanta in the Big Peach.

Green Bay leads the series 10-7, have outscored Seattle 445-351 and have won the last two meetings, including last year’s affair at Lambeau Field (Seattle’s last win in the series came in 2014 in the land of grunge, Salmon and Starbucks, coming away 36-16 winners).

The Seahawks and Packers met in week 14 in the land of cheese, beer and Bratwurst and Green Bay were 38-10 victors at Lambeau. Rodgers and Jordy Nelson connected for a pair of TDs in the win on the Frozen Tundra and the Packers were never really threatened, leading 21-3 at the half. Seattle did outrush Green Bay 136-93 but Rodgers threw for 246 yards and three TDs, outpacing Russell Wilson, who tallied 240 yards, while being sacked three times and picked off five. Green Bay, who took advantage of six Seattle turnovers, was 4 of 11 on third down tries and kept the ball for 28:10, while Seattle held on to the ball for 31:50 (both clubs were 0 for 1 on fourth down). Green Bay took the 28-point win in the land of beer, cheese and Bratwurst (they were favored by 3) and the 46 over/under was taken care of, as both clubs scored 48 points. Green Bay’s favored by 3 and the over/under’s 51. A pair of playoff teams last year meeting in upstate Wisconsin could very well be a preview for the post-season and this one could go into overtime. Seattle will make things tough for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers but Green Bay prevails at home in the land of beer, cheese and Bratwurst, although they won’t cover the 3.

Carolina (6-10) at San Francisco (2-14), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 716. Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers travel to northern California for a meeting with the San Francisco 49ers at Levis Stadium in Santa Clara. After making it to Super Bowl 50 on the same field and losing to Denver, the Panthers struggled in the 2016 campaign, finishing last in the NFC South behind Atlanta. Meanwhile, losing 13 in a row and finishing in last in the NFC West, the 49ers hired Kyle Shannahan away from Atlanta to right their ship on the West Coast.

Carolina leads the series 12-7, outscoring San Francisco 494-423 and won the last five regular season meetings, including last year’s contest in Charlotte (San Francisco’s last win in the series came in 2001, when they came away 25-22 overtime winners in Charlotte (they swept the series last year when both team were in the NFC West).

Newton and the Panthers met San Francisco last year in the Tar Heel State and Carolina came away with the 46-27 win at Bank of America Stadium in week two. Leading 17-10 at the half, Carolina proceeded to floor the gas and outscore the 49ers 29-17 in the final =30 minutes of action. Carolina easily outrushed San Francisco 176-65, with Panthers RB Fozzy Whittaker running for 100 yards and Newton throwing for 353 yards and four TDs (San Francisco’s Blaine Gabbert threw for 243 yards with a pair of TDs but was sacked twice and picked off twice). Carolina was 7 of 15 on third down tries in the lopsided win, while the 49ers were 4 of 12 and 0 for 1 on third and fourth down conversions. Carolina also ruled the clock, holding on to the ball for 35:54, while the 49ers kept it for 24:06.

New York Giants (11-5) at Dallas (13-3), 8:30 p.m. on NBC. A pair of NFC East foes meet in the Lone Star State in the first Sunday night game of the 2017 season as Eli Manning and the New York Giants travel to Arlington to meet Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliot and the Dallas Cowboys in Jerry World.

Both teams were found themselves in the post-season and both suffered opening losses to Green Bay. The Giants found themselves on the short end of a 38-13 loss to the Packers at Lambeau in the Wild Card round and then Dallas fell to Aaron Rodgers and the Pack at home in the Divisional Round, losing a heart-breaker in Arlington by a 34-31 final.

For the Cowboys, it is off-field distractions that have had the team in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Elliot, who rushed for 1,631 yards and 15 TDs last year, found himself in the ire of commissioner Roger Goodell, who wanted to suspend the star for 10 games for domestic violence. Elliot, along with the NFLPA, appealed the decision and the NFLPA also got the legal system involved as well, petitioning to a federal court to stop any suspension. Meanwhile, the arbitrator that was hearing the case ruled that the six-game suspension would stand. That was the bad news. The good news? Because the ruling came late, Elliot would be allowed to play on Sunday night and he is slated to do so.

Including contests that took place at Yankee Stadium, the Yale Bowl and the Cotton Bowl, Dallas leads the series 62-45-2 and have outscored the Giants 2,449-2,119. Although the Cowboys won the NFC East, the Giants managed to sweep the series, taking wins along the Jersey shore and in the Lone Star State and have won three of the last four meetings in the series (Dallas’ last win in the series came in 2015, when they took a 27-26 win in the Lone Star State).

The first meeting took place in Arlington to open the 2016 campaign and a Dallas rally in the final minutes of action fell short as the Giants came away 20-19 winners. Dallas trailed 13-9 at the half and actually led 19-13 with 13:59 left in regulation before Manning and WR Victor Cruz took the lead back on a 3 yard TD pass with 6:13 left. Big Blue outrushed Dallas 113-101 in the season opener, while Prescott (227) outpaced Manning (207 yards, 3 TDs) as Dallas got as far as their 46-yard line when WR Terrance Williams caught a Prescott pass but failed to get out of bounds and the clock ran out. Both teams did well on third down tries (New York was 5 of 10, Dallas was 10 of 17) and the Cowboys ruled the clock, holding on to the ball for 36:43 to New York’s 23:17.

That was game one.

Game two… the Meadowlands in week 14 and as was the case in the first meeting, the second meeting was close. For Cowboy fans, the result was the same as the Giants were 10-7 winners. Dallas led 7-0 at the half at Met Life Stadium before the Giants shut out Dallas in the second half, scoring all their points in the third quarter. This time, Manning and WR Odell Beckham Jr. connected on a 61 yard TD strike (New York’s first points came on a 39-yard field goal by Robbie Gould) to take the lead for keeps. This time, it was Dallas that would outrush New York 108-93 (Ezikel Elliot led all rushers with 107 yards) and Manning threw for 193 yards and the lone TD, while Prescott threw for 165 with a pair of interceptions (both were sacked three times). As well as they did on third down tries in the first meeting, such was not the case in the rematch, with neither team breaking the 50 percent mark (Dallas was 1 of 15, while the Giants were 2 of 14) but both clubs did reasonably well on fourth down (Dallas was 1 of 2, New York was 2 of 2). Time was the ally of New York, as the Giants kept the ball for 30:52 to Dallas’ 29:08.

New York covered the 1-point spread in the first meeting in Arlington and the two teams combined for 39 points, missing the 46 over/under. In the second contest, the Giants won by three in the Meadowlands, Dallas was favored by 3 and the Giants won by that margin, covering the spread. As for the over/under of 47 1/2? Neither club came close, scoring only a somewhat dismal 17 points.

Dallas is favored by 4 1/2 in the Sunday night matchup and the over/under’s 48. This could be one of the better Sunday night games. Dak gets revenge on Eli. Dallas covers the 4 1/2 and wins in the Lone Star State.

New Orleans (7-9) at Minnesota (8-8), 7:10 p.m. Monday on ESPN. The first of two Monday night games take place in the Land of 10,000 Lakes as the Vikings host the Saints at US Bank Stadium. The Vikings will see a familiar face in a different uniform, as Adrian Peterson returns as a Saint. Peterson, who played for Minnesota for 10 seasons, rushed for only 8 yards all last year before sitting out with an injury, moved on to the Big Easy when he was not resigned by his old club. New Orleans in their last seven games actually played decent but not great football, going 3-4 in those that contests and found themselves behind Atlanta in the NFC South. The Vikings managed to stay close to Green Bay and Detroit in the NFC Central as they won their first five contests before stumbling in divisional play the rest of the season.

Minnesota leads the series 18-10 and have outscored the Saints 703-512. New Orleans has won the last three regular season meetings in the series, with their last win coming in 2013 in the Big Easy by a final of 20-9. Minnesota’s last win over the Saints also came on the bayou, with the Purple Gang taking a 30-27 win in 2008. Both teams are below the .500 mark on Monday night (Minnesota is 27-31, while the Saints are 18-21; Minnesota was 1-1 last year, while the Saints lost their only meeting in the 2016 campaign).

Minnesota’s favored by 3 in the Land of 10,000 Lakes and the over/under’s 48. It’s the first Monday night game of the 2017 season and it

Los Angeles Chargers (5-11) at Denver (9-7), 10:20 p.m. Monday on ESPN. A pair of AFC West rivals that aren’t exactly crazy about each other meet in the Mile High City as Denver hosts the Los Angeles Chargers. Yes. You read that correctly. The Chargers have moved on to bigger and better pastures.

The Chargers missed the post-season party again, losing their last five contests and forcing Charger ownership to make two changes. One was on the sidelines. Mike McCoy? Out as head coach and they hire Anthony Lynn as the team’s 16th head coach in the club’s history. The second change? They waved farewell to San Diego after 56 years in southern California, loaded up their trucks and moved to Beverly (Hills, that is… swimming pools, movie stars) and Los Angeles. They’ll call Stub Hub Center home while a new stadium will be built for them and the Rams.

Denver fell from Super Bowl champs to bust last season, winning their first four contests before falling to eventual NFC champ Atlanta at home in week five. The Broncos managed to right their ship but failed to make the post season. Denver also got some much needed help under center when they signed QB Brock Osweiler away from the Cleveland Browns.

Including games that were played in Los Angeles when the Chargers were in Tinseltown and before they moved down the coast and the Broncos played at Mile High Stadium, Denver leads the series 63-50-1, while the Chargers lead in scoring 2,453-2,447. The then-San Diego Chargers and Denver split their two contests in the 2016 campaign, with each taking wins at home.

Week 6, Qualcomm Stadium on a Thursday night. The “Bolts led Denver 10-3 at the break in southern California before holding off a late Bronco rally to come away 21-13 winners. Neither team breached the 100-yard rushing barrier in the AFC West showdown but San Diego did manage to outrush Denver 99-84 in the game and Trevor Siemian did manage to outpace Rivers 230-178 (each had a TD pass and each was sacked twice). Each club turned the ball over twice in San Diego and each struggled on third down tries in the first meeting (Denver 6 of 15, San Diego 3 of 13) and both clubs had only one fourth try (the Broncos was 0-1, while San Diego was 1 of 1). San Diego ruled the clock in the first meeting, keeping the ball for 33:28, while Denver held the pigskin for 26:32.

Denver would get their revenge in the second meeting in the Mile High City two weeks later in week 8 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Taking a 10-3 lead at the half at home and came away 27-19 winners. San Diego did manage to outrush Denver again, this time tallying 123 yards on the ground to Denver’s 57 (the Chargers’ Melvin Gordon led all rushers with 111 of those yards). That was the good news for Charger fans. The bad news? Rivers (267 yards) was sacked four times and picked off three, while Siemian threw for 276 yards with one pick. As was the case in the meeting in San Diego in week 6, both teams had their problems on third down (Denver was 5 of 15, San Diego was 7 of 17) and both clubs stumbled on fourth down (Denver was 0 of 1, San Diego 0 of 2). San Diego once again ruled the clock, holding the ball for 33:08, while Denver kept the ball for 26:52.

On Monday night, the Bolts are break-even at 22-22, while the Broncos are 31-37-1 (Denver was 1-0 last year, while Los Angeles’ last appearance was in 2015, where they went 0-2). In the week six contest in San Diego, the Broncos, who were the defending Super Bowl champs at that time, were favored by 3 and the over/under was 44 1/2. San Diego covered the spread in that first contest, winning by 8 but both clubs missed the over/under of 44 1/2, tallying only 34 points. As for the week 8 contest in the Rockies? Denver won by 8, covering the 6-point spread and both the Broncos and Bolts covered the 44 1/2 over/under with 46 points. Denver’s favored by 3 and the over/under’s 43. Week one closes out with an interesting matchup in which one team is in a new city and the other is trying to re-establish itself in the AFC West. Chargers make this one interesting but Denver comes away with the win and covers the 3.

Back to work!

Back to sweating in the summer heat, learning playbooks that are so big they make “War and Peace” look like a comic book.

Back to rookies fighting for their first NFL jobs, free agents fighting to stay on an NFL roster, fighting with teammates on the field as things get heated, along with the weather.

Back to sleeping in dorms for the first time since they were in college.

It’s back to work for all 32 NFL teams. For New England, it’s the hunter now becoming the hunted, as the defending Super Bowl champs. For the other 31 teams, it’s their chance to replace them as the NFL’s king of the mountain, so to speak.

NFL clubs will begin their on-field preparations for Kickoff 2017 this week, starting Wednesday, July 19 as rookies for the Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Jacksonville Jaguars and New Orleans Saints are scheduled to report.

The Arizona Cardinals, who will take on the Cowboys in the Hall of Fame Game (Thursday, August 3 on NBC at 8 p.m. Eastern), will be the first team with a full squad in camp when their rookies and veterans report on Friday, July 21. By Saturday, July 29, every NFL team will be in camp.

This year, more than half the league (21 of 32, 66 percent) will be “staying home” for training camp. Teams considered to be “staying home” hold training camp at their respective practice facility, home stadium or at a site within 10 miles of their team headquarters. In 2000, only 10 of 31 (32 percent) teams stayed close to home.

“Our entire organization is excited to be returning to hold training camp at our facility in Metairie in 2017,” Saints owner Tom Benson told the Mobile Register and WKRG-TV. “This will be a great opportunity for our passionate fans from throughout the Gulf South to be able to experience the fun, excitement and interaction of Saints training camp as our team prepares for what we expect to be a very exciting season.”

The numbers may prove that training at home is a popular league-wide trend but there are still teams employing the “old-time” philosophy of holding camp away from their facilities.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the teams that “come together” away from home, holding camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania for the 52nd consecutive year.

“There’s some intrinsic value to being here, some things that you can’t measure,” says Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin on holding training camp at St. Vincent College. Tomlin told KDKA-TV, “Those are things that I think about when I think about training camp and those are the things that make me really excited about bringing a team to an environment like this.”

The NFL training camp longevity king? The Green Bay Packers, who return for their 60th consecutive summer at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin.

Here’s a look at the number of NFL teams that stayed home for training camp since 2000:

YEAR – NFL TEAMS WITH HOME TRAINING CAMPS (PCT.)

2000 – 10 of 31 (32%)
2001 –  9 of 31 (29%)
2002 – 10 of 32 (31%)
2003 – 14 of 32 (44%)
2004 – 15 of 32 (47%)
2005 – 17 of 32 (53%)
2006 – 15 of 32 (47%)
2007 – 16 of 32 (50%)
2008 – 15 of 32 (47%)
2009 – 17 of 32 (53%)
2010 – 17 of 32 (53%)
2011 – 19 of 32 (59%)
2012 – 19 of 32 (59%)
2013 – 20 of 32 (63%)
2014 – 20 of 32 (63%)
2015 – 21 of 32 (66%)
2016 – 20 of 32 (63%)
2017 – 21 of 32 (66%)
Overall – 295 of 574 (52%)

*Teams considered to be “staying home” hold training camp at their practice facility, home stadium or at a site within 10 miles of their team headquarters.

The longest active NFL training camp tenures:

TEAM – TRAINING CAMP, CITY (YEARS)
Green Bay Packers – Saint Norbert College, De Pere, Wisconsin (60)
Minnesota Vikings – Minnesota State University, Mankato, Mankato, Minnesota (52)
Pittsburgh Steelers – Saint Vincent College, Latrobe, Pennsylvania (52)

Veterans will be looking to keep their jobs, while rookies and free agents fight for that coveted roster spot. That spot means a paycheck. It’s going to be hot. They’ll be sleeping in dorms for the first time since college, they’ll fight heat, humidity, bugs and in some cases each other.

The playbooks will be bigger than the textbooks they used in college, making “War and Peace” look like a comic book. Meetings with coaches in their positions, pre-season games that will determine their futures will take place and in the end, they’ll either be on a roster or they’ll get that knock on the door from a coach or support staff member and the dreaded words “Coach wants to see you and bring your playbook.” That usually means you’re getting cut.

Some camps will have their rookies come in first to get used to being in camp, while others will have everyone come in at one time. For some, it will be like riding a bike. For others, it’s sort of like learning to walk again. It’s not easy. Most teams will play four pre-season contests (Dallas and Arizona will play five because they are playing in the Hall of Fame Game). Some say the pre-season is too long and needs to be cut back to one or two games, like our CFL neighbors to the north.

Below is the training camp list of sites and rookie and veteran reporting dates. Check with your team for dates and if practices will be open to the public. Hydrate, stock up on that bug spray (the mosquitoes in the South have been known to carry off small children) and mind your manners and watch out for your cousin Connie. She’s been known to wipe out a Super Bowl party.

AFC
Baltimore – Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills, Maryland (Rookies report 7/19, Veterans report 7/26)
Buffalo – St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York (Rookies and Veterans report 7/26)
Cincinnati – Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati (Rookies report 7/25, Veterans report 7/27)
Cleveland – Cleveland Browns Training Complex, Berea, Ohio (Rookies report 7/23, Veterans report 7/26)
Denver – University of Colorado Health Training Center in Englewood, Colorado, (Rookies report 7/23, Veterans report 7/26)
Houston – The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia (Rookies and Veterans report 7/25)
Indianapolis – Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center in Indianapolis, Indiana (Rookies report 7/24, Veterans report 7/29)
Jacksonville – Florida Blue Health & Wellness Practice Fields in Jacksonville, Florida (Rookies report 7/19, Veterans report 7/26)
Kansas City – Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Missouri (Rookies report 7/24, Veterans report 7/27)
Los Angeles Chargers – Jack Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa, California (Rookies and Veterans report 7/29)
Miami – Baptist Health Training Facility in Davie, Florida (Rookies report 7/20, Veterans report 7/26)
New England – Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts (Rookies report 7/24, Veterans report 7/26)
New York Jets – Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park, New Jersey (Rookies and Veterans report 7/28)
Oakland – Napa Valley Marriott in Napa, California (Rookies report 7/24, Veterans report 7/28)
Pittsburgh – Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania (Rookies and Veterans report 7/27)
Tennessee – Saint Thomas Sports Park in Nashville, Tennessee (Rookies and Veterans report 7/28)

NFC
Arizona – University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona (Rookies and Veterans report 7/21)
Atlanta – Atlanta Falcons Training Facility in Flowery Branch, Georgia (Rookies and Veterans report 7/26)
Carolina – Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina (Rookies and Veterans report 7/25)
Chicago – Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois (Rookies report 7/19, Veterans report 7/26)
Dallas – Marriott Residence Inn in Oxnard, California (Rookies report 7/19, Veterans report 7/22)
Detroit – Detroit Lions Training Facility in Allen Park, Michigan (Rookies report 7/24, Veterans report 7/29)
Green Bay – St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin (Rookies and Veterans report 7/26)
Los Angeles Rams – University of California at Irvine (Rookies report 7/26, Veterans report 7/28)
Minnesota – Minnesota State University at Mankato (Rookies report 7/23, Veterans report 7/26)
New Orleans – New Orleans Saints Training Facility in Metairie, Louisiana (Rookies report 7/19, Veterans report 7/26)
New York Giants – Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey (Rookies and Veterans report 7/27)
Philadelphia – NovaCare Training Complex in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Rookies report 7/23, Veterans report 7/26)
San Francisco – SAP Performance Facility in Santa Clara, California (Rookies and Veterans report 7/27)
Seattle – Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton, Washington (Rookies and Veterans report 7/29)
Tampa Bay – One Buccaneer Place on Tampa, Florida (Rookies report 7/25, Veterans report 7/27)
Washington – Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Virginia (Rookies and Veterans report 7/26)

Note: The first official practice of training camp for each club at the site designated above is generally held the day after the veteran reporting date.