Archives for category: Thanksgiving

The who your team is playing and where was announced last January, while most of the country was shovleing snow and shivering. You wondered when your team would play and even wondered if they were going to be on Thursday, Sunday or Monday night.

Football fans, your wait is over.

Your patience has been rewarded, Grasshopper.

The National Football League announced the 2018 regular season schedule Thursday night and fans could not be happier.

The season begins with the NFL’s annual primetime kickoff game, as the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia
Eagles host the Atlanta Falcons at Lincoln Financial Field on September 6 in an NFC Dvivisional rematch at 8:20 p.m. on NBC.

Week 1 is a FOX national weekend with key games on Sunday, September 9 featuring Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys traveling to Charlotte to face off against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers at 4:25 p.m. and Seattle visiting Denver at 4:25 p.m. Week 1 matchups on CBS include the Houston Texans at the New England Patriots at 1 p.m. and the Los Angeles Chargers hosting Kansas City at 4:05 p.m. Week 2 represents the first CBS national weekend with doubleheader games showcasing Oakland traveling to the Mile High City for a matchup with Denver at 4:25 p.m. and the Patriots visiting the Jacksonville Jaguars at 4:25 p.m.

NBC’s Sunday Night Football gets underway on September 9 when the Green Bay Packers host the Chicago Bears at 8:20
p.m. at Lambeau Field in the 195th regular-season meeting between the storied franchises. Kickoff Weekend concludes on Monday, September 10 with an ESPN Monday Night Football doubleheader. Detroit hosts the New York Jets at 7:10 p.m. in the Motor City in the first game followed by the Los Angeles Rams visiting Oakland in the nightcap at 10:20 p.m.

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. And fans will get to go to bed at a decent hour as prime time kickoffs will now be earlier – Thursday kickoffs that were at 8:25 p.m. will now be at 8:20 p.m., Sunday night games kick off at 8:20 instead of 8:30 and Monday games will now have an 8:15 kickoff, up 15 minutes from last year’s 8:30 p.m. start. Plus, as an added feature, all 32 teams are scheduled for at least one prime time game either on Thursday, Sunday or Monday night games (fans in Cleveland can rejoice).

FOX will kick off their Thursday Night Football package in Week 4 with a showdown of NFC playoff teams, as
Minnesota visits the Los Angeles Rams at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum at 8:20 p.m. on FOX/NFLN. FOX will
broadcast 11 Thursday Night Football games between Weeks 4-15 (excluding Thanksgiving night), with those games also
being simulcast via NFL Network and distributed in Spanish on FOX Deportes. In addition, NFL Network will exclusively
televise seven games this season, with FOX producing the full slate of 18 games.

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 today and other “cross-flexed” games will be decided
during the season.

The regular season will conclude with Week 17 on Sunday, December 30. For the ninth 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:

Nine games in the 2018 regular season will feature a rematch from the 2017 postseason. In Week 2, Jacksonville hosts Tom Brady and New England at EverBank Field in a rematch of last season’s AFC Championship Game at 4:25 p.m. on CBS and the Vikings travel to the City of Brotherly Love in a week five meeting, a rematch of the 2017 NFC Championship Game at 4:25 p.m. on FOX.

Fans of Thanksgiving Day football weren’t left out as Turkey Day features a trio of divisional matchups on Thursday, November 22. 2018 marks only the second time since 1970 (2014) that the holiday has featured exclusively divisional matchups. The first game will send the Bears to Detroit to face the Lions at 12:30 p.m. on CBS, Dallas hosts Washington in an NFC East matchup in Arlington at 4:30 p.m. on FOX and the Turkey Day festivities conclude with an NFC South showdown as Atlanta and Matt Ryan travels to New Orleans to face Drew Brees and the Saints in the Big Easy on NBC at 8:20 p.m.

As for games outside of the United States, the NFL’s international slate includes three games in London – occurring in three consecutive weeks (Week 6-8) – and one in Mexico City. English Premier League soccer club Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium is the site of the first game of the 2018 London Series schedule in Week 6 on Sunday, October 14, as Oakland hosts Seattle at 1 p.m. on FOX. The following week, action returns to Wembley Stadium as the Los Angeles Chargers host Tennessee on Sunday, October 21 at 9:30 a.m. on CBS and the series on the other side of the pond concludes in Week 8 with Jacksonville hosting Philadelphia at Wembley on Sunday, October 28 at 9:30 a.m. on NFL Network and for the third consecutive season, the NFL will return to Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca. On Monday, November 19 (the Monday before Thanksgiving), the Los Angeles Rams host Kansas City in the historic venue on Monday Night Football at 8:15 p.m. on ESPN.

The NFL’s 32 teams will each play 16 games over 17 weeks. Byes will begin in Week 4 and end in Week 12.

“Flexible scheduling” will be used in Weeks 11-17. Additionally, in Weeks 5-10, flexible scheduling may be used in no
more than two weeks. In Weeks 5-16, 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. A flexible scheduling move would be announced at least 12 days before
the game.

Flexibility for Saturday games in Weeks 15 and 16 is also part of the 2018 schedule. In Week 15, there will be two games
played on Saturday on NFL Network: Houston at the New York Jets and Cleveland at Denver, with the game times of 4:30
PM ET and 8:20 PM ET to be determined. In Week 16, two of four possible matchups will be scheduled for Saturday:
Baltimore at Los Angeles Chargers, Jacksonville at Miami, the New York Giants at Indianapolis or Washington at
Tennessee. Start times and Saturday games for Week 15 and 16 will be announced no later than following Week 8, with
the non-Saturday games to be played on Sunday.

For Week 17, the Sunday night game will be announced no later than six days prior to December 30. 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 primetime. Flexible scheduling will not be applied to games airing on Thursday or Monday nights.

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 5-6. 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 12-13. The AFC and NFC Championship Games will be played on Sunday, January 20. The winners meet two weeks later on Sunday, February 3 in Super Bowl LIII at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium (CBS).

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. Westwood One will broadcast on radio all NFL primetime games, the three Thanksgiving Day games and the entire NFL playoffs.

For ticket information, fans may visit http://www.nfl.com/tickets.

Note – Sunday night games in Weeks 5-16 subject to change; Week 17 game TBD.

2018 National Football League Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)

Week 1
Thursday, September 6
ATLANTA at Philadelphia, 8:20 p.m. on NBC

Sunday, September 9
Buffalo at Baltimore, 1 p.m. on CBS
Pittsburgh at Cleveland, 1 p.m. on CBS
Cincinnati at Indianapolis, 1 p.m. on CBS
Tennessee at Miami, 1 p.m. on FOX
San Francisco at Minnesota, 1 p.m. on FOX
Houston at New England, 1 p.m. on CBS
Tampa Bay at New Orleans, 1 p.m. on FOX
Jacksonville at New York Giants, 1 p.m. on FOX
Kansas City at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m. on CBS
Washington at Arizona, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
Dallas at Carolina, 4:25 p,m. on FOX
Seattle at Denver, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
Chicago at Green Bay, 8:20 p.m. on NBC

Monday, September 10
New York Jets at Detroit, 7:10 p.m. on ESPN
Los Angeles Rams at Oakland, 10:20 p.m. on ESPN

Week 2

Thursday, September 13
Baltimore at Cincinnati, 8:20 p.m. on NFL Network

Sunday, September 16
Carolina at ATLANTA, 1 p.m. on FOX
Los Angeles Chargers at Buffalo, 1 p.m. on CBS
Minnesota at Green Bay, 1 p.m. on FOX
Cleveland at New Orleans, 1 p..m. on FOX
Miami at New York Jets, 1 p.m. on CBS
Kansas City at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m. on CBS
Philadelphia at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m. on FOX
Houston at Tennessee, 1 p.m. on CBS
Indianapolis at Washington, 1 p.m. on CBS
Arizonat at Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m. on FOX
Detroit at San Francisco, 4:05 p.m. on FOX
Oakland at Denver, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
New England at Jacksonville, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
New York Giants at Dallas, 8:20 p.m. on NBC

Monday, September 17
Seattle at Chicago, 8:15 p.m. on ESPN

Week 3

Thursday, September 20
New York Jets at Cleveland, 8:20 p.m. on NFL Network

Sunday, September 23
New Orleans at ATLANTA, 1 p.m. on FOX
Denver at Baltimore, 1 p.m. on CBS
Cincinnati at Carolina, 1 p.m. on CBS
New York Giants at Houston, 1 p.m. on FOX
Tennessee at Jacksonville, 1 p.m. on CBS
San Francisco at Kansas City, 1 p.m. on FOX
Oakland at Miami, 1 p.m. on CBS
Buffalo at Minnesota, 1 p.m. on CBS
Indianapolis at Philadelphia, 1 p.m. on FOX
Green Bay at Washington, 1 p.m. on FOX
Los Angeles Chargers at Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m. on CBS
Chicago at Arizona, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
Dallas at Seattle, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
New England at Detroit, 8:20 p.m. on NBC

Monday, September 24
Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay, 8:15 p.m. on ESPN

Week 4

Thursday, September 27
Minnesota at Los Angeles Rams, 8:20 p.m. on FOX and NFL Network

Sunday, September 30
Cincinnati at ATLANTA, 1 p.m. on CBS
Tampa Bay at Chicago, 1 p.m. on FOX
Detroit at Dallas, 1 p.m. on FOX
Buffalo at Green Bay, 1 p.m. on CBS
Houston at Indianapolis, 1 p.m. on CBS
New York Jets at Jacksonville, 1 p.m. on FOX
Miami at New Engalnd, 1 p.m. on CBS
Philadelphia at Tennessee, 1 p.m. on FOX
Seattle at Arizona, 4:05 p.m. on FOX
Cleveland at Oakland, 4:05 p.m. on FOX
San Francisco at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
New Orleans at New York Giants, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
Baltimore at Pittsburgh, 8:20 p.m. on NBC

Monday, October 1
Kansas City at Denver, 8:15 p.m. on ESPN

Week 5 (Byes: Chicago and Tampa Bay)

Thursday, October 4, 2018
Indianapolis at New England, 8:20 p.m. on FOX and NFL Network

Sunday, October 7, 2018
ATLANTA at Pittsubrgh, 1 p.m. on FOX
Tennessee at Buffalo, 1 p.m. on CBS
New York Giants at Carolina, 1 p.m on FOX
Miami at Cincinnati, 1 p.m. on CBS
Baltimore at Cleveland, 1 p.m. on CBS
Green Bay at Detroit, 1 p.m. on FOX
Jacksonville at Kansas City, 1 p.m. on CBS
Denver at New York Jets, 1 p.m. on CBS
Oakland at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m. on CBS
Minnesota at Philadelphia, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
Arizona at San Francisco, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
Los Angeles Rams at Seattle, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
Dallas at Houston, 8:20 p.m. on NBC*

Monday, October 8, 2018
Washington at New Orleans, 8:15 p.m. on ESPN

Week 6 (Byes: Detroit and New Orleans)

Thursday, October 11, 2018
Philadelphia at New York Giants, 8:20 p.m. on FOX and NFL Networ

Sunday, October 14, 2018
Tampa Bay at ATLANTA, 1 p.m. on FOX
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, 1 p.m. on CBS
Los Angeles Chargers at Cleveland, 1 p.m. on CBS
Buffalo at Houston, 1 p.m. on CBS
Chicago at Miami, 1 p.m. on FOX
Arizona at Minnesota, 1 p.m. on FOX
Indianapolis at New York Jets, 1 p.m. on CBS
Seattle at Oakland, 1 p.m. on FOX (London)
Carolina at Washington, 1 p.m. on FOX
Los Angeles Rams at Denver, 4:05 p.m. on FOX
Jacksonville at Dallas, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
Baltimore at Tennessee, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
Kansas City at New England, 8:20 p.m. on NBC*

Monday, October 15, 2018
San Francisco at Green Bay, 8:15 p.m. on ESPN

Week 7 (Byes: Green Bay, Oakland, Pittsburgh and Seattle)

Thursday, October 18
Denver at Arizona, 8:20 p.m. on FOX and NFL Network

Sunday, October 21
Tennessee at Los Angeles Chargers, 9:30 a.m. on CBS (London)
New England at Chicago, 1 p.m. on CBS
Buffalo at Indianapolis, 1 p.m. on CBS
Houston at Jacksonville, 1 p.m. on CBS
Cincinnati at Kansas City, 1 p.m. on CBS
Detroit at Miami, 1 p.m. on FOX
Minnesota at New York Jets, 1 p.m. on FOX
Carolina at Philadelphia, 1 p.m. on FOX
Cleveland at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m. on FOX
New Orleans at Baltimore, 4:05 p.m. on FOX
Dallas at Washington, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco, 8:20 p.m, on NBC*

Monday, October 22
New York Giants at ATLANTA, 8:15 p.m. on ESPN

Week 8 (Byes: ATLANTA, Dallas, Los Angeles Chargers and Tennessee)

Thursday, October 25
Miami at Houston, 8:20 p.m. on FOX and NFL Network

Sunday, October 28
Philadelphia at Jacksonville, 1 p.m. on NFL Network (London)
Baltimore at Carolina, 1 p.m. on CBS
New York Jets at Chicago, 1 p.m. on CBS
Tampa Bay at Cincinnati, 1 p.m. on FOX
Seattle at Detroit, 1 p.m. on FOX
Denver at Kansas City, 1 p.m. on CBS
Washington at New York Giants, 1 p.m. on FOX
Cleveland at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m. on CBS
Indianapolis at Oakland, 4:05 p.m. on CBS
San Francisco at Arizona, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
Green Bay at Los Angeles Rams, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
New Orleans at Minnesota, 8:20 p.m. on NBC*

Monday, October 29
New England at Buffalo, 8:15 p.m. on ESPN

Week 9 (Byes: Arizona, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, New York Giants and Philadelphia)

Thursday, November 1
Oakland at San Francisco, 8:20 p.m. on FOX and NFL Network

Sunday, November 4
ATLANTA at Washington, 1 p.m. on FOX
Pittsburgh at Baltimore, 1 p.m. on CBS
Chicago at Buffalo, 1 p.m. on FOX
Tampa Bay at Carolina, 1 p.m. on FOX
Kansas City at Cleveland, 1 p.m. on CBS
New York Jets at Miami, 1 p.m. on CBS
Detroit at Minnesota, 1 p.m. on FOX
Houston at Denver, 4:05 p.m. on CBS
Los Angeles Chargers at Seattle, 4:05 p.m. on CBS
Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
Green Bay at New England, 8:20 p.m. on NBC*

Monday, November 5
Tennessee at Dallas, 8:15 p.m. on ESPN

Week 10 (Byes: Baltimore, Denver, Houston and Minnesota)

Thursday, November 8
Carolina at Pittsburgh, 8:20 p.m. on FOX and NFL Network

Sunday, November 11
ATLANTA at Cleveland, 1 p.m. on FOX
Detroit at Chicago, 1 p.m. on FOX
New Orleans at Cincinnati, 1 p.m. on FOX
Miami at Green Bay, 1 p.m. on CBS
Jacksonville at Indianapolis, 1 p.m. on CBS
Arizona at Kansas City, 1 p.m. on FOX
Buffalo at New York Jets, 1 p.m. on CBS
Washington at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m. on FOX
New England at Tennessee, 1 p.m. on CBS
Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland, 4:05 p.m. on FOX
Seattle at Los Angeles Rams, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
Dallas at Philadelphia, 8:20 p.m. on NBC*

Monday, November 12
New York Giants at San Francisco, 8:15 p.m. on ESPN

Week 11 (Byes: Buffalo, Cleveland, Miami, New England, New York Jets and San Francisco)

Thursday, November 15
Green Bay at Seattle, 8:20 p.m. on FOX and NFL Network

Sunday, November 18
Dallas at ATLANTA, 1 p.m. on FOX
Cincinnati at Baltimore, 1 p.m. on CBS
Minnesota at Chicago, 1 p.m. on FOX
Carolina at Detroit, 1 p.m. on FOX
Tennessee at Indianapolis, 1 p.m. on CBS
Philadelphia at New Orleans, 1 p.m. on FOX
Tampa Bay at New York Giants, 1 p.m. on FOX
Houston at Washington, 1 p.m. on CBS
Oakland at Arizona, 4:05 p.m. on CBS
Denver at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m. on CBS
Pittsburgh at Jacksonville, 8:20 p.m. on NBC*

Monday, November 19
Kansas City at Los Angeles Rams, 8:15 p.m. on ESPN (Mexico City)

Week 12 (Byes: Kansas City and Los Angeles Rams)

Thursday, November 22
ATLANTA at New Orleans, 8:20 p.m. on NBC
Chicago at Detroit, 12:30 p.m. on CBS
Washington at Dallas, 4:30 p.m. on FOX

Sunday, November 25
Oakland at Baltimore, 1 p.m. on CBS
Jacksonville at Buffalo, 1 p.m. on CBS
Seattle at Carolina, 1 p.m. on FOX
Cleveland at Cincinnati, 1 p.m. on CBS
Miami at Indianapolis, 1 p.m. on CBS
New England at New York Jets, 1 p.m. on CBS
New York Giants at Philadelphia, 1 p.m. on FOX
San Francisco at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m. on FOX
Arizona at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m. on FOX
Pittsburgh at Denver, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
Green Bay at Minnesota, 8:20 p.m. on NBC*

Monday, November 26
Tennessee at Houston, 8:15 p.m. on ESPN

Week 13

Thursday, November 29
New Orleans at Dallas Cowboys, 8:20 p.m. on FOX and NFL Network

Sunday, December 2
Baltimore at ATLANTA, 1 p.m. on CBS
Denver at Cincinnati, 1 p.m. on CBS
Los Angeles Rams at Detroit, 1 p.m. on FOX
Arizona at Green Bay, 1 p.m. on FOX
Cleveland at Houston, 1 p.m. on CBS
Indianapolis at Jacksonville, 1 p.m. on CBS
Buffalo at Miami, 1 p.m. on CBS
Chicago at New York Giants, 1 p.m. on FOX
Los Angeles Chargers at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m. on CBS
Carolina at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m. on FOX
Kansas City at Oakland, 4:05 p.m. on CBS
New York Jets at Tennessee, 4:05 p.m. on CBS
Minnesota at New England Patriots4:25pFOX
San Francisco at Seattle, 8:20 p.m. on NBC*

Monday, December 3
Washington at Philadelphia, 8:15 p.m. on ESPN

Week 14

Thursday, December 6
Jacksonville at Tennessee, 8:20 p.m. on FOX and NFL Network

Sunday, December 9
ATLANTA at Green Bay, 1 p.m. on FOX
New York Jets at Buffalo, 1 p.m. on CBS
Los Angeles Rams at Chicago, 1 p.m. on FOX
Carolina at Cleveland, 1 p.m. on FOX
Indianapolis at Houston, 1 p.m. on CBS
Baltimore at Kansas City, 1 p.m. on CBS
New England at at Miami, 1 p.m. on CBS
New Orleans at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m. on FOX
New York Giants at Washington, 1 p.m. on FOX
Cincinnati at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m. on CBS
Denver at San Francisco, 4:05 p.m. on CBS
Detroit at Arizona, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
Philadelphia at Dallas, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
Pittsburgh at Oakland, 8:20 p.m. on NBC*

Monday, December 10
Minnesota at Seattle, 8:15 p.m. on ESPN

Week 15

Thursday, December 13
Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City, 8:20 p.m. on FOX and NFL Network

Saturday, December 15
Houston at New York Jets, 4:30 p,m or 8:20 p.m. on NFL Network
Cleveland at Denver, 4:30 p.m. or 8:20 p.m. on NFL Network

Sunday, December 16
Arizona at ATLANTA, 1 p.m. on FOX
Tampa Bay at Baltimore, 1 p.m. on FOX
Detroit at Buffalo, 1 p.m. on FOX
Green Bay at Chicago, 1 p.m. on FOX
Oakland at Cincinnati, 1 p.m. on CBS
Dallas at Indianapolis, 1 p.m. on FOX
Washington at Jacksonville, 1 p.m. on FOX
Miami at Minnesota, 1 p.m. on CBS
Tennessee at New York Giants, 1 p.m. on CBs
Seattle at San Francisco, 4:05 p.m. on FOX
New England at Pittsburgh, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
Philadelphia at Los Angeles Rams, 8:20 p.m. on NBC*

Monday, December 17
New Orleans at Carolina, 8:15 p.m. on ESPN

Week 16

Saturday, December 22
Game TBD, 4:30 p.m. on NFL Network
Game TBD, 8:20 p.m. on NFL Network
New York Giants at Indianapolis, Time and Network TBD
Baltimore at Los Angeles Chargers, Time and Network TBD
Jacksonville at Miami, Time and Network TBD
Washington at Tennessee, Time and Network TBD

Sunday, December 23
ATLANTA at Carolina, 1 p.m. on FOX
Cincinnati at Cleveland, 1 p.m. on CBS
Tampa Bay at Dallas, 1 p.m. on FOX
Minnesota at Detroit, 1 p.m. on FOX
Buffalo at New England, 1 p.m. on CBS
Green Bay at New York Jets, 1 p.m. on FOX
Houston at Philadelphia, 1 p.m. on CBS
Los Angeles Rams at Arizona, 4:05 p.m. on FOX
Chicago at San Francisco, 4:05 p.m. on FOx
Pittsburgh at New Orleans, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
Kansas City at Seattle, 8:20 p.m. on NBC*

Monday, December 24
Denver at Oakland, 8:15 p.m. on ESPN

Week 17

Sunday, December 30
ATLANTA at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m. on FOX
Cleveland at Baltimore, 1 p.m. on CBS
Miami at Buffalo, 1 p.m. on CBS
Detroit at Green Bay, 1 p.m. on FOX
Jacksonville at Houston, 1 p.m. on CBS
Oakland at Kansas City, 1 p.m. on CBS
Chicago at Minnesota, 1 p.m. on FOX
New York Jets at New England, 1 p.m. on CBS
Carolina at New Orleans, 1 p.m. on FOX
Dallas at New York Giants, 1 p.m. on FOX
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m. on CBS
Indianapolis at Tennessee, 1 p.m. on CBS
Philadelphia at Washington, 1 p.m. on FOX
Los Angeles Chargers at Denver, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
San Francisco at Los Angeles Rams, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
Arizona at Seattle, 4:25 p.m. on FOX

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12 weeks down, five to go.

The leaves have fallen or are falling, it’s getting colder and the Fat Man from the North Pole is making preparations for his big day.

With that much time left in the regular season, 14 teams have a .500 or better record and have a shot at the post-season. For San Francisco and Cleveland, their seasons are pretty much over (the 49ers are 1-10, while the Browns are 0-11). When the final game is done on January 1st, 12 teams will be given invitations to the post-season party, 6 from the AFC, 6 from the NFC.

SEVEN THINGS FROM SUNDAY: Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones had 12 catches for 253 yards and two touchdowns in the Falcons’ 34-20 win over Tampa Bay. Jones has three career games with at least 250 receiving yards and is the only player in NFL history to have multiple 250+ yard receiving games. Jones, who played in his 90th career game today, has 563 catches for 8,649 yards, the most by a player in his first 90 games in NFL history. He passed Anquan Boldin (558) for the most receptions and Pro Football Hall of Famer Lance Alworth (8,502) for the most receiving yards.

Jones caught a 51-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Mohamed Sanu in the second quarter of today’s game. Sanu, who also threw a 73-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Green with Cincinnati in 2012 (September 23, 2012), is the first wide receiver since the 1970 merger to throw multiple career 50+ yard touchdown passes. He is also the first non-quarterback to throw two career 50+ yard touchdown passes since Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton (1979, 1983).

Philadelphia defeated Chicago 31-3 to improve to 10-1. It marks the fourth time in franchise history the Eagles have started a season 10-1 or better (1949, 1980 and 2004) and the team advanced to the NFL Championship/Super Bowl in each of the previous three instances. In the Super Bowl era, 38 teams have previously started 10-1 and all 38 made the playoffs, 17 reached the Super Bowl (44.7 percent) and eight won the Super Bowl (21.1 percent). Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz threw three touchdown passes in today’s win and leads the league with 28 touchdown passes. Wentz’s 28 touchdown passes are the most by an Eagles quarterback through the team’s first 11 games of a season, passing the mark set by Pro Football Hall of Famer Sonny Jurgensen (24) in 1961. Wentz has 28 touchdown passes and five interceptions and is the third quarterback in NFL history to have at least 25 touchdown passes and five or fewer interceptions through his team’s first 11 games, putting himself in some pretty good company, joining Tom Brady (2007, 2015, 2017) and Aaron Rodgers (2011, 2014).

New England defeated Miami 35-17 and improved to 9-2. The Patriots clinched their 17th consecutive season with a winning record, the longest streak since 1970, surpassing the previous record of 16 held by the 1970-1985 Dallas Cowboys and 1983-1998 San Francisco 49ers. New England quarterback Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes with one interception for a 114.1 passer rating in today’s win. Brady, who turned 40 years old in August, has 26 touchdown passes this season, the most by a quarterback in a single season at the age of 40 or older. Brady has 27 career games with at least four touchdown passes and one or fewer interceptions, surpassing Peyton Manning (26) for the second-most in NFL history. Only Drew Brees (28) has more such games.

Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson threw two touchdown passes and rushed for a touchdown in the Seahawks’ 24-13 win at San Francisco. Seattle improved to 7-4 on the season and bounced back from last week’s 34-31 loss against Atlanta. With the victory, Wilson improved to 23-4 (.852) in his career in games following an in-season loss, the best record by a starting quarterback since the 1970 merger (minimum 15 such starts).

Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley had 128 scrimmage yards in the team’s 26-20 win over New Orleans. Gurley, who has 1,344 scrimmage yards and 11 touchdowns this season, is the fourth player in franchise history to have at least 1,300 scrimmage yards and 10 touchdowns in the team’s first 11 games of a season. He joins Pro Football Hall of Famers Elroy “Crazylegs” Hirsch (1951), Eric Dickerson (1983) and Marshall Faulk (2000) as the only Rams to accomplish the feat.

New Orleans running backs Alvin Kamara (188 scrimmage yards, two touchdowns) and Mark Ingram (36 scrimmage yards) combined for 224 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns in the Saints’ loss at the Los Angeles Rams. Kamara (1,094 scrimmage yards, nine touchdowns) and Ingram (1,055 scrimmage yards, eight touchdowns) are the first running back teammates to each have at least 1,000 scrimmage yards and eight touchdowns in a team’s first 11 games in the Super Bowl era.

Carolina defeated the New York Jets 35-27. Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly had a 34-yard fumble-return touchdown with 12:05 remaining in the fourth quarter to give the Panthers the lead and Kaelin Clay added a 60-yard punt-return touchdown with 9:54 left to extend Carolina’s lead. It marked the second time in franchise history – and first since the club’s inaugural 1995 season (October 8, 1995 against Chicago) – in which the Panthers scored two return touchdowns in the fourth quarter of a
game.

THE WEEK THAT WAS WEEK 12: ELECTRIC EAGLE: Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz threw three touchdown passes in the Eagles’ 31-3 win against Chicago last week.

Wentz, who leads the NFL with 28 touchdown passes, has the third-most touchdown passes by a first or second-year quarterback through his team’s first 11 games of a season in NFL history.

The first or second-year quarterbacks with the most touchdown passes through his team’s first 11 games of a season:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON)(PASSING TDS IN TEAM’S 1ST 11 GAMES)
Dan Marino, Miami (1984)(30)^
Kurt Warner, St. Louis (1999)(29)^
Carson Wentz, Philadelphia (2017)(28)
Derek Carr, Oakland (2015)(24)
Jeff Garcia, San Francisco (2000)(24)
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Philadelphia owns the best record in the NFL at 10-1 and Wentz is the fourth first or second-year quarterback to start 10-1 or better through his team’s first 11 games of a season in the Super Bowl era.

The first or second-year quarterbacks to start 10-1 or better in his team’s first 11 games of a season in the Super Bowl era:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON)(RECORD THROUGH TEAM’S FIRST 11 GAMES)
Dan Marino, Miami(1984)(11-0)^
Carson Wentz, Philadelphia (2017)(10-1)
Dak Prescott, Dallas (2016)(10-1)
Russell Wilson, Seattle (2013)(10-1)
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

FLYING FALCON: Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones had 12 receptions for 253 yards and two touchdowns in the Falcons’ 34-20 win over Tampa Bay in Week 12.

Jones has three career games with at least 250 receiving yards and is the only player in NFL history to have multiple 250+ yard receiving games.

Jones has 563 receptions in 90 career games and passed ANQUAN BOLDIN (558) for the most catches by a player in his first 90 games in NFL history.

The players with the most receptions in their first 90 games in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (RECEPTIONS IN 1ST 90 CAREER GAMES)
Julio Jones, Atlanta (563)
Anquan Boldin, Arizona (558)
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh (554)

Jones has 8,649 receiving yards and passed Pro Football Hall of Famer Lance Alworth (8,502) for the most receiving yards by a player in his first 90 games in NFL history.

The players with the most receiving yards in their first 90 games in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (RECEIVING YARDS IN 1ST 90 CAREER GAMES)
Julio Jones, Atlanta (8,649)
Lance Alworth, San Diego (8,502)^
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

TOM TERRIFIC: New England quarterback Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes and one interception for a 114.1 passer rating in the Patriots’ 35-17 win against Miami last week.

Brady has 27 career games with at least four touchdown passes and one or fewer interceptions, surpassing Peyton Manning (26) for the second-most in NFL history. Only Drew Brees (28) has more such games.

The players with the most games with at least four touchdown passes and one or fewer interceptions in NFL history:

PLAYER –  TEAM(S) (GAMES WITH AT LEAST 4 TD PASSES & 1 OR FEWER INTS)
Drew Brees – San Diego and New Orleans (28)*
Tom Brady – New England (27)*
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis and Denver (26)
*Active

DYNAMIC DUO: New Orleans running backs Alvin Kamara (188 scrimmage yards, two touchdowns) and Mark Ingram (36 scrimmage yards) combined for 224 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns in the Saints’ loss to the Los Angeles Rams last week.

Kamara (1,094 scrimmage yards, nine touchdowns) and Ingram (1,055 scrimmage yards, eight touchdowns) are the seventh pair of teammates – and first running back duo – to each have at least 1,000 scrimmage yards and eight touchdowns in a team’s first 11 games in the Super Bowl era.

The teammates with at least 1,000 scrimmage yards and eight touchdowns in their team’s first 11 games of a season:

TEAM – SEASON (PLAYER – SCRIMMAGE YDS/TDS)(PLAYER – SCRIMMAGE YDS/TDS)
New Orleans – 2017 (Alvin Kamara – 1,094/9)(Mark Ingram – 1,055/8)
Green Bay – 2014 (Jordy Nelson – 1,066/9)(Eddie Lacy – 1,007/9)
Indianapolis – 2000 (Edgerrin James – 1,586/14)(Marvin Harrison – 1,066/8)^
St. Louis – 2000 (Marshall Faulk – 1,447/15)(Isaac Bruce – 1,185/9)
Indianapolis – 1999 (Edgerrin James – 1,547/9)(Marvin Harrison – 1,118/12)^
Dallas – 1995 (Emmitt Smith – 1,643/20)Michael Irvin – 1,169/8)^
Dallas – 1966 (Dan Reeves – 1,088/14)(Bob Hayes – 1,002/10)

^Harrison, Faulk, Smith, Irvin and Hayes are Pro Football Hall of Famers

In the month of November, Kamara became the third rookie in NFL history to total at least 500 scrimmage yards, three rushing touchdowns and three receiving touchdowns in a calendar month, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers Gale Sayers (October, 1965) and Charley Taylor (November, 1964).

The rookies with at least 500 scrimmage yards, three rushing touchdowns and three receiving touchdowns in a calendar month:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON – MONTH; SCRIMMAGE YARDS/RUSHING TDS-RECIEVING TDS)
Alvin Kamara, New Orleans (2017 – November; 593/3-3)
Gale Sayers, Chicago (1965 – October; 520/3-5)^
Charley Taylor, Washington (1964 – November; 596/3-3)^
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

BIG GAME BROWN: Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown had 10 receptions for 169 yards and two touchdowns in the Steelers’ 31-28 win against Green Bay on Sunday Night Football last week.

Through 11 games this year, Brown has five games with at least 10 receptions and 100 yards, tied for the fourth-most such games in a single season in NFL history. Brown, who also had five such games in 2015, is the first player to accomplish the feat in multiple seasons.

The players with the most games with at least 10 receptions and 100 yards in a single season in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON; GAMES WITH 10 CATCHES & 100 REC. YARDS)
Andre Johnson, Houston (2008; 7)
Calvin Johnson, Detroit (2012; 6)
Wes Welker, New England (2009; 6)
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh (2017; 5)*
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh, (2015; 5)
Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis (2002; 5)^
Jimmy Smith, Jacksonville (1999, 5)
*Through 11 games
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

WONDERFUL WILSON: Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson threw two touchdown passes and rushed for a touchdown in the Seahawks’ 24-13 win at San Francisco last week.

With the victory, Wilson improved to 23-4 (.852) in his career in games following an in-season loss, the best record by a starting quarterback since the 1970 merger (minimum 15 such starts).

The quarterbacks with the best record following an in-season loss since 1970 (minimum 15 such starts):

PLAYER – TEAMS (WINS-LOSSES-TIES, PCT.)
Russell Wilson – Seattle (23-4-0, .852)
Andrew Luck – Indianapolis (23-5-0, 821)
Tom Brady – New England (42-10-0, .808)
Jeff Hostetler – New York Giants, Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders and Washington (24-8-0, .750)
Joe Montana, San Francisco and Kansas City (36-12-0, .750)^
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Wilson ties for third in the NFL with 3,029 passing yards and became the fourth quarterback in NFL history to pass for at least 3,000 yards in each of his first six seasons.

The quarterbacks with at least 3,000 passing yards in each of their first six seasons in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASONS)
Russell Wilson, Seattle (2012-17)
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati (2011-16)
Cam Newton, Carolina (2011-16)
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (1998-2003)

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN WEEK 13: FLYING HIGH IN PHILLY: Philadelphia the NFL’s best record at 10-1 and can clinch the NFC East division title in Week 13. The Eagles have won nine consecutive games, including each of its past four by at least 20 points.

The Eagles, who play at Seattle on Sunday Night Football, can become the sixth team in NFL history to win five consecutive games all by at least 20 points and the first since the 1999 St. Louis Rams.

The teams with five consecutive wins all by 20+ points in NFL history:

TEAM (SEASON – MOST CONSECUTIVE WINS BY 20+ POINTS)
St. Louis (1999 – 5)
Green Bay (1961 – 5)
Houston Oilers (1961 – 5)
Philadelphia (1953 – 5)
Philadelphia (1949 – 5)
Philadelphia (2017 – 4)*
*Active streak

BIG BEN ASCENDS: Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has 49,762 passing yards in his 14-year career with the Steelers.

Roethlisberger, who plays at Cincinnati on Monday Night Football, can become the eighth quarterback in NFL history to reach 50,000 career passing yards.

The quarterbacks with at least 50,000 career passing yards in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (CAREER PASSING YARDS)
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis and Denver (71,940)
Brett Favre – Green Bay, New York Jets and Minnesota (71,838)^
Drew Brees – San Diego and New Orleans (69,140)*
Tom Brady – New England (64,956)*
Dan Marino – Miami (61,361)^
John Elway – Denver (51,475)^
Eli Manning – New York Giants (50,625)*
Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh (49,762)*
*Active
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Roethlisberger will play in his 197th career game on Monday and can become the fifth quarterback in NFL history to reach 50,000 career passing yards in fewer than 200 games, joining Drew Brees (183), Peyton Manning (191), Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino (193) and Tom Brady (198).

The quarterbacks to reach 50,000 passing yards in the fewest career games:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (GAMES TO 50,000 PASSING YARDS)
Drew Brees – San Diego and New Orleans (183)
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis (191)
Dan Marino – Miami (193)^
Tom Brady – New England (198)
Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh (196)*
*Has 49,762 career passing yards
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

PRESCISION PASSERS: Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz leads the NFL with 28 touchdown passes and New England’s Tom Brady ranks second with 26 TD passes. Wentz (five interceptions) and Brady (three) are the only quarterbacks with at least 25 touchdown passes and five or fewer interceptions this season.

On Sunday, Wentz and Brady can join some elite company. Wentz, who plays at Seattle on Sunday night, can become the third different quarterback in NFL history with at least 30 touchdown passes and five or fewer interceptions through his team’s first 12 games of a season, joining Brady (2007) and Aaron Rodgers (2011, 2014).

Brady, who plays at Buffalo on Sunday, can join Rodgers as the only players to accomplish the feat twice. Brady had 41 touchdown passes with five interceptions through his team’s first 12 games of the 2007 season.

The players with at least 30 touchdown passes and five or fewer interceptions through their team’s first 12 games of a season:

PLAYER – TEAM (SEASON; TD PASSES – INTERCEPTIONS)
Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay (2014; 32 – 3)^
Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay (2011; 37 – 5)^
Tom Brady – New England (2007; 41 – 5)^
Carson Wentz – Philadelphia (2017; 28 – 5)*
Tom Brady – New England (2017; 26 – 3)*
*Through 11 games
^Won MVP

ALL-PURPOSE BACKS: Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley ranks second in the NFL with 1,344 scrimmage yards (865 rushing, 479 receiving) and leads the league with 11 total touchdowns.

Gurley, who plays at Arizona on Sunday, can become the fifth different player in NFL history with at least 1,000 rushing yards, 500 receiving yards and 10 total touchdowns through his team’s first 12 games of a season.

The players with at least 1,000 rushing yards, 500 receiving yards and 10 total touchdowns in their team’s first 12 games of a season:

PLAYER – TEAM (SEASON; RUSH YARDS – REC. YARDS, TOUCHDOWNS)
David Johnson – Arizona (2016; 1,005 – 704, 15)
Priest Holmes – Kansas City (2003; 1,177 – 559, 17)
Priest Holmes – Kansas City (2002; 1,322 – 634, 22)
Thurman Thomas – Buffalo (1991; 1,192 – 522, 12)^
Thurman Thomas – Buffalo (1989; 1,045 – 558, 11)^
Chuck Foreman – Minnesota (1976; 1,035 – 551, 12)
Todd Gurley – Los Angeles Rams (2017; 865 – 479, 11)*
*Through 11 games
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Saints rookie running back Alvin Kamara ranks second in the NFC with 1,094 scrimmage yards (548 receiving, 546 rushing) and ties for second in the NFL with nine total touchdowns.

Kamara, who plays against Carolina on Sunday, can become the third rookie with at least 600 rushing yards and 600 receiving yards in a season in NFL history, joining Billy Sims (1980) and Pro Football Hall of Famer Charley Taylor (1964). Both Sims and Taylor were named the Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year in those seasons.

The rookies with at least 600 rushing yards and 600 receiving yards in a season in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM (SEASON; RUSH YARDS – REC. YARDS)
Billy Sims – Detroit (1980; 1,303 – 621)
Charley Taylor – Washington (1964; 755 – 814)^
Alvin Kamara – New Orleans (2017; 546 – 548)*
*Through 11 games
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

RECORD-SETTING RECEIVER: Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown leads the NFL with 80 catches and 1,195 receiving yards this season.

Brown, who has 561 receptions since 2013, can surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison (563 from 1999-2003) for the most catches by a player over any five-year span in NFL history when the Steelers play at Cincinnati Monday night.

The most receptions by a player over any five-year span in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM (SEASONS; RECEPTIONS)
Marvin Harrison – Indianapolis (1999-2003; 563)^
Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh (2013-17; 561)*
Wes Welker – New England (2008-12; 560)
Wes Welker – New England (2007-11; 554)
Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh (2012-16l 547)
*In fifth season of span
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Brown, who has 7,510 receiving yards since 2013, can also surpass Harrison (7,594 from 1999-2003) for the most receiving yards by a player over any five-year span in NFL history.

The most receiving yards by a player over any five-year span in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM (SEASONS; RECEIVING YARDS)
Marvin Harrison – Indianapolis (1999-2003; 7,594)^
Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh (2013-17; 7,510)*
Calvin Johnson – Detroit (2011-15; 7,428)
Torry Holt – St. Louis (2000-04; 7,368)
Calvin Johnson – Detroit (2010-14; 7,334)
*In fifth season of span
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

LARRY LEGEND: Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald leads the NFC with 72 receptions and is closing in on his 10th career season with at least 75 catches.

With three catches against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, Fitzgerald would become the fourth player in NFL history with at least 75 catches in 10 seasons, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers Jerry Rice (13 seasons) and Tim Brown(10) and Tony Gonzalez (10).

The players with the most seasons with at least 75 catches in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (SEASONS WITH 75+ CATCHES)
Jerry Rice – San Francisco and Oakland (13)^
Tim Brown – Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders (10)^
Tony Gonzalez – Kansas City and Atlanta (10)
Larry Fitzgerald – Arizona (9)*
*Has 72 catches entering Week 13
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

AGELESS WONDER: Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers has 8.5 sacks this season and ranks fourth in NFL history with 152 career sacks.

Peppers, who turned 37 years old in January, can become the third player with at least 10 sacks in a single season at the age of 37 or older since the individual sack became an official statistic in 1982, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers Bruce Smith (10 sacks in 2000) and Kevin Greene  (12 sacks in 1999). Peppers and the Panthers take on New Orleans Sunday afternoon on the road.

The players with at least 10 sacks in a single season at the age of 37 or older since 1982:

PLAYER – TEAM (SEASON; AGE/SACKS)
Bruce Smith – Washington (2000; 37/10)^
Kevin Greene – Carolina (1999; 37/12)^
Julius Peppers – Carolina (2017; 37/8.5)*
*Entering Week 13
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

As the calendar turns to December, the NFL playoff picture is starting to take shape. With five weeks remaining in the regular season, there are currently 25 teams either in or within two games of a playoff spot.

Over the past five seasons, the Seattle Seahawks (19-5, .792) own the best record in the final month, which also includes regular-season games played in January. The Pittsburgh Steelers (18-5, .783) have the best mark in the AFC.

TEAM (WINS-LOSSES, PCT)
Seattle (19-5, .792)
Green Bay (18-5, .783)
Pittsburgh (18-5, .783)
Carolina (18-6, .750)
New England (18-6, .750)

“The games in December are the most important regular-season games by far,” says NFL Network analyst and former NFL head coach Steve Mariucci. “It’s extremely important to win in December and to make a run at the playoffs.”

As the NFL season enters the final month, four teams are racing towards the finish line with winning streaks of at least six games – Philadelphia (nine), Minnesota (seven), New England (seven) and Pittsburgh (six).

The Eagles, who own the NFL’s best record, are 10-1 for the fourth time (1949, 1980 and 2004) in franchise history. In the Super Bowl era, 38 teams have previously started 10-1 and all 38 made the playoffs, 17 reached the Super Bowl (44.7 percent) and eight won the Super Bowl (21.1 percent). Philadelphia can clinch the NFC East division title this week with either a Dallas loss on Thursday night or an Eagles win on Sunday night against Seattle.

Week 13 began on Thursday night in the Lone Star State when Dallas broke their three-game losing streak, taking down Washington 38-14 in a key NFC East showdown as both teams are fighting to stay in the mix for a playoff berth. Week 13 Sunday action concludes as the Eagles travel to the Pacific Northwest for a primetime meeting with the Seattle Seahawks at 8:30 p.m. on NBC and the week ends in Cincinnati as the Bengals host Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers in an important AFC North matchup at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN.

As for last week? 11-5 is nothing to sneeze at. For the season, we’re at 106-17. There’s a lot of football left on the docket as the season winds down. Here are the Sunday and Monday picks for week 13.

Minnesota (9-2) at ATLANTA (7-4), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons host Minnesota in what could be a playoff preview in the Big Peach.

Minnesota escaped the Motor City last Thursday afternoon, taking a 30-23 win over the Lions at Ford Field. Leading 20-10 at the half, the Vikings would go on to see the Lions outscore them 13-10 in the last 30 minutes of action and would have seen the contest tied when Detroit CB Darius Slay blocked a 45 yard field goal try by Ken Horbath and CB Nevin Lawson returned it  77 yards for a TD. The score was erased when the Lions were called for being offside and Minnesota would run out the clock and take the win. Minnesota outrushed Detroit 136-53 and Case Keenum threw for 282 yards and a pair of TDs to WR Kyle Rudolph, while Detroit’s Matthew Stafford threw for 250 yards and a pair of TDs. Minnesota on third down went 6 of 13 and kept the ball for 34:57, while Detroit was 3 of 11 on third down (0 of 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for 25:03.

The Falcons manhandled Tampa Bay 34-20 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium last Sunday in the Big Peach. Atlanta broke a 3-3 tie at the end of the first quarter as it was the Julio Jones Show in the second quarter, as the Falcons All-Pro WR caught a pair of TD passes in the period (pass number one came from WR Mohammed Sanu, pass number two came from Ryan). Atlanta led 20-6 at the and never looked back, even though both teams played even football in the final 30 minutes of action. Sanu is the first wide receiver since the 1970 merger to throw multiple career 50+ yard touchdown passes. He is also the first non-quarterback to throw two career 50+ yard touchdown passes since Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton (1979, 1983).

Ryan threw for 317 yards without a sack or interception, while the Falcons outrushed Tampa Bay 148-94 (Atlanta’s Tevin Coleman led all rushers with 97 yards and a pair of TDs). For Tampa Bay, Ryan Fitzpatrick, taking over for Jameis Winston (shoulder) threw for 283 yards with a sack in the loss. Atlanta on third down was 11 of 11 and kept the ball for 30:06, while Tampa Bay held the pigskin for 29:54, going  4 of 11 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

Minnesota leads the series 17-10, the Vikings have outscored Atlanta 643-452 and have won the last two meetings, including a 20-10 win in the Big Peach in 2015, while Atlanta’s last win over the Vikings came in 2011 in Atlanta by a final of 24-14. The oddsmakers in Vegas like the Falcons as a 3-point favorite and the over/under is 47 1/2. Both numbers make a lot of sense and both teams have played some decent football of late. Atlanta covers the 3 and takes the win in the Peach State.

Detroit (6-5) at Baltimore (6-5), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 712. A pair of contending teams meet in Charm City as Baltimore hosts the Detroit Lions.

Detroit saw defeat snatched from the jaws of victory Thursday afternoon in the Motor City as they sent their fans home heartbroken after their 30-23 loss to Minnesota at Ford Field. Detroit trailed 20-10 at the half, then mounted a comeback in the second half as they outscored their NFC North foes 13-10 in the last 30 minutes of play, coming to within seven with 75 seconds left when Lions CB Daris Slay blocked a 45 yard field goal try by Ken Horbath and CB Nevin Lawson returned it  77 yards for a TD. The score was erased when the Lions were called for being offside and the Vikings would run out the clock and take the win. Detroit found themselves outrushed by the Vikings 136-53, while Stafford threw for 250 yards and a pair of TDs in the loss. The Vikings on third down went 6 of 13 and ruled the clock, holding the ball for 34:57, while Detroit was 3 of 11 on third down (0 of 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for 25:03.

Baltimore erased a 7-0 first quarter deficit against Houston last Monday night and came away 23-16 winners in Charm City. The Ravens led 17-10 at the half, then held off a pair of late Texans rallies that would have tied the contest up at M&T Bank Stadium. Baltimore outrushed Houston 139-66 and Joe Flacco threw for 141 yards, while Houston’s Tom Savage threw for 252 yards with a pair of interceptions (the second pick came late in the fourth quarter as the Texans were driving to tie the contest up). The Ravens on third down were 3 of 14 (they were 2 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 29:44. The Texans actually ruled the clock and kept the ball for 30:16, while going 6 of 14 on third down tries.

Baltimore leads the series 3-1 and the Ravens have outscored Detroit 102-64. The Ravens picked up an 18-16 win in the Motor City in 2013 in their last meeting, while Detroit’s lone win in the series came in 2005 in the Motor City by a final of 35-17. Baltimore’s favored by 3 and the over/under is 42. Both clubs are chasing division leaders and would love nothing more than to catch them. For the winner, they’re one step closer in the chase; as for the loser, they’re not out but they’ve got a little more work to do. Ravens cover the 3 and wins in Charm City.

New England (9-2) at Buffalo (6-5), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705. It’s a pair of AFC East rivals meeting in upstate New York as Tom Brady and the Pats travel to Orchard Park for a showdown at New Era Stadium.

New England led Miami 21-10 at the half in Foxboro and came away 35-17 winners at Gillette Stadium. Brady (227 yards, four TDs) and TE Rob Gronkowski connected on a pair of TDs in the contest and the Pats never looked back. New England sacked Matt Moore (215 yards, TD) seven times and picked him off twice, holding Miami to 67 yards rushing, while Deon Lewis accounted for 112 of New England’s 196 yards on the ground. New England went 5 of 12 on third down tries, 1 of 2 on fourth down and the Pats kept the ball for 32:41, while Miami went 2 of 11, 2 of 3 on third and fourth downs and held on to the ball for 27:19.

The Bills held off Kansas City, coming away 16-10 winners at Arrowhead last Sunday. Buffalo led 10-3 at halftime, then held off a late Chiefs rally in the second half for the win on the road. Buffalo outrushed Kansas City 104-55 and Tyrod Taylor threw for 183 yards, while the Chiefs’ Alex Smith threw for 199 yards with an interception (each man threw a TD pass). The Bills would wind up going 6 of 17 on third down conversions in the Show-Me State and ruled the clock, as they kept the ball for 33:18, while the Chiefs, who held the ball for 26:42, went 2 of 13 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down.

New England leads the series 69-43-1 (which includes games that took place at old War Memorial Stadium, Schaffer Stadium and Fenway Park) and the Pats have outscored Buffalo 2,499-2,100. The two AFC East foes split last year’s contests, with each winning in the other team’s facility.

They met in Foxboro in week four and the Pats did not have the services of Brady, who sat out four games for his part in “Inflategate.” Buffalo shut out the Pats 16-0 in the first meeting, leading 13-0 at the intermission and never looked back. Buffalo outrushed New England 134-90 and Taylor threw for 246 yards and a TD, while Jacoby Brissett, taking over for Brady, threw for 205 yards but was sacked three times. The Bills on third down tries at Gillette Stadium went 7 of 15 and kept the ball for 36:11, while the Pats went 1 of 12 on third down (2 of 3 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 23:49.

Round 2… week eight in upstate New York (Orchard Park, to be specific). Brady would be back and the Pats would get revenge on their AFC East rivals, coming away 41-25 winners at New Era Stadium. New England led 24-10 at the half and outscored the Bills 17-15 in the final 30 minutes of play. Buffalo again outrushed New England 167-72 but Brady threw for 315 yards and four TDs, while Taylor threw for 183 before being relieved by E.J. Manuel. The Pats were 9 of 13 on third down and kept the ball for 29:51, while the Bills ruled the clock and held on to the pigskin for 30:09, going 4 of 13 on third down and 2 of 4 on fourth down.

New England was favored by 7 in the week four contest in Foxboro and the Bills covered, winning by 16 but the 45 over/under was intact as the Bills did all the scoring in the contest. New England’s 16-point win in the week eight matchup in upstate New York allowed them to cover the 6 1/2 point spread easily and the 66 combined points was more than enough to take care of the 47 over/under. New England’s favored by 8 1/2 and the over/under’s 49. The 49 is reasonable. The 8 1/2 is a bit on the steep side. The Bills at times have been bad but they’re not 8 1/2 bad. Buffalo will make this one interesting but New England at the Pats prevail. Pats win but expect Buffalo to make it closer than 8 1/2.

San Francisco (1-10) at Chicago (3-8), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706. Sourdough meets deep dish as a pair of struggling teams meet in the Windy City for the second year in a row as San Francisco takes on Da Bears at Soldier Field.

San Francisco found themselves all but out of the post-season race as they dropped a 24-13 decision to the Seahawks last Sunday at Levis Stadium in an NFC West matchup. Seattle led 7-3 at the break and 14-6 after three quarters of play before the Seahawks would eventually pull away from the 49ers, who were held to 84 yards rushing, while Seattle tallied 90 yards rushing of their own. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson threw for 228 yards and a pair of TDs (one to TE Jimmy Graham), while the 49ers’ C.J. Bethard threw for 201 yards with three sacks and an interception before being knocked out of the contest and replaced by Jimmy Graffalo (who will be under center Sunday for San Francisco), who threw their only TD of the contest as the clock struck :00, connecting with RB Lance Murhphy on a 10-yard toss. San Francisco was 5 of 16 on third down but had success on fourth down, going 1 of 1 and kept the ball for 30:29, while the Seahawks were 29:31 in time of possession, going 5 of 13 on third down.

Chicago was held to a third-quarter field goal by Chris Santos by Philadelphia as they were taken to task by the Eagles 31-3 last Sunday. Da Bears trailed 24-0 at the intermission before breaking Philly’s bid for a shutout when Santos connected on a 38-yard field goal with 8:40 left in the third. Chicago was held to a season-low 6 yards on the ground, while the Eagles ran for 176 in the win. Mitchell Trubisky threw for 147 yards for Chicago but was sacked twice and picked off twice, while Carson Wentz threw for 227 yards and three TDs. Chicago went 3 of 13 on third down (0 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 22:52, while the Eagles ruled time and kept the ball for 37:08, going 7 of 16 on third down, 3 of 4 on fourth down.

Da Bears lead the series 31-30-1 (including games that took place at Wrigley Field, Keezar Stadium and Candlestick Park) and the 49ers have outscored Chicago 1,371-1,275. Chicago won the last meeting with San Francisco, which took place last year in the Windy City by a final of 26-6, while San Francisco needed overtime at Soldier Field in 2015 to come away 26-20 winners.

They met at Soldier Field in chilly week 13 (game time temp? A balmy 33 degrees with a wind chill of 28) and Da Bears led 7-6 at the half before shutting out the 49ers 19-0 in the second half. Chicago got three TD runs from RB Jordan Howard in the win, as they barely outrushed San Francisco 142-141 (Howard led all rushers with 117 yards, while 49ers RB Carlos Hyde led his team with 92 yards). Matt Barkley threw for 192 yards for Chicago, while Colin Kaepernick was sacked five times, throwing for only four yards (Blaine Gabbert would take over for him but struggled as well, throwing for 35 yards). San Francisco went 4 of 14 on third down and kept the ball for 28:42, while Da Bears ruled the clock and held the pigskin for 31:18, going 6 of 14 on third down.

In the week 13 contest in the Windy City, Da Bears covered the 2 1/2 point spread with their 20-point win at Soldier Field. As for the 43 1/2 over/under? It stayed warm, as both clubs combined for 32 points. Chicago’s favored by 3 1/2 in the Windy City and the over/under is 40. Unless you’re a fan of one of these teams, may we suggest that you beg the wife, girlfriend, significant other or gal pal to take you Christmas shopping. It’s almost safe to say that neither of these teams will be invited to the playoff party but we have to pick a winner. Deep dish wins over Sourdough. Da Bears cover the 3 1/2 and wins at home.

Tampa Bay (4-7) at Green Bay (5-6), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 713. It’s the battle of the Bays, as Tampa Bay makes its way to the land of cheese, beer and Bratwurst to face off against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau.

Tampa Bay saw Atlanta break a 3-3 tie at the end of the first quarter and watched the Falcons take a 34-20 win at Mercedes-Benz Stadium last Sunday in the Big Peach. Tampa Bay was burned by Atlanta All-Pro WR Julio Jones for 253 yards and a pair of TDs in the second quarter (pass number one came from WR Mohammed Sanu, pass number two came from Ryan). Atlanta led 20-6 at the and never looked back, even though both teams played even football in the final 30 minutes of action. Sanu is the first wide receiver since the 1970 merger to throw multiple career 50+ yard touchdown passes. He is also the first non-quarterback to throw two career 50+ yard touchdown passes since Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton (1979, 1983).

Ryan threw for 317 yards without a sack or interception, while the Falcons outrushed Tampa Bay 148-94 (Atlanta’s Tevin Coleman led all rushers with 97 yards and a pair of TDs). For Tampa Bay, Ryan Fitzpatrick, taking over for Jameis Winston (shoulder) threw for 283 yards with a sack in the loss. Atlanta on third down was 11 of 11 and kept the ball for 30:06, while Tampa Bay held the pigskin for 29:54, going  4 of 11 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

Green Bay rallied late in their Sunday night contest with Pittsburgh at Heinz Field, only to see the Steelers come away with a 31-28 last second win. The Pack and Steelers were tied at 14-14 at the half and led 21-14 with 12:06 left in the third when Packers QB Brett Hundley and WR Davante Adams connected on a 55-yard TD strike. Pittsburgh would eventually take the lead back as WR Antonio Brown caught a pair of Ben Roethlisberger TD passes and took that lead into the latter parts of the fourth, when the Packers used a 12-play, 77-yard drive that used 6:40 of clock to tie things back up when RB Jamaal Williams scored on a 4-yard run with 2:02 left in regulation.

Pittsburgh got the ball back with 17 seconds left in regulation and made the most of those 17 seconds, needing only 4 plays and 35 yards of real estate and took the contest when Chris Boswell connected on a 52-yard field goal. Pittsburgh outrushed Green Bay 121-80 and Hundley threw for 245 yards and three TDs, while Roethlisberger threw for 351 and four TDs, while throwing a pair of interceptions. Green Bay was 6 of 13 on third down tries and held the ball for 26:24, while the Steelers were 8 of 13 and held the ball for 33:36, including the final 17 seconds of the contest (both clubs were 1 of 1 on fourth down).

The Packers lead the Battle of the Bays 31-21-1 (including contests that were played in Milwaukee and at old Tampa Stadium), Green Bay has outscored Tampa Bay 1,032-853 and the Packers have won the last two meetings in the series, including taking a 20-3 win in the Sunshine State in 2014. As for the Bucs? Their last win over the Packers came in 2009 in Tampa Bay by a final of 38-28. The Packers are favored by 2 and the over/under is 43. While this one’s not “DRILL WORTHY,” this one is interesting to watch. Packers recover from the loss in the Steel City and cover the 2 at Lambeau.

Indianapolis (3-8) at Jacksonville (7-4), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707. It’s round two of an AFC South matchup as the Colts travel to the Sunshine State to square off against Jacksonville. Both teams enter the Sunday afternoon contest in north Florida with losses under their belts.

The Colts were beaten by Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans 20-16 at Lucas Oil Stadium last Sunday. Indy let a 13-6 lead at the half get away from them as the Titans would respond by outscoring the Colts 14-10 in the final 30 minutes of play, with Tennessee taking the lead for good when Titans RB DeMarco Murray scored from one yard out with 5:59 left in the contest. Tennessee outrushed Indianapolis 92-89 and Mariota threw for 184 yards, while Jacoby Brissett threw for 196 yards but was sacked eight times. The Colts on third down tries went 6 of 14 and held the ball for 31:22, while the Titans went 3 of 8 on third down and held on to the ball for 28:38.

Jacksonville struggled to pull even with Arizona at University of Phoenix Stadium last Sunday, only to see the Cardinals pull a rabbit out of their hats to lose 27-24 in the desert. Arizona led 13-3 at the intermission before the Jaguars would eventually tie things up with 7:26 left in regulation when Blake Bortles would scamper in and score on a 17-yard run. After a Jacksonville punt, Arizona got the ball back with 16 seconds left to play and used only 3 plays and 22 yards to set up Phil Dawson to kick a 57-yard field goal with one second left to take the lead back. The Cardinals then kicked off to Jacksonville (with 1 second left), who used several lateral passes in a futile attempt to move the ball down field. Arizona outrushed Jacksonville 108-91, Bortles threw for 160 yards with an interception and three sacks, while Blaine Gabbard threw for 241 yards and a pair of TDs. Jacksonville on third down was 1 of 12 (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and the Jaguars held the pigskin for 25:21, while the Cardinals were 7 of 17 on third down, keeping the ball for 34:39.

They met in the Hoosier State in week seven and Jacksonville shut out Indy 27-0 at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Jaguars led 20-0 at the intermission and held the Colts in check in the second half for the road win. Jacksonville outrushed the Colts 188-96 (the Jaguars’ T.J. Yeldon led all rushers with 122 yards and a TD), while Bortles threw for 330 yards and a TD, while the Jacksonville defense sacked Brissett (200 yards) 10 times in the shutout. Jacksonville went 8 of 14 on third down tries (they were 0 of 1 on fourth down) and the Jaguars held the ball for 32:47, while the Colts kept the pigskin for 27:13, going 5 of 15 and 0 of 3 on third and fourth downs.

Jacksonville easily covered the 3 1/2-point spread with their 27-point win but their 27 points meant they did not cover the 40 1/2 over/under. Jacksonville’s favored by 9 1/2 in the Sunshine State and the over/under’s 41. The Colts are not great but they’re not 9 1/2 points bad. However, the Jaguars are making a march toward the playoffs, while the Colts are trying to survive. Expect the Colts to make it a close contest but Jacksonville pulls off the sweep in the Sunshine State and takes the win.

Denver (3-8) at Miami (4-7), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710. A pair of struggling AFC teams meet in the Sunshine State when Denver travels to South Beach for a showdown with the Miami Dolphins.

Denver dropped a 21-14 decision at Oakland last Sunday at the Coliseum. The rematch in northern California was anything but civil as Raiders WR Michael Crabtree and Denver CB Aqib Talib would find themselves involved in a brawl on field that made Tyson-Holyfield look calm. Punches were thrown, both players were ejected from the contest and both were suspended two games without pay (after meeting with the ppwers that be, that suspension wound up being reduced to one for both men). Oakland outrushed Denver 104-59 and Derek Carr threw for 253 yards, while Trevor Siemian, who took over for Paxton Lynch (injury) threw for 149 yards (both threw a pair of TDs). Denver on third down went 5 of 14 (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and the Broncos held the ball for 24:06, while the Raiders were 5 of 13 on third down, holding the ball for 35:54.

Miami found themselves trailing New England 21-10 at the half in Foxboro and came away on the short end of a 35-17 loss to Tom Brady and the Pats last Sunday at Gillette Stadium. Brady (227 yards, four TDs) and TE Rob Gronkowski connected on a pair of TDs in the contest and the Pats never looked back. New England sacked Matt Moore (215 yards, TD) seven times and picked him off twice, holding Miami to 67 yards rushing, while Deon Lewis accounted for 112 of New England’s 196 yards on the ground. New England went 5 of 12 on third down tries, 1 of 2 on fourth down and the Pats kept the ball for 32:41, while Miami went 2 of 11, 2 of 3 on third and fourth downs and held on to the ball for 27:19.

Including games that were played at the old Orange Bowl and at Mile High Stadium, the Dolphins lead the series 11-5-1 and the ‘Fins have outscored the Broncos 403-317. Denver has taken wins in the last two contests, coming away 39-36 winners in 2014 in the Mile High City in the last meeting, while Miami’s last win over Denver came in 2008 (also in the Mile High City) by a final of 26-17. Denver’s favored by 1 and the over/under’s 39 1/2. We wouldn’t blame you if you chose not to watch this one and instead binge watch the sixth season of “Gilmore Girls.” (Luke and Loreli are really a cute couple and he’d make a hell of a stepdad for Rory!) Miami pulls the upset at home, taking the win and covering the 1.

Kansas City (6-5) at New York Jets (4-7), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708. The Chiefs make their second trip to the Meadowlands as they face the other Met Life Stadium tenant in upstate New Jersey when they call on the New York Jets.

Kansas City dropped their fifth game in six tries, coming away on the short end of a 16-10 loss to Buffalo at Arrowhead last Sunday. Buffalo led 10-3 at halftime, then held off a late Chiefs rally in the second half for the win on the road. Buffalo outrushed Kansas City 104-55 and Tyrod Taylor threw for 183 yards, while the Chiefs’ Alex Smith threw for 199 yards with an interception (each man threw a TD pass). The Bills would wind up going 6 of 17 on third down conversions in the Show-Me State and ruled the clock, as they kept the ball for 33:18, while the Chiefs, who held the ball for 26:42, went 2 of 13 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down.

GangGreen saw Carolina win their fourth in a row as the Panther defeated them 35-27 last week at Met Life Stadium. Carolina used TDs from linebacker Luke Kuechly (34-yard fumble return) and punt returner Kaelin Clay (60-yard punt return) scored touchdowns in the fourth quarter to seal the win, marking the second time in franchise history – and first since the club’s inaugural 1995 season (October 8, 1995 against Chicago) – in which the Panthers scored two return touchdowns in the fourth quarter of a game. The Jets led 20-18 early in the final quarter of play before Kuechly and Clay would score their touchdowns to seal New York’s fate. After Javon Kearse and Josh McCown connected on a 3-yard TD pass to pull to within 5 at 32-27, Graham Gano would push the lead to eight with a 45-yard field goal with 21 seconds left. Carolina outrushed the Jets 145-109 and Newton threw for 168 yards and had a rushing TD of his own, while McCown threw for 307 yards with three TDs (each man was sacked three times). Carolina on third down tries in the Meadowlands went 3 of 14 (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and ruled the clock as they kept the ball for 31:50, while the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! were 28:10 in time of possession, going 5 of 14 on third down.

Including games that were played at Shea Stadium and old Swope Field, the Chiefs lead the series 18-17-1, have outscored GangGreen 819-698 and Kansas City has won the last two meetings, including winning last year by a final of 24-3 at Arrowhead. (The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! last win over the Chiefs came in 2011 in the Meadowlands by a final of 37-10.

The week three contest at Arrowhead saw Kansas City lead 17-7 at the intermission and outpaced GangGreen in the second half, shutting out the Jets in the process. While GangGreen did outrush the Chiefs 117-72, Smtih burned New York for 237 yards and a TD strike to TE Travis Kelce, while the Chiefs defense picked off Ryan Fitzpatrick (188 yards) six times (the Chiefs forced eight turnovers in the contest). Kansas City was 7 of 15 on third down (0 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 32:05, while the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! were 7 of 14 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down and held on to the pigskin for 27:55.

Winning by 27 allowed the Chiefs to cover the 3-point spread in the week three contest but both teams combined for 27 points, missing the 43 over/under. This time, the Chiefs are favored by 3 1/2 in the Meadowlands and the over/under’s 44. The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! are not a bad team but at times they have played that way. The Chiefs are trying to regain their footing after dropping five of their last six. Chiefs cover the 3 1/2 and take the win in the Meadowlands.

Houston (4-7) at Tennessee (7-4), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 709. They meet again. This time, it’s in the Music City. Tennessee hosts Houston in an AFC South contest at Nissan Stadium.

Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans rallied to take a 20-16 against Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium last Sunday. Indy let a 13-6 lead at the half get away from them as the Titans would respond by outscoring the Colts 14-10 in the final 30 minutes of play, with Tennessee taking the lead for good when Titans RB DeMarco Murray scored from one yard out with 5:59 left in the contest. Tennessee outrushed Indianapolis 92-89 and Mariota threw for 184 yards, while Jacoby Brissett threw for 196 yards but was sacked eight times. The Colts on third down tries went 6 of 14 and held the ball for 31:22, while the Titans went 3 of 8 on third down and held on to the ball for 28:38.

Houston saw Baltimore erase a 7-0 first quarter lead last Monday night and fell to the Ravens 23-16 in Charm City. Houston kept things close, trailing 17-10 at the half, then saw a pair of late rallies fall short that would have either tied things up or given them the lead. Baltimore outrushed Houston 139-66 and Joe Flacco threw for 141 yards, while Houston’s Tom Savage threw for 252 yards with a pair of interceptions (the second pick came late in the fourth quarter as the Texans were driving to tie the contest up). The Ravens on third down were 3 of 14 (they were 2 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 29:44. The Texans actually ruled the clock and kept the ball for 30:16, while going 6 of 14 on third down tries.

It’s a rematch from week four in the Lone Star State that saw Houston lead 30-14 at the half and walk away 57-14 winners. The Texans outrushed Tennessee 173-86 and picked off Mariota (96 yards) twice, while DeShaun Watson threw for 283 yards and four TDs in the lopsided affair at NRG Stadium. The Texans were 6 of 12 on third down and 1 of 1 on fourth down and kept the ball for 39:41, while the Titans kept the pigskin for 20:19, going 2 of 8 on third down.

In the week four contest in Houston, Tennessee was a 1 1/2-point favorite and the Texans covered, winning by 43 and the two clubs combined for 71 points, which covered the 44 over/under.  The boys and girls in Vegas thought they would make the Titans a favorite again and they did, this time by 6 1/2 and the over/under this time around is 43. Both teams are trying to keep pace in an AFC South that for the most part has become a two-team race. Tennessee’s trying to keep Jacksonville at bay, while the Texans are trying to catch both teams. Houston gets revenge and takes the win in the Music City, even though they won’t cover the 6 1/2.

Cleveland (0-11) at Los Angeles Chargers (5-6), 4:05 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 714. The winless Cleveland Browns travel westward for a meeting at Stub Hub Center with Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Browns once again found themselves in the Pit of Misery, remaining winless as they completed the sweep with their instate rivals from Cincinnati, as the Bengals wound up taking a 30-16 win last Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals led 16-6 at the break, then held Cleveland in check in the second half for the win at home. Cleveland did manage to outrush the Bengals 169-152 but Cincinnati RB Joe Mixon led all rushers with 114 yards and a TD, while Andy Dalton threw for 214 yards and a pair of TDs. The Bengals were 4 of 10 on third down and held on to the ball for 30:32, while the winless Browns were 29:28 in time of possession and went 6 of 15 on third down, 2 of 3 on fourth down.

Los Angeles took a 3-0 lead at the half at AT&T Stadium against Dallas last Thursday before the Chargers and Philip Rivers would outscore them 25-6 in the final 30 minutes of action, coming away 28-6 winners in the Lone Star State. The Chargers outrushed Dallas 81-79 and Rivers burned the Dallas secondary for 434 yards and three TDs, while Cowboys QB Dak Prescott threw for 179 yards but was sacked twice and picked off twice, one returned by Chargers rookie CB Desmond King 90 yards for a TD. Dallas on third down tries actually did well, going 6 of 11 and kept the ball for 23:55, while the Chargers kept the pigskin hostage, keeping it for 36:05, going 9 of 14 on third, 0 of 1 on fourth down.

Including games that were played at Memorial Stadium and Qualcomm Stadium, the Chargers lead the series 15-9-1 and have outscored the Browns 593-488. They met last year in week 16 on Christmas Eve afternoon (game time temp? 38 degrees with a 30 wind chill) and the Browns survived a last second scare from the Chargers, taking a 20-17 win at First Energy Field (the Chargers’ last win over Cleveland came in 2015 when they were based in San Diego and the Bolts took a 30-27 win at Qualcomm).

In the week 16 contest, Cleveland led 17-10 at the half, then held off a late rally in the final quarter when Chargers’ K Josh Lambo’s 45-yard field goal try sailed wide right of the mark. Cleveland outrushed San Diego 124-34, while Rivers threw for 322 yards and a pair of TDs, while Cleveland’s Robert Griffin III threw for 164 yards but was sacked seven times. Each club had 15 third down conversion attempts and the Browns were successful on six of them, while the Chargers found success five times. On fourth down, both teams were perfect, as the Chargers were 2 of 2, while the Browns were 1 of 1. Time was on the side of the Browns, as Cleveland held the ball for 32:29, while San Diego kept it for 27:31.

While San Diego was favored by 6, the Browns would take the win but only by 3. As for the 44 over/under? It was all snug in its bed, as both teams combined for 37 points. The Chargers are favored by 14 and the over/under’s 43. The Browns are bad but not 14 points bad. They’ll at least put up a fight but the Chargers prevail at home.

Los Angeles Rams (8-3) at Arizona (5-6), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 716. A pair of NFC West rivals meet in the desert as the Rams travel to Glendale for a week seven rematch with the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Los Angeles, leading the AFC West and winners of five of their last six contest, broke New Orleans’ eight-game win streak, taking a 26-20 victory over the Saints at the Coliseum last Sunday. The Rams led 17-10 at the break before the Saints would eventually pull to within seven with 1:45 when rookie RB Alvin Kamara scored his second TD of the afternoon, catching a 15-yard pass from Drew Brees (Kamara had a 74-yard run earlier in the contest to end the Rams’ bid for a shutout). The Rams would then stop a bid by the Saints to get the ball back to either tie or take the lead when they recovered an onside kick. Los Angeles would then kneel down and run out the clock and take the win. New Orleans did manage to outrush the Rams 123-88 and Kamara led all rushers with 87 yards, while Todd Gurley led the Rams with 74 and the Rams’ Jared Goff threw for 354 yards and Brees threw for 246 yards. The Rams were 3 of 14 on third down tries and kept the ball for 35:26, while the Saints on third down tries were 3 of 13 (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and New Orleans held on to the ball for 24:34.

Arizona broke a 24-24 tie against Jacksonville at University of Phoenix Stadium last Sunday, coming away 27-24 winners in the desert. The Desert Angry Birds led 13-3 at the intermission before the Jaguars would eventually tie things up with 7:26 left in regulation when Blake Bortles would scamper in and score on a 17-yard run. After a Jacksonville punt, Arizona got the ball back with 16 seconds left to play and used only 3 plays and 22 yards to set up Phil Dawson to kick a 57-yard field goal with one second left to take the lead back. (It marked the longest fourth-quarter game-winning field goal in NFL history by a 40-year old kicker (42 years old). The Cardinals then kicked off to Jacksonville (with 1 second left), who used several lateral passes in a futile attempt to move the ball down field. Arizona outrushed Jacksonville 108-91, Bortles threw for 160 yards with an interception and three sacks, while Blaine Gabbard threw for 241 yards and a pair of TDs. Jacksonville on third down was 1 of 12 (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and the Jaguars held the pigskin for 25:21, while the Cardinals were 7 of 17 on third down, keeping the ball for 34:39.

They met in London in week seven and the Rams were 33-0 winners at Twickenham Stadium. Los Angeles led 23-0 at the half and never took their foot off the gas, scoring 10 more second half points unchallenged. Gurley ran for 106 yards and a TD, while the Rams outrushed the Desert Angry Birds 197-95 and Goff threw for 235 yards and a TD (Arizona’s Carson Palmer threw for 122 yards in the contest before being knocked out with a shoulder injury). Los Angeles on third down went 13 of 19 and kept the ball for 39:01, while Arizona went 3 of 12 on third down (1 of 2 on fourth down) and held the pigskin for 20:59.

The Rams won by 33, which allowed them to cover the 3 1/2-point spread but their 33 points fell well short of the over/under of 47 1/2. Los Angeles is favored this time around by 7 and the over/under’s 45. Los Angeles wants to stay in first place in the NFC West, the Desert Angry Birds want revenge for their contest in London. Los Angeles may not cover the 7 but they complete the sweep with the win in the desert.

Carolina (8-3) at New Orleans (8-3), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 715. Newton vs. Brees. Round two in the Bayou. This time, it’s Carolina BBQ making their way to the Big Easy against Gumbo as the Panthers and Saints, tied for first in the NFC South, meet in the Big Easy.

The Panthers, who have won four in a row, defeated the New York Jets last week 35-27 as linebacker Luke Kuechly (34-yard fumble return) and punt returner Kaelin Clay (60-yard punt return) scored touchdowns in the fourth quarter. It marked the second time in franchise history – and first since the club’s inaugural 1995 season (October 8, 1995 against Chicago) – in which the Panthers scored two return touchdowns in the fourth quarter of a game. The Jets led 20-18 early in the final quarter of play before Kuechly and Clay would score their touchdowns to seal New York’s fate. After Javon Kearse and Josh McCown connected on a 3-yard TD pass to pull to within 5 at 32-27, Graham Gano would push the lead to eight with a 45-yard field goal with 21 seconds left. Carolina outrushed the Jets 145-109 and Newton threw for 168 yards and had a rushing TD of his own, while McCown threw for 307 yards with three TDs (each man was sacked three times). Carolina on third down tries in the Meadowlands went 3 of 14 (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and ruled the clock as they kept the ball for 31:50, while the Jets were 28:10 in time of possession, going 5 of 14 on third down.

New Orleans saw their eight-game win streak snapped by the Los Angeles Rams last Sunday on the West Coast. The Saints trailed 17-10 at the intermission but would pull to within seven with 1:45 left in regulation when rookie RB Alvin Kamara scored his second TD of the afternoon, catching a 15-yard pass from Drew Brees (Kamara had a 74-yard run earlier in the contest to end the Rams’ bid for a shutout). With the Saints out of time outs, K Wil Lutz tried an onside kick that Los Angeles recovered. No time outs meant that the Saints could not stop the Rams from kneeling down three times and took the loss. Kamara led all rushers with 87 yards and Todd Gurley paced the Rams with 74 (the Saints outrushed the Rams 123-88), while Jared Goff threw for 354 yards and Brees threw for 246 yards. The Rams were 3 of 14 on third down tries and kept the ball for 35:26, while the Saints on third down tries were 3 of 13 (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and New Orleans held on to the ball for 24:34.

They faced off in Charlotte in week three at Bank of America Stadium and the Saints were 34-13 winners in that contest. New Orleans led 17-6 and got a pair of TD passes from Brees (220 yards) in the 21-point road win. New Orleans outrushed Carolina 149-132 and the Saints defense sacked Newton (167 yards) four times and picked him off three times. The Saints on third down tries? 6 of 12 and ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 31:09, while the Panthers were 7 of 14 on third down, keeping the ball for 31:09.

In the week three contest in the Tar Heel State, the Panthers were favored by 6 and the Saints covered, winning by 21;  however… both clubs BARELY missed the 48 over/under by 1 point. The oddsmakers like the Saints as 4 1/2 point favorites and the over/under’s 48. Both numbers make a lot of sense and both teams can put up points.

Since they’re both tied for first in the NFC South and they’re both divisional rivals, it’s only fitting that 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 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?”

The winner? They have an almost clear shot to win the NFC South. The loser? While they may be out of the race for the divisional title, they’re not out of the playoff party. Carolina’s got a chip on its shoulder and they would love nothing more than to take the Saints to task. They’ll get that chance. Carolina’s finer and they cover the 4 1/2 on the road and take the win.

New York Giants (2-9) at Oakland (5-6), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 717. After over a decade of being under center for the Giants, someone other than Eli Manning will be calling signals for the Giants as they travel to Oakland to take on the Raiders in Northern California. Manning was benched this week in favor of fifth-year signal caller Geno Smith.

The Giants went into the half in their Thanksgiving evening contest with Washington tied at 3-3, only to come out on the short end of a 20-10 loss to their NFC East rivals. The Redskins would take a 10-3 lead with 6:32 left in the third when Kirk Cousins and WR Jamison Crowder connected on a 15-yard TD strike. Cousins would then be the victim of a turnover when Giants CB Janoris Jenkins picked him off and returned the ball 53 yards to tie the contest up with 2:52 left in the third. Washington then restored order in the fourth, as Cousins would connect with WR Josh Doctson on a 14-yard TD strike to take the lead back for good and K Nick Rose would seal the deal, connecting on a 33-yard field goal with 1:49 left in the contest. Washington outrushed the Giants 122-84, with Redskins RB Samaje Perine leading the way with 100 yards, while Cousins threw for 242 yards and the two TDs, despite being sacked six times, while Eli Manning, who will sit this game out in favor of Geno Smith, who will be under center Sunday, threw for 113 yards with four sacks and an interception. Washington went 4 of 15 on third down (0 of 1 on fourth) and kept the ball for 34:37, while the Giants kept the pigskin for 25:23, going 2 of 14 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth down tries.

The Raiders got revenge on Denver last Sunday in Oakland and came away 21-14 winners at the Coliseum. The rematch in northern California was anything but civil as Raiders WR Michael Crabtree and Denver CB Aqib Talib would find themselves involved in a brawl on field that made Tyson-Holyfield look calm. Punches were thrown, both players were ejected from the contest and both were suspended two games without pay (that suspension would be reduced to one for both men). Oakland outrushed Denver 104-59 and Derek Carr threw for 253 yards, while Trevor Siemian, who took over for Paxton Lynch (injury) threw for 149 yards (both threw a pair of TDs). Denver on third down went 5 of 14 (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and the Broncos held the ball for 24:06, while the Raiders were 5 of 13 on third down, holding the ball for 35:54.

The Raiders lead the series 7-5, which includes games that were played in Los Angeles when the Silver and Black called Tinseltown home and Oakland has outscored Big Blue 254-225. New York has won the last three meetings in the series, with their last win coming in 2013 in the Meadowlands by a final of 24-20, while the Raiders’ last win over the Giants came in 2001 at old Giants Stadium by a 28-10 count. Oakland’s favored by 8 1/2 and the over/under’s 42. Both teams at times have played some decent football. The Giants are struggling to keep their heads above water, while the Raiders are at the very least trying to get a wild card spot in the AFC playoffs. Oakland may not cover the 8 1/2 at home but they win baby.

Philadelphia (10-1) at Seattle (7-4), 8:30 p.m. on NBC. Cheesesteak vs. Salmon. A pair of NFC contenders meet in the Pacific Northwest as the Eagles travel to Seattle for a prime-time meeting with the Seattle Seahawks.

Philadelphia held Chicago to a third-quarter field goal by Chris Santos as they were took the Bears 31-3 last Sunday in the City of Brotherly Love. Philadelphia led 24-0 at the intermission before Chicago put and end to Philly’s bid for a shutout when Santos connected on a 38-yard field goal with 8:40 left in the third. Chicago was held to a season-low 6 yards on the ground, while the Eagles ran for 176 in the win. Mitchell Trubisky threw for 147 yards for Chicago but was sacked twice and picked off twice, while Carson Wentz threw for 227 yards and three TDs. Chicago went 3 of 13 on third down (0 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 22:52, while the Eagles ruled time and kept the ball for 37:08, going 7 of 16 on third down, 3 of 4 on fourth down.

Seattle all but knocked San Francisco out of the post-season race as they handed the 49ers a 24-13 loss last Sunday at Levis Stadium in an NFC West matchup. Seattle led 7-3 at the break and 14-6 after three quarters of play before the Seahawks would eventually pull away from the 49ers, who were held to 84 yards rushing, while Seattle tallied 90 yards rushing of their own. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson threw for 228 yards and a pair of TDs (one to TE Jimmy Graham), while the 49ers’ C.J. Bethard threw for 201 yards with three sacks and an interception before being knocked out of the contest and replaced by Jimmy Graffalo (who will be under center Sunday for San Francisco), who threw their only TD of the contest as the clock struck :00, connecting with RB Lance Murhphy on a 10-yard toss. San Francisco was 5 of 16 on third down but had success on fourth down, going 1 of 1 and kept the ball for 30:29, while the Seahawks were 29:31 in time of possession, going 5 of 13 on third down.

The Seahawks lead the series 8-7, they’ve outscored the Eagles 323-286 and they’ve won the last three contests with the Eagles, taking a 26-15 win last year in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks, while the Eagles’ last win over Seattle was on the road, coming away 26-7 winners in 2008. Philly’s favored by 5 and the over/under’s 47 1/2. Given that there are two pretty good QBs on the field Sunday night, it’s safe to say that this one is “DRILL WORTHY!” (what the heck? There’s nothing that says you can’t have two “DRILL WORTHY” games, so we’re going to make this one “DW…” For instructions on what to do, see the Carolina-New Orleans game)

This could very well be a playoff matchup and it’s East Coast vs. West Coast. Seattle will make this one exciting to watch but the Eagles prevail on the road and covers the 5.

Pittsburgh (9-2) at Cincinnati (5-6), 8:30 p.m. Monday on ESPN. A pair of AFC North rivals close out action in week 13 as the Steelers travel to Cincinnati for a Monday night primetime meeting along the shores of the Ohio River.

Pittsburgh saw Green Bay rally to tie in their Sunday night contest at Heinz Field, only to see the Steelers come away with a 31-28 last second win. Green Bay and Pittsburgh were tied at 14-14 at the half and the Packers led 21-14 with 12:06 left in the third when Packers QB Brett Hundley and WR Davante Adams connected on a 55-yard TD strike. Pittsburgh would eventually take the lead back as WR Antonio Brown caught a pair of Ben Roethlisberger TD passes and took that lead into the latter parts of the fourth, when the Packers used a 12-play, 77-yard drive that used 6:40 of clock to tie things back up when RB Jamaal Williams scored on a 4-yard run with 2:02 left in regulation.

Cincinnati kept Cleveland winless in the AFC North as they completed the sweep with their instate rivals, taking a 30-16 win over the Browns last Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals led 16-6 at the break, then held Cleveland in check in the second half for the win at home. Cleveland did manage to outrush the Bengals 169-152 but Cincinnati RB Joe Mixon led all rushers with 114 yards and a TD, while Andy Dalton threw for 214 yards and a pair of TDs. The Bengals were 4 of 10 on third down and held on to the ball for 30:32, while the winless Browns were 29:28 in time of possession and went 6 of 15 on third down, 2 of 3 on fourth down.

Pittsburgh got the ball back with 17 seconds left in regulation and made the most of those 17 seconds, needing only 4 plays and 35 yards of real estate and took the contest when Chris Boswell connected on a 52-yard field goal. Pittsburgh outrushed Green Bay 121-80 and Hundley threw for 245 yards and three TDs, while Roethlisberger threw for 351 and four TDs, while throwing a pair of interceptions. Green Bay was 6 of 13 on third down tries and held the ball for 26:24, while the Steelers were 8 of 13 and held the ball for 33:36, including the final 17 seconds of the contest (both clubs were 1 of 1 on fourth down).

They met in the Steel City in week seven at Heinz Field and Pittsburgh took the 29-14 win. The Steelers led 20-14 at the half and got three Chris Boswell field goals in the final 30 minutes of action to take the win. Pittsburgh outrushed the Bengals 152-71 and Bell ran for 134 of those yards, while Roethlisberger threw for 224 yards and a pair of TDs, connecting with Brown and Ju Ju Smith-Schuester on those tosses. Dalton threw for 140 yards for the Bengals with a pair of TDs but was also picked off twice and sacked four times.  Pittsburgh on third down tries went 2 of 11 (they were 1 of 3 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 35:15, while the Bengals were 3 of 11 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down and held on the pigskin for 24:45.

In the week seven affair in the Steel City, Pittsburgh covered the 5 1/2-point spread, winning by 15 and the over/under of 41 was taken care of, as both teams combined for 43 points. The boys and girls in Vegas like the Steelers again as 5 1/2 point favorites but the over/under’s now 43 1/2.

The Bengals on Monday night are 11-23, while the Steelers are 44-24. This one could very well be worth your time to watch, so you might want to tape “Scorpion” again this week. The Steelers covered in the week seven contest at Heinz and they’ll do it again. Steelers make it a clean sweep in the series and wins on the road.

Washington (5-6) at Dallas (5-6), 8:30 p.m. on NBC, NFL Network and Amazon Prime. A pair of NFC East rivals chasing Philadelphia meet in the Lone Star State as Dallas takes on Washington in a week eight rematch in prime time.

Both clubs played home games on Thanksgiving and both had different results. Dallas trailed the Los Angeles Chargers 3-0 at the half at AT&T Stadium before the Chargers and Philip Rivers would outscore them 25-6 in the final 30 minutes of action to lose 28-6 Thanksgiving afternoon. The Bolts outrushed Dallas 81-79 and Cowboys QB Dak Prescott threw for 179 yards but was sacked twice and picked off twice, one returned by Chargers rookie CB Desmond King 90 yards for a TD. Rivers burned the Cowboys, who lost their third contest in a row and did not have the services of RB Ezekiel Elliott (suspension), for 434 yards and three TDs. Dallas on third down tries actually did well, going 6 of 11 and kept the ball for 23:55, while the Chargers kept the pigskin hostage, keeping it for 36:05, going 9 of 14 on third, 0 of 1 on fourth down.

Washington broke a 3-3 tie against the New York Giants last Thursday night at FedEx Field and came away 20-10 winners in prime time. The Redskins would take a 10-3 lead with 6:32 left in the third when Kirk Cousins and WR Jamison Crowder connected on a 15-yard TD strike. Cousins would then be the victim of a turnover when Giants CB Janoris Jenkins picked him off and returned the ball 53 yards to tie the contest up with 2:52 left in the third. Washington then restored order in the fourth, as Cousins would connect with WR Josh Doctson on a 14-yard TD strike to take the lead back for good and K Nick Rose would seal the deal, connecting on a 33-yard field goal with 1:49 left in the contest. Washington outrushed the Giants 122-84, with Redskins RB Samaje Perine leading the way with 100 yards, while Cousins threw for 242 yards and the two TDs, despite being sacked six times, while Eli Manning threw for 113 yards with four sacks and an interception. Washington went 4 of 15 on third down (0 of 1 on fourth) and kept the ball for 34:37, while the Giants kept the pigskin for 25:23, going 2 of 14 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth down tries.

The Thursday night contest in Arlington is a rematch of their week eight contest in Landover that saw the Cowboys lead 14-13 at FedEx Field before pulling away to take a 33-19 win over their NFC East rivals. Dallas outrushed Washington 169-49, with Elliott accounting for 150 of those yards with a pair of TDs, while Prescott threw for 143 yards and Cousins throwing for 263 yards and a TD to Doctson (Cousins was sacked four times and threw an interception). Dallas went 5 of 14 on third down tries (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 33:19, while the ‘Skins were 4 of 13 on third down and like the Cowboys, they were 1 of 1 on fourth down, keeping the ball for 26:41.

Dallas covered the 2 1/2 point spread in Landover, winning by 14 and both teams combined for 52 points, covering the 50 1/2 over/under. Dallas is favored again, this time by 2 and the over/under’s 44 1/2. For the winner of this one, they’re a little bit closer to catching Philadelphia in the NFC East, while the loser puts themselves in a little deeper hole. Dallas has scored 22 points in 12 quarters of football since Elliott’s suspension. Washington has been hot and cold at best. Washington gets revenge in the rematch in the Lone Star State and covers 2.

Broadcast Information: 8:25 p.m. on NBC, NFL Network and Amazon: Mike Tirico, Cris Collinsworth, Heather Cox (Field reporter)
NATIONAL RADIO: Westwood One: Ian Eagle, Tony Boselli

Referee: Craig Wrolstad

Injury Report

Washington
OUT: DE Terrell McClain (Toe), S Montae Nicholson (Concussion), TE Jordan Reed (Hamstring), C Chase Roullier (Hand)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Zach Brown (Shoulder), DE Matthew Ioannidis (Hand), T Morgan Moses (Knee), T Attauyo Nsekhe (Core Muscle), G Brandon Scherff (Knee), LB Martrell Spaight (Ankle), T Trent Williams (Knee)

Dallas
OUT: LB Justin Durant (Concussion), LB Sean Lee (Hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: T La’el Collins (Back), DT Maliek Collins (Foot), LB Anthony Hitchens (Groin), G Zach Martin (Concussion), T Tyron Smith (Back), WR Ryan Switzer (Ankle)

Weather: Game Indoors; if roof is open, clear and 59 degrees

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

 

We’re into week 12. While six teams (Minnesota, Detroit, Dallas, Los Angeles Chargers, New York Giants and Washington) have gotten a head start on things Thanksgiving Day, there’s still football to be played.

While no playoff spots have been decided, one team has all but been eliminated from playoff contention as Cleveland lost their 10th game of the 2017 campaign. There are still teams in the hunt, so anything’s possible between now and the end of the regular season.

SEVEN FROM SUNDAY: New Orleans defeated Washington 34-31 in overtime to improve to 8-2. The Saints, who have won eight consecutive games after starting 0-2, are the first team in the Super Bowl era to win its next eight games immediately following an 0-2 start.

The Saints scored 15 points in the final 2:53 of the fourth quarter to force overtime and won the game on WIL LUTZ’s 28-yard field goal in overtime. New Orleans is the first team to win a game after trailing by at least 15 points in the final three minutes of the fourth quarter since 2011 (Denver vs. Miami, October 23, 2011).

•New England defeated Oakland 33-8 at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. With the victory, the Patriots improved to 8-2 and clinched a .500 or better record for the 17th consecutive season, tying the 1957-73 Cleveland Browns for the second-longest streak in NFL history (1965-85 Dallas Cowboys, 21 consecutive seasons).

New England quarterback Tom Brady completed 30 of 37 passes (81.1 percent) for 339 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 131.9 passer rating. Brady has 82 career games with at least 300 passing yards and is the only player in NFL history to record a 300-yard passing game in three different countries (United States, United Kingdom and Mexico). Brady is also the first player to have a game with at least three passing touchdowns in three different countries.

•Baltimore defeated Green Bay 23-0 at Lambeau Field and registered the team’s third shutout this season. The Ravens are the fifth team – and first since 2003 (New England) – in the past 30 years to record at least three shutouts in a single season. Three of the previous four teams to accomplish the feat during that span won the Super Bowl in that season – 1991 Washington, 2000 Baltimore and 2003 New England.

•The Los Angeles Chargers had five interceptions – all in the first half – in the team’s 54-24 win over Buffalo. The Chargers are the only team in at least the past 20 years to record five interceptions in the first half of a game.

In Sunday’s contest at StubHub Center, Casey Hayward had two interceptions, Korey Toomer had a 59-yard interception-return touchdown and Tre Boston and Trevor Williams each added an interception.

•Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald had nine catches for 91 yards and a touchdown in the Cardinals’ loss at Houston. Fitzgerald has 15,157 career receiving yards and passed TONY GONZALEZ (15,127) for the fifth-most receiving yards in NFL history.

Fitzgerald, who has played his entire career with Arizona and Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (19,247 with San Francisco) are the only players in NFL history to reach 15,000 career receiving yards with a single team.

•Minnesota wide receiver Adam Thielen had six catches for 123 yards and a touchdown in the Vikings’ 24-7 win over the Los Angeles Rams. Thielen, who has 62 catches for 916 yards this season, joins Randy Moss (2003) as the only players in franchise history to have at least 60 catches and 900 receiving yards in the team’s first 10 games of a season.

•Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins completed 22 of 32 passes (68.8 percent) for 322 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 132.6 passer rating in the Redskins’ overtime loss at New Orleans. Cousins has nine career games with at least three touchdown passes and no interceptions and tied Pro Football Hall of Famer Sonny Jurgensen and Joe Theismann for the most such games in franchise history.

THE WEEK THAT WAS WEEK 11: DYNAMIC DUO: New Orleans running back Mark Ingram (155 scrimmage yards, rushing touchdown) and rookie Alvin Kamara (116, receiving touchdown) combined for 271 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns in the Saints’ 34-31 overtime win against Washington in Week 11.

Ingram, who has 1,019 scrimmage yards and eight touchdowns this season, and Kamara, who has 906 scrimmage yards and seven touchdowns, are the only running back duo in the Super Bowl era to each have at least 900 scrimmage yards and seven touchdowns through their team’s first 10 games of a season.

BIG GAME BROWN: Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown had 10 catches for 144 yards and three touchdowns in the Steelers’ 40-17 win against Tennessee last week.

Brown, who leads the league with 70 receptions and 1,026 receiving yards, has four games this season with at least 10 catches and 100 receiving yards, tying Andre Johnson (four, 2008) and Julio Jones (four, 2015) for the most such games in their team’s first 10 games of a season.

The players with the most games with at least 10 catches and 100 receiving yards through their team’s first 10 games of a season:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON; GAMES WITH 10+ CATCHES & 100+ YARDS IN TEAM’S 1ST 10 GAMES)
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh (2017; 4)
Julio Jones, Atlanta (2015; 4)
Andre Johnson, Houston (2008; 4)

Brown has 702 receptions in 111 career games and reached 700 career receptions in the fewest games in NFL history.

The players to reach 700 career receptions in the fewest games in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (FEWEST GAMES TO 700 CAREER RECEPTIONS)
Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh (111)
Marvin Harrison – Indianapolis (114)
Andre Johnson – Houston (120)
Brandon Marshall – Denver, Miami and Chicago (121)
Anquan Boldin – Arizona and Baltimore (123)

FIFTH-GERALD: Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald had nine catches for 91 yards and a touchdown in the Cardinals’ loss to Houston in Week 11.

Fitzgerald has 15,157 career receiving yards and surpassed Tony Gonzalez (15,127) for the fifth-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 Rams and San Francisco (15,208)
Larry Fitzgerald – Arizona (15,157)*
Tony Gonzalez – Kansas City and Atlanta (15,127)
*Active
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

SUPER SAINT: New Orleans wide receiver Michael Thomas had six catches for 91 yards in the Saints’ 34-31 overtime victory over Washington last week.

Thomas has 157 receptions in 25 career games and passed Anquan Boldin (154) for the second-most catches by a player in his first 25 games in NFL history. Only Odell Beckham, Jr. (176) had more.

The players with the most receptions in their first 25 games in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (RECEPTIONS IN 1ST 25 CAREER GAMES)
Odell Beckham, Jr., New York Giants (176)
Michael Thomas, New Orleans (157)
Anquan Boldin, Arizona (154)
Reggie Bush, New Orleans (143)
Jarvis Landry, Miami (143)

SOARING EAGLE: Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz threw two touchdown passes in the Eagles’ 37-9 win at Dallas last week.

Wentz, who leads the NFL with 25 touchdown passes, has the third-most touchdown passes by a first or second-year quarterback through their team’s first 10 games of a season.

The first or second-year quarterbacks with the most touchdown passes through their team’s first 10 games of a season:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON – PASSING TDS IN TEAM’S 1ST 10 GAMES)
Dan Marino, Miami (1984 – 29)^
Kurt Warner, St. Louis (1999 – 27)^
Carson Wentz, Philadelphia (2017 – 25)
Jeff Garcia, San Francisco (2000 – 24)
Johnny Unitas, Baltimore Colts (1957 – 22)^
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

SPLITTING THE UPRIGHTS: Five players converted field goals of at least 50 yards in Week 11, including New England’s STEPHEN GOSTKOWSKI, who made a franchise-record 62-yarder in the Patriots’ 33-8 win over Oakland in Mexico City.

There have been 73 made field goals of at least 50 yards this season, the most through the first 11 weeks of a season in NFL history.

The seasons with the most 50+ yard field goals made through the first 11 weeks:

SEASON – 50+ YARD FGS MADE THROUGH 1ST 11 WEEKS
2017 – 73
2015 – 70
2013 – 62
2014 – 61
2011 – 60

Buffalo kicker Stephen Hauschka made his only field-goal attempt, a 50-yarder, in the Bills’ Week 11 loss at the Los Angeles Chargers.

Hauschka, who has converted all six of his 50+ yard field-goal attempts this season, has made an NFL record 13 consecutive 50+ yard field-goal attempts.

The players with the most consecutive made field goals of at least 50 yards in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (SEASONS; MOST CONSECUTIVE FGS MADE OF 50+ YARDS)
Stephen Hauschka – Seattle and Buffalo (2015-17; 13)*
Matt Prater – Detroit (2015-17; 12)
Justin Tucker – Baltimore (2015-16; 12)
Blair Walsh – Minnesota (2012-13; 12)
Robbie Gould – Chicago (2010-13; 12)
*Active streak

Detroit kicker Matt Prater made two field goals, including the game-winning 52-yarder with 1:35 remaining in the Lions’ 27-24 victory over the Bears.

Prater has converted three career game-winning field goals of at least 50 yards with under two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter or overtime, tied with five others for the most such field goals in NFL history.

Prater has made 42 career field goals of at least 50 yards, tied with John Kasay (42) for the third-most in NFL history. Only Sebastian Janikowski (55) and Jason Hanson (52) have more such field goals.

The players with the most career field goals of at least 50 yards in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (SEASONS; 50+ YARD FIELD GOALS MADE)
Sebastian Janikowski – Oakland (2000-present; 55)*
Jason Hanson – Detroit (1992-2012; 52)
Matt Prater – Denver and Detroit (2007-present; 42)*
John Kasay – Seattle, Carolina and New Orleans (1991-2011; 42)
*Active

WHAT TO WATCH FOR IN WEEK 12: THE CLIMB CONTINUES: Arizona wide receiver LARRY FITZGERALD has 1,194 receptions for 15,157 receiving yards and 108 touchdowns in his 14-year career.

With 52 receiving yards on Sunday against Jacksonville, Fitzgerald will surpass Isaac Bruce (15,208) for the fourth-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)
Larry Fitzgerald – Arizona (15,157)*
*Active
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

With six receptions this week, Fitzgerald will join Pro Football Hall of Famer JERRY RICE (1,549) and TONY GONZALEZ (1,325) as the only players in NFL history with at least 1,200 career receptions.

The players with the most receptions in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S)(CAREER RECEPTIONS)
Jerry Rice – San Francisco, Oakland and Seattle (1,549)^
Tony Gonzalez – Kansas City and Atlanta (1,325)
Larry Fitzgerald – Arizona (1,194)*
*Active
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Playing in his 213th career game, Fitzgerald would reach 1,200 career receptions in the fewest games in NFL history, surpassing Rice (221 games) and Gonzalez (247).

TOM TERRIFIC: New England quarterback Tom Brady leads the NFL with 3,146 passing yards and a 110.9 passer rating this season.

Brady has 64,728 career passing yards and needs 272 passing yards against Miami on Sunday to become the fourth player in NFL history with at least 65,000 passing yards.

The players with the most passing yards in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S)(CAREER PASSING YARDS)
Peyton Manning –  Indianapolis and Denver (71,940)
Brett Favre – Green Bay, New York Jets and Minnesota (71,838)^
Drew Brees – San Diego and New Orleans (68,894)*
Tom Brady – New England (64,728)*
*Active
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

MOVING UP THE RANKS: Indianapolis running back Frank Gore has 13,574 career rushing yards in his 13-year NFL career.

With 89 rushing yards on Sunday against Tennessee, Gore will surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer JEROME BETTIS (13,662) for the sixth-most rushing yards in NFL history. All six 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/St. Louis Rams and Pittsburgh (13,662)^
Frank Gore – San Francisco and Indianapolis (13,574)*
*Active
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

FLYING FALCON: Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones has 551 receptions in 89 career games and needs eight catches on Sunday against Tampa Bay to surpass Anquan Boldin (558) for the most catches by a player in his first 90 games in NFL history.

The players with the most receptions in their first 90 games in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM (RECEPTIONS IN 1ST 90 CAREER GAMES)
Anquan Boldin – Arizona (558)
Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh (554)
Julio Jones – Atlanta (551)*
*Through 89 games

Jones has 8,396 receiving yards in 89 career games and needs 107 yards on Sunday to surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer Lance Alworth (8,502) for the most receiving yards by a player in his first 90 games in NFL history.

The players with the most receiving yards in their first 90 games in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM (RECEIVING YARDS IN 1ST 90 CAREER GAMES)
Lance Alworth – San Diego (8,502)^
Julio Jones – Atlanta (8,396)*
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
*Through 89 games

DYNAMIC DUO: New Orleans running backsMark Ingram (1,019 scrimmage yards and eight touchdowns) and rookie Alvin Kamara (906 scrimmage yards and seven touchdowns) have each gained at least 900 scrimmage yards and scored seven touchdowns through the team’s first 10 games this season.

Ingram and Kamara can become the seventh pair of teammates – and the only running back duo – in the Super Bowl era to each have at least 1,000 scrimmage yards and eight touchdowns through their team’s first 11 games of a season.

The teammates with at least 1,000 scrimmage yards and eight touchdowns in their team’s first 11 games of a season:

TEAM – SEASON (PLAYER – SCRIMMAGE YDS; TDS / PLAYER – SCRIMMAGE YDS; TDS)
Green Bay – 2014 (Jordy Nelson – 1,066; 9/ Eddie Lacy – 1,007; 9)
Indianapolis – 2000 (Edgerrin James – 1,586; 14 / Marvin Harrison – 1,066; 8)^
St. Louis – 2000 (Marshall Faulk – 1,447; 15 / Issac Bruce – 1,185; 9)^
Indianapolis – 1999 (Edgerrin James – 1,547; 9 / Marvin Harrison – 1,118; 12)^
Dallas – 1995 (Emmitt Smith – 1,643; 20 / Michael Irvin – 1,169; 8)^
Dallas – 1966 (Dan Reeves – 1,088; 14 / Bob Hayes – 1,002; 10)^
New Orleans – 2017 (Mark Ingram – 1,019; 8 / Alvin Kamara – 906; 7)*
*Through 10 games
^Bruce, Harrison, Irvin and Hayes are Pro Football Hall of Famers

DOMINANT DEFENSE: The Jacksonville Jaguars have allowed a league-low 14.1 points per game this season and have held opponents to fewer than 10 points in six of their first 10 games.

On Sunday at Arizona, the Jaguars can become the fifth team since 1940 to allow fewer than 10 points in seven of its first 11 games to start a season. The four previous teams to accomplish the feat all advanced to the NFL Championship/Super Bowl that season.

The teams with the most games allowing fewer than 10 points in their first 11 games to start a season since 1940:

TEAM – SEASON (GAMES ALLOWING FEWER THAN 10 POINTS, SEASON RESULT)
Chicago – 1942 (8, Advanced to NFL Championship)
Pittsburgh – 1975 (7, Won Super Bowl)
Chicago – 1963 (7, Won NFL Championship)
Green Bay – 1962 (7, Won NFL Championship)
Jacksonville – 2017 (6)*
*Through 10 games

SHINING STEELERS: Entering Week 12, Pittsburgh running back Le’Veon Bell leads the NFL with 886 rushing yards and Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown leads the league with 1,026 receiving yards.

The Steelers are looking to join the 1999 Indianapolis Colts and the 1991 Dallas Cowboys as the only teams in the Super Bowl era to finish the year with the league’s leading rusher and receiver.

The teams to finish a season with the league’s leading rusher and receiver in the Super Bowl era:

TEAM – SEASO6N (LEADING RUSHER – RUSH YARDS / LEADING RECEIVER – RECEIVING YARDS)
Indianapolis – 1999 (Edgerrin James – 1,553 / Marvin Harrison – 1,663)^
Dallas – 1991 (Emmitt Smith – 1,563 / Michael Irvin – 1,523)
Pittsburgh – 2017 (Le’Veon Bell – 886 / Antonio Brown – 1,026)*
*Through Week 11
^Harrison, Smith and Irvin are Pro Football Hall of Famers

WONDERFUL WILSON: Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson ranks second in the NFL with 2,801 passing yards this season.

With 199 passing yards on Sunday, Wilson will become the fourth quarterback in NFL history to pass for at least 3,000 yards in each of his first six seasons.

The quarterbacks with at least 3,000 passing yards in each of their first six seasons in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASONS)
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati (2011-16)
Cam Newton, Carolina (2011-16)
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (1998-2003)
Russell Wilson, Seattle (2012-16)*
*In sixth season

As the NFL enters Week 12, there are five teams with at least eight wins, led by the 9-1 Philadelphia Eagles – Philadelphia (9-1), Minnesota (8-2), New England (8-2), New Orleans (8-2) and Pittsburgh (8-2).

The Eagles are the 51st team in the Super Bowl era to start a season 9-1. Prior to this season, all 50 of the previous 50 teams to start a season 9-1 made the playoffs, 23 advanced to the Super Bowl (46 percent) and 11 won the Super Bowl (22 percent).

There were 102 teams to start 8-2 in the Super Bowl era entering this season and 96 made the playoffs (94.1 percent), 30 advanced to the Super Bowl (29.4 percent) and 16 won the Super Bowl (15.7 percent).

Philadelphia and New Orleans currently have the longest active winning streaks in the NFL having each won eight consecutive games. Minnesota and New England each have active six-game winning streaks while Pittsburgh enters Week 12 having won its past five games.

As for last week, we didn’t do too bad, going 8-6 for week 11 and 95-66 for the year. There are no more byes on the docket for 2017, All the byes for the 2017 season have been used and Carolina, Indianapolis, New York Jets and San Francisco return from their week-long vacations. Week 12 began on Thursday with a Thanksgiving tripleheader for the 12th consecutive year. Traditional competitors Detroit and Dallas hosted games during the day (Detroit hosted and lost a 30-23 heartbreaker to Minnesota, Dallas hosted and fell 28-6 to the Los Angeles Chargers and Washington broke a 3-3 halftime tie against the New york Giants to take a 20-10 win over their NFC East rivals Thursday night). After Thanksgiving, the week continues with a full slate of games on Sunday and concludes with a pair of primetime contests. On Sunday night at 8:30 p.m. on NBC, the Green Bay Packers will visit the Pittsburgh Steelers and the week 12 curtain closes in Houston as the Texans host the Baltimore Ravens at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN.

As an added treat, so you can use those Thanksgiving leftovers, we’re going to make every game “DRILL WORTHY.” (think of it as an early Christmas present) (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?”

Here are the Sunday and Monday picks for week 12.

Tampa Bay (4-6) at ATLANTA (6-4), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 709. Separated by a 450-mile, 7 1/2-hour drive along I-75. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers make their way to the Big Peach for an NFC South contest against the defending NFC champions.

Tampa Bay comes into the contest after their 30-20 win at Miami in a contest that was slated to be the season opener for both teams but Hurricane Irma intervened and forced the game to be moved to last week. Tampa Bay led the Dolphins 20-7 at the intermission, then held off a late Miami second half rally as the Dolphins outscored Tampa Bay 13-10 in the second half. Miami did outrush their Sunshine State counterparts 83-53 and Miami’s Matt Moore outpaced Tampa Bay’s Ryan Fitzpatrick (subbing for Jameis Winston – shoulder) 282 to 275 (Fitzpatrick threw a pair of TDs in the 10-point win at Hard Rock Stadium). Tampa Bay was 3 of 13 on third down conversions and held the ball for 31:49, while the Dolphns held the pigskin for 28:11, going 6 of 13 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down.

The defending NFC South and NFC champs led from start to finish in their meeting with Seattle in an NFC Divisonal rematch last Monday night and the Falcons surived in the land of Grunge, taking a 34-31 prime time win at Century Link Field. Atlanta led 24-17 and stopped a Seattle fake field goal late in the first half when Seahawks TE Justin Wilson was tackled by DT Grady Jarrett with second seconds left before the intermission. Atlanta would lead 34-31 late in the contest and breathed a huge sigh of relief when Blair Walsh’s 52-yard field goal try that would have sent the contest into overtime fell short of the goal posts with 2 seconds left. Seattle outrushed the Falcons 136-89 and Matt Ryan threw for 195 yards and a pair of TDs to WR Mohamed Sanu and TE Levine Toilolo, while Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, who scored on a two-point conversion that pulled his team to within three with three minutes left in regulation, threw for 258 yards and a pair of TDs to TE Jimmy Graham and WR Doug Baldwin. Atlanta was 9 of 14 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 30:21, while Seattle was 5 of 12 on third down (1 of 2 on fourth down) and held the ball for 29:39.

Tampa Bay holds a slim 24-23 lead in the series and the Buccaneers have outscored Atlanta 1,011-969. They split the 2016 meetings, each winning in the other team’s facility.

They met in week one in the final season of the Georgia Dome and Tampa Bay led 17-13 at the half, then held off a late Atlanta rally to take a 31-24 win in the Big Peach. winston threw for 281 yards and four TD passes in the season opener for both teams, while Ryan threw for 334 yards and a pair of TDs of his own. Tampa Bay outrushed Atlanta 90-52 in the road win, going 3 of 10 on third down tries and kept the ball for 27:37. Atlanta ruled the clock and kept the pigskin for 32:23, going 3 of 13 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

That was round one.

Round two? The Sunshine State in week nine on a Thursday night and the Falcons would get revenge on Tampa Bay, taking a 43-28 win at Raymond James Stadium. Atlanta led 20-14 at the intermission, then floored the gas in the second half, outscoring Tampa Bay 23-14 in the final 30 minuts of play. Atlanta outrushed Tampa Bay 136-73 and Ryan threw for 344 yards and four TDs, while Winston threw for 261 yards and three TDs. Atlanta, in forcing a pair of Tampa Bay turnovers, went 6 of 10 on third down conversions and ruled the clock, as they kept the ball for 33:28, while the Bucs were 26:32 in time of possession, going 8 of 14 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

In the season opener in the Big Peach, the Falcons were 3 point favorites and the Bucs covered, winning by 7 and both clubs covered the 47 1/2 over/under, tallying 55 points. In the week nine contest, Atlanta covered the 3-point spread, winning by 15 and as was the case in the first meeting, both teams took care of the over/under (which was 51 1/2) by scoring 61 points. In the Sunday contest at Mercedez Benz Stadium, the Falcons are favored by 8 1/2 and the over/under’s 48 1/2. Atlanta’s won three of their last four contests and have the upper hand as the sixth seed in the post-season party. Tampa Bay’s trying to knock the defending champ off their perch. Falcons fans feel they’re staying on the perch. Tampa Bay could make this one closer than 8 1/2 but Atlanta prevails at home.

Cleveland (0-10) at Cincinnati (4-6), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705. A pair of AFC North rivals meet in southern Ohio as it’s Cleveland’s turn to make the 3 1/2-hour, 249-mile trip down I-71 to face off against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Cleveland lost its 10th straight contest of the 2017 campaign, losing 19-7 to Jacksonville at First Energy Stadium. Although the Browns trailed 10-7 at the break, after a scoreless third quarter, the Jaguars would score their final 9 points of the contest unchallenged. The Browns were outrushed 139-50, with rookie RB Leonard Fournette doing most of the work, tallying 111 yards of his own and Jaguars QB Blake Bortles threw for 154 yards and a TD for the winners. Browns QB DeShone Kizer did not have the day he hoped for, throwing for 179 yards while being sacked five times and picked off twice. The Browns on third down conversions went 3 of 13 (they were 0 of 1 on fourth) and kept the ball for 23:05, while the Jaguars were 6 of 20 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down and held the ball for 36:55.

The Bengals held off a late Denver rally in the Mile High City and came away 20-17 winners over the Broncos last Sunday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Cincinnati led 13-7 and had their largest lead of the contest at 10 points with 8:56 left in regulation when Andy Dalton and WR A.J. Green connected on an 18-yard TD toss. Denver would make it a 7-point contest with 5:05 left to play when Brock Osweiler and WR Demaryius Thomas connected on a 17-yard TD pass. Denver would have one last rally late in the contest but turned the ball over on downs, allowing the Bengals to run out the clock. Denver did outrush Cincy 112-49, while Osweiler threw for 254 yards and the lone TD pass (he was sacked three times with an intercepion) and Dalton threw for 154 yards and three TDs. Denver went 12 of 21 on third down conversions (they were 1 of 2 on fourth down) and the Broncos ruled time and kept the ball for 35:11, while Cincinnati went 24:49 in time of possession, going 7 of 15 on third down conversions.

It’s a week four Buckeye State rematch, this time along the shores of the Ohio River and the Bengals came away 31-7 winners in Cleveland. After a scoreless first quarter at First Energy Stadium, the Bengals led 21-0 at the half and took a 30-0 lead at the end of three quarters of football before Cleveland’s Darius Johnson would end Cincinnati’s bid for a shutout, scoring from a yard out with 1:54 left in the contest. The Bengals outrushed Cleveland 86-45 and Dalton threw for 286 yards and four TDs, connecting with TE Tyler Kroft on two of those tosses. The Bengals in the somewhat lopsided win went 6 of 11 on third down and kept the ball for 35:02, while the Browns held the ball for 24:58, going 5 of 16, 1 of 2 on third and fourth downs.

In the week four contest along the shores of Lake Erie, the Bengals were favored and easily covered the 3-point spread, winning by 24. The two clubs barely missed the 40 over/under, tallying 38 points. This time, the oddsmakers like the Bengals again, this time as 8 1/2 point favorites at home with a 38 over/under. Cincinnati’s making a playoff push. The Browns? They want their season to be over. Bengals put Cleveland one step closer out of their misery and win at home and could cover the 8 1/2.

Tennessee (6-3) at Indianapolis (3-7), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 706. It’s an AFC South rematch as the Colts host Tennessee at Lucas Oil Stadium in the Hoosier State.

The Titans were taken to the woodshed by Pittsburgh, as the Steelers were 40-17 winners last Thursday night at Heinz Field. Tennessee trailed 16-7 at the intermission and pulled to within 6 after three quarters of play before the Steelers scored 17 fourth quarter points unchallenged. Pittsburgh outrushed Tennessee 65-52 and Mariota struggled in the contest, throwing four interceptions and being sacked five times, while throwing for 306 yards. For Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisbeger threw for 299 yards and four TDs in the contest in Western Pennsylvania, connecting with WR Antoino Brown on threw of them. Tennessee was 5 of 13 on third down tries (1 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 28:20, while the Steelers ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 31:40, while going 4 of 12 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down.

The Colts return to action after their week 11 bye. Before that bye, they let a 10-3 lead against Pittsburgh get away from them as they lost to the Steelers 20-17 in the final seconds of the contest. Indy would lead 17-9 after three quarters of play before Pittsburgh roared back to tie the contest with 11:52 left in the contest when Steelers WR Vince McDonald and QB Ben Roethlisberger connected on a 7-yard TD strike and tied things up when Roethlisberger and WR Martavis Bryant found success on the two-point try. The contest would stay tied until the 3:28 mark, when the Colts punted the ball to Pittsburgh. The Steelers would then use a 10-play, 70 yards that used all of the 3:10 left on the clock when Chris Boswell connected on a 33-yard field goal as the clock struck :00. LeVeon Bell led all rushers, running for 80 of his team’s 88 yards, while the Colts tallied 71. Roethlisberger threw for 236 yards and a pair of TDs, including one to rookie WR Ju-Ju Smith-Schuster, while Jacoby Brissett threw for 222 yards and a pair of TDs, while being sacked three times and picked off once. Pittsburgh went 5 of 13 on third down tries at Lucas Oil and kept the ball for 29:58 (including the final drive of the game), while the Colts were 6 of 15, keeping the ball for 30:02.

They met in Nashville in week six and the Titans took at 36-22 Monday night win in the Music City. Tennessee erased a 13-9 deficit at Nissan Stadium in the first meeting, outscoring the Colts 27-9, capping the scoring in the contest when RB Derrick Henry scored from 72 yards out with 47 seconds left in the game. Henry ran for 131 yards as the Titans outrushed the Cotls 168-85 and Mariota threw for 306 yards and a TD, while Brissett threw for 212.  Tennessee on third down went 6 of 13 (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 35:53, while the Colts were 2 of 9 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down and held the ball for 24:07.

In the week six prime time contest, Tennessee covered the 8-point spread, winning by 14 and both teams covered the 48 over/under, tallying 58 points. Tennessee’s favored again in the rematch, coming in as 3 1/2 point favorites with a 44 over/under. The Colts at times are better than their record but they’ve also stumbled at times. The Titans are trying to take the AFC South lead back from Jacksonville. Titans complete the sweep of the series and cover the 3 1/2.

Buffalo (5-5) at Kansas City (6-4), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707. A pair of old-school AFC foes meet in the Show-Me State as Kansas City, sitting atop the AFC East, takes on the Buffalo Bills at Arrowhead.

Buffalo dropped a 54-24 decision over the Los Angeles Chargers last Sunday on the West Coast. win over Buffalo last week. Buffalo trailed the Bolts 37-7 at the break at Stub Hub Center and could never get on track at Stub Hub Center, even though the Bills outrushed Los Angeles 173-146 (Buffalo’s LeSean McCoy led all rushers with 114 yards and a TD) in a rout that saw the Bills turn the ball over six time (five Nate Peterman interceptions) and Chargers QB Philip Rivers throwing for 251 yards and a pair of TDs. The Chargers on third down were 7 of 14 and held on to the ball for 36:05, while the Bills were 6 of 14 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down and held the ball for 23:55.

The Chiefs took the New York Giants to overtime in the Meadowlands last Sunday, only to fall to the Giants 12-9 at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford. Kansas City trailed 6-3 at the half, as Giants WR Orleans Darkwa scoring the game’s only TD in the first quarter. Kansas City’s Hal Butker would eventually send the contest into overtime before Aldrick would send the Giants to their second win of the season, booting a 29-yard field with 1:59 left in overtime. Kansas City outrushed the Giants 134-112, with Eli Manning throwing for 205 yards, while the Chiefs’ Alex Smtih threw for 230 yards. The Chiefs on third down went 3 of 11 on third down (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 37:16, while the Giants kept the ball for 30:50, going 3 of 13, 2 of 3 on third and fourth downs.

Including games that were played when the Chiefs were known as the Dallas Texans and contests played at War Memorial Stadium and Swope Field, Buffalo leads the series 23-20-1 and they have outscored the Chiefs 954-892. However… the Chiefs have come away winners in their last three contests, including a 30-22 victory at Arrowhead in 2015 (Buffalo’s last win over the Chiefs came in 2012 in upstate New York by a final of 35-17. The Chiefs are favored by 9 1/2 and the over/under’s 45. Both clubs are trying to get their ducks back in a row. Buffalo’s lost two games in a row in really bad fashion. Make it three. The Bills will keep it close but the Chiefs are up to date in Kansas City and takes the win at home.

Miami (4-6) at New England (8-2), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708. A pair of AFC East rivals with seven Super Bowl between them meet in Foxboro as Tom Brady and the New England Patriots welcome the Miami Dolphins to Gillette Stadium.

Miami and Tampa Bay were supposed to meet in week one at Hard Rock Stadium. There was one problem. Irma. She got in the way of their plans and the two teams rescheduled for last week. It was the visiing Buccaneers from Tampa that came away with the 30-20 win at Miami. Miami trailed 20-7 at the intermission, then rallied in the second half and outscored Tampa Bay 13-10 in the second half. Miami did outrush their Sunshine State counterparts 83-53 and Miami’s Matt Moore outpaced Tampa Bay’s Ryan Fitzpatrick (subbing for Jameis Winston – shoulder) 282 to 275 (Fitzpatrick threw a pair of TDs in the 10-point win at Hard Rock Stadium). Tampa Bay was 3 of 13 on third down conversions and held the ball for 31:49, while the Dolphns held the pigskin for 28:11, going 6 of 13 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down.

New England all but manhandled Oakland in Mexico City, taking a 33-8 over the Raiders last Sunday at Estadio Azteca. Leading 17-0 at the half and 30-0 at the end of three quarters, the defending Super Bowl champs held Oakland to a fourth quarter TD when WR Amari Cooper and QB Derek Carr (237 yards) connected on a 9-yard TD toss with 11:43 left in the contest. Brady burned the Raiders for 339 yards and three TDs, while the Raiders managed to outrush New England 109-89. The Pats held the ball for 27:37, going 5 of 10 on third down tries South of the Border, while the Raiders went 7 of 15 on third down and ruled the clock, as they kept the ball for 32:23.

The Dolphins hold a 52-48 lead in the series and have outscored the Pats 2,154-2,142, which includes contests that took place at Fenway Park, Schafer Stadium and the Orange Bowl. They met last year and New England took wins in the Sunshine State and in Foxboro (Miami’s last win in the series came in 2015 by a final of 20-10 in the Sunshine State).

Round 1… Foxboro, week two. New England led 24-3 at the break, then held Miami off to take a 31-24 win at Gillette Stadium. Jimmy Garoppolo, who took over for Brady (suspension), threw for 234 yards and three TDs, connecting with WR Danny Amendola on two of the tosses, while Ryan Tannehill threw for 389 yards and two TDs. New England’s LeGarrett Blount ran for 123 yards and a TD and New England outrushed Miami 161-70 in the first meeting. Both teams were 50 percent on third down tries (Miami was 5 of 10, New England 7 of 14) and the Dolphins, who went 0 of 1 on fourth down, kept the ball for 23:14, while the Pats held the pigskin for 36:46.

There was a rematch in this series (did you think there wouldn’t?).

Round 2… Miami Gardens in week 17. Both teams were in the post-season party and the Pats had already clinched the AFC East title, so there was really nothing to play for, aside from preparing for the playoffs. Brady was back under center and made the Dolphins pay, throwing for 276 yards and four TDs to take the 35-14 win in the Sunshine State. New England outrushed the Dolphins 120-75 and forced a pair of Miami turnovers in the win. Both clubs went 7 of 12 on third down tries and the Pats, who led 20-7 at the half, kept the ball for 31:22, while the Dolphins held the pigskin for 28:38.

New England barely covered the 6 1/2 point spread in the week two contest in Foxboro, coming away 7-point winners and the two teams did cover the 41 1/2 over/under with 55 points. In the week 17 matchup, New England coverd the 9 1/2 point spread in the Sunshine State, winning by 21 and the teams covered the 44 1/2 over/under with 49 points. New England’s favored by 16 points with a 47 1/2 over/under. The 47 1/2 makes sense. The 16’s a bit steep. Miami’s been a somewhat decent team but they haven’t been a great team and are trying to pass the Pats as kings of the AFC East mountain. Long live the king. Pats win but expect Miami to put up a fight in Foxboro and could make it closer than 16.

Carolina (7-3) at New York Jets (4-6), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710. Cam Newton and the Carolina Panther make their way up the East coast for an early afternoon meeting wit the New York Jets in the Meadowlands. Both clubs come off wins and both teams had byes last week.

Carolina and Newton made quick work of Miami two weeks ago in Charlotte, taking a 45-21 win over the Dolphins at Bank of America Stadium. The Panthers led 17-3 at the half and held serve in the second half, outscoring Miami 28-14. Carolina outrushed Miami 294-100 (Carolina’s Jonathan Stewart led all rushers with 110 yards), while Newton threw for 254 yards and four TDs, outpacing Jay Cutler, who threw for 213 yards and a pair of TDs. The Panthers in the Monday night contest in the Tar Heel State went 11 of 14 on third down, keeping the ball for 35:39. Miami was not a slouch on third down either, going 7 of 12 (they were 0 of 1 on fourth down) and the Dolphins held the ball for 24:21.

The Jets also had a bye but their last game was not as succesfull as Carolina’s, as they fell to Tampa Bay 15-10 in Tampa. Tampa Bay broke a 3-3 tie at the half as the Buccaneers would outscore GangGreen 12-7 in the final 30 minutes of action. Outrushed 90-56, the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! saw Josh McCown sacked six times, throwing for 262 yards, while Ryan Fitzpatrick, who took over for Jameis Winston (shoulder) threw for 187 yards (both threw a TD pass and an interception in the game). The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! were 3 of 15 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down and GangGreen held the ball for 28:06, while the Buccaneers ruled the clock and kept the ball for 31:54, going 7 of 16 on third down.

The series is even at 3-3 and the Panthers have outscore GangGreen 125-116. Carolina won the last meeting, coming away 30-20 winners in Charlotte in 2013, while GangGreen’s last win came in the Meadowlands in 2009 by a final of 17-6. Carolina’s favored by 5 and the over/under’s 40. Both teams are coming off a break, both clubs are all but going in different directions. New York makes this one interesting but Carolina prevails in the Tar Heel State, taking the win and covering the 5.

Chicago (3-7) at Philadelphia (9-1), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. Deep dish pizza meets cheesesteak as Philadelphia, atop the NFC East mountain, hosts Da Bears at Lincoln Financial Field.

Chicago dropped a 27-24 decision against Detroit in Chicago last week. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford passed for 299 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, while Lions K Matt Prater converted the game-winning 52-yard field goal with 1:35 remaining in the contest. Detroit trailed 21-17 at the intermission at Soldier Field before they rallied to take the win on the road in the Windy City. Chicago rushed for 222 yards, outrushing Detroit, who tallied 65 (Chicago’s Jordan Howard led all rushers with 125 yards and a TD) in the NFC North matchup. The Lions were 3 of 10 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 30:36, while Da Bears held on to the pigskin for 29:24, going 3 of 9 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

Philadelphia maintained control of first place in the NFC East, as they rallied from a 9-7 deficit at the intermission in Dallas to take 37-9 win over the Cowboys (without Ezekiel Elliott) at AT&T Stadium last Sunday night. Philadelphia scored 30 second half points unchallenged to erase the deficit and take the lead in the Sunday night prime time affair. The Eagles rushed for 215 yards in the Sunday night affair, while Dallas tallied 112. Dak Prescott threw for 145 yards in the contest but the Eagles made life miserable for him, as he was sacked four times and picked off three times, while Carson Wentz threw for 168 yards and a pair of TDs with no interceptions or sacks. Philadelphia, who played turnover-free football against their NFC East foes, went 5 of 14 on third down (1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 29:29, while the Cowboys ruled the clock and kept the pigskin for 30:31, going 3 of 14 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down.

Da Bears lead the series 28-11-1 (which includes games that were played at Wrigley Field) and Chicago has outscored Philadelphia 870-586. The Eagles were 29-14 winners last year in the Windy City in the last meeting between the clubs (Chicago’s last win over Philadelphia came in 2011 in the City of Brotherly Love by a final of 30-24). They met in week two at Soldier Field and the Eagles led 9-6 at the half before proceeding to outscore Chicago 20-7 in the second half. Philadelphia outrushed Chicago 100-64 and Wentz threw for 190 yards and a TD, outpacing Jay Cutler, who threw for 157 yards with three sack and an interception.

Philadelphia covered the 3-point spread in the week two contest that was played on a Monday night, coming away winners by 15 points. Both teams scored 43 points, barely covering the 42 1/2 over/under. Philly’s favored by 13 1/2 and the over/under’s 44. Granted, Chicago’s bad but not 13 1/2 bad. They’ll keep it close in the City of Brotherly Love but Philly prevails at home.

New Orleans (8-2) at Los Angeles Rams (8-2), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 712. A pair of first place teams meet on the West Coast as the Los Angeles Rams, in first in the NFC West, face off against the New Orleans Saints, in the top spot in the NFC South.

Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins passed for 322 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions but it wasn’t enough as Washington fell to New Orleans 34-31 in overtime at the Superdome. The Redskins let a 15-point lead in the contest in the Big Easy get away from them as Drew Brees (385 yards) connected on a pair of TD passes late in the fourth quarter (one to TE Josh Hill, the other to rookie RB Alvin Kamara) to send the game into overtime, where K Will Lutz sent Saints fans home happy campers with the 3-point win. New Orleans outrushed Washington 160-156 and it was a battle of running backs, as Washington’s Samajie Perine (117 yards) and New Orleans’ Mark Ingram (134 yards) each led their teams with 100-yard days (each had a rushing TD in the overtime contest). Both clubs were 4 of 12 on third down tries (on fourth down, the Redskins were 2 of 2, while the Saints were 1 of 1) and the Redskins ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 32:11 to New Orleans’ 30:24.

The Rams dropped a 24-7 decison to Minnesota at US Bank Stadium last Sunday. The Vikings broke a 7-7 tie at the half as the Vikings scored their final 17 points in the fourth quarter and did it unchallenged. The Rams were outrushed by Minnesota 171-45, while Minnesota’s Case Keenum threw for 280 yards with a TD and no interceptions. For Los Angeles, Jared Goff threw for 225 yards but was sacked twice in the road loss. The Vikings on third down in the Land of 10,000 Lakes went 7 of 14 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down and held the ball for 37:22, while the Rams were 3 of 11 on third down (0 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 22:38.

Including contests played at old Tulane Stadium and in St. Louis, the Rams lead the series 40-32 and they have outscored the Saints 1,624-1,487. New Orleans won the last meeting between the clubs and that meeting took place last year in the Big Easy, as the home team took a 49-21 win (the Rams’ last win over the Saints came when they were in St. Louis in 2013 by a 27-16 final).

New Orleans led 28-21 in the Big Easy in the Week 12 contest at the half before they would pull away and score their final 21 points of the game in the second half unchallenged. Brees threw for 310 yards and four TDs, while Goff threw for 214 yards and three TDs but was sacked three times. Ingram rushed for 146 yards and a TD, as the Saints outrushed Los Angeles 209-69 and the Saints went 6 of 13 on third down tries (they were 2 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 35:56, while the Rams, who held the ball for 24:04, went 2 of 10 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth downs.

New Orleans’ 28-point win allowed them to cover the 7-point spread with ease and both teams covered the 45 1/2 over/under with 70 points. The Rams are favored by 2 1/2 in Tinsletown and the over/under’s 53 1/2. The Saints carry a 7-game win streak into the contest, while the Rams are looking to right their ship after their loss in the Twin Cities broke their 4-game win streak. Rams shock the world and cover the 2 1/2 on the West Coast.

Seattle (6-4) at San Francisco (1-9), 4:05 p.m. on FOx and DirecTV 713. An NFC West rematch takes place in wine country as Seattle makes the 839-mile trip down the Pacific Coast down I-5 for a divisional contest with the San Francisco 49ers at Levis’ Stadium.

Seattle took the defending NFC South and NFC champs Atlanta Falcons to the wire and dropped a 34-31 prime time decision at Century Link Field. Seattle trailed 24-17 at half and tried some trickeration before the intermission when Seahawks TE Justin Wilson was tackled by DT Grady Jarrett on a fake field goal with second seconds left before the intermission. Seattle would pull to within three points with three minutes left in regulation before Seahawks fans would have their hearts broken when Blair Walsh’s 52-yard field goal try that would have sent the contest into overtime fell short of the goal posts with 2 seconds left. Seattle outrushed the Falcons 136-89 and Matt Ryan threw for 195 yards and a pair of TDs to WR Mohamed Sanu and TE Levine Toilolo, while Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, who scored on a two-point conversion that pulled his team to within three with three minutes left in regulation, threw for 258 yards and a pair of TDs to TE Jimmy Graham and WR Doug Baldwin. Atlanta was 9 of 14 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 30:21, while Seattle was 5 of 12 on third down (1 of 2 on fourth down) and held the ball for 29:39.

San Francisco comes back to action after their bye and coming away 31-21 winners at home against Eli Manning and the New York Giants to pick up their first win of the season. The 49ers led 17-13 at the intermission two Sundays ago and then proceeded to outscore the Giants in the final 30 minutes of action 14-8 (the two teams played a scoreless thrird quarter). San Franciso outrushed the Giants 186-114 (49ers RB Carlos Hyde led all rushers with 98 yards) and 49ers QB C.J. Beatherd threw for 288 yards and a pair of TDs, while chipping in with a rushing TD of his own, while Manning threw for 273 yards and a pair of TDS. The 49ers were 8 of 12 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth and kept the ball for 29 minutes. As for the Giants? They held the pigskin for 31 minutes, going 5 of 14, 3 of 3 on third and fourth downs.

They met in week two in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks and the Seahawks came away 12-9 winners at Century Link Field. Tied 6-6 at the intermission and trailing 9-6 in the fourth, Seattle took the lead for keeps when Wilson and WR Paul Richardson connected on a 9-yard TD strike with 7:06 left in regulation, as Seattle used a 10-play, 82-yard drive that consumed 4:30 of clock to take the lead back. Hyde ran for 124 yards in the first meeting, as San Francisco outrushed Seattle 159-131, while Wilson threw for 198 yards and the one TD. Seattle on third down? 8 of 19 (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 36:58, while the 49ers went 2 of 12 on third down, keeping the football for 23:02.

In the week two contest in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle was favored by 13 1/2 but won by only 3 points. As for the 48 1/2 over/under? It was safe and sound, as both San Francisco and Seattle merged for only 21 points. Seattle’s favored again, this time by 6 1/2 and the over/under’s 42. Both humbers make sense. Seattle’s in the playoff hunt in the NFC West, while the 49ers would love nothing more than to ruin their plans. History has a way of repeating itself and this time, it favors the Seahawks. Seattle covers the 6 1/2 in wine country and takes the road win.

Jacksonville (7-3) at Arizona (4-6), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 714. The first-place Jacksonville Jaguars travel to the desert for a late afternoon contest with the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale.

Jacksonville gave Cleveland their 10th loss in a row in the 2017 season, coming away 19-7 winners at First Energy Stadium. Jacksonville led the Browns 10-7 at the break along the shores of Lake Erie and after a scoreless third quarter, the Jaguars would score their final 9 points of the contest unchallenged. The Jaguars, in the top spot in the AFC South, outrushed Cleveland 139-50, with rookie RB Leonard Fournette doing most of the work, tallying 111 yards of his own, while Jaguars QB Blake Bortles threw for 154 yards and a TD for the winners. The Jacksonville defense made life somewhat unbearable for Browns QB DeShone Kizer, who, threw for 179 yards while being sacked five times and picked off twice. The Browns on third down conversions went 3 of 13 (they were 0 of 1 on fourth) and kept the ball for 23:05, while the Jaguars were 6 of 20 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down and held the ball for 36:55.

Arizona let a 14-10 lead at Houston get away from them at NRG Stadium as the Texans pulled away with the 30-20 win in the Lone Star State. Rookie RB D’Onta Foreman tallied a pair of fourth quarter TDs to give the Texans the lead for keeps to take the win. Houston outrushed the Desert Angry Birds 134-48 and Tom Savage threw for 230 yards for the Texans, while Blaine Gabbard, who took over for Carson Palmer, threw for 257 yards and three TDs but was picked off twice. Houston on third down tries went 8 of 15 and kept the ball for 33:46, while Arizona kept it for 26:14, going 3 of 10 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth.

The series tied at 2-2 and Jacksonville has outscored Arizona 99-85. Arizona has come away winners in the last two contests, with their last win coming in 2013 in the desert by a final of 27-14, while the Jaguars’ last win also came in the desert, with Jacksonville taking a 24-17 win in 2005. Jacksonville’s favored by 4 1/2 point and the over/under’s 38. Jacksonville’s looking to stay atop the AFC South mountain. Arizona’s trying to catch the Rams. Go with the cats. Jaguars prevail on the road and cvover the 4 1/2.

Denver (3-7) at Oakland (4-6), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 714. A pair of AFC West rivals, struggling to keep pace with Kansas City, meet in San Francisco bay as the Silver and Black host the Denver Broncos in a week four rematch.

A Denver rally in the Mile High City fell short as they fell to Cincinnati 20-17 last Sunday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Bengals led 13-7 and had their largest lead of the contest at 10 points with 8:56 left in regulation when Andy Dalton and WR A.J. Green connected on an 18-yard TD toss. Denver would make it a 7-point contest with 5:05 left to play when Brock Osweiler and WR Demaryius Thomas connected on a 17-yard TD pass. Denver would have one last rally late in the contest but turned the ball over on downs, allowing the Bengals to run out the clock. Denver did outrush Cincy 112-49, while Osweiler threw for 254 yards and the lone TD pass (he was sacked three times with an intercepion) and Dalton threw for 154 yards and three TDs. Denver did quite well on third down, as they went 12 of 21 (they were 1 of 2 on fourth down) and the Broncos ruled time and kept the ball for 35:11, while Cincinnati went 24:49 in time of possession, going 7 of 15 on third down conversions.

Oakland and New Engalnd met in Mexico City and it was the Raiders dropping a 33-8 decision to New England last Sunday at Estadio Azteca. The Silver and Black trailed 17-0 at the half and 30-0 after three quarters before scoring their only TD in the fourth quarter when wR Amari Cooper and QB Derek Carr (237 yards) connected on a 9-yard TD toss with 11:43 left in the contest. Brady burned the Raiders for 339 yards and three TDs, while the Raiders managed to outrush New England 109-89. The Pats held the ball for 27:37, going 5 of 10 on third down tries South of the Border, while the Raiders went 7 of 15 on third down and ruled the clock, as they kept the ball for 32:23.

In the week four meeting at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, the Broncos led 10-7 at the break and then held off a late Oakland rally in the final minutes to take the 16-10 win. Denver outrushed Oakland 143-24 and Trevor Seimian threw for 179 yards and a TD, despite getting sacked four times, while Carr threw for 143 yards in the 6-point loss. Denver was 5 of 16 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 32:57, while the Raiders were 2 of 12 on third down (0 of 3 on fourth down) and kept the pigskin for 27:03.

In the week four contest, the Broncos covered the 2 1/2 points spread, winning by 6. As for the 46 1/2 over/under? Untouched. Both teams combined for 26 points. This time, the Raiders are favored by 5 and the over/under’s 43 1/2. whoever wins this one is a little closer to Kansas City in the AFC West, while the loser will sit and wonder what if. Take a pass on this one (unless you’re a fan of either team) and watch that “Grumpy Cat Movie” on Lifetime (he’s a cat but he’s funny as hell!). Broncos pull off the sweep and take the win on the road, covering the 5.

Green Bay (5-5) at Pittsburgh (8-2), 8:30 p.m. on NBC. The Sunday action for week 12 draws to a close in the Steel City as Pittsburgh and Ben Roethlisberger hosts Green Bay in prime time at Heinz Field.

Green Bay struggled against Baltimore and were shutout by the Ravens 23-0 at Lambeau Field last Sunday. The Packers trailed 6-0 at the intermission before Baltimore turned on the jets and scored their final 17 points of the game unchallenged. Green Bay did manage to outrush the Ravens 75-58 and Brett Hundley threw for 239 yards but threw three interceptions and was sacked six times, while Joe Flacco threw for 183 yards in the shutout. Green Bay was 4 of 15 on third down (1 of 4 on fourth down) in the land of cheese, beer and Bratwurst and kept the ball for 29:57, while the Ravens went 3 of 14 on third down but hit pay dirt in their only fourth down try, keeping the ball for 30:03.

Pittsburgh took Tennessee to task last week, as the Steelers were 40-17 winners last Thursday night at Heinz Field. The Steelers trailed 16-7 at the intermission before the Titans pulled to within 6 after three quarters of play. Pittsburgh then regained control of things, as they would score 17 fourth quarter points unchallenged. Pittsburgh outrushed Tennessee 65-52 and Mariota struggled in the contest, throwing four interceptions and being sacked five times, while throwing for 306 yards. For Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisbeger threw for 299 yards and four TDs in the contest in Western Pennsylvania, connecting with WR Antoino Brown on threw of them. Tennessee was 5 of 13 on third down tries (1 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 28:20, while the Steelers ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 31:40, while going 4 of 12 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down tries.

The Steelers are favored by 14 and the over/under’s 41 1/2. The 41 1/2 we agree with. The 14 sounds a bit on the steep side. Green Bay has been in most of their contests and want to catch Minnesota to take control of the NFC North, while the Steelers look to stay on top of the AFC North mountain. Green Bay will make this closer than 14 but Pittsburgh prevails in the Steel City on Sunday night.

Houston (4-6) at Baltimore (5-5), 8:30 p.m. Monday on ESPN. Week 12 closes in Charm City as beef brisket meets crabcakes as Houston and Baltimore meet at M&T Bank Stadium in prime time. Both teams enter the Monday night contest with wins under their respective belts.

Houston erased a 14-10 deficit against Arizona last Sunday lead at at NRG Stadium as the Texans pulled away with the 30-20 win in the Lone Star State. Texans rookie RB D’Onta Foreman tallied a pair of fourth quarter TDs to give the home team the lead for keeps to take the win. Houston outrushed the Desert Angry Birds 134-48 and Tom Savage threw for 230 yards for the Texans, while Blaine Gabbard, who took over for Carson Palmer, threw for 257 yards and three TDs but was picked off twice. Houston on third down tries went 8 of 15 and kept the ball for 33:46, while Arizona kept it for 26:14, going 3 of 10 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth.

The Ravens defeated the Packers 23-0 at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field last week, registering the team’s third shutout this season. Baltimore is the fifth team – and first since 2003 (New England) – over the past 30 years to record at least three shutouts in a single season. Three of the previous four teams to accomplish the feat during that span won the Super Bowl in that season – 1991 Washington, 2000 Baltimore and 2003 New England. The Ravens led 6-0 at the intermission before they turned on the jets and scored their final 17 points of the game unchallenged. Green Bay did manage to outrush the Ravens 75-58 and Brett Hundley threw for 239 yards but threw three interceptions and was sacked six times, while Joe Flacco threw for 183 yards in the shutout. Green Bay was 4 of 15 on third down (1 of 4 on fourth down) in the land of cheese, beer and Bratwurst and kept the ball for 29:57, while the Ravens went 3 of 14 on third down but hit pay dirt in their only fourth down try, keeping the ball for 30:03.

Baltimore leads the series 6-2 and the Ravens have outscored the Texans 199-166. Houston came away 25-13 winners in 2014 in the Lone Star State in their last meeting, while Baltimore’s last win in the series came in 2013 in Charm City by a final of 30-9. On Monday night, the Ravens are at the .500 mark at 11-11, while the Texans are 4-7. While this one is not exactly the best Monday night contest of the year, it’s worth the time to watch, even if it’s for one half. Baltimore’s favored by 7 and the over/under’s 38. Baltimore makes this interesting but Houston pulls the upset on the road and could very well cover the 7.

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.

You know who your team was going to play.

You know where your team was going to play.

As far as the when, you had to be patient and wait.

Last Thursday night, your wait was over, thanks to the National Football League. The league announced its 17-week, 256-game regular-season schedule for 2017, which kicks off on Thursday night, September 7 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. in Foxboro will spotlight the defending champion New England Patriots hosting the Kansas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium.

Week 1 is a FOX national weekend with the key doubleheader game on Sunday, September 10 at 4:25 p.m. when salmon and Starbucks travels to the land of beer, cheese and bratwurst as Seattle takes on Green Bay at Lambeau Field. 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 NFC East foes Dallas and the New York Giants square off at 8:30 p.m. in the Lone Star State at AT&T Stadium.

For those of you wondering if there are going to be two games on the first Monday of the season, the answer is yes. Kickoff Weekend concludes on Monday, September 11 with an ESPN Monday Night Football doubleheader. Minnesota hosts the New Orleans Saints at 7:10 p.m. in the first game followed by the Los Angeles Chargers visiting the Denver Broncos in the nightcap at 10:20 p.m.

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 league will have a select number of games that will be “cross-flexed,” moving between CBS and FOX to bring potentially under-distributed games to wider audiences. Some of those contests were announced as well, including the Seahawks at the Giants in the Meadowlands at 4:25 p.m. on CBS in Week 7 and the Vikings traveling to the Tar Heel State for a meeting with Cam Newton and the 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 contests 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.

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.

Will there be football on Thanksgiving?

Is the Pope Catholic?

Thanksgiving will feature a tripleheader on Thursday, November 23 and yes, the Lions and Cowboys are at home. The first game will be an NFC North contest in the Motor City as Detroit hosts the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field at 12:30 p.m. on FOX. As for Dallas, they are the late afternoon contest in the Lone Star State when they host the Los Angeles Chargers at 4:30 p.m. on CBS and the Turkey Day trifecta concludes in Landover with an NFC East contest as Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr. and the New York Giants make their way to Landover in prime time to face the Washington Redskins at 8:30 p.m. on NBC.

In Week 16, NBC’s Sunday Night Football game as NFC North foe Minnesota and Green Bay meet at Lambeau as that contest will move to Saturday night, December 23 at 8:30 p.m., due to Christmas Eve and is not subject to flexible scheduling. Christmas Day will feature a doubleheader on Monday, December 25 with the Houston Texans hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers at 4:30 p.m. on NBC/NFLN/Amazon Prime in the first game and Oakland traveling to the City of Brotherly Love, visiting the Philadelphia Eagles at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN in primetime.

There are contests with an international flavor, so break out the fish and chips and tequila! The NFL’s international slate includes four games in London – the first time the league will play four games in the United Kingdom 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(set those VCRs NOW!).

The next weekend, on Sunday, October 1, Jacksonville’s neighbor to the South, the Miami Dolphins, will host Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints at Wembley at 9:30 a.m. on FOX, In Week 7, it’s an NFC West matchup in Merry Ole England as the Los Angeles Rams host the Arizona Cardinals at Twickenham Stadium on Sunday, October 22 at 1 p.m. on FOX. The following week, the Cleveland Browns will host the Vikings at Twickenham on Sunday, October 29 at 9:30 a.m. on NFLN and the league heads back South of the Border as the Oakland Raiders take on Tom Brady and the Pats at 4:25 p.m. on CBS on Sunday, November 19 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 Video) 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 on Thursday, September 28 when the Packers host the Chicago Bears. NBC’s Tri-Cast package begins in Week 10 on 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 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.

Westwood One will broadcast on radio all NFL primetime games, the three Thanksgiving Day games and the entire NFL playoffs.

For ticket information, fans may visit http://www.nfl.com/tickets.

2017 NFL SCHEDULE (All Times Eastern and subject to change)

WEEK 1 (Byes: NONE)

Thursday, September 7
Kansas City at New England, 8:30 p.m. on NBC

Sunday, September 10
ATLANTA at Chicago, 1 p.m. on FOX
New York Jets at Buffalo, 1 p.m. on CBS
Baltimore at Cincinnati, 1 p.m. on CBS
Pittsburgh at Cleveland, 1 p.m. on CBS
Arizona at Detroit, 1 p.m. on FOX
Jacksonville at Houston, 1 p.m. on CBS
Tampa Bay at Miami, 1 p.m. on FOX
Oakland at Tennessee, 1 p.m. on CBS
Philadelphia at Washington, 1 p.m. on FOX
Indianapolis at Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m. on CBS
Seattle at Green Bay, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
Carolina at San Francisco, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
New York Giants at Dallas, 8:30 p.m. on NBC

Monday, September 11
New Orleans at Minnesota, 7:10 p.m. on ESPN
Los Angeles Chargers at Denver, 10:20 p.m. on ESPN

WEEK 2 (Byes: NONE)

Thursday, September 14, 2017
Houston at Cincinnati, 8:25 p.m. on NFLN

Sunday, September 17, 2017
Green Bay at ATLANTA, 8:30 p.m. on NBC
Cleveland at Baltimore, 1 p.m. on CBS
Buffalo at Carolina, 1 p.m. on CBS
Arizona at Indianapolis, 1 p.m. on FOX
Tennessee at Jacksonville, 1 p.m. on CBS
Philadelphia at Kansas City, 1 p.m. on FOX
New England at New Orleans, 1 p.m. on CBS
Minnesota at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m. on CBS
Chicago at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m. on FOX
Miami at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m. on CBS
New York Jets at Oakland, 4:05 p.m. on CBS
Dallas at Denver, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
Washington at Los Angeles Rams, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
San Francisco at Seattle, 4:25 p.m. on FOX

Monday, September 18, 2017
Detroit at New York Giants, 8:30 p.m. on ESPN

WEEK 3 (Byes: NONE)

Thursday, September 21
Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco, 8:25 p.m. on NFLN

Sunday, September 24
ATLANTA at Detroit, 1 p.m. on FOX
Baltimore at Jacksonville, 9:30 a.m. Eastern (2:30 p.m. in London), TBD
Denver at Buffalo, 1 p.m. on CBS
New Orleans at Carolina, 1 p.m. on FOX
Pittsburgh at Chicago, 1 p.m. on CBS
Cleveland at Indianapolis, 1 p.m. on CBS
Tampa Bay at Minnesota, 1 p.m. on FOX
Houston at New England, 1 p.m. on CBS
Miami at New York Jets, 1 p.m. on CBS
New York Giants at Philadelphia, 1 p.m. on FOX
Seattle at Tennessee, 4:05 p.m. on FOX
Cincinnati at Green Bay, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
Kansas City at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
Oakland at Washington, 8:30 p.m. on NBC

Monday, September 25
Dallas at Arizona, 8:30 p.m. on ESPN

WEEK 4 (Byes: NONE)

Thursday, September 28
Chicago at Green Bay, 8:25 p.m. on CBS/NFLN/Amazon

Sunday, October 1
Buffalo at ATLANTA, 1 p.m. on CBS
New Orleans at Miami, 9:30 p.m. Eastern (2:30 p.m. in London) on FOX
Pittsburgh at Baltimore, 1 p.m on CBS
Cincinnati at Cleveland, 1 p.m. on CBS
Los Angeles Rams at Dallas, 1 p.m. on FOX
Tennessee at Houston, 1 p.m. on CBS
Detroit at Minnesota, 1 p.m. on FOX
Carolina at New England, 1 p.m. on FOX
Jacksonville at New York Jets, 1 p.m. on CBS
San Francisco at Arizona, 4:05 p.m. on FOX
Philadelphia at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m. on FOX
New York Giants at Tampa Bay, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
Oakland at Denver, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
Indianapolis at Seattle, 8:30 p.m. on NBC

Monday, October 2
Washington at Kansas City, 8:30 p.m. on ESPN

WEEK 5 (Byes: ATLANTA, Denver, New Orleans and Washington)

Thursday, October 5
New England at Tampa Bay, 8:25 p.m. on CBS/NFLN/Amazon

Sunday, October 8

Buffalo at Cincinnati, 1 p.m. on CBS
New York Jets at Cleveland, 1 p.m. on FOX
Carolina at Detroit, 1 p.m. on FOX
San Francisco at Indianapolis, 1 p.m. on FOX
Tennessee at Miami, 1 p.m. on CBS
Los Angeles Chargers at New York Giants, 1 p.m. on CBS
Arizona at Philadelphia, 1 p.m. on FOX
Jacksonville at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m. on CBS
Seattle at Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m. on FOX
Baltimore at Oakland, 4:05 p.m. on CBS
Green Bay at Dallas, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
Kansas City at Houston, 8:30 p.m. on NBC (subject to change)

Monday, October 9
Minnesota at Chicago, 8:30 p.m. on ESPN

WEEK 6 (Byes: Buffalo, Cincinnati, Dallas and Seattle)

Thursday, October 12
Philadelphia at Carolina, 8:25 p.m. on CBS/NFLN/Amazon

Sunday, October 15
Miami at ATLANTA, 1 p.m. on CBS
Chicago at Baltimore, 1 p.m. on FOX
Cleveland at Houston, 1 p.m. on CBS
Green Bay at Minnesota, 1 p.m. on FOX
Detroit at New Orleans, 1 p.m. on FOX
New England  at New York Jets, 1 p.m. on CBS
San Francisco at Washington, 1 p.m. on FOX
Tampa Bay at Arizona, 4:05 p.m. on FOX
Los Angeles Rams at Jacksonville, 4:05 p.m. on FOX
Pittsburgh at Kansas City, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
New York Giants at Denver, 8:30 p.m. on NBC (subject to change)

Monday, October 16
Indianapolis at Tennessee, 8:30 p.m. on ESPN

WEEK 7 (Byes: Detroit and Houston)

Thursday, October 19
Kansas City at Oakland, 8:25 p.m. on CBS/NFLN/Amazon

Sunday, October 22
ATLANTA at New England, 8:30 p.m. on NBC (subject to change)

Tampa Bay at Buffalo, 1 p.m. on FOX
Carolina at Chicago, 1 p.m. on FOX
Tennessee at Cleveland, 1 p.m. on CBS
New Orleans at Green Bay, 1 p.m. on FOX
Jacksonville at Indianapolis, 1 p.m. on CBS
Arizona at Los Angeles Rams, 1 p.m. Eastern (6 p.m. in London) on FOX
New York Jets at Miami, 1 p.m. on CBS
Baltimore at Minnesota, 1 p.m. on CBS
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m. on CBS
Dallas at San Francisco, 4:05 p.m. on FOX
Denver at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
Seattle at New York Giants, 4:25 p.m. on FOX

Monday, October 23
Washington at Philadelphia, 8:30 p.m. on ESPN

WEEK 8 (Byes: Arizona, Green Bay, Jacksonville, Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants and Tennessee)

Thursday, October 26
Miami at Baltimore, 8:25 p.m. on CBS/NFLN/Amazon

Sunday, October 29
ATLANTA at New York Jets, 1 p.m. on FOX
Minnesota at Cleveland, 9:30 a.m. Eastern (1:30 p.m. in London) on NFLN
Oakland at Buffalo, 1 p.m. on CBS
Indianapolis at Cincinnati, 1 p.m. on CBS
Los Angeles Chargers at New England, 1 p.m. on CBS
Chicago at New Orleans, 1 p.m. on FOX
San Francisco at Philadelphia, 1 p.m. on FOX
Carolina at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m. on FOX
Houston at Seattle, 4:05 p.m. on CBS
Dallas at Washington, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
Pittsburgh at Detroit, 8:30 p.m. on NBC (subject to change)

Monday, October 30
Denver at Kansas City, 8:30 p.m. on ESPN

WEEK 9 (Byes: Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota, New England and Pittsburgh)

Thursday, November 2
Buffalo at New York Jets, 8:25 p.m. on NFLN

Sunday, November 5
ATLANTA at Carolina, 1 p.m. on FOX
Indianapolis at Houston, 1 p.m. on CBS
Cincinnati at Jacksonville, 1 p.m. on CBS
Tampa Bay at New Orleans, 1 p.m. on FOX
Los Angeles Rams at New York Giants, 1 p.m. on FOX
Denver at Philadelphia, 1 p.m. on CBS
Baltimore at Tennessee, 1 p.m. on CBS
rizona at San Francisco, 4:05 p.m. on FOX
Washington at Seattle, 4:05 p.m. on FOX
Kansas City at Dallas, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
Oakland at Miami, 8:30 p.m. on NBC (subject to change)

Monday, November 6
Detroit at Green Bay, 8:30 p.m. on ESPN

WEEK 10 (Byes: Baltimore, Kansas City, Oakland and Philadelphia)

Thursday, November 9
Seattle at Arizona, 8:25 p.m. on NBC/NFLN/Amazon

Sunday, November 12
Dallas at ATLANTA, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
New Orleans at Buffalo, 1 p.m. on FOX
Green Bay at Chicago, 1 p.m. on FOX
Cleveland at Detroit, 1 p.m. on CBS
Pittsburgh at Indianapolis, 1 p.m. on CBS
Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville, 1 p.m. on cBS
New York Jets at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m. on CBS
Cincinnati at Tennessee, 1 p.m. on FOX
Minnesota at Washington, 1 p.m. on FOX
Houston at Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m. on CBS
New York Giants at San Francisco, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
New England at Denver, 8:30 p.m. on NBC (subject to change)

Monday, November 13
Miami at Carolina, 8:30 p.m. on ESPN

WEEK 11 (Byes: Carolina, Indianapolis, Miami, New York Jets, San Francisco and Tampa Bay)

Thursday, November 16
Tennessee at Pittsburgh, 8:25 p.m. on NBC/NFLN/Amazon

Sunday, November 19
Detroit at Chicago, 1 p.m. on FOX
Jacksonville at Cleveland, 1 p.m. on CBS
Baltimore at Green Bay, 1 p.m. on CBS
Arizona at Houston, 1 p.m. on FOX
Los Angeles Rams at Minnesota, 1 p.m. on FOX
Washington at New Orleans, 1 p.m. on FOX
Kansas City at New York Giants on CBS
Buffalo at Los Angeles Chargers, 1:05 p.m. on FOX
Cincinnati at Denver, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
New England at Oakland in Mexico City, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas, 8:30 p.m. on NBC (subject to change)

Monday, November 20, 2017
ATLANTA at Seattle, 8:30 p.m. on ESPN

WEEK 12 (Byes: NONE)

Thursday, November 23
Minnesota at Detroit, 12:30 p.m. on FOX
Los Angeles Chargers at Dallas, 4:30 p.m. on CBS
New York Giants at Washington, 8:30 p.m. on NBC

Sunday, November 26
Tampa Bay at ATLANTA, 1 p.m. on FOX
Cleveland at Cincinnati, 1 p.m. on CBS
Tennessee at Indianapolis, 1 p.m. on CBS
Buffalo at Kansas City, 1 p.m. on CBs
Miami at New England, 1 p.m. on CBS
Carolina at New York Jets, 1 p.m. on FOX
Chicago at Philadelphia, 1 p.m. on FOX
New Orleans at Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m. on FOX
Seattle at San Francisco, 4:05 p.m. on FOX
Jacksonville at Arizona, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
Denver at Oakland, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
Green Bay at Pittsburgh, 8:30 p.m. on NBC (subject to change)

Monday, November 27
Houston at Baltimore, 8:30 p.m. on ESPN

WEEK 13 (Byes: NONE)

Thursday, November 30
Washington at Dallas, 8:25 p.m. on NBC/NFLN/Amazon

Sunday, December 3
Minnesota at ATLANTA, 1 p.m. on FOX
Detroit at Baltimore, 1 p.m. on FOX
New England at Buffalo, 1 p.m. on CBS
San Francisco at Chicago, 1 p.m. on CBS
Tampa Bay at Green Bay, 1 p.m. on FOX
Indianapolis at Jacksonville, 1 p.m. on CBS
Denver at Miami, 1 p.m. on CBS
Carolina at New Orleans, 1 p.m. on FOX
Kansas City at New York Jets, 1 p.m. on CBS
Houston at Tennessee, 1 p.m. on CBS
Cleveland at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m. on CBS
Los Angeles Rams at Arizona, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
New York Giants at Oakland, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
Philadelphia at Seattle, 8:30 p.m. on NBC (subject to change)

Monday, December 4
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, 8:30 p.m. on ESPN

WEEK 14 (Byes: NONE)

Thursday, December 7
New Orleans Saints at ATLANTA, 8:25 p.m. on NBC/NFLN/Amazon

Sunday, December 10
Indianapolis at Buffalo, 1 p.m. on CBS
Minnesota at Carolina, 1 p.m. on CBS
Chicago at Cincinnati, 1 p.m. on FOX
Green Bay at Cleveland, 1 p.m. on FOX
San Francisco at Houston, 1 p.m. on FOX
Seattle at Jacksonville, 1 p.m. on FOX
Oakland at Kansas City, 1 p.m. on CBS
Detroit at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m. on FOX
Tennessee at Arizona, 4:05 p.m. on CBS
New York Jets at Denver, 4:05 p.m. on CBs
Washington at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m. on CBS
Philadelphia at Los Angeles Rams, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
Dallas at New York Giants, 4:@5 p.m. on FOX
Baltimore at Pittsburgh, 8:30 p.m. on NBC (subject to change)

Monday, December 11
New England at Miami, 8:30 p.m. on ESPN

WEEK 15 (Byes: NONE)

Thursday, December 14
Denver at Indianapolis, 8:25 p.m. on NBC/NFLN/Amazon

Saturday, December 16
Chicago at Detroit, 4:30 p.m. on NFLN
Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City, 8:25 p.m. on NFLN

Sunday, December 17
Miami at Buffalo, 1 p.m. on CBS
Green Bay at Carolina, 1 p.m. on FOX
Baltimore at Cleveland, 1 p.m. on cBS
Houston at Jacksonville, 1 p.m. on CBS
Cincinnati at Minnesota, 1 p.m. on CBS
New York Jets at New Orleans, 1 p.m. on CBS
Philadelphia at New York Giants, 1 p.m. on FOX
Arizona at Washington, 1 p.m. on FOX
Los Angeles Rams at Seattle, 4:05 p.m. on FOX
New England at Pittsburgh, 4:25 p.m. on CBs
Tennessee at San Francisco, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
Dallas at Oakland, 8:30 p.m. on NBC (subject to change)

Monday, December 18
ATLANTA at Tampa Bay, 8:30 p.m. on ESPN

WEEK 16 (Byes: NONE)

Saturday, December 23
Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore, 4:30 p.m. on NFLN
Minnesota at Green Bay, 8:30 p.m. on NBC

Sunday, December 24
ATLANTA at New Orleans, 1 p.m. on FOX
Tampa Bay at Carolina, 1 p.m. on FOX
Cleveland at Chicago, 1 p.m. on CBS
Detroit at Cincinnati, 1 p.m. on FOx
Miami at Kansas City, 1 p.m. on CBS
Buffalo at New England, 1 p.m. on CBS
Los Angeles Chargers at New York Jets, 1 p.m. on CBS
Los Angeles Rams at Tennessee, 1 p.m. on FOX
Denver at Washington, 1 p.m. on CBS
Jacksonville at San Francisco, 4:05 p.m. on CBS
New York Giants at Arizona, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
Seattle at Dallas, 4:25 p.m. on FOX

Monday, December 25
Pittsburgh at Houston, 4:30 p.m. on NBC/NFLN/Amazon
Oakland at Philadelphia, 8:30 p.m. on ESPN

WEEK 17 (Byes: NONE)

Sunday, December 31
Carolina at ATLANTA, 1 p.m. on FOX
Cincinnati at Baltimore, 1 p.m. on CBS
Green Bay at Detroit, 1 p.m. on FOX
Houston at Indianapolis, 1 p.m. on CBS
Buffalo at Miami, 1 p.m. on CBS
Chicago at Minnesota, 1 p.m. on FOX
New York Jets at New England, 1 p.m. on CBS
Washington at New York Giants, 1 p.m. on FOX
Dallas at Philadelphia, 1 p.m. on FOX
Cleveland at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m. on CBS
New Orleans at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m. on FOX
Jacksonville at Tennessee, 1 p.m. on CBS
Kansas City at Denver, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
Oakland at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
San Francisco at Los Angeles Rams, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
Arizona at Seattle, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
GAME TBD, 8:30 p.m. on NBC

 

 

The turkey’s been eaten, Black Friday has come and gone.

As the calendar turns to December, the NFL playoff picture is starting to take shape. With five weeks remaining in the regular season, there are currently 24 teams either in or within two games of a playoff spot.

Over the past five seasons, the Carolina Panthers (19-5, .792) and Seattle Seahawks (19-5, .792) own the best record in the final month, which also includes regular-season games played in January. The New England Patriots (18-6, .750) lead the AFC.

TEAM (W-L, PCT.)
Carolina (19-5, .792)
Seattle (19-5, .792)
New England (18-6, .750)
Green Bay (17-6, .739)
Pittsburgh (17-6, .739)

“The games in December are the most important regular-season games by far,” says NFL Network analyst and former NFL head coach Steve Mariucci. “It’s extremely important to win in December and to make a run at the playoffs.”

As the NFL season enters the final month, four teams are racing towards the finish line with winning streaks of at least five games – Dallas (10), Miami (six), the New York Giants (six) and Oakland (five).

“The momentum is real for us right now,” Cowboys tight end Jason Witten told the Dallas Morning News and WFAA-TV. “Our football team is a lot of fun. It’s neat to be a part of this and lead a great group of guys. Ten wins is good but they don’t hang any banners after 11 games. We have to continue to build here going into a critical stretch.”

That critical stretch began Thursday night when Dallas visited Minnesota. The Cowboys enter December with the league’s best record (10-1) and a two-game lead over the Giants in the NFC East. Minnesota (6-5) begins the final month of the regular season just one game behind Detroit (7-4) for first place in the NFC North.

Week 13 Sunday and Monday action in the NFL gets underway Sunday. There are still playoff races to be determined and unfortunately for fans in San Francisco and Cleveland, they didn’t get an invite to the post-season party. Yes, they got lumps of coal in their stockings.

For the rest of the NFL, there’s still life and where’s there’s life, there’s hope. Nothing’s been decided as of yet and there’s still a lot of football on the docket.

CLOSE GAMES: There have been 135 games within one score in the fourth quarter through Week 12, the most such games in the first 12 weeks of a season in NFL history. Three teams – Detroit, the New York Giants and Washington – have had all of their games within one score in the fourth quarter this season.

The most games within one score in the fourth quarter through Week 12 in NFL history:

SEASON – GAMES WITHIN ONE SCORE IN 4TH QUARTER THROUGH WEEK 12
2016 – 135
2013 – 124
2004 – 124
2015 – 123
2011 – 123
2007 – 123

Additionally, there have been 106 games decided by eight points or fewer and 99 games decided by seven points or fewer through Week 12, both the most such games in the first 12 weeks of a season in league annals.

In Week 12, Lions kicker Matt Prater connected on two field goals in the final two minutes of regulation to give Detroit a 16-13 win over Minnesota. The Lions are the first team in NFL history to have each of its first 11 games decided by seven points or fewer.

The most games decided by eight points or fewer through Week 12 in NFL history:

SEASON – GAMES DECIDED BY EIGHT POINTS OR FEWER THROUGH WEEK 12
2016 – 106
2015 – 97
2012 – 95
2011 – 94
2003 – 94

The most games decided by seven points or fewer through Week 12 in NFL history:

SEASON – GAMES DECIDED BY SEVEN POINTS OR FEWER THROUGH WEEK 12
2016 – 99
2015 – 91
2011 – 89
2003 – 89
2013 – 86
2012 – 86
1988 – 86

FOURTH-QUARTER COMEBACKS: Through Week 12, there have been 52 games in which a team that trailed in the fourth quarter came back to win, the second-most such games in the first 12 weeks of a season in NFL history. Five teams – Buffalo, Detroit, Kansas City, New England and Oakland – overcame a fourth-quarter deficit to win in Week 12.

The most games won by a team that trailed in the fourth quarter through Week 12:

SEASON – GAMES WON WHEN TRAILING IN 4TH QUARTER THROUGH WEEK 12
1989 – 54
2016 – 52
2012 – 51
2011 – 51
2015 – 50

Oakland quarterback Derek Carr passed for 315 yards and two touchdowns in the Raiders’ 35-32 win over Carolina. Carr, who orchestrated the game-winning drive which culminated in kicker Sebastian Janikowski’s 23-yard field goal with 1:45 remaining in the fourth quarter, has nine game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime since 2015, the second-most in the NFL (Matthew Stafford, 10).

CLIMBING THE LADDER: New England quarterback Tom Brady passed for 286 yards and two touchdowns in the Patriots’ 22-17 win at the New York Jets. The victory marked Brady’s 200th career win, including the postseason, tied with Peyton Manning for the most all-time.

Brady now has 60,229 career passing yards and became the fifth player in NFL history with at least 60,000 passing yards.

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning passed for 194 yards and three touchdowns in the Giants’ 27-13 victory at Cleveland. Manning has 47,089 career passing yards and surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton (47,003) for the eighth-most passing yards in NFL history.

The players with the most passing yards in NFL history:

PLAYER – CAREER PASSING YARDS
Peyton Manning – 71,940
Brett Favre – 71,838^
Drew Brees – 64,490
Dan Marino – 61,361^
Tom Brady – 60,229
John Elway – 51,475^
Warren Moon – 49,325^
Eli Manning – 47,089
Fran Tarkenton – 47,003^
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald had four receptions in the Cardinals’ 38-19 loss at Atlanta. Fitzgerald, who has 1,096 career receptions, surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Tim Brown (1,094) for the fifth-most career receptions in NFL history.

The players with the most receptions in NFL history:

PLAYER – CAREER RECEPTIONS
Jerry Rice – 1,549^
Tony Gonzalez – 1,325
Marvin Harrison – 1,102^
Cris Carter – 1,101^
Larry Fitzgerald – 1,096
Tim Brown – 1,094^
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

ROLLING RODGERS: Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed 30 of 39 pass attempts (76.9 percent) for 313 yards and two touchdowns for a 116.7 passer rating in the Packers’ 27-13 win at Philadelphia.

The performance marked the 15th time in Rodgers’ career in which he attempted at least 30 passes and completed at least 75 percent of his throws, the fifth-most in NFL history.

The players with the most career games of at least 30 pass attempts and a completion percentage of 75 or higher:

PLAYER – CAREER GAMES WITH 30+ PASS ATTEMPTS AND 75+ COMPLETION PERCENTAGE
Drew Brees – 40
Peyton Manning – 26
Brett Favre – 17^
Matt Ryan – 16
Aaron Rodgers – 15
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

HISTORIC HILL: Kansas City rookie wide receiver Tyreek Hill had three touchdowns in the Chiefs’ 30-27 overtime victory at Denver. Hill scored on a three-yard run, a three-yard reception and an 86-yard kickoff-return.

Hill is the first player since Pro Football Hall of Famer Gale Sayers in 1965 to have a rush touchdown, receiving touchdown and kickoff-return touchdown in the same game. Sayers, who was a rookie in 1965, accomplished the feat on October 17 at Minnesota.

GLORIOUS GINN: You’ve not seen nothing like the Mighty Ginn… Carolina wide receiver Ten Ginn, Jr. had 115 receiving yards, including a career-long 88-yard touchdown catch in the Panthers’ 35-32 loss at Oakland.

Ginn, who has an 87-yard punt-return touchdown and three 100+ yard kickoff-return touchdowns in his career, is the fourth player in NFL history to have a receiving touchdown, punt-return touchdown and kickoff-return touchdown of at least 85 yards each in his career, joining Robert Brooks, Steve Odom and Eddie Royal.

A WINNING COMBINATION: New England quarterback Tom Brady recorded his 200th career victory (including the postseason) in the Patriots’ 22-17 win at the New York Jets last week, tying Peyton Manning (200) for the most wins by a starting quarterback in NFL history.

With a victory against Los Angeles in Foxboro on Sunday, Brady would become the all-time wins leader (including playoffs) in league history.

The quarterbacks with the most career regular-season and postseason wins in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (CAREER WINS)
Tom Brady – New England (200)
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis and Denver (200)
Brett Favre – Atlanta, Green Bay, New York Jets and Minnesota (199)^
John Elway – Denver (162)^
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Brady (200-61, .766) owns the highest winning percentage among quarterbacks with at least 50 career starts since the 1970 merger. With a victory over the Rams this week, he would become the first quarterback in NFL history with a record 140 games over .500 at any point in his career.

The quarterbacks with the highest winning percentages since 1970 (minimum 50 starts):

PLAYER (SEASONS), W-L-T (PCT.)
Tom Brady (2000-present) 200-61-0 (.766)
Roger Staubach (1969-1979) 95-35-0 (731)^
Russell Wilson (2012-present) 60-24-1 (.712)
Joe Montana (1979-1994) 133-54-0 (.711)^
Peyton Manning (1998-2015) 200-92-0 (.685)
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

The Patriots enter Week 13 with a 9-2 record, tied with the Oakland Raiders (9-2) atop the AFC. With a win on Sunday, the Patriots would clinch their 14th consecutive season with at least 10 wins, the second-longest streak of 10-win seasons in NFL history. The 1983-1998 San Francisco 49ers (16) are the only franchise with more consecutive seasons with at least 10 victories.

The franchises with the most consecutive 10-win seasons in NFL history:

TEAM, SEASONS (CONSECUTIVE 10-WIN SEASONS)
San Francisco, 1983-1998 (16)
New England, 2003-2015 (13)*
Indianapolis, 2002-2010 (9)
*Active streak

PRESCOTT FINDING PAYDIRT: Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott leads NFL rookies in passing yards (2,835), touchdown passes (18) and passer rating (108.6).

The most touchdown passes by a rookie quarterback in his team’s first 12 games:

PLAYER, YEAR (TEAM, TOUCHDOWN PASSES)
Charlie Conerly, 1948 (New York Giants, 22)
Marcus Mariota, 2015 (Tennessee, 19)
Russell Wilson, 2012 (Seattle, 19)
Peyton Manning, 1998 (Indianapolis, 19)
Dak Prescott, 2016 (Dallas, 18)*
*Through 11 games

FITZ AMONG THE FINEST: Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald recorded four catches in the Cardinals’ 38-19 loss to Atlanta last week, bringing his career reception total to 1,096.

With seven catches against Washington on Sunday, Fitzgerald would surpass Pro Football Hall of Famers Cris Carter (1,101) and Marvin Harrison (1,102) for the third-most career receptions in NFL history.

The players with the most receptions in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (RECEPTIONS)
Jerry Rice – San Francisco, Oakland and Seattle (1,549)^
Tony Gonzalez – Kansas City and Atlanta (1,325)
Marvin Harrison – Indianapolis (1,102)^
Cris Carter – Philadelphia, Minnesota and Miami (1,101)^
Larry Fitzgerald – Arizona (1,096)
Tim Brown – Los Angeles, Oakland and Tampa Bay (1,094)^
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

THE COMEBACK KID: Don’t sleep on the Lions! Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford has engineered seven game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime in 2016, while helping the Lions become the first team in NFL history to record seven wins when trailing in the fourth quarter in the team’s first 11 games of a season.

With a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime at New Orleans on Sunday, Stafford would record the most such drives in a single season since the 1970 merger.

The most single-season game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime since 1970:

PLAYER – YEAR, TEAM (GAME-WINNING DRIVES IN 4TH QUARTER/OT)
Matthew Stafford – 2016, Detroit (7)*
Andrew Luck – 2012, Indianapolis (7)
Peyton Manning – 2009, Indianapolis (7)
Jake Delhomme – 2003, Carolina (7)
Peyton Manning – 1999, Indianapolis (7)
Jake Plummer – 1998, Arizona (7)
Don Majkowski – 1989, Green Bay (7)
Brian Sipe – 1979, Cleveland (7)
*Through 11 games

RACKING UP THE YARDS: New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees leads the NFL with 3,587 passing yards this season and has passed for at least 3,500 yards in 12 consecutive seasons, the second-longest streak in NFL history. Peyton Manning passed for 3,500+ yards in 13 consecutive seasons from 1998-2010.

With 413 passing yards on Sunday at home against Detroit, Brees would become the first quarterback in NFL history to record 4,000 passing yards through his team’s first 12 games of a season twice in his career, having also accomplished the feat in 2011.

The quarterbacks with at least 4,000 passing yards in their team’s first 12 games:

PLAYER, YEAR (TEAM – PASSING YARDS THROUGH TEAM’S 1ST 12 GAMES)
Peyton Manning, 2013 (Denver – 4,125)
Drew Brees, 2011 (New Orleans – 4,031)
Andrew Luck, 2014 (Indianapolis – 4,011)
Drew Brees, 2016 (New Orleans – 3,587)*
*Through 11 games

ICYMI: New England quarterback Tom Brady passed for 286 yards and two touchdowns – including the game-winner with 1:56 remaining in the fourth quarter – in the Patriots’ 22-17 win at the New York Jets. Including the postseason, Brady has 200 career victories, tied with Peyton Manning for the most in NFL history.

Brady has 60,229 career passing yards and became the fifth player in NFL history to reach 60,000 passing yards, joining Peyton Manning (71,940), Brett Farve (71,838), Drew Brees (64,490) and Dan Marino (61,361).

New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees passed for 310 yards with four touchdowns (139.6 passer rating) and rushed for a touchdown in the Saints’ 49-21 win over Los Angeles. Brees, who extended his NFL-record streak to 60 consecutive home games with a touchdown pass, has three career games with at least four touchdown passes and a rushing touchdown, the most in NFL history. Brees (30) is also the second quarterback in NFL history to reach 30 career games with at least four touchdown passes (Peyton Manning, 35).

This season, Brees has 30 touchdown passes and extended his NFL-record streak to nine consecutive seasons with at least 30 TD passes. Brees has nine career seasons with at least 30 touchdown passes, tied for the most in NFL history with Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Farve and Manning.

Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota threw two touchdown passes and had a 126.4 passer rating in the Titans’ 27-21 win at Chicago. Mariota, who is in his second season, has thrown multiple touchdown passes in eight consecutive games. That is the second-longest single-season streak in NFL history by a quarterback in his first two seasons, trailing only Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO’s streak of 10 games in 1984, his second season.

Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan passed for 269 yards and two touchdowns for a 106.1 passer rating in the Falcons’ 38-19 win over Arizona. Ryan is the first player in NFL history to pass for at least 200 yards in 50 consecutive games.

Arizona running back David Johnson had 161 scrimmage yards (103 receiving, 58 rushing) and a touchdown catch for the Cardinals. Johnson, who has gained at least 100 scrimmage yards in all 11 of Arizona’s games this season, joined Edgerin James (2000 and 2005) as the only players in NFL history with 100+ scrimmage yards in each of his team’s first 11 games of a season.

San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers passed for 242 yards and three touchdowns for a 116.3 passer rating in the Chargers’ 21-13 win at Houston. Rivers, who has 3,128 passing yards this season, recorded his 11th consecutive season with 3,000 passing yards, tied for the fourth-longest streak in NFL history. Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Farve (18), Peyton  Manning (13) and Drew Brees (13) are the only quarterbacks with longer streaks. Brees extended his streak to 13 consecutive seasons last week.

New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul had a career-high three sacks, a forced fumble and lived a linesman’s dream when he returned fumble 43 yards for a touchdown in the Giants’ 27-13 win at Cleveland. Pierre-Paul, who recorded his 50th career sack, is the first player with at least three sacks and a fumble-return touchdown of at least 40 yards in the same game since 1982, the first year individual sacks became an official statistic.

Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker converted all four of his field-goal attempts in the Ravens’ 19-14 win over Cincinnati. Tucker, who connected on field goals of 57, 54 and 52 yards in the first half, is the first player in NFL history with three field goals of at least 50 yards in the first half of a game. His three 50+ yard field goals are tied for the most ever in a game and Tucker is the ninth player in league annals to accomplish the feat.

Dating back to last season, Tucker has successfully converted 34 consecutive field-goal attempts, the sixth-longest streak in NFL history. He is the only kicker in the NFL to make all of his field-goal attempts (27-for-27) this season (minimum 10 attempts).

As for last week… 12-4 (best.week.ever) For the year… 119-56.

Week 13 got underway in the Twin Cities as Minnesota hosted Dallas and ends Monday night in the Meadowlands as the Colts take on the New York Jets at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN. There’s also a huge Sunday night game in the Pacific Northwest as Seattle hosts Carolina in a NFC Divisional Playoffs rematch at 8:30 p.m. on NBC. Cleveland (0-11) and Tennessee (6-6) have byes this week and will return next Sunday.

Here are the Sunday and Monday picks for week 13.

Kansas City (8-3) at ATLANTA (7-4), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705. The Kansas City Chiefs travel to the Deep South for an early afternoon contest in the Big Peach, as they are hosted by Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia Dome.

Kansas City went down to the final two seconds of overtime in Denver and came away 30-27 winners over the defending Super Bowl champs. The Chiefs took a 9-3 lead with them to the locker room at the half, only to see Denver chip away in the second half, rallying to tie things back up when QB Alex Smith and WR Tyreek Hill connected on a 3-yard TD pass with 12 seconds left. In the overtime, it was the battle of the kickers as Denver’s Brian McMannus kicked a 44-yard field goal with 8:51 left in their first possession to take the lead. That lead would not last long as the Chiefs’ Chris Santos connected on a 37-yarder with 4:19 left. Denver then got the ball back but could not move the ball after nine plays. That allowed the Chiefs to get the ball back on the Denver side of the 50-yard line and Kansas City marched down the field, using a 4-play, 32-yard drive that used only 61 seconds, allowing Santos to slip the game-winner off the left upright but in for the win.

Denver actually outrushed Kansas City 124-83 and Trevor Siemian outpaced Smith in passing yardage 368-220. Siemian threw three TDs to Smith’s one (which tied the contest up) but both men combined for 11 sacks in the contest (Smith was sacked six times, Siemian sacked five) and neither man threw an interception.

Atlanta maintained first place in the NFC South after their 38-19 win over Arizona last Sunday in the Big Peach. Burning a  10-7 defecit faster than Sherman burned Atlanta, the Falcons re-tied the contest when Matt Bryant connected on a 45-yard field goal with 8:30 left before the half. Atlanta then took the lead back and for keeps when WR/RB Tyrell Gabriel caught the first of two TD passes from Ryan, a 34-yard romp to the end zone for the lead (he would add a 25-yarder in the fourth to all but ice the contest away). Atlanta led 17-13 at the half and never looked back against Arizona, while holding the Cardinals to 58 yards rushing and sacking Carson Palmer twice and picking him off once. Atlanta ran for 116 yards, while Ryan threw for 269 yards, despite being sacked three times.

Kansas City may lead the series 5-3 and they may have outscored the Falcons 206-154 but Atlanta has won the last two meetings, including a 40-24 win at Arrowhead in 2012, while the Chiefs’ last win in the series also came in the Show-Me State in 2004 by a final of 56-10.

The oddsmakers like the Falcons at home as 3 1/2 point favorites and the over/under’s 49 1/2. Both teams know they control their destinies and know that if they continue to play better, the post-season will be in their future. We know that this is the early game but we feel that this one is so “DRILL WORTHY,” it’s not even close to funny. With that… (For those of you that know what The Drill is, you are excused. Everyone else, pay attention. We don’t want any rookie mistakes here, k?) After you go to the 9:30 mass on Sunday (the 4:30 vigil mass on Saturday counts as a mass attended, people! Don’t make us send the nuns after you! If we do, it is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OVER!), head to your favorite store (a trip to Wal Mart, Target, K-Mart or Costco counts) and get the vittles and the beverages (soda, beer, wine, coffee, et al… if you live in a state that allows the purchase of the items in question) and invite the co-workers, the neighbors (including that really cute kindergarden teacher that knows what to do with a cover-2 defense) and your cousin Connie (remember her? She’s the one that’s been married twice that’s just turned 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?”

Chiefs make this one interesting but Atlanta continues to lay claim on first in the NFC South takes the win, even though they won’t cover the 3 1/2.

Miami (7-4) at Baltimore (6-5), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706. A much-improved Miami Dolphins team travels up I-95 for a meeting with the Baltimore Ravens as Ryan Tannehill and Joe Flacco meet at M&T Bank Stadium in Charm City.

Miami surpassed their win total from 2015 and survived a 31-24 scare from San Francisco last Sunday in the Sunshine State. Leading 24-14 after three quarters at Hard Rock Stadium, the Dolphins saw the 49ers rally to pull to within seven with 2:15 left in regulation on a 36-yard field goal by Pat Dawson. Miami then held off a late San Francsico rally in the final seconds of the game, stopping Colin Kaepernick, who ran for 113 yards and threw for 296 with three TDs, 2 yards short of the goal line that would have tied the contest and sent it to overtime. San Francisco outrushed Miami 193-95, while Tannehill threw for 285 yards and three TDs.

Baltimore held off Cincinnati 19-14 in Charm City last Sunday. The Ravens led 16-3 at the half before the Bengals made things interesting in the second half, outscoring Baltimore 11-3. Cincy would eventually narrow the score to within five as the clock struck :00 when Ravens punter Sam Koch ran out of the end zone for a safety. The contest was not much to watch as far as the running game was concerned, with neither club breaching the 100-yard barrier. However, Baltimore did win that battle, outrushing the Bengals 92-64 and Flacoo threw for 234 yards with a TD and an interception, while the Ravens defense sacked Andy Dalton three times.

While the Dolphins lead the series 6-5, the Ravens have outscored Miami 198-197. Miami won the last meeting with the Ravens last year in the Sunshine State by a final of 15-13, while Baltimore’s last win in the series also came in Miami, with the Ravens coming away 28-13 winners.

They met in week 13 at then-Sun Life Stadium (before yet another name change!) and Miami led 15-3 at the break before the Ravens rallied in the second half, shutting out the home team in the final 30 minutes of action. Tannehill struggled a bit in passing, throwing for only 86 yards but did not throw an interception, while Miami, led by Lamar Miller’s 113 yards, outrushed Baltimore 137-94 in the 2-point win, sacking Matt Schaub (308 yards, TD, two interceptions) three times. The Ravens did manage to win the time of possession battle, holding the ball for 38:09 to Miami’s 21:51.

Baltimore’s a 3 1/2 point favorite in Charm City and the over/under’s 41. Both numbers make a lot of sense. Both teams are bouncing back from bad seasons last year. Quote the Ravens… Baltimore wins in Charm City and covers the 3 1/2.

Houston (6-5) at Green Bay (5-6), 1 p.m. on and DirecTV 707. After a November Green Bay fans would like to forget, the Packers return to the land of beer, cheese and Bratwurst to face Brad Oswelier and the Houston Texans at Lambeau.

The Texans came out on the short end of a 21-13 loss to San Diego last Sunday in Houston. Houston trailed 14-7 at the half after they opened  the scoring on a 1-yard run by Oswelier with 11:11 left in the first half (the teams were scoreless at the end of the first quarter). Houston would narrow the gap to 8 with 14 seconds left when Nick Novak kicked a 45-yard field goal late in the game. Osweiler threw for 246 yards and had the one rushing TD but was picked off three times, while the Texans outrushed San Diego 114-67, with San Diego’s Philip Rivers burning the Texans for three TDs and 242 yards to take the win.

Green Bay ended a 4-game losing streak in their 27-13 over Philadelphia last Monday night. Backed by a pair of Rodgers’ TD passes, the Packers took a 14-10 lead at the break and never looked back. Rodgers threw for 313 yards with no sacks or interceptions, connecting with Davante Adams on both TD passes, while Philadelphia outrushed the Packers 81-74, sacking rookie QB Carson Wentz (254 yards) four times, picking him off once.

They’ve met only three times and the Packers have won two of those contests, with the last victory coming in the Lone Star State in 2012 by a final of 42-24, while Houston’s lone win in the series came at Lambeau in 2008 by a final of 24-21. Green Bay’s favored by 4 1/2 and the over/under’s 46 1/2. At the end of the day, both teams will be at the .500 mark. Packers may not cover the 4 1/2 but they win at home in Lambeau.

Denver (7-4) at Jacksonville (2-9), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708. The defending Super Bowl champs travel to north Florida for an early afternoon contest with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Jacksonville let a 21-20 lead at Buffalo get away from them as they fell to the Bills 28-21 in upstate New York. Buffalo took the lead back for good with 10:46 left in regulation when Tyrod Taylor (166 yards, five sacks) and Jerome Hunter connected on a 16-yard pass in the fourth quarter. Jacksonville actually outrushed the Bills 183-153 but Buffalo RB LeSean Mcoy led all rushers with 103 yards, a pair of TDs and a two-point conversion as part of the Hunter TD.

The defending Super Bowl champs took AFC West foe Kansas City to the final two seconds of overtime in Denver, coming up on the short end of a 30-27 loss to the Chiefs at Sports Authority Field. Denver trailed 9-3 at the half, then rallied to take the lead with 3:00 left on a Bennie Fowler TD pass from Siemian. That lead and Denver’s hopes of beating their AFC West rivals at home came crashing down, when Kansas City’s Alex Smith and WR Tyreek Hill hooked up on a 3-yard TD pass with 12 seconds left in regulation. From there, it was the kicking game that was the star of the show, as Denver’s Brian McManus (from 44 yards with 8:51 left in the OT) and Chris Santos (37-yarder with 4:19 left) each connected on field goals to keep the contest tied up. Denver then failed in their possession of the ball, moving the pigskin only to their 48-yard line, which allowed Kansas City to march down the field. The Chiefs wasted very little time, using only four plays, 32 yards and 61 seconds to allow Santos to kick the game winner with 2 seconds left.

The bright side for Broncos fans? The defending champs actually outrushed Kansas City 124-83 and Siemian outpaced Smith in passing yardage 368-220. Siemian threw three TDs to Smith’s one (which tied the contest up) but both men combined for 11 sacks in the contest (Smith was sacked six times, Siemian sacked five) and neither man threw an interception.

Jacksonville leads the series with Denver 5-4 but Denver has outscored the Jaguars 201-178. Denver’s last win came in 2013 in the Mile High City by a final of 35-19, while Jacksonville’s last win in the series with the Broncos came in 2010 in the Sunshine State by a 24-17 count.

Denver’s favored by 5 and the over/under’s 42. While the Broncos are looking to repeat as champs, the Jaguars are all but on life support and need to win out and get some help in the process. Denver will look to put Jacksonville out of their misery and take the win on the road, covering the 5 in the process.

San Francisco (1-10) at Chicago (2-9), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 709. A pair of struggling clubs mired in last place in their respective divisions meet in the Windy City as Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers meet at Soldier Field for an early afternoon contest with Da Bears.

San Francisco and Kaepernick came up on the short end of a 31-24 loss to Miami last Sunday in the Sunshine State. The 49ers trailed 24-14 after three quarters at Hard Rock Stadium, before they would rally in the final 15 minutes of play, coming to within seven points on a 36-yard field goal by Pat Dawson wiht 2:15 left in regulation. San Francisco fans then saw their hopes for either tying things up or winning on the East Coast dashed as Kaepernick was stopped two yards shy of the end zone. San Francisco fans had a couple of bright sides. First, Kaepernick rani for 113 yards and threw for 296 with three TDs. Secondly, Miami outrushed the “Fins 193-952 yards short of the goal line that would have tied the contest and sent it to overtime. San Francisco outrushed Miami 193-95, while Tannehill threw for 285 yards and three TDs.

Da Bears’ saw their playoff hopes all but go into hibernation as they fell to Tennessee 27-21 at Soldier Field last Sunday. Trailing the Marcus Mariota-led Titans 21-7 at the half, Chicago managed to get off the deck, using a pair of TD passes from Matt Barkley in the final quarter of play, connecting with WRs Marquess Wilson and Deonte Thompson to make it a 7-point game with 3:06 left to play in regulation. Chicago then had a chance to send the game into overtime and got the ball all the way to the Titans’ 7-yard line before four Barkley passes fell incompelete. While the Titans outrushed Chicago 149-95, Barkley outpassed Mariota (2 TDs) 316-226, throwing three TDs but also threw three interceptions.

The series? Tied 30-30-1 and San Francisco has outscored Da Bears 1,365-1,249. They met in the Windy City last year and the 49ers escaped Chicago with a 26-20 overtime win at Soldier Field (Chicago’s last win in the series came at Candlestick Park, coming away 28-20 winners). The two clubs entered halftime tied at 13-13 at Soldier Field and stayed tied at the end of regulation when Blake Gabbert, subbing for Kapernick, scrambled for a 44-yard TD run with 1:42 left. Both teams got the ball in overtime and both clubs failed in their first attempt. San Francisco then decided to get things over and done with in their second possession, when Gabbert and WR Torrey Smith connected on a 71-yard TD pass with 12:50 in the extra period for the win. Chicago outrushed San Francisco 170-121 and Jay Cutler outpaced Gabbert 202-196 (Gabbert was sacked four times, Cutler intercepted once) and Da Bears ruled the clock, holding the ball for 37:24, while the 49ers kept the pigskin for 24:46.

Da Bears are favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under’s 43 1/2. Take a pass on this one and watch that “NCIS” marathon on USA (Ziva smacking Tony over the head is pretty darn funny) or beg the wife, girlfriend or significant other to take you shopping at Victoria’s Secret. Chicago covers the 2 1/2 and wins in the Windy City.

Philadelphia (5-6) at Cincinnati (3-7-1), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710. A pair of teams with young arms meet in Cincinnati as the Bengals return home to face off against the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Eagles dropped a 27-13 decision against Green Bay last Monday night in Philadelphia. The good news was that the Eagles outrushed Green Bay 81-74. The bad news? Wentz was sacked four times and picked off once, throwing for 254 yards, while Packers QB Aaron Rodgers threw for 313 yards with a pair of TD passes to WR Davante Adams, with no sacks or interceptions in the City of Brotherly Love.

The Bengals’ woes continue as they fell to Baltimore 19-14 last Sunday. Baltimore led 16-3 at the half before the Bengals made things interesting in the second half, outscoring Baltimore 11-3. Cincy would eventually narrow the score to within five as the clock struck :00 when Ravens punter Sam Koch ran out of the end zone for a safety. If you were looking for rushing in the contest, forget it. It wasn’t much to talk about as neither team crossed the 100-yard barrier and the Ravens outrushed Cincinnati 92-64 and Flacoo threw for 234 yards with a TD and an interception, while the Ravens defense sacked Andy Dalton (283 yards) three times.

Cincy leads the series 8-3-1, have outscored the Eagles 328-208 and won two of the last three contests (the lone tie came in the Queen City in 2008 with both teams winding up tied 13-13). The Bengals’ last win came in the City of Brotherly Love in 2012 by a final of 34-13, while the Eagles came away 16-7 winners in 2000 in the City of Brotherly Love. Philadelphia’s favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under is 41 1/2. Philadelphia is looking to get back in the NFC East hunt, while the Bengals are struggling to keep their somewhat slim playoff hopes alive. Happy Hunting! Eagles take it to the limit in Cincy and covers the 2 1/2.

Los Angeles (4-7) at New England (9-2), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. The Rams make their way east for a showdown in western Massachusetts with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

The Rams fell to New Orleans 49-21 in the Big Easy last Sunday. Los Angeles kept things close, trailing the Saints 28-21 at the intermission before New Orleans and Drew Brees went on a 21-0 second half run uncontested. New Orleans outrushed the Rams 209-69 (the Saints’ Mark Ingram led all rushers with 146 yards and a TD), while rookie QB Jared Goff, making his second start, was sacked three times, throwing for 214 yards (Brees threw for 310 yards and four TDs and had a rushing TD of his own).

New England returns to Foxboro after they defeated the New York Jets 22-17 in the Meadowlands last Sunday. The Pats broke a 10-10 tie at the half at MetLife Stadium to take the AFC East win. Tom Brady and rookie WR Malcolm Mitchell connected for the game-winning TD with 1:56 left in regulation after the Pats trailed 17-16 late in the fourth quarter. Brady (286 yards) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (269 yards) threw a pair of TDs in the late afternoon contest in upstate New Jersey and neither man threw an interception.

The Pats lead the series 6-5 (which includes contests that took place in Los Angeles and St. Louis) and have outscored the Rams 248-205. New England’s last win in the series came in 2012 on the other side of the Atlantic, taking a 45-7 win in London, while the Rams’ last victory came in Foxboro, when the club was based in St. Louis by a final of 2001 by a final of 24-17. New England’s favored by 13 1/2 (that’s not a misprint!) and the over/under is 44 1/2. The 44 1/2 makes sense. It’s the 13 1/2 that doesn’t. New England has been known to struggle against lesser opponents, while the Rams have somehow kept themselves in contests, even with the seven losses under their belts. New England wins this one but it won’t be as much as 13 1/2.

Detroit (7-4) at New Orleans (5-6), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 712. Brees vs. Stafford. A pair of top QBs meet in the Big Easy as the Lions, kings of the NFC North mountain, travel to New Orleans for a meeting with Drew Brees and the Saints, sitting in third place in the NFC South behind Atlanta.

Detroit took the Lions’ share of first place in the NFC North by a final of 16-13 at Ford Field against Minnesota in a key NFC North matchup Thanksgiving Day. Detroit trailed 13-10 thanks to a 28-yard field goal by Minnesota’s Kirk Horvath with 12:38 left to play. The Viking lead would not last long as Detroit’s Matt Prather connected on a 48-yard field goal with 1:45 left in regulation to tie the contest. Minnesota then tried to march down the field but the drive fell apart when Detroit’s Darius Slay picked off Sam Bradford with 30 seconds left. That would be all the momentum that Detroit would need as they used only two plays and two yards, using all 30 seconds to allow Prather to kick the game-winning field goal as the clock struck :00. Bradford threw for 224 yards and had the interception that cost them the contest. Neither club breached the 100-yard barrier in the Thanksgiving Day affair and Detroit managed to outrush Minnesota 94-82 in the NFC North contest.

New Orleans manhandled Los Angeles 49-21 in the Big Easy last Sunday. The visting Rams kept things close, trailing the Saints 28-21 at the intermission before New Orleans and Brees went on a 21-0 second half run uncontested. Brees threw for 310 yards and four TDs and had a rushing TD of his own as New Orleans outrushed the Rams 209-69 (the Saints’ Mark Ingram led all rushers with 146 yards and a TD). The Saints defense was not all that kind to rookie QB Jared Goff (making his second start) as he was sacked three times, throwing for 214 yards with an interception.

The series between the two domed teams is tied 11-11-1 and the Saints have outscored Detroit 472-418. Detroit, on the other hand, has won the last two contests, including a 35-27 win in the Big Easy last year (New Orleans’ last win over Detroit came in 2011 by a 31-17 final in the Big Easy).

They met in the Big Easy in week 15 and Detroit led 21-3 at the half in the SuperDome before Brees and the Saints rallied to make the contest closer, outscoring the Lions 24-14 in the last 30 minutes of action. Both Brees (341 yards) and Stafford (254 yards) threw three TDs in the contest and Detroit outrushed the Saints 150-69 (Stafford was sacked three times, while Brees was sacked once).

The Saints are favored by 5 1/2 and the over/under’s 53 1/2. While this one’s not exactly “DRILL WORTHY,” it’s still a pretty good contest to watch. Detroit makes it close but Saints take the win in the Big Easy.

Buffalo (6-5) at Oakland (9-2), 4:05 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 713. A pair of teams that had close wins last Sunday at home meet in northern California for a late afternoon affair when Buffalo travels west to face off against the Oakland Raiders.

The Bills erased a 21-20 deficit against Jacksonville last Sunday in Orchard Park and came away 28-21 winners in upstate Noew York. Buffalo circled the wagons and took the lead back for good with 10:46 left in regulation when Tyrod Taylor (166 yards, five sacks) and Jerome Hunter connected on a 16-yard pass in the fourth quarter. Buffalo was outrushed by Jacksonville 183-153 in the 1-point win but Buffalo RB LeSean Mcoy led all rushers with 103 yards, a pair of TDs and a two-point conversion as part of the Hunter TD.

Carolina scored four TDs in 12:07 of the second half but it wasn’t enough as the defending NFC champs fell to Oakland 35-32 on the West Coast. The Panthers and Newton trailed 24-7 at the half before taking the lead, scoring three TDs in the third quarter, two of them from RB Jonathan Stewart but missed all three point after tries. Newton threw for 246 yards, throwing for a pair of TDs and ran for two TDs of his own. Carolina outrushed Oakland 129-55, while David Carr threw for 315 yards and a pair of TDs, despite dislocating a finger on his throwing hand. Oakland eventually evened the score at 32-32 with 8:37 left in the final quarter when Carr and TE Clive Walford connected on a 12-yard TD pass and took the lead for good when K Sebastian Janikowski connected on his second field goal of the day, a 23-yarder with 1:45 left to play. For Janikowski, the second field goal was the 200th of his career at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

Including contests that were played at old War Memorial Stadium and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Raiders lead series 20-17 and the Silver and Black have outscored Buffalo 855-778. Oakland won the last meeting with the Bills, coming away 26-24 winners on the West Coast in 2014, while the Bills’ last win came in Orchard Park in 2011 by a final of 38-35. Oakland’s favored by 3 and the over/under’s 50. Both numbers make a lot of sense and both teams are a lot better than what they were last year. Oakland “just wins, baby” and covers the 3.

Washington (6-4-1) at Arizona (4-6-1), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 714. A pair of teams looking to return to the post-season party limp into he desert as Washington takes on the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Washington fell to Dallas 31-26 last Thursday in Arlington in an NFC East showdown. Although the ‘Skins trailed 17-6 at the intermission, they managed to rally late in the second half, outscoring Dallas in the last 30 minutes of play 20-14. Kirk Cousins burned the Cowboys for 449 yards and three TDs, easily outpacing Dallas rookie QB Dak Prescott, who had 195 yards and a passing TD. (Prescott had a rushing TD in the contest for the Cowboys). The contest was not without some controversy as Dallas WR Dez Bryant and Washington CB Josh Norman exchanged words and got into each other’s faces during the game and after the game was over.

Arizona got their wings clipped in Atlanta last Sunday, falling to the Falcons 38-19 in the Big Peach. The Desert Angry Birds let a 10-7 lead get away from them as Atlanta re-tied the contest when Matt Bryant connected on a 45-yard field goal with 8:30 left before the half. Atlanta then took the lead back and for keeps when WR/RB Tyrell Gabriel caught the first of two TD passes from Ryan, a 34-yard romp to the end zone for the lead (he would add a 25-yarder in the fourth to all but ice the contest away). Atlanta led 17-13 at the half and never looked back against Arizona, while the Cardinals found themselves being held to 58 yards rushing, with Carson Palmer being sacked ttwice and picked off once. Atlanta ran for 116 yards, while Ryan threw for 269 yards, despite being sacked three times.

Washington leads the series 74-45-2 (which includes contests that were played in Boston when the Redskins were known as the Braves and the Cardinals called Chicago and St. Louis home) and the defending NFC East champs have outscored the Desert Angry Birds 2,687-2,254. Arizona won the last meeting in 2014 in the desert by a 30-20 count, while the ‘Skins were 22-21 winners in Landover in 2011.

Arizona’s favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under is 49 1/2. Both numbers make a lot of sense. Arizona’s trying to keep its head above the bird bath and catch Seattle in the NFC West, while the ‘Skins are trying to catch Dallas in the NFC East. “Hail To The Redskins!” Washington pulls the upset in the desert and covers the 2 1/2.

New York Giants (8-3) at Pittsburgh (6-5), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 715. Eli. Ben. Manning. Roethlisberger. The two Super Bowl winning QBs and their teams meet in western Pennsylvania as the Steelers host the New York Giants at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

The Giants, led by rookie had coach Ben McAdoo, have won six consecutive games and have the NFC’s second-best record at 8-3. Last week, the Giants knocked off the Browns 27-13 at Cleveland. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul had a career-high three sacks, a forced fumble and a 43-yard fumble-return touchdown in the win. He is the first player with at least three sacks and a 40+ yard fumble-return touchdown in the same game since 1982, the first year individual sacks became an official statistic. New York led the winless Browns 14-6 at the half along the shores of Lake Erie as Odell Beckham Jr. and Manning connected on a pair of TDs. Big Blue outrushed Cleveland 104-58 and Manning threw for 194 yards and three TDs, while Cleveland’s Josh McCown threw for 322 yards with a TD but was sacked seven times.

Pittsburgh manhandled Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium 28-7 Thanksgiving night in the Hoosier State. The Steelers, who led 21-7 at the half, shut out the Colts in the final 30 minutes of action as Roethlisberger and WR Antonio Brown connected on three TD passes and RB LeVeon Bell ran for 120 yards and scored the game’s first TD from five yards out. Pittsburgh outrushed the Colts 148-91 and picked off backup QB Scott Tolzien (in for Andrew Luck – concussion) twice and sacked him three times.

The Giants lead the series 44-29-3 (which includes games played at Yankee Stadium and during the years of the 2nd World War when the Steelers were known as the Pittsburgh Pirates) and have outscored the Steelers 1,500-1,270. Pittsburgh won the last meeting between the clubs, when they came to the Meadowlands a week after Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012 and came away 24-20, while New York’s last win came in 2008 in the Steel City by a final of 21-14.

Pittsburgh’s favored by 6 and the over/under’s 49 1/2. These are numbers we can live with. Both QBs are capable of reaching the over/under by halftime. Steelers keep pace with Baltimore in the Steel City and covers the 6.

Tampa Bay (6-5) at San Diego (5-6), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 716. Winston vs. Rivers. They meet in southern California as the Buccaneers pay the San Diego Chargers a late afternoon visit to Qualcomm Stadium.

Tampa Bay pulled to one game over the .500 mark and kept pace with NFC South foe Atlanta as they took a 14-5 win over Seattle at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs on the strength of a pair of Jameis Winston TD passes to WR Mike Evans gave them a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter before Seattle broke Tampa’s bid for a shutout, as they got their points thanks to a safety and a 43-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka with 10:39 left before halftime and the teams then went on to play scoreless football in the final 30 minutes of play. While Seattle did outrush Tampa Bay 127-117, Winston threw for 220 yards with the pair of TDs and an interception, while Russell Wilson threw for 151 yards, while being sacked six times and picked off twice.

The Bolts were 21-13 winners in Houston last Sunday. San Diego trailed 14-7 at the half after the Texanas opened the scoring on a 1-yard run by Oswelier with 11:11 left in the first half (the teams were scoreless at the end of the first quarter). Houston would narrow the gap to 8 with 14 seconds left when Nick Novak kicked a 45-yard field goal late in the game. Houston managed to outrushed San Diego 114-67 but Rivers burned the Texans for 242 yards and three TDs, while Osweiler threw for 246 yards and had the one rushing TD but was picked off three times.

San Diego leads the series 8-2 and the Bolts have outscored the Bucs 279-184. Tampa Bay won the last meeting in the series, coming away 34-24 winners in the Sunshine State, while San Diego were 41-24 winners in the Sunshine State in 2008. San Diego’s favored by 4 1/2 and the over/under’s 48. While this one is not a great game to watch, it’ll be a decent one. San Diego wins this one but expect Tampa Bay to make it closer than 4 1/2.

Carolina (4-7) at Seattle (7-3-1), 8:30 p.m. on NBC. Carolina and Cam Newton make their way up I-5 to face off against Seattle and Russell Wilson in the land of grunge, Salmon and Starbucks.

The defending NFC champs let a 32 24 lead at Oakland get away from them as they fell to the Raiders 35-32 on the West Coast. Carolina and Newton trailed 24-7 at the half before taking the lead, scoring three TDs in the third quarter, two of them from RB Jonathan Stewart but missed all three point after tries. Newton threw for 246 yards, throwing for a pair of TDs and ran for two TDs of his own. Carolina outrushed Oakland 129-55, while David Carr threw for 315 yards and a pair of TDs, despite dislocating a finger on his throwing hand. Oakland eventually evened the score at 32-32 with 8:37 left in the final quarter when Carr and TE Clive Walford connected on a 12-yard TD pass and took the lead for good when K Sebastian Janikowski connected on his second field goal of the day, a 23-yarder with 1:45 left to play.

For Seattle, who outrushed Tampa Bay 127-118, they played in their third game without scoring a TD and once again, the Seahawks lost, this time at Tampa Bay 14-5 at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay led 14-0 on a pair of first quarter TD passes from Jameis Winston to WR Mike Evans before Seattle got their points thanks to a safety and a 43-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka with 10:39 left before halftime and the teams then went on to play scoreless football in the final 30 minutes of play. Winston threw for 220 yards with the pair of TDs and an interception, while Russell Wilson threw for 151 yards, while being sacked six times and picked off twice.

The Seahawks lead the series 5-3 and have outscored the defending NFC champs 131-125. They’ve met four times in the last two seasons (once in the regular season and once in the postseason) and each team has taken wins in the last two meetings. Seattle’s last win in regular season play came in 2014 in Charlotte by a 13-9 final and they came away 31-17 winners in the NFC Divisional Playoffs that year. Carolina won the two meetings last year, taking a 27-23 win in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks and a 31-24 win in the Tar Heel State in last year’s NFC Divisonal Playoffs.

Round one … Seattle in week six. The Seahawks led 10-3 at the intermission at CenturyLink Field, before Newton and the Panthers rallied in the second half to come away winners on the West Coast. Carolina outrscored Seattle 20-10 in the final 30 minutes of action on the road and held off a late Seattle rally for the win. Carolina outrushed Seattle 135-115 and Newton, who ran for a TD, outpassed Wilson 269-241, with both men combining for seven TD passes (three by Newton, who was picked off four times, four by Wilson)

That was round one….

Round two … Charlotte at Bank of America Stadium in the NFC Divisonal Playoffs. Carolina led 31-0 at the intermission and then needed to hold off Seattle in the second half, as the Seahawks owned the final 30 minutes of play in the Tar Heel State but still came out on the short end of the 31-24 loss. Wilson (366 yards, two interceptions) threw three TDs in the rematch to Newtown’s one (Newton threw for 161 yards), while RB Jonathan Stewart ran for 106 yards and a pair of TDs as Carolina outrushed Seattle 144-78.

Seattle’s favored by 6 1/2 and the over/under’s 44 1/2. The Panthers are trying to keep pace with Atlanta in the NFC South, while the Seahawks want to stay king of the mountain in the NFC West. Long live the king. Seattle wins this one in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks but expect Carolina to make it closer than the 6 1/2.

Indianapolis (5-6) at New York Jets (3-8), 8:30 p.m. Monday on ESPN. Week 13 closes out in upstate New Jersey as a pair of teams, trying to make the playoffs, meet in the light. Andrew Luck and the Indiapolis Colts pay a visit to MetLife Stadium for a Monday night contest with the New York Jets.

For Indianapolis, it was not a good Thursdsay night at Lucas Oil Stadium as they fell to Pittsburgh and Ben Roethlisberg 28-7 Thanksgiving night. The Steelers took a 21-7 lead at the half, then shut out the Colts in the final 30 minutes of action as Roethlisberger and WR Antonio Brown connected on three TD passes and RB LeVeon Bell ran for 120 yards and scored the game’s first TD from five yards out. The Colts were led by backup QB Scott Tolzien, who took over for Andrew Luck (concusssion) and got their only score of the contest when he and WR Donte Moncrief connected on a 5-yard TD pass in the second quarter. Pittsburgh outrushed the Colts 148-91 and Tolzien was picked off twice and sacked three times.

The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! fell to AFC East foe New England 22-17 in the Meadowlands last Sunday. New England broke a 10-10 tie at the half at MetLife Stadium to take the win. New England outrushed GangGreen 91-64 and Tom Brady and rookie WR Malcolm Mitchell connected for the game-winning TD with 1:56 left in regulation after GangGreen led 17-16 late in the fourth quarter. Brady (286 yards) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (269 yards) threw a pair of TDs in the late afternoon contest in upstate New Jersey and neither man threw an interception.

The Colts lead the series 40-28 (which includes contests played in Baltimore and at Shea Stadium) but GangGreen has outscored the Colts 1,403-1,366 and have won the last three regular season meetings, including a 20-7 win in the Hoosier State (ironically on a Monday night) (The Colts’ last win in the series came in 2006 in the Meadowlands, when they were led by Peyton Manning, coming away 31-28 winners).

GangGreen led 10-0 at the half at Lucas Oil Stadium and after a scoreless third quarter, turned on the afterburners when WR Brandon Marshall and Fitzpatrick connected on a 15-yard TD pass and K Nick Folk iced the game away with a 46-yard field goal with 56 seconds left (Indy’s lone score came in the fourth, when Luck and WR Donte Moncrief connected on a 26-yard strike to open the scoring in the fourth). While the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! outrushed Indy 101-93, Luck outpassed Fitzpatrick 250-244 but was picked off three times (Fitpatrick was picked off once and was sacked once).

On Monday night, the Colts are 22-16 but lost their two MNF contests last year, while the Jets fell to 21-30 with their 28-3 loss to Arizona in week six. The Colts are favored by 1 and the over/under’s 49 1/2. If for some reason you decide that watching “Two Broke Girls” and “Scorpion” is a better idea, we’ll understand. Colts crash the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! in the Meadowlands and covers the 1.