Archives for category: Thanksgiving

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.

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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.

It’s Thanksgiving.

It’s time for your Aunt Katie’s mashed potato casserole.

It’s time to listen to your brother-in-law’s bad jokes for the 10,000,000th time.

It’s time to sit at the kid’s table with that cousin you can’t stand.

It’s also time for football.

The NFL’s annual football feast gets underway Thursday as play in week 12 gets started. While there’s football on the field and food on the table, there’s also playoff spots on the line as well.

Three games. Not one. Not Two.

Three.

Think of it as “Black Friday” for football fans.

It’s a short week for six teams that will take the field Thursday afternoon and evening and all six teams are or have a share of first place in their respective divisions.

An early game as the appetizer takes place in the Motor City as Minnesota takes on Detroit in as first place is on the line in the NFC North. Then, in the middle of the afternoon, it’s your chance to go for seconds (food and football wise) as a pair of NFC East foes meet in a week two rematch in Arlington. Game number three (yes, there’s a third game) can be thought of as taking home leftovers or dessert as Pittsburgh travels to Indy for a late evening primetime AFC contest in the Hoosier State.

ICYMI (Thanksgiving Edition): Last year, Detroit’s Matthew Stafford set a team record with five touchdown passes on Thanksgiving in Detroit’s 45-14 win over Philadelphia and became the first quarterback in team history to throw for five touchdowns with no interceptions in a game. Detroit defensive end Ezekiel Ansah tied a Thanksgiving Day record with 3.5 sacks in the victory.

The Lions have won their past three Thanksgiving Day games by a combined score of 119-41. In six career games on Thanksgiving Day, Stafford has passed for 1,987 yards (331.2 per game), the third-most in NFL history. He aims for his fifth consecutive Thanksgiving game with at least 330 passing yards.

The players with the most career passing yards and touchdown passes on Thanksgiving:

PASSING YARDS

PLAYER, TEAM (GAMES – PASSING YARDS)
Tony Romo, Dallas (10 – 2,338)*
Troy Aikman, Dallas (10 – 2,174)^
Matthew Stafford, Detroit (6 – 1,987)*
Danny White, Dallas (10 – 1,545)
Bart Starr, Green Bay (8 – 1,345)^
*Active
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

TOUCHDOWN PASSES

PLAYER, TEAM (GAMES – TOUCHDOWN PASSES)
Tony Romo, Dallas (10 – 18)*
Matthew Stafford, Detroit (6 – 14)*
Bobby Layne, Detroit (8 – 14)^
Danny White, Dallas (10 – 14)
Troy Aikman, Dallas (10 – 11)^
Brett Favre, Green Bay (4 – 11)^
*Active
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Tight end Jason Witten, who will play in his 14th Thanksgiving Day game this week, has 70 catches on the holiday, the most all-time. His 776 receiving yards trail only Herman Moore (834) for the most on Thanksgiving.

The most career receptions and receiving yards on Thanksgiving:

RECEPTIONS

PLAYER – TEAM (GAMES, RECEPTIONS)
Jason Witten – Dallas (13, 70)*
Calvin Johnson – Detroit (9 -55)
Herman Moore – Detroit (10 – 51)
Michael Irvin – Dallas (10 – 49)^
Emmitt Smith – Dallas (13 – 42)^

*Active
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

RECEIVING YARDS

PLAYER – TEAM (GAMES, RECEIVING YARDS)
Herman Moore – Detroit (10, 834)
Jason Witten – Dallas (13, 776)*
Calvin Johnson – Detroit (9, 769)
Michael Irvin – Dallas (10, 722)^
Tony Hill – Dallas (9, 622)

*Active
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

For generations of Americans, the tradition of Thanksgiving Day and NFL football are historically intertwined.

On Thanksgiving in 1925, a crowd of 36,000 – then the largest in professional football history – watched the Chicago Bears play the Chicago Cardinals to a scoreless tie at Wrigley Field. In 1934, the Detroit Lions and the defending world champion Bears squared off on Thanksgiving in the first NFL game nationally broadcast, with NBC radio on the call. This year, the three holiday games will be played inside stadiums with a combined capacity of over 200,000 and will be aired to millions across the country and around the world.

The 2016 installment of Thanksgiving Day football will feature a tripleheader for the 11th consecutive season.

All six teams playing on Thanksgiving have a .500 or better record. It is only the second time in NFL history – and first since 1935 – in which the Thanksgiving schedule has at least three games and every team has a .500 or better record.

1935 THANKSGIVING GAMES – New York Giants (6-3) at Brooklyn Dodgers (5-4), Green Bay Packers (7-3) at Chicago Cardinals (5-3-1), Chicago Bears (5-3-1) at Detroit Lions (5-3-2)

2016 THANKSGIVING GAMES – Minnesota Vikings (6-4) at Detroit Lions (6-4), Washington Redskins (6-3-1) at Dallas Cowboys (9-1), Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5) at Indianapolis Colts (5-5)

And, for only the third time in the past 20 years, every team playing on Thanksgiving won its preceding game (1998 and 2011).

Be sure to say grace before you eat (you can even pray that the turkey your cousin Sarah made doesn’t kill you), wear the stretchy pants, mind your table manners and get ready to watch some football.

Here are the games for Thursday’s action in week 12.

Minnesota (6-4) at Detroit (6-4), 12:30 p.m. on CBS. They meet again. This time, first place in the NFC North is on the line. Minnesota and Detroit take the field in the Thursday afternoon Thanksgiving Day opener in a week nine rematch, with the setting this time being Ford Field in downtown Detroit.

Both teams took wins at home last Sunday. The Vikings got a 100-yard interception return from Xavier Rhodes and a 104-yard kickoff retrun from WR/KR Cordarrelle Patterson to take a 30-24 win over Arizona in Minneapolis last Sunday. Minnesota, who forced two turnovers, picking off Carson Palmer twice, led 20-17 at the half at U.S. Bank Stadium before the Vikings opened the second half scoring with the long return. Although Sam Bradford threw for 169 yards and a TD, it was the Cardinals running game that almost stole the show as Arizona would outrush Minnesota 135-72 (with David Johnson accounting for 103).

Once again, the Lions found themselves trailing at home and this time against Jacksonville and managed to come away 26-19 winners at Ford Field. Although they were tied with the Jaguars 9-9 at the break, Detroit found themselves on the short end of a 19-16 tally after 45 minutes of play, before they would go on to score the last 10 points of the game in the fourth quarter and do it unchallenged. TE Eric Ebron gave Detroit the lead back on a 1-yard run with 10:03 left to play and K Matt Prater added a 43-yard field goal with 22 seconds left to ice the contest away. The contest as far as rushing yardage was concerned? Not a lot to write about, as neither team came anywhere near the 100-yard barrier (Jacksonville did manage to outrush Detroit 83-14). Matthew Stafford’s 278 yards in the air was good enough to outpace Blake Bortles, who threw for 202 yards with a pair of TDs (Jacksonville sacked Stafford three times, while the Lions picked off Bortles twice).

They met in week nine in the Twin Cities and the Lions needed overtime at US Bank Stadium to come away 22-16 winners. Detroit led 10-3 at the intermission in the Land of 10,000 Lakes before the Vikings took the lead on a 1-yard TD run by Rhett Ellison with 23 seconds left in regulation. Minnesota’s lead did not last very long as Prather would send the contest into overtime with a 58-yard field goal as the clock struck :00. Detroit then won the toss in overtime and went to work on the Vikings and proceeded to use an 11-play, 87-yard drive that ate 6:39 of clock to take the win when Stafford and WR Golden Tate connected on a 28-yard TD pass with 8:21 left in the extra period. Neither club in the first meeting breached the 100-yard barrier but Detroit did manage to outrush Minnesota 97-78, while Stafford threw for 219 yards with a pair of TDs, while Sam Bradford threw for 273 yards with a TD but was sacked twice.

The Lions have won their last three games on Turkey Day, taking a 45-14 win over Philadelphia last year and overall, the Lions are 36-38-2. Minnesota on Turkey Day? 5-1, with their last win coming in 2000 when they beat Dallas 27-15 in Irving. The Vikings have played Detroit three times on Thanksgiving Day, all in the Motor City and they come away winners in two of those contests (Minnesota’s last meeting with Detroit came in 1995 and the Lions were 44-38 winners, while the Vikings’ last win came in 1998, when they shut out the Lions 23-0).

In the week nine contest in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, the Vikings were favored by 5 and the over/under was 42 1/2. Detroit covered the spread, winning by 6 but both clubs combined for 38 points, missing the over/under. In the Thanksgiving Day rematch in the Motor City, the oddsmakers like the Lions (wonder if they like dark meat?) as 2 1/2 point favorites with a 43 over/under. First place on the line… a pair of NFC North rivals going at it… Detroit may not cover the 2 1/2 at home but they win in the Motor City.

Washington (6-3-1) at Dallas (9-1), 4:30 p.m. on FOX. Capulets vs. Montagues. Dogs vs. Cats. Hatfields vs. McCoys. The NFC East feud travels to the Lone Star State and the first-place Cowboys play host to the defending NFC East champs in Arlington in a week two rematch.

Both teams took wins at home last Sunday afternoon as they enter the late Thanksgiving afternoon contest at JerryWorld (aka AT&T Stadium). Washington took apart a struggling Green Bay team last Sunday night in Landover 42-24. Washington led the Aaron Rodgers-led Packers 13-10 and outscored the Packers 29-14 the rest of the contest. Redskins RB Robert Kelly ran for 137 yards and three TDs in the Sunday night affair at FedEx Field, while Washington held Green Bay to 84 rushing yards. Kirk Cousins threw for 375 yards, while Rodgers had 351 for Green Bay (both men threw three TDs and both were sacked twice).

Dallas manhandled Baltimore 27-17 in Arlington Sunday afternoon. The Cowboys erased a 7-0 lead after the first quarter and broke a 10-10 tie at the intermission to take the win in the Lone Star State. Dak Prescott and all-Pro WR Dez Bryant connected on a pair of TD passes in the second half to help them take their ninth win in a row. Dallas outrushed Baltimore 118-101, with rookie RB Ezekiel running for 97 of those yards, while Prescott threw for 301 yards with three TDs (two of them to Bryant, the other to WR Cole Beasley).

They met in week two in Landover and the Cowboys held off Washington 27-23 at FedEx Field. Dallas led 13-10 at the intermission, then trailed Washington 23-20 with 4 seconds left in the third quarter before Alfred Morris gave them the lead back for keeps with a 4-yard TD run with 4:45 left to play in regulation. Dallas outrushed Washington in the first meeting 102-82 and Prescott threw for 292 yards but was sacked four times, while Cousins threw for 364 yards with a TD, sack and interception (Each club turned the pigskin over once).

Despite losing Romo and being blown out of the gravy by Cam Newton and the Panthers last year (they have lost their last two contests), the Cowboys are 29-18-1 in games played in Dallas, Irving and Arlington on Thanksgiving Day. Dallas’ last win on Thanksgiving Day came in 2013, when they beat Oakland 31-24. Dallas and Washington have met on Thanksgiving Day seven times and the Cowboys have won five of those meetings (the Cowboys were 27-20 winners in 2002, while Washington’s last victory over their NFC East foes came in 2012 by a final of 30-27. Washington on Thanksgiving Day? 2-6)

In their first meeting at Landover, Washington was favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under was 45. Dallas covered the spread with their 27-23 win, winning by four and both clubs covered the over/under, combining for 50 points. Dallas is favored this time by 7 and the over/under’s 51. Hail to the Redskins? Not this week. Dallas’ been on a hot streak and it’ll stay that way. Washington’ll make this one close but Dallas comes away with the win in Arlington.

Pittsburgh (5-5) at Indianapolis (5-5), 8:30 p.m. on NBC. A pair of 5-5 teams close out the Thanksgiving footballfest in the Hoosier State as Pittsburgh travels to Lucas Oil Stadium for a Thursday night contest with the Colts, who will more than likely be without Andrew Luck.

Pittsburgh manhandled Cleveland 24-9 along the shores of Lake Erie. The Steelers led 14-0 at the break and after struggling on two-point tries against Dallas at home, connected on a try when Ben Roethlisberger and TE David Johnson connected on a two-point try after LeVeon Bell (146 yards rushing) gave them a 12-0 lead as time expired in the first half. Chris Boswell connected on three field goals in the contest, that was lopsided from the start. Pittsburgh held Cleveland to a somewhat dismal 33 yards on the ground and sacked Browns QB Josh McCown and Cody Kesler four times each.

The Colts evened their record with a 24-17 win over Tennessee last Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. Indy led 21-7 at the half before the Titans outscored the Colts 10-3 at the intermission. The AFC South rematch was not much of a rushing affair and neither club breached the 100-yard mark and that was the bad news (Tennessee outrushed the Colts 97-76). The Colts got more bad news when Luck (262 yards, two TDs, while Marucs Mariota threw for 290 yards with a pair TDs and five sacks) was knocked out of the contest with a concussion and will in all likelihood miss the Thursday night contest with the Steelers.

The Steelers lead the series 16-6 (which includes games played in Baltimore), have outscored the Colts 556-386 and won the last three meetings in the series, including a 45-10 win in the Steel City last year at Heinz Field (Indy’s last win in the series came in 2008 in the Steel City by a final of 24-20.

Leading 21-10 at the break, Pittsburgh shut out Indianapolis and the Luckless Colts 24-0 in the final 30 minutes of action, while Roethlisberger (364 yards) threw four TDs without an interception in the lopsided win in the Steel City. Pittsburgh outrushed the Colts 158-54 (De Angelo Williams led all rushers with 134 yards) and forced three turnovers at Heinz Field.

Pittsburgh has never played at home on Thanksgiving and has not done well on Turkey Day, going 1-6, with their last win coming in 1950, when they beat the Chicago Cardinals 28-17 in Chicago. Their last contest was in Baltimore in 2013 and the Ravens were 22-20 winners. Indy’s last Turkey Day win came in 2007 (their overall record on Thanksgiving Day is 2-0-1), when a young man named Peyton Manning, went into Atlanta with his team and took the Falcons to task 31-13 in the Georgia Dome.

While the Steelers may the road team, the boys and girls in Vegas have them as 3 points favorites with a 53 1/2 over/under. Even without Luck in the lineup, Indy makes this one interesting but Pittsburgh comes away with the win.

Broadcast Information

Minnesota at Detroit, 12:30 p.m. on CBS: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson (Field reporter). Westwood One: Tom McCarthy, Ross Tucker, Hub Arkush (Field reporter). SIRIUS: 83 (Minnesota), 82 (Detroit). XM: 83 (Minnesota), 82 (Detroit).

Washington at Dallas, 4:30 p.m. on FOX: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (Field reporter). Westwood One: John Sadak, James Lofton, Scott Kaplan (Field reporter). SIRIUS:83 (Washington), 82 (Dallas). XM: 83 (Washington), 82 (Dallas).

Pittsburgh at Indianapolis, 8:30 p.m. on NBC: Mike Tirico, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (Field reporter). Westwood One: Kevin Kugler, Tony Boselli. SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (Pittsburgh), 82 (Indianapolis). XM: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (Pittsburgh), 82 (Indianapolis).

Officials
Minnesota at Detroit, 12:30 p.m. – Carl Cheffers
Washington at Dallas, 4:30 p.m. – Craig Wrolstad
Pittsburgh at Indianapolis, 8:30 p.m. – Walt Coleman

Injury Report

Minnesota at Detroit, 12:30 p.m.

Minnesota
OUT: DT Sharrif Floyd (Knee), CB Marcus Sherels (Rib)
DOUBTFUL: CB Terence Newman (Neck)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Stefon Diggs (Knee), S Harrison Smith (Ankle), LB Eric-Nathan Kendricks (Hip), CB Captain Munnerlyn (Ankle)

Detroit – Detroit reported no injuries

Washington at Dallas, 4:30 p.m.

Washington
OUT: LS Nicholas Sundberg (Back)
QUESTIONABLE: DE Christopher Baker (Hamstring), WR DeSean Jackson (Shoulder), T Attauyo Nsekhe (Ankle)

Dallas
OUT: S Barry Church (Forearm), CB Morris Claiborne (Groin)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Dez Bryant (Back), T Charles Green (Foot), DE Demarcus Lawrence (Back), DT Terrell McClain (Thigh), T Tyron Smith (Back)

Pittsburgh at Indianapolis

Pittsburgh
OUT: WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (Foot), S Shamarko Thomas (Groin), RB DeAngelo Williams (Knee), TE Xavier Grimble (Quadricep)
QUESTIONABLE: S Jordan Dangerfield (Groin)

Indianapolis – Indianapolis reported no injuries

Weather Forecast
Minnesota at Detroit, 12:30 p.m. (Game indoors)
Washington at Dallas, 4:30 p.m. (Game indoors; if roof is open, mostly sunny and 68 degrees)
Pittsburgh at Indianapolis, 8:30 p.m. (Game indoors; if roof is open, mostly cloudy and 41 degrees)

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

Parades, Black Friday Sales, inlaws grousing about the food and picky eaters.

There’s always football on Thanksgiving. This year, NFL fans will get a chance to shove food in their faces and watch football. The schedule makers have once again given football fans a pigskin buffet with not one, not two but three games on the tube.

How did all of this get started, you ask?

Glad you asked.

We’re about to explain it to you.

In 1920, there were a total of six games that were played on Turkey Day. While we will never know who liked dark meat or light, we can tell you that the home teams that day did quite well, going four for six.

The idea of professonal football on Thanksgiving Day? It came as a way to make money and for the new league we know now as the National Football League a chance to get some recognition. The NFL Historians and the good folks at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio tell us that the Chicago Bears introduced their newest star, Illinois RB Red Grange – “the Galloping Ghost” to a standing room-only crowd at Wrigley Field of 36,000 fans in a contest against their cross-town rivals the Chicago Cardinals. Even though the two teams fought to a 0-0 tie, they had their star, the league got its much-needed recogniition and the rest, they say is history. Even though he got a black eye for his effort (probably from either being tackled or reaching for the mashed potatoes before the prayer was said), Grange tallied 92 yards rushing, 56 yards on punt returns, throwing six passes and had an interception to stop a Cardinals drive. Newspapers reported that he took home a whopping $12,000 for his day of work, most of which went to his manager C.C. “Cash and Carry” Pyle.

Grange would travel the nation over the next several months on a barnstorming tour. More than 400,000 spectators – from coast to coast – saw the fabled All-America from the University of Illinois display his athletic talents on the football field.

With Grange as his star attraction, Pyle organized a rival league called the American Football League in 1926. Grange starred for the New York Yankees. While the Yankees had moderate success, the league failed. Grange rejoined the Bears in 1927 but suffered a serious knee injury that sidelined him through the entire 1928 season. He came back in 1929 and played with Chicago through 1934. While known as a runner, Grange was better as a defensive back. More importantly for the NFL, the name recognition of Red Grange was instrumental in attracting large crowds for the professional game. His signing with the Bears helped the league succeed and grow to a new level in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

As for the two major teams that play at home on Thanksgiving Day… Detroit and Dallas?

The Lions began playing on Turkey Day in 1934 when they played the Chicago Bears and lost to Da Bears by a final of 19-16. We’re still not sure who got the drumstick or if the Lions liked dark or white meat and we’re not even sure if the Bears liked gravy on their dressing. Detroit did find the win column the next year, as they would beat Chicago and gain some revenge, taking a 14-2 win.

The Lions and Bears (sorry, no tigers… oh my!) would play Chicago three more times from 1936 to 1938, when that Hitler guy ruined the party and would eventually force America and the rest of the world into the Second World War. While America was out saving the world from a madman that was bent on killing 6 million people because of their religion, Thanksgiving Day football went into hibernation, plus it was kind of hard to throw a football when you’re trying to throw a grenade.

The war ended, Hilter’s dead (probably from overeating, if the Russians didn’t get him first) and things did get back to normal in 1945 when the Lions once again took the stage, losing to the Cleveland Rams (yes, the Rams were in Cleveland before they loaded up the truck and moved to Los Angeles and then to St. Louis before coming back to Tinseltown) by a 28-21 final. Things didn’t go well for Detroit for four more seasons (probably due to over-eating before, during and after the game) before beating up on the New York Yanks 49-14 in 1950.

Detroit with their game against Minnesota on Thanksgiving Day will have played a grand total of 75 games on Thanksgiving Day and even when the team was bad, fans still come to the game. Why? Probably because their fathers brought their kids to the games and they in turn brought their kids. A whopping total of 4,233,461 have seen the Lions at home in the 75 games played, either at Tiger Stadium, the Pontiac SilverDome or Ford Field, averaging a little over 56 thousand a contest. Even when the team was bad, fans still came out and to watch their team. Some came before they sat down to eat and some leaving early to get home to eat.

While the Lions have been the home team on Thanksgiving, their opponents have changed from year to year. 27 teams have played the Lions and the most common opponent is Green Bay. The second most common opponent? Da Bears.

There have been blowouts and there have been some really good games in the series. Have there been shutouts, you ask? Yes, just as sure as your aunt Grace is going to serve that orange and rum cheesecake for dessert. (Pack the Pepto, it’s gonna be a long day). Seven contests have been shutouts but the Lions only have won one contest where they did the deed, a 24-0 win over Chicago in 1979 and three games have gone into overtime (think of it as going for seconds of your sister’s mashed potatoes). The first overtime contest took place in 1980, when Chicago beat Detroit 23-17 on a 95-yard kickoff return by David Williams. The last overtime game in the series was last year against Houston, as the Texans would win it on a 32-yard field goal by kicker Shanyne Graham.

As for the Cowboys… America’s Team didn’t make it onto the Thanksgiving Day Stage until 1966, when their first contest took place in the Cotton Bowl against the St. Louis Cardinals. They won that contest 46-21 in the Lone Star STate that day. The Cowboys have always played their games later in the afternoon. Think of it as dessert after you’ve cleaned your plate while being forced to sit at the kids’ table with your ugly cousin Terri (although she’s gotten a lot better looking lately). They started out winning their first six contests before finally losing to San Francisco in 1972. The only year America’s Team did not grace the nation’s TV screens was in 1975 but they came back the following year before skipping the 1977 season but returned the following year and they’ve been with us ever since… think of that really bad gravy your cousin Marge made three years ago. It’s that bad (we’re speaking of the gravy, not the football). The Cowboys have played 45 games on Thanksgiving, winning 30 of them with 15 losses.

Is this the end of football on Turkey Day? Far from it. In 2006, the NFL decided that if two games on Thanksgiving Day were good, then three must be great and that was the case when they when prime time for football fans. It’s like going back and making a turkey and ham sandwich with cranberry sauce as a snack.

2016 will give football fans three chances to watch as much football and shove as much food in their faces as they can do so (use your common sense when eating, no elbows on the table and watch out for your cousin Connie. She’s the one that turned 57, dates a 42-year old football coach and once wiped out your Super Bowl party last year by eating an entire Oreo cheesecake, two bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, two bacon cheeseburgers with blue cheese and chugged two 2-liter Cokes and didn’t gain a pound. You look at her and say to yourself, “what the hell?” The girl’s a bottomless pit!).

Minnesota and Detroit get things underway on the Turkey Day gridiron at 12:30 p.m. on CBS. After you’ve had the first plate, Washington and Dallas square off at AT&T Stadium (aka JerryWorld) at 4:30 p.m. on FOX and be sure to make room on the football plate, because at 8:30, Pittsburgh travels to the Hoosier State for a meeting with Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts on NBC.

Minnesota at Detroit: The Lions have won their last three games on Turkey Day, taking a 45-14 win over Philadelphia last year and overall, the Lions are 36-38-2. Minnesota on Turkey Day? 5-2, with their last win coming in 2000 when they beat Dallas 27-15 in Irving. The Vikings have played Detroit three times on Thanksgiving Day, all in the Motor City and they come away winners in two of those contests (Minnesota’s last meeting with Detroit came in 1995 and the Lions were 44-38 winners, while the Vikings’ last win came in 1998, when they shut out the Lions 23-0).

Washington at Dallas: Dallas and Washington have met on Thanksgiving Day seven times and the Cowboys have won five of those meetings (the Cowboys were 27-20 winners in 2002, while Washington’s last victory over their NFC East foes came in 2012 by a final of 30-27). Despite losing Romo and being blown out of the gravy by Cam Newton and the Panthers last year (they have lost their last two contests), the Cowboys are 29-18-1 in games played in Dallas, Irving and Arlington on Thanksgiving Day. Dallas’ last win on Thanksgiving Day came in 2013, when they beat Oakland 31-24. The Redskins’ record on Turkey Day? 2-6.

Pittsburgh at Indianapolis: Pittsburgh has never played at home on Thanksgiving and has not done well on Turkey Day, going 1-6, with their last win coming in 1950, when they beat the Chicago Cardinals 28-17 in Chicago. Their last contest was in Baltimore in 2013 and the Ravens were 22-20 winners. Indy’s last Turkey Day win came in 2007, when a young man named Peyton Manning, went into Atlanta with his team and took the Falcons to task 31-13 in the Georgia Dome. Indy’s record on Thanksgiving Day is 2-0-1.

In case you’re wondering how your team has done on games on Thanksgiving Day, here are the standings for the current NFL franchises. The records do include games that were played in the AFL (American Football League) but it doesn’t include games that were played in the All-America Football Conference, the precursor to the National Football League.

Team (Record, Last Game)
Baltimore (2-0, 2013)
Carolina (1-0, 2015)
Houston (1-0, 2012)
New Orleans (1-0, 2010)
Philadelphia (6-1, 2015)
Indianapolis (2-0-1, 2007)
Minnesota (5-1, 2000)
Los Angeles (3-1, 1975)
Miami (5-2, 2011)
Tennessee (5-2, 2008)(including games when the Titans were known as the Tennessee Oilers)
San Diego (2-1-1, 1969)
Dallas (29-18-1, 2015)
New York Giants (7-4-3, 2009)
New England (3-2, 2012)
Chicago (17-15-2, 2015)
Kansas City (5-5, 2006)
New York Jets (4-4, 2012)(which includes games that took place when the Jets were the Titans from 1960 to 1962)
San Francisco (2-2-1, 2014)
Seattle (2-2, 2014)
Atlanta (1-1, 2007)
Detroit (36-38-2, 2015)
Buffalo (3-4-1, 1994)
Oakland (3-4, 2013)
Green Bay (14-20-2, 2015)
Denver (4-7, 2009)
Arizona (6-15-2, 2008)
Washington (2-6, 2012)
Pittsburgh (1-6, 2013)
Cincinnati (0-1, 2010)
Tampa Bay (0-1, 2006)
Cleveland (0-3, 1989)

Who hasn’t played on Thanksgiving Day? Just two teams have yet to join the Turkey Pigskin Party. Jacksonville, who became a card-carrying member of the NFL in 1995 and the Cleveland Browns, who came back to the NFL in 1999, are the only two teams to NOT be on the field on Thanksgiving Day. The longest drought? San Diego. Their last appearance took place in 1969 and that is one year before the AFL and NFL merged.

Since 2010, the league has made efforts to end the longest droughts. New Orleans, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Houston, and Carolina all played their first Thanksgiving games during this time frame. San Francisco likewise played their first Thanksgiving game since 1972 in 2011.

Food and football. The NFL and Thanksgiving. The only other holiday that joins food and football? Super Bowl Sunday (which technically is not a holiday but some think it should be). It seems that the powers that run the National Football League knows what they’re doing. Mind your manners, no belching at the table and try not to cheer with your mouth full, k?

Here’s a history of football on Thanksgiving (source: the National Football League)

November 25, 1920
AKRON PROS 7, Canton Bulldogs 0
Decatur Staleys 6, CHICAGO TIGERS 0
ELYRIA (OH) ATHLETICS* 0, Columbus Panhandles 0
DAYTON TRIANGLES 28, Detroit Heralds 0
CHICAGO BOOSTERS* 27, Hammond Pros 0
All-Tonawanda (New York) 14, ROCHESTER JEFFERSONS 3

November 24, 1921
Canton Bulldogs 14, AKRON PROS 0
Buffalo All-Americans 7, CHICAGO STALEYS 6

November 30, 1922
Buffalo All-Americans 21, ROCHESTER JEFFERSONS 0
CHICAGO CARDINALS 6, Chicago Bears 0
RACINE LEGION 3, Milwaukee Badgers 0
Oorang Indians 18, COLUMBUS PANHANDLES 6
CANTON BULLDOGS 14, Akron Pros 0

November 29, 1923
CANTON BULLDOGS 28, Toledo Maroons 0
CHICAGO BEARS 3, Chicago Cardinals 0
GREEN BAY PACKERS 19, Hammond Pros 0
Milwaukee Badgers 16, RACINE LEGION 0
AKRON PROS 2, Buffalo All-Americans 0

November 27, 1924
AKRON PROS 22, Buffalo Bisons 0
Chicago Bears 21, CHICAGO CARDINALS 0
FRANKFORD YELLOWJACKETS 32, Dayton Triangles 7
CLEVELAND BULLDOGS 53, Milwaukee Badgers 10 at Canton, Ohio
Green Bay Packers 17, KANSAS CITY BLUES 6

November 26, 1925
CHICAGO BEARS 0, Chicago Cardinals 0
Kansas City Cowboys 17, CLEVELAND BULLDOGS 0 at Hartford, Connecticut
Rock Island Independents 6, DETROIT PANTHERS 3
POTTSVILLE MAROONS 31, Green Bay Packers 0

November 25, 1926
New York Giants 17, BROOKLYN LIONS 0
Los Angeles Buccaneers 9, DETROIT PANTHERS 6
CHICAGO BEARS 0, Chicago Cardinals 0
FRANKFORD YELLOWJACKETS 20, Green Bay Packers 14
POTTSVILLE MAROONS 8, Providence Steam Roller 0
CANTON BULLDOGS 0, Akron Pros 0

November 24, 1927
Chicago Cardinals 3, CHICAGO BEARS 0
POTTSVILLE MAROONS 6, Providence Steam Roller 0
Green Bay Packers 17, FRANKFORD YELLOWJACKETS 9
Cleveland Bulldogs 30, NEW YORK YANKEES 19

November 29, 1928
Providence Steam Roller 7, POTTSVILLE MAROONS 0
DETROIT WOLVERINES 33, Dayton Triangles 0
FRANKFORD YELLOWJACKETS 2, Green Bay Packers 0
CHICAGO BEARS 34, Chicago Cardinals 0

November 28, 1929
New York Giants 21, STATEN ISLAND STAPLETONS 7
FRANKFORD YELLOWJACKETS 0, Green Bay Packers 0
Chicago Cardinals 40, CHICAGO BEARS 6

November 27, 1930
STATEN ISLAND STAPLETONS 7, New York Giants 6
BROOKLYN DODGERS 33, Providence Steam Roller 12
Green Bay Packers 25, FRANKFORD YELLOWJACKETS 7
CHICAGO BEARS 6, Chicago Cardinals 0

November 26, 1931
Green Bay Packers 38, PROVIDENCE STEAM ROLLER 7
STATEN ISLAND STAPLETONS 9, New York Giants 6
CHICAGO BEARS 18, Chicago Cardinals 7

November 24, 1932
CHICAGO BEARS 34, Chicago Cardinals 0
Green Bay Packers 7, BROOKLYN DODGERS 0
STATEN ISLAND STAPLETONS 13, New York Giants 13

November 30, 1933
Chicago Bears 22, CHICAGO CARDINALS 6
New York Giants 10, BROOKLYN DODGERS 0

November 29, 1934
CHICAGO CARDINALS 6, Green Bay Packers 0
Chicago Bears 19, DETROIT LIONS 16
New York Giants 27, BROOKLYN DODGERS 0

November 28, 1935
New York Giants 21, BROOKLYN DODGERS 0
CHICAGO CARDINALS 9, Green Bay Packers 7
DETROIT LIONS 14, Chicago Bears 2

November 26, 1936
DETROIT LIONS 13, Chicago Bears 7
New York Giants 14, BROOKLYN DODGERS 0

November 25, 1937
Chicago Bears 13, DETROIT LIONS 0
BROOKLYN DODGERS 13, New York Giants 13

November 24, 1938
DETROIT LIONS 14, Chicago Bears 7
BROOKLYN DODGERS 7, New York Giants 7

November 23, 1939
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 17, Pittsburgh Steelers 14#

November 28, 1940
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 7, Pittsburgh Steelers 0#

November 22, 1945
Cleveland Rams 28, DETROIT LIONS 21

November 28, 1946
Boston Yanks 34, DETROIT LIONS 10

November 27, 1947
Chicago Bears 34, DETROIT LIONS 14

November 25, 1948
Chicago Cardinals 28, DETROIT LIONS 14

November 24, 1949
Chicago Bears 28, DETROIT LIONS 7

November 23, 1950
DETROIT LIONS 49, New York Yanks 14
Pittsburgh Steelers 28, CHICAGO CARDINALS 17

November 22, 1951
DETROIT LIONS 52, Green Bay Packers 35

November 27, 1952
DETROIT LIONS 48, Green Bay Packers 24
DALLAS TEXANS 27, Chicago Bears 23 at Akron, Ohio

November 26, 1953
DETROIT LIONS 34, Green Bay Packers 15

November 25, 1954
DETROIT LIONS 28, Green Bay Packers 24

November 24, 1955
DETROIT LIONS 24, Green Bay Packers 10

November 22, 1956
Green Bay Packers 24, DETROIT LIONS 20

November 28, 1957
DETROIT LIONS 18, Green Bay Packers 6

November 27, 1958
DETROIT LIONS 24, Green Bay Packers 14

November 26, 1959
Green Bay Packers 24, DETROIT LIONS 17

November 24, 1960
DETROIT LIONS 23, Green Bay Packers 10
(AFL) – NEW YORK TITANS 41, Dallas Texans 35

November 23, 1961
Green Bay Packers 17, DETROIT LIONS 9
(AFL) – NEW YORK TITANS 21, Buffalo Bills 14

November 22, 1962
DETROIT LIONS 26, Green Bay Packers 14
(AFL) – New York Titans 46, DENVER BRONCOS 45

November 28, 1963
DETROIT LIONS 13, Green Bay Packers 13
(AFL) – Oakland Raiders 26, DENVER BRONCOS 10

November 26, 1964
Chicago Bears 27, DETROIT LIONS 24
(AFL) – Buffalo Bills 27, SAN DIEGO CHARGERS 24

November 25, 1965
DETROIT LIONS 24, Baltimore Colts 24
(AFL) – SAN DIEGO CHARGERS 20, Buffalo Bills 20

November 24, 1966
San Francisco 49ers 41, DETROIT LIONS 14
DALLAS COWBOYS 26, Cleveland Browns 14
(AFL) – Buffalo Bills 31, OAKLAND RAIDERS 10

November 23, 1967
Los Angeles Rams 31, DETROIT LIONS 7
DALLAS COWBOYS 46, St. Louis Cardinals 21
(AFL) – Oakland Raiders 44, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS 22
(AFL) – SAN DIEGO CHARGERS 24, Denver Broncos 20

November 28, 1968
Philadelphia Eagles 12, DETROIT LIONS 0
DALLAS COWBOYS 29, Washington Redskins 20
(AFL) – OAKLAND RAIDERS 13, Buffalo Bills 10
(AFL) – KANSAS CITY CHIEFS 24, Houston Oilers 10

November 27, 1969
Minnesota Vikings 27, DETROIT LIONS 0
DALLAS COWBOYS 24, San Francisco 49ers 24
(AFL) – KANSAS CITY CHIEFS 31, Denver Broncos 17
(AFL) – San Diego Chargers 21, HOUSTON OILERS 17

November 26, 1970
DETROIT 28, Oakland 14
DALLAS 16, Green Bay 3

November 25, 1971
DETROIT 32, Kansas City 21
DALLAS 28, Los Angeles Rams 21

November 23, 1972
DETROIT 37, New York Jets 20
San Francisco 31, DALLAS 10

November 22, 1973
Washington 20, DETROIT 0
Miami 14, DALLAS 7

November 28, 1974
Denver 31, DETROIT 27
DALLAS 24, Washington 23

November 27, 1975
Los Angeles Rams 20, DETROIT 0
Buffalo 32, ST. LOUIS 14

November 25, 1976
DETROIT 27, Buffalo 14
DALLAS 19, St. Louis Cardinals 14

November 24, 1977
Chicago 31, DETROIT 14
Miami 55, ST. LOUIS CARDINALS 14

November 23, 1978
DETROIT 17, Denver 14
DALLAS 37, Washington 10

November 22, 1979
DETROIT 20, Chicago 0
Houston 30, DALLAS 24

November 27, 1980
Chicago 23, DETROIT 17 (OT)
DALLAS 51, Seattle 7

November 26, 1981
DETROIT 27, Kansas City 10
DALLAS 10, Chicago Bears 9

November 25, 1982
New York Giants 13, DETROIT 6
DALLAS 31, Cleveland 14

November 24, 1983
DETROIT LIONS 45, Pittsburgh 3
DALLAS 35, St. Louis Cardinals 17

November 22, 1984
DETROIT 31, Green Bay 28
DALLAS 20, New England 17

November 28, 1985
DETROIT 31, New York Jets 20
DALLAS  35, St. Louis Cardinals 17

November 27, 1986
Green Bay 44, DETROIT 40
Seattle 31, DALLAS 14

November 26, 1987
Kansas City 27, DETROIT 20
Minnesota 44, DALLAS 38 (OT)

November 24, 1988
Minnesota 23, DETROIT 0
Houston Oilers 25, DALLAS 17

November 23, 1989
DETROIT 13, Cleveland 10
Philadelphia 27, DALLAS 0

November 22, 1990
DETROIT 40, Denver 27
DALLAS 27, Washington 17

November 28, 1991
DETROIT 16, Chicago 6
DALLAS 20, Pittsburgh  10

November 26, 1992
Houston 24, DETROIT 21
DALLAS 30, New York Giants 3

November 25, 1993
Chicago 10, 6
Miami 16, DALLAS 14

November 24, 1994
DETROIT 35, Buffalo 21
DALLAS 42, Green Bay 31

November 23, 1995
DETROIT 44, Minnesota 38
DALLAS 24, Kansas City 12

November 28, 1996
Kansas City 28, DETROIT 24
DALLAS 21, Washington 10

November 27, 1997
DETROIT 55, Chicago 20
Tennessee 27, DALLAS 14

November 26, 1998
DETROIT 19, Pittsburgh 16 (OT)
Minnesota Vikings 46, DALLAS 36

November 25, 1999
DETROIT 21, Chicago 17
DALLAS 20, Miami 0

November 23, 2000
DETROIT 34, New England 9
Minnesota 27, DALLAS 15

November 22, 2001
Green Bay 29, DETROIT 27
Denver Broncos 26, DALLAS 24

November 28, 2002
New England 20, DETROIT 12
DALLAS 27, Washington 20

November 27, 2003
DETROIT 22, Green Bay 14
Miami 40, DALLAS 21

November 25, 2004
Indianapolis 41, DETROIT 9
DALLAS 21, Chicago 7

November 24, 2005
Atlanta 27, DETROIT 7
Denver 24, DALLAS 21 (OT)

November 23, 2006
Miami 27, DETROIT LIONS 10
DALLAS 38, Tampa Bay 10
KANSAS CITY 19, Denver 10

November 22, 2007
Green Bay 37, DETROIT 26
DALLAS 34, New York Jets 3
Indianapolis 31, ATLANTA 13

November 27, 2008
Tennessee 47, DETROIT 10
DALLAS 34, Seattle 9
PHILADELPHIA 48, Arizona 20

November 26, 2009
Green Bay 34, DETROIT 12
DALLAS 24, Oakland 7
DENVER 26, New York Giants 6

November 25, 2010
New England 45, DETROIT 24
New Orleans 30, DALLAS 27
NEW YORK JETS 26, Cincinnati 10

November 24, 2011
Green Bay 27, DETROIT 15
DALLAS 20, Miami 19
BALTIMORE 16, San Francisco 6

November 22, 2012
Houston 34, DETROIT 31 (OT)
Washington 38, DALLAS 31
New England 49, NEW YORK JETS 19

November 28, 2013
DETROIT 40, Green Bay 10
DALLAS 31, Oakland 24
BALTIMORE 22, Pittsburgh 20

November 27, 2014
DETROIT 34, Chicago 17
Philadelphia 33, DALLAS 10
Seattle 19, SAN FRANCISCO 3

November 26, 2015
DETROIT 45, Philadelphia 14
Carolina 33, DALLAS 14
Chicago 17, GREEN BAY 13

November 24, 2016
Minnesota at Detroit, 12:30 on CBS
Washington at Dallas, 4:30 p.m. on FOX
Pittsburgh at Indianapolis, 8:30 on NBC

* Non league team. Games between league teams and non league teams counted in standings in 1920.

# In 1939 and 1940, President Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving one week earlier. Various states celebrated on the date declared by the President, while other states recognized the traditional fourth Thursday of the month. In 1941, Thanksgiving was sanctioned by Congress to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, which it has been ever since.

There’s a change a-coming…

The NFL announced Monday scheduling changes for Week 12 on Sunday, November 27.

The New England Patriots at New York Jets game will be played at 4:25 p.m. on CBS and the Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos game moves to 8:30 p.m. on NBC.

Following is the final Week 12 NFL schedule (all times Eastern):

Thursday, November 24 (Thanksgiving Day)
Minnesota at Detroit, 12:30 p.m. on CBS
Washington at Dallas, 4:30 p.m. on FOX
Pittsburgh at Indianapolis, 8:30 p.m. on NBC

Sunday, November 27
Arizona at ATLANTA, 1 p.m. on FOX
Cincinnati at Baltimore, 1 p.m on CBS
Jacksonville at Buffalo, 1 p.m. on CBS
Tennessee at Chicago, 1 p.m. on CBS
New York Giants at Cleveland, 1 p.m. on FOX
San Diego at Houston, 1 p.m. on CBS
San Francisco at Miami, 1 p.m. on FOX
Los Angeles at New Orleans, 1 p.m. on FOX
Seattle at Tampa Bay, 4:05 p.m. on FOX
New England at New York Jets, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
Carolina at Oakland, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
Kansas City at Denver, 8:30 p.m. on NBC

Monday, November 28
Green Bay at Philadelphia, 8:30 p.m. on ESPN

BROADCAST INFORMATION

Philadelphia at Detroit, 12:30 p.m. on FOX: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (field reporter). Westwood One: Kevin Kugler, Mark Malone, Ross Tucker (field reporter). SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (Philadelphia), 82 (Detroit). XM: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (Philadelphia), 82 (Detroit).

Carolina at Dallas, 4:30 p.m. on CBS: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson (field reporter). Westwood One: Tom McCarthy, James Lofton, Scott Kaplan (field reporter). SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (Carolina), 82 (Dallas). XM: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (Carolina), 82 (Dallas).

Chicago at Green Bay, 8:30 p.m. on NBC: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (field reporter). Westwood One: Kevin Harlan, Tony Boselli, Laura Okmin (field reporter). SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (Chicago), 82 (Green Bay). XM: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (Chicago), 82 (Green Bay).

Injury Report

Philadelphia at Detroit

Philadelphia
OUT: TE Zach Ertz (Concussion), RB RYan Matthews (Concussion)
QUESTIONABLE: C Jason Kelce (Knee), T Jason Peters (Back), QB Sam Bradford (Concussion)
PROBABLE: LB Kristian Alonso (Ankle), LB Connor Barwin (Quad), LB DeMeco Ryans (Hamstring), DE Cedric Thronton (Ankle), S Walter Thurmond (Hamstring)

Detroit
QUESTIONABLE: WR Calvin Johnson (Ankle), DT Caraun Reid (Ankle), CB Darius Slay (Neck), DT Gabe Wright (Ankle)
PROBABLE: CB Crezdon Butler (Teeth), TE Eric Ebron (Quad), S Don Carey (Back)

Carolina at Dallas

Carolina
DOUBTFUL: CB Charles Tillman (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Corey Brown (Shoulder)
PROBABLE: DT Dwan Edwards (Ankle), WR Ted Ginn (Knee), G Andrew Norwell (Hamstring), LS Jeffery Jansen (Head)

Dallas
OUT: CB Morris Claiborne (Hamstring), DE Ryan Russell (Abdomen)
PROBABLE: WR Brice Butler (Hamstring), S Barry Church (Ankle), DT Nicholas Hayden (Ankle), LB Anthony Hitchens (Ankle), DE Demarcus Lawrence (Back), LB Rolando McClain (Foot), WR Dez Bryant (Foot), CB Brandon Carr (Shoulder), S Jeffery Heath (Shoulder), CB Byron Jones (Ankle), RB Darren McFadden (Groin), QB Tony Romo (Back), LB Kyle Wilder (Toe)

Chicago at Green Bay

Chicago
OUT: RE Ka’Deem Carey (Concussion), WR William Royal (Knee), TE Martellus Bennett (Ribs)
QUESTIONABLE: S Antrel Rolle (Knee), RB Matt Forte (Knee), WR Alshon Jeffery (Groin), S Jerald Martin (Neck), LB Pernell McPhee (Knee), LB LaRoy Reynolds (Knee)

Green Bay
OUT: WR Jared Abbrederis (Rib), WR Ty Montgomery (Ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: C Corey Linsley (Ankle), S Micah Hyde (Hip), DE Michael Pennel (Quad), CB Damarious Randall (Hamstring)
PROBABLE: S Morgan Burnett (Ankle), LB Jayrone Elliot (Ankle), RB Eddie Lacy (Ankle), RB Aaron Ripkowski (Ankle), WR Davante Adams (Ankle), T David Bakhtiari (Knee), T Bryan Bulaga (Knee), G Thomas Lang (Shoulder) LB Clay Matthews (Ankle), G Josh Sitton (Knee)

Weather Forecast
Philadelphia at Detroit, 12:30 p.m. (Game Indoors)
Carolina at Dallas, 4:30 p.m. (Game indoors; if roof is open, cloudy with a 60 percent chance of thunderstorms and 72 degrees)
Chicago at Green Bay, 8:30 p.m. (Cloudy with a 100 percent chance of rain and 37 degrees)

Broadcast information and injury report courtesy the National Football League, weather courtesy The Weather Channel.